One of these days I’m going to start a new consulting company based on the sad truth that in today’s world a good search turns up nice-looking data to prove anything.
For example, you want eggs to be bad for you? We’ll find research to prove it. No? You want eggs to be good for you? We’ll find research to prove that.
Yesterday over at smplans.com I posted 3 Silly Reasons to Quit Social Media in 2013, quoting a post on Forbes.com offering the following:
… a UK study from the fall found that over 50% of social media users evaluated their participation in social networking as having an overall negative effect on their lives. Specifically, they singled out the blow to their self-esteem that comes from comparing themselves to peers on Facebook and Twitter as the biggest downfall.
In defense of the author of that post, she’s obviously making fun. Another reason is blood pressure. She says there’s bad behavior in social media that will make your blood pressure rise.
And negative, or contrarian headlines, like 3 reasons you should quite social media, get more readers. I understand. When it’s surprising, I’m more likely to click.
But seriously: When something starts with “a study found that…” do you pay attention?
I used to, back in the old days, before the Internet, when information was hard to find. These days I don’t have the same respect for “a study found that” because there are studies to find anything you want to say. No matter how preposterous.
4 thoughts on “I Can Find Research to Prove Anything”
Boy, isn’t this the truth? You really have to look closely at the information published and more often than not, you’d probably be better off doing your own study. It may not be perfect, but at least you can be confident in the results.
The problem comes from studies making conclusions. If they make a conclusion, it’s opinion that has found a few facts to back them up. If the study lets you make your own conclusion, I like that a lot better.
I don’t think this is something new. Studies have always been done to back up an opinion. When I was in college I would occasionally take a sociology course, use the professors facts and come up with an opposite conclusion just for fun. I don’t think “studies” are any different today…..at least when it comes to social sciences.
Thanks Josh. Good reminder. I agree that this has been going on since way before the web. Feels like there’s more of it now, but maybe that’s just easier access.
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