Why science news gets boring when you read past the headline

While we may tell ourselves that we follow the news to stay informed, 95% of the time, we follow the news to be entertained by true events. This fact makes reporting on science hard. Entertainment is hard to achieve without surprise because so many of our emotions are based in surprise.

A well done experiment very rarely has surprising results. It has to have a testable hypothesis that can be proven incorrect. Something like “if two objects with different masses are dropped from a high building then the heavier of the two will hit the ground first” is a good hypothesis… It’s not correct, but it’s good. It’s testable and you could prove it wrong by experimentation. Even if someone thought that our hypothesis was correct, would they be surprised enough to elicit an emotional response? Probably not. The ramifications of this truth are minimal on this person’s life; how often does the average person drop two objects without air resistance and need to know which will hit the ground first? A good experiment will have ramifications only on a narrow field because the tested hypothesis should be very specific for the most accurate results.

When I go to https://www.iflscience.com/, I’m bombarded by clickbait and speculation because the moderators of this website know that the process of science is inherently boring to most people. To keep ad revenue up, IFLScience needs to get your attention.

Some science is entertaining; there are some truly interesting and surprising things happening in the world. Just be wary of headlines that try to make speculation, theories, and bad science sound like facts.

Maybe your kid won’t take out the trash because they know a little game theory

It makes complete sense to not want to take out the trash. On a basic level, it’s illogical to take out the trash as long as there is someone else who is able to do it.

Let’s start by assuming, for simplicity, that your “reward” is the amount of energy you have left after taking out the trash. Let’s also assume that both you and your kid start with one energy unit and taking out the trash requires one energy unit.

If there are no other factors, the decision matrix looks like this:

As you can see from my crudely drawn table, if they take out the trash, they get a half reward or no reward depending on what you do. However, if they do not take out the trash, they will end up with one reward no matter what you do. Therefore, the most logical thing for your kid to do in this situation is to not take out the garbage until you give in.

This table does not account for grounding and other such repercussions for not taking out the trash; maybe in a later post.

My Personal Social Media Guidelines

Ranked from high effort to low effort

Video – lots of research and fact checking. Used for topics that would benefit from visual aids, animation, and/or voice inflections
Whitepaper – lots of research and fact checking. Used for serious topics that require minimal visual aids.
Vlog – low research. Used for telling stories about entire events or periods of time that have to do with your life.
Blog – low to medium research. Used for updates to products and exploring ideas and topics that are likely just a fancy, but you need to research because it’s the only thing you can think about.
Worrying Bugs Topic – low to medium research. Used for topics that require discussion to be interesting.
Main Instagram – low research. Used for well taken pictures that do not reveal too much about your personal life.
Twitter – low research. Used for random thoughts and minimal discussion.
Main Instagram story – low research. Used for fair pictures that do not reveal too much about personal life.
Private Instagram – low research. Used for fair to good pictures that contain sensitive information.
Private Instagram story – useless; might as well make it permanent.

I should make a flow chart.

Scared of Crypto

I’m working on a project that involves a lot of cryptography. It’s nothing too complicated and there are several libraries that I can import to do most of the hard stuff, but there’s a lot of code and I don’t believe that I’m expert enough to confidently say that I’ve done everything exactly correct. I may end up asking professionals to verify that I’ve done everything correctly.

In other words, this project is getting halted until I can make enough money to hire someone to audit it.

Counting the Days Until Zak Returns from Sweden

From what Zak has told me, Sweden is a lovely country, but Zak needs to leave now. It is infuriating to schedule a recording for Worrying Bugs; we are awake simultaneously for six hours per day on most days and a recording takes three of them. We used to be able to have an episode ready to be released by the day after recording, but lately we’ve gotten a little too close to our Wednesday morning deadline. It’s usually not a big deal, but it is very frustrating when I send Zak a message on Slack 30 seconds after his Do-Not-Disturb turns on and suddenly work on the episode has to come to a halt.

I understand that there is an element of “why doesn’t the world bend to my will? I’m trying to make linguistic/auditory art,” but I’m sitting here and writing a blog post when I could be creating a cryptographic signature for an MP3 file, which I can shamelessly say is one of my favorite activities. I can’t create a signature for this episode because Zak is asleep and can’t tell me which instance of him “stumbling over himself” he wants me to cut.

So Sweden, you will have my gratitude (and the gratitude of the entire Worrying Bugs audience) if you deport Zak Sharp from your delightful country immediately.