Won't Somebody Please Think Of the Scientific Method!?

02/14/2007 2:38 pm
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I came across this study on how napping at work lowers your odds of heart attacks and it bugged the crap out of me.

First off it's one of those "well no crap" things that scientists put out there like no one had ever heard it before. The link between health and stress has been well established.

Secondly, and more specifically, this "study" in particular drives me up a wall. There are tons of studies like this where someone sets out to prove something and throws out any variables except the one they want. the finding in this case was that napping during the work day will decrease your odds of a heart attack by 40%. The problem with this study in particular was that it didn't set up a control group, a group it told to never nap, and a group it told to nap 3 times a week. It was just a survey of about 6000 people.

So they just took 6000 people doing their normal routine, noted than the ones that napped lived longed, and concluded naps prolong life. The problem? It says a lot about your lifestyle, and more importantly your job, if you are allowed to nap during the work day. The guys doing manual factory labor for 10 hours a day aren't the ones getting nap time. It's the ones doing the cushy jobs, some of which are self employed.

Science just doesn't work this way. It's hard to prove things.

One of my favorite shows is Mythbusters, but it suffers from the same problem. Lets say someone tells you they knew a guy who fell off a building, but because he was holding a giant board glided safely to the floor below him .

You grab a board, run up to the top of a skyscraper, jump off, and glide safely to the ground, Myth confirmed.

You plummet to the earth and you didn't prove anything. There could have been 34209823 variables that went into the "maiden flight" and you will never be able to perfectly recreate the situation. You can use math to show that the updraft needed to provide the lift would need to be 30 times faster than any ever recorded, and that it you would need super human strength to hold onto the board under anything close to those conditions anyway. You still didn't prove it didn't happen. I give them a pass because the show is called "Mythbusters" not "Myth-Finder-Improbablers" but it still bugs we once in a while.
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
02/14/2007 @ 03:37:32 PM
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I forgot to bring up one of the things that launched this topic in my head.

My aunt and uncle recently saw a guy speaking about people's diets and how we all need to change.

He cited that America was one of the most unhealthy countries in the world. His "proof"? We consume 60% of the worlds medication.

Frankly I'm actually surprised it's that low.

Are we really that unhealthy or are we over-prescribed? Do we just have too much money to throw around?

His conclusion that more medication = more sickness is flawed for many, many, reasons. I won't patronize you by going into them, because I think they're fairly obvious.
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Jeremy edited this 2 times, last at 02/14/2007 3:37:54 pm
2887.gifAlex - You've got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret
02/14/2007 @ 06:37:43 PM
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I disagree. The article doesn't make any outrageous claims and includes some of the disclaimers you mentioned. Plus a lot of common sense beliefs aren't true, so despite its apparent "duhness", it seems to be a worthwhile study. In fact, I think you're just cranky because you missed your nap today. emoticon
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newalex.jpgAlex - I don't need to get steady I know just how I feel
02/14/2007 @ 06:39:13 PM
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Most likely this speaker guy really was blowing hot air, but what if his deal was that America was unhealthy because it consumes so much medicine?
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
02/14/2007 @ 09:17:30 PM
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They didn't address anything about my point about the fact that the guys who do backbreaking labor and whatnot being compared to guys who have a job where napping would even be considered is silly.

The closest they came was saying "if you have a couch in your office you should nap." They don't mention the fact that you have a decent job if you have an office, and certainly if you have one with a couch in it in the first place.

Common sense things are often wrong hence my "The link between health and stress has been well established." It's not "common sense" it has been well studied.

The speaker was definitely blowing hot air and meant it the way I phrased it.

One of his big points was that somewhere in Alabama a dog was taken away from a couple when it was found out they fed it only Doritos and Coke, yet we give these things to our children. Well giving a child Doritos and Coke and feeding them NOTHING BUT Dortios and Coke are two very different things. Child Protective Services would swing into that house without hesitation.

My aunt and uncle talked about this guy for like an hour, they were enamored with him. The only actual information he seemed to bring up is that we should eat less junk food and more fruit. He also gave a couple of supplements everyone should take.
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Jeremy perfected this at 02/14/2007 9:17:52 pm
newalex.jpgAlex - Refactor Mercilessly
02/14/2007 @ 10:25:55 PM
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So you would only be happy with that study if they studied a sample of people for every single type of job possible separately?

Plus how do you know that guys who do hard labor on long shifts don't take naps? One summer I had somewhat of a manual labor job that started at the unthinkable time of 6 in the morning and a lot of times I'd put my head down on the table and doze off for a few minutes at lunch. You don't have to have a couch and a dark or even quiet room to take a little cat nap.
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jon.jpgJon - 2862 Posts
02/17/2007 @ 01:06:00 AM
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Did you purposely use the word
"Someboby" and if so, why did I not notice it until now?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
02/17/2007 @ 10:06:45 AM
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Ha, no I didn't. It's sort of crazy no one noticed until now.
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