I’m sorry, but there’s only one way to describe what I’m about to tell you – utter bollocks!
Research, carried out in Holland and Canada, purports to show that watching people drinking alcohol in films and in TV adverts (what about TV shows, then?), makes viewers drink more. What’s more they’re claiming there’s a direct correlation between portrayals of alcohol on television and in films, and levels of consumption in the real world.
Wow! And that research spanned two countries, so it must have involved, ooh, thousands of people, right? Er, wrong – between them they managed to scare up a pathetic 80 test subjects; males between 18 and 29.
A mere 80 – and do you know that means for the test results? At best it indicates that a hell of a lot more research is needed, and at worst it is absolutely bloody meaningless. Because such a small test population is too meagre to yield statistically significant results.And come on, look at the age range – what guy, at that age, needs any sodding incentive to drink too much? Damn, it’s almost compulsory.
Why do researchers do this? They know it’s not going to mean anything before they start, or at least as soon as they see how few people they have to play with. Are they protecting their grants, perhaps? Or do some of them, at least, believe that such piss-poor research actually means something? If they genuinely do, then it’s pretty scary.
Who funded this act of futility, I wonder? And why? You almost never get to know the answer to that, but it’s very often someone with a vested interest in the results. However, I can’t conceive that anyone would want to admit to funding such a waste of time and effort as this.
The big problem is, though, that the news media will print this crap exactly as is, with no comment and no criticism – when their science correspondents almost certainly know it’s cobblers. Still, journalists aren’t exactly famous for letting the truth get in the way of a good scare story. Not at the Daily Mail, anyway, where I expect to see it trumpeted tomorrow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!