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Dumb science. July 11, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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It looks like the baboons are running the show. Our friend Ben read a report in yesterday’s paper about how researchers had devised an experiment in which participants drew four foods from life: a pizza, a cupcake, a strawberry, and a pepper. The researchers monitored how much drawing each food affected the pleasure centers in the brains of the participants. The food that turned on the pleasure centers most was pizza, followed by the cupcake, then the strawberry. The poor pepper barely registered.

The researchers were at a loss to understand these findings. Maybe people just didn’t like peppers?! Why would pizza outrank a cupcake?

Duh. Our sense of smell is our strongest memory trigger, and of course it follows that a scent that brings back pleasant memories would trigger our pleasure centers. The four test foods have very different strengths of scent, with a cooked pizza being the strongest, followed by a cupcake, then a strawberry. An uncut pepper has virtually no scent. Are the rankings any surprise? Hardly.

You’d think a monkey could figure this out, and they probably would manage it a lot better than these moronic researchers. Which wouldn’t bother our friend Ben except for two things: The gravity with which each and every research project, however stupid and worthless, is reported in national news; and the fact that ultimately, we taxpayers are paying for these experiments, however stupid, repetitive, and obvious they are, however many wrong, illogical, or clueless “results” are drawn from them.

I couldn’t care less if researchers spent their time sticking their hands on hot burners to see if they hurt themselves, as long as I didn’t have to pay for it. Or read the inevitably blaring headline, “Research shows hot burners pose hazard to skin.” Followed in a week or a month or a year with “Researchers find that burning hands on stove is good for weight loss,” or whatever inevitable reversal of the initial research reveals. “Use safflower oil to prevent heart disease.” “Safflower oil promotes heart disease. Use olive oil instead.” Ugh.

Obviously, we need research to discover breakthroughs, make connections, and move ahead as a society. But couldn’t we be a bit more selective about the projects we take on, and more discriminating and logical about drawing a conclusion, if there even is one? I’d prefer not to fund experiments that “discover” what is already common knowledge, or worse, as in this case, fail to even perceive it.

Pizza, anyone?

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