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What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

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Decades ago, a man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania robbed a bank while having lemon juice smeared on his face. His reasoning was that because lemon juice is an ingredient in invisible ink, the juice would make his face invisible. He was so sure of his plan, that he made a confident gesture towards a security camera on the way out. Later, after the man was apprehended, he reportedly exclaimed, “But I wore the juice!”

Taking note of the incident, a couple researchers decided to study just why people who were not very smart believe themselves to be brilliant. The phenomenon that the two studied would later come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So, what is the Dunning-Kruger effect? The Dunning-Kruger effect describes the tendency of people with insubstantial ability to think highly of their ability.

One example is with bad drivers. We know who the bad drivers are: they’re the ones that drive fast and weave through traffic, a recipe for collisions. Yet, they tend to believe that this behavior makes them good drivers, and that in the event that they get into (cause) an accident, they’d just be good drivers having a moment.

Another example is the tendency of people today to believe themselves to be scientifically-minded, for having benefited from the advancements that others have made. In reality, few such people have ever conducted a repeatable study in a controlled environment which was subsequently peer-reviewed. Using smartphones doesn’t make you a genius.

There are many, many other examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect that one can think of. It can be apparent in the following quips:

  • “My tech-savviness is expressed through the ownership of a smart watch.”
  • “I feel the course won’t be a major challenge, judging by the first few pages of the textbook.”
  • “I’d have this “parenting” thing down. University of YouTube FTW!”
  • “Who needs manscaping when you have plenty of Axe Body Spray?”

In many cases, the Dunning-Kruger effect is observed when a person who is inept lacks the introspection necessary to perceive their own ineptitude.

Conversely, as a person studies more in a field of knowledge, they tend to come to a better understanding of just how little they really know, which may have to do with the tendency of the more capable to sell themselves short.

Recently, the Dunning-Kruger effect has come to the awareness of many people who have afterwards attempted to use it as a clever way to explain to another person that they’re not as smart as they think they are. A person attempting this should take care to define the Dunning-Kruger effect properly, so as to avoid a certain irony that could otherwise result.

Nice publicity stunt, Blue Angels.

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In the year 2011, a huge earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, prompting people to take to their DeviantArt accounts to post tribute artwork and to express sympathy. Many Japanese people were out of homes, but at least they had plenty of art on DeviantArt to look at.

I bring this up because in light of the derp virus pandemic, stunt pilots found their own way to pay homage to first responders, with flyovers.

I’m not a doctor but I think I know how I’d find this gesture: Whoop-dee-doo, a flyover! How is this in any way supposed to help me?

If society decided that it appreciated what I do, I’d know how I’d want it to thank me: with money. I have bills to pay, I get hungry, and I want a house that’s not joined to other houses, among other things. As it turns out, a STEM major isn’t as esteemed in the USA as it’s made out to be, so unless society decides to properly thank its STEM grads with sufficient paychecks, I might look into other fields of study.

But last I checked, flyovers don’t accomplish JACK.

That brings us to the motivation for the flyovers, and it’s not hard to figure out: publicity. Doctors and first responders are in no way enriched by flyovers, especially when they are busy with plenty of work to do. It’s the stunt pilots themselves that benefit from the publicity that comes from expressing a platitude that is popular to begin with: that we’re appreciative to the people who are there for us when we need them. But do you know a better way to express appreciation to a working professional who underwent an education for the prospect of a decent paycheck? By bolstering their paychecks. You know, the general motivation for going professional at something.

But otherwise, nice publicity stunt, guys. Maybe you’ll be invited to do your routine at more air shows.

Here’s what I’ve been doing about the world obesity crisis.

It’s been a few days since World Obesity Day. While the international community seems content with issuing a statement regarding stigmas surrounding obesity, I’ve decided to share what I’ve been doing regarding the obesity problem.

“But Raizen,” you might be asking, “since when were you obese?” I wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t play a part to help the world be a healthier place.

A quick note before describing what I’ve been doing:  I don’t attribute my fitness progress to any one of these approaches in particular. Many internet personalities do just that, and leave their viewers to determine for themselves why they don’t get the same results when they attempt them. I’ve been doing each of these approaches at the same time. What’s more, there may be other variables that may not have been considered. While I’ve been experiencing some positive results, I make no guarantee that they will work the same way for everyone.

Intermittent fasting
This seems to be the current fitness fad that’s going around. It makes intuitive sense: eating fewer calories day by day results in gaining less weight. Personally, I doubt that many marketers will get behind this trend, as it involves people spending less.

While people have been searching for the natural human diet in terms of what they can eat, the right question is how often they eat to be in line with the dietary patterns of early humans (putting aside how misguided it is to assume that what’s natural is better for us). Early humans were hunter-gatherers, so they more likely ate later in the day, after having worked to hunt or gather the food that they would be dining on. This means that our ancestors likely didn’t eat breakfast, but instead got right up and got right to seeking out their food that they would consume later in the day.

The idea of breakfast, as well as the idea that there should be three meals in a day, is a very recent idea. And it came about at around the time that people started to get seriously fat. What’s more, the most commonly-marketed breakfast items are among the most fattening items in the modern human diet. Considering this, it should make some very obvious intuitive sense that if one were to skip breakfast, they wouldn’t be gaining as much weight.

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While there are a few approaches to intermittent fasting, the one I went for is the 16/8 approach. This would be where a person picks 8 hours a day where one eats as normal, while refraining from meals or snacks for the remaining 16. I don’t usually hold to it on weekends, as the 16/8 approach seems to work sufficiently five days a week. The hours that one spends sleeping do count, so it’s acceptable to take a meal schedule like 11:30am – 7:30pm. What’s important is that during the dining periods, one doesn’t overeat. If a person takes the 8-hour period as an opportunity to gut-load, they’d likely defeat their attempted diet.

One might wonder whether one gets hungry while intermittent fasting. The answer is yes, but it’s not actually a big deal. When a person gets hungry, that’s the body telling them that “if you don’t start looking for food soon, you’re going to die so go, go, go!” What your body doesn’t realize is that the situation isn’t really that dire, and you are surrounded by food on demand nearly all the time. If you stay busy with something else (like your job, or even a video game), you tend not to notice hunger as much.

Adopting a healthy diet
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t just involve not eating as much, the quality of what’s consumed does make a difference. There are many, many principles to a healthier diet, so it’s mainly a learn-as-you-go experience. Here’s a few principles that I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Look at food for what it is, rather than how appetizing it may be. Most fast food is disgusting, so avoiding it can help a lot.
  • Many food items that are perceived as healthy are actually far from it. This includes muffins, granola bars, organic snack foods, the list goes on and on. Learn what’s garbage in disguise.
  • Whole grain is better than white bread. That cheap wheat bread that you see is actually colored brown, and has an arbitrary amount of wheat added to it so it can legally be called “wheat”, so don’t be tricked.
  • It’s hilarious that after rigorously working out at the gym, people line up for smoothies that are teeming with sugar.
  • Paying attention to calories is an eye-opening experience. A heaping plate of pasta can easily demolish a daily calorie allotment.
  • Beware of what’s heavily marketed, because the main interest of those peddling the products isn’t your well-being, it’s to get you to buy things. Marketers have caught up with the keto fad, and are now in the process of ruining it.

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Frequent exercise
This is the effort part of the fitness regimen. I’ve been changing this up from time-to-time, but the idea is to adopt a few different exercises that hit multiple muscle groups. Here is an example:

Dumbbell floor presses
Dumbbell side swings
Curls
Squats

Four sets each, 10 reps per set. Three times a week. The exercises can be changed up. Not everyone can do pull-ups right away. Frequently swapping in one exercise for another, such as subbing in push-ups or lunges, helps to ensure that a wide variety of muscles get attention.

As exercise is incorporated into your lifestyle, it helps to get adequate protein. Protein shakes can help, but they’re pricey and overrated. Tuna is great, because it provides a high amount of protein with few calories.

Limiting sugary drinks
The main things I drink are black coffee and water. While sugar isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, it’s fattening in drinks because they lack the fiber that would slow the incorporation of sugar into your system, resulting in a sugar rush followed by a crash.

But what about energy drinks? In most cases, the main ingredient that gives them their effect is caffeine. The contribution of most other ingredients outside of sugar are negligible. Energy drinks may have colorful, textured cans with lightning bolt patterns and other edgy packaging, but you’d be better off just drinking coffee.

Fruit juices are sugary drinks, so while they may have vitamin content, it’s usually better to eat the fruit, instead.

There you have it, my approach to making the world less obese. It takes a bit of effort, but so do most things that are worth going for.

An image to describe 2019

The Gregorian calendar is about to increment, and here is an image to describe this passing year. No need to photoshop this time, this one has been ready since January:

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Old media has demonstrated it’s efficacy by hastily concocting a story that defamed a young man for doing nothing more than smiling while wearing a hat that they didn’t like. That’s the current year for you.

The origins of Christmas are coming to light. What does this mean for you?

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There is an increasing number of people who are coming to the awareness that the celebration of Christmas is not what it appears to be. This has to do with the various trappings associated with Christmas that didn’t originate in the Bible, but instead with numerous solstice traditions observed throughout pagan Europe.

There are many elements of Christmas that are non-Biblical, and they can be surprising when one is presented with them. Here is a list of a few of these traditions:

  • December 25th was the birthday of Mithra, whose religion was the main religion of the Roman empire at the time of Christ’s ministry.
  • The evergreen tree as a religious symbol was favored throughout the ancient world because it remained green throughout the year. Druids offered child sacrifices to Thor until their tree was chopped down by a Christian who tried to end the custom.
  • Mistletoe was a religious symbol, too. If enemies were to meet under mistletoe during the winter solstice festivities, they were required to refrain from hostilities until the festivities were over. Druids used mistletoe as medicine. The joke’s on them, because mistletoe is poisonous.
  • Caroling had less to do with music and more to do with going door-to-door demanding things.

There’s more. Much more. In light of all this, it becomes clear that the observance that we call “Christmas” is not Christian, but a set of appropriated solstice traditions. But what effect does this awareness have on Christianity?

More to the point, what does this mean for you?

That really depends on how sincere you are when it comes to your faith. Is your faith something that you take seriously? Or is it a matter of cultural identity, and you’re just doing something because everyone else around you is doing it?

As one reads the Bible, they can see that the ancient Israelites made poor choices in that regard. Even though they had been given express commandment to not follow the customs of the peoples around them, they were enamored with solar worship, and had integrated some of the customs of the pagans into their own worship, and in some cases they even turned to false gods outright! This mistake was among those credited with their national captivity.

While one might think that the New Testament is more lenient when it comes to taking on pagan customs and giving them Christian-sounding themes, we have no indication in the New Testament that this is the case. Instead, the Apostle Paul warned that what the nations offered, they offered to demons!

The Pagan origins of Christmas are increasingly coming to light, and more people are becoming aware of them. What do you do with this information? That depends on how sincere you really are about your faith. The wishy-washy would continue observing Christmas as though they didn’t know any better. However, those who have strength of conviction would decide that commercialized pagan mysticism is no proper way to worship!

When it comes down to it, everyone decides for themselves what they do. But can a person really honor someone by observing their birthday when it’s actually the birthday of their enemy? And can anyone really put someone back into something that they were never a part of to begin with?

YouTube’s Real Beef With COPPA

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YouTube was recently found to have been in violation of COPPA, and was subsequently fined. Afterwards, in a public statement, YouTube suggested that they’d crack down on content creators who post content directed towards children without tagging their videos as child-appropriate. Content creators that run afoul of YouTube’s COPPA measures could end up fined $42,000 for each offending video.

Since learning of this, YouTube’s content creators are speaking up in outrage about both COPPA and YouTube, with some saying that this recent development could result in the end of their channels.

If you’re wondering what COPPA is, it’s the Child Online Privacy Protection Act, a law passed in 1998 that makes it illegal for website owners to collect data on children under the age of 13. Why 13 and not 18, which is the generally-agreed-upon age of adulthood, I don’t know. Website owners have largely responded by disallowing persons under the age of 13 from starting accounts. In light of this, it should be obvious that COPPA is a good thing, as it extends protections to children online that adults would love to have.

So then, why the outcry among YouTubers against it? The answer is simple: YouTube has turned the onus of compliance with COPPA to its content creators, complete with a disproportionately steep punishment for slipping up.

That being the case, it’s obvious why YouTubers would be upset with YouTube and COPPA. While this seems unfair on YouTube’s part, it would be just the right move if their aim was to present COPPA in an intensely negative light, turning public opinion against COPPA, and potentially stir up a movement that results in getting COPPA repealed.

Is that what’s motivating YouTube? It’s hard to discern motives for certain, but if turning people against COPPA wasn’t their plan, it’s hard to think of a reason for them to punish the community for their own failure to properly manage a website. But if we were to look for motives, it helps to understand how YouTube makes money.

YouTube is owned by Google, a tech company that offers many online services that are (apparently) free to those who want to use them. These services include Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, and the huge search engine that put them on the map. Because Google offers its services for free, many have wondered: How does Google make money?

Google makes money by collecting data. About you. And anyone else they can. Google then takes this information and sells it to a network of advertisers who then use it to serve targeted advertisements.

Make no mistake, the information collected about people is something that ad companies are willing to spend a lot of money on. On the internet, advertisements are big business. The more effective advertisements are the ones that succeed in convincing people to make purchases. If advertisers know what kind of things appeal to you, they can serve you advertisements specific to you that other visitors to the same page might not see.

As a person uses Google products, Google collects data on that person that’s used to construct a profile specific to them. While Google is who we’re talking about today, they’re far from the only tech company that collects data like this to sell to advertisers. Even social media outlets get in on this, and it’s on these platforms that people voluntarily surrender piles of information about their interests.

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To give an idea of how extensive an ad company’s profile could be on you, the algorithms that are used collect deeply personal data, including psychological information. An ad company is able to make determinations about a person’s internal tendencies, including sexual preferences, that the person themselves might not even know about. Even the federal government doesn’t collect this kind of data on the general population. If they wanted to, tech companies are capable of making a person’s life a living hell, and they have all they need to do so.

If that’s not scary enough for you, try this one: an advertising company was able to determine that a woman was pregnant based only on her purchasing history, then serve her targeted ads based on this information before the woman herself discovered that she was pregnant.

Considering this, think about what Google has to gain from having COPPA repealed: if COPPA no longer factored into their considerations, their dragnet of data collection could be cast without restraint. Children would then be included in Google’s data collection endeavors. As the shopping season comes full swing, consider what this would mean for the pocketbooks of millions of parents: children would be included in Google’s psychoanalytical scheme of subconscious desires, to be directed as their data purchasers wished.

Of course, indirectly encouraging parents to max out credit cards on Christmas toys is just one of many ways the data purchasers can use data from children. If the data purchasers had political motives, they could use this data to direct culture and political opinion in a manner and scale that has never been seen before.

If you want tech companies such as Google to collect data on your kids, then go right on ahead and play into YouTube’s hands: react with outrage about COPPA as though COPPA was to blame. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time that even more limits were placed on tech companies concerning the data that they can collect about us.

What is Sockpuppeting?

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Have you ever happened upon a network of bloggers with content, layout, or opinions that seem suspiciously similar, but they don’t seem to have much engagement from anyone else? If so, you might have just seen sockpuppeting at play.

What is sockpuppeting? On the internet, sockpuppeting is the act of making it appear as though there is more engagement than there actually is. This is usually accomplished when someone makes multiple accounts, then uses those accounts to engage their own content. This can be done by leaving comments, likes, linking posts, just to name a few examples.

But why would a person sockpuppet? There are a few reasons a person might. Perhaps they want to encourage discussion on their posts by making it appear as though a discussion is taking place. Perhaps they want to make it appear as though their ideas are well-supported by the community, in an effort to persuade people to accept their ideas. Perhaps they intend to make the appearance of multiple biases to dissuade people from arguing against them. In some cases, it’s a measure to ensure that the discussion heads in the direction that the puppeteer prefers, perhaps so that they can take on arguments that they’d prefer to, rather than the ones that would pose a significant challenge to their viewpoint.

Of course, it’s very possible that it’s a lonely and sad individual who isn’t getting a lot of real human attention.

Sockpuppeting isn’t as big as it used to be, largely due to the fact that it’s become harder to get away with. Admins on message boards and bloggers can see the IP addresses of individual comments, which contain location-based elements. If a blogger notices a couple commenters shooting it back and forth, and the discussion seems kind-of predictable, the shared IP address of the commenters is a red flag that something is up. And, in case you’re wondering, the FBI and NSA pretty much laugh at your silly VPN.

Have you seen sockpuppeting at play? Or do you have funny stories where sockpuppeting is involved?