School of the Bleedin' Obvious; It's the 'Research' That Reveals What, to Most of Us, Is Self-Evident. Here, We Proudly Present Some of the Dumbest Examples from The

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Byline: by Jonathan Brocklebank

IT was a project carried out with all the academic rigour that a [pounds sterling]60,000 grant buys. A representative sample of human guinea pigs were gathered and invited, purely for the sake of science, to strip to their underwear.

Then a photographer took pictures.

For their trouble, each model was paid [pounds sterling]20 - but the real reward was that rare opportunity to contribute to the sum of human knowledge.

Next, hundreds of people looked at the photos and answered questions about them.

The data was analysed, checked and rechecked until, this week, experts behind the inquiry into the mysteries of male and female attraction went public with their findings.

Get ready for this. It may throw your world off its axis.

According to the results of the transcontinental study, a man whose gaze lingers on a woman's body - particularly her bosom - probably has but one thing on his mind. Sex.

Astonishing, isn't it? There's more. When a man maintains steady eye contact, he is more likely to view his date as relationship material rather than a brief conquest. What we have, then, from this most fruitful of collaborations between Stirling and Tokyo Universities, is a scientifically proven 'ready reckoner' for any woman pondering the intentions of her date.

If there is one problem it is this: women know all this stuff already. It is obvious.

But, in the arena of academic research, that is not a major problem. The length and breadth of the country, it seems, professorial brows are furrowed in earnest contemplation of questions to which every layman already knows the answer.

It is not the findings which startle.

It is the fact so much money was lavished on an inquiry into the patently self-evident.

And it is not just university academics who appear to place great value on investigations into matters which are as plain as the nose on their face. The Scottish Executive, as we shall see, is a front-runner in the race for the title of Ministry for the Bleedin' Obvious. A Sherlock Holmes prize for deduction, meanwhile, may be due to the most senior officers of Scottish police forces.

Here the Scottish Daily Mail presents a compendium of the most preposterous attempts to bring truth and understanding to what is already manifestly true and understood...

FOR this Edinburgh University research project, there was a cast of thousands - each one of them a school pupil in the city. Academics have been watching them since 1998 but it was not until late last year, after careful consideration of all the data, that the breakthrough was announced. The pattern was unmistakable: children excluded from school at a young age are more likely than their obedient classmates to go on to a life of crime as adults. Just let that sink in a little. Yes, it's true. Youngsters who are wrong 'uns often grow up to be adults who are wrong 'uns.

OVER at Strathclyde University, experts in an area of study known as implicit learning were researching dangerous drivers.

Why was it so many of them seemed to be young people, particularly men, often showing off in souped-up hatchbacks over which they had far less control than they thought.

A sample of drivers of all ages were shown hazardous road scenes and asked to comment on any danger. Young drivers, it seemed, were more blase about the hazards than older drivers.

Answer: young drivers have the most crashes because they are most foolhardy. You read it here first.

NOT to be outdone, researchers at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University began an inquiry into romantic comedies. Thirty people were seated in an auditorium, asked to sit several seats apart then shown the 2001 movie Serendipity. At its conclusion came the debriefing. How did their own romantic lives compare to those in the movie? …