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I've seen references to a study mentioned here a million (<-- hyperbole) times: Carnegie Mellon, 276 healthy volunteers, asked about social ties, gave them a rhinovirus. "Within five days, the volunteers with the fewest social ties were about four times as likely to get colds than volunteers with the most social ties, even when the researchers took into account their age, sex, weight, race, and education."

They come to the usual conclusion (social connections make us healthy) but it occurs to me that the fewer people you are close to, the less up-to-date your immune system's firmware is. Of _course_ you're more likely to get sick -- because you haven't experienced that virus or any of its zillion close relatives yet.

Has anyone controlled for that? Do we even know how?

ETA: And on the next page, Robert Putnam is quoted unquestioningly. *sigh* Repeat after me, everyone: Robert Putnam is a Bad Source. Never, ever, ever quote from _Bowling Alone_; it makes you look like an ideologue who cannot be bothered to figure out which sources are not supposed to be quoted when outsiders might be paying attention.

ETAYA: on the subject of monkey see, monkey do and that horrible movie and the resulting incidents involving kids lying down on the highway lines: "Think for a moment of how difficult it would be to persuade anyone, at any age, through any technique of persuasion you can imagine, to lie down in front of a moving car."

I'm a mother. This actually does not even sound difficult to me. I'm thinking these authors must be really young, or way more autistic than even me. (I agree with the point they are making: people do shit they see in movies, which is a problem, given the stuff people show in movies.)

ETA still more: "Because TV programmers want to nail us to the set until the next commercial, they tend to reach for images that are arousing, particularly violence and sex. The formula works, has always worked, and will always work. As media wizard Brandon Tartikoff said, "All of television boils down to excisable elements that you can put in twenty second promos. If you can't have Starsky pull a gun and fire it fifty times a day on promos [because of citizen pressure against violent content], sex becomes your next best handle."

This fully explains in every detail the massive decline in casual violence in children's television shows -- and, for that matter, the drastic reduction in gun battles on police procedurals. [<-- Sarcasm.] The formula actually evolves and, amusingly in contrast to the argument being made, the most sexual and violent shows on television are on channels that don't have ads during the show. (Amirite, all of you Game of Thrones fanatics? You're not sitting through ads.)

ETA file under FFS:

"As advertising philosopher [sic] David Ogilvy wrote, "Give people a taste of Old Crow and tell them it's Old Crow. Then give them another taste of Old Crow, but tell them it's Jack Daniels. Ask them which they prefer. They'll think the two drinks are quite different. They are tasting images."

Really? You're going to silently reproduce the Beam conglomerate vs. the Jack conglomerate without even mentioning that? And on top of that, you're going to compare the cheaper Beam choice to the mid-range Jack choice?

Also, I used to drink Old Crow. It really wasn't bad at all (Maker's Mark obvs better for only a little more money), provided you had the sense to not put ice cubes in it. If you were going to put ice in it, you'd better be mixing it, too. And there's no way in hell you'd be able to serve me the same whisky back to back and tell me it was two different whiskeys. It's been tried.

"In surveys average television viewers say they enjoy watching TV about as much as they enjoy housework and cooking -- enjoy it less, in fact, than working."

And this is how we know that survey instruments are flawed.

Oooh, also, the foot note goes to Putnam's Bowling Alone!!!!! Aaaaargh!

I may have to abandon this book. I _love_ the premise (we should create a bunch of policy -- voluntary programs and regulations and laws -- that makes it easier for everyone to eat somewhat healthier, get a bit more exercise, etc.). But if this is the best argument in favor of that premise, I'm just going to wind up changing my mind, which I have absolutely no intention of doing. I'll go looking for a better argument instead.

I am so disappointed. I am _so_ disappointed.

Also: http://www.nhk.or.jp/bunken/english/reports/pdf/10_no8_06.pdf

Still more complaining (really, it's bad enough that I'm reading this -- why are you?):

"Men are now taking in 168 more calories a day than they were thirty years ago, and women are gobbling up 335 calories more." Really? With the gratuitously slanted language by gender? The source is the CDC. I'm sort of wondering how the CDC calculated this, actually.

Source appears to be NHANES. I have no idea if that questionnaire is reasonable.

This says it is (like virtually all questionnaires) not reasonable.


Medscape summary of same:


Complete with critique from Walter Willett. Interestingly, in this case I'm taking the not-Willett side. I think. I could be talked out of it.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2014 06:10 pm (UTC)
Have you read _Nudge_, by Thaler and Sunstein? Thinking you might like it better.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
alas, no I don't like it better
I took a good look at that when it came out (it's even older than Farley and Cohen's book) and decided against it on two counts, IIRC: they are U Chic profs and I fucking loathe Sunstein. I'll see if I can figure out if I ever wrote a review of something he wrote.

This is a set of ideas that I Am All Over: I want this to happen, I am in favor of going heavy on the nannyism, as long as we aren't stupid out it (it really is a good idea to stop people running out in front of moving cars, type of thing). But for whatever reason, books on this topic are very poorly argued.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
Sunstein's _Worst Case Scenarios_ partial read review

Wow. I pretty much remembered that correctly.

It occurs to me that reading about how to change public policy to move people in a better direction may suffer from all the same problems that reading books about errors in how people think suffered from. *sigh*
Sep. 13th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
Re: alas, no I don't like it better
Just started reading another book on the topic of behavioral science that can apply to public health: _Mindless Eating_ by Brian Wansink, who runs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell. Not very far in, but it looks good so far.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:13 pm (UTC)
Wow. Misunderstanding the precautionary principle is basic.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )