Studies show . . .


This headline in the WSJ grabbed my attention:  “Studies are Usually Bunk, Study Shows.”  My favorite line in the article says that “Hands down, the two most dangerous words in the English language today are ‘studies show.’”

I did a little research myself, with emphasis on the “little.”  I googled “studies show.” Based solely on the first Google headlines in my search results, here is what I learned

  • Restraints may be a major creativity boost.
  • Yoga can help treat depression.
  • Cannabis treats migraines better than pharmaceuticals.
  • Pigs are more intelligent than dogs.
  • Interrupted sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Drinking more coffee may lead to a longer life [Note to self: but what if it interrupts my sleep?]
  • Sweet drinks may damage the brain.
  • Some foods may be as addictive as heroin.

On one level, this is amusing.  I just listed the headlines because that is all I read.  I’m not, however, going to rely on the headlines and, for example, trade in my dog for a pig.

I wish I could say that I always base my decisions on more than a headline or the headnotes of a case or an unspecified study.  But I don’t.  In a world with so much information, why do we study so little of it? Our lack of attention to available information may be the reason that “fake news” can flourish.  We either get the “correct news” wrong because we only read the headline.  Or the propagators of “fake news” know that most of us won’t dig behind the headline or the unspecified “study.”

Resolutions for the post-eclipse 2017 – Read the whole article. Question the sources. Use a little common sense.