12 August 2010

10 wacky studies

These are the weirdest and most pointless studies Susan Erasmus has come across in the last few years. And they're up against stiff competition.

These are the weirdest and most pointless studies Susan Erasmus has come across in the last few years. And they're up against stiff competition.

Before any study is conducted, surely the questions must be:

1.Why do we want to know this?
2. Will this make anyone's life better?
3.Could the money be better spent on starving children?

This was clearly not done, as these studies below were actually conducted, and research was published. That gurgling sound in the background is what it sounds like when you pour money down the drain.

Fish, space and motion sickness. German researchers sent 72 small fish into space to test whether they suffered from motion sickness. They swim in circles when they don't feel too good. Huh? Sending anything into space isn't cheap. And fish and humans are very different., so the findings are probably not significant. A fish with motion sickness; whatever next? An eagle with a fear of heights?

Pigs that glow in the dark. Oh yes, at last. I have always wanted a pig that glows in the dark. Chinese researchers bred piglets that glow fluorescent green when under ultraviolet lights. Do they come in different colours? Can they do pole dancing?

Hookworms and coeliac disease. Having a hookworm in your stomach helps treat coeliac disease. It reduces the sensitivity of your immune system. The thing that got me is that 20% of the study participants opted to keep their hookworm after the study was over. Wonder whether they gave them names? Captain Hook?

A mouse with the common cold. Researchers bred a mouse that was susceptible to the common cold. Not an experience any animal would want to miss out on now, would they? And no, mice and men cannot always be compared. We've had swine flu, now prepare yourself for mice sniffles. Sounds dreadfully scary. Bless you!

Ticks and meat allergies. You need to stun a tick, before you pull it off, because if you don't, it could lead to a meat allergy in certain people. How on earth was this study conducted? And why? If you find a tick on yourself, chances are you're not going to wait hours until you can stun it with oven cleaner before you get it off you.

Separated twins. How many separated twins do you know? So where on earth do the scientists find thousands of them to use in studies? Twins separated at birth are very popular with scientists, because their genetically they are very close, even though they may not have grown up together. The nature vs nurture debate, without having to resort to unethical means of research. But where, oh where would you find these people? Do all parents who have twins give them up for adoption or what? Imagine the money Octomom could have made.

Gender bender. A testosterone patch for women didn't quite make it onto the market. The problems with it included weight gain, insomnia, migraine, a deepening voice, acne and excess hair. Now that list is enough to put any woman off. Sounds as if a sex change would be less hassle. I would have loved to see the ad looking for participants in this study.

Electronic pets. It was found that it was better for elderly people to have an electronic dog around than no dog at all. The pitter-patter of paws is now a recording. Woof, woof. Robodog, anyone?

Coffee and insomnia. People who drink more than 9 cups of coffee per day are more likely than others to suffer from insomnia. And it cost you how much to find that out? Any chance of a cash donation if I give you my bank details? You clearly have far too much money lying around. I am also looking for funding for my study on whether people get dehydrated if they don't drink enough water. I'll be waiting for your call.

Cow dung taste sensation.  Mayu Yamamoto managed to extract vanilla flavour from cow dung. Wow. All ice cream shops are queueing to get in on the latest craze, for sure. It's the taste that counts, remember? One Dairy Surprise coming up. Moo.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24 June 2010)

(Sources:  Health24,, HealthDay News, Sapa, EurekAlert and Reuters Health)


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