Thursday, November 15, 2012
How I would love to gather together the community of medical researchers for a day outside the lab. Though I could very well be wrong about this, and of course it varies according to the individual, I imagine these people in general as super smart nerds, sitting in front of their computers, munching on a sandwich through lunchtime as they gaze at the screen, puzzling over numbers, etc. I don't see them out and about, sitting in a cafe for an hour to people watch, or just watching stupid TV, you know, activities that would bring them around a little bit, help them be a part of what is called the "real" world.
Why am I going on about this? Because the studies these people conduct can be so silly. Here's a link to a story in the New York Times about a study meant to determine whether or not doing housework is good for you.
Seriously? Ha. The headline, "Can Housework Help You Live Longer?" made me laugh out loud. Of course an editor wrote that, not the researchers.
A part of the findings in the study show that strenuous house chores, like weeding or mowing the lawn, are more likely to extend your lifespan than milder activities, such as doing dishes. Can you imagine spending your days and nights focused on this? Who does dishes anymore anyway? The image they attached to the article has to be from 1960. Of course that, too, was chosen by the New York Times, not the scientists they interviewed.
I know this is part of how science works, singling out very narrow arenas, then trying to get enough data to point to a particular result. But I wonder, did anyone working on this study ever stop to think maybe there might be better ways to spend their time? I wonder who paid for the study, and why.
It's clear that a sedentary life is not good for us. Moving around doing almost anything is a lot healthier for mind and body than sitting on a couch or at a desk all day, especially creative or productive actities. We are working animals and need to be useful in order to be happy. OK. But is it necessary to compare the specifics of how we move around? As long as we move around and make sure to engage in activity we enjoy and find satisfying, isn't that enough data? I guess not!
Another question I wonder about: is good health analogous to long life? Apples and oranges, if you ask me.
I get snippy when science is stupid, because I love science. When science is smart I am so intrigued. When it's stupid, I feel embarrassed for it. Do you know what I'm talking about?
May your point of view be expansive and may your sense of humor prevail. May it be so. Shalom.