Things That Make You Say “Duh!”

I’m really bad about keeping up-to-date with some of my blog feeds, particularly those that post multiple entries per day. I fall into the psychological trap of seeing how far behind I am, not wanting to face it, and getting even more behind, so that I end up rushing through all the entries at once in those few moments when I’m bursting with a conquer-all attitude. Some blogs actually lend themselves well to this. Pharyngula has some more elaborate posts, but most of PZ’s entries are short and sweet, cutting straight to the point or are just an image or video he felt worth sharing. Neuroscience News from ScienceDaily takes much more of my attention and time, and even those are little more than brief summaries of existing science articles, which, if I want to fully read, require a fight with my university’s interlibrary loan system and months of waiting for delivery. In order to (very loosely) catch up, I tend to breeze through the titles and just read those that look interesting at the moment.

There are a number of titles that I look at in awe of how pedestrian they sound. The titles have to be brief and clear, but they also tend to be boring, bland, and even vague. This is, sadly, typical of scientific studies. The original journal articles are often “The Effect of X on Y,” or some variation thereof. Lacking specificity or application in the title, many appear to state what we already know.

In my last scan of the titles to 75 unread posts, I found a number that made me stop and ask, “Didn’t we already know this?” or “Money was spend on this?” Granted—and I want to emphasize this—the text within may be far more thorough or enlightening than the title lets on. But I feel compelled to share the titles that make me say “Duh! I could have told you that!”:

  • Poor Cerebral Cortex Functions Leads to More Impulsive Behavior
  • Biggest Ever Study Shows No Link Between Mobile Phone Use and Tumors
  • Number of Facebook Friends Linked to Size of Brain Regions, Study Suggests
    Okay, the title alone was not enough to make this list, but in the first two lines of the article which show up on the feed, it says, “In a new study researchers also showed that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more ‘real-world’ friends they are more likely to have.” Why would that not be correlated? 
  • Future-Directed Therapy Helps Depression Patients Cultivate Optimistic Outlook
  • Babies and Toddlers Should Learn from Play, Not Screens
  • Minority Children Less Likely to Receive CT Scans Following Head Trauma
    I don’t like this one on my list. I don’t like it regardless. It’s here because of how terribly unsurprised I am by it. Can we please stop behaving in accordance with racist attitudes? :(
  • Blame ‘Faulty’ Frontal Lobe Function for Undying Optimism in Face of Reality
  • Timing is Crucial for Family Consent in Brain Dead Organ Donors
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