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Can Extensive Research Really Benefit Society?

There is an ever increasing amount of capital invested in research every year throughout the US. The nature of this is variable, ranging from market research into consumer trends to scientific and medical research into remedies and vaccinations to treat and cure diseases. Some of this research is funded by governments through appointed grants, whereas others are sourced through private investment, and which types of investigative research qualify for grants depends entirely on their purpose and benefit to people and society. However, given the sums of public and private resource that are committed to such projects, it seems reasonable to question the effectiveness of such outlay. It appears that while there is no hope of doing perfect research, findings that are merely reliable are increasingly harder to find, and this can be argued through two core principles. Firstly, certain types of research are reliant on human response and reaction when faced with an action or a set of questions, which of course are open to a completely unique interpretation from each subject. Secondly, and despite the global nature of research across an increasing range of media, we are still analyzing individual tests and results rather than opting to review a garnering of data from different sources to provide a more accurate set of findings. These facts compromise the conclusions drawn from all types of research projects, and draw sharply into focus their purpose and they way that they are conducted. Human Reaction and Conditioning Examples of this this can be seen through various projects conducted. Looking at the influence of the effects of media violence on society, the work of George Gerbner stands out from other protagonists. His seminal research through the USA not only inspired further testing but also suggested that heavy TV viewers had their perceptions of the world molded to suit the images presented by the media. He surmised that, due to the sensationalism of media reporting, society was left more anxious and fearful of their surroundings, a concept Gerbner labelled ‘Mean World Syndrome’. This linked this to some follow up research conducted in Canada in 1997, by André Gosselin, Jacques de Guise and Guy Paquette. They tested the theory and surveyed 360 university students, and did indeed concur that people who viewed more TV were to have their perception adapted to what they witnessed in the media. However, they could find no correlation or link to these subjects feeling increased fear or anxiety, and that in fact they were more likely to be desensitized and actually passive towards violence and the potential dangers in their surrounding environment. What is apparent is that there are two research projects, centered on the same concept and carried out in the second instance by a team who wished to test the principles of Grebners work. They conducted their test in a similar area of the world, and whilst they supported the majority of his findings, they could not agree on the suggested corollary of fear and angst in their subjects (a central faction of Gerbners work). This shows that whilst it is possible for researchers to control their test environment and select their subjects, no research can allow completely for the human psyche and the individual interpretation of images, actions and particular questioning. Humans, though born with the same core genetic makeup, are influenced by their environment, their upbringing and how they are nurtured from childhood into adolescence and then adulthood. This has a direct and unique effect on each subject and their levels of perception and response to specific situations. The Number of Research Bodies and Their Findings There are an ever increasing number of research companies and outlets, and a never ending source of papers and findings accessible through the vast swathes of media. When John P. A. Ioannidis published his headline grabbing paper ‘Why Most Published Research Findings are False in 2005’, he claimed chiefly that the quality of medical research findings has actually been compromised by the number of independent researchers in various fields, and that culturally we still analyze individual results of separate tests rather than having a central body to review and analyze data across a range of independent results. It can be read in his paper for an essay on the reliability of medical research, and Ioannidis’ key concern was that in such competitive research fields with independent teams operating, there was a danger that in order to meet deadlines and publish their findings first, researchers were using estimates from previously garnered data to mould and post ‘positive’ results on a particular topic ahead of other publications. This individual pursuit of research compromises its very purpose, and there would seem to be a need for a more central body to create rigid, standardized testing environments, and also a more regulated approach to results, how they are presented and guidelines for interpretation. Sensory Overland and Disputed Findings It cannot be escaped that the internet and modern media outlets have created a sensory overload in terms of the information we can access on any subject or research topic we wish to analyze. In the instances of factual, psychological and medical research however quality is of a great deal more substance than quality, and this surfeit of independent works has greatly compromised the quality of information we process. These factors greatly challenge the conduction of and conclusions drawn from research programs, and act as viable arguments for there being no such concept as perfect or fully reliable research. These elements are based upon two core elements that researchers and their test environments cannot influence on any significant level; firstly, the environment that a subject has been raised and nurtured in (as opposed to the environment in which he exists at the time of being a test subject) and the diversity of trends for reporting data and how it is interpreted, analyzed and presented to the media once findings have been published. Given the sums of money and time are invested in research annually, these issues may need addressing in the immediate future to ensure the quality of information and  the  quest for improvement of human existence.

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Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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