May 16, 2007

"Unfair Treatment Causes Heart Attacks"--Stupid Study of the Week

The headline was depressing and it was easy to picture what the study would show: People who get screwed over feel terrible; they get stressed; they have heart attacks. Life sucks; the innocent are punished; bullies win.

But take a look at how ridiculously lame the study actually was.

Eight thousand or so British civil servants were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."

And shockingly, the results showed that people who thought they were chronically mistreated had a higher risk of heart attack. The authors then concluded that "fairness is key to promoting a healthier society."

Aarghh! There was no independent, objective measure of unfair treatment. All this study says is that people who feel like they're always being screwed over are more likely to have cardiac problems. That says nothing about fairness; it says a lot more about personality.

How did these people get funded?

You've met that neighbor or co-worker, haven't you, who radiates optimism and grace; who's kind to everyone and is always exclaiming how lucky he or she is in life. Then you find out she was abused and beaten as a child; or he was tortured and exiled from his home country; or that there was a child who died in infancy or or a period of homelessness or some terrible disease or any number of other misfortunes. But this person feels lucky and blessed.

And you contrast their situation with that of another co-worker or neighbor: one who grew up with every advantage; one who has powerful and influential protectors, yet whose hostility and sense of entitlement poisons every relationship and interaction he or she engages in. This person complains constantly of injustice.

If you live in the real world, you know very well who has "really" been treated unfairly. But the people who designed this study sure don't.

This is not to say that unfairness is a good thing. Unfairness is very, very bad. And it may well cause heart attacks. But jeez, scientists, you can do way better than this.


  1. I totally agree.
    That's so interesting about the lack of data for measuring "unfairness."

    They should've included a little box: check here if you are generally unhappy...

  2. I dunno, Miss Crabby, I think you're treating those scientists awfully unfairly.


  3. Incidentally, my silly joke aside, note that in today's post you don't refer to yourself in any way--no Crabby, no I. Consider how many posts you would generally construct in this way, and you might be closer to an answer about how you want to continue to produce them.

    I read that you are writing a novel, but I for one would like to read a self-help book similar your blog. You might want to keep such a thing in mind; I bet others would, too.

  4. Oh for the love of fuzzy bunny. Suck it up prince/ss civil servant.
    What an offensive study. Of course whiners are going to have more health problems. People who lay claim to unfair treatment need attention. This study underscores their need and feeds them.
    Bet all those mistreated civil servants are cheering now.
    Thanks for the post, Crabby. I enjoy the chance for a good bit of railing now and then.

  5. Hi Katieo,
    (BTW sorry for misspelling your name last time). You're right--that little box could have been very revealing! (And I really like your blog--very amusing).

    Okay, Anony Miss--you are scarily observant. You have Crabby's number big time. She wonders if she knows you personally or if you are a shrink or a psychic of some sort.

    Because yes in-deedy, the thought of a Crabby McSlacker self-help Empire (why stop at a book?) has occured to her in her more grandiose fantasies.

    (Switching again...)
    And I've now grown so self-conscious about my public inability to settle on first/third person that I'm indeed tempted to write Crabby/Me out of the posts entirely. But I'm too narcissitic to maintain that for long. And I know switching back and forth is going to drive everyone crazy. So I'll have to figure something out soon.

  6. Hi Leah!

    Sorry I missed you while i was commenting--Nice rail!

    And "for the love of fuzzy bunny," that's just too good. I may have to steal that phrase for my own occasional use.

  7. It is an unbelievable flawed study. Perception of unfairness causes heart attacks. Indeed, everyone has been treated unfairly at one point or another but, often there are people who, no matter how fair one tries to be with them, they still "feel" like they were treated unfair.

    As for the first vs. third vs. second. Really, I don't think that it really matters all that much. I think if you feel a post would come across better in third, write it in third etc. You know what I mean? I think a blog is meant to be spontaneous, creative and free. That is the appeal of writing and reading blogs.
    It really is only confusing if it isn't written well and you writing is very nice, interesting and fun. I don't think that you are going to have a problem retaining readers or attracting new ones, what ever you choose to do!

  8. It would be extrordinarily unfair if you sacked the Crab. I for one would protest loudly! I think a Crab empire would be a good thing for the planet and that a self help book written by Crabby is a good first step.

    Seeing as you're getting confused, I shall state my preference clearly. I like Crabby! Bring back the third person!

    Having said that, I shall read you whatever. Do what you think is best, but I'm sure you've guessed that many of us like Crabby and her crusty third person voice.

    And talking about the unfairness of life, I am locked out of my own blog! How unfair is that! I shall probaably have a heart attack as I worry about the unfairness of life.

    On the other hand, it does give me the time to indulge in very long posts on other people's blogs!

  9. Hi Samantha & Dawn--
    Thanks so much for your input on this stuff, I'm actually paying quite a bit of attention to your suggestions as I have my little identity crisis. Hopefully all will be resolved soon.

    And poor Dawn--I'd being going quite publicly crazy if I were locked out of my blog. I'll leave some cream-filled apple donuts & coffee out here for you, and a nice comfy chair, so please stop by whenever you want to!

  10. Why thank you Crabby. Feel free to call on the love of Fuzzy Bunny whenever you see fit.
    Maybe this study could in the running for a Crabby Award? It's suitably inane,isn't it?
    I've given it some thought and even as I support you in whatever person you choose to write, I really do enjoy Third Crabtacular.
    I think it lends itself well to proper expression of your essential Crabidity.

  11. I should like to see a study funded that relates the funding of studies to a decrease in the IQ score of researchers. Maybe I should try writing a grant for it. Nah, I need to keep all the working brain cells I have left intact.

  12. leah--just wanted you to know I wasn't kidding about the sitemeter. You are officially prohibited from ever leaving town again. During your absence, I went down a third. Now that you're back, Cranky Fitness is posting record numbers.

    Sorry about that. The marshalls will be arriving soon to guard your front door.

    And Dawno--while you were here, helping me out by leaving amusing comments, I was off at your blog stealing your ideas! If you're still around, check directly above. You find the most amazing stuff.

  13. People are unfair all the time. It is a major theme of all drama. Man's Inhumanity to Man (or Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, etc.).

  14. I know there's a lot of reasons to be thankful to live in the U.S.A., but I can't help but be embarrassed about the huge waste of money and time spent on stupid studies like this. They get funded, then printed and we purchase and read them in order to be able to complain (which we all love to do...or at least I do!)or say DUH! (because WE'RE the intelligent ones)So why aren't we sending all this extra money we must have, since we're scrounging for things to spend it on, to take care of the poverty issues right here in our country? I'm really tired of the stupidity...or is it really a bad case of "Idon'tgiveashit"? Things that make you go hmmmmmm. And as far as your writing goes, don't change what you know is working regardless of how crazy you drive anyone. Your style is what has made me and everyone else want to read your stuff, so don't let anyone make you lose your confidence in your writing PLEASE. (no bullies!)

  15. Hi Carrie!
    Thanks so much for stopping by. You make a really good point about all the things that money could be going for instead of funding some of these very stupid studies. And thanks so much for the kind words!


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