Sunday, January 29, 2012

And again.

Another case of taking a single study and presenting it as the final word in the feild.

In the sunday herald (yes i'm reading the tabloids, I forgot to bring a book) Deborah Coddington has just had a go at a study out of Otago which places a large amount of blame for obesity on the market, rather than individual choice. Apparently, this is yet another case of academics being patronizing and silly.

Two things. Firstly, this one study is not the final word on obesity. This is not a study published by everyone who studies obesity. Where is the harm in wating a bit and seeing how the rest of the research community rates this study.
Secondly, it was once common sense that the world was flat. Testing common sense assumptions to see if the world actually works that way is one of the most important things scientists do. And common sense is quite often wrong.

Coddington lays all the blame for obesity at the door of the overweight, dismissing any thought that the market might play a role. So what if the study has got it at least partially right? There's numerous instances were our behaviour differs from what we say we would do. And we are not responsible, self interested, self aware actors in a sea of commerce, we're part of the ebb and flow. I suspect that I'm quite aware of the marketplace around me, it doesn't make me immune to it. Especially given that it's a system built around catering to needs.

The single study from Orator might not have got it perfectly right, but I wish media voices Luke Coddington's would make an effort to see the world as it is, not as they would like to imagine it is.


  1. Ugh. The herald is probably the worst place on the world for both science writing and obesity commentary.

  2. Sunday Herald - even worse. Annoyingly I've seen Coddington write competently elsewhere.

    My own fault I suppose, shouldn't have been reading the tabloids.