Pigs Love Mud and Other Obvious Scientific Findings

Some things may be obvious to you and me, but - surprise! - that's not good enough for research scientists. After all, questioning assumptions and testing hypotheses are what science is all about (except quantum physics - that's just magic).

Scientific American has a list of 11 obvious science findings, which include these gems:

4. Pigs love mud

Turns out pigs aren't just putting on a show when they haul butt around their muddy quarters, diving into the muck. They actually like it. While mud baths keep pigs cool, a review of research reported in 2011 found wallowing may also be a swine sign of well-being. While the review found the strongest reason noted in the past studies for wallowing was to keep cool, the pigs kept it up through winter months.

5. Fashion magazines glorify youth

Surprise, surprise: Fashion mags portray women over 40 sparingly, if at all. Young celebrities and models dominate the pages of these publications, even ones targeted at older age groups. For example, researchers reported in April in the Journal of Aging Studies, that 22 percent of the reader base of Essence is older than 50, but only 9 percent of the women in its pages were even older than 40. Vogue featured only one woman over 40 on its covers in 2010: Halle Berry (then 43).

8. People aren't doing anything in particular on the Internet

Anyone who has ever gone down an Internet black hole, only to emerge hours (and dozens of Wikipedia articles) later, will be less than shocked at the revelation that online is the place to go for mindless entertainment. According to a Pew Research report released in December, 53 percent of people ages 18 to 29 get online at least once on any given day just to pass the time. Using the Internet to goof off isn't limited just to the young, either: Fifty-eight percent of all adults said they sometimes get on the Internet for no reason other than casual entertainment.

Could you imagine writing a grant proposal for these? Link

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The thing about pigs and mud is particularly silly. Pigs kept in the open without access to mud tend to get sunburn. Without mud a pig with access to cover will stay undercover and thus avoid sunburn. As Darwin would have pointed out pigs have evolved to enjoy rolling in mud because it's a survival trait. So the study managed to find that pigs love mud without bothering to wonder why.

The people who carried out the pig study would probably say people love sex because they enjoy the sensation and leave it at that.
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Some of these only appear obvious due to the power of hindsight. Take these:

-Smoking pot and driving is safe - duh, pot isn't as bad as people say and should be legalised.
-People with generous partners don't necessarily have happy marriages - duh, it takes more than generousity to make a marriage happy.
-Parents think their kids are doing drugs - duh, just like rainbow parties.
-Restricting driver's licences does not decrease teen fatalities - duh, kids will just drive without a licence.
-Presidents live shorter than their contemporaries - duh, they have stressful lives and have occasionally been assassinated.

...except that all of those are the exact opposite of what was really found. It's easy justify the findings of studies to make them appear to be obvious.
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