MSN has published this list of stupid scientific studies that someone paid good money for. Here’s a sample from a study about cigarette smoking: “While a causal relation cannot be proven, smokers appear to pay for tobacco expenditures out of income that is saved by non-smokers. Hence, reductions in smoking will boost wealth, especially among the poor”. Translation: “cigarettes cost money”. In other feats of science conquering the obvious, researchers from the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that meetings are stressful (it took two sets of researchers to figure that out?), a study in the February 2005 issue of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review notes that “it is a matter of common sense that a person is easier to recognize when close than when far away”, and the British Department of Health sponsored a study that concluded that “the farther away you are from a hospital, the more likely you are to die”.
But at least these researchers aren’t in charge of your security, right? It seems that the Department of Homeland Security sends out a daily email called the Open Source Intelligence Report. But rather than use, ya know, actual mailing list software to send out the report, the private contractor used by DHS simply set up a single email address on a Lotus Notes server, and set up a rule to forward any email sent to that address to thousands of people. On Wednesday, a reader replied to the message asking for a change in his subscription; since DHS was using forwarding rules instead of a proper mailing list app, his reply was sent out to thousands of people. A “couple of dozen” people replied to the man’s reply, and soon millions of emails were bouncing back and forth. The DHS admins even replied to the message themselves, asking list members to “kindly stop now please”; they were apparently clueless that the problem was on their end. These people are in charge of securing our nation… and they can’t even secure a simple email list? God help us all! Read all about it at Ars Technica.
Thanks to my sweet hunny for sending me the link to the MSN study!