A piece of the action
Oct. 3, 2011
by Ivan Raconteur

This just in from the painfully obvious news desk: “Women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to get depressed, research suggests.”

This quote is from a recent story by BBC News health reporter Michelle Roberts.

The story involved the findings published in “Archives of Internal Medicine,” that involved a 10-year study of 50,000 US female nurses conducted by a Harvard Medical School team of researchers.

This is one of those earth-shattering discoveries about which we hear from time to time. I am sure we never would have figured this out if they hadn’t done the study.

Although the report stopped short of advising people to start drinking coffee in order to improve their moods, it was noted that, compared with women who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, those who consumed two to three cups per day had a 15 percent decreased risk of developing depression. Those who drank four or more cups a day cut their risk by 20 percent.

Decaffeinated coffee did not produce the same results.

In addition, according to the story, the researchers said their findings add weight to the work of others which found lower suicide rates among coffee drinkers. They suspect caffeine is the key player – it is known to enhance feelings of well-being and energy. And it has a physical effect on brain function and transmission by blocking certain chemical receptors, like adenosine.

I don’t know how much these scientists spent to figure this out, but I am sure I could have saved them some money.

Anyone who has spent time in coffee shops watching zombies come to life knows that coffee can have a remarkable affect on people’s mood and general disposition.

This study is another indication that there are people out there with deep pockets who are willing to pay serious money to have people confirm the obvious.

I’d like to get a piece of that action.

I can think of a whole range of pointless studies that I could do to prove things that most of us already know.

I could, for example, for a nominal fee, conduct a study on the palliative influence of chocolate.

There are times when we must ask people to do things they might not want to do, or which create extra work for them.

Applying a liberal dose of chocolate to the situation at the time of the request significantly reduces the odds of having one’s head bitten off.

This seems especially true for women.

It is not that guys don’t like chocolate; it is just that there are other factors that are more effective in motivating men.

We could also experiment with different quantities and qualities of chocolate to see how these factors affect the results.

Does five pounds of chocolate produce better results than one pound? Does Dove achieve more cooperation than Hershey’s? Will Godiva be more effective than Nestlé? I could find out for a very reasonable fee.

Another pointless study we could undertake would be to determine if men pay closer attention to advertising that includes women in bikinis.

Judging by the commercials that air during football games, there is no doubt about it.

We could, however, confirm it for a price.

Whether or not the guys remember what products were featured in the ads is another question.

The next important study we could undertake would help us determine if the average guy would rather attend a sporting event or a wedding.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that apart from their own wedding (which they know they can’t get out of) or their daughter’s, most men want nothing to do with weddings.

But, if someone is willing to pony up the fee, I could do the research to prove whether men are happier at a ball game or trussed up in a suit in a chapel.

Another important research project would determine if vacations reduce stress.

I would probably have to travel to some exotic locations to verify this one.

In order to be thorough, I would have to analyze people in some very different situations.

I might need to spend a week in the Boundary Waters, followed by a week on a beach in Tahiti, and then do a thorough tour of English pubs, followed by some time in Ireland.

We might also need to visit Alaska and explore Glacier National Park in Montana.

People go a lot of different places on their vacations, and we would want to do the job properly or not at all.

This might be more expensive than some of the other studies, but it would be worth it to find out if people really are less stressed on vacation than they are at work.

It would be a tough job, but I would be willing to tackle it in the name of science.

I have plenty of good ideas. Now, I just need to figure out how to get in touch with the people who have the money to pay for all this important research.

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