More Ideas for the Desperate

Still not happy with your research topic? These may get you thinking:

There’s a growing body of research showing that children exposed to lots of germs early in life are less likely to develop allergies, asthma or autoimmune disorders as they grow up. But now there’s a new twist on the theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis in scientific circles, and it’s about little girls in cute little dresses.

In an article in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science and Medicine, Sharyn Clough, a philosopher of science at Oregon State University who studies research bias, says young girls are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than young boys, a discrepancy that could help explain later health differences. Girls are expected to stay squeaky clean while boys are encouraged to play outside, Clough argues. And that might explain why women have higher rates of certain illnesses.

Read the story here.


The article about Dr. Adcock’s failure-prone radiology team may have made you nervous about undiagnosed tumors, but fortunately, there’s a four-legged diagnostician living in your doghouse who’s almost never wrong and works for kibble!

Here’s the link.


The problem with following the unemployment numbers in the news is that they don’t actually track the number of unemployed. Instead, they track the number of people who are “actively seeking employment.” To make matters worse, they decide how many are seeking employment on the basis of how many have registered with the government for unemployment benefits and are providing evidence of their job searches. Any downward change in that number is considered “less unemployment.” I hope you can see the flaws in the Definition and Category claims here. One small article that will get you started thinking about this topic is about a year old but certainly still relevant to today’s numbers.


Just last night I heard a basketball broadcaster refer to a player’s likelihood of getting a referee’s sympathy by saying: “Well, he’s on the road. He has to know he isn’t going to get that call.” I was immediately reminded of a post I wrote last year about home-field advantage in all sports.

Tobias (Toby) Moskowitz was on the radio then, being interviewed about common misconceptions in sports. He said something like this:

Home field advantage isn’t about relaxing at home while the visitors have to travel to a distant city. It’s not about playing on the frozen tundra to which you’re accustomed while your opponent has to tough out the unfamiliar conditions. It isn’t about the support you feel from thousands of cheering fans clad in your team colors.

It’s the referees. They’re more likely to make calls in favor of the home team. Or so Moskowitz and his team of researchers have concluded, after years of study. These and other common sense but not often cited observations debunk sports myths you may have used to win arguments all your life. They could be a great prompt to your own research into any number of misconceptions about your favorite game, sport, or team.

Scorecasting by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim.

“Scorecasting is both scholarly and entertaining, a rare double. It gets beyond the clichéd narratives and tried-but-not-necessarily-true assumptions to reveal significant and fascinating truths about sports.” —Bob Costas

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels.
This entry was posted in Counterintuitivity, David Hodges, Professor Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

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