Aug 20, 2014

modern jackass redux

If you have kids, this is making the rounds,

57 percent of americans say only kids who win should get trophies

This is such a great illustration of Modern Jackass.

This is a topic that generates such authoritarian responses it's ridiculous. Everyone has a strong opinion on this. And yet does anyone actually know if it matters? I haven't got a clue. I actually suspect it doesn't matter if you give a trophy or not to the kid in any place in a competition. I just don't think it matters at all.

I remember the soccer team I was on came in 2nd place two years in a row. I think they gave us 2nd place trophies. I couldn't have cared less. We came in 2nd. I didn't want to come in 2nd. The trophy was irrelevant. But maybe it mattered to other people on the team. I don't know.

So why are we so sure about so many things we know nothing about. Why are our own personal anecdotes such persuasive evidence to us regarding very complicated things that must apply to everyone else? And why do we always have strong opinions about things being good or bad versus being irrelevant. People aren't generally hyperbolic about things being unrelated. Things are always very good or very bad.

Like bacon and nitrites. "Oh I won't eat any bacon because it has nitrites." You get stuff like that a lot in LA. "Oh yea what research report did you read to come to that conclusion?" That's how the conversation essentially ends every time.

I sometimes have fun at other's expenses with this. The great example I have is selenium. You eat too much selenium and you'll die. Totally toxic. There's no debate about this. I'll bring this up. "Oh yea it's used in computer chip processing, glass processing, rubber, metal alloys, etc. IT'S EVERYWHERE." Then I'll talk about brazil nuts because brazil nuts have an insane mount of selenium in them. If you ate 3.5 ounces of brazil nuts you'd have ingested about 5 times the recommended upper limit of selenium. They can be dangerous and can invoke bouts of vomiting and toxicity effects. Holy shit no one is eating Brazil nuts again. I'm always tempted to let the conversation end there. Just let everyone go off and be Modern Jackasses.

But here's the thing. No selenium and you die. It's an essential nutrient. Like most things a little is good, none is bad, and a lot is bad. Brazil nuts are the example of something that's kind of in the middle. We aren't good at processing those kinds of things. At all.

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