Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comfort in numbers

Research is a weird thing. As long as you have numbers and statistics, you can practically report anything and get away with it. For instance, you can publish a study on the fact that 90% of the people who dig their noses begin from the right nostril and then move on to the left when they are satiated, unless, of course, they are left-handed.

I recently read that couples matched on the basics of DNA testing are likely to have better sex. And one which said that dogs who wag their tails on the left side are marginally happier than those that wag their tails to the right side. And believe me, such research is not cheap. Somebody somewhere got a grant sanctioned that allocated huge funds to the same, deployed robots and other hi-tech trappings, not to mention 500 dogs allotted for the study, and obviously, owners to document the learnings.

If I were a cat, I’d say, “Poor sods! Why wag at all? And how totally presumptuous of the human species to assume that the owners had anything to do with the dog’s behaviour.”

Another study says that the heavier your snores are, the more calories you burn. There goes any residual desire in the minds of the pot-bellied and the simply fat to hit the gym or go for that run. “Why work out when I can snore my fat away?”, the men are bound to say.

Such is research. The weirder it is, the better. So it doesn’t really surprise me why not enough research is reported on things that are more relevant, more every day? Like what goes through the minds of people who drive SUVs in the city of Bombay? Or wait till 1 am and seven times the permissible alcohol content in their blood streams so that they can finally drive them at speeds that make them look good, killing a few cops or passersby on the way, if need be?

Because if there had been such research, the likes of “US-returned beautician” Nooria Haveliwala or Puru Raj Kumar or Manu Sharma or our very own Salman Khan could have read it and not spent nights in jail with unpleasant cell-mates, two tubelights, one fan and no mosquito repellants.

Poor Nooria. Had she done this in the US, she would have at least spent the night in a better smelling cell, there would have been a bigger window perhaps, may be even air-conditioning, and definitely no mosquitoes. But then, would her daddy be able to bail her out? I doubt it.

But then, may be no one volunteered to do research on such trivial offences, and may be dogs and cats and moustaches and snores are keeping scientists really busy. Also, ridiculous research is safe, it doesn’t ruffle any feathers and more importantly, makes good copy. Evidently, we all read them and chuckle from time to time. It’s a win-win. Someone is paying for them. Someone gets paid to do them. Others, like us are paying to read them.


  1. ye, I too was enraged at SUV drivers.........and was thinking, 'they just think they are the kings of the road' so some research should really be useful.

    good chick wit, I must

  2. An unquoted researcher once said that 86% of all statistics are made up on the spot.