Newspapers are letting loose with a series of giddy articles reporting that dogs prefer to align themselves along a magnetic field when they urinate and defecate. The newspaper articles leave out some details from the research paper (read it here):
- In the initial analysis of all data as planned by the researchers, no alignment of dogs with magnetic field was evident; in a data-dredging move not envisioned in their original research plan, the authors dropped approximately two-thirds of cases in order to obtain a statistically significant result
- Tables report results excluding particular dogs, even though these dogs are said to be comparable to other dogs
- In the revised alignment, dogs face North, an orientation consistent with the much simpler hypothesis called dogs keeping their eyes out of the sun
The scientific implications of this journal article are profound. If dog feces are laid along the line of
sunlight the Earth’s magnetic field, then the study of the alignment of canid coprolites in the fossil record could be used as a proxy to study changes in the Earth’s magnetic field over time… if two out of three coprolites are discarded from analysis.