Category Archives: Psychology

The Law Of Unintended Consequences: Obamacare Edition

Fast food is bad for you.  Very bad for you.  It is mostly high in calorie, high in fat, and low in nutritional content.  Most people “know” that fast food is bad for them, but much of the actual information is completely hidden from the consumer.  Obamacare has changed that.  Chain restaurants of, I believe, 20 stores or more are now required to post calorie information on their menus.  It’s a small step, but it provides consumers with needed information to make a healthy decision.

Or at least it should.  Then psychology comes into play and all rational decision making goes right out the window.  In this case, the psychology comes in the form of advertising.  And it’s kind of brilliant.  McDonald’s is taking lemons and turning it into artery clogging, heart attack inducing lemonade.  Some of their restaurants have a sign for their sausage muffin breakfast meal and they display the calorie count of over 1,000 calories in the biggest typeface and the under $5 price in smaller typeface.  The implication is look at how many calories you can get for this low, low price!  Your average McDonald’s patron does not have the time nor the inclination to do a detailed analysis of what’s good or bad about the meal they are about to purchase.  They know that they need around 2,000 calories a day and look at this, they can get half of those calories for only $5!  What a deal!

All advertising is deceptive.  That’s kind of the point.  It makes you feel you need something that you really don’t need.  This McDonald’s advertising campaign is so deceptive it would make satan blush.  Bravo, McDonald’s, bravo.

The Telephone Is My Enemy

Jen over at Blag Hag recently came clean about her massive anxiety over talking on the phone.  Boy, can I relate.  I don’t think I’m as bad as poor Jen, but I can identify with every point she makes to some extent or another.

I did not get a cell phone until long after they were in vogue.  Why would I want to pay double for another device that I don’t want to use in the first place all give other people the privilege of contacting me at times when I don’t want to be contacted?  I had the same issue with text messaging for a long time.  I refused to get it on the principle that I don’t want people I am not hanging out with to be able to be in instant contact with me.  Obviously, that changed when I realized that cell phones were practically a necessity and texting could easily replace a phone call.

As far as I know, my entire family has this anxiety.  You should witness the conversations my brother and I have on the phone.  “Hello?” “Hey, movie Sunday?” “Sure.” “Movie X is showing at Y.” “Sounds good.”  “Ok, bye.” “Bye.”  We rarely do anything except text these days.  Same holds true of Mom.  The minute she got a phone with texting, she picked it up like she had been doing it her entire life and left phone calls only for special occasions.

Besides the general anxiety, the thing that bothers me the most about phone calls is that they feel like trying to talk to someone while partially deaf and completely blind.  Hearing modulated snippets of someone’s voice and not being able to visualize body language and facial expressions is beyond frustrating for me.

Maybe when holographic conferencing becomes common place I’ll change my mind about phone calls.  Till then, don’t call me, I won’t call you.

Depression Is Funny!

Ok, not really.  Depression is a serious mental health issue that is horribly misunderstood and stigmatized in our society, but Hyperbole and a Half explains depression in a lighthearted way that both entertains and informs.  I wish Allie Brosh, the creator of the web comic, would write more.  Her work is truly inspiring.

Mysteries Of Manhood

Why do men spit in the urinal before, during, or after urinating in said urinal?  I’d say the incidence of occurrence is close to 50%.  There has to be some psychological reason for this.  I am at a loss to explain it, though.  Any insights?  Is there a female equivalent?  These are the burning questions that need to be answered.

Quit Sneezing, You Pervert

So, it turns out that there is a small section of the population that will sneeze when aroused.  Also, the sinuses contain erectile tissue.  I’m pretty sure that this means that people with sinus problems are just sexually repressed and instead of saying “bless you” or “gesundheit”, we should actually be saying “pervert!”

All Hurricane Names Should Begin With The Letter ‘J’

Almost every decision we make is determined, in part, by our cognitive biases.  The smart person makes sure that, to the best of their ability, those biases are consciously and honestly analyzed whenever making a decision.  It is a shame that we do not learn about known cognitive biases in school at a young age.

That’s all well and good, but how do you defend against biases that are almost impossible to recognize?  Take charitable giving, for example.  It turns out that people are much more likely to donate money to disaster relief efforts for hurricanes when the first letter of the hurricane name matches our own.  Mind blown.

The beautiful thing about cognitive biases, though, is that we all have them and, thus, can manipulate people using them. (Oh, wait, no, that’s the horrible thing about them.)  This is why I am proposing that all hurricanes start with the letter ‘J’.  ‘J’ is the most common first letter for names in America.  This should allow for the maximum of charitable giving to occur.  At least until everyone whose name begins with ‘J’ ends up bankrupt because of all of their charitable giving.  Then we can move on the hurricanes that begin with ‘M’.

When technology progresses to a point when information from the interwebs is directly fed into our brains, I propose that hurricane names be tailored to the individual.  Any news we consume about the hurricane will automatically fill in our name for the hurricane name.  Donations will pour in faster than water from the broken levees caused by hurricane <insert your name here>!

Anything Too Stupid To Be Said Is Posted On The Internet

There is the old quote by Voltaire, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung.”  That needs to be updated to modern times.  I propose, “Anything too stupid to be said is posted on the Internet.”  As supporting evidence to such claim, I offer the following:

Did you know that the Sandy Hook massacre never happened?  That one of the supposedly dead girls was found alive and with President Obama?  That the parents from Sandy Hook look oddly similar to the Aurora shooting victims?  That the principal of the school was interviewed after she supposedly died in the shooting?  Well you are obviously not a Sandy Hook truther!

Holy crap, I feel dirty just reading that article.  I’d probably have to take a scalding hot shower if I decided to follow any of the links to the conspiracy sites themselves.  Who ARE these people?  And how do they function well enough to be able to make it onto the Internet?

Today’s word of the day is: pareidolia

Pareidolia is when you think you see patterns in random, everyday things.  Saying a cloud looks like a teapot?  That’s pareidolia.  Seeing the Virgin Mary and Baby in the rings of a tree trunk?  That’s pareidolia.  And pretty awesome!  But what you see says more about you than it does about the object.  God didn’t put it there.  You did.  With  your mind!