Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
CBC logo
Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 04.22.04
Quebec City


Using thumbscrews for science. Right.

Do you ever get the feeling some people have too much time on their hands?

Politicians come to mind.

When being an MP was just a part-time job, did the nation suffer?

A good case can probably be made that having all those back benchers sitting around Parliament Hill nowadays leads only to one thing.

And it's not good. Idle hands and all that.

And then there are sociologists.

Heck, it wasn't even an academic discipline, let alone a science, until a bunch of people failed economics and history at the turn of the century and had nowhere else to turn.

And what about pollsters?

Do we really need to know what our neighbours think about anything within three percentage points nineteen times out of twenty?

A perfect example of being over-employed came up recently when a bunch of scientists in Great Britain took the time, and probably a hefty government grant, to figure out pain is less intense when it's administered by a woman.

Researchers placed forty people in a thumb screw and had either a man or a woman do the twisting.

Apparently, women applied thirty per cent more pressure before the test cases cried "uncle." Or in this case "aunt."

Now, results aside, there are some questions that immediately spring to mind.

For example, how do you get forty people to volunteer to have their thumbs crushed in the first place?

What about the women involved?

Were they wearing slinky black leather outfits and stiletto heels?

Don't laugh.

It's a documented fact that the Brits are probably the kinkiest people in the Western world.

Think of all those politicians who have been caught wearing short pants, caps, and their school ties while being paddled by their favorite dominatrix for a misdemeanor, imagined or otherwise.

On top of that, who cares if it's a Beefeater guard from the Tower of London or a Margaret Thatcher look-alike who applies the pain?

It's still going to hurt.

Perhaps somebody should be given a Canada Council grant or the British equivalent to find out how much money is spent every year on studies that are destined to give taxpayers a pain. And I won't say where.