Does Dislike of Curly Fries Make Me an Idiot?

Curly FriesAccording to The Young Turks (see the video below), a group of scientists looked at a large group of users’ Facebook behavior to determine what it said about them. This wasn’t just obvious stuff like who their friends were. They specifically looked at their “likes.” For example, suppose someone posted, “I just had a great burger at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.” If another person liked that comment, the scientists would assume that the person liked hamburgers. Or something.

The amazing thing is that they were able to say a whole lot about people based upon their likes: race, sex, sexual orientation. Also surprising: they were significantly better at determining race than sex. But another thing they calculated was whether the person had a high IQ. Being the intellectual snob that I am, I was very interested in this.

The three “likes” associated with high IQ were: thunderstorms, science, and… Curly fries? I can see science: it does tend to appeal to smart people. And I can kind of see thunderstorms for two reasons. First, I like storms of all kinds so it must be something smart people like. Second, thunderstorms are associated with bad omens and such—at least if you’re a fool. But curly fries bothers me.

To begin with, I don’t like curly fries. While my intellectual abilities have taken a beating these last couple of decades, I’m sure I’m in the upper half of Facebook users in terms of intelligence. Proof: I am not a Facebook user. QED. Another issue is that curly fries are not a good invention. They are more likely to be unevenly cooked. Consecutive rings are usually stuck together. Extra grease collects in the space between rings. But these are minor issues. Curly fries are very often seasoned! Who needs seasoning when you have potatoes cooked in oil?!

Anyway, if hating curly fries is dumb, I don’t wanna be smart.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Does Dislike of Curly Fries Make Me an Idiot?

  1. In a sense this is not new research. Political groups for years have been using information about your purchases to determine if you’re in their target demographic. (Remember, every nugget of information about you is for sale to someone, unless you pay for everything using a fake ID and doubloons. Supposedly if you buy this you are a Democrat and if you buy that you’re a Republican. (I remember one article on the studies mentioned they used beer/wine varieties. Pricey wine/cheap beer = GOP, cheap wine/pricey beer=Dem.)

    Anyhoo, I loved your snarky Facebook line. I don’t, personally, think Facebook appeals to dumb people (I skip it myself because I don’t want anyone I knew 25 years ago to contact me now.) I do think, however, it dumbs users down. Most obsessive hobbies do. Our minds need variety to flourish, like plants need a multitude of nutrients and micro-organisms. Some reading here, some social contact there, some harmless amusements, etc.

    How many people do we see who just casually check in to Facebook once daily? Very few. It (and Twitter, and God knows whatever other things are currently faddish) tend to monopolize users’ free moments. And that deprives the brain of other stimulants it needs to thrive.

    Myself, currently I’m locked in a life-or-death battle with my landlord. No need to express sordid details, almost everyone’s had the experience (and some have it far worse.) Because I can hardly think of anything else, or focus on anything else, I can feel it turning my mind into mush. (This, to me, is one of the great sins of vast inequality; when people have to spend too much time fighting landlords and sleazy corporations, it demoralizes and deranges them. That’s not just their loss but society’s as a whole.)

    So much of our modern world is comprised of pastimes like this. Social media, YouTube cat videos, online gaming, etc. None of these are inherently evil things, and used in moderation can be enjoyable. They are just so perfected in how they activate stim centers in our brains that they tend to make other pastimes seem dull by comparison.

    Nor can I judge, because I’m as vulnerable to obsessions and addictions as anyone else (just not Facebook, thank the Maker.) I’m also gotten a lot out of some Internet interactions (I particularly liked some college courses, where one could debate with those who disagree yet the Almighty Grade-Giver lurks to chastise anyone that gets rude or mean.)

    I do miss actual e-mails, though — not to mention letters. Phone calls, eh . . . I was quite skilled at the six-hour phone talk but it’s probably a skill I’m better off having allowed to atrophy.

    And curly fries do suck. Fresh-cut wedge fries, with the skin still on — that’s another story, dude.

  2. @JMF – "I don’t want anyone I knew 25 years ago to contact me now." That is the biggest reason I don’t want to be on Facebook. In my experience, people I knew a long time ago are exactly the same today. I really don’t need that.

    There is another aspect of this, however, that speaks to your broader point. I think we have a friendship crisis in our culture. I don’t mind having relationships with people, but I’m not keen on the whole, "What are you up to, I’ll talk to you in a couple of years." Friendship doesn’t mean you talk to someone every day or week or month. But it does mean there is a connection beyond a vague notion of "Whatever happened to that guy?" And in my case, a simple Google search will give you all the gory details about my life.

    I really want to know what cheap wine is. I know that I buy expensive beer. Actually, I just discovered Lagunitas Brewing "A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale," which is exceptional. I tend to buy $10 bottles of wine. Most of my friends think this is expensive. Most of the people I talk to about wine think this is very cheap. But then, I’m only a Democrat because I think it is a cop out to not align with one of the major parties. I am so tired of really conservative people telling me that they are independents. Yeah, independents who always vote Republican. Give me a break!

    As for fries: I like those. However, many cooks cut the wedges too think and they don’t cook correctly. I’m actually more of a beer batter onion ring guy myself. Or potato pancakes:

    http://franklycurious.com/index.php?itemid=921

    I hope you work things out with your landlord. Of course, buying a place would get rid of that problem. Unfortunately (as I know only too well), if you get a condo, the association can be much worse than any landlord.

  3. Thanks for the positive comments about my landlord situation (and tolerance of my rantitude, as always.) The thing is, even if I manage to escape, the asshole will still be here, still screwing over everyone who didn’t escape. This is a crime. Actually, it’s not. It sure as hell should be. There should be posters inside the front door of every apartment building explaining tenant rights, giving a number to call for anyone whose rights have been violated, and any landlord who fails to display those posters prominently should be subject to immediate fines.

    I’m going to bring this into the general discussion about inequality (you mentioned working on a book about that subject, and I would like to see one published — we’ve had economists write good ones, but not skilled essayists, except for Hedges/Sacco’s "Days Of Destruction," which was almost too horrible to bear.)

    My current landlord is my old landlord’s son. The father was an absentee landlord, no saint, but if you contacted him about a problem he would respond. He didn’t like responding, yet he respected tenants who paid their rent; that’s how he made his money, after all.

    Once the son took over, things went to hell. The father regarded your history of paying rent as a reason to acknowledge your complaints. To the son, the longer you’ve been in the building, the more proof you’re an inferior and deserve to be mistreated.

    The dad made a business out of interactions with customers (a sleazy business, to be sure.) The son inherited free income and regards anyone who isn’t as privileged to be dross.

    This is what inequality does. It shuts people away from one another. I’m no fan of living on a happy bad-episode-of-"Star Trek" planet where everyone gathers together for communal tambourine-waving; (one of the many reasons I love the library is its central axiom; we’re all here to share stuff, but be the fuck quiet.) I’m as individualistic as anyone. Yet if you are completely disconnected from others, you can’t see how your actions affect them. (Or you can see, but the mental mindset you’ve adopted blinds you.) And this is sheer madness. It’s an instruction manual for chaos. People who want to live in isolated, heavily guarded Green Zones while everyone else slaves away to serve them are damaged and disturbed. They can’t be regarded as rational.

    A wicked historical irony is that the US did not save the world from Nazism; the Russians did. (They lost 100 times more lives than us; they lost 20+ mil, we lost 200+ thou.) What the US saved was Western Europe from the Russians. The countries we controlled after WWII had great worker protections and cost controls and health care, which most of them still do today (we allowed those programs to keep Europe from going Communist.) Now, the former Communist countries have been ravaged by "free-market" rapacity, usually at our behest, while the countries we occupied during WWII still have semblances of a social contract (why their living standards are better, and their companies more competitive than ours.)

    Since I was very, very young, I’ve loathed unbridled capitalism as a moral force. (Capitalism is like a big, powerful plow animal; guided, it can be useful, unfettered, it just goes mad and tears up shit.) Only in the last few years have I begun to realize that what I hate morally is also incredibly stupid from a sheer, pragmatic perspective. There are about 50 writers I can thank for cluing me into this. You are one of them, sirrah.

  4. @JMF – I’m afraid your new landlord is a good example of entitlement. Dad at least understood his place in the system. Kid thinks the system is just there to provide him with money.

    What I’ve noticed with small landlords and small businesses, is that they don’t understand the law. They tend to think they can do anything at all. It is unfortunate, but someone needs to take it to them so they learn. If you do it, you are doing a kindness for the society. But don’t let it destroy you.

    That’s an excellent analogy about the plow animal!

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