I love studies. Someone somewhere throws money at someone else to produce a study that tells us what we already know or contradicts conventional wisdom only to be challenged by a later study commissioned by someone else that may or may not tell us what we already knew in the first place.
Here are just a few recent study results in the news:
- People don’t want to know the future – USA Today reported on Feb. 22 that researchers found most people would rather not know what’s going to happen next, no matter if it is good or bad.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University of Granada – two institutions that will not play each other in the opening round of the upcoming NCAA tournament – studied 2,000 people, quizzing them on whether or not they would like to know the outcome of life events before they happen.
The study’s lead author said people want to “to avoid the suffering and regret that knowing the future may cause and also to maintain the enjoyment of suspense that pleasurable events provide.’”
I agree. If, for example I knew I was going to mistakenly get an extra sausage biscuit at the Hardee’s drive-thru on Saturday morning, it would negate the surprise and joy of coming back home and discovering an extra sausage biscuit.
In fact, if I knew in advance I was going to mistakenly get an extra sausage biscuit, I would feel an obligation to tell the person at the window, “I have seen the future and you are mistakenly going to give me an extra sausage biscuit. Because I didn’t pay for it and I know this in advance, I cannot on principle accept it, though this action could possibly alter the future and, if science fiction movies are to be believed, endanger all of mankind due to something called the butterfly effect, or now, the sausage biscuit effect.”
Or, if I knew the future, I might learn that I will meet my demise at a crosswalk in Jacksonville, Fla. courtesy of the grill of a Buick Riviera, dreading it constantly until that fateful day when I am propelled into the parking lot of the Sip-n-Go, because…
- Florida is the deadliest place to walk in America – News4Jax reported on Feb. 2 that a study by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition found that Florida is the leading state for pedestrian deaths and Jacksonville is among the most dangerous cities.
The TV station said safety experts believe the reasons may be that Florida is one of the fastest-growing states, a lot of people use cellphones when they should not and motorists tend to speed because they are trying to get out Jacksonville as quickly as they can. And yes, I made that last one up.
Another reason may be that both motorists and pedestrians are distracted by high levels of anxiety because…
- Many Americans are stressed about the future of our nation – According to a Feb. 15 press release from the American Psychological Association, both Democrats and Republicans, have the jitters.
“While Democrats were more likely than Republicans (72 percent vs. 26 percent) to report the outcome of the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress, a majority of Republicans (59 percent) said the future of the nation was a significant source of stress for them, compared with 76 percent of Democrats,” according to the news release.
And it’s everywhere.
"We're surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most," said Katherine C. Nordal, APA's executive director for professional practice.
How will it all turn out? We don’t know. And studies tell us we don’t want to know, especially not pedestrians in Jacksonville, Fla.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C. and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.