So let’s say you’re a medical professional. Forget having several square inches of a fatty’s thigh touch your thigh when you’re on a plane — that’s child’s play as far as you’re concerned. No, your row is harder hoeing. First of all, peering into fat people’s shopping carts and judging the contents isn’t just a hobby for you; it’s a duty that you take on in the name of public health, on the assumption that a doctor’s disdain is more potent and effective than that of a normal person. And as far as interacting with fat people, you don’t get the luxury of just ignoring them or insulting them on the internet like everyone else — no, you have to get all up in their business on a regular basis. It’s your job! And because you have to touch way more than just their leg in an airplane seat, your contempt has to be that much more fiery and glaring, in order to heat-sterilize you from fatty germs.
Sure, you could react to this situation by becoming one of the many perfectly lovely, compassionate, and professional doctors and nurses out there, but where’s the fun in that? Being a fair and benevolent physician is HARD and there is no GRANT MONEY in it, you sucker. (Being a trenchant and high-minded researcher might come with funds but is still really taxing. No thanks.) No, much better to put your little all into building an unassailable wall of research showing that fat people are going to die of every disease but not before bringing everyone else down with them. This does the handy dual trick of giving people a whitewashed podium from which to fling their poo — it’s not about bigotry, it’s about health! — and firing up public opinion against fatties, who are now to blame for the world’s ills. This is important, since all it takes for someone to lose weight (and thus, according to the research you’re crafting, to become instantly healthy) is for them to know that some people think they’re unacceptable at their current size.
But where to start? Well, some folks at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have a few suggestions for you.
1. Pick an arbitrary baseline. If you’re looking at anything that’s increased monotonically over time — man-made greenhouse gas production, automobile manufacturing, Abe Vigoda’s age, entropy –you can start measuring at any point and still turn up an increase. The trick is to choose a baseline that is far enough away to guarantee you’ll show a precipitous gain, while still being close enough to the present time that it doesn’t seem irrelevant. Remember, making it seem as though you must have a plausible rationale is much, much more important than actually having one!
2. Get a computer. Any mook can stick electrodes on a rat, but computer modeling allows you to ask all kinds of asinine counterfactual questions like “what if humans evolved from cats,” “what if dark matter were actually made of ladies’ panties,” “what if there were no fat people in the 1970s and also the 1970s was now,” and so forth. This is very original and therefore very fundable research — and depending on how you set up the model, you can make it find whatever you want!
3. Choose the parameters for your model based on impact rather than fact. For instance, if 25 percent of people in Great Britain are classified as “obese,” use 40 percent instead because it sounds way scarier.
4. Build your prejudices into the model in any way possible. For instance, if you assume fat people eat too much, you should make your model calculate that fat people will eat more food. If you don’t do this, your conclusion might only show that increased food production leads to more greenhouse gases! This could have a negative impact on the food industry, who may I remind you is NOT going to force you to have sex with it and then take half your stuff. Why go that route, when you can instead blame your simulated fatties for increasing the simulated production of simulated food because of their simulated boundless hunger?
5. While you’re at it, ignore other factors that could affect what you’re studying — if you’re looking at greenhouse gas emissions, for example, be sure to ignore the increasing population and cultural fascination with big honkin’ cars. The point of a model is not to simulate reality; it’s to present a constrained, idealized, paper-thin approximation of reality, and then assume that any discrepancies are reality’s fault for being so sloppy. That’s why they name them after these guys.
Voila — you’re ready to publish some social-ass science! Make sure you’ve lined up some reporters with shaky science literacy, short attention spans, looming deadlines and/or a propensity to exaggerate the anti-fat interpretations of scientific studies (either due to personal bias or because it allows them great range for puns on words like “heavy” and “bloated”). Hopefully the well-read, careful, or less time-crunched journalists are working with aforementioned trenchant researchers anyway, and nobody’s reading anything they write because they’re suckers. You, however, are on your way to leaving a lasting mark on the world, in the form of a link that douchebags can copy and paste when they want to argue that fat people are a proven menace.
Or if that’s too much work, you could just make some shit up.