If one more person tells me drinking hot drinks will give me esophageal cancer, according to the latest study, well, I’ll probably nod and smile politely like I have been doing all week. I order my drinks extra hot – 180 degrees BECAUSE, when the chai syrup is added the temperature drops 20 degrees and soy cools faster than milk. The actuality is, my drink is no warmer than anyone else’s, but people would rather site misappropriated one liners from studies rather than study the study or even ask about my drink.
I’m not disparaging studies and research, but I am speaking out against the tendency to string together one liners from studies as some kind of truth rather than view them as indicators of potential possibilities. According to “studies” I am underpaid, overweight, and bitter. Furthermore, I have never left the US and I have inadequate retirement. How do you even measure bitterness? Do people look at me and think they know things about me based on studies and therefore, we will never have a conversation about my three months working in mainland China, my bike trip through Provence, or my ski trip in Austria.
My friends and I have noticed a trend at work also. Companies are basing some programs and actions based on what the “millennials” want. My first reaction is always, did you actually ask them, or are you citing some study. It’s one thing for people to make comments about studies in general conversation, but a but more jarring when business decisions and programs are based “studies.” What was the basis the these studies? Do these studies apply? Last week, someone did a presentation for a rollout of a new program, based on what millennials want. I noticed one of the talking points and accompanying data was from a presentation I saw 3 years ago. Is the data still relevant?
All studies are equal. Study what the study says, the scope and size. Data, studies are all very useful as predictors and indicators. but they should be used with some caution. When someone starts citing a one line from a study, no I do not have a facial tic, I am just trying to avoid screaming at the top of my lungs, because this makes me want to holler.
Extra Credit: This summarizes the kind of studies to which I refer. This makes me laugh. John Oliver on Scientific Studies