Tipping My Cap To The Bullshit Research Study That Claims Attending Live Sporting Events Improves Well Being And Loneliness
Game respect game here. If you follow my blogs, you know my schtick is centered on using my data programming skills to skew numbers to fuel preconceived story arcs of varying degrees of accuracy. Well it looks like there's another player in this game and that player is the editorial staff at Neuroscience News. As you can see from their tweet above, they claim that attending live sporting events improves life satisfaction and reduces loneliness. There's one little problem here. It's that everything about the study is, well…
I'm gonna forgive Old Balls for getting duped and blogging this story yesterday while at least pretending to believe it. It was pretty great though that he included Mac's "Science is a Liar" presentation from It's Always Sunny to stomp on other science fails while unknowingly blogging about another. Let's give him a break though. He was probably in the throes of celebrating 3-28 day and imagining how good it felt to watch Tom Brady in person from the stands. Understandable for a Patriots fan. Me on the other hand? I'm a cynical, damaged, untrusting bitter curmudgeon when anyone tells me something they think I want to hear. What I mean by this is that I'm a Chicago Bears fan.
So what's bunk about this study? It's actually so simple that anyone who even walked down the hallway while a Stats 101 class was in session even on syllabus day can easily understand. Here's the summary from the actual research article that tells everything you need to know. I even read the whole stupid study to make sure I wasn't missing anything.
Look. You and I both know you didn't read any of that. And that's fine, I'll quickly explain as I was able to use my specific set of skills to identify the fuck up right away. The problem is the nitwits that ran this sham of a study ran the same regression analyses on two groups: those who attended a live sporting event in the past year and those who didn't. Then they compared the results between these two groups. This is bad and dumb because going to a live sporting event isn't exactly something lonely people decide to do. Nor those who don't find life worthwhile. The act of going to a game doesn't mean jack shit in terms of treating these issues - at least the study did nothing to make that determination if that were true. It's just that it's something happier people tend to do more than unhappy people. Nowhere in the study did they take lonely people and have them attend a game to see what happens either.
I mean Jesus, what are we doing here guys? Not a great look for team "trust the experts". We have a rookie level selection bias / correlation doesn't equal causation fail from what appears to be a respected research journal in the UK. This study was an absolute massacre to the field of statistics at the most basic of levels. I couldn't be more impressed at both the stupidity of the idea from the start and the follow through to never have this thought cross their mind. Honestly. Bravo.
I can't actually think of an activity more suited for a group gathering than going to a live sporting event. Imagine going alone. May as well go to a child's playground stag if want to experience how awkward that would feel. I also can't think of an activity that people who are lonely would be less likely to take part in. I gave it some some thought and this is probably the correct ranking of the five groupiest group activities possible:
5. Going to the movies
4. Wedding / any party
3. Public hanging (back in the day)
1. Live sports game
Anyway, I've invited Mac to update the records for posterity.