Fake Information for the 'Egg Aging' Propaganda: The Role of Experts and Journalists in Its Emergence, Authorization, and Radicalization (XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto)
Date: 2018-07-17 (Tuesday) 17:30-19:20
Location: 709 (MTCC South Building), Metro Toronto Convention Center
Title: Fake information for the 'egg aging' propaganda: the role of experts and journalists in its emergence, authorization, and radicalization
Speaker: Tanaka Sigeto (Tohoku University)
The belief that women rapidly lose their fertility as they age has been popularized using biological findings about "aging" of eggs (or oocytes) in the ovaries. Recently, Japan has experienced national propaganda based on such a belief. In the past decade, doctors and medical organizations have broadcasted information about age-related fertility decline for women in their 20s and 30s. Their theory has spread on mass media without any scrutiny, creating a social pressure on women to bear children as early as possible. Such information has also served as evidence for the government's pronatalist policy of getting young people married.
This paper traces the history of the belief and explores how it emerged, progressed, and spread as authorized "scientific" knowledge by focusing on the graphs frequently used to support the "egg aging" discourse.
A literature survey revealed the following facts that exemplify the role of traditional experts and journalists in creating the "post-fact" phenomena. The graphs, seemingly quoted from the scientific literature, were actually fabricated, falsified, trimmed, or misinterpreted. Doctors manipulated graphs, supported it with unreachable citations, and provided insufficient or distorted explanations about the data and methods. These techniques are being used in the field of obstetrics and gynecology since the 1980s. Journalists have recently contributed to the propaganda, using sensational language to polish the message. During the development and radicalization of the discourse, no social mechanism was performing the fact-checking function. The "egg aging" propaganda, endorsed by medical authorities, aroused people's feeling about the alarming prospect of the country's low birthrate and shrinking population. It eventually achieved hegemony in public debates in 2010s Japan. (See http://tsigeto.info/misconduct/ for details.)
Keywords: pseudoscience, medicine, gender, reproductive rights, fertility
Conference: XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 2018, Toronto)
Session Selection: Scientific Knowledge and Expertise in a 'Post-Fact' Era (RC23: Sociology of Science and Technology)
Status: Accepted for oral presentation
Revised: 2017-11-30 on paper acceptance.
Revised: 2018-02-02 Date and location added.
Revised: 2018-07-16 Link for the slide file.
- 独自研究に基づく政策立案：EBPMは何をもたらすか (日本家族社会学会第29回大会, 2019-09 神戸) (報告申込済) (2019-05-30)
- Political Vocabularies and Localized Discourses on Demographic Transition: The Emergence of the 'Syousika' Problem in 1980s Japan (RC06-VSA Conference, Oct 2019, Hanoi) (2019-05-25)
- 5月11日（土）連続勉強会：「国難」のなかのわたしたちのからだ 第3回「優生保護法の負の遺産」(東京麻布台セミナーハウス) (2019-05-11)
- 研究報告「「少子化」観の形成とその変化：1974年から現在まで」(2019-03-24 東京 ＜連続勉強会：「国難」のなかのわたしたちのからだ＞ 第2回) (2019-03-24)
- Preprint: Monthly Labour Survey Misconduct since at Least the 1990s (Tanaka S. 2019-03-05) (2019-03-06)
- 「毎月勤労統計調査」は90年代以前から改ざんされていた?: データ改ざんに甘い社会 (wezzy 2019-02-07) (2019-02-09)
- 「少子化」論の変遷：日本社会は何から目を背けてきたのか (科学技術社会論学会 第17回年次研究大会 2018-12-08 東京) (2018-09-19)
- Fake Information for the 'Egg Aging' Propaganda: The Role of Experts and Journalists in Its Emergence, Authorization, and Radicalization (XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto) (2018-07-17)
- Hijacking the Policy-Making Process: Political Effects of the International Fertility Decision-Making Study for 2010s' Japan (XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto) (2018-07-16)
- 研究報告「ライフプラン冊子には何が書いてあるのか」(2018-04-01 東京 ＜連続勉強会：「国難」のなかのわたしたちのからだ＞ 第1回) (2018-04-01)
- Gender Inequality and Family-Related Risks: From the Perspective of Law and Ideology (Contemporary Japan Speaker Series, King's College London) 2018-01-25 (2018-01-25)
- 「10歳の壁」の虚妄：箕面市「子ども成長見守りシステム」データから読みとるべきこと (2018-01-13)
- 『学術の動向』22巻8号 (2017年8月) 記事「非科学的知識の広がりと専門家の責任: 高校副教材「妊娠のしやすさ」グラフをめぐり可視化されたこと」 (2017-12-19)
- Locating Family in the Gender Equality Politics: A Focus on Economic Situation after Divorce in Japan (Symposium "The Impact of the Humanities and Social Sciences: Discussing Germany and Japan" in Tokyo) 2017-11-14 (2017-11-14)
- Science as a Vital Point of Democracy: Lessons from the 'Egg Aging' Panic in 2010s Japan (2017-10-31)
Leave your comment
All items are optional (except the comment content). Posted comment will be immediately published, without preview/confirmation.
To pass my SPAM filter, include some non-ASCII characters more than 1% of Your Comment content. If you cannot type non-ASCII characters, copy & paste the star marks: ★☆★☆★☆.