These Are the 8 Dumbest Research Studies of 2016

The more you study the conclusions of frivolous research, the more confidence you'll have in your gut instincts.

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By Gene Marks


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every day there are new studies, surveys and polls. Some are valuable but most are irrelevant, don't you think? I think so. In fact in just the first four months of 2016 I've come across 8 dump research studies paid for by donors, tuition, grants and taxpayer money. Can an entrepreneur learn anything from this dumb research? Believe it or not, we can. But first, let's go to the data, shall we?

1. Spiderman doesn't exist.

After an extensive analysis, researchers at Cambridge University have concluded that the larger a person is, the more adhesives he would need to stick to a wall, making it virtually impossible for a normal sized human being to have the characteristics of Spiderman. "If a human, for example, wanted to climb up a wall the way a gecko does, we'd need impractically large sticky feet -- and shoes in European size 145 or US size 114," said Walter Federle, senior author also from Cambridge's Department of Zoology. As for Batman, the jury's still out.

2. Most of your Facebook friends are not really your friends.

A study done by an Oxford University professor of more than 3,300 Facebook users in the UK concluded that there were only 4.1 "dependable" friends out of a typical user's 150 Facebook friends. "Friendships," our brave professor concluded. "Have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay. However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction."

Social networks "typically encourage promiscuous "friending' of individuals who often have very tenuous links to ego." Darn, and I was just going to invite all my Facebook friends over to watch GoT next Sunday.

Related: Don't Get Stupid, Use Your Anger for Good

3. Playing Tetris for just three minutes stops your craving for sex, alcohol and food.

A team of psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology have determined, after many hours of Tetris, that the game can be addicting and distract users from doing other stuff for a while like eating, drinking and having sex. It kind of makes you wonder how they managed to finish the study.

"We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity," said one researcher. "Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time. As a support tool, Tetris could help people manage their cravings in their daily lives and over extended time periods."

Tetris addicting? No way.

4. Business travelers like it more when they have TSA PreCheck.

According to this report "a new study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that business travelers who are enrolled in the Transportation Security Administration's expedited screening program, TSA PreCheck, are much more satisfied with air travel than those who have not signed up."

TSA PreCheck is the program that allows pre-registered travelers to skip the long security lines and instead go through a much shorter, pre-screened queue. You don't have to take off any clothing or remove your computer from your bag. The data shockingly reveals that people prefer this. If you've been through O'Hare in the past few months you get it.

Related: The Caddyshack Guide to Business Communication (LinkedIn)

5. "Dark" websites are most commonly used for crime.

There's the web. And then there's the "dark" web, a secret part of the Internet that hackers and computer nerds can reach through a series of special commands, passwords and search algorithms not known to the typical online browser. Who knew, but this area of the Internet is more commonly found to have nefarious websites that sell drugs, prostitution and black market products.

"The results suggest that the most common uses for websites on (these) hidden services are criminal, including drugs, illicit finances and pornography involving violence, children and animals," Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid, both of King's College London, wrote in Cryptopolitik and the Darknet, an essay and research project looking into the relationship between privacy and security.

6. There's a simple trick to determine liberals from conservatives.

Phew, someone's figured this out. It seems that it's all just in the words. Conservatives like to use nouns more than liberals. For example, they would tend to call people "optimists" instead of "optimistic" or an "idealist" instead of "idealistic." The findings, published in the Journal of Political Psychology, were consistent across the three countries, looking at speeches in three different languages. The study found, for example, that George W. Bush (a conservative) used more nouns in his speech than his liberal counterparts. Of course, most of those nouns only contained three or four letters, but still…

Related: 'The Further Up a Company You Go, the More Stupid You Become'

7. A healthy diet will help you live longer.

This study looked at tens of thousands of Japanese men and women and concluded that "balanced consumption of energy, grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dairy products, confectionaries, and alcoholic beverages can contribute to longevity by decreasing the risk of death, predominantly from cardiovascular disease, in the Japanese population."

So, basically you can eat everything you want as long as you figure out the right balance. Oh, and did someone say alcoholic beverages?

8. Exercise makes our muscles work better with age.

In a study conducted by researchers at McGill University and other schools and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers compared a group of world class athletes to normal, older people and found that the athletes' legs were "much stronger" and had "about 14 percent more total muscle than the control group." This report concluded that "In essence, the sedentary elderly people had fewer motor units in their muscles, and more of the units that remained seemed to be feeling their age than in the athletes' legs."

Athletes are in better physical shape than old people and couch potatoes. Got it.

What's all this mean to the typical entrepreneur? Three things. For starters, a lot of the money you saved to put your kids through college is being spent on some pretty silly stuff. Second, you don't have to feel so guilty playing Tetris anymore. But most importantly you don't need a lot of expensive research and super-intelligent academics to tell you the obvious. Data helps validate. But it's only part of your thought process. The most successful entrepreneurs I know use common sense when it comes to making the big decisions.

Never ignore your gut – it's likely as good as a PhD.

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

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