Dr. Harriet Hall on the rise of the anti-scientific left

Guest post by Dr. Harriet Hall, Science-Based Medicine

In their book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell point out how even political progressives can hold opinions that are not based on physical reality, claiming that their beliefs are based on science – even when they are notContinue reading

Digital temptations: “Quantifying, tracking or gamifying everything”

There’s a pervasive haze of “If you build it, they will come!” in tech circles these days. Technology, as Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improving life – but only if we keep “solutionismin check.

The author of To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism describes the ideology of solutionism as being essential to helping Silicon Valley maintain its image. For example:  Continue reading

My farewell letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Emeritus Benedict/Your Holiness,

I’d like to wish you an uneventful retirement, even though you and I both know, let’s face it, that you’re swiftly approaching your own Best Before date.  Soon, you’ll be shuffling off to go meet Jesus in person, likely a comforting prospect for a frail almost-86-year old cleric.

Meanwhile, you may wonder why you haven’t heard from me sooner, way back when you first donned your white zuchetto skullcap.   Continue reading

The three elements that can change behavior

The last vestige of childhood tradition for many of us recovering Catholics is deciding what to give up for Lent. This year, I decided to give up sugar. Usually I prefer to give up liver or Brussels sprouts, which I find ever-so-easy to deny myself compared to sweet treats, while admittedly less likely to fit the Lenten goal of character-boosting deprivation.  As a heart attack survivor, I’m not even really a big eater of sweets, ironically.

But lately, ever since I made this stupid Lenten resolution, all I dream about morning, noon and night are butter tarts, cinnamon buns and that divine Espresso Chunk chocolate from Denman Island. Continue reading

Public humiliation as self-tracking motivation

I use a low-tech/high-sparkle method for motivating myself to exercise every day. It’s a small calendar hanging inside the bathroom cabinet door on which I post shiny kids’ stickers (the sparklier, the better) on each date that has included at least one hour of exercise.

I find that this self-tracking method is highly effective, particularly since I discovered individual little stickers with peel-off backings, not just the easy-peasey kind you lift off from a whole sheet of stickers. In the direct mail marketing business, my stickers would be called involvement devices (like tokens, peel-offs, stamps and tear-offs) that require a time commitment from potential customers. Marketers know that the more time we spend peeling, tearing or inserting these involvement devices, the more likely we’ll actually be to follow through to subscribe to their magazines or enter their sweepstakes contests.

But I digress. I love seeing an entire calendar page crammed with those shiny sparkles! Rewarding myself with a little sticker for my efforts is positive reinforcement.

Consider, however, these three self-tracking technology helpers that are designed to alter your behaviour not through rewarding you for your efforts, but through shame, humiliation and embarrassment when you screw up: Continue reading

Top 10 Nags of 2012 from The Ethical Nag

2012 blue

Yes, darling readers, it is indeed that time once again when all navel-gazing pundits whip up their Top 10 or Best Of lists for the year that is quickly passing. Let’s do that too here on The Nag.

But first, I want to say Happy New Year to all my readers, and especially to those of you:

  • who choose to share what you like here with friends, family or perfect strangers
  • who take the time to leave your astute, challenging or sometimes downright funny comments here – I love reading your feedback!
  • who follow The Nag via RSS feed, Twitter, or email subscriptions (you too can do this just by clicking the appropriate Follow The Nag buttons on the right sidebar of the homepage). I sincerely appreciate your company here.

Now here’s that Top 10 List of the most widely read Nags for 2012: Continue reading