How I loathe those accursed research studies that state the completely obvious. The news media reports on them like they’re amazing new revelations, instead of statistically-backed validations of common sense. On the bright side, they’ve given rise to my latest epiphany: The Study of All Those Irritating Studies.
What started it all? ‘Twas a typical Sunday morning, and I’d just sat down to read the morning newspaper. I had just taken my first slurp of coffee when the offending headline hit me right between the eyes: “Study Concludes Breathing is Key Factor in Sustaining Life.”
Scalding-hot coffee jettisoned through both nostrils. Here we go again. I continued reading about the funding of the million dollar research project. “After an exhaustive, 20-year study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin have concluded that humans need to breathe to continue living, and that without breathing, humans are extremely susceptible to death.”
Time Magazine actually documented some of this ridiculously obvious study findings – such as “Traumatic Brain Injury Frequently Leads to Headache” and “Under Money Strains, Some Older Adults May Turn to Alcohol.”
I pulled out similar newspaper clippings that I’ve been saving through the years:
“Study Proves Gun Shot Wounds to the Head Bad for Health.”
“Study Proves Not Wearing a Seatbelt and Crashing Into a Telephone Pole Bad for Health.”
“Study Proves Living In a Toxic Waste Dump and Ingesting Glowing Green Water from Nearby Stream Bad for Health.”
Who commissions these studies?
Perhaps it’s college and universities, wanting to keep research coffers sufficiently coffed. Or maybe it’s insurance companies, on a rampage of risk management. Or maybe it’s medical practitioners hoping to validate a few unnecessary but dang lucrative procedures.
It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m simply looking to make a buck in this day and age, so I decided to commission a Study of All Ridiculous Studies.
Because we seem obsessed with research and risk management, I decided to study something besides the rather obvious stuff that always gets studied. I would instead study the studies.
I opened the Institute for the Study of All Other Studies. Our goal was to study other studies, investigate their methodology, and determine whether their conclusions were useful or blatantly obvious (and subsequently infinitely irritating).
Things went great for a while. We flagged at least 300 studies in our first week alone, reviewing the studies up and down and stamping them with a pronounced “NO S—!” when we were finished.
Our work did not go unnoticed. The media stopped indiscriminately reporting on each and every study, and instead ran potential stories by us first. They asked if a study’s findings could be reached by a person with an iota of common sense. (They obviously did not possess any themselves.)
Things proceeded splendidly, until an unexpected competitor ran us aground. Just down the street, a new shop opened up: The Institute Studying Those Studying Other Studies. They immediately began to run studies decrying our studies of other studies.
Then two weeks later, The Institute Studying Those Studying Others Who Study Studies opened up, and proceed to flog away too. Eventually, the whole Study industry crumpled, except for – you guessed it – the guys who kept studying the ridiculously obvious.
I have since returned to my morning paper, but now I bypass the articles about studies and head straight to the comics. It’s better to focus on the ridiculous instead of the ridiculously obvious.
Photo by dhester