Better Living Through Research


I find the general trend in scientific research over the last few years very encouraging.  It seems like every day we're finding that things we had been told were bad for us are good for us again.  You'll live longer if you can just manage to eat more chocolate.  Drinking a glass of red wine each day is as good for your heart as having run ten miles (beer may only be good for five miles, so you will need to drink twice as much).  If we can just get our top researchers to do some serious work in the area of Cheese Doodles we'll have all the major food groups covered.


Ignoring the fact that I'm making up many of the actual details, this is great news.  It wasn't so long ago that we couldn't seem to do anything right, if you were to believe the experts.  Eggs will raise your cholesterol.  Using a cell phone will give you brain cancer.  Chewing glass will scratch the enamel on your teeth.  The only way you could be sure to make it through the day without doing serious harm to yourself was to just stay in bed.  (This persuaded me to carry out my own, extensive, experiments based on this hypothesis which I'm happy to report were quite successful.)


Now, it's as if the entire research community has finally had a good night's sleep and isn't quite so cranky.  There's no obvious explanation for this more positive outlook of late.  It would be churlish of me to suggest that it might just be easier to obtain funding for research that provides the kind of results that people want to hear.  German scientists, for example, have published a report claiming that being lazy will help you live longer.  I know I'd be willing to donate towards studies of that calibre.


Even caffeine has been given a break, having been found to improve athletic performance.  Apparently one study showed that a marathon runner would be well advised to drink a couple of cups of coffee (they didn't mention how many biscotti) before running a race.  Had I known I was training for marathon each time I ordered a mocochino I'd have bragged about it more.


Sadly life can't all be wine and chocolate.  Much as I enjoy all the good news, I think we need the experts to once again focus some of their efforts on making our lives miserable by taking away the things we enjoy.  We need to give our doctors, spouses, and friends something to nag us about after all.  It builds character and besides, we know if we wait a few years they'll be telling us those same things are good for us again.