Objective vs Subjective Reporting

For the last few days I have kept running into an interesting study. Interesting, because it supposedly makes the act of swearing OK, under certain circumstances. Now I’m not going to try and argue whether swearing is either good or bad, because it is, at it’s core, a subjective argument. A person who swears is not automatically the scum of the earth, nor is a person who never swears the epitome of goodness and decency.

However I did have some reservations about what I heard the media spouting, and did some research on my own. What I found supported my doubts about what I had heard and read so far, and more importantly, the tone and interpretation of the many of articles I read demonstrated, rather plainly, the difference between truly objective reporting, and just being someone elses mouthpiece.

The article in question (which echoed the vast majority of the others I read) was this one. And I quote:

Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain. – [Scientific American]

What? Swearing could be good for me? Really? NO WAI!!In essence, these folks are saying that *swearing* by means of initiating an elevated physiological “fight or flight” response in the body, may serve the function of pain relief.

My thoughts? No. Just… No. Before the potty mouthed among you nod your head and say “I knew it!!” I think I ought to mention that the above conclusion is utter and complete nonsense. Why? Because that conclusion ignores all the other things that can trigger a “Flight/Flight” response, and derives the misleading conclusion that *swearing* is good for you.

However it is not that simple. Just because there is a correlation between action A and result B, does not mean that action A caused result B. To explain a little further what I am talking about here is an excerpt from a much more objective article on the study:

Scientists have discovered that uttering swear words can help to lessen the feeling of physical pain. – [UK Telegraph]

Some of you may be thinking… “Now hold on a second there… Those two articles are saying essentially the same thing.” Are they? I’d beg to differ. Here’s the difference: The first article is telling us that bad language is “good” for you. The second article, in contrast, makes no subjective statement (neither good nor bad) about swearing at all, and simply states the observed facts. That uttering swear words can help lessen the feeling of pain. See the difference?

Why is this important? Well I’ll tell you. It’s because it is not the swear words that initiate the fight or flight response. That’s why. That is just nonsense. Human beings have a natural tendency to cry out when in pain. *That* is natural. That response, is what initiates the fight or flight response, which in turn increases the bodies heart rate, adrenaline levels, etc, which allows us to tolerate greater pain levels. HOWEVER, that response could be accompanied by any number of things, yelling, screaming, stamping ones feet on the ground, clenching ones fists, punching walls, etc, etc, etc.

In fact yelling “GREAT BIG BUCKETS OF FUDGE!!!” at the top of your lungs would get you the same effect, and while it would be rather annoying to those around you, I don’t think that would be considered swearing. The key here is that it is healthier to let it out, than to bottle it in. Again, the key word here being “healthy” not good or bad.

But another point to remember is that the more you swear, the less effective it is at initiating a fight or flight response to any given stimuli. So if anything, people should not be so quick to swear.

As a side note, I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere, that swearing is what people do when they don’t have the words to say what they are feeling. I can’t argue that point. But I think perhaps swearing might not really be necessary if more people had a larger vocabulary to draw from.

I’m just saying… :P

Why the #$%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief – [Scientific American]

Swearing can reduce the feeling of pain – [UK Telegraph]

Well I’ll be a monkeys uncle…

I’m sure the caption phrase has more meaning for evolutionists than creationists, but I recently read an interesting story that may have serious repercussions for the argument of evolution:

Never mind that TV show that asks if you’re smarter than a fifth-grader. Is your memory better than a young chimp’s? Maybe not. Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in two tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won. – [Yahoo/AP]

As if that weren’t enough, researchers at Duke University made a similarly in truguing discovery:

Chimps performed about as well as college students at mental addition, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a finding that suggests non-verbal math skills are not unique to humans. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

LOL, not only are these young chips memories better than humans, they are now on par with us in arithmetic?! HA! Evolution rears its speculative head at last! Are chimps finally evolving into more intelligent creatures? Or are humans devolving? I have to admit, given some of the events of the last few centuries, I find the latter more likely…

Perhaps believing in creation isn’t such a bad idea after all. :)

Young chimp beats college students – [Yahoo/AP]

Chimps and college students as good at mental math – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Early to rise, early to grave…?

Science is better today that it ever has been. The scientific process has been refined to the highest degree ever, and studies are, in general conducted in the most objective way possible. Which is why it is all the more irksome to me when I see researchers take perfectly good study results and flush it all into the sewer with out-of-left-field conclusions:

The study, conducted by researchers from several universities and hospitals in the western Japanese city of Kyoto, revealed a link between wake-up times and a person’s cardiovascular condition.

Well that’s quite interesting…

“Rising early to go to work or exercise might not be beneficial to health, but rather a risk for vascular diseases,” said an abstract of the study.

Say what now?!?! Now hold on just a second! How exactly did you make that jump from correlation to cause? You do realise that just because there is a correlation between factor A and factor B does not mean that Factor B was caused by factor A don’t you? You are scientists are you not? What happened to the science? Where’s the objective review?

The study, covering 3,017 healthy adults aged between 23 through 90, found that early risers had a greater risk of heart conditions including hypertension and of having strokes.

However, the study also noted that early risers were usually older. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Hmm… Far be it from me to question the findings of veteran researchers, but could it possibly be that age had something to do with the increased heart disease risk factors, as opposed to their sleeping habits? Now I’m sure that the study was conducted flawlessly. But I’m having a wee problem with the interpretation of the results.

Did you poll their work habits? Maybe they are getting up earlier because they are overworked, under a lot of stress and need more time to get work done. Being overworked could also increase stress and cause heart problems right? How did they come to this particular conclusion when there are approximately a gazillion of other factors that are known causative agents for heart problems?

Sometimes, in spite of all the scientific and technological advances of the past century, I feel like I’m living in the dark ages…

Early rising no good for the heart: study – [Yahoo/AFP]