Thursday, 2 October 2008

Research? Evidence? Excuses to do nothing.

"We do no research. We don't hire consultants"
Who made these outrageous statements? You might guess this is the statement of the CEO of some failed enterprise. The usual mantra is that you gotta be close to the customer and you do that by getting more research. You might be surprised to find out that these are quotes from Apple's Steve Jobs talking about the iPod and iTunes, probably the most successful electronic product launched in the last decade. Furthermore, Apple is an enterprise that radically and frequently updates its core products. With enormous success.

Research enables doing nothing at all. If you want to do nothing just call for evidenced based reforms. It also is great in absolving the decision maker of responsibility. It's always a fine excuse to be able to blame that "damn research" when it all goes pear shaped.

The core fallacy of research is that researchers talk only to those people who will be researched... and these people are not normal.

How many times have you been called asking to do a 5 minute survey and declined to participate? Probably every time. In fact, most people do decline. What kind of a person will take $50 to sit in a room with a 2-way mirror and talk about some product in a focus group for a few hours? Weird people. Yet these are the same people who are the source of the research that is meant to guide our lives.

The research excuse is used a lot to stop pokie reform. The pokie industry diminishes a lot of logic by saying that they will not implement this or that reform unless its based on research.

It's a topic for another post, but I've wondered how many people will admit to a problem with pokie gambling when some researcher calls at dinner time to ask.

I'm sure this 'no research = no action' argument will be used against this campaign to keep kids away from pokie pubs. I've already been warned.

A few weeks ago, a person employed by one of the councils and I did a PokieWatch at a Melbourne venue that was under construction. In the midst of having a look, we were asked to leave the venue because of some law that note taking was prohibited in the pokie room. Whatever! After walking out, I told my co-notetaker about my plans for PokieAct and its focus on keeping kids out of pokie pubs.

Her initial response? Do you have research that kids in pokie pubs leads to harm?

My response was that I need no research to know that what children are exposed to forms their behaviour. I need no research to know that how I behave as a parent influences my children.

In these tough times of high fuel and housing costs, offers of free food for kids will look attractive for many who live in the poorer areas where pokie pubs are typically located. Kids notice the sounds and lights of pokies. I need no research to know that.

There are a multitude of places to take kids to eat and play. Pokie pubs are not one of those places.

I don't need research to know that either.

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