Monday, May 29, 2017

Viral Science in the Age of Social Media: THIS ARTICLE AGREES WITH MY WORLDVIEW SO IT'S TRUE. *Shares on Facebook*

There is a whole oil slick of questionable websites making the rounds on social media at the moment claiming that people who curse, are messy, and stay up late are more intelligent or have a higher IQ than those who don’t. The same websites often make some pretty sensationalist claims, sometimes taking research out of context and other times just making stuff up (see link at the bottom of the page). There are two studies (and one questionable article) involved when you dig into the subject. There may be more, but here are the two that keep coming up.

Let’s address language first. The actual article is “Taboo word fluency and knowledge of slurs and general pejoratives: deconstructing the poverty-of-vocabulary myth,” published in Language Sciences Volume 52, November 2015, Pages 251–259. It addresses the long-held myth that people who swear are less intelligent or do so because they cannot find better words to use. It argues that there is no real correlation between a wide range of swearing and a lower intelligence. It never mentions that people who swear more or have a wider range of curse word vocabulary have a higher IQ or are more intelligent. It dispels the idea that they are inferior. There are a few related articles once you find this one, and they mostly seem to agree with this research. Taboo words (AKA “swear words”) are only taboo because for cultural reasons. They are not mandated to be bad words. They are words used by people, and do not indicate a single thing about intelligence.

Now let’s address messiness. The actual article is “Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits,” published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. It says that while a clean desk may promote behaviors like eating healthy, generosity, and conventionality, a messy desk may promote creativity and new ideas. It does not say that people who live in messy environments are more intelligent or have a higher IQ than people who keep their environments clean.

Now for staying up late. The actual article is “Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent Than Morning Larks,” Published in Psychology Today in the Scientific Fundamentalist blog by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics. This article does claim that people who stay up later are more intelligent than others. He is famous for an article in this same publication about why black women are allegedly not as attractive as white women, using the opinions of interviewees as the “unbiased” control for this study ( That article has since been pulled and the London School of Economics prohibited him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for a year. Take what you want from that one. I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

A final note: I swear a lot. My apartment is messy. I have been known to stay up until 7AM at 32 years old. This does not always make someone more intelligent in my opinion, because I know plenty of people who do the same things and are complete idiots. For all I know, I may be one of them.

The fact that so many people take all this research out of context and use it justify things that no one needs to justify like swearing and messiness and staying up late is ridiculous. Live how you live, folks. You don’t need to answer to anyone. I get a lot of flack for my apparent “conservative values” and my “Christian upbringing.” Well, whatever. I can respect that, but I would also like to point out that I am an atheist, because a Christian upbringing means nothing, and “conservative” is a relative word, depending on who you talk to.

My point is, even though these studies exist, they do not exist in the capacity or context that the people reposting this kind of clickbait would like to believe. But no one cares to do the research, so no one knows any better. We have made science a huge thing, praised well-known scientists, made them our heroes, but most of us would still rather not look into anything. We find something that agrees with our worldview, we like it, we share it. We spread the ignorance.

Oh well. We're all on a big, dying ball of dirt floating in a soundless void. What do facts matter, when you can have... SENSATIONALISM? :D


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Talent is Not Overrated (When An Endearing Message Becomes A Salty Threat)

I sometimes think that people take what should be a positive message and use it to hurt others. Case in point: I have seen, a few times now, friends of mine insisting that it's okay to do things you aren't good at because you enjoy them. I agree with this sentiment. But recently, I've seen something popping up that says "talent is overrated."
As an artist and a writer, I'm going to give you my opinion of this particular twisting of an otherwise endearing thought.
Talent is not overrated. It's okay to do something you aren't good at because you enjoy it. Trust me, I enjoy doing plenty of things I'm not good at. Life, for instance. Just because I'm not good at it doesn't mean I'm going to stop. However, talent does matter if you are taking your activities to the public.
People are moved by ability. People are captivated by flawless performances. Do not insult people who do things professionally by saying that talent is overrated. That is the most callous, insensitive thing to say to someone who has spent years and years and years of their life perfecting their ability to do something they love to do. It's not about "making a living" off of it. Do you really think writing or art "make a living" these days? Do you really think that most new, talented bands are bringing in bags of cash from shows? If you personally are so threatened by society's emphasis on being able to do something well, the problem is with you.
It is human and natural to suck at things that you enjoy doing, but do not tell me talent is overrated. I've worked for over a decade to be no better than I am at writing, and I intend to put decades more work into it.
If anything, talent is underrated. Talent as seen as an unnecessary waste of time, because it has to be shaped into something. The worst part is that talent is subjective. It's entirely up to society's perception of what a good performance is. The last thing we need is someone going around saying "Talent is overrated because I can't paint or write or play an instrument but I like to do it anyway." No. You have two choices. You learn to do it the right way, or you can shut the hell up when someone else does and be content with the joy you get from being alive. Assuming, of course, anyone gets any joy out of being alive at all these days.
TLDR: Shut up. You are wrong.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Rental Car Road Trip, and the Little Car-Shaped Void it Left Behind

Incoming: weird, sad post about a car. You've been warned.

Yesterday, I met this little creature when I rented a car from Enterprise. It was a chance meeting, because the car I was supposed to rent was covered in mud and still needed to be cleaned. This one just happened to have been fresh from the car wash at the back of the building. It was shiny and happy and ready for adventure.

It was smaller than anything I’d ever driven, and it displayed gas consumption in pellets. We started in Muncie, idled in the Starbuck’s drive-thru in Greenfield for twenty minutes for an iced chai tea latte and only used one pellet. We went to Nashville Indiana and the Bloomington area and back on six more pellets of gas.

We saw the lights of Nashville, the live music, the dark and secret magic of Antique Alley after all the shops had closed. I looked up at the sky above me and I was happy.

Highway 46 was dark on the way home, surrounded by wooded hills. I-65 was a bright red and white ribbon of vehicles, and after seeing an accident, we decided to go back to state highways. I found myself sitting in my living room wondering if I had enough time to go for a quick drive before bedtime. Angela 5.0 and her new companion looked like old friends in the driveway.

Today, I woke up early and we went for another drive in the country. Soon, it was almost time for my little friend to go back to Enterprise. We had been on so many adventures in less than 24 hours, and I was irrationally sad about taking it back. It had been an emotional 24 hours. I had been driving this car when I stopped at Colonial Crest and got to see my apartment. I had been driving this car when I went to Brown County for the first time. I had been driving this car when I went on my first road trip by myself with no particular destination in mind and no one to visit.

So I turned in the keys and stood at the counter dead-faced and responded to all human interactions like I wasn’t sick from grief, because normal people do not get emotional about inanimate objects, but not before I took one last picture.

Goodbye, my little friend. I wanted to keep you forever. I learned a lot from you. You taught me that I really like small cars, after almost a decade of never giving one a chance. I had no trouble turning in the Focus, as nice as it was. I had no trouble turning in the Caravan either, because as much as it reminded me of my own van, because I still had my van. But you, I don’t have anything to fill the fun-sized void you left. When Angela 5.0 is paid off, I might go to Enterprise Car Sales and look for one of your friends. I will look for a silver Nissan Versa, and maybe it will be you. I’ll never know, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe you can be the replacement for the van, a tiny little creature, a baby Altima that eats gas pellets. I hope when you retire, you find your forever home. Maybe we’ll meet again on the rental lot. I’ll look for those distinctive black marks on your driver’s door. Until then, I am glad to have known you, and I will always remember you.

I really scaled this blog down to not sound crazy, but there's only so much you can to look sane when you get attached to a car. After a while, you just have to admit you're nuts.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yeah But I Saved You a Dollah Though

For whatever reason, in my haze of sickness, I thought that it would be a grand idea to go grocery shopping. The reasoning, initially, was sound. I needed food, I had money, so made my way to Aldi. However, the timing was bad. It was awful. Everyone on earth had just gotten off work and they were all driving their wheeled hate wagons toward this very same Aldi.

Let me describe how people drive in Muncie, just so you know what I fought with for ten blocks or so: Gets in car, immediately slams foot onto gas, careens through garage into traffic, swerves to miss bus, talks on phone while putting makeup on the baby, mistakes green light for red, gets out and has physical altercation with empty pizza box while other drivers fly around them, squelches across intersection two seconds after the light turns red, cuts off other driver, honks at them. Imagine this for ten blocks. It’s great. I was lucky to make it there alive.

So I get to the Aldi parking lot and a black Dodge Charger comes screeching around the corner the wrong way and stops dead in front of me. I put my van in park with cars behind me, because this is not a two-way and there’s nowhere for me to go. They just sit there. They SIT there. Let me explain this to you, because there are a disturbing amount of people who don’t know or don’t care that there are lanes in a parking lot. If you can read the license plates and see both taillights, you’re going the right way. There are exceptions, like two way lanes, but this was not one. So eventually the car backs up and slams itself GTA style into a space, nearly running over an old man who has decided that that empty space (next to his own car) is his own private storage unit for the time being. Everyone was happy. Whatever. Fuck a walrus.

Aldi is so busy, though, that my social anxiety kicks in, which paired with flare symptoms, is awful. So I get out of there and go to Marsh, and other than having to dodge some people who think they ought to take up the entire bread aisle and talk on their phone at the same time, everything was smooth. I should have caught the foreshadowing, though, when I kept hearing this disinterested wargarbler saying “key on four” over the loudspeaker with the microphone down her esophogas. I just happen to choose the wrong checkout lane. The wargarbler was a pale, googly-eyed heroine addict who looked like she sold drugs to babies on the side. She gets to the couple in front of me and rings up ten items for the next six hours, and then she’s like “AMMAH SAAAAVE YOU DOLLAH!” and she gets on the loudspeaker like “kan eye git a keeeeeyyyy on four please” and then she stands there all slouched over until this tiny, pissed off bog creature explodes out of the office and jams a key into her register.

I left the Marsh muttering colorful language to anyone who came within ten feet of me. Things like “Get the fuck away, get the FUCK away. Don’t you fucking even look at me.” It was a good experience. Yay social anxiety.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When a Meme Becomes More About Your Confused Sexual Identity than a Gorilla, It's Time to Fuck Off

So my newsfeed on Facebook has been full of the phrase “dicks out for Harambe” lately. I had to really do some research to make sure I understood what getting your dick out had to do with the death of a gorilla. It seemed to me that it was a bunch of sad, weird early twenty-somethings who never got the chance to experiment, and at the risk of sounding unnecessarily dark, it seems as though I was right, at least in my area.

The word dicks, in some other regions, is also slang for guns, and that’s what the original meme was based around, but here in Indiana you have a bunch of almost-closeted men who finally get a chance to have a gorilla-themed show and tell party.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. It was pretty funny the first five hundred times, just like the first 200 Rick Roll experiences. At this point, though, I say drop the gorilla cover and just get it all out, all that awkward basement circle jerk nonsense you never got to do. Figure yourself out. The rest of us don’t need to see your sad penis party. No gorilla can save you from yourself. Step out into the sun, where no one needs to make tasteless jokes about a dead animal to rub penises with a stranger. It’s called Grindr, or if you’re nasty enough, it’s called a public restroom.

You’re welcome, Bud. Have at it. Dicks out for your confused little sexuality. That's all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bombs are for War, Words and for Social Media Comments


A polite argument goes like this:

OP: I have an opinion that is probably wrong but I can’t experience things outside of my own body!
YOU: I disagree with you, because of reasons 1, 2, and 3. I have experience in the subject your dumb self is raging about. Allow me to enlighten you.
OP: I see your side, and the reason that I feel the way I do is *monkey farting noises… insert important points or something*
YOU: I respect your right to have a stupid opinion, and we’re still friends. A stupid post on social media did not end our friendship.

A polite argument does not go like this:

OP: I have a stupid opinion but I am also a human and have access to social media. Hear me!

There is a right way to do things, and there is a wrong way to do things. I do not entertain confrontation and “taking a stand” against some stupid post I put on here. There are people dying in the world. Hunger, disease, AIDS, all killing people. If you’re really that eager to stand up to something, at least help someone. If you just HAVE to take a stand against someone’s dumb post, be productive about it. Be respectful. Hostility is something almost no one responds positively to. Change does not come from it. No one learns from it. This is reality, not some after school special where everyone learns from being told how it is.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Behold, My Cheery Disposition and Sunny Outlook

I want to open this by saying that I have a lot of good things happening right now. I have a lot going for me. I have an apartment that I love, a job that I look forward to, I have my minivan back, I have a reasonable amount of financial padding, and a lot of really good friends. I have no logical reason to feel the way that I feel. There, that’s out of the way, and you’re welcome.

Now, let’s get this emofest over with. I’m reconsidering my decision to take next semester off. I think I have a math class and a capstone course left to take before I complete my completely useless General Studies associates degree. I started this degree in my twenties and it’s taken me about a thousand years and entirely too many credit hours to finally finish it, and I just want it to be over with. I will then deal with the future: will I continue school or skulk around and tell everyone I wasted my youth? Both seem equally satisfying right now.

I am over frozen microwave dinners. I know this has nothing to do with the last subject, but I am tired of eating this frozen sludge and being told by people that I really should eat organic. I really should. I should. I should eat organic, because it’s healthier. I really should, you know, and it’s not that expensive. I should move to a better state, too, and stop driving; it hurts the clouds.

Ugh. You guys, I think this is Portland working its magic powers of depression. I’m visiting my hometown and I really just want to go home. I’m glad I got to see my family and I’m about to get my hair colored again and see my mom’s grave, but I don’t know how anyone lives in this town without running out into the street and killing themselves from boredom. Maybe I’m spoiled, what with Ball State campus a block away from my apartment, but it’s no wonder people drink themselves to death in small towns.

I’m a cheery ball of cheer today. Hugs for everyone!

I feel so stuck that I want to scream until I feel better. Life after 30 is comparable to a black hole. You don’t realize you’ve crossed the event horizon until you realize all your roads lead to the same end.

Aren’t you glad you clicked on this blog? I bet I’m cheering you up right now, what with my rays of sunshine. I bet these sunshine rays are so hot, you could cook your dinner with them.

Fucking microwave dinners. I am so over being me. Put me in my van and send me off a cliff.