I am writing in response to the article “I want my money back,” which was published in the News-Press on Dec. 6. This article attacks our research at UCSB for being frivolous and obvious.
The author complains that a great deal of money is wasted by governments. In fact, I agree that this is true. I would also like much of my money back, but somehow I don’t see this happening.
Nevertheless, the writer is seriously mistaken when it comes to the value of research. We all happily take advantage of the modern technology made possible by careful scientific research. As to the value of our study, we suspect that many obese people in America who would be likely to get diabetes might disagree with her view that this research is wasteful.
Our study showed that there are great health benefits to incentivizing people to participate in an exercise program, even after the program has ended.
On the point of being obvious, Duncan Watts, a social scientist, has a book entitled “Everything is obvious: Once you know the answer.” In fact, very few people actually expected this result. No study using a precisely-controlled design (the scientific method) had ever been conducted.
The same day that the first article (of two) about our study appeared in the New York Times, we were contacted by Chase Bank. Since that time, a large number of institutions have implemented exercise programs. It is likely that this article has improved the quality of the lives of many people. I am very happy that our modest research has helped to make this possible.
Professor of Economics, UCSB