Column: Scientific research does wonders for our lives

Where would we be without scientific research? Six feet under, probably. I say "probably" because some of us might still be moving around, the ones who’ve had their ashes scattered in the ocean.Bluecollar

Yes, scientific research is vital to our existence, almost as important as food, oxygen and coffee. But wait a minute, you might say, the cavemen didn’t conduct research and they managed just fine. Well, that’s not completely true. They did conduct research — they just didn’t think of publishing it. Oongah the caveman, for example, was able to conclude, from counting all the bumps on his head, that it wasn’t good for his health to comment on his wife’s weight. His wife, meanwhile, was able to conclude that it was possible to make a man change his ways, without resorting to violence. Just by withholding certain favors, you could get him to bang his head against the wall.

Modern research is more sophisticated, of course, and more widespread. Just do an Internet search and you’ll come across thousands of studies that have been conducted all over the world, even in Saskatchewan, Canada. A few recent ones underscore the importance of funding scientific research and keeping researchers happy. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that my wife is a researcher. She has conducted mostly animal research, including an ongoing experiment on what it’s like to be married to one.)

An Australian study
found that blue-collar workers are at a higher risk of developing
cancer than white-collar workers. What’s causing the cancer? Well, you
don’t have to be a scientist to realize that it must have something to
do with the blue dye in their collars. At least that’s what I thought
until I read a little further. Blue-collar workers such as truck
drivers, fruit and vegetable growers and hairdressers are at greater
risk because they’re exposed to chemicals, dyes,
pesticides and viruses. Think about that the next time you need a
haircut. Make sure you wash your hair well beforehand, so your hairdresser isn’t exposed to chemicals, dyes and pesticides. You can always spray for bugs later.

A Spanish study found that women aren’t tall and skinny, as many fashion designers envision them, but instead fall into three body types: hourglass,
pear shape and cylinder. The pear-shaped ones are at higher risk, of
course, of marrying a fruit grower. But that’s not the point of the
study. The point is to get the fashion industry to design clothes that
normal women can wear, and by "normal," I mean women who eat.

A U.S. study
found that attractive people tend to date other attractive people.
There are exceptions, of course. Who would have thought that Angelina Jolie,
for example, would end up with an unsightly dork like Brad Pitt?
Especially since she was previously married to that stud muffin Billy Bob Thornton.
The study didn’t just focus on attractive people. Whatever your level
of attractiveness, you’re likely to date someone at a similar level. If
you’re on a hot date in West Virginia, for example, don’t be surprised
if you and your date have an equal number of missing teeth.

An Indian study found that IT professionals are prone to suffer from CRI (Computer Related Injury). It’s easy to strain your neck, back, shoulders or wrists while using a computer. I hurt my arm the other
day, just from tossing my computer against the wall. I’ve also got a
number of bumps on my head, which, I’m starting to suspect, has
something to do with reading emails from my wife.

It’s really too bad that Oongah didn’t publish his study.

Photo by Miss Pupik

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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