Archive from June, 2008
Jun 16, 2008 - observations, opinion, science    No Comments

(Don’t) Sleep on It!

According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, if you don’t have a consistent, regular sleep habit (i.e. same number of hours, same level of relaxation, same time of night, etc.) you’re more likely to have “aging issues” (i.e. you’ll die).

There’s a part of me that went “duh!?!” when I heard this (it seems intuitively obvious), but then I had to take a step back and rethink things.  Is it really your screwed up sleeping habits that adversely affect your health (and, potentially, lead to your death) …

OR … is it the waking early and staying up late that affect your health … or the driving while drunk (because you’re out later) and driving hung over (because you were out later the night before) that kills you?

OR … it that (according to another survey) too little sleep leads to snacking … which leads to weight gain … and fat gain, and cholesterol gain … which leads to health issues?

OR … is it because we’re all getting fatter, and being overweight (which apparently ups the changes of shortened sleeping) has it’s own mortality issues?

Bottom line:  You can’t draw significant conclusions from a study unless the study addresses all possible variables and variations that may affect the outcome.

Oh, and don’t go thinking that all you have to do is get a lot of sleep.  Too much sleep can also lead to restless nights … which puts you right back in the same leaking boat.

As for what this all really means, I’ll have to get back to you … after I take a nap.

Things that make you go "WTF?"

There was a little buzz among bloggers, kicked off this week by Podnosh (and picked up by Bad Science) around a report published by the Charity Commission stating that (to paraphrase) “wikis and blogs have no educational value”.  I’m not going to go into a detailed stance here (I’ll let the discussion on Podnosh and Bad Science do that for me, they’re doing a wonderful job), but I am going to make one observation:  What does this mean for the BBC? Let me explain.

If you take a look at who makes up the Charity Commission, you’ll find Sharmila Nebhrajani is one of the commissioners.  Sharmila is also COO of BBC Future Media & Technology, and this is where I get confused.  The commission has a member who runs the BBC department that handles its digital content, website, and (I would assume) blogs and podcasts.  The commission doesn’t see blogs as educational, yet the BBC continues to support Sharmila’s department in spite of a £36 million overspend.

Did I forget to mention that Sharmila also has a Facebook account?

Does this strike anyone as mildly … well … odd?