Jun 202021

Whenever there’s some research paper on something obvious published in the “popular press” there are always commentators who wonder why. There’s a variety of reason why, but the first is by far the most important.

Just because something is known to be true doesn’t actually make it true. The point of proper research, experimentation, and evaluation is to test the truth of something and to verify that truth. Old wives tales may or may not be true (and some are), but until they are tested they remain just tales.

The second reason is to verify another researcher’s finding – a fact verified by one researcher (or research team) isn’t as fully verified as a fact verified by two or more.

And lastly, researchers have to research to learn their trade. Nobody would trust a plumber who hasn’t yet plumbed or an electrician who hasn’t yet fitted a plug, so why should researchers start with real problems?

The Missing Sign
Apr 022010

News is serious stuff – perhaps a bit too serious. I am all in favour of news – I watch and read a fair bit of it, and I like knowing what is going on in the world. But does it all have to be so serious ? We need a little more like :-


It actually would not be that hard to stick a few more “light” news items into today’s news. Usually news stories take a great deal longer to explain than is really necessary. Once we know that three people have been injured by a raging bull in Pamplona, we do not need much extra explanation – those of us capable of understanding either already know why bulls are likely to injure people in Pamplona or are quite capable of looking up the necessary information. It isn’t necessary to spoon feed us.

Especially when making usual news reports shorter allows us to see a more balanced view of the world. Normal news shows give us the impression that nothing happens “out there” but disaster and catastrophe. There is plenty of that sure, but there is also plenty of plain old boring days happening together with the occasional oddity that could make it to the BBC’s “Odd Box”.

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