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Twisting the Results

White nationalists have an interest in scientific papers about population genetics, but distort the results and their meanings to fit their worldview, Science writes.

Jedidiah Carlson, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, was searching online for a Nature paper when he came across a forum at a white nationalist website that was discussing the paper he was looking for. As he previously told the Atlantic in 2016, Carlson became concerned that science could be "weaponized to enact these ethno-nationalist policies." He has since tracked this and other alt-right groups that held such "informal journal clubs" for more than a year, according to Science.

Overall, Carlson tells Science that people posting to these sites have a range of expertise in population genetics, but many twist the papers and alter figures to support their view. He adds that there's likely little that can be done to change the minds of the people posting there. "In an argument between a logical person and illogical person, the logical person is always going to lose because the illogical person isn't playing by the same rules," he tells Science.

However, Carlson does add that researchers can try to better guide public discussion of their work. "We need to think more carefully about not just our own interpretation of the work, but anticipating how our work might be misinterpreted and trying to preemptively patch up the holes in that logic," he says at Science.