‘Staring at breasts for just a few min/day can improve a man's health + add up to 5 years to his life. Source: Closer magazine (v.reliable!)’
I tweeted this claim (from my wife’s magazine) because I found the notion of a scientist performing such a study hilarious. For a start, scientists have to apply to research councils for funding and the grant application – with the justification for the research – would have been priceless.
@Saaoirse correctly pointed out that ‘Scientists have been trying to justify misogyny through statistics for so long.’ However, I would like to firmly state that this was in no way an attempt to support such a justification. On my cursory, prima facie, inspection, the result of the study was not wholly implausible, possibly explained in terms of motivated changes to lifestyle resulting from the regular observations. However, when I started to think about it after @Saaoirse’s reply, it did occur to me that no study could ever justify the claim of adding 5 years to people’s lives (since the only way to make this claim would be to follow the people until they died), so whatever the results, they had been over-pitched. Also, any effect would probably have been too insignificant to pick up. So I decided to go and read the source article. A quick Google search led me to the name of Dr Karen Weatherby, a German researcher (just as Closer had said) who published the research in the New England Journal of Medicine. All good so far - I had heard of that journal. Only problem was, when I checked the New England Journal of Medicine on-line, I found no record of the paper. Nor could I find it on Pubmed (a search facility for scientific papers), or, as a last resort, Google Scholar.Conclusion: the research is fictitious and I had been duped. Not quite a Murdoch-scale ‘most humble day of my life’ but I do feel like a bit of a fool. Sorry @Saaoirse!