Chili peppers burn your butt: Making sense of "duh" discoveries

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26 Responses to “Chili peppers burn your butt: Making sense of "duh" discoveries”

  1. Anonymous says:

    And it burns, burns, burns!
    The ring of fire!
    The ring of fire!

  2. fnc says:

    Better this research than letting the Mythbusters tackle this one.

  3. johnhazard says:

    I just saw one of those “duh” discoveries on the “captivate” screen in the elevator:
    Using normal kitchen spoons leads to medicine mis-dosing. Really?!
    As if the recommended dosage could ever be right for each person’s weight, metabolism, immune system, etc.
    I wonder how much that useless info cost to obtain.

  4. maxoid says:

    if a study reinforces common sense, people mock the scientists.

    if a study overturns common sense, it’s a hot topic for a long time.

    i’ve always thought that a percentage of “duh” studies serve as building blocks for other, perhaps more complex studies that need reliable data on these subjects, not just assumptions. even where they aren’t a foundation, having good data on anything is better than anecdotal or received wisdom.

  5. Halloween Jack says:

    Well, I live in Peoria, and there’s plenty of chili pepper in my diet. I’m just sayin’.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well put, Maggie!

  7. doctorandy says:

    That’s funny. I once had a patient tell me, in all seriousness, that there are no studies that show a causal link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
    That’s absolute BS, but I certainly was respectful in how I corrected him. Still, I’m sure he’s somewhere smoking a cigarette right now. People are going to believe what they’re going to believe, and all the facts in the world will not convince them otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not all people. Yes, there are people who believe what they want to believe but most intelligent people are ready to admit where they’ve been wrong and try to correct their opinions on matter when presented with proper evidence on the subject.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My parents are Indian, and it IS a HUGE deal to give up chili. When you’re conditioned to add chili to everything, it’s a pain *haha, pun* to give it up. It’s like saying not to add salt to your food. See how well that worked for high blood pressure in the U.S.? Yea.

    But it’s not like Indians don’t know it burns. (Well, I don’t, but my family always warns me about eating food that’s too spicy. Maybe I’ll feel it when I’m older.) However, for some folks, even the scientific method will not convince people to stop doing what they’re doing. But, at least there’s one less excuse to resist change.

  9. Rob says:

    How is it a “duh”?

    1) Capsaicin is used as a pain reliever

    2) I eat spicy food all the time. My chili is probably considered toxic waste in several states (6-7 habeneros in about 3 quarts, plus more of other peppers). I have yet to have “burning ring of fire”.

  10. zblack_eagle says:

    In India wouldn’t the chili powder be the placebo?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dagnabbit – where can I get my hands of some of this study money? I have a whole bunch of unanswered questions. Does tickeling skunks make you smellier? Does driving while eating fast food or driving while texting cause more accidents? What are the range and cost of injuries sustained by a married man from answering the questions “Do these pants make me look fat?” incorrectly?

  12. jeligula says:

    Studies show 99% of Americans sick of studies.

  13. doctorandy says:

    I am a big supporter of taking a scientific look at what may seem to be common sense phenomena. The ancient Greeks believed that everything could be figured out simply by using logical thought. Experimentation was not even considered.
    That way of thinking held sway up through the Dark Ages, during which time everybody naturally believed (as I did when I was five) that heavier things fell faster than light objects. Nobody disagreed because nobody checked. Then Gallileo came along and challenged everyone’s beliefs by actually watching things as they fell, and the scientific method was born.
    It’s a good approach, and one that is often dissed by people who are uncomfortable with science. Common sense is great, but for important ideas – ideas that major decisions and policies are based on, it’s important to get your facts right from the beginning.
    It’s surprising how many medical decisions are based on conclusions which start out as common sense, and then turn out to be wrong on further study.
    As a rather benign example, take the belief that emergency rooms are more active on nights with a full moon. Everybody in a hospital seems to think that’s the truth, so a friend of mine set out to study it. He looked at the number, and severity of ER visits on nights with a full moon, compared with nights without. (All other factors: day of the week, weather, etc.. were the same). No difference. The funny thing is, people still think full moons make the ER busier. Human belief is way stronger than fact.

  14. swngnmonk says:

    This sounds like an early favorite for the 2010 Ig Nobel awards. Good work!

  15. apoxia says:

    It annoys me when people write a study off due to its conclusions being “common sense” – whatever that is.

  16. I less than three mermaids says:

    Why, oh why, did I click the link? My cherry pastry suddenly doesn’t look so good.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what they used as a placebo? I know I can tell the difference between the mild and hot salsa, and I suspect I’m not the only one!

    • Anonymous says:

      The complete article says they used opaque pill capsules that contained either “1.5g of chili powder and 0.5g of microcrystalline cellulose” (experimental condition) or “2g of microcrystalline cellulose” (control condition). Presumably both taste the same going down.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There is no such thing as an obvious study. They’re all useful. There have been so many things in the past that have been assumed to be true because of folk history or “common sense” that it does us good to study these things, because on the odd occasion common sense is incorrect we often learn something valuable.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If there’s no double blind study to cite, the commentariat will cry that it can’t be possibly be true. If a study proves it true, they cry that it’s obvious and a waste of money and probably part of a conspiracy by the other political party. It has nothing to do with science. People are just cranky.

  19. Daemon says:

    Well, the biggest problem is that “common sense” rarely involves actual sense.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Maybe this isn’t as obvious as it seems. After all, capsaicin is known to relieve pain by overwhelming nerves and it’s not that far-fetched to suppose it might do so at a surgical site.

  21. warreno says:

    I wonder if anal burning is in any way related to anal leakage.

    Glaah. Now I wonder why I wondered that.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I remember hearing Dr Karl say that chilli’s only burn once. I lost my faith in Dr Karl that day.

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