Friday, October 22, 2010

The Chipmunk Gene

The thing that's nice about hitting yourself in the head with a board is that it feels soooooo good when you stop.

But then what?

Fortunately, I have several other skills I can fall back on after the swelling has gone down.

One of those skills springs from what I suspect is my Chipmunk Gene - that little bit of DNA that prompts me to go scurrying off every day in search of as many delicious tidbits of information as I can find.

I think many people share this gene with me (and of course with the chipmunk) - it just expresses itself differently in different folks.  Some are prompted to collect shiny baubles (gems, jewels, rich bald-headed husbands); some are prompted to collect Manly Things (tools, guns, arterial plaque).  I collect information the way black suede collects white lint.  I'm not sure why, all I know is that the more I have stashed away on my computer, in my office, or in my head, the better I feel.

But not just *any* information will do, mind you.  I don't want to know what Tony said about Barb when Charlene walked out of the room.  Nor do I much care to learn anything about who may be sleeping with whom these days in Hollywood.  And I am positively allergic to rosters, standings, statistics, and anything else to do with sports.  I just don't care who has put a ball somewhere most often or the farthest or in the fastest time.  If ball placement ever *does* become essential to the survival of the species, I trust scientists will invent a much better and more efficient means to achieve the desired end than a 9 iron.  Until then, the executives at ESPN might want to start broadcasting static shots of dust mites or cookies if they want to attract my attention.  (NOTE: Broadcasting static shots of dust mites AND cookies is probably not the best way to go!)

All of which is mere prelude to what I really want to say - which is that I recently found a few tidbits of information that I've been DYING to share.

Those tidbits were gathered from the October 4 issue of Time magazine.  Specifically, from a story in that issue that (ironically enough) was related to sports!

You can read it for yourself here - or you can just keep reading this entry and trust that my brief description of that article will do it justice.

That brief description goes like this:  It seems that many sports figures are now wearing Power Balance Wristbands in the belief that it boosts their abilities even though the scientific claims being made for these items are utter bullshit.  As the article quotes psychology professor Stuart Vyse as saying, "A lot of these products are a sort of merchandized superstition."

So, ok - there *might* be some placebo effect going on here in that if you put a dab of peanut butter behind your ear before a tennis match in the sincere (albeit delusional) belief that it'll help you hit the ball better, you just might hit the ball better.  But that's a pretty lame reason to encourage others to put a dab of peanut butter behind their ears unless you happen to be the maker of Jif or Skippy.

The key passage of the article for me - the Grade AAA choicest tidbit of information that I shall be treasuring back in my den for a *very* long time - goes like this:

"Between 15% and 30% of any population or group will have what's known as high-range hypnotic susceptibility, which makes them inclined to look for outside answers, search for improvement assistance and be vulnerable to those giving them simple answers to what they're striving for," says Roland Carlstedt, a clinical researcher and the chairman of the American Board of Sport Psychology."


Yes Yes YES!! 

That perfectly explains the behavior I've observed in everything from group school projects to Intro to Philosophy classes to our national politics. 

15-30% of any human group are essentially sheep - creatures long on needs and short on critical thinking skills.  Those great needs and lack of skills sets them up for easy manipulation - by talk radio hosts, by religious leaders, and by all kinds of people who are basically selling their own peculiar version of wristbands with "a Mylar hologram designed to react with the body's natural energy flow." 

"High-range hypnotic susceptibility"!  Isn't it swell to finally have a NAME for this madness?


Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to find that card Time sent me yesterday that offered to extend my subscription for another 3 years for a mere $40.

After all, we chipmunk types always sleep better when we know where our next info-meal is coming from.  :-) 


  1. I thought it was just called being gullible.

  2. Heh! "Gullible" is too simple a term for a wordy person like me. :-)

  3. I like this. *bookmark*
    It's too bad OD is sucking so hard. I like reading YOUR thoughts like this. =-)

  4. I think, myself, that I got the crow gene. You know, as in collecting shiny, shiny things, that I squawk over.

    And I find it amusing to consider such statistics as are quoted, here. It seems oddly appropriate that the percentage of people with this trait conceivably dovetails with a similar percent who proclaim their social conservative values, and embrace fiscal policies at odd with their very own well-being...

  5. LOL for some reason I always just called it stupidity but to-may-to, to-mah-to I suppose. :P