Sunday, May 13, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Pretty numbersWhile catching up on my John Stossel articles, I came across this especially interesting one about how the media likes to scare the public about potential catastrophic events when there's a miniscule likelihood of these events happening. The article talks about an experiment that 20/20 ran to see how much people actually paid attention to likelihoods:
Media exposure clouds our judgment about real-life odds. Of course, it doesn't help that viewers are as ignorant about probability as reporters are.
To demonstrate that, "20/20" ran an experiment. We asked people to put on blindfolds and then to pick up a red jellybean from one of two plates that held a mixture of red and white jellybeans.
We offered $1 to anyone who could pick up a red bean.
Here's the catch: While one plate held 20 jellybeans and the other 100, the plate with 20 beans had a higher percentage of red ones. We put up signs that told people this clearly: "10 percent red" of the small plate and just "7 percent red" of the big plate.
Surprisingly, even with the percentage signs in front of them, a third of the people picked the plate with 100 beans.
What people saw overwhelmed their ability to think abstractly about probability. They saw more red on the big plate. It's one reason people obsess about things that have a small chance of hurting them but ignore real threats.
Things like this really grind my gears. These people were given hard cold facts about what the end result was likely to be, yet they chose to ignore it.
Friday, May 04, 2007
How do you say 'calm down' in french?This Sunday the French will decide on a President, the candidates being Segolene Royal, the female socialist with experience in education and childhood development, and the right of center Nicolas Sarkozy who promises to boost the French economy. Sarkozy has the reputation for being a bit of a firecracker, but when I saw a clip of the debate recently, it was Royal who extremely thin skinned, accusational and emotional:
But that was just a skirmish. The exchange of the evening came when Sarkozy promised to ensure the rights of disabled children to attend public schools. Royal, a former junior minister of education, raised her voice as she accused him of "immorality" and "lies," alleging that his government had eliminated school programs for the disabled.
"Playing with the handicapped as you just did is really scandalous," Royal declared. "This attains the peak of political immorality."As Royal hammered away, Sarkozy told her icily to calm down."To be president of the republic, you have to stay calm," he said. To the moderators, he added: "I don't know why Madame Royal, who is normally calm, has lost control of her nerves.""I did not lose control of my nerves, I am angry," Royal retorted. "When there is injustice, there can be healthy anger.""When you use words that wound, you divide people although it's necessary to unite them," Sarkozy said, in a reversal of his rivals' charges that he is divisive.The consequences of the verbal fireworks remain to be seen. Royal's aggressiveness and energy may aid her bid in what is expected to be a narrow race. She made concerted appeals to women, describing the troubles of mothers who were denied pension benefits because they left a job to raise their children. And she occasionally rattled Sarkozy, not an easy feat.
Jeez Louise. You'd think a presidential candidate would be able to keep her cool in sudden, dire situation, let alone a debate about school programs for the disabled.
Neoneocon has an interesting take on Royal as compared to Hillary:
Man or woman, that’s not a good characteristic for a leader to have in this day and age. Say what you will about Hillary, she’s got the cold calculating steel to handle the pressure of the job.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Everyone's doing itPdov and Karol have posted wonderful Dorothy Parker poems which made me want to post one of my favorites:
By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying ---
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
My gay best friendPdov has a great post about the dangers of a single girl's relationship with her gay best friend (GBF from here on in). As someone who lived with her GBF for two years in college, I can say that codependency is all too likely, especially in my case in which my best friend hadn't officially come out of the closet. It was very natural and we found comfort in eachother's craziness. I gained a lot from our friendship, but I did realize that in a lot of ways, I had no need for a boyfriend. I was the Grace and he was the Will, and we made eachother laugh, and we liked to eat sushi and he yelled at me because I didn't mop the floor and I yelled at him because he was OCD about mopping the floor and then we made up and went out to the Worcester outlet mall to see what was on sale at DKNY. We are rarely in touch these days since our social paths split. Once he came out, he sort of went crazy with the gay dating scene and after college I went crazy with the music nightlife scene.
Which maybe goes to show you that a relationship cannot be sustained on emotional support and a common location. There needs to be similar interests and other common ground. Or maybe we are both just bad a keeping in touch.