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Why We Have So Much "Duh" Science

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the taking-nothing-for-granted dept.

Science 299

Hugh Pickens writes "Eryn Brown writes in the LA Times that accounts of 'duh' research abound as studies show that driving ability worsens in people with early Alzheimer's disease, that women who get epidurals experience less pain during childbirth than women who don't, that young men who are obese have lower odds of getting married than thinner peers, and that making exercise more fun might improve fitness among teens. But there's more to duh research than meets the eye writes Brown as experts say they have to prove the obvious again and again to influence perceptions and policy. 'Think about the number of studies that had to be published for people to realize smoking is bad for you,' says Ronald J. Iannotti, a psychologist at the National Institutes of Health. 'There are some subjects where it seems you can never publish enough.' Kyle Stanford, a professor of the philosophy of science at UC Irvine, thinks the professionalization of science has led researchers — who must win grants to pay their bills — to ask timid questions and research that hews to established theories is more likely to be funded, even if it contributes little to knowledge. Perhaps most important, sometimes a study that seems poised to affirm the conventional wisdom produces a surprise. 'Many have taken the value of popular programs like DARE — in which police warn kids about the dangers of drug use — as an article of faith,' writes Brown. 'But Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago and other researchers have shown that the program has been ineffective and may even increase drug use in some cases.'"

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More research is required (4, Funny)

revlayle (964221) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312878)

duh

Re:More research is required (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313020)

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possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it
free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms.

    To do so, attach the following notices to the program. It is safest
to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively
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Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail.

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The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the appropriate
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For more information on this, and how to apply and follow the GNU GPL, see
<http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

    The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program
into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you
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<http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html>.

"Duh" Studies (3, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312884)

to justify "Duh" studies.

Who would have thought?

Re:"Duh" Studies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36312912)

Mind blown. Meta-"Duh" studies.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313048)

Getting a college degree, regardless of the major, requires discipline, persistence, and dedication. Now, it may be that there are many people out there who "didn't leran anything" from college. But if you managed to get a reasonable GPA (3.0 or higher), then you probably learned something, and you actually had to take the time to study for your classes. When I interview someone who has a good GPA, this is evidence (although not proof) to me that they can be given work to do, and they will understand it and get it done. Someone without a college degree lacks that evidence. They MAY have that kind of discipline, but I can't guess that very well from a short interview. (An alternative might be good references from past employers.)

Some claim that it is theoretically possible to do well in classes and then promptly forget everything you crammed. But that's disingenuous and discounts the effects of (a) subconscious learning, and (b) meta-learning. Even if you can't recall things you learned at will, you are often able to recall them in context. You forgot that you learned something. And meta-learning is more of a mind-shaping thing, where spending the time to learn some new subject matter forces you to think about things in an unfamiliar way. Even if you forget all the facts, it creates a broader view that makes you more adaptable. (This is why I prefer interviewees who had diverse minors.)

After 9 years in industry, I decided to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I found the advanced core courses in the grad program to be challenging, but they were not a fundamentally new way of thinking. On the other hand, there were the grad courses I took in linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive engineering. Each of those fields has a culture quite different from what I am used to in CS, and taking those courses introduced me to very different perspectives on things. In order to do well in those courses (I did get all A's), I had to learn to think like them. The CS courses made me feel like I had learned some things I didn't know before. The courses in other disciplines made me feel like I had grown intellectually.

As a side note, those aforementioned areas seem to attract more women. Indeed, psychology, at least in grad school, is _dominated_ by women. Now, I'm happily married, so I had no interest in finding anyone to date. But for someone else, this might be something to look into. For me, what I enjoyed was encountering yet another perspective. For various reasons (cultural, genetic, hormonal, etc.), men and women seem to have different perspectives on many things. And in grad school, most of the students are very smart. So taking psych courses had me interacting with women who not only have a different perspective but also have the IQ and meta-cognitiion to be able to convey that perspective well to others. (Some of the differences are due to the different field, while some seemed to be clearly due to gender.) So, I enjoyed very much the things I could learn from them, especially those things that they understood better than the males in their field. On a similar note, I also enjoyed working with women in engineering. The diversity they bring includes not just different approaches to engineering, but also a "softer feel" they bring to the workplace, like how they decorate their offices and interact with others. I would probably feel less of a need to focus on this if there weren't so few women in computer science and engineering.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313404)

Interested in what you were saying right up to the sig. He's not a buddy of mine in the least, but can you get me some of what's clearly tamped into your pipe?

Re:"Duh" Studies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313488)

"They MAY have that kind of discipline, but I can't guess that very well from a short interview."

Your interviewing skills suck. Why don't you get a PhD in that?

Re:"Duh" Studies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313058)

It's worse than that. If TFS is accurate, it's based on stupid logic.

'Think about the number of studies that had to be published for people to realize smoking is bad for you,'

No, jackass. These studies went on for, what, over half a century? People haven't kept on smoking because you haven't convinced them that it's unhealthy. They understand, just like they did 20 years ago when they started. It's because they start when they're young and they know they shouldn't, and then they're addicted. It's as simple as that.

Re:"Duh" Studies (3, Insightful)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313778)

I think you may be attributing to deliberative action what is more frequently due to self-imposed incompetence. Seriously, the social psychology text I have OPENS with a pair of case studies done on people's reactions to differing results of studies into the health benefits of jogging. The chapter is on cognitive dissonance.

People want to believe they are making the right choices. So, they tend to believe that those choices are still correct even in the face of contradictory evidence. They will rationalize, minimize, attack the messenger, and all other manor of mental back-flips to avoid acknowledging to themselves or even seriously considering that they are in error, which would elicit negative emotions like guilt and shame.

You can't make people believe what they don't want to believe. If Cletus doesn't want to believe in gravity, you can push his ass off a cliff and he'll die thinking that the Debil made him fall or some such nonsense. About the best you can hope for is to appeal to people that are as of yet either undecided or don't have a lot invested in their position, turn the herd, and hope as many of the rest follow as possible.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313902)

So, they tend to believe that those choices are still correct even in the face of contradictory evidence.

The political system of the United States has become dependent on this simple fact.

Despite the fact that most people are unhappy with the direction of the country, voters are likely to vote next time the same way they voted last time, and based on the same issues. They will continue to get their information regarding current affairs from the same sources, too. They will vote the way those sources tell them, and then be completely unhappy with the results. And they'll do it again, and again, and again.

And the message of the media? "You are right and everyone else is wrong", resulting in the belief that despite our noble behavior and wise judgements, it's those other guys that are screwing everything up.

"Oh, and don't forget to buy a gun because HERE THEY COME HERE THEY COME HERE THEY COME!!!"

It works out just about the way you'd expect it to work out.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313108)

And peer-reviewed reviews of peer reviews. Inception: the scientific version.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313212)

Often accomplished via public funds.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313642)

As opposed to what? The private funds which are typically used to find a new drug with exactly the same efficacy as an old drug that the patent is going to expire on?

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313692)

Wasted "Duh!" research in either publicly or privately funded efforts is bad, no?

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313752)

I'd argue that the wastes in private funding, to find drugs that have no benefit to the public, are more often just wastes, while the article points out several reasons why the "duh" studies using public funds are not as wasteful as you might think.

Re:"Duh" Studies (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313812)

Waste is waste. In publicly funded research it is public money being wasted. I don't generally give a rats ass about waste in privately funded research if it's not my money being wasted. YMMV.

Because... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36312910)

We have too much Duh the population.

Re:Because... (5, Insightful)

noname444 (1182107) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313238)

The "duh" in the population are those who believe that "duh" science is "duh" though. More often than not the outcome of a study is the expected results. When it's not, however, it challenges our preconceptions and we have to adjust to the new facts (or do another study ;).

Just because our intention tells us that something works a certain way it doesn't mean we can accept this as a scientific fact. This is a strength of the scientific method, rather than a weakness.

wait... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36312924)

Smoking is bad for you??!?

Re:wait... (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312966)

The problem is that it's pretty well established that smoking is bad for you, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad for you in the way that people think. Which is one of the problems, often times conventional wisdom is correct. But sometimes it's not and other times the conventional wisdom is lacking the necessary information to deal with whatever.

Imagine trying to build a large castle in a swamp, which is precisely what happens when you don't do these sorts of duh studies. In the past it probably wasn't as prevalent, mostly because any science that you wanted to do was probably advanced enough to elicit more respect from the general population.

Re:wait... (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313106)

Yes, in the past people didn't build castle in swamps. That's why we can still visit castles from the 13th century.

I haven't seen a single castle built in the 21st century. Probably the result of this "Duh science". Back to the swamps, I say.

Its all the money... (0)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312940)

Research is a money game, if your research is correct even if its stupid to most people, you will get a grant for the next project easier....

Re:Its all the money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313118)

Actually I think financially speaking it's more valuable to the legal system sorting out the factual (or otherwise) nature of platitudes.

Re:Its all the money... (1)

BergZ (1680594) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313934)

Well said, AC.
And it's not just the legal system that is interested in the results of common sense studies like: "alcohol increases reaction time" and "driving ability worsens in people with early Alzheimer's disease".
I bet that the insurance industry is very interested in asking followup questions like "how much does alcohol increase reaction time?" and "how much does Alzheimer's disease worsen driving ability?"

Re:Its all the money... (5, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313156)

Of course. Scientist are positively rolling in cash. That's after all the whole reason why they are doing science. They could do an honest job for less money and go into banking. But no, it is all about the grants.

Wait... what? (1)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313300)

Wow, you read that with a lot of faulty inference. Nowhere the GP said nothing about how much money they've got, only that there are incentives for further research, and the grants you can attract, if you've a positive history.

Not sure how you came to what must have been your conclusion about what he said.

Re:Wait... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313384)

Wow, you read that with a lot of faulty inference. Nowhere the GP said nothing about how much money they've got, only that there are incentives for further research, and the grants you can attract, if you've a positive history. Not sure how you came to what must have been your conclusion about what he said.

Really? He started:

Its all the money...Research is a money game...

When I read that, I see the implication is it's all about getting more money. Which is silly to anyone working in research, because the best money is to leave. The people I know are there to do science. No "money game" involved.

Re:Wait... what? (3, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313402)

Probably by too many posts here lately that stated that scientist would fake anything just to keep the funding up - see the climate discussions. The "they do it all for the funding" - meme is an insult to every scientist in my opinion. Not sure about the OP - my sarcasm detector might need recalibration, I grant you that.

Re:Wait... what? (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313594)

Not sure about the OP - my sarcasm detector might need recalibration, I grant you that.

Yeah, when he said banking? That sent off my sarc detector.

So, to the immediate reply to his post, I say... whoosh!

-AI

Re:Its all the money... (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313490)

But why would you want to? If you have to spend all your time doing easy stupid projects instead of what you really spent 10 years getting your PhD for then whats the point?

Talked about this a lot in school (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36312954)

My undergrad is in psychology and I helped professors with research many time. One issue is what qualifies as "Duh" or "Everyone knows that".

For example, studies have been done that show a group of people working together on a project instead of having one person in charge can make it better. "Duh" you say? Kinda like Open Source? Well studies have also shown having one person in power calling the shots can make, think Apple and Steve Jobs. Also a "Duh" you say

They are both valid.

Also I don't have the article handy but many things people think of as "Duh" turn out not to be true.

Re:Talked about this a lot in school (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313328)

That's not cut and dry though because it depends on the personalities of people within the group.

If you have a bunch of motivated and intelligent people, each can voice his or her opinion on what they can bring to the table to get the project done. Another situation with a mixed bag of motivation and lazy would net you a few people(or maybe one) taking on leadership roles. A third group consists of a bunch of lazy morons, so no work gets done at all.

see?

Re:Talked about this a lot in school (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313426)

forgot to say....the appropriate study would be to contrast the effectiveness of such group dynamics

You must test the obvious (5, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312960)

The biggest reason to run "duh" studies is because you really do have to test the obvious. If you assume something is true without testing it, any theory you build on that assumption is on shaky ground. Showing that your basic assumptions is correct is a vital step before you can do anything more complicate.

Re:You must test the obvious (5, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313122)

Well, I guess that touches one of the main misconceptions when it comes to interpretation of scientific work. "Common sense" is not a scientific argument. It lacks rigor. And more often than not, common sense is just plain wrong.

Re:You must test the obvious (3, Funny)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313882)

And more often than not, common sense is just plain wrong.

Have you done a study or is that just common sense?

Re:You must test the obvious (1)

dev.null.matt (2020578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313136)

From TFA:

Common knowledge once held that meat spontaneously generated maggots. Then, in 1668, Italian physician Francesco Redi devised a set of investigative steps-what we now call an experiment-to prove wrong what everybody thought they knew.

Wow.

Re:You must test the obvious (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313226)

I do something similar when I'm trying to track down a bug in software. I'll check things that I don't actually think are part of the problem but I want to verify they behave the way I think they do before I move on to something that relies on that behavior.

Re:You must test the obvious (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313326)

You'd think so with your sig.

Occam's razor is king in engineering too. If something doesn't work, check things in order of how complicated the failure mode would have to be, or how many unknowns would have to align for the failure mode to happen. Adjust for how long it would take to check for each error. (Looking for the car keys under the street lamp is a good start if there's a chance they landed there.)

Re:You must test the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313952)

And you have to publish something in order to maintain funding.

Hey guys this is what you call the result of research funding through performance based on business/political metrics.

Ha, there some research discoveries for ya.

At least for smoking (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312968)

you need to be constantly reminded of the facts because cigarette companies will start lying about it first chance they get. Google for 'T Zone'.

Or, as I once read, Common sense isn't.

And for global warming too (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313274)

you need to be constantly reminded of the facts because cigarette companies will start lying about it first chance they get. Google for 'T Zone'.

Oil companies do the same for anthropocentric global warming.

Here's a suggestion for another "duh" research: when big business fear a drop in profits, they spread lies. Google for 'fear uncertainty doubt'

Re:At least for smoking (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313390)

As far as smoking goes, I agree to a surprising degree with the South Park episode "Butt Out". The medical problems associated with smoking are real, but that tells us nothing about the relative cost-benefit of an action, or about the effort spent by society to propagate the idea.

Re:At least for smoking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313732)

I agree. Also, most of the studies are utterly redundant. EVERYONE knows smoking is bad for their health. But, since people choose to do it anyway because of the short term benefits, the researchers (and society as a whole, it sometimes seems) just assumes that these people don't know its bad for them, i.e. they're idiots. In fact, this cultural attitude is a part (a small one, granted) of the reason I do smoke. I'm not exactly a rebellious person, but its kinda fun to give a giant "F*** you" to our culture. I suspect this is what the summary means by D.A.R.E. leading to more drugs as well.

Perceptions are important too (4, Interesting)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312976)

Sometimes that can be useful to have a huge mass of data to fall back on. When some study comes out that says something unexpected, then you have a bunch of data to act as a buffer so that people have some context, because most people think the truth is the whatever study the media misrepresented last, not the body of evidence as a whole. The more info you've got, the harder it is to deny something when its convenient. It might be a waste of time if people were rational creatures, but if something is being done to add to a body of evidence that people are still questioning, then maybe it isn't such a waste after all. And I suppose having some study to back your case if you want to make a policy change or legal claim too, rather than just rely on what should be common sense, for example, saying that studies show tired people preform poorly is better than just saying that you're tired and have a hard time working when you're tired.

D.A.R.E. (2, Interesting)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312982)

i had no idea about drugs until an officer came to my class, opened up a couple briefcases, and showed me every drug imaginable so i could recognize it. then he told me all kinds of cool ways that the drugs would make me feel like and act like. most important lesson from D.A.R.E. is:

D. rugs
A. re
R. eally
E. xpensive

Sounds like agenda-driven science (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312984)

"they have to prove the obvious again and again to influence perceptions and policy. "

They aren't doing science looking to further scientific knowledge, they're doing science in order to influence policy. Immediately, their entire body of work becomes suspect.

Re:Sounds like agenda-driven science (0)

PraiseBob (1923958) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313306)

Yes, clearly those scientists that had to repeatedly prove smoking is unhealthy were acting on a liberal agenda. I've learned from Fox News that scientists only care about political agendas, not about promoting a better society or the common welfare of people.

Re:Sounds like agenda-driven science (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313396)

Scientific knowledge should influence policy.

Are you suggesting we should just assume vaccines cause autism? Should research be ignored and vaccines stopped?

Denying science to set policy make mes suspicious of you.

Re:Sounds like agenda-driven science (0)

godrik (1287354) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313734)

that's what you do in health science. You try to show what is good (read: healthy) and what is not so that (read: dangerous) so that what is good is pushed forward and what is not is forbidden.

What would be the point of discovering something is a poison if no one acts on that knowledge ?

Re:Sounds like agenda-driven science (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313864)

I'm less concerned with the agenda than I am that the entire study be open. Including the raw data, methodology etc. In this way, if they try and misinterpret the results others can peer review and point out the flaws. At this point it doesn't matter as much if they had an agenda: either their 'agenda' happens to be beneficial, or they can't back their nefarious agenda.

Sometimes it's a numbers game (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312986)

If one schmoe's study says that drinking antifreeze will kill you, the Antifreeze For Children's Mopeds lobby will counter with their own study saying it's as safe as milk. Sometimes you need more studies from different angles/people to sink home the facts. How long did it take for people to accept cigarettes as a carcinogen? It was before my time, but I've recently seen some of the Congressional testimony from Tobacco execs and the shameless lying (seed of doubt!) is draw dropping in a modern context.

Re:Sometimes it's a numbers game (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313132)

"Antifreeze For Children's Mopeds lobby"?!

That's my LMAO of the day.

Re:Sometimes it's a numbers game (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313294)

The reason for that is that the tobacco execs are funding the people investigating them, so the people investigating them never drop the Perjury bomb.

Because real science is quantitative... (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#36312996)

Real science is quantitative analysis of, for example, exactly how much worse drivers get with age. The specific mechanics of what things they get worse at, etc.

The media takes that, and takes the conclusion: they get worse with age/disease, and leave out the details. The details are for, well, people who actually build cars, or systems or the like. The researcher usually isn't trying to prove a 'duh' point, they're trying to quantify a 'duh' point.

Beautiful women are distracting. Ok. By how much? How do you quantify that? How do you study that? If the presence of beautiful women reduce men's productivity by 0.5% that's very different than 25% - the trend, and effect, may be the same (assuming you can quantify to that scale) to the media. But one is good science, one isn't (and no, you can't even express good science in 2 sentences).

What I tell you 3 times is true ... (4, Informative)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313010)

Sometimes you need to state the obvious over and over again because it doesn't take much for a person to internalize a viewpoint that makes the obvious non-obvious. Like Lewis Caroll pointed out, 3 times seems to be enough.

As simple examples, Snopes take on aspartame causing cancer & tumors [snopes.com] and as an ant poison [snopes.com] The FDA still ends up being inundated with this claim so many times a year that they end up retesting, just to humor the population.

As a more loaded example, check out the belief systems of anyone who claims they are strongly religious. Or Truthers. Or Birthers.

Sadly, it appears that the majority of the population needs to be told what is obvious over and over.

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313322)

With the advent of having to re-record known or accepted data, theories , discoveries, technology, physics etc into every computer on the planet into every university, laboratory, government, military complex, etc.. much was revisited. Incredible amounts of data were re-tested. Billions of dollars in grants and investments were re-devoted to applying further tests, applying new technologies to old methods, for every possible quark of info developed again in an emergingly more threatening, competitive world. Any possibility for further advancement that will give one government, one corporation, one people an edge will soon be completely exhausted. ~Knowledge would increase. We are in that place in history now.

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313484)

Or that the last 10 years of climate data hasn't shown an increase in temperature, yet the liberals still claim otherwise.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm
"Q: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming
A: Yes, ..."
From the TOP climate researcher in the world.

Oh, you only wanted to bash what you thought were conservatives and didn't expect liberal bashing in return with ACTUAL scientific evidence. My bad. Perhaps if you want to sound not like a political hack you should educate yourself before posting your bigoted opinions.

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313636)

How exactly are Truthers conservatives?

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (2)

carlzetie (1589423) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313670)

Really? You repeated the most frequently debunked and refuted out-of-context deliberately misleading piece of crap known to climate science, DELIBERATELY ELIDED THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE ANSWER and actually acted like you were posting something worthwhile? You actually claimed that your link PROVES that climate science is a liberal plot, but somehow everybody but a select few brilliant conservatives have noticed this piece of evidence that the liberal conspirators have hidden in plain sight on one of the most-visited websites in the world?

Here's the actual answer, including the critical words that you DELIBERATELY OMITTED:

"Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

Hmmm, when you see it in full, it doesn't actually support your claim at all, does it? And the rest of the interview at that link also completely contradicts what you dishonestly claim it implies.

I can't decide from your one anonymous post whether you are willfully dishonest in your posting above, or merely so stupid that you failed to read or understand anything beyond the word "yes".

And then you have the effrontery to call other people "political hack" and "bigoted"?

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (1)

FlavaFlavivirus (2021178) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313800)

Oh, so we get to decide the significance after we collect the data. Let me just submit a paper with "trust me, it's significant" in the discussion and see what happens.

Re:What I tell you 3 times is true ... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313680)

There was a article over at arstechnica.com that mentioned people would continue to believe what they where first told, even when presented with evidence of the contrary. Sadly i can not find the url for the article right now.

It's Duh either way. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313026)

I took Psychology at University, where it seems they were particularly sensitive to the accusation. My instructor read a series of twenty-five research results that should have been obvious before experimenting. Many of them did seem obvious. Then she stated that she had just lied to us. All twenty-five experiments actually found the opposite. Then she read them with the true results, and, surely enough, they did sound obvious that way as well.

In fact, about six to eight did sound dodgy the first way, but that still left far too many.

~Loyal

"Smoking is bad for you" seems like a bad example (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313036)

From TFA:

'Think about the number of studies that had to be published for people to realize smoking is bad for you,' says Ronald J. Iannotti, a psychologist at the National Institutes of Health. 'There are some subjects where it seems you can never publish enough.'

This seems like a bad example, because it's not really "duh science" when you have an entire industry using its combined resources to silence your research. The tobacco industry spent decades flooding the journals with studies aimed at proving that smoking was harmless, or even beneficial. What's more, the tobacco industry was uniquely situated to get those results repeated in the press, while the studies that repeated the finding that smoking was harmful ended up sounding like "duh science" and went unreported. (If smoking is still bad for you, it's not news.)

In many cases, the real problem is not the science, or the journals, but how to communicate the science to the lay public, who can only really comprehend what's actually told to them. If you can't guarantee that anybody will ever hear about your findings, the only way might be to repeat them over and over, as many times as you can -- because that's what industry will do.

Re:"Smoking is bad for you" seems like a bad examp (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313318)

In many cases, the real problem is not the science, or the journals, but how to communicate the science to the lay public, who can only really comprehend what's actually told to them.

You're seriously claiming that the 'lay public' didn't realise that the 'coffin nails' they were smoking might be bad for their health until scientists told them they were?

Re:"Smoking is bad for you" seems like a bad examp (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313434)

You're seriously claiming that the 'lay public' didn't realise that the 'coffin nails' they were smoking might be bad for their health until scientists told them they were?

No, I'm claiming that when people who had been told smoking was bad for them saw stories that had scientists claiming it really wasn't, many of them said, "Oh, that's a relief, then." Similarly, is there anybody on the planet who doesn't know what Coca-Cola is? Not really... and yet Coca-Cola keeps advertising.

Re:"Smoking is bad for you" seems like a bad examp (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313830)

See Ayn Rand as a prime example for a person who didn't believe into the scientific studies until she developed cancer from too much smoking.

Re:"Smoking is bad for you" seems like a bad examp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313524)

You do know that the exact same scientists that the Tobacco Institute hired to prove smoking was good for you are now working to discredit the science of pollution control, right?

They call it "Global Warming" instead of "pollution" now, and they've already managed to convince nearly two-thirds of the US population that environmentalism is evil and bad for business (it's actually incredibly good for business, of course, just bad for oil companies).

You can pretty much assume anything Fred Singer is involved in is pure politics, and has nothing to do with science. But he's the Wall Street Journal's favorite scientist, and no stranger to the pages of the New York Times, either! He's far more influential in the White House than any real scientist will ever be.

And to prove the point (1)

hilldog (656513) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313038)

An article right under that one is..... "Women who post lots of photos of themselves on Facebook value appearance, need attention, study finds"

Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313044)

If we don't check the things we think we know, we won't find the cases where we're wrong. Of course we're generally right, and thus the propensity of "duh" studies. But those aren't the interesting ones. It's the ones that the findings are counter to what would be "duh" that are interesting. And you're not going to find the latter without wading through the former.

Most "Duh" Research Isn't "Duh". (5, Insightful)

Geurilla (759701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313046)

Most "Duh" research isn't "Duh" at all. It only sounds that way because of the atrocious state of science reporting in the popular press. Challenging, technical research has to be translated into terms regular folks can understand, and that often means making ridiculous comparisons or analogies, or just giving an explanation of the research so dumbed down that the researchers themselves would hardly recognize it.

Another contributing factor is the political motivations of people with large audiences who don't know better. For example, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a "report" [senate.gov] making fun of a number of studies supposedly representing wasting spending on stupid research. It turns out his examples [livescience.com] are actually pretty nuanced and important after all--hardly "duh" science.

The general population just isn't equipped to judge which research is important and worth spending money on. That is exactly why we have organizations like the NSF to evaluate grant proposals for us.

Why do Duh research? (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313090)

The reason people do "Well, duh!" research is because of how interesting it is when the "Duh!" is wrong. Such as the research into DARE, or similar research showing the ineffectiveness of 12-step programs, or diets, or that losing weight doesn't increase your lifespan (although gaining it decreases it), or that modest alcohol consumption can have positive health effects, or...

I mean, how interesting would it be if...

Driving ability improved in people with early Alzheimer's disease.
Or if women who get epidurals experienced more pain during childbirth than women who didn't.
Or if young men who are obese have the higher odds of getting married than thinner peers.
Or if trying to "make exercise more fun" lowers fitness rates among teens.

As far as DARE goes (2)

wolfemi1 (765089) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313124)

I can say that I'm not surprised by the positive correlation with drug use. I personally caught the DARE officer in lies about the side effects of drugs, and all it really taught me was that police hold youth in enough contempt to lie to them "for their own good." That's really not a great thing to teach students.

Yeah, DARE is hardly a "duh" (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313474)

Given the the total failure of the War On Drugs, why would anyone assume that any component of it, including DARE, is a success?

Re:Yeah, DARE is hardly a "duh" (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313652)

If they have gotten rich because of it, that's the only rational reason to consider DARE a success. Maybe the people who made DARE are less stupid than it seems, and it was an undercover thing to get people to do more drugs - by insulting their intelligence and then telling them not to. More drug use, more prisoners, more cops / guards, ... $$$. I don't think it was really a conspiracy, but mostly because people intelligent enough to think of that would have made better ads.

It's a defense mechanism (2)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313160)

We humans like to pretend that our assumptions are facts. So when our assumptions come closer to actually really being facts, we have to say that that is a worthless endeavor because otherwise our pretense would be disrupted. It is much nicer to feel superior to those stupid scientists than it is to realize how little we really know.

Granting bodies & short term thinking (2)

DrNico (691592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313182)

The more likely explanation is granting bodies. To apply for substantial funding you need to have a project that has clearly defined outcomes that have a high probability for success. The kind of project that has these properties is "the obvious". The short term is very important too. You need to have something you can publish and report in the first year of publication to ensure the grant bodies stay happy and don't become concerned they have wasted their money, again "the obvious" is a good one. Long term or speculative research is strongly discouraged by the current system and interests of granting bodies world-wide. It is almost inevitable that this happen as the granting bodies want something to report to government (in the short term) to show what a good job they are doing. It's a shame as much better research could be done if it were not for having to think in such short and clearly defined time frames.

Re:Granting bodies & short term thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313244)

Agreed, too much short term thinking in the US at the moment.

Hallucinogens (1)

FreakyGeeky (23009) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313302)

I can credit DARE as the number one reason I took LSD for the first time. I wasn't really aware of hallucinogens prior to DARE and the whole "Just Say No" campaign. I found the idea of having a dream-like state while awake to be fascinating. It seemed like magic, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on some LSD or shrooms. It took me a few years (until my freshman year of high school), but I took acid as early as I was able to find it. I must say, DARE didn't disappoint at all!

Re:Hallucinogens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313592)

I love acid. Can't seem to get it now, too many synthetics around.

Knee surgery doesn't work (2)

porges (58715) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313324)

For instance: arthroscopic knee surgery, a very common procedure, doesn't actually help. [washingtonpost.com] . If you were afraid of "duh" research, you'd never ask that question in the first place.

DUH for the masses - are you a mass? (5, Insightful)

John Da' Baddest (1686670) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313338)

It's obvious the Earth is flat, why waste Isabell's gold "proving" someone can sail West and end up back home from the East? Duh.

It's obvious that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones, that guy in Pisa must be pulling a political stunt to get tax credits or something. Duh.

It's obvious that Saddam has secret nukes, who needs UN institutional opinions? Duh.

It's obvious that taxes cause job losses, cell phones cause cancer, and the world ended two Saturdays ago except for you heathen boogers, and everything worth inventing was already discovered years ago. Let's close the patent office. Duh.

Cross-discipline value judgements are a slippery slope. Science is not Technology, and we techies look pretty ridiculous by other people's criteria if you haven't noticed already.

"News for Nerds" indeed.
Duh.

Re:DUH for the masses - are you a mass? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313500)

It's obvious the Earth is flat, why waste Isabell's gold "proving" someone can sail West and end up back home from the East? Duh.

That did not fucking happen!
We have known the earth was round since the Greeks. The argument was over the distance. Simple math shows that Columbus would have starved before making it to India. He got lucky that the Americas were in his way. He was a bigger fool than you are being.

Out Demons of Stupidity and Ignorance, OUT! rAmen
Educate thyself!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus#Geographical_considerations [wikipedia.org]

Normal Science (1)

El Kevbo (81125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313340)

This is very much in line with "normal science" as described in Kuhn's classic book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Most of science is "filling in the holes" of widely-accepted theories and ideas. Because it's not paradigm-shifting, it seems obvious that much normal science can be interpreted as "duh science." It's inherent in the way that science and discovery work.

Well, duh. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313370)

Sadly, the summary pretty much contains the entire TFA... All the links are nothing but the submitter's editorial commentary with sketchy connections to TFA at best.
 
But there's another reason for 'duh!' science that he misses - quantification. Yeah, it's 'duh!' that driving ability worsens in the early stages of Alzheimer's. But can it be used as a diagnostic tool? Can the nature of the decrease (decreased cognition? slowed reflexes?) lead to further studies of what parts of the brain are affected and how and in what order? Etc... etc... But you don't even know to look for those things until you have the evidence that correlation exists in the first place.
 
Science isn't just about the Eureka!. It's also about the slow podding duh! that builds the foundation.

That is because they were lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313438)

"in which police warn kids about the dangers of drug use â" as an article of faith,' writes Brown. 'But Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago and other researchers have shown that the program has been ineffective and may even increase drug use in some cases.'"


That is because the "warning" given were utter crap. Some drug like marijeanne were painted as black , dark, and bad as , heroine or crack. Kids are not idiot. Especially when they can nowaday read article on the net on the effect of MJ.

this story is a duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36313554)

/. is just as guilty as the duh studies, and TFA

Not that surprising... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#36313726)

"Many have taken the value of popular programs like DARE — in which police warn kids about the dangers of drug use — as an article of faith,' writes Brown. 'But Dennis Rosenbaum of the University of Illinois at Chicago and other researchers have shown that the program has been ineffective and may even increase drug use in some cases"

Anyone who has actually sat through one of these would not be surprised that they increase drug use.

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