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June 4, 1998

Bureau of Inconclusive Studies releases findings

WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Inconclusive Studies (BIS) reported its latest findings at a press conference last Tuesday. The conference was widely attended, in hopes that some further announcement would be made regarding last October’s finding that “AIDS might be curable with something involving rutabaga extract, or maybe spirulina.” There was not.

The press conference concluded with the unveiling of a replacement for the tried-and-true method of scientific discovery, the “scientific method.” The new method, called “the scientific guesstimate,” produces “results that are kind of as good as traditional research, but much more quickly,” saidbis.gif (7981 bytes) presenter Dr. Alfred Nebler. “Plus, guesstimating is just such a rush compared to painstakingly repeating tests again and again. I say, do it a couple times, then kick that experiment in the ass and call it a day.”

Instead, the BIS committee presented more than 20 new half-formed, insupportable scientific theories. Findings were presented in a variety of scientific fields, ranging from geology (“Earthworm activity near fault lines might increase the chance of earthquakes”) to psychology (“Sometimes people get angry for no external reason. We think this is some sort of ‘brain thing.’”). Each finding was presented as an inexhaustively researched two-page report, complete with one or two hastily written footnotes (often referring to other, completely unrelated, BIS reports).

After the event, BIS Chairman Dr. Richard Bezzener spoke with the Weekly Week about the history of the Bureau.

“The BIS, founded in 1979, is dedicated to the advancement of science in general, non-specific ways. Thomas Edison once said, ‘Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward,’ and that really sums up our mission here.

“We know that the amount of knowledge to be gained from the world is truly staggering. Our goal is not to find ultimate answers, but to point others in the direction of things that might sort of be those answers.

“For example, scientists may have wondered if there are any medicinal properties to the extract of the musk weasel. Well, now we know that there are none. Lord knows we tried, but the stuff was just a complete dead end. Or take superconductors. There may be a material out there capable of superconduction at room temperatures, but I can name at least a thousand things that we know for certain do not. There’s plastic wrap, Play-Doh, live toads, um, let’s see, most fruits and vegetables (although the Shop and Save was out of okra when we were getting supplies)?”

As Dr. Bezzener went on to list all 1,000 items, the Weekly Week concluded its interview.

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