The "latest study" hook never stops being cast by media that know these studies chronically contradict each other.
Many in the press and public, of course, don’t really digest the content in the endless stream of stories focusing on the latest study, resulting in a societal amnesia which allows researchers to palm off their repetitive output as "news." Contradictory studies are forgotten, although their opposing conclusions do seep into the collective consciousness.
The schedule governing the release of studies broke down recently providing an excellent opportunity to examine dueling studies. From the University of Maryland came "evidence" last week that Americans are getting more hours of sleep per week than they were just a few years ago. Just a week before this, however, a different set of researchers on the same subject reached the opposite conclusion: Americans are suffering from sleep deprivation. Forced to confront opposing studies, the media provide a glimpse into the speculative minutiae that riddle all the studies that purport to inform the public about health-related issues.
If you think that the Renaissance brought to an end the intellectual ping-pong that occupied medieval savants, calculating, for instance, the number of angels that can dance upon the head of a pin, read this article from the Washington Post. On the one hand, Expert 1 says, method A provides a far more reliable calculation for sleep hours than does method B. Expert 2 disagrees, touting the superiority of the slumber-tallying technique utilized by method B.
Venal motives for each sleep counting faction are thrown into the mix and in the end the reader doesn’t know whether Americans are getting the sleep they need or not. An intelligent reader, of course, marvels that adults are being paid to examine this question in the first place but truly knowledgeable readers realize that the truth is beyond any of the methods since all rely on the memories and faulty perceptions of normal people, who comprise the study subjects.
While anti-tobacco deceptively mislabels its research as science, the truth is that its product is statistical trash, just as are the contradictory studies about sleep. The population receives nothing of value from these sorts of studies, which only exist to give sham researchers employment, to further the agenda of a few businesses, and to provide the excuse for the governing class to delve more deeply into our affairs. It’s past time to put an end to this idiotic drivel.