Studying The Obvious

Every week we see reports on academic studies of some topic or another.  Often the study seems like a pointless exercise in which the eggheads have “studied” something that is glaringly obvious as a matter of common experience and then produced a report explaining that what everybody already knows is, in fact, true.

So it is with a recently announced study by a team from the University of North Carolina that concluded that “super size” portions and increased snacking have contributed to the growing obesity epidemic in the United States.  The study concludes that efforts to reduce obesity should focus on the number of snacks and meals that people consume and the size of their portions. 

Huh!  So increased eating has contributed to increased obesity, eh?  The study therefore conclusively refutes the commonly accepted alternative hypotheses that increased obesity was caused by evil spells cast by invisible wizards or by changes in the composition of the air!  Who knows how much the study cost — or whether it was funded with some kind of federal grant — but we can all conclude that it was money well spent.

Next, teams of academics will conduct detailed studies of the following topics:  (1)  Whether the presence of shrieking children on an airplane increases the stress levels found in other passengers; (2) whether there is any causal relationship between bean consumption and gas production in the lower gastro-intestinal tract; (3) whether ongoing infidelity by spouses has any impact on the durability of marriages; and (4) whether political contributions by special-interest groups have any apparent effect on the voting patterns of politicians receiving those contributions.