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Today in Important, Fiercely Relevant Studies

Robert Mathis #98 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after a sack against the Miami Dolphins during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

There's no hockey, the baseball winter meetings haven't started yet, and neither the Knicks nor the Nets played yesterday. So the Times has this: "Study Looks at Bias in Celebration Penalty Calls." The premise: A study at Northwestern asked 44 people "familiar with football" to "read one of several accounts of a fictional N.F.L. play" and decide how much each player (one named "Malik Johnson" and the other "Jake Biermann") should be paid, based on whether or not the player celebrated his touchdown or not. The study found that the "44 people familiar with football" wanted to give (presumably black) Johnson less money when he celebrated than when he didn't, but wanted to give (presumably white) Biermann the same either way. A study like that has lots of issues, to say the least, but we'll accept it as part of academic research into unconscious bias. But then comes the "conclusion." "I would conclude that the results are generalizable to N.F.L. referees," says one of the authors. Wha? Forty-four people who sort of know football, a little, immediately equate to people paid to know everything about football? And the best part of the story is the ending: "There has been little chance to test the hypothesis recently. So far this season, no one has been flagged for excessive celebration." Awesome study, you guys.

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images