Tuesday, February 26, 2008

[research] spilt some gravy, sorry

Wiki shot of animals for research

We all need to go out on the street and bring in some stray cats:

A study by the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Research Center presented Thursday at the American Stroke Association meeting found that people who had previously or currently owned cats were less likely to die from heart attack and other cardiovascular disease.cats may help prevent heart attack?

The study examined data from 4,435 people, ranging in age from 30 to 75, participating in ongoing research with the National Health and Nutritional Examination Study.

Uh-huh and how much did it cost in research funds to come up with that one? What about the study which found that enough LSD will kill people - by the way, how did they determine that?

Every six months or so a bunch of scientists get together and decide to administer what are called LD 50 tests to a population of animals, such as rats, monkeys or beagles. This is done to determine the level at which a Lethal Dose (LD) of any substance will kill 50 per cent of the population. This then allows the same group of scientists to issue pronouncements such as "Eating 50kgs of marzipan is not good for you and/or may result in death"

And the topics hypothesized on are all in the serious category, of course:

Their study of 329 drinkers in Los Angeles found that malt liquor drinkers are different from those who choose other tipples. Ricky Bluthenthal, who led the study, said malt liquors were both higher in alcohol than other beers and tended to be sold in larger containers.

"We found that the combination of these differences resulted in the average malt liquor drinker in our study consuming 80 percent more alcohol per drink than the average regular beer drinker," he said in a statement.

Quite serious studies, say the detractors - the research might seem spurious to the layman but it takes 90% of research for every 10% of result. This costs money. Er, yes - exactly how much money? I did a little cursory research and came up with people who are quite shy to exactly say. This was as far as they'd commit themselves:

A major problem arises for universities because funding from external sources rarely covers the full cost of research. The trend amongst external agencies is to provide less than the direct full costs of research, leaving the universities to "top up" not only the direct costs of a project but also to fund fully the indirect research costs ...

So it's necessary to turn to detractors to put a figure on it and it's not peanuts:

Circa 1999-2002, David Touretzky was given $338,334 in grant funds obtained from the National Science Foundation, to conduct experiments involving the use of rats and "Amelia" a mobile robot.

I think the one I love most of all is this:

We all know that women like pink and men prefer blue, but we have never really known why. Now it emerges that parents who dress their boys in blue and girls in pink may not just be following tradition but some deep-seated evolutionary instinct.

Researchers have found that there could be sound historical reasons why women have developed a heightened appreciation of reds and pinks, while men are drawn to blue.

In the light of the current economic climate, bird flu and so on, I'm sure you'd agree that colour research requires heavy investment and an overseas trip to some resort.


  1. Animals are physiologically different to us. Sheep are immune to arsenic for instance. I don't think there is any excuse for animal testing for any reason at all. Especially in this day in age.

    If it's meant for people, test it on people.

    And as for these spurious tests....I prefer blue. What does that make me?

  2. Great post. You have to question why we need to know some of this stuff.

  3. Yes, as you say, all quite obvious. My mother told me "Men like blue" in about 1955 and she has never been proved wrong!

  4. Personally, navy, white and maroon are my colours but light grey also goes nicely as a trim.

  5. We all know that women like pink and men prefer blue.

    I don't like pink or blue. My daughter and her daughter both love blue. I guess some have to buck the trend.


Your thoughts on this?