This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Wassermann et al. (2018, https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5953) argued that previous public opinion research about marine mammal attractions should be considered unreliable due to possible biases in study design, which may have influenced participants’ responses. As in all scientific endeavors, reducing bias in order to gather more objective, evidence-based information is a worthy and commendable goal. Unfortunately, Wassermann et al. fell short in their efforts to produce an unbiased investigation into the beliefs of the general public about captive marine mammal attractions, due to a number of methodological flaws and biases in their own study. Specific concerns include a non-representative sample, methodological issues with data collection and coding procedures, a lack of reliability between data published and data provided, a failure to demonstrate inter-coder reliability, a failure to control for sequence effects in quantitative data, misrepresentation of databetween text and tables, and biased over-interpretation of qualitative responses. These errors undermine the authors’ conclusions and indeed render their findings uninterpretable. To achieve the goal of an unbiased understanding of public opinion about marine mammal attractions, further research on this topic is warranted using rigorous and sound scientific methodology.
This is a preprint submission to PeerJ Preprints to provide commentary that counters some of the findings of Wassermann et al. (2018). https://peerj.com/articles/5953/