The Old Grumpies: Research has shown that...is it always true?

If you asked 20 elderly men if red wine was good for you, it is likely they would answer yes.
If you asked 20 elderly men if red wine was good for you, it is likely they would answer yes.

At our recent meeting a member started a sentence with “ research has shown that…” and before he could say anything else he was asked to say what research, when it was carried out, how and by whom? Vaguely he mumbled “some experts in America”. He didn’t know. So, how much credence can you give to so-called research?

If you asked 20 elderly gentlemen with purple noses whether red wine was good for you, it is likely that they would all answer “yes.” Red wine lovers can claim that as research.

The more sceptical members (that’s nearly all of them) soon came to the conclusion that research can be used to support almost anything you want it to.

You can claim that evidence can be produced (and it can be) that when a wife does all the chores the marriage lasts. Don’t admit that the research showed that it was only in Norway or you will have to continue fetching the coal in for a lot longer.

So grab your bit of research “evidence” and deduce what ever you want.

It appears the earth is getting warmer so if you are a vegetarian, claim it is the cows blasting methane into the atmosphere or if you are a Nimby then it’s because of planes taking off from Heathrow Airport.

Gradually, members started relating certain pieces of research evidence and we considered the logical deductions.

Eighty two per cent of people die in bed so if you want to live longer, try to keep out of bed. Twenty nine per cent of motor accidents are caused by drunk drivers, so watch out for the sober ones.

The members were now warming to the subject of “research has shown that…” and subjects started coming thick and fast.

When the resident clever-clogs said that omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were no longer the answer to almost all cardio-vascular problems, most members didn’t know what he was talking about and certainly hadn’t realised they had been good for you in the first place.

We knew that dairy products were bad for you, until recently, and that claims have been made that a healthy intake of such things as broccoli, beetroot, tomatoes, pomegranates, the rind of guava, onions and garlic, will ward of many ailments. Well, garlic does ward off people.

Some people accept the views, without question, of famous people who use the phrase “overwhelming evidence has shown that…” provided it supports their view.

The anti-fracking brigade prefer to believe an elderly fashion designer who states that fracking is dangerous, rather than The British Society, which consists of the most eminent scientists in the country, who say it isn’t.

Out of the blue a member then said that he had read that females who had regular sex were much happier than the others who didn’t, but then added that the research had been done on fruit flies. When it was pointed out that it had, in fact, been shown that regular sex into old age was good for your well being, there was a long, thoughtful silence and when the Chairman detected an overwhelming air of indifference he decided to close the meeting.

You, dear reader, can make your own deductions from that little piece of research and evidence.