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Notes Towards Day 8

Notes Towards Day 8 of Food for Thought

I. coursekeeping
(papers due @ 5 tomorrow)
reading for next Tuesday:
first part (75 pp.) of
The Paradox of Choice,
by Swat pysch prof Barry Schwartz;
popular version of the scientific dilemma we've been chasing this week--
Schwartz generalizes the problem

II. (nonsensical-to-me) observation
from one of y'day's conferences:
"I don't know how I'm doing..."
(reminiscent of the joke re:
two object-relations psychologists, making love:
"How was it for me?")
"we are relationship-seeking..."

III. closely related to our topic for today: what is health?
(and who decides? is the definition individual? biological? cultural?)

[OE. h{aeacu}l{th}= OHG. heilida, -itha, -idha:

{em}WGer. type *haili{th}a, f. hail-s WHOLE, HALE: see -TH1.]

1. a. Soundness of body; that condition in which its functions are duly and efficiently discharged.

From our postings:
emily: being healthy means feeling physically and mentally good to the extent of being takes having a good mindset to feel physically good....I think health is a personal is up to the individual to do what is best for...her self in order to feel good...

ihe: health is achieving a need to know your body's limits and attending to its needs. Health is in a way self defined...Who are experts to tell you...?..If i feel good..i am in my opinion healthy.

mcchen: to be well, we need to be able to function...having a peaceful state of mind and a positive is more of an individual preference...being able to balance all aspects of your life....monitoring each aspect...making sure that everything we do is in moderation

the first thing that comes to mind is the medical view....However...the most important part is mental health...a psychological ability to cope....I see health as subjective/individual. Only you can know where you are feeling your best

aybala50: The question of health goes back to the broader question of "What makes us happy?" The answer...will differ according to the person who answers it...

swhitt: good health can be measured by functionality...[but] it is interesting to consider a life-threatening disease existing without making itself your life is under attack, are you?...Perhaps the definition of "health" is as individual and relative as the defintion of "normal."

lwscott: Health is a condition of overall to meet the ordinary demands of everyday life...properly functioning...all encompassing. You can fit and thin and still be depressed.

Yellow: Health is subjective....correlated to mental state of mind....This leads to questions about the power of "yes"....every person has the power to stay healthy by taking care of themselves and not worrying about one's health every second. I guess I'm in Hadler's boat.

stephkim: is relative to each comes down to someone determining health for themselves. If they consider themselves happy with what and how they are, they're healthy....No one can be 100% is almost impossible to satisfy health in all parts of your body.

lraphael: Health to every person is their ideal self....We want to be perfect....We always fall short in one aspect at least....There are so many varying factors...let alone keep them all to their supreme standards.

cjewett: I would define health as mostly emotional and mental. I believe that "being well" is a state of is up to my mental health to bring me back to "being well"...being well is different for every person.

Paul Grobstein: Interesting question/intersection. See "Mental Health?"

Malli, Sara, Illana?

III. What does Lisa Belkin add to our discussion,
on Tuesday, about skeptical science? to our discussion, today,
about what it means to be healthy?

coincidence: unexpected connections that are riveting and rattling
religious faith that nothing is coincidental; vs.
science: an exercise in eliminating the taint of coincidence
police work a parry between coincidence and compicity

pure happenstance: surprising concurrence, w/ no apparent connection,
perceived as meaningfully related
discomforted by idea of random universe:
noticing coincidence elevates it/transcends definition as pure chance

coincidence feels like a loss of control; finding a reason/pattern makes it less frightening
conspiracy more comforting than something "just happening" (Ahab in Moby-Dick!)
most stunning patterns not even there:
what look like miracles could have been predicted by statistics
odds are very good even in unbelievable situations
law of large #s: with a large enough denominator/big wide world, stuff will happen
too taken w/t superfluous facts, findings with no beaing on statistics of coincidence

real yardstick: how surprised should we be?
something striking happens only incidentally to us
chance of anything is fairly high: world is quite small
amazed by overlap, we conveniently ignore countless things not in common
because conceivable, might not happen; because never happened, might

as species: biologically programmed to see patterns/conspiracies:
tendency increased when we sense danger: hard-wired to over-react
pattern-seeking animals: biology conspires to make coincidences more meaningful:
respond to anomalies as if they were real

finding connections is the way we make sense of the world:
coincidences derive rich knowledge from limited situations
urge to weave things together fundamentally rational or irrational?
minitrend of viewing coincidence as fate/signposts

laws of big and small #s:
world so large anything can happen, so small wierd things do
field of coincidence theory: "debugging humn intuition"
we notice only winning streaks:
stupid to be surprised/power of personal involvement
the more personal the event, more meaning we give it/add significance
coincidence as Rorschach test: look to find what we already believe
give it meaning because it means something to us
conspiracy theory speaks to child in us all

Web has changed scale of things:
technical ability to gather random noise, find chance patterns
random clumping looks significant
conspiracy theorists frustrated novelists: making up stories out of random facts

IV. bottom line?
use the web to enlarge your paper, but...
be skeptical of what you find!