Here‘s another article about predictors of cognitive deficits. Seems more weight is linked to poorer mental acumen. The headline is better than most, in that it doesn’t plead causality, but it still doesn’t clarify theory underlying the phenomenon, although some suggestions come up, and the author mentions a couple covariates that didn’t seem to explain what’s going on. Interesting stuff!
In general, the researchers found, people with a high body mass index (BMI) garnered lower test scores than those with a lower BMI. They also tended to show greater cognitive decline between the two test periods.
Factors such as age, education and general health did not seem to explain the link.
As I’ve noted before, I keep a collection of dubious causal claims, at least in terms of the headline. Here‘s another that caught my attention.
Well, there are multiple explanations for this odd-sounding claim. The researchers claim that it’s the chewing process that brings blood to the brain, with obvious benefits. Makes sense, but again, the headline doesn’t say that chewing improves memory. So maybe the relationship is indirect.
Admitting that I haven’t read the original articles, there are a host of other possible explanations, depending upon the researchers’ techniques. By the description in this pop press article, the study does not employ random assignment (seems a bit unethical to do such a thing), so the causal claim is a problem. For example, my first reaction was that people with generally better health (i.e., nutrition, attention to healthy living) may experience better memory and better dental health. Maybe genetics are the key, and those predisposed to suffer mental degradation are also predisposed to “dental degradation” if we can call it that. Heck, it’s even possible that sugary foods, which we know contribute to tooth loss, also contribute to memory loss.
The point is that the researchers can’t rule that out, and although I’m confident that their article includes the relevant caveats, the press tends to simplify stories to make claims that the authors don’t intend.
Let’s repeat the mantra: Correlation does not imply causation!
Itchy Squirrel has conducted extensive (and pleasurable!) research on the relationship between the depth of the dimple on the bottom of a bottle of wine (if you didn’t know there was a dimple, you’re not drinking very good stuff) and its price. So now you can see if your friends really care when they bring it over to you! A nice look at correlational research with a purpose! Don’t forget, correlation doesn’t imply causation!
Neatorama has a nice roundup of recent religious “sightings.” Through chocolate, wood, and reptile skin, we either find revelations or selective perception–seeing what we expect (or want) to see. Enjoy.
- Back after a long hiatus
- Critical Thinking Can Save Your Job…
- Multitasking Limits in the Popular Press
- “Fixation” Has Different Meanings to Different People
- The Myth of the Down Low
- The Psychology of the NCAA Tournament Office Pool
- Metacognition in Rats
- Familiar Smells and Sleep Aid Memory
- Face Recognition from Minimal Pixelation
- College Students More Narcissistic
- Risk Assessment and the NFL Draft
- Whither Stigma?