3.13.2008

And the survey says...

When arguing a certain idea or point, people like to use the communication device that cites research as evidence. Some examples include:

Research among top dentists show that 4 out of 5 prefer Crest over Colgate

Research shows that more than half of all Americans don't know the name of their vice president

Research indicates that 1/3 of the world's university students suffer anxiety attacks at least once while taking chemistry

Who the hell is Research and what makes him so credible? It seems anyone can bring Research into the conversation and win some points, until one converses with those who are irritating enough to ask where one received such information. What a pain in the butt to have to go look it up on wikipedia or provide the original research article!

I took a class last year called "Research Methods." Mesmerized, aren't you? I learned that Research is not as authentic as he often claims to be. If you look at any industry with a bit of money, they can get Research to say whatever they want. Yes, margarine is a healthy alternative to butter! Global warming doesn't exist! Global warming does exist! For every shred of evidence to back up a claim, you can probably find 5 more sources that state the opposite.

Before bringing Research into any conversation, best understand how he got the information in the first place. As dry and boring as the class was, it highlighted the importance of sample size, repeatability of experiment, controls, and placebo. Oh placebo, we love/hate you.

On a side note, I recently heard on NPR (I heart NPR!) about an experiment that evinced the irrationality of the human race. The results showed that people taking various pain medications felt better if they were told that the drug they took cost more. If you took a placebo sugar pill and was told that each pill cost $10, you were more likely to experience an improvement in symptoms than if you took the actual drug but was told each pill was $1. That's why people like to buy name brands even though the generic contains the exact same active ingredient. Paying more money made you feel better and not necessarily the drug.

8 comments:

Wendy said...

ah, so true! pegs i love your blog! so fun to read :) (i heard a similar thing about acupuncture - how when they put needles in random places, people felt "better" even though it was fake acupuncture.)

pegpie said...

Stay tuned for Science: Research's first cousin once removed! :)

crystalpchau said...

I concur

Alice in Wonderland said...

Hi! I just discovered your blog! All this time I thought you were still on LiveJournal. Michael found this and I was like "What? Peg is on blogger? No way." But here you are, in the cyberflesh. I have a lot of reading to catch up on here!

Victoria said...

yay for silly irrational humans (I kid)!

darn that ol' Research.

Bryce said...

You know you're old when you listen to NPR. I too <3 NPR =P

insaknitty said...

pegs! wendy just pointed me towards your blog! I have many comments about your posts, but I'm too tired to actually type them out. so, instead, I say hi! :) come visit me. I miss you.

tiffanytao said...

i love this. I've read so many research studies about the same topic that contradict each other to the point that one conclusion is non-existent. Then I hear somebody quoting only one of those studies as the basis for their argument. Crazy? Yes.