Saturday, November 16, 2013

Researching the Obvious

"In mass comm," I tell students, "we dare research the obvious."

I'm halfway joking, of course. Just halfway. But here's a wonderful real-world example of researching the obvious, well pointed out by The Washington Post:
The results of a seven-month survey that cost Fairfax County schools $180,000 released this week did not surprise anyone familiar with teenage eating habits: Students hate the food served at school cafeterias.
Well, duh.

The survey isn't without its interesting findings. There's a wide gap in perception, for example: 
Only 22 percent of students said the cafeteria food was nutritious compared to 94 percent of the schools’ food and nutrition services workers.
Of course this is misleading because (1) kids have no objective way of evaluating the nutrition level of the food and (2) a lot of them can't even spell nutrition and (3) their attitudes about the taste is affecting their judgment of nutrition. In other words, misleading is putting it kindly because it really isn't measuring what you think it's measuring, unless you're measuring misperception.

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