Category Archives: Science
From what I can tell, the Tooth Fairy has at least some purpose. I don’t remember what I felt when losing my teeth at age 7, but it’s certainly possible that some kids have a negative experience. The Tooth Fairy seems like a way to improve this experience, because hey, free money! Who needs a stupid tooth when I can buy candy with this dollar! (Irony?)
What about Santa? The fat guy who somehow gets into houses without chimneys – how on earth are parents explaining this part nowadays? Not that a fat guy could have fit down a chimney in the first place, but maybe kids wouldn’t know that. In fact, I’ll bet at least one kid has tried to climb up or down a chimney just to see if it’s possible. But I digress. Santa appears to have been popularized in our society in order to promote Coca-Cola, I mean, in order to make kids behave. Be good, or Santa won’t bring you any presents!
My argument here is why can’t it just be “Be good, or Mommy and Daddy won’t buy you any presents*“? I wonder if there’s a psychological reason why it’s better for behavioural development for there to be some outside party evaluating all this. And that’s assuming that the use of Santa Claus does in fact help matters (has there been a study done?)
From my education in psychology and pedagogy, external rewards such as presents may be an effective way to improve behaviour in the short term, but decrease the likelihood of good behaviour in the absence of such rewards. So maybe Santa Claus is worthless after all, and parents should say “We’re getting you presents because we love you, but be nice, because other people matter.”
Back to the Tooth Fairy. What makes this a good idea? I wonder if children would accept the idea that their parents would give them money every time they lost a tooth. I can’t think of anything better at the moment.
I’m done what I wanted to say, but I might as well add that the Easter Bunny is even more useless and unbelievable. So a rabbit hides eggs all over the place? Not a chicken? Okay. My dad never pulled that wool over our eyes. He made the egg-hunt like a treasure hunt: each time you found eggs, they came with clues to where the next ones would be. Love you, Dad.
I don’t mean how do they make it, I mean how do they determine which scents are colognes (for men) and which scents are perfumes (for women)? I thought of 2 main possibilities.
One is that scents work biologically. Acting like pheromones to arouse interest in the opposite sex, or to make oneself more attractive in general, whatever. So the best perfumes and colognes will be the ones that have the best biological effect. So some scents, those that best mimic female pheromones, would be perfumes, and similarly for colognes.
But if there is no intrinsic biological effect, then it’s possible the scents are more associated with existing scents, like flowers or bonfire or leather (Sort of random choices, but I like these smells). But then the choice between which gender gets which smell is more societally determined. For instance, a woman would smell like flowers because flowers are feminine. But flowers being “feminine”, like many other gender associations, is a social construct. And social constructs are used by companies to keep people buying things to allay their insecurities. So the underlying meaning is that the perfume/cologne companies are choosing for us what we’re supposed to smell like, in the same way that clothing companies are choosing for us what we’re supposed to wear.
It’s probably a bit of each (no false dichotomies here!), but I like the natural beauty of the former, while the control from above in the latter creeps me right out.
After a very mild winter that ended shockingly early (examples: a bike ride in February, a long walk on March 1), it occurred to me that this is an El Niño year. El Niño causes exactly what we experienced this winter in Toronto – warmer temperatures, less snowfall, and earlier spring.
So every few years, winter ends a few weeks early… this sounds suspiciously like the ridiculously unscientific / superstitious event known as Groundhog Day. Science is better than groundhogs. Let’s call it El Niño Day. It should be a day off from work, too.
In a recent game of mini-golf, I told someone to hit the ball “hard, but not too hard”. A stock answer, I know, but I started to wonder: What does that even mean? Like, how would you quantify it? What would the units be? (Ergs?) How many units would be hard, soft, and hard-but-not-too-hard? But really, what a meaningless answer.
…Whatever, I won at mini-golf.
I thought of who, if the situation came up where it might be considered, I would allow to have sex in my bed. To be clear, I mean that I would not be there. This isn’t something that I would want, but it would be like a good favour to a friend, under whatever circumstances would merit such an idea.
It quickly occurred to me that I would be willing to let only my best male friends use my bed. A total of maybe, maybe, 5 guys. I wouldn’t if I thought the female party was dirty or crazy, I guess, but whatever. It’s interesting that I wouldn’t really be cool with any of my female friends using my bed. Not because I like them or think I have some sort of claim to them. It’s probably an evolutionary instinct thing, to not let strange dudes mate where you mate. It makes sense, because it would probably weaken your animal status, almost like a power thing against other guys.
It’s weird though, that I know my best female friend’s boyfriend well, and still would be uncomfortable with that situation. I wonder what the true basic primal instincts are that control this behaviour and thought. It would be interesting to know how, exactly, this works.
If you know the answers, I’d like to know.
Daylight Savings Time should always be in effect. Moving the clocks back an hour in the fall seems to be so you’re not leaving for work when it’s dark. But when you leave work and it’s already dark out (again), it gives the feeling that the day is over and you should just stay home. (See “Seasonal Affective Disorder”). There are enough other people out when I leave for work that I’m not too torn up about it, but I do hate missing the entire day’s worth of sunlight because sunset is moved an hour earlier.
In March, when the clocks moved forward again, I went from getting up after the sun to getting up before it again. It felt like I was leaving for work at 5am. The gradual effect of days getting shorter in the fall doesn’t create this effect – only the sudden one hour shift does.
One “benefit” is the extra hour before last call on that one night a year when 2:00 becomes 1:00 again, but it takes a dedicated person to continue drinking through essentially 3:00 am. One night’s minor benefit is not worth 5 months of worsened living.
EDIT: Since the original writing, I read of the scientific definition of “theory” (which I didn’t know to be distinct) and all this has been cleared up. But I leave the post unchanged. I’m not doing Winston Smith’s work.
Watching an interview between Richard Dawkins and Bill O’Reilly, I was intrigued by O’Reilly’s argument (paraphrased) that because evolution is a theory and so is creationism in whole or in part, that science classes should present each.
In those words, fair enough. If they’re still both theories, widely regarded ones at that, what’s to say they shouldn’t present multiple theories. It’s clear to me that one argument, with proven evidence toward it, is the better option. Consider it a victory for science in countries like ours that science has defended its evolution argument well enough that it’s presented as “the way”. In no way do I believe in creationism, so I wonder when theories graduate to ‘accepted fact’. What happened with gravity?
I wonder if it’s a good enough argument that in the past, human theories were strongly disproved (see Galileo), so without conclusive evidence, something will stay a theory. Could you argue that almost anything from the past must be a theory, because we don’t know for certain what happened? Even in human history, errors and intentional misrepresentations must have occurred taken place.
Do we as people need to accept theories as reality, just in order to have a basic grip on reality?