I don’t understand the point of this, therefore it’s stupid

That might as well have been the headline to this piece in the National Post, entitled: Fat kids get picked on–and other things you didn’t need a study to tell you

There are no doubt countless important studies that discover things that help the public better understand ourselves and the world in which we live. There are also a lot of studies that tell us things we already know. Or didn’t need a costly study to tell us. … A cynic would suggest that studies such as these are conducted by researchers who could be making better use of their time by not re-examining widely accepted conclusions.

Oooh, so when we “know” something already we should just accept that as truth and not bother to prove that there’s actually something to X perception, as opposed to it being some sort of confirmation bias. Wow, I’ve been doing this science thing all wrong.

What is a “widely-accepted conclusion”? Like that we lose the most heat from our heads and that’s why we should wear hats (bullshit). Like that?

[T]he researchers found “that obese children had higher odds of being bullied” regardless of a number of socio-economic factors. The authors “conclude that being obese … increases the likelihood of being a victim of bullying.”

Apparently this research is useless. But only if you accept the conclusion before having the data to support it. Maybe rich fat kids didn’t get picked on. Who knows? Without a study, no one – at least not for sure. And if the NP author’s issue is that he doesn’t consider the research question interesting, well that raises the question: Why does individual specific interest determine what scientific studies ought to be done?

The author provides several more examples of research that he finds unimportant, yet provides no analysis for why this is a problem (other than to suggest that money ought to be spend elsewhere, but then it’s turtles all the way down again – based on what? why is this a problem? etc).

Is this how the public perceives science research? If so, we have our work cut out for us to change that perception lest we end up just accepting “common knowledge” as the objective truth regardless of evidence just because Joe Sciencepack thinks that’s how it’s done.

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