Monday, July 11, 2011

Plains Pops: What I Learned Over The Weekend Edition

The "live frog will allow itself to be boiled if the water temperature is raised slowly" illustration is a lie.  From this 2006 James Fallows post,
It just isn't true. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will (unfortunately) be hurt pretty badly before it manages to get out -- if it can. And if you put it into a pot of tepid water and then turn on the heat, it will scramble out as soon as it gets uncomfortably warm.

How do I know? Let's just say that, as with global warming, the scientific evidence is all on one side of this one. Fast Company magazine did an admirable early myth-busting story on the topic in its very first issue, more than a decade ago. The best quote (of many good ones) in the article was from the Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the National Museum of Natural History, who when asked about the boiled-frog story said: "Well that's, may I say, bullshit." There is much more to the same effect, eg here. The most interesting scientific report is on Google Answers, in response to a request for a "biologically valid" example of animal behavior that would illustrate the same point. [emphasis in original]
On the subject of widely believed falsehoods, The Frum Forum posted this tidbit this morning:
As has been written about here before, a group of GOP lawmakers, including Joe Barton (TX) and Michele Bachmann (MN), have stirred up—along with their talk radio and Fox News cohorts—public concern over what they say is a looming “ban” on incandescent light bulbs.
There is no looming ban or phase out of incandescent bulbs. The entire hullabaloo is based on a fictitious claim manufactured by Barton.
All major lighting manufacturers, including Philips, Sylvania and GE, currently produce and sell incandescent light bulbs that meet or exceed the new standards (with no compromise in functionality). In fact, the lighting industry helped craft the 2007 legislation with the full understanding that they could produce incandescent bulbs that meet them.
The federal government is responsible for 20% of the American's personal income.  From a New York Times article,
An extraordinary amount of personal income is coming directly from the government.

Close to $2 of every $10 that went into Americans’ wallets last year were payments like jobless benefits, food stamps, Social Security and disability, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics. In states hit hard by the downturn, like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, residents derived even more of their income from the government.
Republicans seem to be more stubborn than Democrats.  From a Kevin Drum post,


caheidelberger said...

That chart is stunning. The party split really is a split between pragmatists and ideologues.

LK said...

I suppose some of the difference can be explained by the idea that Republicans distrust government and Democrats view government as a useful tool.

That being said, an all or nothing approach produces nothing far more often than it produces all. Slowly consistent determination is far different than stubbornness.

I am stunned by the disdain for competence the chart reveals. It seems to me that one would want competent people to stick up for their beliefs, especially the deeply held ones.