It must be true confessions week. I’ve already confessed to my ineptitude with paperwork, and now I must admit that the DNA scarf, while coming out very nicely in general, has a distinct flaw. At the bottom, it sort of … frills.
So I googled the scarf and looked at lots of people’s pictures of theirs. I notice that most of them do not show the bottom edge. Here is one that does, and sure enough, it … frills. http://jofrog16.motime.com/archive/2003-11
Natalie’s does not. http://knitting.xaviermusketeer.com/.
I am obviously not going to frog it — if nothing else, I have now started this scarf several times, and it has frilled every time. I had hoped it would settle down when it got longer, but it is now about halfway finished and still has that bit of a wave in it. It may be the nature of the beast. It may block to perfection. We shall see.
In order to distract myself from the distressing frilliness of DNA, I turned to politics and cognitive psychology. Here is an intriguing claim from ParaPundit (http://parapundit.com/ ):
“Brooks argues that humanities majors in college start to develop resentment toward majors in economics, accounting, engineering, and other “hard subject” majors. This resentment then causes the resenters to join a political party that is opposed to whatever these “hard subject” types favor. Perhaps resentment plays some role in this split. But a more likely explanation is that people who can apply mathematical techniques to what they learn process data about the world differently than those who are limited to verbal reasoning. Hence mathematically skilled people tend to come to conclusions that the verbally oriented people are not even going to understand, let alone agree with.”
In fact, it is an intriguing set of claims. The one that first made me open my eyes a bit wider was that humanities majors resent “hard subject” majors. As I recall, the main thing about “hard subject” majors was that we didn’t date them. It was widely believed at my alma mater that the entire student body of Revelle college didn’t get a date for their whole four years, or eight, or whatever, while the philosophy majors had trouble making it to class in between liasons. Any resentment was going in the other direction. Perhaps things have changed.
The second is that humanities majors aren’t skilled at math. Excuse me, but mathematics is one of the humanities. And many of the humanities use mathematical techniques to process data. I’m saying “many” because I don’t know for sure about philosophy majors, but I think all the rest do, including music majors and the occasional lit major.
Then the one that really got me was that “those who are limited to verbal reasoning” can’t follow the higher and more complex thought processes of the number crunchers. “Limited to verbal reasoning”? The implication here is that accountants are floating above the mere verbal reasoning that suffices for ordinary folk like Descartes, Shakespeare, and Swift, in an ethereal realm in which reasoning takes place in pure numbers.
This, to put the claim back into its original context, is why ParaPundit thinks they tend to be Republicans. I think the real reason that accountants and engineers are more likely to be Republicans than poets and librarians are, is that they make more money, so they benefit from Republican policies. This is not just nature’s way of making up to them for their pitiful undergraduate social lives. It is because at some point they decided to go make a lot of money so they could come back and laugh in the faces of the starving artists and anthropologists.
But this could explain something that has mystified me. I have often wondered why seemingly intelligent Republicans are not bothered by their candidate’s lack of intellectual prowess. It would be rude to ask them directly, so I don’t, but I have speculated about it with others, and my favorite suggestion so far is that they think it is a ruse to deceive terrorists. The more likely, though less appealing, theory is that a guy who isn’t very bright seems more honest and likeable –when he says things that are not true, they do not count as lies because it is just like when he said that he thought it was time for human beings to get out into the solar system — just another endearing little verbal slip.
Now ParaPundit offers us a better theory: as a Republican, Bush processes data differently from those of us who rely on verbal reasoning. No wonder we don’t understand him!