He disposes and discharges
As if they are tools in his hands
Those machine-like slaves
But also him
Who lost his soul.
(frustrated at the way I was treated by superiors the last few days)
|At Dimapur, Photo: Caisii Mao (demotix.com)|
|Another half baked article for weekly column :)|
There was a study conducted by the Faith Research Institute, Notown which showed that tea drinkers are more likely to go to heaven. Tea drinkers have a higher percentage of having ‘Born Again’ experience than the control group which does not drink tea.It is probably because religious people have a higher tendency to meet over a cup of tea and talk, where the gospel is preached and more people experience being ‘Born Again’.
The above research is a fanciful study done with questionable methodology from a non-existent research institute in an imaginary place called Notown. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a research done on such a topic showing similar findings. One must be cautious in interpreting the research reports that we see in newspapers and journals almost every day. There is already a study which found that sitting is injurious to health. In health, strictly speaking, every human activity is injurious to health. Because of ageing, even Time can be said to be injurious to health. Jogging, although proven to be beneficial, can also be injurious to health. There are bacteria and viruses lurking in the grasses which may pounce on morning joggers and infect them.
In the above hypothetical study, one may have to ask certain parameters which may not be clearly stated: (a) Say, 80% of tea drinkers reported having experienced ‘Born Again’ compared to 73% among those who don’t drink tea. But if the sample size is too small, the responses of a few will significantly affect the result. Likewise, inferences coughed out from opinion polls in the newspapers can be tricky when we don’t know if the number of participants taking part in such polls is substantial. (b) One also may question the underlying parameter of using ‘Born Again’ experience as a ‘ticket’ to heaven. Hidden agendas while framing the research objectives and preconceived ideas while preparing the questionnaire can be masked in research language. If we want a particular result and do a research to prove it, the interpretation of research findings can be also tilted towards that end. To sell a product, companies may simply conduct certain bogus research to proof the quality/superiority of their product. One may also draw inferences out of some finding which the research is not intending to study. What if the above research is interpreted as, ‘Drinking tea causes people to go to heaven’. Then, people start to drink tea in order to go to heaven. Causality and Association are not the same. Association of two factors doesn’t mean one is causing the other. There was instance when research in Homosexuality was presented in the media, something like, ‘we have finally found the gay gene which causes homosexual behavior,’ while it was only association of factors. (c) For the sake of the next point, let's say that drinking tea causes people to go to heaven. Now, the question is, 'What is the use of the research?' Will the result educate people to change behavior (start to drink tea) and shape public policies (investment in tea production) or increase human knowledge (of the properties of Tea or the concept of Heaven?) If not, what is the utility of a research linking tea drinking to going to heaven?
Some instances where research is not all black or white and can have important repercussions are given below: