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why there are still diseases without cures
my take
by reem al-omari (@Reemawi)

There is a study out there for anything you can think of nowadays. And in any category, it seems.

Every other day, I go online and I find the "findings" of some obscure study that proves really strange things I would never think to ask, little else find its "findings" useful in my everyday life.

Just a week ago, I read about a Dutch study that very tentatively, and pointlessly concluded that left-handed women die sooner than right-handed women. Of course, they don't just drop dead one day out of the blue, they just have up to a 40% chance of ending up with things like breast cancer.

I guess that study is interesting, but does it change anything for left-handed women? Can they do anything to prevent things of the sort... like stop being left-handed and magically reduce their chances?

Probably not.

I also read about a study a while ago about what makes a "Bootylicious Booty". The disturbing thing is that there was a math formula put together to help those who wonder about these things figure whether their butts are bootylicious or not. If that's not a waste of time, I don't know what is.

So why is money being spent on things that don't help the human race, when a cure for AIDS is nowhere in sight? Stem cell research materials are being destroyed for lack of backing and funding, and so are the chances to find cures for currently incurable diseases. Yet, scientists find the time and funding to research things that are nonsense and absolutely useless.

I've been stewing about studies of this sort for a while, but the one that has set me off is an article on how to "Hide an Affair." A bunch of psychologists actually got together and did a study on how to essentially hide an affair from your spouse.


Just what the world needs; a manual on how to be a successful adulterer and jerk.

The article reminds me of those medical encyclopedias I used to flip through when I was a kid, and finding that I have symptoms that could be something deadly, when in fact, I just had gas or something. Keep in mind that the study was probably implemented more to figure out what the signs of adultery are, rather than how to hide it, but still. Articles like these, if read by enough insecure people, can cause big problems.

Take for example these "signs" that your spouse is indeed having an affair:

"-Women beware if your husband talks about spending 'quality time' together. More than anything else, this is the hallmark of a cheat.

- Men be concerned, be very concerned, if your wife suddenly demands more sex, seems unusually attentive to you, and wears her wedding ring more often than she did before. And, men, this should really scare you: Women are far better at deception than you are."

Ok, so, apparently, if I just happen to be especially horny, I MUST be having an affair if I ask my husband for some nookie.

And also, if a woman doesn't wear her wedding ring... I'd say the problem is obvious enough you don't need a study to tell you something is wrong between you and your spouse. Perhaps there are some women who don't wear their wedding rings, but even the most un-prissy women still wear their wedding rings. If you disagree with me on that, I recommend you hear what Grace Kelly has to say about that in Hitchcock's Rear Window.

I know that there have been tons of articles, at least, that reveal the sure signs your spouse is cheating, but this one takes it to a whole new level with its title, as well as its dangerous way of almost teaching people how to be successfully deceiving. It seems to me in the end, we've swapped Aesop's Fables for Cosmo's book of ethics to build our societies upon.

In the meantime, money will be wasted on useless studies, while sick people suffer with no cure in sight, because of financial setbacks triggered by money wasted on mathematical formulas for butts.


Reem lives and writes about it. She thinks that's what writers do, anyway. If it's not, then she also has a degree in journalism under her belt, along with the titles of reporter, editor (in chief, even) and, of course, opinion columnist.

more about reem al-omari


the black sheep
by reem al-omari
topic: news
published: 8.22.08

the double-standard
sometimes it's about offense
by reem al-omari
topic: news
published: 4.20.07


robert melos
5.10.07 @ 5:16a

I have a feeling the truly bootylicious don't care about being bootylicious. I agree we, as a society, seem to send out the wrong signals. We want certain things, need certain things, and go after the wrong things.

How to cheat is appalling. If they called it, "How to avoid getting killed by your spouse" it would've been a better title. Probably would've gotten just as much interest, but for different reasons.

And in the meantime, as you say, people are dying because of foolish spending or lack of spending. That's what is really sad.

ken mohnkern
5.10.07 @ 10:18a

On the other hand, not everyone is an AIDS researcher. Most are simply working on questions they find interesting, questions that they think might reveal something interesting about humanity.

I don't know who did the bootylicious study, but I could see it as a part of an inquiry into why we find beautiful people beautiful. (I look forward to the boobylicious follow-up. To satisfy my, you know, scientific curiosity.)

My point, I think, is that the question these researchers are investigating could be perfectly valid, even if the local news treats the results as comedy.

reem al-omari
5.10.07 @ 1:09p

I understand that there are some studies out there that start out with a serious question, and end up being comedic when the media get a hold of them... but why don't we ever see headlines about finding things useful? It just seems like only the silly stuff gets the attention.

ken mohnkern
5.11.07 @ 12:11a

I think that's one reason: the silly stuff gets the attention (that is, the viewers). Some hacks (*cough* John Stossel *cough*) base their careers on exposing the weird stuff.

Another reason, of course, is that there's a lot more useless research being done (like the project I'm working on) than life-changing stuff.

Lee Gutkind was on The Daily Show recently to plug his new book, which is about the cool research being done at The Robotics Institute (my office is owned by an RI faculty). John Steward did a pretty good job of making the truly impressive (in real life) research look foolish.

dorothy kyle
6.6.07 @ 1:54p

Anything for money, including ridiculous studies. People actually contribute to it.

reem al-omari
6.6.07 @ 3:02p

Yep. We sure do, even when we don't mean to.

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