“Research” is a rather innocuous word with various definitions, such as “careful or detailed study,” “studious inquiry,” and “collecting information about a particular subject.” This word didn’t used to present a problem, but nowadays, the word “research” has become a trigger for contempt of others.

Some people are contemptuous of those who find out their information via Facebook or other such sources, but the truth is, depending on who your friends are and how committed they are to the truth and serious research, you can be steered toward all sorts of interesting, scientific, and thought-provoking articles.

Some people are contemptuous of those who Google a subject, read an article or two and call it research.

Some people are contemptuous of those who read a scientific paper but don’t go beyond that to do any of their own thinking or collecting any additional information.

Because “research” is such a trigger word, I have become uncomfortable talking about the research I’ve done for my books, though my research was not of the Facebook or Google or reading a couple of articles variety. My research was done before I knew what any of those online things were — before I’d ever even used a computer — and entailed reading hundreds of books, presenting all sides of the issues I discussed in my novels, as well as spending a lot of time in libraries. It’s because of all the research I did for A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a pandemic that preceded the real world one by a decade, that I am leery of any “research” people currently tell me about and expect me to believe. There have been so many shenanigans over the years, and suddenly, we are to believe that those in control of the drugs (any drugs) have our best interests at heart.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that when the woman I take care of is napping, I read her Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and recently one of the books that showed up was novelization of troubles in the pharmaceutical industry. Thalidomide, anyone? Fen-phen? Eugenics? DES? Statins?

Oops. I didn’t mean to get into that. This wasn’t supposed to be about my distrust of the drug companies but simply a discussion of how the word “research” has become an emotional quagmire. But despite the quagmire, I really don’t have to feel bad about calling the information I get for my books “research,” because if nothing else what I do certainly falls under the category of collecting all sorts of information about a particular subject, or even several subjects, since each of my three “conspiracy” novels focused on a different area of study.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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6 Responses to “Research”

  1. Estragon Says:

    It seems to me the reason “research” has become such a trigger is it’s so often misused in what’s better described as a semi-delusional exercise of confirmation bias. Maybe worse, the research isn’t used in a thought provoking work of fiction, it often bounces around echo chambers of the like minded to become “fact” to be accepted without critical thought. It’s pretty easy to dismiss when it’s sprayed around by conspiracy nuts, but less so when it’s institutional (as arguably happened with the Canadian thalidomide experience).

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That confirmation bias is a powerful thing. If the “research” shows something other than a person wants to believe, especially if it goes against the institutional bias, then it’s fake news or fake research. What a world.

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I despair at the kind of people who read PR materials from their political party of choice and consider that to be solid research.

  3. Judy Galyon Says:

    Life is interesting in so many different ways. As for me & my dog, I will take the vast majority of opinions with a grain of salt & be content with my peace & quiet.

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