Well, What Now? 10/20/2014

3 min read

The Three-Breasted Woman and Other Wonders.

Side_Show_gorilla_poster,_Florida,_1960sLadies and gentlemen! Step right along to this week’s “Well, What Now?” and witness a cavalcade of novelties, the like of which shall not pass this way again for a fly’s age! You’ll encounter frightening findings, videos both cool and cute, and the largest collection of counter-intuitive conundrums this side of the Valparaiso Moraine!

You can’t make this stuff up? Actually, you can. And sometimes the made-up stuff is so much more attractive than the truth that it’s hard to get anyone to care about the difference. Case in point: recent stories about a three-breasted woman (which started in The New York Post) were shared three times as often as the stories exposing the whole thing as a fake. This is according to new software called Emergent which tracks suspect stories and subsequent corrections online. The creators are hoping that studying the data will help design new methods of making the truth as much fun as the BS.

Did someone actually make an entire movie about a drum machine? We would’ve been tempted to say this was more hokum. But that was before we saw this trailer for a new documentary about the Roland 808. All kidding aside, we’re fairly convinced it’s for real. Now we’re wondering how long we’ll have to wait to see it.

A roomy roadway standard that would seem to make for safer streets is instead making them much more dangerous. City planner Jeff Speck writes for Citylab about how taking two feet away from the lane width of city streets could greatly reduce traffic deaths. Why? Because of the fundamental error that “underlies the practice of traffic engineering—and many other disciplines—an outright refusal to acknowledge that human behavior is impacted by its environment.”

Clinics at stores like CVS and Walmart are becoming increasingly popular due to their up-front pricing and walk-in convenience, but there are hidden downsides. Such facilities may tend to overemphasize acute care and overprescribe antibiotics. They may ultimately make it harder for hospitals to keep their costs down and stay in business. But why should cheaper, more convenient health care be a bad thing? Isn’t that what we’ve been saying we want for decades?

The hard truth getting you down? Good news! Optimism, too, may be overrated, or at least misunderstood. While it’s certainly a component of goal formation and achievement, when it comes to getting things done, we may respond better to the stick than to the carrot. Or so says Dr. Gabriele Oettigen, a New York University psychology professor. A positive attitude is great and all, but when it comes to follow-through, the fear of failure is apparently hard to beat.

Cookies_-_SnickerdoodlesGiven the recent concerns over online privacy, which we discussed in this very space just last month, you might expect people to be increasingly shy about giving out their personal information. A recent art project in Brooklyn, however, suggests that our comfort level may be slower to adjust: at a table at the Dumbo Arts Festival, artist Risa Puno gave away cookies in exchange for bits of personal information such as a driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, or even fingerprints. Why would anyone make such a bargain? The cookies reportedly looked delicious.

Speaking of things that look delicious, check out this video from The New York Times Magazine to see what happens when a sextet of second-graders is treated to a seven-course tasting meal at the French restaurant Daniel in Manhattan. It’s a good reminder that when it comes to presenting (and experiencing) new experiences, a spirit of openness and delight goes a long way.


Side show gorilla poster photo by Father of JGKlein (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASide_Show_gorilla_poster%2C_Florida%2C_1960s.JPG) via Wikimedia Commons.

Snickerdoodles photo by Heather from Seattle (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACookies_-_Snickerdoodles.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons.