Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 4, 1999

By Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / May 4, 1999

So…..I’m confused. Not that there’s anything really unusual about that,really. After all, we live in a confusing world and personally I think thatanyone who isn’t confused at least part of the time is just kidding themselves or they live in a large cardboard box in someone else’s backyard and don’t really see what’s going on around them. Anyway, themost recent source for my mandatory daily dose of confusion is an article I read in this morning’s paper that says “Sunscreen May Not Stop Cancer After All”. I find this particular article not only confusing, but downrightannoying.

Do they mean to tell me that, after all of their exhaustive “studies” and all of the dire warnings concerning sunscreen that utilized every media source in the known galaxy to pound us with the deadly consequences of going outside without this protective armor coating oozing from every pore, these learned people think that it’s okay to just suddenly say, “Oh…about that. Never mind.” It makes me want to walk up to thesescientists (or whatever they are) and do the Moe Howard thing that involves grabbing their nose and then slapping my own hand away, then walk away leaving them rubbing their noses and wondering just what that was all about.

Because every time I read about a study that studied some other study that determined that the first study was not correct, and that more studies will be needed to study the long term effects of that study, I feel the same way. What was that all about? Are these people serious? But, ofcourse they are. Because, as long as they can keep confusing people withthe sheer volume of invalid information that their latest study studied, somebody – that is usually some form of Governmental Body – will continue to give them huge, greasy piles of money to do more studies to get to the bottom of the last study they screwed up.

If this were the first time a study that supposedly affects every aspect of our daily lives ended up incorrect, or misguided, or just plain fat-headed, up-side down, nose-picking-stupid wrong, I wouldn’t be in such a state.

But, it’s not.

And briefly, I will remind you of just a few.

The Foods That Are Bad For You studies. These included eggs, the greatkiller. For God’s sake, don’t eat ’em! They are full of killer cholesterol andstuff that will make you die as soon as…..wait, though. What’s that? We’vedone another study that shows that eggs may not be that bad for you after all? Okay, never mind. This also included coffee. But another study showedthat maybe it’s not so bad for you either. And wine. And the list goes onand on of things they change their minds about, seemingly at random.

I think there must be an office somewhere entitled “The Office Of Idiotic Studies.” The sole function of this office is to seek out people whocontinue to fail to conclude anything correct on any study they’ve ever done. They then refer these people to the taxpayer fueled funding office,known as “Studies ‘R’ Us.” Following a brief interview that determinesverification of their qualifications, they are given approval to misuse more funds and leave happily, pushing a wheelbarrow full of my tax dollars. The interview is incisive and rigidly enforces the qualificationsnecessary to waste government money, and to prove this I have included a short transcript from one of the interviews: Guardian of Your Money: So, Professor Wagstaff, I understand you directed last year’s study on the possible health hazards of putting your head in a microwave. Any results?Scientist With Advanced Degree: (removing finger from nose) Nope.

Guardian: And the year before that you directed the study on the hazards of dropping that same microwave on your foot. Any progress in that?Scientist: Uh – uh.

Guardian: And I see that you are applying for funding on a study to determine the potential dangers of drying your cat in a microwave. Do youexpect any accurate results? Scientist: (examining finger, then placing it back in nose) Nope.

Guardian: Very well! Congratulations, Doctor. You fit our parameters forwasting money nicely, and we will fund your continuing Microwave Research Project. Pick up your wheelbarrow full of cash and a large box ofcats on your way out.

To clarify one small point I must point out that not all of that cash goes directly to the study. Some of it is funnelled to the Office Of MisleadingConsumer Information. The purpose of this office is to release so manymisleading news articles from so many unnamed sources that, by the time it is determined that most of the information dug up at great cost during the study is wrong, nobody will know where the hell it came from in the first place.

So, like I said. I’m confused. But at least now I have a goal in life. I want to do a study on the most effective way to lay on the couch and watch television. I don’t have an Advanced Degree, but I can be just asinefficient as anybody else when it come to reporting the accurate conclusions of my study. It could take years to get the right results.Think they’ll give me the money?

Lee Dresselhaus is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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