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May 27, 2008

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I wonder how many of those respondents are just screwing with the pollsters for asking dumb questions?

But what percent of Americans lie to pollsters on principle?

this is why we can't have nice things

Come now, clearly, the monsters in the closet were Larry Craig and Lindsay Graham. With a guest spot for the current governor of Florida.

The Holmes bit must be what Donna Tartt had in mind in The Secret History, when the classics-obsessed Henry turns out not to have heard about the moon landings: "How did they get there? When did this happen?"

After running through the ANES data a million different ways, my conclusion was that 3 to 5 percent of people in any survey are completely wack - outliers in the truest sense of the word. So of the non-copernicans, probably about 73% were non-wack, and of those, probably a large number just didn't process what they read correctly.

Technically, Earth does not revolve around the Sun - the Sun, Earth and all other bodies in the solar system all revolve around the common center of gravity of the solar system as a whole.

However, since the Sun makes up over 99% of the mass of the solar system, the center of gravity happens to be quite close to (but not exactly at) the center of the Sun.

But I guess that wasn't one of the options given by the pollsters.

"this is why we can't have nice things"

Hilarious - yet profound.

bBut what percent of Americans lie to pollsters on principle?

My wife just lied to a pollster, the other day. It was an automated telephone poll (not to be confused with pole) and she represented herself as a middle-aged black male Democrat who approves of the Bush administration and supports our involvement in Iraq.

She's evil, sometimes. Particularly when they call during dinner.

Thank you, hilzoy; it has been a long time since I read that chapter.

"five percent think they have seen a monster in the closet."

I'm surprised this number is so low, considering monsters thrived in my closet when I was a kid (me, tented under the covers on the most humid of Pennsylvania summer nights, breathing as shallowly as possible to avoid detection, not daring to leave the bed to shut the closet doors --- years later, I would inspect my son's closet at bedtime to roust monsters; he would end up in our bed anyway. We know what we know.)

One morning, I opened my closet and there was a pollster in my closet interviewing the previous night's monster. Thirty-seven percent of closet monsters claim to have eaten children during the night.

They know what they know.

Strange, yes, but who would have it any other way?

I miss the haunted world.


[or, to be excruciatingly exact, last read that chapter.]

Which just proves that 3 to 5 percent of people are Slart's wife.

I don't know that the comparison is reassuring. Those are all either big, historical things or matters of personal faith--myths you believe because they help you to order the world you live your life in. Barack Obama's religion doesn't fit into that category. At this moment, he's just a guy running for president and his religion is not a matter of great consequence to anyone but himself and his family. Believing Obama is a muslim is a petty misconception, not a grand one.

Some people put their faith in geocentrism and poltergeists; others stubbornly contend that Al Gore has a third nipple. This Obama thing is in the latter category of weirdness.

John, the haunted world is all around you -- you just need to adjust your eyes (and, in my judgment, not very much :-).

Dang, David. Now we know why Slarti's sometimes scarce in comments.

I'm actually stunned that only 18 percent believe the sun revolves around the Earth. The percentages I've seen for that in the past are closer to 35%, backed up by informal testing in restaurants and other public spaces.

Which just proves that 3 to 5 percent of people are Slart's wife.

No. Never, ever more than one. Do you have any idea how much of a full-time job rearranging the furniture (and equivalents, such as relandscaping) would turn into?

"monster in the closet" is clearly an anti-hillary smear. its code, i tells ya, its code!

I dunno. There are a certain percentage of people who think that Einstein's theories haven't yet been verified. I had to explain to my wife about GPS and time dilation, and she was shocked.

But she's a finance type, and doesn't set foot in the dweeb community except when she's around me.

"monster in the closet" is clearly an anti-hillary smear.

Clinton's not a lesbian! (as far as i know)

But what percent of Americans lie to pollsters on principle?
Fortunately, they did a poll asking people about just this question ...


(More seriously, I'd hope that professional pollsters include some control questions, although this could be difficult given that I'd think that whether the Earth orbits the Sun is itself perfectly reasonable control question - I would be perfectly happy to disregard any opinions of an adult American who didn't know about it).

When Reagan and Gorbachev met in Reykjavík, I remember it being pointed out that in Iceland, 15% of the people believe in gnomes. I'll try to find some stats for Japanese, I wonder if anyone has figures for other groups of non-Americans on questions like that.

Via Roy Edroso, the creation of right-wing myth in action, Rambo style.

Cue the disco music. In five to ten years dozens of soldiers will tell you with absolute conviction that they were spat on in the DC Metro. When Confederate Yankee is the respectable one, you've got a pretty good idea what you're dealing with...

In a larger, more mainstream example of the same phenomenon, George Will puffs out his cheeks to blow life into the embers of "liberals condescend to conservatives"... and Rick Perlstein rakes him over those same coals.

When Reagan and Gorbachev met in Reykjavík, I remember it being pointed out that in Iceland, 15% of the people believe in gnomes.
Although I don't share them, I aim to be tolerant of and even respectful of beliefs in unproven or even unprovable entities such as gnomes, ghosts, alien visitation, or the big one, God. So long as those beliefs don't motivate malign actions, it's none of my business, and some people are inspired by such beliefs to perform incredible acts of charity.

Disproven propositions should, in my opinion, be classed in a different category entirely.

Generally I'm a materialist and don't believe in ghosts. When you get into the nitty gritty of some matters, however, things get surprisingly murky quickly. While I was studying philosophy, I shared a flat with a friend doing his PhD in chemistry. I pressed him hard to confirm my materialist intuitions and thought he would be the perfect guy to dispel my doubts, since he was totally down to earth and studying chemistry after all. Not so - all I got out of him was some talk of axioms and models that reminded me of the Pomo/LitCrit stuff I was exposed to all day in my studies anyway and never would he commit to anything tangible or definite. Later I read Quine which enabled me to make my somewhat uneasy peace with the philosophy of science. Shakespeare also helped:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Those figures Ben Smith quotes are ... of the same order of magnitude as Bush's approval ratings. Cf. Kung Fu Monkey's "crazification factor": http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/10/lunch-discussions-145-crazification.html

I'm with John Thullen, above.

Here's how I figure it. The wording of the question in re heliocentrism is: "As far as you know, does the earth revolve around the sun or does the sun revolve around the earth?"

Those who are so ignorant as to believe that the sun revolves round the earth are probably not able properly to understand this question. So we should expect their answers to run at about chance. Since it's a binary question, then, only roughly half of them will get the answer wrong.

Ergo, to get the correct tally of those who believe the sun revolves round the earth, multiply the reported number by 2.*

And by the way, cleek wins the thread.

*NOTE: Okay, I'm half-way joking. (To correct for this, multiply by only 1.5.)

In this survey, did they ask what percent think Bush is a Muslim? (In light of the pre-cognitive 18%, a mere 10% thinking Barack Obama (or, as my 5-year old son calls him, Brocco) is Muslim seems extraordinarily, pleasantly-surprisingly - actually - astonishingly low).

That last is pretty scary. I mean, there are certain things I just assume that everyone knows (except for Sherlock Holmes, who had his reasons.)

It's a shame no one gets the joke nowadays, because it's pretty funny. In Chapter 2 of A Study in Scarlet Holmes naively asks who Thomas Carlyle night be. In Chapter 3, Holmes quotes the epigram "genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains", which comes from the writings of Carlyle himself. All of the feigned ignorance is Holmes putting Watson on by exaggerating how eccentric he is.

I don't think that 18% of americans believe the sun rotates around the earth. I believe that 18% of americans are stupid and can't answer polls about basic, if slightly counterintuitive questions, in a scientifically correct manner even though they technically know what the proper answer ought to be.

I think they should stop conducting polls in the Roswell NM area. That's about how this sums up.

Wow, wild coincidence. I was just researching Galileo today for a post later this week. But thanks, Hilzoy.

Standard and Poor’s is being dishonest:

"There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data. Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path," said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee.

Wrong.

Around 90% of the nation’s real estate is going up in dollar value. Those places that have embraced diversity are going down in value. This reality, to Type-3s in gated communities, is saying something like ‘The earth revolves around the sun.’

But the same group is perfectly comfortable talking about:

(1) ‘Location, location, location’; or
(2) ‘Good schools’; or
(3) ‘A good place to raise a kid’.

The hypocrisy bothers me.

The Fed prints $14.4 billion daily to pay for this ideology. It is keeping the banks afloat after they were forcibly made to underwrite loans in ‘bad’ areas (one of several root causes). That, along with Peak Oil, is the sucking sound you feel in your back pocket. In comparison, we spend $166 million daily in Iraq.

I feel bad for those workers who have seen the values of their homes fall by 35%. They did nothing wrong.

It was an automated telephone poll (not to be confused with pole) and she represented herself as a middle-aged black male Democrat who approves of the Bush administration and supports our involvement in Iraq.

She's evil, sometimes. Particularly when they call during dinner.

Just curious, but I'm kinda unclear what the point of lying to an automated robocall is: it's not like anyone will notice, so the point is...?

Why not just hang up? (Myself, I believe in saying "not interested, thanks," and hanging up politely when speaking to a human, who is usually making about minimum wage, and only in the job because there aren't better ones available to them that week, and inappropriate people to abuse when the owners of the firm are the people deserving of abuse if you resent the call, but that's me, a guy who has done some of those jobs out of desperation, and that's another topic; but how one treats a robocall is another thing.)

"Around 90% of the nation’s real estate is going up in dollar value."

I realize you're far smarter than most people, Bill, but try matching that map against a) what's actually private property; and b) against what's residential property, and c) population density, and see what the figures come out to then.

Federal land, state land, and non-residential land, which make up much of the land that's green on your map, isn't relevant to the overall cost of homes.

I'm kinda unclear what the point of lying to an automated robocall is

Well, it might be to make the results gathered by robocalls inaccurate. That would, in turn, tend to discourage robocall surveys in general. That is desirable, I think.

Brick Oven Troll: 1. Looks to me like prices are going down in urban areas and up in rural areas. On what basis do you blame this on "embracing diversity"? 2. By "is going up", you mean "was going up, on average, from Q4 2006 to Q4 2007", which (a) omits the most recent upheavals and (b) ignores the fact that declining real estate values can show up in slowing sales (not represented on that chart) as well as in actual price reductions. 3. The inanity of your classification of Democrats is noted. 4. What is this bullshit about the Fed printing $14.4bn daily "to pay for this ideology"? The US money supply is increasing at something like $400bn/year, which is like 10% of your figure. What am I missing here? 5. What is your evidence that banks got into trouble because they were forced to underwrite loans in "bad" areas? Looks to me like they got into trouble because they *chose* to underwrite high-risk loans.

Oh, and what Gary Farber said. (As usual.)

Just curious, but I'm kinda unclear what the point of lying to an automated robocall is: it's not like anyone will notice, so the point is...?
Basically, what Bernard YomTov said. I'm not sure I endorse the practice of lying to any pollster, but to the extent that a pollster engages in practices seen as especially aggravating, they increase their risk of inspiring their respondants to deliver spiteful misinformation, rendering the pollster less reliable and their services less desireable. If one pollster is dramatically more aggravating than its competition, it may be correspondingly more likely to deliver bad information.

Of course, if using robocalling and calling at suppertime each increase efficiency more dramatically than they degrade the results, this phenomenon is unlikely to dissuade the pollsters.

I like lists.

1. Because I’ve worked in both Utah and Arizona. They’re different.
2. I bet the trends track through 2008. They sure look like it to me, a guy who travels between the red parts and green parts, and who tracks real estate.
3. So noted. Thank you. That is a cute sign she has. If I were single, I’d pretend to be a Democrat. Come to think of it, my first vote was Dukakas. Maybe men have evolved to think they are nurturing members of society at the age of twenty in order to more widely spread their DNA. I’d go to Obama rallies. I’d even allow them to put me in the ‘rainbow’ seats behind the speaker where they put the good looking women and the tokens. I’d be the white guy with the big smile.
4. $14.4 billion
5. The Community Redevelopment Act, signed into law by Jimmy Carter. It required banks to give a certain percentage of their loans to ‘local’ projects (i.e. urban neighborhoods). I admit the banking crisis is one part nurturing and three parts greed though. You’ll have to Google the Act and it’s provisions because I’m tired.
6. Real estate prices are independent of the percentage of government land that surrounds the private land. The data is on a county-by-county basis.

Bingo.

"Bingo", in response to Bernard.

Sometimes Refresh doesn't seem to work properly. I blame Bill Gates.

Now ask Americans about evolution vs. intelligent design, or about climate change, and see what kind of responses you get.

Call me an elitist, but people, in the aggregate, are dumb. Or at the very least, woefully underinformed. True pretty much everywhere you go.

(In truth, people have a very strong tendency to believe what they want to believe, truth notwithstanding, but I digress...)

Gary:
Myself, I believe in saying "not interested, thanks," and hanging up politely when speaking to a human, who is usually making about minimum wage, and only in the job because there aren't better ones available to them that week

A co-blogger of mine used to work at a telemarketing job. He tells me that they didn't mind people who hung up quickly, rudely or otherwise -- this allowed them to quickly move on to the next call, and that job requires thick skin anyway. What bothered them is people who kept them on the line for a while and then didn't buy anything -- this wasted time that could be better used moving through the call list to someone who might actually buy something.

I suppose for a pollster, the equivalent would be answering 2/3 of the questions and then aborting the survey.

"Well, it might be to make the results gathered by robocalls inaccurate. That would, in turn, tend to discourage robocall surveys in general."

But that pretty much couldn't work. The only way it would be determined that the robocalls were "inaccurate" would be if they were somehow matched against some control, and there isn't one.

If you're suggesting that election results would be sufficiently skewed from the robocalling as to result in that conclusion, it just wouldn't work that way, either. There are simply far too many factors that could account for the inaccuracy (and there are plenty, most particularly including the rise of cell phones as primary phones, but other factors as well), and, again, without a control, there would be no way to determine which factor was in play, and moreover, robocalling is used for a thousand different purposes, and even if it was somehow concluded to be useless for determining how people will vote on election day, the fact that such polls are a tiny percentage of what robocalls are used for means that there would be no such effect whatever towards limiting robocalls overall.

Basically, that logic only makes sense if one knows nothing about polling. It's magical thinking.

"He tells me that they didn't mind people who hung up quickly, rudely or otherwise -- this allowed them to quickly move on to the next call, and that job requires thick skin anyway. What bothered them is people who kept them on the line for a while and then didn't buy anything -- this wasted time that could be better used moving through the call list to someone who might actually buy something."

Yes.

And when you play those games, you're screwing with some near-minimum wage schlub, and not screwing with the people you're actually angry with, the owners of the firm. The actual phone answerer won't make their quota of completed calls per hour, and will get only the minimum pay. I'm unclear that this is a virtuous act, and unclear that people who think that sort of thing is clever understand just who they are hurting.

"I suppose for a pollster, the equivalent would be answering 2/3 of the questions and then aborting the survey."

Had it happen a million times -- I've done plenty of polling; again, the result has to be tossed, even if everything is completed but the last question, and the person making the call has had their chances of making their quota of calls per hour knocked down.

I get calls I don't want all the time: I say "thanks, not interested," politely, and hang up. No one's time is wasted, and no poor people are made poorer.

Hey, everybody! Remember Scott McClellan?

[...] He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president's inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative's name.

[...]

But in a chapter titled "Selling the War," he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush "managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option."

"Over that summer of 2002," he writes, "top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage."

McClellan, once a staunch defender of the war from the podium, comes to a stark conclusion, writing, "What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."

Another Democratic/Islamic/communist mole unearthed.

g;

I have a snark-free question.

This is my understanding of money supply. I agree that before the Fed stopped tracking the M3, we were printing around half a trillion dollars a year.

I’ve heard that the M3 number meant nothing and that there are other ways to calculate money supply without it. But when the government tells me that they are ending the M3 data to ‘save money’, it smells bad to me. Especially when $14.4 billion a day equals around $5 trillion per year.

I am a hack armchair economist. Is there a way that you (anybody) know(s) to track total money supply?

I believe in the things that talk to you through the Ouija board, whatever they are.

Just to be a complete contrarian, the dictum that there are no privileged reference frames in the universe is sufficient to allow for views via which the sun does revolve around the Earth. Like, say, to someone standing on the surface of the Earth.

To answer the question "incorrectly," as such, is more a failure of science education than outright dumbness.

As some wise man once said (actually it was Scottt Adams of Dilbert fame): Humans are idiots (at least some of the time).
The question is, whether that idiocy* causes harm or not and whether the people are able to notice their own idiocy (as Socrates put it: I am wiser than these** because/in that I do not believe to know things that I do not actually know).
To be pedantic: Einstein's theories have not been proven. It has been found that observation data match his predictions over a large area which gives credence to those parts not yet checked/checkable. But Einstein would not have claimed that his thoughts would be the final word.
As for ghosts, I am an agnostic on that and would not exclude that there is something to it (though not necessarily something "supernatural").
I was actually surprised that nothing was found in Saddam's arsenals. By no means the amounts of stuff claimed by Bush&Accomplices but maybe a barrel here and a vial there would be what I would have expected (and I think BushCo too). I was even expecting that a certain amount would be planted to be found (yes, I am that cynical about the Bush administration).
As for 9/11: Willfully closing eyes to danger and then exploiting it, yes. Pulling off 9/11, no***.
(call it Incubator - The Sequel).
I wonder how many adherents (at least in polls) of Flat Earth theories (and related) are still around. Googling results are amiguous because it is virually impossible to sort out hoaxes from the real thing with any degree of reliability.

*shorthand including "being uninformed" but excluding "mentally ill in the clinical sense"
**the ones that brought him to court
***Too risky and lacking the skill.

"I believe in the things that talk to you through the Ouija board, whatever they are."

They're your subconscious. Try it with the user's vision completely blacked out with blindfold and opaque goggles, and a second party recording the letters showing up, and see what results you get then. It's called a "control experiment."

Then google "ideomotor effect".

See here for more on the ideomotor effect, which explains a lot of stuff credulous people apparently never spend a minute googling to find out the explanation of ("I want to believe!").

"As some wise man once said (actually it was Scottt Adams of Dilbert fame): Humans are idiots (at least some of the time)."

Including Scott Adams.

Adams. Horse's mouth.

Horse's mouth.

oh man... threads on evolution bring out the nuts.

    For some reason what we know is based on science, but science is based on what we know so far. That would mean we know close to nothing, and that science is less believible then the words spoken of an 80-year-old alcoholic, who is senile, with alzheimers. But then again, science change all the time. I still remember the good old days when Pluto was a planet, do you? And when books actually contained real "scientific fact".

this is the kind of stuff you'd expect to hear after sharing a big bag of mushrooms and a 12-pack with your college roommates.

The idea that nearly one in five Americans does not know this is unnerving. I am not at all consoled by the fact that a few years before this poll was taken (in the 90s), only 74% of Germans and 67% of Britons got it right.

Firstly, you have to take out people who weren't really paying attention when they answered, deliberately lie to pollsters asking stupid questions, immigrants who don't speak English perfectly and may have misunderstood the question, etc. I suspect such people probably account for a good percentage of that 1 in 5. Secondly, to the extent that this does reveal frightening ignorance among Americans, if you're not reassured you should least accept the fact that this kind of thing knows no geographic bounds. As a teacher in Japan, which according to all the testing data has one of the best school systems in the world, I can confirm that a good percentage of my students can't recognize the U.S., Russia, Canada, or other major countries on a world map, don't know the name of their head of government, and all the other markers of ignorance that are so often cited with alarm in the U.S. media. There really are stupid and/or ignorant (willfully or unwilfully) people everywhere.

The idea that nearly one in five Americans does not know this is unnerving. I am not at all consoled by the fact that a few years before this poll was taken (in the 90s), only 74% of Germans and 67% of Britons got it right.

Firstly, you have to take out people who weren't really paying attention when they answered, deliberately lie to pollsters asking stupid questions, immigrants who don't speak English perfectly and may have misunderstood the question, etc. I suspect such people probably account for a good percentage of that 1 in 5. Secondly, to the extent that this does reveal frightening ignorance among Americans, if you're not reassured you should least accept the fact that this kind of thing knows no geographic bounds. As a teacher in Japan, which according to all the testing data has one of the best school systems in the world, I can confirm that a good percentage of my students can't recognize the U.S., Russia, Canada, or other major countries on a world map, don't know the name of their head of government, and all the other markers of ignorance that are so often cited with alarm in the U.S. media. There really are stupid and/or ignorant (willfully or unwilfully) people everywhere.

Missed One:

27% of Americans think GWB is doing a good job as President.

"this is the kind of stuff you'd expect to hear after sharing a big bag of mushrooms and a 12-pack with your college roommates."

Oh, I think a small bag would do. But don't bogart those 'shrooms, cleek. Share with the rest of the class.

Just to be a complete contrarian, the dictum that there are no privileged reference frames in the universe is sufficient to allow for views via which the sun does revolve around the Earth. Like, say, to someone standing on the surface of the Earth.

Sure, if you weren't paying attention to the background stars and other planets and such. If you were, you'd have to probably construct some kind of odd ad-hoc model of how those bodies move, and give it a wierd title like epicycles, or something.

I don't think you can unprivilege your reference frame in that manner AND not ignore the law of universal gravitation. Could be that I'm lacking in imagination, though.

Could be a nit. People look at me oddly when I nitpick sometimes, particularly when I point out that their "inertial frame" is not, in fact, inertial. But then again, what is?

Re: Einestein - while you could say his Theory wasn't 'proven' - (and of course there is the matter of which theory we're talking about here - Special or General Relativity or perhaps the photoelectic effect) but it made a lot of very specific and testable predictions that have been confirmed (light bending - time dialation, e=mc2,) and any future Theory will have to incoporate these into itself - as Einstein did with Newton's gravition. Indeed since Einstein is unable to explain how gravity acts on a quantum level it's a sign that his theory is limited.

But this all reminds me of a quip Credited to Hawking - "Progress does not come from replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right. It consists of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong"

Brick O Bill:

That Bloomberg article is actually saying that the average amount of discount loans outstanding, on a daily basis, is 14.4 billion, not that 14.4 billion of new loans are being extended each day.

In other words, if you took the total of such loans outstanding from the Fed on May 1, on May 2, etc., and averaged those numbers, you'd get 14.4 billion.

"this is the kind of stuff you'd expect to hear after sharing a big bag of mushrooms and a 12-pack with your college roommates."

I'd prefer Bad Brains or Pink Floyd, or jokes that start off with something like "What's the difference between a door?" Hysterical laughter and random animal noises wouldn't hurt either.

But this all reminds me of a quip Credited to Hawking - "Progress does not come from replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right. It consists of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong"

This reminds me of an argument I once had on another blog about Newtonian Mechanics being proven "wrong" by Special Relativity. That sort of thinking bugs me. Sure, Special Relativity may be a more accurate model, but the increased accuracy is only appreciable in high-energy situations, and it would be unnecessarily cumbersome to design a bridge or plan the demolition of a high-rise using Special Relativity. Maybe it's just me.


Hey, everybody! Remember Scott McClellan?

I'm hoping for a lots and lots of discussion about this book to take place. I was at a party a couple of weeks ago and made the mistake of mentioning what a twit I thought GWB was. This led another guest to go on about how the admin just needed some "better PR" so people wouldn't be so negative. I invoked the "no politics or religion" rule on myself at that point. I still don't understand how some people, regardless of their ideologies, can't see how bad this administration has been.

One thing jumped out at me from Study in Scarlet:

I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.

From this, do we believe that Holmes started using cocaine later (maybe having to put up with Watson drove him to it), or that Watson is an unreliable narrator? I'm more inclined to the former rather than the latter, since Watson does notice things related to his field, just not much outside it.

Jeff -- If you don't already have it, may I recommend The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes? There are reams of scholarship on every aspect of the stories. Quite fun.

Most people believe in an invisible friend in the sky (Jesus). That's more alarming than the fact that 10% of the people believe Obama is a Muslim.

I'd prefer Bad Brains or Pink Floyd, or jokes that start off with something like "What's the difference between a door?" Hysterical laughter and random animal noises wouldn't hurt either.

i remember one friday night where three of us sat in a dorm room playing a drinking game which involved figuring out the derivatives of transcendental functions in our heads - get it wrong and you had to drink.

nerds / play stupid games.
nerds / that's why they're lame.

Gary:
And when you play those games, you're screwing with some near-minimum wage schlub, and not screwing with the people you're actually angry with, the owners of the firm.

To clarify, I was by no means endorsing "screwing with" the poor "schlub." Quite the contrary, I was suggesting that the best thing to do was to just hang up, politely or otherwise. Or, do as I do, and just don't answer the phone in the first place. If I don't recognize your number on Caller ID, I'm not answering.

"To clarify, I was by no means endorsing 'screwing with' the poor 'schlub.'"

I understand; I was using the plural "you."

farmgirl, does either this set or the Baring-Gould address the "he can't be on narcotics" vs the "7 percent solution"? What was the result, if you recall?

==========================

I was suggesting that the best thing to do was to just hang up, politely or otherwise.

Since the so-called "Do Not Call" List is a joke (which word there is hard to understand?) and since TMs target the dinner hour, I'm less likely to be polite than otherwise. Sorry, "schlub", them's the breaks.

...a drinking game which involved figuring out the derivatives of transcendental functions in our heads - get it wrong and you had to drink.

Wow, I thought my playing Beer Trek freshman year was embarrassingly nerdy.

Xeynon, drop a line since we are on the same archipelago (libjpn at gmail)

I agree that Japanese students can be just as bad, but I have this feeling that the ignorance shown by Japanese is different than that shown by Americans. I may be misremembering, but there was a survey that noted that some non insubstantial % of Americans could not locate Alabama on a map. I think that if you asked Japanese to locate Iwate or Tokushima, they could.

There is an asymmetrical aspect to this as well. Because Japanese function in a education system that emphasizes top down learning and memorization of facts, they are virtually encouraged to install and forget. Whereas the ideal of American education is to be independent and self-reliant, the lack of certain basic facts can be considered to be greatly detrimental. Whereas in Japan, the rote memorization of facts, coupled with the compartmentalization of knowledge, creates a situation where students might be able to answer a question in the confines of a particular class, but be unable to transfer that knowledge to another class.

Another way to look at this is that there is a difference between how valuable certain facts are depending on the situation. While one might not be surprised if a 'man on the street' didn't know who Gustav Mahler was, one would be very surprised if a classical musician didn't know it. For the vast majority of Japanese, knowing where Nicaragua or Syria is on a map is not so important. But for Americans to not know that is a different species of ignorance.

Calvin: Any monsters under my bed tonight?

Monsters: Nope!

Calvin: Well, there'd better not be! I'd hate to have to torch one with my flame thrower!!

Hobbes: You have a flame thrower?

Calvin: They lie, I lie.

Jeff -- I don't recall the specifics, but various scholarly opinions as to the extent of Holmes' drug use are presented.

The detail is fantastic; there is nothing too insignificant for research. Where Watson was actually shot; whether a train actually ran at that time; if there was a pub by that name; the (impossible) rate at which the pawnshop owner in the Red-Headed League would have had to write in order to copy as much of the Encyclopedia as claimed. It's good stuff.

Hi Gary -- following you over from the other thread ... I risked the OT comment because I know how much pain my dad had with his gout, and wasn't sure how rigorously you would be monitoring an open thread that is aging fast. Perhaps even before you find a new doctor, you might consider testing the idea by cutting out dairy for a single week and see if that helps. Not to be pushy about food or anything... :)

On a different OT, my grandmother was at Auschwitz and ended the war at Bergen-Belsen (after a forced march from A to B). Just this month I learned a lot more of her story from my dad after a visit with her (she finds it hard to talk about); it could be a movie but no one would believe it.

"Since the so-called 'Do Not Call' List is a joke (which word there is hard to understand?) and since TMs target the dinner hour, I'm less likely to be polite than otherwise. Sorry, 'schlub', them's the breaks."

Yes, many people find it easy to justify being nasty to people worse off then them, and particularly so to the lower classes, who are so very very lacking in class. Clearly, in the greater scheme of things, your feelings are most important. If only more people were so considerate.

This does seem entirely consistent with insisting that nobody who ever uses an EBT card could experience humiliation from it from people on the same line with them, or from the cashier they hand it to, or in any other way. And consistent with reading someone explaining that they used an EBT card for years, in three different states NY, Washington, and Colorado, and have all three cards right there in their hand as they write, and insisting that they don't know what they're talking about, and should google to find out what the cards look like.

I certainly respect consistency.

What's a "TM"?

"I risked the OT comment because I know how much pain my dad had with his gout, and wasn't sure how rigorously you would be monitoring an open thread that is aging fast."

I have a lot less time for the internet at present, in my new life, than in my old life: presently, some weekdays, and then usually not until maybe a little bit after my sweetie has gone to sleep -- like now -- and there will be even more disruption of that over the next few weeks as yet other changes enter the picture -- but I still pretty well mostly follow most threads, if other stuff doesn't largely pull me away for a few days.

I'll be cutting out milk for the next few days, but otherwise the gout is often unpredictable. I appreciate your consideration and concern; thanks.

Oh, but the gout isn't as bad as the kidney stone pain, when that happens, IMO.

What's really fun is having them both at once.

"she finds it hard to talk about"

Gee, who could imagine why? (This is not meant as sarcasm at you; it's meant simply as "yeah, that seems unsurprising in the extreme.")

I don't talk much about the camps and I only know from reading endless tons about them, and wider circumstances, and other genocides and evil doings, obsessively over the decades.

On cheerier topics, I've edited or worked on a fair number of mysteries in one capacity or another (cover copy, reprint supervision duty, copyedited, etc., etc.), including little known writers like Elmore Leonard, "Ed McBain," Judy Jance, my old pal James Ellroy, and so on and so forth, he namedropped, but I'm particularly fond, as Holmes-knock-offs go, of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, no matter that I've only read them as a fan; good stuff, IMO.

Anyone who is a real enthusiast for mystery fiction might want to look into Bouchercon, btw.

Yes, many people find it easy to justify being nasty to people worse off then them, and particularly so to the lower classes, who are so very very lacking in class. Clearly, in the greater scheme of things, your feelings are most important. If only more people were so considerate.

Telemarketers take from us some of the most precious things we have: our attention, our time relaxing, and our time with our families. No individual telemarketer takes much from us, but as a group, they steal on a vast scale. People often take these calls when they're exhausted after a long day, when they're trying to decompress and want nothing more than an end to continuous demands for attention, or when they're trying to spend some time with their spouse and children. If he steals from us, why should we treat a telemarketer any better than a common thief?

The issue has nothing to do with class and everything to do with repeated jarring disruption of our lives that simply can't be prevented. It has to do with a ruthless ruinous industry that has systematically abused the legislative process to eliminate accountability.

Yes, I feel sorry for the folks working as telemarketers. But I also feel sorry for folks who feel they've been forced into working for the mob or drug gangs. Telemarketing isn't equivalent to being a hit man, but it does introduce negative externalities. So yes: my feelings are damn important and will remain so until telemarketers compensate me for what they've taken from me.

Obama never was a a Muslim, but he was a chain smoker.


Whatever that means.


Time for bed. Tired. It's late. Work is in 5 hours. Yuk!

The "Do Not Call" List was supposed to make telemarketing calls illegal. Since, to my mind, anyone who calls is breaking the law, I owe them no more courtesy than a burglar from "the lower classes". Since [a], there's a lot more robo-calls than "manned" ones, my anger at one of these calls doesn't affect any living person, from any class; and [b] when there is another person on the other line, the extent of my reaction is "Ever hear of the Do Not Call List, @$$hole? [click]". If the poor down-trodden lower classman can't handle that reaction, they need another job, because I'm sure mine is mild in comparison to others.

"Since, to my mind, anyone who calls is breaking the law, I owe them no more courtesy than a burglar from "the lower classes"."

Yes, Jeff. The owners of the firm, and the managers aren't the ones to blame. It's the minimum wage workers who deserve your wrath and abuse. I hear ya.

"If the poor down-trodden lower classman can't handle that reaction, they need another job,"

And darn, why don't those poor folk just get a better job!?

You should be sure to tell them that next time your well-earned wrath is unleashed on them.

Because, you know, it's the person you're speaking to who compiled the list with your number, and who made the choice to call you. It's their responsibility, and darn it, they just deserve to be verbally abused and called names.

Incidentally, we're talking about political polling, and political polling isn't subject to the law against telephone marketing to people on the Do Not Call list. Political polling is First Amendment stuff, unlike commericial sales calls.

But if we're talking about "Yes, I feel sorry for the folks working as telemarketers," then perhaps -- just perhaps -- it doesn't make any more sense to lump the person on the phone who is working for minimum wage or not far from it, and the managers and the owners of the firm, than it does to refer to a military general and a private as "the military," and assign them equal moral responsibility for military policy decisions, or to refer to a sanitation worker and a Senator as "the government," and assign them equal moral responsibility for governmental decisions, or then it does to refer to members of the board of Exxon, and the guy at your local gas station, as "the oil company," and assign them equal moral responsibility for oil tanker spills.

Similarly, say, maybe if one is angry about idiotic security theater at airports, and at the policies of the Department of Homeland Security, the appropriate place to direct one's anger is at the political leadership of these departments, and not at the low-wage TSA employee you meet at the airport whose only offense is to have taken a lousy job.

Just a thought.

"...until telemarketers compensate me for what they've taken from me."

Do you really assign equal moral responsibility to the owner of a telemarketing firm, and to the person so desperate for work that that week the only way to not be evicted is to take a horrible job they hate and despise, but which is the only one they can find that week?

If so, yes, that's about class.

And, yes, it's always easy to find a justification for being abusive to someone, and especially easy to justify being abusive to someone below one on the class and income and desperation totem poll.

This may be more clear if you've ever spent a decade or two with handicaps preventing you from getting work, you have no college degree, you have major health problems, no family or other support network to help you out, limited education, limited reading ability, or other problems preventing you from joining the middle class, and having the privileges and opportunities the middle class take for granted.

It might, in such circumstances, or the ability to well understand them, seem less clear that such people should be blamed for the position that they're in, and abused for it, on top of everything else, because, darn it, why don't they just get a better job?

Or perhaps not. We all have to decide such things for ourselves, and maybe, of course, our own terrible circumstances prevent us from just being minimally polite to another human being. That's always possible, and it's always possible that verbal abuse is something to justify, if not engage in downright gleefully, to get payback.

That'll show 'em.

"Since [a], there's a lot more robo-calls than "manned" ones, my anger at one of these calls doesn't affect any living person, from any class"

I'm unaware anyone was suggesting that anyone should be polite to a robocall.

Though wait until the Robot Liberation Front hears about this.

You know, I cancelled my landline telephone some five years ago now, and I think that in the time since I have received perhaps . . . two? telemarketing calls, both of whom hung up and never called again as soon as I informed them that they were calling a cellphone.

From that information, and from the gripes of at least two people on this thread, I can only conclude that there are a lot more morons in this country than hilzoy's original post would indicate.

Also, when you get pissed off and become abusive, the telemarketers are probably laughing at you after you hang up. And they probably call your number more often, then call their friends over to listen to you be a dick, then laugh some more. Really.

Gary -- I've never quite made it into "con" circles, but have also enjoyed the few Nero Wolfe books I've come across. What did you think of the recent Timothy Hutton/Maury Chaykin dramatizations?

"What did you think of the recent Timothy Hutton/Maury Chaykin dramatizations?"

I'm looking forward to seeing them.

I was only able to, through quirk of circumstance, afford cable tv for first time since the early nineties, other than in a couple of brief housemat stints, for the two months before I moved to Raleigh, so anything on cable tv since 1991, or, for that matter, on Fox, which I also couldn't get on my antenna, I've only either seen via Netflix, or not at all. And currently tv isn't remotely fitting into my schedule, or physical circumstances.

But the first couple of those episodes have been on my Netflix queue since I got Netflix close to 2 years ago, and filled my 500 slot quota in two days.

Dunno when I'll be able to get to them, though. Eventually. I saw 15 minutes of one of the Hutton/Chaykin episodes at a friend's house, and it looked highly promising.

Though when thinking the other day about possibly seeing them with a friend who has never read Stout, I was thinking that they might not seem nearly so much fun to someone who hasn't read Stout. And while they're fairly translatable to screen, nonetheless, some of the appeal of Stout and Wolfe is in the written word, and Wolfe's relationship with it.

"Also, when you get pissed off and become abusive, the telemarketers are probably laughing at you after you hang up."

I've done plenty of phone polling/surveying (not selling) in my time, and in the Seventies, when I was a teen trying to survive after moving out on my own at age 15, I did for a while sell TV Guide subscriptions, and Time-Life books, and then in a more high class way, one of my three simultaneous jobs when I was living my Yalie girlfriend in late 1978/early 1979 was, along with going into NYC every week to pick up 5-6 manuscripts to work on as a copyeditor, or line editor, or reader, or cover copy writer, for Dell Books and my other freelance employers, and working weekends as one of two Night Managers at Book World, was calling Yale alumni for the Campaign For Yale, the endowment, to try to get them to donate thousands of $, so I don't have to guess, and sure, if someone is a jerk, we talk about it and make fun of someone in our off moments, but mostly it just messes with our/their ability to get above minimum wage, and except on break, it's all frantic rushing to get one's quota, so as at least not to be fired, so there isn't a lot of time for that sort of thing.

"And they probably call your number more often,"

There's no time for that. The last thing you want to do is waste a precious thirty seconds, or minute, when you're frantically trying to complete a certain number of calls per hour, minimally to keep your job, preferably to at least keep to the average, or, if possible to get ahead a couple or more, so as to earn all of maybe $.50 or another $1 (or maybe even $2!) for enough hours that day.

And when you're making ~$8/hr, another $2/hr is a quarter again as much money as you're making, so this matters a lot. Especially since few people can take working those jobs 40 hours a week, at least for very long, and mostly it's done in 4-6 shifts, and you may only be able to get a couple of days work per week.

Minimum wage, or not far above, workers, working on a time-based quota, don't have a lot of time for fun, or games, in their work. Or talking to co-workers. Or going to the bathroom. Let alone standing up to get a drink. Or for anything but trying to get all the way up to a couple or three bucks above minimum wage for that day.

But people take the jobs because they love it so, obviously, over the wide range of other available jobs they have, being mostly kids, or retirees, or the handicapped, and thus having quite the choice of alternative jobs.

Oh, wait, no, just about everyone I've ever met doing that work that week is doing because it's their last resort to keep from being on the street next week, or next month, or because there's simply nothing else they can find, at least that week or that month or that quarter.

People who really really deserve to be jerked around by middle-class folks with college degrees and who can afford to own cars, and know that their rent is paid for next week.

But even if you don't know any of this, and can't be bothered to find out, that luxury of not knowing what it's like to have no college degree, and be stuck with no other kind of available work that week, or month, or quarter, or year, or decade, and never having to bother to find out what it's like to be trapped in that kind of life, is what we call middle class privilege.

The assumption that one doesn't have to find out, and one should just assume that it's morally sensible to be default abusive to people, simply because you feel like it, is also privilege.

And, yes, oddly enough, there's a heavier proportion of minorities, seniors, kids, women, and the handicapped in these jobs, as well as by definition being from the lower class (unless they're selling stocks, or middle/upper class scam stuff, like real estate, timeshares, and the like), so there is yet another form of white male middle-class able-bodied employed majoritarian privilege at work.

Truly something to be proud of.

But, as I said, it's always easy for some people to find a justification for being verbally or otherwise abusive to those they're privileged above. And those they kick just have to live with it.

But, really, they should know their own place by then.

Gary -- I came to the Hutton/Chaykin dramatizations after minimal exposure to Rex Stout's writings, so I can say this: I might be missing something from the experience, but not missing so much as to prevent me from thoroughly enjoying them as independent works. I actually was drawn to read more "Nero Wolfe" books after seeing the TV show, and felt the transition was pretty seamless.

Your experience may vary, of course, coming in the other direction, but I wouldn't hesitate to watch with a person who hasn't read the books. The shows stand on their own.

I don't think that telemarketers take anything from use. It's easy enought to just let the answering machine pick up the call--telemarketrs never leave messages.

Anyway if one is going to go ballistic about the calls, the proper target is the telemarketers' employers.

telemarketrs never leave messages

Oh, yes they do. I can't tell you how many messages I've deleted from someone who wants to renew the warranty on my vehicle. (I don't even have a driver's license, let alone a warranty-requiring vehicle!)

i do not believe in any of this. Obama is not a muslin. this is crazy to even think this.

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