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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Putting the FUN in disFUNctional research

University of Hertfordshire psychologist Richard Wiseman considers future research ideas:
I was considering starting an institute for unethical studies, and is anyone interested in participating. And loads of people got back to me and said, “Oh yeah! Let me know what you’re doing.” Because today it’s so hard to get anything past the ethics boards, compared to the good old days, when you could just electrocute people and call it science. You can hardly do anything these days!
What would I want to do? I quite like the idea of the random giving of animals. There’s a study where they took two groups of people and randomly gave people in one group a dog. But I’d quite like to replicate that with a much wider range of animals — including those that should be in zoos. I like the idea of signing up for a study, and you get home and find you’ve got to look after a wolf … .
Or a Tasmanian Devil…
Exactly! Or a giraffe. I think there’s a lot more fun to be had in psychology. We’ve kind of sucked the fun out of it a little bit. I’m a huge fan of Stanley Milgram’s work. He was just so good at seeing stuff that was relevant, and yet, these really funny studies.
Truly a man after my own heart.