tirsdag, juli 05, 2005

Warning! Social science research is bad for your health!

A few days ago, a study was posted on this very blog by this very researcher. Following the conventions of such things, I restricted myself to a professional rendering of facts and statistics. However, now, the truth can be told. Be warned - this is not appropriate light reading for any of the more squeamishly inclined dwellers of the blogosphere!

As you probably know, research is geared towards increasing the greater knowledge of humankind, a focus which on occasion requires sacrifice on the part of the individual researcher. For example, both I and my fellow rice pudding tester were each required to eat 4 cartons of rice pudding snack in one go, in the interests of science of course.* To say that we were not feeling very well afterwards would be something of an understatement - in fact, despite having carried out the experiment at lunchtime, we were forced to forego a previously arranged dinner out because of mildly upset stomachs. However, by the next day, we had both fully recovered, and felt that the momentary inconvenience had been more than justified by the potential gains given to all those toiling away in the Dessert Studies field, jokingly but lovingly known by some of us as 'Desert Studies' because of the long wait between breakthrough experiments that one finds in this area.

But it was only yesterday, yes two whole days after the original experimental research had been completed, that the full extent of the damage was revealed. I went shopping, as one must do in order to eat and thus, to maintain the stamina necessary to continue working. A normal part of my shopping routine is to buy a rice pudding dessert or two. However, on this occasion, I not only could not bring myself to buy any, I could barely bring myself to look at the area in which the rice puddings were housed. Clearly something of the very nature of the shopping section of my cortex has been altered by my research. When I arrived home, I told my fellow researcher that I had seen something at the store...'Risifrutti. Any comments'? He looked vaguely shocked, and responded 'Eewwww!', thereby showing that the effect I had experienced is in fact generalizable.

It may be that we both had a previously latent anti-pudding tendency, which our research unintentionally triggered. It could also be a form of avoidance therapy. Maybe we have been in the Dessert Studies field for too long, and the novelty of constant interaction with sugar and fat is wearing off. However, I think it is something more insidious than this, and I would like to issue a warning to any who might follow in our footsteps. Think twice! My colleague and I still feel that the sacrifice has been worth it, but we would not want anyone else hurt who might not be ready to suffer for science.

* To those who might somehow dare to suggest that we might have eaten not the whole carton of each pudding, but just enough to evaluate it for taste and texture, putting the remainder back in the refrigerator to be enjoyed later: We are experienced researchers, and we know what we are doing. To suggest otherwise is to deny the very existence of sacrifice for the greater good. And you wouldn't want to do that, would you? If you would, then you are clearly not able to appreciate non-profit research (and trust me, this research was totally non-profit!).

Ingen kommentarer: