You get paid to do that research?

Ever wonder who funds these people that do the useless reports that state the obvious?  I am wondering and the answer is we all do. Take for example:

I mean really do you need research for that?

I remember the Seinfeld episode in which he makes fun of the researchers that invented seedless watermelon ( I personally am thankful for that BTW), but he asks a good question – “What kind of people work on this kind of stuff? Flunkies? Other people work on Aids, cancer research, but these guys (spits out an imaginary seed) they say this has to stop”.

The other extreme is the guys that do the research on the weird. If you remember USA Today always has their little survey box on front page with obviously ridiculous items:

  • When adults in America shower do they soap their left hand first or the right – with a pie chart that has to have the “refused to disclose” at a small percentage at 7. I swear I am not making this up.
  • How many people who eat fruit in the morning prefer their watermelon cut in squares versus wedges?
  • Nytimes this morning: Happy people dont watch TV.

Now to be clear, I love data as much as Flowing data and its representations fascinate me, but dont you think this goes beyond the norm?