Is it me or is it just lousy research?

I know as an academic I have to research and publish. But I can't help but saying there's loads of research out there that's pure bunkum. Of course, it isn't research that's the problem, it's people who do it.

Like for example this latest one which says parents with kids are probably delusional. Because they tend to fool themselves into believing that having kids is more rewarding than it actually is. Then there's research that shows its the stage of the parents' life that dictates their state of happiness.

Whatever, I have a question. How do we know for sure childless couples are happier? I mean when you say parents would have been happier if they were childless its similar to saying childless couples are better off the way they are vis-a-vis if they had kids. Remember happiness is being measured on a relative scale. So the comparisons can be threefold. Childless couples versus parents. Or parents vis-a-vis if they were childless. Or again, childless couples vs. if they had children. Now please tell me how childless couples are supposed to know if they would have been happier if they had kids? They don't have kids, so its logical to conclude they can't fathom what their state of happiness would have been if they were in charge of a litter whose origins they are responsible for?

Its like the vegan-non vegan debate. I am a proud meat man. And when I tell vegans they should try meat they tell me they like their veggies better. Really!? What a joke! How could they know? They haven't sinned with flesh. So how do they know grass is better?

I admit, this research is about parents hyping their state of happiness. But then I believe research must try and be as 'comprehensive' as possible. Meaning the perspective mustn't be uni-dimensional. One thing I agree. Minimising Cognitive Dissonance comes naturally to us. And that shows in the way we as parents and even as consumers play up what we receive as benefits. So if you ask me about the time I spent with my darlin' Brooklyn last evening, maybe I'd say I was playing up the joy I felt.

Or maybe I wasn't. Maybe that's exactly the way it was. And maybe I'd say, to hell with your research. I genuinely know I am happier now, than when Brooklyn wasn't there!

Yeah, maybe I'd just say that!


Ranbir said…
"Researchers" believe that their credibility goes up if they use statistics. Unfortunately, this is quite true if you wanted to publish in Journals (including American). So, what's the easiest way out? Cite some published paper and use sample size, sampling and even justifiable ratios of your choice to get your work published.

This is a quote from a book "Fooled by Randomness" by NN Taleb that comes to my mind,"It is a mistake to use statistics without logic, but the reverse does not hold: It is not a mistake to use logic without statistics". I am sure one would enjoy the book. In the book he has shown how flawed logics leads to wrong conclusions, something that you talked about
Pilot said…
Hello Ray,

That it is a matter of 'knowing oneself' is irrefutable.

As long as people do not understand themselves well enough, marketers and researchers can and will thrive. Which is not a bad thing, not only from their point of view!

Lastly, it needs mentioning that it IS possible to know and remove uncertainty of the kind you ended the post with. What matters is the objectivity with which one needs to try understanding oneself.

Ray Titus said…

Couldn't agree more...

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