Statistics have always been used to obscure the truth. There’s the famous quote by British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, and popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Sadly, nothing has changed. In fact, it’s gotten worse.
The problem is that statistics isn’t a popular subject, and many people happily avoid taking any classes that cover the topic. (It was affectionately known as “Sadistics” when I was in college.) We’re easily led astray by official-sounding numbers, especially if the conclusion is one we already agree with. While we (thankfully) don’t need to worry about Chebychev’s Rules, Probability Distribution Functions, or Stem and Leaf Diagrams, we should know how statistics work, and how they can be used to fool us. There are numerous ways in which statistics can be misleading. I ran into one of them while reading the news this week.
If it’s natural, it must be safe! Right? Not exactly. There’s a common misconception that chemical compounds made in a laboratory are always dangerous, while those assembled by Mother Nature are inherently safe. It would be nice if this were always the case, but it just isn’t so. It’s obvious, if we stop to consider that arsenic and cobra venom, seriously dangerous substances, are both quite natural.
Essential oils are also natural. But, being the skeptic that I am, after hearing from a number of people that essential oils will cure pretty much anything, I started asking two questions: are they effective—do they do what they claim to do—and, more importantly, are they safe? Continue reading
Girl eggplants? Boy eggplants? Peppers with three lobes—or four? Does one taste better than the other? Is one for cooking and the other for eating raw? And what does all this have to do with plant sex?
As I’ve been perusing Pinterest and adding things to my “Bad Advice” board, I discovered a bunch of discussion about “male” vs. “female” eggplants and peppers. We’re talking about the fruit—the eggplants or peppers that we eat—not the individual plants on which the veggies grew. I hate to burst their bubble, but eggplants and peppers don’t have gender. (Actually, the plants are’t male or female, either.)
I just read a recipe (for keto “bread”) that calls for one teaspoon of Celtic sea salt. I admit, although I thoroughly enjoy cooking, and read a lot of articles and recipes, I had not heard of Celtic sea salt. Is it different from normal sea salt? Does being Celtic make it somehow superior? And how does sea salt compare to “normal” table salt?
What do you have on your computer? Finances? Emails, addresses, and other contact information? Precious photos? I’d include recipes, articles I’ve written, all the records from my small photography business, and the books I’m editing for my paying job.
Can you afford to lose any or all of those file? I didn’t think so. I know I’d be in big trouble if I lost all our financial records, and I’d be heartbroken to lose all the photos I’ve taken, especially of our granddaughters.
There’s a simple solution, but for some reason, it’s one that’s often ignored, or put off until later.
Do your backups!
Sometimes I astonish myself. You wouldn’t believe how neat and orderly my pantry is. How clean and well-stocked. All the canned fruit is on one end of a shelf, all the canned beans and olives on the other. Cereal boxes are lined up with spares behind. The canisters holding flour and sugar are full, and free of dust and fingerprints. The floor gleams, with nary a crumb or broken chip in sight.
It’s all the more impressive because 1) I have a lot of editing to do today, and 2) we have around 30 people coming for a BBQ tomorrow night. The sensible, responsible thing to do would have been either 1) to sit down at my computer and start rearranging words and rewording sentences, or 2) to clean the bathroom, then run the vacuum around the living room.