I was on a trip for the weekend so I haven't had time to do much, but I wanted to share some random things that came up during it. A few days ago the creator of the Dilbert comic strip tweeted this:
If experience is necessary for being president, name a political topic I can't master in one hour under the tutelage of top experts.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 28, 2016
This was an immensely stupid claim, and naturally it received backlash. I got involved because I saw him respond to a user:
@misskubelik I said I could understand a topic in an hour. You changed it to "bring peace in the middle east" to make yourself sound dumb.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 29, 2016
The difference between understanding a topic and mastering a topic is enormous, so I pointed out:
— Brandon S? (@Corpus_no_Logos) July 29, 2016
It took me less than an hour to learn to understand the rules of chess, but I could never hope to master chess. The difference is obvious. I won't bore you with what followed, but I do want to highlight something I came across during the subsequent exchanges:
— Brendon Marotta (@bdmarotta) August 1, 2016
The article begins:
Recently, Scott Adams created controversy when he said that Hillary Clinton’s DNC speech likely lowered testosterone for the men who watched it. When criticized on twitter, he replied it was a testable scientific hypothesis. This got me thinking – has anyone done a study on how media & movies impact testosterone levels?
If there’s a lesson in this, it’s to be very careful who you identify with and consider part of your team (especially if you have no control over the outcome – like say, a Presidential election), because that could have a direct impact on your biology. Once you identify with a character, their fate is yours.
If you want to increase your testosterone, find ways to experience victory – even if just vicariously. It doesn’t matter if it’s your victory or not. Pick a team, character, or movie where you know the guy you’re rooting for wins. The bigger the adversity they overcome, the bigger the win, and the greater the surge of victory. Good storytelling will actually raise your testosterone.
This “vicarious victory” is a big reason why people watch movies and tell stories. Achieving victory in the real world takes work. Saving the world in a movie only takes two hours.
This is the sort of thing people should instinctively realize is bogus. According to this article, fans of sports teams with poor records should worry about their testosterone because they are not being "very careful who [they] identify with." To avoid this problem and "to increase your testosterone," you should instead root for winning teams.
Only, that's all nonsense. It is certainly true the excitement which comes with victory can cause the body to temporarily increase one's testosterone levels. That's not remarkable. One's mood can affect hormone levels. That doesn't mean rooting for a losing team is something you need to worry about though. Sure, you might miss out on a couple hours of higher testosterone levels from not getting to celebrate a victory, but... so what? Is it somehow worse that you're sad your team lost if you find out your testosterone levels dropped while you were sad?
Of course not. The trick is this sort of article creates the impression testosterone levels are affected in the long-term. As in, be careful who you root for because you'll become less a man. If the author had pointed out this effect will last only a couple hours, nobody would care.
And yes, I do know the author didn't explicitly say anything about long-term effects. He just conveniently worded his entire article to give the impression there are long-term effects. That's actually part of why I bring this up. This is another example of what we discussed in the last post, where Michelle Obama said the White House was built by slaves, creating the impression slaves were the only workers. Or how global warming advocates say things like:
Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming
Carefully phrasing it to say "humans are causing global warming" to create the impression humans are the sole cause even though the research they use doesn't actually say that. If you watch for this sort of thing, you'll see it all the time in discussions of all sorts of topics. It is why I believe precision in language is important.
Anyway, these are topics and discussions that helped keep me occupied on my trip this weekend. I figured I'd post a bit about them. I'm hoping to have a more substantial post in the next few days, but this blog is my personal journal, so we'll see what catches my eye.