Categories
Psychology Science

Alien Hand Syndrome

giphy
via NPR

What if you woke up one day and had a brand new second hand that moved on its own?

This is what happened to Karen after she had brain surgery to help cure her epilepsy. After her operation, her left hand immediately took on a life of its own. For starters, it immediately began to unbutton her shirt on the hospital bed while the surgeon pleaded her to stop.

After she went home the hand started to do other things like slapping her, which reminded me of the self-beating Jim Carrey famously gives himself in the movie Liar Liar.

What caused her alien hand syndrome?

Apparently, the surgery had to split her brain and removed her Corpus callosum, which ties the left and right brain hemisphere together. Basically, the operation caused the opposing sides of her brain to switch roles.

Fortunately, Karen has come to appreciate the moral authority her left hand tries to impose on her decision-making. Any time she tries to smoke, for example, her left hand puts the cigarette out and even flicks the ashes around.

Karen’s come to appreciate the magic discipline of her hand. However, she still gets in a smoke or two. “I understand you want me to quit,” she tells her hand, “but cut the crap!”

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Curiosity: the cure for a post-fact world

Lies are seductive. They linger because people are motivated to protect their tribal desires while the liars themselves will do anything to distract you from giving meaning to the facts.

Does smoking kill? Is the Trump administration complicit in Russia’s election hacking? It appears so, but both tobacco and party alike want you hanging on to your doubts. They rather you distract you with other stuff, like beneficent special research they’re funding or tweets to Snoop Dog and Nordstrom’s.

How do we get people to step outside their narrow window and look at the supportive evidence? As Tim Harford surmises, the key ingredient to opening eyes is curiosity.

“Facts rarely stand up for themselves — they need someone to make us care about them, to make us curious.”

Curiosity makes the facts juicer, the same way fear lights up your amygdala. It’s a sad state that the only way to get people’s attention in a post-fact world is by entertaining their senses. But the challenge in selling curiosity will be such.

Read The Problem With Facts

Categories
Culture Productivity & Work Tech

‘Sitting is the new smoking’ 

via giphy

On the contrary, sitting is not the modern plague. It’s just the scary metaphor health practitioners use to remind us to get up and move every once in a while. They recommend standing up 5-10 minutes for every 45 minutes we’re sedentary.

The tagline caught on because doctors grew concerned that people weren’t active enough, even kids. Instead of shooting hoops, children were playing NBA 2k inside while their parents slaved away answering work emails on their digital devices. Everyone was gaining weight and increasing their chances of diabetes and heart disease.

While it’s true “the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity,” marketers sell fear.  Did you know that taking ‘10,000 steps’ was just a sales gimmick created in Japan?

A watchmaker named Yamasa Tokei originally trotted out the 10,000 steps thing in 1965. He made and sold a pedometer he called Manpo-Kei, which when repeated out loud mimics the rhythm of a walk. In Japanese this translates into “10,000 step meter.” Ads for Tokei’s device said, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”

Like everything else in life, sitting is about balance. We sit to focus and meditate. We stand to manage emails and other routine tasks. Buy a standing desk if it helps or stack some books on top of each other and make your own. Walking meetings are also known to help jog the brain. Make what you want on the campaign for movement, but be careful to align sitting with smoking when the former is a more of a preference and the latter is a proven killer. Coffee, anyone?

Categories
Uncategorized

Smoke This

Sitting is not the new smoking. Smoking kills you outright. Sitting for long periods of time without moving will do the same. But sitting in 45 minute intervals and then getting up to take a five minute break will keep you just as healthy as standing all day at work, which probably has its own negative consequences.

Some people need to sit in order to do focused, creative work. They may stand to answer email and input data. Meanwhile, the only way some people can work is on their feet.

Marketers sell fear. They sell successful role models that worked standing up, most notably Benjamin Franklin and Ernest Hemingway. Standing up is a health recommendation, not a promise for success.

Sitting won’t kill you if you get up every once in a while, preferably for exercise.

Categories
Uncategorized

Real ‘Mad Men’ Pitched Safety To Sell Volvos

“Weak advertising tells people what you want them to know,” he added. “Strong advertising gets people to conclude what you want them to know.” He continued: “I have a theory that comes from the smoking era. If you walk up to someone on the street and say, ‘Excuse me, sir,’ they are gone. But if you come right out and say, ‘Got a match?’ you get your match.”

All marketers are liars.