>> Thursday, January 27, 2011

(I assume everybody knows how to play Mad Libs™?)

New research says: [YES/NO/MAYBE]

There are a lot of ways human beings have [COMMON ACTIVITY] over the ages, even from the earliest days when humans were little more than [ANIMAL, plural].

But modern technology has brought many changes, and things that may have seemed ordinary or rare long ago are now commonplace and occur on a daily basis. Indeed, technology has advanced much more rapidly than we have, and humans today must [VERB] in ways our ancient ancestors couldn't possibly have [VERB, past tense].

And so [PROFESSIONAL, plural] working at the University of [PLACE] were curious to learn whether there might be any unanticipated effects. And they were shocked and discouraged to discover that the rapidity with which we [VERB] is indeed having unanticipated effects on our [NOUN, plural].

Investigators began by taking a [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN] and placing it inside a [TYPE OF CONTAINER] with a [NOUN] and [NUMBER] [NOUN, plural]. They were curious as to what, if anything, might happen. Within [UNIT OF TIME, plural], their observations bore [SOMETHING YOU EAT]: the test subject became very [BAD THING] and eventually [VERB, past tense].

But the researchers weren't sure if this initial experiment was a mere fluke, a statistical [NOUN], or just the tip of the [NOUN]. They proceeded, then, to perform the same experiment upon [NOUN, plural], [TYPE OF ANIMAL, plural] and a variety of [GROUP OF PEOPLE] volunteers, and in every instance they observed the same results until they ran out of [NOUN, plural] and the experimental sequence was terminated.

The conclusion, however, was distressing: the experimental situation, although unique and unusual and in fact nonexistent outside a controlled laboratory setting, was directly analogous to [COMMON MODERN ACTIVITY].

Skeptics will point out, of course, that there are obvious differences between the two, but we shouldn't be so [ADJECTIVE] as to [VERB] the results. There are differences, to be sure, but there are also notable similarities, such as the fact that both situations involve [NOUN, plural]. There are also the similar ways in which those in the real world and those in the laboratory setting choose to [VERB] most of the time, not including the occasions they don't.

Researchers have a number of explanations for why we respond in the way we do to these situations. One theory, popular with evolutionary psychologists, is that we learned to [VERB] when we were primitive hominids, unless we didn't (since hominids who learned to [VERB] instead clearly would have a reproductive advantage except in certain situations in which their behavior was disadvantageous). Another possibility is that our cells contain [NOUN, plural] which function in much the same way a [NOUN] does at a [SPORTING EVENT]. Some researchers also offer an analogy based on the movie, [MOVIE], comparing our biochemical response to the main character's memorable habit of [VERB, progressive] whenever he sees a [NOUN].

However, the jury is still out. [PROFESSION, plural] at [PLACE] College, [COUNTRY], have attempted to replicate the earlier results with ambiguous results. And some critics have noted that the population sizes used in the original sample are far too [ADJECTIVE, size] to generalize from.

So, should you take the next logical step, and completely ban [NOUN, plural] from your home and smother your children with a [NOUN] if you catch them [VERB, progressive] the [NOUN]?

The answer is [YES/NO/MAYBE]. The truth is that it is far too early to tell, and causing you to panic seemed like a good idea when I started this blog post, but now that I see the reflections of burning houses in the streets, hear the distant sirens and the sounds of the terrified mob [VERB, progressive] in the streets, destroying every sad [NOUN] they come across, I'm having second thoughts. On the other hand, while I don't strictly have a deadline nor do I get paid for this rubbish, it is fun to pretend that I have to hand it in to a senior editor who will quickly skim it and hand it back with a suggestion that it needs more [NOUN, plural].


Nathan Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:47:00 AM EST  

I have an entire gasbag of a response, but I can't figure out how to type superscripts to refer you to my nonexistent citations in the footnotes.

Damn you Mr. Van Newkirk.

(But, yeah...what Rachael said.)

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