Really Really Stupid Science

by ProfKeith

Years ago I used to run a section in my newsletter about REALLY stupid science. Some of it would just make you laugh.

Today a howler came across my desk, under the title: Football Fans May Overestimate Chances of Favorite NFL Team (NFL is National Football League for you non-Americans—not soccer, remember).

It starts off: As the National Football League kicks off its 2015 season this weekend, fans across the country are certain that this is the year for their team. But a new study shows that pro football fans and dedicated sports reporters often overestimate their team’s chances of going all the way.

What?

The world is bleeding from its wounds, people dying everywhere, heart disease and cancer still not really solved, Ebola on the loose, parasites still kill more people than all the wars in history and these dumb-asses are wasting research funds looking into whether football fans are realistic in their beliefs?

It takes my breath away. I can’t decide whether to laugh or puke?

“We should perhaps take the predictions of experts assigned to a single team with a pinch of salt as they may not appreciate the bigger picture,” study senior author Brad Love, a professor of psychology and language sciences at University College London, said in a university news release.

Oh, and wait for this one… this is BIG:

Football fans aren’t just overly optimistic about their own team’s prospects; they’re also extra pessimistic about a rival team’s chances, the study showed.

Come on, I’m wasting too much time on this folly.

[SOURCE: University College London, news release, September 9, 2015 and believe it or not this junk was published in the journal of the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE), a fast track peer review publication]

Here’s Another One (Not Quite as Daft!)

Children who have less than 20 minutes to eat lunch at school end up eating less and wasting more healthy foods, a new study reveals.

Wey! Who’d have thought it?

Federal government guidelines have enhanced the nutritional quality of school lunches, but there are no guidelines on how much time students should have for a lunch period, according to researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The study authors said that 20 minutes or less may not be enough time to eat. In fact, waiting in serving lines or arriving late to lunch sometimes left children in the study with as little as 10 minutes to actually sit and eat, the investigators found. Cutting edge science, this is!

“Many children, especially those from low-income families, rely on school meals for up to half their daily energy intake, so it is essential that we give students a sufficient amount of time to eat their lunches,” said the study’s lead author, Juliana Cohen, an adjunct assistant professor in the department of nutrition in a school news release.

I’m concerned for the kids, of course. But it hardly needed an expensive study from Harvard to make this point, did it?

Hands up those of you who think 10 minutes is plenty of time for a decent lunch break?

No… I thought not.

Well, May As Well Keep Going Now…

OK, I’ve abandoned life-saving science this week, let’s just have a laugh!

Here’s another intriguing headline: Does Hopping Help Your Hips?

Apparently, a study showed that hopping for 2 minutes a day can help bone health in older men, U.K. researchers say. The impact exercises help counteract the effects of aging in the bone, they claim, and that may mean hips are less likely to break after a fall.

Don’t snigger. The REAL howler was in the second paragraph:

The research team says it’s too soon to recommend older people start hopping at home! It’ll need more studies before we are sure this is a good idea…

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

It’s all real. It comes to me every week in the MedicineNet.com weekly newsletter. It’s a synopsis of the week’s science. It’s dafter than a comic some weeks.

In The Same Issue

How about the shocking scientific discovery that if you have bigger food portions, you eat more? Einstein would have blushed at this one, it’s so Cosmic!

Eliminating jumbo servings of foods and beverages could reduce caloric intake among Americans by 29 percent, British researchers found (you’d never even get American researchers with the nerve to look into this!)

Apparently—and I didn’t know until now—the evidence for this effect has been fragmented, so the overall picture has been unclear, or so one of the researchers said.

It has long been known that overeating leads to obesity, increasing your risk for serious chronic health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Ah, so some real science mixed in.

The researchers analyzed the results of 61 high-quality studies involving more than 6,700 participants. The study, published September 14th, 2015 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that people routinely offered larger portion sizes consistently ate more food and drank more non-alcoholic beverages.

“Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating,” said the study’s co-leader, Dr. Gareth Hollands, a behavior and health researcher at the University of Cambridge.

That’s good news for some consumers: he’s not suggesting that THEY take responsibility for their own eating… it’s the food industry’s fault. Phew!

But new legislation and marketing tactics may be needed to help bring about significant reductions in food consumption, the study suggested. That’s very true in the USA. But you try getting legislation through that affects the profits of the food industry! You might as well try paddling to the moon in a canoe!

[SOURCE: University of Cambridge, news release, Sept. 14, 2015]

Room For Just One More

Here’s a pearler: did you know that if you get hangovers you can solve it by drinking less? No really: it’s scientifically proven!

stupid-scienceI mean, no ifs and buts; there are two published studies, one in Canada and one in The Netherlands, proving that drinking too much causes hangovers. We needed this important knowledge confirmed. After all, if could have just been an old-wives’ tale.

Joris Verster, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology, and psychopharmacology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and a part of both study teams tells us: “the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover.”

He seems pretty confident about that. He should be; they spent $10,000s proving this breakthrough discovery.

But, hold on, Verster and his colleagues presented their findings Saturday at a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered “preliminary” until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

So it could all be a mistake. It might not be true. It needs “confirmatory studies”, also costing $10,000s, before the medical community can confidently move forward on this one.

Jeez, Gimme a drink! In fact make that a double… Ow, my head…

SOURCES: Joris Verster, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology, and psychopharmacology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; Michael Bloomfield, Ph.D., B.M.B.Ch., M.R.C.Psych., clinical lecturer in psychiatry, University College London and Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, London, England; Aug. 29, 2015, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) meeting, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

You have to laugh! They say it’s the best medicine….

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