Tuesday, 20 March 2012

There have been some odd

pieces of "research" surface lately. You know the sort of thing I mean, the sort of "research" that is reported in the paper.
There was the "research" which suggested that people who flew Australian flags on their cars were "more racist". I know one person who took his Australian flag off his car after that, "in case people think I am racist". He is not. He and his wife have a "granny flat" at the back of their home. It has not been used since his father died except by people who come down from the Northern Territory to stay while relatives are in hospital. These people are often indigenous Australians who live on the property his cousin's family owns. But, he took the flag off the car worried by how other people might perceive him.
There was "research" suggesting that "eating white rice will give you diabetes". If that was true then almost everyone would have diabetes because most of us have eaten white rice at some time or other. The dietary reality has to be much more complex than that.
There was "research" suggesting that one of the suburbs in this city was the most depressed, dangerous and generally deficient. The researchers interviewed just twelve people living in the summer and claimed that "looking at other data" was sufficient to draw their conclusions. They do not say what that data is, how it was collected or what conclusions were drawn from it.
There was other "research" suggesting that eating more red meat than chicken or fish is likely to lead to a range of other medical problems and an earlier death. Eating anything in excess is not likely to be good for you. I remember being told to cut out eggs and all dairy products from my diet "because they are so bad for you they are going to be banned". The person who gave me this advice was a qualified medical practitioner.  Yes, I know there are people who are vegans. Bill Clinton has apparently turned vegan after a lifetime of eating "burgers". The vast majority of the world however is not vegan and has never been vegan. The advice about eating red meat surely needs to be considered along with a great many other issues?
Then, on the third page of this morning's paper there was another piece of "research". It was said to be "important" and yes, in a way, it is.  It suggests that if you enjoy exercise you are - wait for it - more likely to exercise. Right.
People were actually paid to do these pieces of research. The proposals would have passed ethics committees. Some of the research would have passed academic peer reviews as well. I wonder how they do it?
What could I research?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This sort of reporting trivalizes research (and science) and may induce panics.

I do wish we could get serious, informed reports on which to base our thoughts and opinions. There is no way the ordinary person can have access to the all original reports, and s/he will probably not have the background to judge the detailed science anyway.

At the end of last year, "scientific" articles were coming out in the UK press at the rate of one a week, about what we should and should not do to get and remain healthy.

This plethora af poorly researched and presented information annoys me as it overwhelms most of us without enabling us to make informed choices.