Saturday, November 16, 2013

Massage Education & Sunk Cost Fallacy

Sunk Cost Fallacy:  the idea that a company or organization is more likely to continue with a project if they have already invested a lot of money, time, or effort in it, even when continuing is not the best thing to do...

Science has proven that massage therapy cannot increase circulation, spread cancer, cause miscarriages, dehydrate you, or remove toxins.  When last I checked, these myths are still perpetuated in schools and practices.  Why?  Part of the problem is a lack of research literacy, so even with the evidence under one's nose, how do you make sense of the damn thing?  Another problem is that we don't want to admit that we're wrong, especially after investing two year's worth of time and money.

My BA gave me my first real experience with the sunk cost fallacy.  Three-quarters of the way through my studies, I realized, "There's no room for my interests in this economy," but with only a handful of credits standing between me and graduation, I put in the extra year.  Was it worth it?  That depends on what you consider to be a payoff.  I was looking for a career, but today's mantra is, "You're better off having a degree than not."

To be fair, some people understand the situation.

We experience this fallacy under menial circumstances, as well.  This past summer, a few friends and I decided to check out a festival.  A garlic festival, if you've ever heard of such a thing.  Under normal circumstances, the drive would have taken roughly half an hour.  With everyone in the valley heading the same way, it took well over an hour.

Twenty minutes in, a couple of us were nauseated from the congestion and stop-and-go traffic.  Forty minutes in, we wanted to turn around and go home, "But we've already come this far..." so we continued.  The sane thing to do would have been to turn around and go home, but after putting so much time in, we wanted to see a payoff*.

After you put all that time, energy, and especially money into anything, you don't want to turn around and say, "Well, that didn't work.  I think I'll put even more resources into something else, now."  You want to see a point and purpose.  You want some sort of validation for your effort.  Until I found myself elbow-deep in massage studies, I had not seen this desire expressed so strongly.

Rasmussen is a private college of various disciplines, but everyone had to take Human Biology, especially Health Sciences.  The course curriculum was the same for everyone, and for this reason, I'm fairly certain that everyone was required to find out why we don't need to drink 8 glasses of water every day.

As a general rule, just drink when you're thirsty.

Unfortunately, we grew up with this soggy "8 glasses per day" myth.  It stayed with us as we learned how Columbus alone knew that the world is round, brain cells never regenerate, and you'll need to know how to write in cursive for high school, college, your anyone using cursive?

When we spend so much time believing one thing, it takes a reckoning force to make us see and accept otherwise.  We seem to enjoy bashing Columbus, so most educated people know he did not "discover" the world to be round.  With the advent of computers, many are rejoicing over solid evidence that we actually don't need to use cursive.  I don't know of anything so righteous that debunks the 8 glasses myth.

My massage classes still discussed how very important it is to drink so much water (and it must be water) every day.  We were supposed to be able to assess someone's daily intake by the feel and color of their skin.  We were supposed to encourage clients to drink extra water after a massage to flush toxins, and we discussed the dangers of neglecting to do so.  After two years and tuition, how can anyone expect us to admit that this was all wrong?


Well, naturally, but that's another discussion.

*The driver insists it was worth it, because we had to try the garlic ice cream.

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