Another science war: Fictitious evidence on women's fertility and the "egg aging" panic in 2010s Japan

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Purpose: In the early 2010s, Japanese society recognized and experienced a panic about increasing infertility and people's lack of knowledge about human reproduction. This chapter focuses on several graphs that misrepresented or distorted scientific findings that were used in the campaign related to this panic and explores (1) how the graphs were made, used, and authorized, and (2) how they contributed to changes in discourses and policies. Methodology/approach: Literature survey. Findings: (1) The graphs were made in the field of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive medicine by questionable methods, including falsifying, trimming, and misunderstanding of data. (2) Researchers in the field of fertility study relied on secondary and tertiary sources thus ignoring and compounding errors. (3) Such inauthentic research was approved and politically mobilized by professional organizations, rather than being penalized or criticized. (4) Discourse based on such unscientific knowledge may have encouraged a pronatalist policy of promoting early marriage and education about human fertility and life planning, targeted at teenage girls. Research limitations/implications: Any society suffering from a low birthrate can experience similar phenomena. This study focuses on Japan, but it has wider implications about how low integrity and quality of the presentation of medical research can cause these issues elsewhere in the world. Social implications: This chapter includes a warning against biological explanations that contain unscientific connotations about gender. Originality/value of study: This study confirms how gender-related policy in 2010s Japan was influenced by science that lacked research integrity and was of sub-standard quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-92
    Number of pages26
    JournalAdvances in Gender Research
    Volume24
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Keywords

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Fecundity
    • Pronatalist policy
    • Pseudoscience
    • Reproductive medicine

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Cultural Studies

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