Monday, March 12, 2007

Stupid Beliefs

I think most people hold some assortment of beliefs that if they were to speak aloud, most people would think them a complete imbecile at best. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how some people can hold onto completely bizarre notions as if it were some sort of religious faith. I'm not talking here about people who complain about the weather man always being wrong because they are in their fifties and still don't have down the basic concepts of how meteorology works. I'm talking about people who own companies and think that the production process used to create one inch of Velcro involves the ritual slaughter of eight hundred and thirty seahorses.

It also seems that the level of profound stupidity of the belief and the adherence to which it is held is inversely proportional to the education and income background of the person who holds the belief. For instance, if the person has a master's degree from college and makes upwards of eighty thousand a year, they might believe that until 1742, yellow was not a color, but a shape, and the determination to which this belief is held has taken less to start major world religions.

Here are some inexplicably bizarre beliefs held by some people I've talked to who make more money than I do that have just left me confounded that anybody could be an adult and actually think this way. Since here I actually am writing about people I know, I'm going to include the following disclaimer: I'm not writing about you, specifically. If you do happen to hold this belief, don't think I'm ridiculing you. I'm ridiculing someone else who happens to also hold this belief.
— More winning Lottery tickets are sold in Chicago, so if you buy your ticket in Chicago, you have a much better chance of winning.
No, there are more Lotto winners in Chicago because there are more people in Chicago. It's simple per capita statistics. There are more people in Chicago than there are in the rest of the fucking state of Illinois. Of course more people are going to win in Chicago because more tickets are sold in Chicago. If more than half of the tickets in the state are sold in one city, there is a far better chance that a winning ticket is going to be sold in that city. There's no magical number dispenser in Chicago, nor is Chicago more blessed than the rest of the state. There's just more people playing in Chicago, and therefore it's more likely that someone is going to win in Chicago. You have no better chance of winning if you buy a ticket in Chicago than if you buy it anywhere else in the state. That's why the numbers are picked randomly using ping-pong balls in an air machine.
— Fluorescent lights create dust.
I actually had a supervisor tell us once that the dust was caused by all the fluorescent lighting. Dust is caused by dirt from the earth, lint, and primarily people's dead skin cells. It gets sucked up and recirculated through the building's ventilation system. It has almost nothing to do with fluorescent lighting except that the lights help you see the dust.
— You cannot program a computer to do anything you need it to do.
One time I said, "It's a computer; as long as you know what you're doing, you can program it to do anything you want." The person I said it to looked at me and said flatly, "No, you can't," as if I didn't know what I was talking about. This person had a bachelor's degree in computer science. I was too shocked by the ignorance to even dignify it with a response. Try telling the special effects designers at Industrial Lights and Magic that you can't program a computer to do anything you want. Try telling the fine folks at Microsoft or NASA that you can't program a computer to do anything you want. They'd laugh that computer science degree right off your wall. There are computers that can beat grandmasters at chess, I was talking about one simple override command. It'd probably take nothing more than switching a zero with a one somewhere in the software. It's been a long time since Windows 3.1, but I could probably do it if given the source code. I guess it comes down to not whether it can be done, but whether you want to invest the time and/or money in having it done, in which case, I suppose it won't be done, but not because it can't.

np: Scorpions - "Yellow Butterfly"


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