Tuesday, 23 June, 2009

Why search

Download any MR research file. Start reading. You can’t. It’s horribly written. Academic papers are supposed to be written in a certain way, to keep the plebeians away.

But you persist. The first four pages go in quoting other papers. I quote you, you quote me. Can’t be avoided.

Then there’s the hypothesis. And the method. Great. Takes care of statistics.

Then comes the tell-tale phrase: ‘70 students of a north-western university’.

After this you can stop reading. Because there are only two possibilities now. First, the sample is horribly unrepresentative of the balance 6.7 billion of us, which makes the research horribly suspect.

Or, the conclusions can actually be extrapolated to everyone, in which case, it probably states the obvious (Research shows that when an item is on discount only morons pay full price.) So, the research was redundant.

A variation to this theme is asking people what they will do. This is worse – in so far as nonsense can be worsened. Because we humans rarely do, or can do, what we say.

No marketing professional who makes his living in the real world will bother about such research. Yet they are conducted and doctorates are awarded too. Why?     

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