Scientists Adore, Manipulate Research Grants

 

I can’t believe someone actually got funded to do the research that resulted in this headline: Cats Adore, Manipulate Women:  

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats — be they male or female felines — more than men do.

“In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”

You don’t say. The research, by the way, was conducted by the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna. I wonder how much funding they got to come up with this finding?

If anyone wants to see whether these results can be replicated–and you know, that’s the essence of science, replicating results–I want the world to know that I am standing by. For the right price, I can also look into such unsettled questions as, “What will pigeons do if you throw bread crumbs on the sidewalk?”

Man, there are a lot of major scientific mysteries I could investigate, now that I think about it. That whole question about how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I could totally look into that.  Just set me up with a few woodchucks and a modest stipend. I’ll have the answer for you next year. 

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  1. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Pseudodionysius

    Its like someone rang the dinner bell.

    • #1
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    @rayconandlindacon

    Just think, with enough money we could all team up and develop a climate theory that gives us perpetual grants.

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    @Palaeologus

    Here’s some video evidence to help you get the ball rolling Claire.

    • #3
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    @IsraelP

    My son just learned that bit about the woodchuck and has been going around saying it for the last ten days. Funny it shows up here just now.

    • #4
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    @Aodhan

    Ironically, I suspect that, if research ideas were funded in a free market, then this is precisely the sort of research that would get funded, given the frequency of feline fans…

    In general, just as there is no accounting for taste, can there be any for curiosity? Note that it is only in a taxpayer-funded market that conflict arises over what should be studied, given that many X’s disagree about what Y’s should study what Z’s, based on public funds; in a free-market, however, if X wanted to fund Y privately to study Z, then that would be X’s and Y’s business alone.

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    @DavidFoster

    Woodchuck study / “I’ll have an answer for you in a year”

    No, no, no, no. You’re not getting it. What you should have in a year is not an *answer*, but a very partial and incomplete set of results, culminating in the conclusion that “More research is needed.”

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    @KTCat

    We need more research into this kind of thing, not less. Your attitude is the reason conservatives get labeled as anti-science. For example, do we really know why it is that tuna tastes so good to cats?

    Well, do we?

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    @
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: That whole question about how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I could totally look into that. Just set me up with a few woodchucks and a modest stipend. I’ll have the answer for you next year. ·

    I tried that after my federally-subsidized Jackelope ranch went under. The answer is: not much.

    “When an academic ‘discovers’ what us mere mortals have known for eons, it’s called ‘social science’.”

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    @TheGreatAdventure

    I would assume that a “modest stipend” would be somewhere in the 8 figures range, right Claire?

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    @KennedySmith

    “While cats have plenty of male admirers”

    Only in the technical sense.

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    @CasBalicki
    The Great Adventure!: I would assume that a “modest stipend” would be somewhere in the 8 figures range, right Claire? · Feb 28 at 5:56am

    Excluding pennies, of course.

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    @Claire
    K T Cat: We need more research into this kind of thing, not less. Your attitude is the reason conservatives get labeled as anti-science. For example, do we really know why it is that tuna tastes so good to cats?

    Well, do we? · Feb 28 at 5:43am

    Edited on Feb 28 at 05:44 am

    No we do not. Nor do we fully understand why there’s cat barf on my carpet. It wasn’t there half an hour ago. This is quite an interesting problem, especially because the volume of barf exceeds the amount of food any one of my cats ingested, which I’m sure violates the laws of thermodynamics. Pro-science conservatives, please back me up in my plea for funding to investigate this.

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    @Sisyphus

    So 41 pairs of cats and owners is now a statistically valid sample. The wonders of modern science.

    Also, seen this before, one cat gets ill, next cat comes in, sniffs it, gets ill, lather, rinse, repeat.

    Of course, just as a capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with, a grant-seeker will sell you the research to discredit grant-seeking as a way to further science.

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    @KennedySmith
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    K T Cat: · Feb 28 at 5:43am

    Edited on Feb 28 at 05:44 am

    No we do not. Nor do we fully understand why there’s cat barf on my carpet. It wasn’t there half an hour ago. This is quite an interesting problem, especially because the volume of barf exceeds the amount of food any one of my cats ingested, which I’m sure violates the laws of thermodynamics. Pro-science conservatives, please back me up in my plea for funding to investigate this. · Feb 28 at 7:37am

    Schrodinger, call your office.

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    @HangOn

    Doesn’t this say more about the grant giver than anything else? It’s all warm and fuzzy, but of what consequence? Makes me wonder about relationship between mover and shaker on the grant giving committee and the person receiving the grant. As though things like that never happen. Considering the clickishness of academics, you’d think they never really got out of high school.

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    @wilberforge

    Sounds like something from, The Annals of Improbable Research. Get a grant….

    Study why goldfish come to the side of the bowl or tank when the see you..hmmm

    Otherwise..Cats seem to select a person and stick to it, as it were.

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    @CoolHand

    I had a wood chuck (called ground hogs around here, for whatever reason) living under my deck last summer.

    That whole episode ended poorly for him.

    It’s been my experience that cats and dogs gravitate toward the people who know the best scratching spots.

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    @GreatGhostofGodel
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. This is quite an interesting problem, especially because the volume of barf exceeds the amount of food any one of my cats ingested, which I’m sure violates the laws of thermodynamics. Pro-science conservatives, please back me up in my plea for funding to investigate this. · Feb 28 at 7:37am

    I can only note that conservation of matter also seems to be violated by the percentage of socks that go into the drier, but never come out. Problem solved?

    • #18
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    @JCCasteel
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    … Nor do we fully understand why there’s cat barf on my carpet. It wasn’t there half an hour ago. This is quite an interesting problem, especially because the volume of barf exceeds the amount of food any one of my cats ingested, which I’m sure violates the laws of thermodynamics. Pro-science conservatives, please back me up in my plea for funding to investigate this. · Feb 28 at 7:37am

    At least dogs have the courtesy to lick it back up, even if it isn’t their own. Yet another reason to dislike cats.

    • #19

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