Archive for July, 2018

Food scientists know how to make addictive foods, web scientists know how to make addictive web sites

July 28, 2018

I remember years ago hearing about how food scientists have figured out the right combination of sugar, fat, and salt such that it affects the brain in a way that you can’t stop eating the food. The food is a drug and you become an addict.

For a long time, I frequented the web site XXXXXXX. Throughout each day I would break away from what I was working on to see what was happening on XXXXXXX. I spent a significant amount of time each day on XXXXXXX. Then one day I decided that I didn’t want to spend my life’s precious hours viewing XXXXXXX, so I stopped cold turkey. Every day for months after my mind kept telling me “Go see what’s happening on XXXXXXX”. It was only after 3 or 4 months that the insistent pull to that web site subsided. Literally, the web site was a drug for me and I was addicted, and it took hard work to stop the addiction. As I now think about it, I can see why it was addicting: the web site is filled with bright, colorful pictures, and tantalizing, teasing salacious stories. Just as cooking scientists have figured out how to create addictive foods, so too web scientists have figured out how to create addictive web sites. Recently I decided to stop visiting another site, XXXXXXX. I am going through the same withdrawal symptoms as I went through with XXXXXXX.

Note: I redacted my blog. No point identifying specific web sites.

“I don’t know” is a good response

July 22, 2018

I ran into an old friend recently. He does research at Harvard University. A very bright fellow. I observed during our conversation that he responded, “I don’t know” to many of my questions. Since then I’ve reflected on that conversation and realized the wisdom of his response. I think about the things that I know with absolute certainty; it is a short list. Anything that I say outside this list is pure speculation. Sadly, I often speak with an air of confidence and certainty, when consciously or unconsciously I know that I really don’t “know” and am just making things up. I’ve decided that the mark of a wise person is one who is willing to say, “I don’t know.” I am going to say, “I don’t know” a lot more often from now on.