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It may be new, but is it true?

‘According to a new study’ and ‘new research shows’ are two enormously popular and attention-grabbing phrases, according to fresh and fairly light research of my own. They are used, typically, in newspapers, blogs, and on television to bring out the seriousness of what is to follow. For example, according to Richard Dawkins’s website:

New research shows water present across the moon’s surface – It turns out the moon is a lot wetter than we ever thought.

We must remember our umbrellas.

Or, in the Guardian:

Piracy may be the bane of the music industry but according to a new study, it may also be its engine. A report from the BI Norwegian School of Management has found that those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t.

So property really does begin with theft.

The newness of the research makes it newsworthy (obviously) but also makes it sound more truthful. And yet most research is more often work in progress than anything more definitive – except for reports cited in, say, the pages of the National Enquirer, which more than decade ago said that according to new research the Hubble Telescope had discovered Heaven.

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