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Idle Science

Turns Out You Actually Can Be Bored To Death 128

A study conducted by researchers at University College London shows that boredom can kill you. The researchers found that people who reported feeling a great deal of boredom were 37 per cent more likely to have died by the end of the study. Martin Shipley, who co-wrote the report said, "The findings on heart disease show there was sufficient evidence to say there is a link with boredom."


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Turns Out You Actually Can Be Bored To Death

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  • ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 08, 2010 @03:33PM (#31063718)

    maybe because by doing nothing and being bored, you are likely to not be as healthy...

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      maybe because by doing nothing and being bored, you are likely to not be as healthy...

      It's in TFA.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        maybe because by doing nothing and being bored, you are likely to not be as healthy...

        It's in TFA.

        Maybe dying causes you to be bored.

      • Re:ummm (Score:4, Funny)

        by eln ( 21727 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @04:48PM (#31064670)
        Reading TFA is boring. The GP was clearly avoiding it in order to increase his life expectancy.
      • I would RTFA, but I'm afraid doing so might reduce my lifespan.
  • Is this really the kind of news that we need on the front page? NEWS for nerds, anyone?

    I've been exclusively reading Slashdot news all day, and not even one is remotely interesting enough to *hurk* *ack* *ug.*

  • Or... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by VTSV ( 1682748 )
    The participants were 35-55 years old in 1985-88 when surveyed about their boredom. 25 years later, maybe they just died because they were almost 80 when the surveyors checked up on them last April...
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday February 08, 2010 @06:16PM (#31066084) Homepage Journal

      The participants who reported high levels of boredom were significantly more likely to have died than the participants, in the same age group, who didn't.

      [sigh] TentireFA is about ten lines long; it doesn't give much information, but it's enough to get that much. Actually, even an intelligent reading of the summary would have given you that little bit of information. Probably too much to ask here, I know.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You are inferring something that is not stated in the article.

    • Wow. This is even modded +4 Insightful.

      FTFS: "The researchers found that people who reported feeling a great deal of boredom were 37 per cent more likely to have died by the end of the study."

      I'm not defending the headline, and I haven't RTFA but wow, dude.

  • Video at 11 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by phlops ( 254428 )
    In other news, despite headlines claiming otherwise, correlation is found to not be causation.
    • Exactly. Off the top of my head I can think of several things (brain tumor, alcoholism, clinical depression) that might cause both an increased sense of boredom and an increased probability of death.
      • Also, a sedentary lifestyle would most likely lead to a general boredom. Contrast to a lifestyle that includes a couple hours of exercise, which IMO leads to a more balanced mental state. So, in this study perhaps boredom and death are both effects of the same underlying problem.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by profplump ( 309017 )

          Exercise does not defeat boredom, at least not in the broad strokes you paint. It might help some people, and it certainly has physiological and mental health benefits for most people, but it's absurd to say that exercise prevents or treats boredom as a general rule.

          For one thing, if you make exercise an unvarying part of your daily routine it might actually be a part of your boredom, and stopping the excise might help relieve your boredom by virtue of changing your routine.

          I also think you'd find a more th

          • You're talking about 2 different types of boredom, and equating them. Weariness of routine is far different than boredom due to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of stimulation or differentation. Exercising is going to provide at least some break from the rest of the day, enjoyable or not.

            Of course riding an elliptical might be boring after 2 hours if you never did anything different, but 1) a lot of people love routine and enjoy the consistency of the same workout, every day (I don't) and 2) in my experience

      • Eating a bullet ...
      • Exactly. Off the top of my head I can think of several things...

        Kinda like the reasons they suggest for the correlation in TFA?

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by corbettw ( 214229 )

      correlation is not causation

      Yeah, but sometimes it is. What do you think of that, smart guy?

    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Though it's a good hint at what to do with your life. I seem to notice perhaps significant number of people who quickly loose health and die only after putting themselves in a position of boredom (usually badly thought out retirement or likewise change of place of residence); even if it can be traced to direct causes, new bad habits.

    • correlation is found to not be causation.

      I see that comment so often it bores me.

      Ow...ow, chest pain...numb left arm...aaaaghgghgh!!!!

    • And despite Slashdot posts claiming otherwise, repeating variations on "correlation is not causation" over and over is found not to add anything useful to the discussion.

  • ... of IgNobel prize winner.

  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @03:56PM (#31063990)
    who never post anymore ...
  • by Stick32 ( 975497 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @04:04PM (#31064084)
    Does that mean that C-SPAN is guilty of crimes against humanity? I knew it...
  • Same story, different day.

    Oh, wait....

    Hey, look at that chicken! Wow!

  • ...

    I'm tired
    Sick and tired of love
    I've had my fill of love
    From below and above
    Tired, tired of being admired
    Tired of love uninspired
    Let's face it
    I'm tired

    I've been with 1000's of men
    Again and again
    They promise the moon
    They always coming and going
    Going and coming
    And always too soon
    Right girls?

    I'm tired,
    Tired of playing the game
    Ain't it a crying shame
    I'm so tired
    God dammit I'm exhausted ...

    • by Vohar ( 1344259 )

      She died of ovarian cancer, you insensitive clod.

      First time I've felt compelled to use that one.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @04:50PM (#31064706) Homepage

    He laughed at me when I said my ultimate technique was the Long Winded Anecdote With No Point (Napping Crane Style). But now I'm 37% more likely to have the last laugh!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
      No, no, no.

      In Soviet Russia, dead horse beats you.

      The Long Winded Anecdote With No Point (Napping Crane Style) is no match for the Everending Rehashment Of Stale Joke (Slashdottian Ape Style):

      Now, I'm not sure that the ISR joke above is actually funny -- not sure that people will understand that the reason to stop beating a dead horse is because it's boring. I think it is funny, slightly -- but the great thing is, I'm not concerned. Because anyone who finds it not funny will be bored by it, and there
  • I'd imagine that many of the stories go something like this: I was bored because I didn't have a job and had no hope of getting a job. I also didn't have health insurance because I lived in the US and didn't have a job and when I got an easily treatable cancer, I didn't get treatment because I didn't have insurance because I didn't have a job and I croaked.
  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:06PM (#31064970) Journal

    "The researchers found that people who reported feeling a great deal of boredom were 37 per cent more likely to have died by the end of the study."

    How long did this study take?!

    • by Zerth ( 26112 )

      20 years. I hope they had bathroom breaks...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      It only lasted a week.

      Participants were placed in identical, undecorated jail cells with gray walls and ceilings. Each cell was bare except for a 1kg bar of metallic sodium and a 1gal cardboard milk carton containing gasoline. And a box of wooden matches. And some razor blades.
    • by Geminii ( 954348 )
      The entire meeting.
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:07PM (#31064992) Homepage Journal

    This explains the corpse in the back of that lecture hall in the math building.

  • What a waste of time and money. Boredom is completely self defined. One person could be "suffering" from boredom, while the next person who is experiencing the same as the first could be peeing their pants from excitement. How they managed to put a study together baised out of this ambiguity is the only impressive thing here.
  • Seriously, in the first 18 posts I at least 5 times read the above expression with some profound comment like "..and you suck".

    Yea, correlation != causation. I know that, but that does not bring me more insight.

    The story was not that bad either. They had a set of similar people and they showed differences in death rates depending on their boredom. + We know how boring boredom can be, and considering the complex interaction of mood with health (and don't say there is none), it is very likely that there is a

    • Seriously, in the first 18 posts I at least 5 times read the above expression

      I think they are trying to prove the causation with further studies: e.g. after reading 5 of the same boring post, you die => causation.

      Sorry that I blew away my mod-points by trying to tell a few of them to RTFA. I keep forgetting it's pointless, I think there is some "correlation != causation" bots that just post this on all the stories.

    • The people that self reported being bored were more likely to die early; it's not the boredom that affected their lifespan, it's the bitching about it! I think they've actually found a correlation between complaining and health, not boredom and health. And I can understand why... every time you hear somebody complaining "I'm bored!", don't you just want to smack them?
  • Medical doctors and their sience games.
    Always failing to tell correlation and causality apart.

    I'd be far more inclined to speculate that bored people just don't have that healthy life-style on average...

    • Re:but why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:51PM (#31065696)

      A) If boredom leads to a less health lifestyle, and that lifestyle leads to decreased longevity, isn't that just an indirect way to say that boredom decreased longevity? Wouldn't treating boredom still increase longevity?

      B) Even if boredom is just a symptom and not cause, isn't this still useful information? Can't we use boredom as a symptom of poor health to diagnose and help people improve their lifestyles and thus their longevity?

      C) Have you considered that boredom is perhaps a symptom of a non-lifestyle-related cause of poor health? Maybe people who are more susceptible to disease X are also more susceptible to boredom, or to the perception of boredom?

      I know it's cool to say correlation is not causation and pretend that you're smarter than the folks who did the study, but it's really quite petty to dismiss the study offhand simply because it does not conclusively establish causation, particularly in the medical field. How exactly do you propose that we impose boredom on a group of people, because unless you can control the treatment there's really no way to establish causation. But don't let ethics, a lack of practical tools for manipulating mood, or the enormous cost a of a 30-year clinical study take away from your slashdot oneupmanship.

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

        Boredom wouldn't be a 'symptom' of poor health. It would be an indicator. There's quite a large difference.

  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:37PM (#31065468)
    If boredom could kill, the german military in the 80's would have run casualties higher than at Stalingrad. I've never been so bored before or after ever. You were given a task that would you take 5min at a crawling pace, 4 hours of time and the order not to leave the room while being denied anything to read and bereft of all company. If boredom could kill, i would have been a casualty then.....
  • by kpainter ( 901021 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @05:51PM (#31065712)
    As study is underway to see if you really can "Freeze your ass off".
  • In fact, it could even be more likely to kill you.
  • Wow.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I rarely post here, but this is so stupid I can't help myself.

    I would love to see what percentage of participants were over the age of 50 twenty-five years ago. Not only that, but maybe those 37 percent were not only over 50 yrs old, but also reported boredom since having been a civil servant for many years.

    And I could be way off, but my guess is you could survey 7524 people in that age group about ANYTHING and find that about that same percentage of them had died over that kind of time span.

    How many d
  • over 95% of those doing heavy drugs were breastfed. Hence ... what?

    Now how to they now those being bored had that feeling because they already had some health problems?

  • When some people get bored, they drink...

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @07:33PM (#31067050) Homepage

    And you still watch tv.

  • by Hairy1 ( 180056 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @07:47PM (#31067142) Homepage

    It has already been established that stress can kill. The most stressful periods of my life have been when I have been bored. If you are bored it generally means you are under utilized. Knowing this you will be quite stressed. Besides, having nothing to do is like sensory deprivation, a psychological form of torture. This it is not terribly surprising that people who are "bored" also tend to end up stressed, and ultimately dead.

  • I halfway expected it to say they were so bored that they just killed themselves.
  • There is this Game [] I played once, where I attended a party. In England, London, Islington... oh... THAT party... This party was really pretty average except for the occasional alien, as long as you never spoke to the hostess. If you spoke to her, you would literally be board to death.

    **** YOU HAVE DIED **** Press ENTER to restart.

  • Too long, died reading.
  • Good News! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Monday February 08, 2010 @10:02PM (#31068024) Homepage
    Next time my inlaws try to make me watch one of their vacation slide shows, I can have them charged with attempted murder!
  • reading this article?
  • School is often boring for many people. Is this study proof that compulsory schooling is bad for most people's health?

    See also:

    "The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher" also by John Taylor Gatto []

    "The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Life/Work Planning" by Richard N. Bolles (also writes "What Color is Your Parachute") []

    Other links:

  • Oh boy! Finally a reason to write a medical prescription for porn.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain