We have been living in strange times. Most of us have never experienced a pandemic like this before. So, for us, this feels like a horror movie became a reality. Not knowing when this is all going to end, how far it will go, and how this is going to affect our business, our family, and our health is a huge psychological strain on all of us. For the past 16 days my boyfriend and I have been self-quarantining ourselves. We are one of the lucky ones that has the opportunity to work from home. At least for now… We are also facing the chance of losing our jobs if this affects our customer numbers terribly which is not unlikely at this point. Yet, we still keep our heads high up and try to stay positive! I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learned during this pandemic mania. Of course, we are still all learning. This, for sure, has been one hell of an experience for all of us.
Nature revives as humans retreat. In addition to decrease in air pollution and having clearer skies now, there is also another thing took affect: Our office space in our apartment has two wide windows. I sit just next to one of them and I hear all the time the neighborhood kids playing, the rain falling, UPS car driving by with loud music, etc. After a week or so of the quarantine in Massachusetts, I started to hear something else by my window: the nature. The birds and the bugs that I have never heard before were all over the place like an orchestra! They were all singing as if they were celebrating the absence of humans, saying, “Finally! we can share this space too.” The photos of monkeys invading the streets in Thailand, deer walking around in Japan, peacocks exploring streets of Madrid show what life would look like in human deprived cities.
2. The times of crisis are the most important times that we need leadership. Yes, we have control over our lives, and our daily actions. But we don’t have control over others’. In cases like this, when others’ actions also affect us and our loved ones’ health, we can’t help but feel helpless. That’s why we desperately want someone to take an authoritarian action. This has worked well in China and Germany. But has failed miserably in the USA and Italy. President Trump ignored all the news coming from China and all the advice he got from the healthcare providers in the US before the hell broke loose. This was March 9th:
And the tweet below was from yesterday, after 135,328 confirmed cases and 2,381 deaths in just 2 weeks:
Even now, people are still outside, partying, going to restaurants or organizing house parties, flights are still happening, people are still gathering at churches, and all of this is because there is no unified authority to shut them down.
3. People are weird. No additional comments needed.
4. Culture speaks for itself. The fact that China, Japan and Korea have done a much better job at containing the virus than the US, Italy and Spain, was because of their long-term thinking and planning cultural trait. Also, the western countries’ individualism showed itself when all the white and blue collar emptied the shelves in the markets, leaving nothing to old and poor who barely live on a daily income. Many homeless shelters closed down, leaving the most vulnerable even more vulnerable.
5. Apparently, toilet paper is important in our lives. Who would have thought? Together with bread, pasta, rice and flour, toilet paper was the first one to disappear from the shelves. People were fighting over it (see below) and also over-buying it, again not thinking someone else might need it too. Some even have the decency to make a throne and declare themselves as toilet paper queen.
Click here to see the fight between the supermarket customers over toilet paper.
I want to add an interesting note here as well. When I went to grocery store a few weeks ago, the aisle for the toilet paper was empty – which is not shocking, I know – But also I saw people riding their carts by the aisle and looking frustrated about this and leave. However, right across the toilet paper shelves, there were paper towels and the shelves were full… So, why not become resourceful and use them as toilet papers, people? Like below??
6. People deal with stress in different ways. Some of us sleep less, some of us sleep more. Some of us lost appetite, and some of us eat way more than normally what we would eat. We get agitated more easily, especially in traffic or to customer service people. We are more suspicious of each other, so not being able to trust one another creates this weird angry feeling. Some of us keep checking the news, refreshing the pages to see the latest updates, some refuse to check the news for their own sanity. Even the grocery shopping has become such a hassle as we wipe everything down, wash ourselves before we place them in our homes. We miss seeing our family, having happy hour with friends, grabbing a Pike Place roast from Starbucks, going to a pub to enjoy a beer, eating our favorite dish at a restaurant. But we all carry the responsibility for one another, and this has a strain on our body, too, as it does on our minds. It is normal to feel neck, shoulder and back pain due to stress. Also, I have lost so much hair… Even some of us show flu like symptoms although we are not sick. All these psychological effects are normal but in order to minimize them, we need to meditate, exercise, focus on our hobbies and work, spend time with our loved ones on the phone and try to stay positive.
7. We are not as powerful as we think. We are not Gods. We need to stop acting like one. Nature rules.
We cut trees, we burn forests to build cities, we feel powerful.
We raise animals, then cut open and eat them, we feel powerful.
We feed pets, take care of them like our babies, we feel powerful.
We swim in the ocean, spill our oil in it, leave garbage on the beaches as we please, we feel powerful.
But then… An earthquake shakes, we die, thousands of us. Storms and floods sweep streets together with their economies, we cry, thousands of us. A virus spreads so fast and so fatally, we die again, millions of us. Each and every time nature reminds us who we are. We are not the ultimate power. We are not actually in control. Frankly, we are just one meteorite away from eternity.
This is why we need to keep in mind how powerless we are and stop acting like we are the kings and queens of the universe. This is the only way we can get our acts together.
‘Born a Crime’ has been my commute companion for the past month. I can explain you like this: I liked this book so much that I was looking forward to my 35 min train ride to work, every day. One time I forgot it at home and when I realized that, I wanted to cry.
This 285 pages long adventure takes you to the streets of South Africa in the 80s, where blacks and whites had completely separate lives under the Apertheid. Having a white, Swiss father and Black South African mother, Noah’s job was extra difficult since he was perceived ‘too white’ for blacks and ‘too black’ for whites to be accepted in their circles. Although he identifies himself with black community the most, he said he would still draw too much attention sometimes among them. This is why his grandmother would never let him play outside for years.
Noah starts the book by creating the scene of 80s South Africa and explains what Apertheid is, which is actually pretty difficult to understand if you never grew up in it, but he is successful at explaining in his pre-chapter sections. Which I call ‘Apertheid for Dummies.’ He talks about his childhood, how he learned 6 languages by himself, his love for his puppies, and how naughty he was the whole time. His childhood memories will make you giggle, even laugh loud sometimes, I can gurantee that. But then in the middle of that laugh, he says something like ‘And that’s when my mom and I jumped off of a moving minibus to save our lives…’ Then you freeze, feeling completely perplexed. “Wait… What???”
One of his funniest memories that I remember and found interesting was about him an his grandmother. One day while he is playing doctor at home with his cousins, Noah sticks a cotton ear swab into her cousin’s ear and punctures her ear drum. Blood starts to come out and everyone freaks out. She starts crying like crazy, holding her ear. Trevor thinks he is so much in trouble. His grandma rushes into the room and after seeing what happened, she spanks his cousins, but she doesn’t even touch him! Trevor feels invisible and enjoys this privilege although he doesn’t have a clue why. The very same day, when Trevor’s mom comes from work, she finds her mother crying in the kitchen. She asks what happened. Her mom says,” This boy of yours, is so so naughty. I haven’t seen anything like it. He is killing me!” Then Trevor’s mom answers, “Well, hit him, if that’s how he is going to learn!” His grandmother’s answer is mindblowing:
“I can’t beat a white child. When you hit a black kid, they stay black. I’m used to it. When you hit a white child, they turn red, pink, purple, green, yellow, I don’t know anything about that, what if I kill him? No, I won’t hit him.”
Below, from left to right, you can see Noah with his father, his grandmother and mother.
Towards the middle of the book, Noah shares more about his teen years. His struggles with his identity, his prom date and such. Then we learn how in a poor upbringing, he found so many clever ways to make money. He mentions a few of his friends a lot throughout the book and Bongani who-knows-it-all is one of them. Then you will meet a showman named, actually named, Hitler. The stories including Hitler in this book will make you laugh – and yes, Trevor Noah will explain why the hell this guy was named after Hitler.
Trevor Noah describes this book as a ‘Love Letter to his mom’, Patricia Noah, who grew up in Soweto, South Africa. His love and admiration to her is clearly there in every chapter. Even in the moments that he doesn’t understand her, he still respects her. For instance, as a true believer, explains Noah, his mom used to take him to three different churches every Sunday: to the black church, to the white church and to the mixed church. They would come home late at night, exhausted. Whenever Trevor tried to explain that probably Jesus would be still happy if we pray from home, that was a no-no for his mom: Even if their car breaks down, even if they get kidnapped, they will still go to church. So, this “She does whatever she sets her mind to” personality of her and her perseverance were what Noah found most admirable in her. “We were a team, my mom and I” he says. How sweet is that? 🙂 You can see his mother’s and his childhood photos below.
Well….The final chapters are where it gets dark. Once again, you face the ugliness of domestic violence and what it can do to families. Patricia’s husband (She was never married to Trevor’s dad), Abel, is a typical abuser: Seems very nice, funny, smart and kind from outside but very controlling in the house, violent and alcoholic towards his wife and children. Yes, I said children! Trevor has two younger half brothers, sharing the same mother: Isaac and Andrew. How can I explain?… Hmm… I don’t want to give you the details but when you first learn about the abuse, a knife slowly pokes through your heart. As you move along the pages, it penetrates deeper and deeper . In the final chapter, the knife turns, making tears build up in your eyes. I think hearing about these abusive childhood from a child’s point of view was eye opening for me. I related to that myself a lot. Something he said struck me because it shows how confusing it must be for a child to live in a house like that: Trevor says Abel used to drink so much that he would forget where the bathroom is and he would come and pee in Trevor’s room. He would be so drunk that Trevor’s screams wouldn’t make much difference in the outcome.
As you can see in some of the photos below, Apertheid was really bad and it needed to go away. But in his book, Noah also mentions about the struggles of post Apertheid era after Nelson Mandela brought an end to it. Things were complicated. Especially for the mixed ones: where would they stand now? Where would they live? Was the inequilaty really gone? Or was it only on the surface?
One thing I found interesting was that he didn’t talk about how he got successful or famous in the book, AT ALL. I believe he purposefully avoided that as he wanted to keep his mother and the Apertheid in the center of his story, rather than making it all about himself. Honestly, I really respected him for that.
Books like this makes a difference in my world, because I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see South Africa and the Apertheid era in the 80s through a smart, creative and ambitious child’s eyes. Like what Mason Cooley says:
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are…”
Jurassic Park was attracting millions of kids to the theaters like crazy. The US had just elected their new president, Bill Clinton. The World Wide Web (www. as you know it) was finally born at CERN. Whitney Houston had just rolled out her new single ‘I Will Always Love You’ which made her fans cry like lunatics! Michael Jackson had found himself in the middle of child abuse allegations for the first time. AIDS was spreading fast and creating even a bigger scare. Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. European Union had finally been formed into its final shape upon the signing of Maastricht Treaty. Earthquakes had killed thousands in Japan, India and Indonesia. Canada had chosen their first female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell.
In the USA, the average Cost of new house was $113,200.00, average Income per year was $31,230.00, average monthly rent was $532.00, cost of a gallon of Gas was $1.16, movie ticket was $4.14 (No IMAX then) and average cost of new car was $12,750.00 whereas a loaf of bread cost $1.57. (www.thepeoplehistory.com)
In Turkey though, things were certainly dark and complicated that year. From the very beginning of the year, scary dark clouds had started to gather above the nation’s heads ready to pour and rain.
Before I start, I want to explain two important terms to you since they will be mentioned in the post for a few times:
PKK: Kurdistan Workers’ Party is a militant Kurdish nationalist/terrorist organization, founded by in the late 1970s. They have killed more than 40,000 people in Turkey. Although the group initially espoused demands for the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, its stated aims were later tempered to calls for greater Kurdish autonomy.
Ergenekon Trials: A network of was said to have been linked to the “deep state“, hardliner, neonationalist secularists in key areas of the Turkish establishment who are believed to have wielded considerable influence in political life in recent decades. Starting from 2007, 275 people were arrested with the charges of planning a military coup against current Turkish government. For a full report, please read here.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Informed Turkish Intelligence Agency that there is a Turkish ship called Lucky-S in the Suez Canal which was carrying tons of drugs and it needed to be stopped immediately. A Navy Forces Team of 7 were called to duty with their commander Ali Turksen. Although the captain and his son tried to sink the ship, when Commander Turksen cuffed both in the engine room and said ‘This ship sinks, you sink along’, they cooperated and saved the ship from sinking. 11 tons of drugs were seized by the police. This revealed that Turkey was involved in a serious drug-trade that had never been exposed before.
On this day, people woke up to horrific news. Well-known, awarded author and investigative reporter Ugur Mumcu was assasinated by a bomb placed in his car outside his home leaving two kids, a wife and a sad nation behind. He was smart and his pen was brave. Maybe too brave for this world. He had written a book about the relationship between the ultranationalist organization called ‘Grey Wolves’, the mafia and Mehmet Ali Agca, an assassin who tried to kill Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981, after ‘magically(!)’ escaping from the prison. Right before Mumcu was killed, he had been working on his book about the Kurdish relations and the Deep State. Also he was investigating the relations of drugs and arms smuggling with the Kurdish issue, from the rise of the PKK to the rumored Iranian-Saudi links in political killings of the time. His assassins were never found. His book, which scared many important people in the system, was never finished. His colleague tried to finish it and published it under the name ‘Kurt Dosyasi (The File of Kurds)’ it was missing a lot of important information which Mumcu took together with him to heaven.
What is interesting is, according to Wikipedia, in an earlier investigation, Mumcu had been on the CIA‘s trail. Working on the Mehmet Ali Ağca case, he was the first to discover the connection between the Turkish mafia and the Turkish extreme right. In his Cumhuriyet (A famous newspaper in Turkey) column, Mumcu named Ruzi Nazar as the CIA’s liaison with the far-right Grey Wolves. The CIA’s Turkey station chief, Paul Henze, and an American reporter accosted Mumcu to convince him to write that the Pope’s assassin worked for Soviets or the Bulgarians, but Mumcu said he would simply follow the information trail. Henze left with an ominous “If you do that, you might find a nice surprise in store”, according to his wife, Güldal.
The Turkish Jewish businessman Jak Kamhi has been a successful businessman and ambassador for Turkey in international relations. He specifically worked on promoting tolerance between muslims and jews. In the morning of January 28th, five heavily armed gunmen opened fire on the armored car of Kamhi, whose guards returned fire. No one was hurt. The gunmen escaped and very oddly, they left behind all the weapons they had: an anti-tank rocket, assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades. They all had ‘Bismillahirahmanirahim’ written on them, which created the rumors of relationship to militan islamic forces in Iran. Also, the fact that they hadn’t fired the strongest weapon in their possession but chose the least damaging one raised suspicions. So, this unsuccessful (thankfully) assasination attempt has left many question marks in many people’s minds.
Adnan Kahveci was Minister of Finance and the chief advisor to then Turkish President, Turgut Ozal when he was killed in a suspicious car accident together with his wife and daughter. His son was the only one who survived the accident. Prior to his death, Kahveci was working with Özal on the Kurdish question, and wrote a report urging a peaceful solution, including recognition of the Kurdish language. According to the autobiography of Sakıp Sabancı (One of the biggest business people in Turkish history), President Özal had also entrusted Kahveci with the issue of potentially reserving seats in Parliament for minorities (an idea Sabancı had urged Özal to take up). It was reported that when Kahveci had the accident, he was driving in the opposite direction, on a highway (!).
His son was later going to go on television and blameMOSSAD, the Intelligence Agency of Israel, for the alleged murder of his father and mother. He claimed that ‘Erhan Göksel’ was the key man who staged the alleged murder and executed it. He was allegedly given $10M for his service. Erhan Goksel was one of the consultants of Kahveci and Ozal (both of whom died suspiciously in 1993) who opened his political consultancy company in New Jersey in 1998 and in China in 2005. After the investigations and 4 days of jail time in 2009 under the Ergenekon Trials all his assets were frozen which led him to bankruptcy. He got a job offer from a bank in the US and he lived and worked there until 2010. He was found dead in a hotel room in NJ and the second autopsy report ruled ‘heart attack’ as the cause of death.
As General Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie, Esref Bitlis supported the plans of President Turgut Özal to resolve the Kurdish–Turkish conflict by peaceful means. But when he started to feel like there were some games in play, he was not quiet about it. Here, I will mostly summarize it from Wikipedia: “A week before he died, Bitlis met the foreign ministers of Syria, Iran and Iraq to discuss Özal’s peace plans. He was also investigating an issue which journalist Uğur Mumcu, assassinated in January 1993, had been working on, namely the funnelling of 100,000 rifles from Turkey to Kurdish armed forces in Iraq. The Turkish Daily News later interviewed an army general who said that the commander of the Joint United States Military Mission for Aid to Turkey (JUSMMAT) had complained about Bitlis to the chief of staff for collecting information about illegal activities pertaining to Operation Provide Comfort (OPC). Other OPC officers also complained to Washington. Bitlis aggressively opposed American designs; he had allegedly dismissed Americans supporting the Turkish Gendarmerie as well as CIA agents operating from humanitarian organizations active in the region. The interviewed general said that Bitlis had discovered arms intended for Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani concealed in crates purportedly containing food. According to another source, Bitlis was given photographs taken by JITEM operatives depicting three OPC helicopters distributing materiel to the PKK on 10 December 1992. Such acts led Bitlis to conclude that America was intent on establishing a Kurdish state encompassing Turkey. Bitlis proposed to solve the PKK conflict by severing its logistical support. To this end, he suggested establishing relations with neighboring countries.”
On February 17, 1993, a snowy day, Bitlis was on an official trip by plane from the Güvercinlik Army Air Base in Ankara. He switched airplanes when the pilot realized the cockpit was out of order. His Beechcraft Super King Air B-200 crashed minutes after taking off from the air base. Bitlis, his aide-de-camp Fahir Işık, technician Emir Öner and the pilots, who had VIP green card certification for excellence in flying, died in the crash. The chief of staff, Gen. Doğan Güreş, said the accident was due to atmospheric icing. But this was denied by the weather experts (Wikipedia).
On the 16th of April, the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan made a peace agreement and he was going to announce it on the 17th of April so the violence would have stopped. The President of Turkish Republic, Turgut Ozal, who was trying to bring peace between kurds and white Turks, died on the night of the 16th in his bedroom in his wife’s presence. Doctors announced the cause of death as heart attack. After his death, the peace deal was no longer on the table. PKK continued to massacre messes.
His wife Semra Özal claimed he had been poisoned by lemonade and she questioned the lack of an autopsy. The blood samples taken to determine cause of death were lost or disposed of. 19 years after his death, after his son and wife’s tireless, years-long fights, his grave was re-opened.
In her 2013 book, an internationally distinguished leader in the field of Forensic Sciences, Sevil Atasoy says that she was there when the grave was opened (Atasoy, 2013 pp.215-259). Surprisingly, even after 19 years, Ozal’s cadaver was very well preserved due to a chemical called adipocere. Luckily, they were able to get a good toxicology sample. What they found odd was large amounts of atropine and atenonol. Especially atenonol, which is a chemical that is used in treating hypertension, was present in almost all the remaining organs indicating a possible overdose.
Every nation has many things, at least something, to be ashamed of in their history. This was one of the most shameful, horrifying day in Turkish History showing how a crowd of uneducated people can be tricked into hatred so quickly by using the religion as a tool.
If you don’t know already I would like to tell you about what ‘Alevi’ means and what ‘Sunni’ means. Because in this mob, sunnis burned 33 Alevis alive.
Alevi is the term used for a large number of heterodox Muslim Shi’a communities with different characteristics. Thus, Alevis constitute the largest religious minority in Turkey. Technically they fall under the Shi’a denomination of Islam, yet they follow a fundamentally different interpretation than the Shi’a communities in other countries (minorityrights.org) And Sunni is the largest denomination of Islam, followed by 87–90% of the world’s Muslims. Its name comes from the word sunnah, referring to the behaviour of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Many alevi musicians, artists and authors were in Sivas due to an annual festival. Among the festival attendees there was also an athesit intellect, Aziz Nesin. They were all staying in Madimak hotel when a big group of crowd gathered quickly after the Friday prayer at the mosque. Due to a tremendous amount of provocation starting from 2 days prior, and due to the fact that the government officials didn’t take the crowd seriously until it was too late, a protest turned into a mob, then into a massacre. More than 15,000 people gathered in front of the hotel and they set it on fire. 33 people, aging 12-66, died in the most horrible way one can imagine. If your heart can take it, you can watch it here. Let me tell you this, I’m just so thankful that you cannot understand Turkish. Because what the people behind the camera are saying makes my blood boil.
PKK had taken many lives in Turkey. They usually targeted soldiers, military bases or political locations. However, just after 72 hours of Madimak Massacre, over 100 PKK militans rampaged through Basbaglar village in the city of Erzincan, executed 33 civilians in the village square and burned down the whole village. 214 homes, the school, the mosque and the community center were all burnt down. This unexpected event had created so many speculations. One of them was about creating a deeper split between sunnis and alevis. Erzincan had mostly sunni population and this was attributed as a reteliation of hotel massacre 3 days ago.
After this, PKK killed 26 more civilians, 22 of whom were women and kids, in the city of Van on July 18th. Killed another 15 civilians who were travelling on a bus in August. On October 4th, 23 civilans were killed in Sirvan, Siirt. On October 22nd, mostly kids 22 people are killed in Baykan, Siirt. On October 25th, in Cat, Erzurum PKK raided a Coffee House, killing 35 civilians. These attacks were going to continue throughout the year.
Bahtiyar Aydın was a Turkish general, a regional commander in the Turkish Gendarmerie in Lice, Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey when he was assassinated by a sniper using a Kanas rifle. Officially a victim of the PKK (which denied responsibility), his death has long been considered suspicious. General Aydın was one of those who believed the “Kurdish Issue” could not be solved by force, and needed a peaceful solution with economic and social measures. As you can see, another peace maker was removed from the equation by assasination.
Ahmet Cem Ersever was a commander in the Turkish Gendarmerie, and said to be one of the founders of the Gendarmerie’s JITEM intelligence unit (Wikipedia). He was assassinated with his girlfriend and translator Nevval Boz, along with İhsan Hakan, a former PKK member, informant. He was sued by the military officials due to an interview Ersever gave to a newspaper. He left his apartment on October 24th to go to his court hearing in Ankara on October 26th. On November 1st, they found his girl friend’s dead body first. Then, the informant’s. It was going to be the evening of November 4th when they discovered Ersever’s body in Elmadag, Ankara. He was killed execution style while his hands were tied. During Ergenekon trials, a report found suggested that journalist Uğur Mumcu, General Eşref Bitlis and Ersever had all been killed to cover up arms sales from the Ergenekon organization to armed Kurdish groups.
If you made it this far, I want to congratulate you. Because it was even hard for me to write about all these. I felt the need to take several mental breaks in the process of writing this.
So, what do people say? What the heck happened in 1993 in Turkey?
Some people said this was a military coup that was organized and performed by the Turkish military through covert means. The aim was to prevent a peace settlement and protect the covert relationships between the Turkish military, intelligence services including JITEM, Counter-Guerrilla, Kurdish forces including Kurdish Hizbollah, and the Turkish mafia; In other words, ‘Deep State‘.
The others claimed the classic: The USA, Russia and the European Union, especially the United States, don’t want things to get settled in middle east and Turkey plays a huge role there. Wonder why? Let me show you a map showing the location of Turkey.
Finding Turkey very close to Russia and petroleum rich Iraq an Iran, the USA had decided that Turkey must be among the most important allies. No wonder why we have a US military base in our southern city, Adana, which keeps them even closer to the land of their interests. It also keeps a good protection measure for Israel. If Turkey didn’t have battles to fight, it would mean they wouldn’t need guns, ammo, helicopters, and other military supplies. If we were strong enough to stand on our own feet, we wouldn’t need US’, EU’s, Russia’s, China’s help. That means these governments wouldn’t be able to use ‘their help’ as the leverage for their own games on each other. See the point? ‘Divide and Conquer’ is unfortunately still a popular game among the Ivy league of the World’s nations. ‘Divide! So that they won’t have any power, money or time left to think about improving, expanding since they will be busy dealing with their own internal issues.’
As you can see, politics in my country is very complicated. The split among the groups has been worse. On top of that, the economic crisis is making people more agitated and frustrated than ever. The current government doing everything in their power to make the nation dumber by changing education system so that they can’t question and so obey. They are destroying the judicial system so that their supporters and themselves can get away with whatever they do, without any consequences. And this is making some nations really politically happy.
Please let me finish this way. People of a nation don’t represent the government, it is the opposite. I know that. So I’m not targeting anyone personally here. But you take the responsibility when you remain silent, choose to be ignorant and don’t vote in the elections. If you are a citizen of a powerful country such as the US or China or Russia, you have an extra responsibility, my friend. Because the person you choose can impact the destiny of this world and the faith of 99.2% in the world. The 0.8% are making more than $1M a year. So, whenever something goes wrong, they can fly to another country together with their assets and live there until they die.
I don’t know how many times I have heard “San Francisco looks like Istanbul! You should go see!” Of course this wasn’t the only reason for me to take a 7-hour-long flight to the city: Its colorful outlook, modern and accepting attitude, diversity and vibrancy made me desperately want to see this pretty city. When my mom gave me this trip as a present for my 36th birthday, I was speechless! Not only was I going to see this wonderful city, but also I was going to visit my best friend and her lovely kids who live in Lafayette, SF.
As far as the negative things we know about the city, we all know SF is also famous for its outrageously high housing costs, and a large number of homeless population. But I have also discovered two more things that I don’t like about San Francisco: hills and tourists. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed (almost) every moment I spent there, but would I want to live there? I don’t think so. I’m really happy in Boston, thanks.
Before I started writing this blog, I made a cup of freshly brewed earl grey tea and I took this photo below just to show you my San Francisco souvenir: my colorful and lovely mug which will accompany me while I’m writing! Enjoy reading!
Mostly wide streets are full of people walking to work, going shopping or doing touristy things. The architecture is a mixture: One moment you see a wonderful historical building with sometimes Spanish, sometimes Victorian, and sometimes French style. Then you see modern and boring homes. Some districts are very interesting and some are average like in any big city. One thing to consider before you go to SF is the anumber of hills. On the map, places look close to each other but it takes forever to walk from A to B due to steep hills on the way.
Speaking of hills, I should tell you about my Lombard Street experience. It was PACKED with tourists. In order to get a good picture I saw two people at different times almost got hit by a car. Known as the ‘crookedest street’ in the world, Lombard street has sharp turns. Thankfully cars are moving slowly because I saw some crazy people who let their little kids go and play in the middle of the street. There is no way for the car to see the kid before it makes its turn due to tall bushes on the side of the street. Anyway, I climbed 253 steps up and 249 steps down and I should admit it was a good exercise in the summer heat!
Absolutely beautiful… The view of the bridge, and the view of the city from the bridge both are absolutely amazing. This was the first place where I felt like “Hmm… This reminds me of Istanbul now”. The calm, endless looking ocean divides the lands graciously. I think the red color for the bridge was a smart idea (originally it was going to be painted black and yellow stripes like Maya the bee-Glad they changed that haha) because it brings the blue and green together very well. We were walking on the bridge with baby steps because we were walking with a slow moving group of tourists like a pack of zombies from Walking Dead. They were walking pretty carelessly like zombies as well. I don’t know how many times I had to give the evil look.
Let’s talk about my favorite thing! Food!
San Francisco, like Boston, is famous for its sea food. As a person who is not fond of sea food much, this was a disappointment. But, I had two remarkable experiences: The first one was the Irish coffee and awesome breakfast at Buena Vista and the other one was the clam chowder soup in Boudin Bakery. Boudin was like a bread museum! They make breads in different animal shapes and exhibit them on shelves. I’m on KETO, a kind of low carb diet, so I couldn’t enjoy the delicious alligator bread but if one of you do, please let me know how it tastes! Buena Vista apparently was the first place to bring the Irish Coffee to the USA. It is really hard to find a spot (Guess why? Yes! Tourists!) so I highly recommend you to go there as early as possible.
Oh I almost forgot! The tamales I ate in Sausalito was one of the BEST!
Alcatraz was used to be a high security federal prison where notorious criminals were held. Because it was located on an island, it would make it impossible for the prisoners to break out. I had mixed feelings walking in the aisles of the prison. Maybe the audio tour is responsible for putting me in that mood as well. I felt the despair, anger, loneliness and mental challenges. The interesting details to take from that was the escape attempts. The prisoners digged holes with a spoon they stole from the dining hall and a drill they improvised from motor of a purloined vacuum cleaner. In an amazing way they created dummy heads looking like themselves by using soap, concrete powder, hair stolen from the barbershop and put these in their beds right before escaping so that the guards wouldn’t understand they were gone at least for a while! So creative! Wow! They left Alcatraz with an inflated raft but it is believed that there is no way they could have made it through.
There are also the dark cells in which the ‘naughty’ criminals are imprisoned for months and years sometimes… In pitch darkness…
Also, the courtyard for the breaktime had a gorgeous view and I thought “Is this a prize for the criminals instead of punishment?” But then the guide said it was intentional: Seeing freedom, the vibrant city that close but not being able to have it was the punishment. Apparently the wind brings the sound of the joyful city especially during the holidays which would become a torture for the prisoners.
When you get outside and see the view from house that used to be the prison warden’s, the beauty of the city of San Francisco and the ocean mesmerizes you. This is why I want to use bigger size photos here. Below you will see the warden’s house, which is pretty much destroyed and has become a host to different kinds of plant species.
Not seals! Haha. Keep confusing the two. In Pier 39, together with lovely dead fish smells (!), you get to watch these interesting animals resting and talking and maybe, singing? Although most of the time they sounded angry to me, definitely it is something to see while in San Francisco!
Pier 39 and Sea Lions
Beautiful district with absolutely amazing murals. The street art was everywhere! energetic, evolving neighborhood with Latino roots and a hipster vibe. All the street art we saw had a political message in Latino world. I wish there were someone with us to explain the meanings of all. They also apparently make the best burritos and tacos in town. Unfortunately were were too full to eat!
One of the most important things for me when I visit somewhere is to go to a local coffee shop and try their black coffee. My mom and I went into Philz Cafe in Mission and it was so hipster! We chatted with the young couple who were playing chess in front of us (I think we distracted them a little bit, sorry!) and the young man who was sitting right next to us with long brown hair and John Lennon glasses. He was reading a thick book. Basically we bothered everyone in that coffee shop, we were feeling chatty! What attracted my attention was their number one selling coffee: Tantalizing Turkish brew!
This lovely coastal town reminded me so much of the Princess islands in Istanbul. I was so happy to see finally cafes and restaurants located right by the sea in the US. Yet again, it was so hard to walk at a normal pace since tourists were in line in front of the local stores, some were stopping right in the middle of the side walk to take pictures, etc. Beautiful scenery, nice local people and summer vacation vibe. I loved it!
I had a love and hate relationship with SF cable cars. I think if I could go back in time, the only thing I would change in my trip would be going from Union Square (south) up to Fisherman Wharf (north)-where we stayed. When we took the cable car from north to south the line was not bad at all. We waited only for about 5-7 minutes. But for an 8-minute-long trip from south to north, we waited for… Are you ready?… We waited for exactly 1 hour and 23 minutes!!! Unbelieavable! My suggestion to visitors is don’t even try south-north bound, it is a complete waste of time.
Believe it or Not Museum
Because the interesting places to see is fairly apart from each other in this city, unfortunately we didn’t get to go to all the places we had planned to see. The evening before we left SF, with a last minute decision we decided to see a museum near our hotel at Fisherman Wharf “Believe it or Not” (By the way we found a Groupon deal with a $5 discount, just FYI) We weren’t expecting much, we were just going to kill some time there but, actually, it was a lot of fun! There were so many interesting things to see. The creator of the museum had a good sense of humor, as well. If you go, you will understand what I mean. From dinosaur feet to bug snacks, from an Egyptian mummy head brought from Turkey to here (Why?) from interesting and/or weird artifacts to a bridal gown made out of toilet paper, you can find anything here! The mirror maze in the end was also a fun surprise!
PS. Did you know when Charles Alton Ellis designed the Golden Gate Bridge, he wasn’t an engineer yet?
Mirror maze fun
The Other Colors of San Francisco
My 4 days of stay wasn’t enough but I got a very good gist of San Francisco. Here I want to share some more city details that I captured during my visit. I should say I didn’t fall in love with the city, but I can see why a lot of people find it charming!!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! See you soon in another adventure!
I must confess that I have learned a lot from this book. The more I learned about the true nature of the human beings, the more I have experienced a wide range of feelings… I felt disgusted, scared, then as the stories moved along, I felt surprised and started laughing! Then I felt angry again. The author used Google searches to measure racism, self-induced abortion, depression, child abuse, hateful mobs, the science of humor, sexual preference, anxiety, son preference, and sexual insecurity, among many other topics. This great emotional roller coaster book is written by the internet data expert Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.
Davidowitz worked for one-and-a-half years as a data scientist at Google and is currently a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times. He is a former visiting lecturer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA in philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford, and his PhD in economics from Harvard.
His 2017 book that I will review today, Everybody Lies, published by HarperCollins, was a New York Times bestseller; a PBS NewsHour Book of the Year; and an Economist Book of the Year.
For this study, Davidowitz downloaded all of Wikipedia, pored through Facebook profiles, and scraped Stormfront. Plus PornHub, gave him its complete data on the searches and video views of anonymous people around the world.
Google Trends, a tool that was released with little fanfare in 2009, tells users how frequently any word or phrase has been searched in different locations at different times. The everyday act of typing a word or phrase into a compact, rectangular white box leaves a small trace of truth that, when multiplied by millions, eventually reveals profound realities.
RELATIONSHIPS: On Google, the top complaint about marriage is not having sex: Searches for “sexless marriage” are three and a half times more common than “unhappy marriage” and eight times more common than “loveless marriage”. Relationship themed most searches are “abusive relationship” 😦
Sometimes new data reveals cultural differences: The writer gives the example of different ways that men around the world respond to their wives being pregnant. In Mexico, the top searches about “my pregnant wife” include “frases de amor para mi esposa embarazada” (words of love to my pregnant wife” and “poemes para mi esposa embarazada” (poems for my pregnant wife”. In the United States, the top searches include “my wife is pregnant now what” and “my wife is pregnant what do I do.” (Blogger’s note: Nope. Not as romantic.)
After daters took some recording with them and data analysts digitized these audios into words, we had an interesting set of information about how to have a successful first date! On the first date, for instance, one of the ways a man signals that he is attracted is obvious: he laughs at a woman’s jokes. When speaking, they limit the range of their pitch. There is a research that suggests a monotone voice is often seen by women as masculine. The scientists found that a woman signals her interest by varying her pitch, speaking more softly, and taking shorter turns talking. A woman is unlikely to be interested when she uses hedge words and phrases such as “probably” or “I guess”. Also, a woman is likely to be interested if she is using “I” and self making phrases such as “Ya know?” and “I mean”. This research revealed that men are more likely to report clicking with a woman who talks about herself. If there are lots of questions asked on a date, it is less likely that both will report a connection.
Among the Facebook data scientists’ findings, Christmas is one of the happiest days of the year BUT Davidowitz doesn’t trust Facebook data very much: He thinks Facebook is digital brag-to-my-friends-about-how-good-my-life-is serum. In Facebook world, family life seems perfect, in the real world, family life is messy. So don’t trust relationship posts very much.
Compare, for example, the way that people describe their husbands on public social media and in anonymous searches:
So human beings are liars? NO WAY! haha!
FEMALE-MALE: Parents are 2.5 more likely to ask “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?” Parents show a similar bias when using other phrases related to intelligence that they may shy away from saying aloud, like, “Is my son a genius?”. Which is funny is that in American schools, girls are 9 percent more likely than boys to be in gifted programs. So what are the most searches about daughters?: “Is my daughter overweight?” This phrase was searched roughly as frequently as they Google “Is my son overweight?”
Parents are also 1.5 times more likely to ask whether their daughter is beautiful than whether their son is handsome. And they are 3 times more likely to ask whether their daughter is ugly than whether their son is ugly. (Author’s note: How Google is expected to know whether a child is beautiful or ugly is hard to say 🙂 ) (Bloggers note: Maybe parents are the ones who were causing females’ insecurities about how they look?). In general, parents seem more likely to use positive words in questions about sons.
Another interesting male/female difference: women use the word “tomorrow” far more often than men do. Adding the letter “o” to the word “so” like “Sooo” is one of the most feminine linguistic traits.
On Facebook, among the words used much more frequently by men than women are “fuck” “shit” “bullshit” “Fucking and Fuckers ” (Blogger’s note: Dear men, take a chill pill! haha) Whereas for women it is “shopping””excited” “cute” “happy””family” “soooo” “yay”(Blogger’s note: Soooo happy to be a woman! Yay!”)
SEX: Data science makes many parts of Freud falsifiable – it puts many of his famous theories to the test. For example: Freud’s theory of the phallic (shape of male genital) symbols in dreams. According to big data, the substance that is most dreamed is water. The top twenty foods include chicken, bread, sandwiches, and rice – all notably un-Freudian. Bananas are the second most common fruit to appear in dreams. But they are also the second most commonly consumed fruit
Consider all Google searches of the form “I want to have sex with my…” The number one way to complete this search is “mom”. 😮 Overall, more than 3/4 of searches of this form are incestuous. Again, according to Google and PornHub Data, men retain an inordinate number of fantasies related to childhood (including mom, babysitter, wearing diapers, breast feeding, etc.)
Americans search for “porn”more than they search for “weather”.
There are twice as many complaints that a boyfriend won’t have sex than that a girlfriend won’t have sex. By far, the number one search complaint about a boyfriend is “My boyfriend won’t have sex with me”.
Do women care about penis size? Rarely, according to Google researches. More than 40%
of complaints about a partner’s penis size say that it’s too big. For every search women make a partner’s phallus, men make roughly 170 searches about their own! Men’s second most common sex question is how to make their sexual encounters longer. Once again, the insecurities of men do not appear to match the concerns of women. Women’s concern isn’t about when or how long it happened but why it isn’t happening at all.
However, women still outpace them when it comes to insecurity about how they look.
In 2004, in some parts of the US, the most common search regarding changing one’s butt was how to make it smaller. Beginning in 2010, however, the desire for bigger butts grew. Does women’s growing preference for a larger bottom match men’s preferences? Interestingly, yes. Again internet says men show a preference for large breasts. But natural ones: About 3 percent of big-breast porn searches explicitly say they want to see natural breasts (Blogger’s note: Thank you Beyonce, J-Lo, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian!!)
Men make as many searches looking for ways to perform oral sex on themselves as they do how to give a woman an orgasm (This was among authors favorite facts in Google search data) (Blogger’s note: How is it even possible?? And nope, I won’t Google it!)
RACISM: Roughly one in every hundred Google searches that included the word “Obama” also included “kkk” or “nigger(s)”. There was a darkness and hatred that was hidden from the traditional sources but was quite apparent in the searches that people made. Places with the highest racist search rates included upstate New York, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, industrial Michigan and rural Illinois, along with West Virginia, southern Louisiana and Mississippi. The true divide, Google search data suggested, was not South versus North; it was East versus West, and racism was not limited to Republicans.
Black Americans told polls they would turn out in large numbers to oppose Trump. But Google searches for information on voting in heavily black areas were way down.
You can see on Google, where users ask sometimes questions such as “Why are black people rude?” or “Why are Jews evil? Below, in order, are the top five negative words used in searches about various groups:
Shortly after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015, the top search in CA with the word “Muslims” in it at the same time was “kill Muslims”.
What is super interesting that as Obama gave more speeches on TV about ‘equality’ and ‘racism’ it created an opposite effect. In his speech, he said “It is the responsibility of All Americans – of every faith – to reject discrimination” Searches calling Muslims “terrorists” “bad””violent” and “evil” doubled during and shortly after the speech (But then one of Obama’s speeches succeeded, to find out which one, keep reading!)
Guess when are searches for “nigger(s)” or “nigger jokes” most common? Whenever African-Americans are in the news. Among the periods when such searches were highest was the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when television and newspapers showed images of desperate black people in New Orleans struggling for their survival. They also went up during Obama’s first election. And searches for “nigger jokes” rise on average about 30% on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Davidowitz claims that there is a hidden explicit racism in the USA.
POLITICS: Nate Silver, an American statistician and writer, noticed that the areas where Trump performed best made for an odd map. Silver looks for variables to try to explain this map. Then he found that the single factor that best correlated with Donald Trump’s support in the Republican primaries was that made the most Google searches for “nigger”.
Google searches for “how to vote” or “where to vote” weeks before an election can accurately predict which parts of the country are going to have a big showing at the polls.
The most important year for developing political views is age 18 (Blogger note: I guess voting age being 18 was the right decision).
STRESS: Google searches reflecting anxiety tend to be higher in places with lower levels of education, lower median incomes, and where a larger portion of the population lives in rural areas.
The author was surprised with one fact. you would think that people would search for more jokes when they are sad or depressed to cheer themselves up. However, data shows that searches for jokes are lowest on Mondays, the day when people report they are most unhappy. They are lowest on cloudy and rainy days. They actually seek out jokes when things are going well in life.
In winter months, warn climates, such as that of Honolulu, Hawaii, have 40 percent fewer depression searches than cold climates, such as that of Chicago, Illinois.
Chicago, IL winter
Honolulu, HI winter
HEALTH: In Google, searching for a back pain and then yellowing skin turned out to be a sign of pancreatic cancer; searching for just back pain alone made it unlikely someone had pancreatic cancer. These weren’t listed as symptoms before.
We tend to overestimate the prevalence of anything that makes for a memorable story. People rank tornadoes as a more common cause of death than asthma. In fact, asthma causes about seventy times more deaths. But deaths by asthma don’t stand out- and don’t make the news. Same goes for flu and shark attacks.
Search rates for self-induced abortion were fairly steady from 2004 through 2007. They began to rise in late 2008, coinciding with the financial crisis and the recession that followed. They took a big leap in 2011 jumping 40% – when 92 state provisions restricted access to abortion were enacted. The state with the highest Google searches for self-induced abortions in Mississippi, a state with roughly three million people and, now, just one abortion clinic.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Google engineers created a service: Google Correlate that gives outside researchers the means to experiment with the same type of analyses across a wide range of fields. One day Davidowitz put the US unemployment rate from 2004 through 2011 into Google Correlate. Of the trillions of Google researches during that time, what do you think turned out to be the most tightly connected to unemployment? “New jobs”? No. It was “Slutload” That’s right the most frequent search was a pornographic site. Many are stuck at home, alone and bored. The second most common search: Spider Solitaire. Again, not so surprising.
More rich people in a city means the poor there live longer. Poor people in NYC for example, lives a lot longer than poor people in Detroit: Contagious behavior maybe driving some of this (Behaviors like healthy eating habits, exercising, less stress, etc.)
SPORTS: The data tells us that in worse-off families. in worse-off communities, there are NBA-level talents who are not in the NBA.
Internet data shows that the most important year in a man’s life for the purposes of cementing his favorite baseball team as an adult, is when he is more or less 8 years old. This peak age for women is 22.
HOW BIG DATA WORKS: In prediction business, you just need to know that something works, not why. For example: Before a hurricane hit Southeast in 2004, Walmart (the biggest supermarket chain in the US) suspected -correctly- that people’s shopping habits may change when a city is about to be pummeled by a storm. They pored through sales data from previous hurricanes to see what people might want to buy. A major answer? Strawberry Pop-Tarts. This product sells seven times faster than normal in the days leading up to a hurricane. We don’t ask why, we care about what.
By using Google Ngrams, you can search through millions of digitized books for particular words or phrase. This way, you can see how the popularity of a phrase changed among hundreds of years.
If you type “Why is…” the first two Google auto-completes currently are “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why is there a leap day?” suggesting these are the two most common ways to complete this search. The third: “Why is my poop green?” And Google auto-complete can get disturbing. Today, if you type “Is it normal to want to…” the first suggestion is “kill” If you type in “Is it normal to want to kill…” The first suggestion is my family.
People are seven times more likely to ask Google whether they will regret not having children than whether they will regret having children. Adults with children are 3.6 times more likely to tell Google they regret their decision than are adults without children.
MARKETING: One day, across the internet, the researchers found 949 scanned yearbooks from American high schools spanning the years 1905-2013. Americans, and particularly women, started smiling as the years pass by. They went from nearly stone-faced at the start of the twentieth century to beaming by the end.
When photographs were first invented, people thought of them like paintings. Subjects in photos adopted the same look. In the mid-20th century, Kodak, the film and camera company was frustrated by the limited numbers of pictures people were taking and ended up with a strategy to get them take more. Kodak’s advertising began associating photos with happiness. (Blogger’s note: SO CLEVER, isn’t it? This reminded me of the increase in dental cleaning appointments since ‘selfies’ became a thing. Although, I’m sure dentists are not behind this whole selfie craziness).
Answer these questions for me:
Have you ever cheated on an exam?
Have you ever killed someone in your dream?
Were you tempted to lie? Many people under-report embarrassing behaviors and thoughts on surveys. They want to look good, even though most surveys are anonymous. This is called social desirability bias. Why do people misinform anonymous surveys? Roger Tourangeau, a research professor emeritus at the University of Michigan explains: “About 1/3 of the time, people lie in real life. The habits carry over to surveys.”
Netflix was confused because in the beginning, when it let its users to create a queue of movies to watch later, they realized something odd. When the users were reminded of these movies later, they rarely clicked. Because they were filling the queue with award winning highbrow films like black and white World War II or foreign movies. But when they come home from work, they were clicking on at lowbrow comedies or romance films. They were lying to themselves. So, Netflix created an algorithm based on users’ choices. The former data scientist at Netflix, Xavier Amatriain says “The algorithms know you better than you know yourself”.
Also, apparently on Facebook or YouTube, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is”. (Bloggers note: I found this very strange when I think about my news feed which is full of bad news.)
CRIME: For every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was an associated 3 percent increase in the search rate for “child abuse” or “child neglect”. The author argues that it’s safe to say that the Great Recession did make child abuse worse, although the traditional measures did not show it but Big Data did.
BIG DATA LESSON: When we lecture angry people, the search data implies that their fury can grow. But subtly provoking people’s curiosity, giving new information, and offering new images of the group that is stoking their rage may turn their thoughts in different, more positive directions. According to Google researches, Obama’s one of the most successful speech was this: “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes and yes, they are our men and women in uniform, who are willing to die in defense of our country.”
Here is his speech:
DOPPELGANGERS AND A/B TESTING
Doppelgangers play a huge role in predicting. Let’s see what it means first:
Doppelganger: an apparition or double of a living person.
Of course, we are not talking about looking exactly the same, but we are talking about correlating the data to find the most similar people in database to predict the future of that person.
Think about a sick person suffering from certain disease symptoms. Her age is 34, her height is 5’5, her weight is 132 lbs, she has no smoking or drinking habits, she had Pneumonia when she was seven. She lives in Kentucky. If we run the analysis and find once upon a time 24 year old female who lived in Kentucky with 5’5 height and around 132 lbs, with no smoking or drinking history who had Pneumonia when she was little, suffering from the same symptoms, we can predict what might happen to the patient. Because what happened to her doppelganger(s) will probably happen to her, as well.
Let’s explain it with a real example: 35 year old baseball player Ortiz was about to be fired because of his old age. But, data analysts went through every single information about him and correlated to historical records. They found 20 ballplayers who played like he did when he was 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33. Then see how Ortiz’s doppelgängers’ careers progressed. Data showed that Ortiz was about to enter the peak of his career. So Boston decided to be patient with is aging slugger. And they won. He took his team to World series at the age of 37, Ortiz was also voted for World Series MVP.
So how about A/B testing? What is it?
A/B Testing is basically testing two different controlled groups. Google wants to know how to get more people to click on ads on their sites, they may try two shades of blue in ads – one shade for Group A another for Group B. Then Google can compare these click rates. Facebook now runs a thousand A/B tests per day. A former Google employee Dan Siroker, used A/B testing for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. He A/B tested the campaign home page. In 2012, he used 3 different pictures (see below), 2 different slogans and 3 different ‘click buttons’ which one do you think got more clicks and so more donations?
The winner was picture of Obama’s family and the button “Learn More”.
EDUCATION: What makes some places better at allowing a poor kid to have a pretty good life?
Areas that spend more on education provide a better chance to poor kids.
Places with more religious people and lower crime do better.
Places with more black people do worse. Interestingly, this has an effect on not just the black kids but on the white kids living there as well.
Places with lots of single mothers do worse.
To see which cities/states have the most successful people the author zoomed in names of the people who are baby boomers and who took a place in Wikipedia. Roughly 1 in 1,209 baby boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964) born in California reached Wikipedia with their success. Roughly 1 in 748 baby boomers born in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, where Boston is located, made it to Wikipedia. Be careful, not ‘went to school’ but ‘born’. The reason for this seems to be early exposure to innovation. Besides, New York City apparently produces notable journalists at the highest rate, Boston produces notable scientists at the highest rate and Los Angeles produces notable actors and actresses at the highest rate.
The greater the percentage of foreign born residents in an area, the higher the proportion of children born there who go on to notable success (Davidowitz’s note: Take that, Donald Trump!) (Blogger’s comment: Ditto that!)
Education spending did not correlate with rates of producing notable writers, artists, or business leaders.
What I found very motivational as a reader was on page 237. Even though you couldn’t finish the best school, you still have an equal chance to be as successful as those people who graduated from Harvard, MIT or Stanford. People adapt to their experience and people who are going to be successful find advantages in any situation. The factors hat make you successful are your talent and your drive.
Davidowitz also discusses other interesting topics, which I don’t mention here such as “who gets loans more easily, who doesn’t” or “How much the casinos let you lose” or what other jaw dropping data analyses are being used in marketing.
In his final words, he emphasizes that social science is becoming a real science (Blogger’s note: Finally!!! I was so tired of people not seeing social science as real science! Thank you Davidowitz!). And this new, real science is poised to improve our lives.
If a violent movie comes to a city, does crime go up or down? If more people are exposed to an ad, do more people use the product? If a baseball team wins when a boy is twenty, will he be more likely to root for them when he is forty? These are all clear questions with clear yes-or-no answers. And in the mountains of honest data, we can find them
This is the stuff of science, not pseudoscience.
I strongly recommend this book! And after you read, please feel free to share your comments below 🙂
“A Zoologist’s Study of the Human animal” This is how Morris describes the book.
Having been published in 1967, the book has some old feeling to it but it is a must read if you are interested in human origins or human behavior in general. So many things that we do today, in modern world, was coded in our brains thousands of years ago. By examining our ancestors, besides other animals, Morris had a very clear image of who we actually are: Naked Apes.
I would like to give some insight about the author first: Desmond John Morris (born 24 January 1928) is an English zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programs such as Zoo Time. He studied zoology at the University of Birmingham and he got his PhD degree in animal behavior, at the University of Oxford.
Morris makes my job way easier and divides his book into 8 major parts: Origins, Sex, Rearing, Exploration, Fighting, Feeding, Comfort, Animals. I intend to follow his path in this review. What is most striking about his style is that he can describe a process in a very detailed way. He first starts the chapter with the observations he made on animals, after detailed descriptions, he explains how we see these traits in humans as well, then he makes his own comments on the subject. Some of them are well known facts but some of them are extremely surprising. Especially the ‘Fighting’ ‘Comfort’ and ‘Animals’ parts were interesting since I learned a lot of new things.
In this review you will find out:
Why are we naked in comparison to other primates?
Why do we hate snakes and spiders?
During a fight which one is an indicator of danger?: Your enemy’s face turning white or red?
Why do babies smile?
Why stares are intimidating?
Do we coded for monogamy or polygamy?
‘Naked Ape’ (aka Homo Sapiens) is an odd kind when compared with the other primate species, marked off by his nudity from all the thousands of hairy, shaggy or furry land-dwelling mammalian species.
It is the biological nature of the beast that has molded the social structure of civilization, rather than the other way around. Only the names have been changed: for ‘hunting’ read ‘working’, for ‘hunting grounds’ read ‘place of business’, for ‘home base’ read ‘house’ for ‘pair bond’ read ‘marriage’, for ‘mate’ read ‘wife’ , and so on.
This chapter in the book starts with explaining how due to the climatic conditions apes were forced to become hunters rather than fruit pickers. The ancestral ground apes already had large and high quality brains. They had good eyes** and efficient grasping hands. They inevitably, as primates, had some degree of social organization. With strong pressure on them to increase their prey-killing skills vital changes began to take place. They became more upright-fast, better runners. Their hands became freed from locomotion duties – strong, efficient weapon holders. Their brains became more complex – brighter quicker decision makers.
It could be argued that evolution might have favored the development of a more typical cat- or dog- like killer, a kind of cat-ape or dog-ape, by the simple process of enlarging the teeth and nails into savage fang-like and claw-like weapons. But this would have put the ancestral ground ape into direct competition with the already highly specialized cat and dog killers. It would have meant competing with them on their own term, and the outcome would no doubt have been disastrous for the primates.
The forest ape that became a ground ape that became a hunting ape that became a territorial ape that became a cultural ape and we must call a temporary halt.
**The sensory equipment of the higher primates is much more dominated by the sense of vision than the sense of smell. In their tree-climbing world, seeing well is far more important than smelling well, and the snouts shrunk considerably giving the eyes a much better view. In searching for food, the colors of fruits are helpful clues, and unlike the carnivores, primates have evolved a good color vision.
Socially the hunting ape had to increase his urge to communicate and to co-operate with his fellows. Facial expressions and vocalizations had to become more complicated. With the new weapons to hand, he had to develop powerful signals that would inhibit attacks within the social group. On the other hand, with a fixed home base to defend, he had to develop stronger aggressive responses to the members of rival groups.
A new development, for the general primate rule is that virtually all parental care comes from the mother (It is only a wise primate, like our hunting ape, that knows its own father).
Because of the extremely long period of dependency of the young and the heavy demands made by them, the females found themselves almost constantly confined to the home base. In this respect the hunting ape’s new way of life threw up a special problem, one that it did not share with the typical pure carnivores: the role of the sexes had to become more distinct. The hunting parties, unlike those of the ‘pure’ carnivores, had to become all male groups. If anything was going to go against the primate grain, it was this. For a vigorous primate male to go off on a feeding trip and leave his females unprotected from the advances of any other males that might happen to come by, was unheard of. This was something that demanded a major shift in the social behavior.
Male- Female Bond
Male and female hunting apes had to fall in love and remain faithful to one another. This is a common tendency in many other group of animals but it is rare among primates. This shift helped many things: Serious sexual rivalries between the males were reduced. This aided their developing cooperativeness. Also with the newly developed weapons, the hunting ape was under strong pressure to reduce any source of disharmony within the tribe. The last effect was on the little hunting apes. The heavy task of rearing and training the slowly developing young demanded a cohesive family unit. With the male-female bond (monogamous) this unity was formed.
Why on earth should the haunting ape have become a naked ape? We can be fairly certain that it did not happen before our ancestors left their forest homes. It probably happened while they were on the open plains. There are several theories for our nakedness, let’s have a look at them briefly:
Neoteny: To continue to possess some larval or immature characteristics in adulthood. If you examine an infant chimpanzee at birth (after exactly 8.5-9 months, like us) you will find that it has a good head of hair, but that its body is almost naked (see the picture above). If this condition was delayed into the animal’s adult life by neoteny, the adult chimpanzee’s hair condition would be very much like hours. BUT unless it had some special value to the new species, it would be quickly dealt with by natural selection. So why did it stay? Here are some other theories:
What is the survival value of naked skin? When the hunting ape abandoned its nomadic past and settled down at fixed home bases, its dens became heavily infested with skin parasites. Also, such messy feeding habits that a furry coat would soon become clogged and messy would create a disease risk. There are hundreds of species who lost their hair during evolution due to this problem.
Another theory is that development of fire led the loss of the hairy coat since hunting ape felt cold only at night and fire was handling the problem.
This theory is very interesting: Before becoming a hunting ape, the original ground ape that had left the forests went through a long phase as an aquatic ape in search of food. Close examination reveals that on our backs the directions of our tiny remnant hairs differ strikingly from those other apes. In us, they point diagonally backwards and inwards towards the spine. This follows the direction of flow of the water passing over a swimming body. So the idea that we might have lost our body hair to reduce resistance when swimming. Also, we are unique among all the primates in being the only one to possess a thick layer of sub-cutaneous fat, a compulsory insulating device. Even sensitive nature of our hands support the aquatic theory: Because it takes a subtle sensitized hand to feel for food in the water
Another argument that we lost hair because it was a social trend; it arose as a signal. Hunting ape wanted to look different to be easily identified.
Another suggestion is that the loss of hair is an extension of sexual signalling. Sensitivity to touch was sexually important and by exposing their naked skins to one another during sexual encounters, both male and female would become more highly sensitized to erotic stimuli.
The last suggestion, if you ask me, was the weakest one that was argued. Hunting ape lost hair to prevent himself from being over-heated. Exposure of the naked skin to the air certainly increases the chances of the heat loss, but it also increases heat gain at the same time and risks damage from the sun’s rays.
It is a confusing situation for today’s naked ape: As primates they are pulled one way, as carnivores by adoption they are pulled another, and as members of an elaborate civilized community, they are pulled yet another.
The female of our species has to reach the age of twenty nine before she can match the orgasm rate of the fifteen-year old male.
Why do we want to build our own family?
During the long, growing years, the young hunting ape will have had the chance to develop a deep personal relationship with his parents, a relationship much more powerful and lasting than anything a young monkey could experience. The loss of this parental bond with maturation and independence would create a ‘relationship void’ – a gap that had to be filled. He would therefore already be primed for the development of a new equally powerful bond to replace it.
Other primate females do not pair with their male partners during their pregnancy but the naked ape does: because with one male- one female system, it would be dangerous to frustrate the male for too long a period. It might endanger the pair bond.
Why our lips are inside-out?
All primates have lips but not turned inside-out like ours. Giving a kiss on the lips is a greeting signal for the chimpanzee.
Kiss is both greeting and a sexual one for the naked ape. Why?: Sexual arousal produces some physical changes in the body; a swelling and reddening of the lips, and the clear demarcation of this area (the line between your lower lip and upper lip and the line around your lips) are shaped in a way that they become more recognizable. Even in their un-aroused condition, they are redder than the rest of the face skin simply by their very existence, they will act as advertising signals drawing attention to the presence of a tactile sexual structure.
Another supporting fact to this is that if climatic conditions demand a darker skin, then this will work agains the visual signalling capacity of the lips by reducing their color contrast. If they really are important as visual signals, what they have lost in color contrast, they have made up for in size and shape by becoming larger and more protuberant.
Monogamy or polygamy?
If the violent hunting life results in adult males becoming scarcer than females, there will be a tendency for some of the surviving males to form pair bonds with more than one female. However, this will bring home the problem since the female won’t want to share him with somebody else. To have a peaceful relationship with his hunting mates, a peaceful family life at the home base, to keep the peace in the group, naked apes evolved to be monogamous.
We can sum up by saying that, whatever obscure backward tribal units are doing today, the mainstream of our species express its pair-bonding character in its most extreme form, namely long-term monogamous mating.
Our Smell Preferences
Before puberty, there are strong preferences for sweet and fruity odors, but with the arrival of sexual maturity this response falls off and there is a dramatic shift in favor of flowery, oily and musky odors. This applies to both sexes, but the increase in musk responsiveness is stronger in males than females.
If the old primate patterns are left unmodified, the adult male will soon drive out the young males (his sons) and mate with the young females . These will then become part of the family unit as additional breeding females along with their mother, and we shall be right back where we started. But this wouldn’t work anymore for the new cooperative hunting ape. Because of its home-base needs and female-male bond that already improved, as the children reach puberty, they set off to establish a new breeding base and find their mate themselves.
Where did the urge for covering our genitals come from?
If sexuality had to be heightened to keep the pair together, then steps must have been taken to damp it down when the pair were apart, to avoid the over-stimulation of third parties. Because of their vertical posture it is impossible for a naked ape to approach another member of his species without performing a genital display. The covering of the genital region with some simple kind of garment must have been an early cultural development.
ABNORMAL or NORMAL sexual behavior?
If outside matings conflict too strongly with the pair bond, then some less harmful substitute for them has to be found. The solution has been ‘voyeurism’ meaning obtaining sexual excitement from watching other individuals copulating.
There is nothing biologically unusual about a homosexual act of pseudo-copulation. But the formation of a homosexual pair bond is re-productively unsound, since it cannot lead to the production of offspring and wastes potential breeding adults. One theory is that under serious over-crowding with no signs of any easing up in the immediate future, anti-reproductive sexual patterns must obviously be considered in a new light.
If either males or females cannot for some reason obtain sexual access to their opposite numbers, they will find sexual outlets in other ways. They may use other members of their own sex. or they may even use members of other species, or they may masturbate.
If the naked ape is trying to breast feed her baby and the baby doesn’t want it, there are two possible reasons:
Nipple is not protruding far enough into the baby’s mouth.
It is failing because it is being suffocated.
This is caused by the anatomy of the human female breast. Other female primates has much longer shape and does not swell out into the great rounded hemisphere that causes so much difficulty for the baby. This is because for our species, breast design is primarily sexual rather than maternal in function.
Why we breast feed on the left side?
The mother, either instinctively or by an unconscious series of trials and errors, would soon arrive at the discovery that her baby is more at peace if held on the left, against her heart, than on the right.
This is why babies sleep better with a ticking metronome with a heart beat speed . This also may explain why we insist on locating feelings of love in the heart rather than the head. Also, we rock back and forth on our feet when we are in a state of conflict. rocking like a heart beat calms us down.
Voice and Crying
The astonishing fast rate of learning in the field of vocal imitation is unique to our species and must be considered as one of our greatest achievements. Chimpanzees are like us, brilliant at rapid manipulative imitation, but they cannot manage vocal imitations. This difference is a question of brain, not voice. The chimpanzee has a vocal apparatus that is structurally perfectly capable of making a wide variety of sounds. So do birds. But they are too bird-brained to make a good use of this ability.
By crying, the baby alerts its parents, the adult alerts the other members of its social group. There are two important factors to baby’s crying: physical pain (including hunger) and insecurity.
Laugh has evolved from crying: the crying infant has become segmented, chopped up into small pieces and at the same time has grown smoother an slower.
Laughing does not appear until the third or fourth month. Its arrival coincides with the development of the parental recognition. Smiling is a secondary form of laughing. It has become specialized as a species greeting signal. Any social contact is at best mildly fear-provoking. Both smile and the laugh indicate the existence of this fear and its combination with feelings of attraction and acceptance (Blogger’s note: Maybe this explains the nervous laugh and nervous smile! I have a strange story actually, when I heard that my grandfather died in a tragic traffic accident, I was devastated. I was the one who broke down the news to my mom, but while I was telling her the terrible news, I found myself smiling! I was thinking to myself: What the heck? Stop smiling! But it was uncontrollable, I couldn’t control it. Maybe it was my fear that smiling!).
Also the evolution of smile is the clinging that apes do but we can’t since we do not have any fur on our mother to cling to. A young chimpanzee screams its head off when it needs attention, like we do. Once his mother comes he clings to her showing that he wants his mother to stay. We do the same by smiling. We signal to our mother that we want her and her attention to stay by smiling.
We never stopped investigating: this is the greatest survival trick of our species. Experiments with monkeys have revealed that not only does isolation in infancy produce a socially withdrawn adult, but it also creates an anti-sexual and anti-parental individual.
Animals fight among themselves either to establish their dominance in a social hierarchy, or to establish their territorial rights over a particular piece of ground.
There is a rigidly established social hierarchy in most species of monkeys and apes, with a dominant male in charge of the group. When he becomes too old or weak to maintain his domination, he is overthrown by a younger, sturdier male, who then assumes the mantle of the colony boss.
The book explains the physical changes in our body during the preparation of a fight, which I’m not going to write here. Rather, I will share some interesting information.
When a mammal becomes aggressively aroused to fight a number of basic physiological changes occur within its body. The whole machine has to gear itself up for action by means of the autonomic nervous system. This system consists of two opposing and counterbalancing sub systems:
The sympathetic system: the one that is concerned with preparing the body for violent activity. It says “You are stripped for action, get moving!”
The parasympathetic system: the one that has the task of preserving and restoring bodily reserves. It says “Take it easy, relax and conserve your strength”
The enemy provokes fear as well as aggression. The aggression drives the animal on, the fear holds it back. The intense state of inner conflict arises. Typically, the animal that is aroused to fight doesn’t go straight into all-out attack. It begins by threatening to attack. If the enemy gets scared and leaves, then you win without shedding any blood. This is preferable.
In the tense state of conflict between aggression and fear, everything is suspended. The result is that parasympathetic system fights back wildly and the autonomic pendulum swings frantically back and forth. As the tense moments of threat and counter threat tick by, we see flashes of parasympathetic activity intermitted with the sympathetic symptoms. Dryness in the mouth may give way to excessive salivation. Tightening of the bowels may collapse and sudden defecation occurs. The urine, held back so strongly in the bladder, maybe released in a flood. The removal of the blood from the skin maybe massively reversed: extreme paleness being replaced by intense flushing and reddening. The deep and rapid respiration may be dramatically interrupted, leading to gasps and sighs. These are desperate attempts on the part of the parasympathetic system to counteract the apparent actions of sympathetic. This explains why in extreme cases of shock, fainting or swooning can be observed. In such instances blood that has been rushed to the brain is withdrawn again so violently that it leads to a sudden unconsciousness.
One of the side affects of an intense inner conflict is that animal sometimes exhibits strange and seemingly irrelevant behavior to show its fear + anger. There are so many variations to this in animal world. One of them that is similar to us is to indulge in ‘instant sleep’ momentarily tucking their heads into a snoozing position, yawning and stretching. The other one is scratching even though nothing is itching. Modern humans do this by rearranging ornaments (see below, 45. President of the USA’s behavior), lighting a cigarette, cleaning our glasses, looking at our watch, pouring a drink, etc. (Bloggers note: Also have you ever thought why we feel so sleepy while studying for our finals? That is our ‘instant sleep’ reaction to our fear.)
So what do animals do to show their enemy that they don’t want to fight anymore?
They either switch off the signals that have been arousing the aggression, or they switch on other, positively non aggressive signals. Because aggression involves violent movement, a static pose automatically signals non-aggression. Usually this is accompanied by crouching or cowering. Aggression involves expanding the body to its maximum size (look how the both men are opening their arms while threatening each other in the above video) and crouching reverses this . Facing away from the animal also helps.
In certain rare cases a loser will admit defeat by offering a vulnerable area to attacker. A chimpanzee for example, will hold out its hand as a gesture of submission. Modern human does this by a hand shake or raising our hands.
submission gesture 2
Sometimes they adopt juvenile begging postures which will talk to the enemy’s parental instincts. Modern human does this by adopting a ‘baby-talk’ that we see among couples.
The last thing the animal tries is grooming. A great deal of social or mutual grooming goes on in animal world and it is strongly associated with the calmer, ore peaceful moments of community life.
Human animal in Fight
We cannot intimidate our opponents, for example, by erecting our body hair. But we can go ‘white with rage’, ‘red with anger’, or ‘pale with fear’. It is the white color we have to watch for here: this means activity.If it is combined with other actions that signal attack, then it is a vital danger signal. If it is combined with other actions that signal fear, then it is a panic signal. The angry, red-faced opponent who faces you is far less likely to attack than the white-faced, tight lipped one. Red-face’s conflicts such that he is all bottled up and inhibited, but white face is still ready for action. White face is much more likely to spring in to the attack unless he is immediately appeased or counter-threatened even more strongly.
Pale angry face (the most dangerous one)
As naked apes, because our urge to attack and escape are both strongly activated simultaneously, we exhibit some characteristics movements. For example: raising of clenched fist or raising a hand, back and forth striking movements of the forearm. We blow our fist but at a safe distance form the opponent.
Naked ape make short approach-intention movements but repeatedly check themselves from going too far. maybe the stamped their feet or bring down their fists in any near-by object. This redirection activity happens a lot in animal world. Because the opponent is too frightening to be directly assaulted, the aggressive movements are redirected towards some other less intimidating object dor example a harmless bystander . Gorillas, chimpanzees frequently perform similar display, tearing up, smashing and throwing around branches and vegetation.
Watch the two men’s fight. It takes them about a minute to threaten each other (repeatedly check themselves from going too far). Their body move back and forth, they raise their hands up. You can easily see the guy with the green shirt’s face is turning red as the argument heats up. Also at the minute 0:30 by shooting the ball, actually he is redirecting his anger.
Our aggressive faces are the same with other primates, the more the urge to attack dominates the urge to flee, the more the face pulls itself forwards. If you are exposing your teeth, your forehead is wrinkling and eyebrows are raised, the fear is taking over.
The crouching of animals as a sign of defeat turns into groveling and prostrating in humans. The key signal here is the lowering of the body in relation to the dominant individual. When threatening, we puff ourselves up to our greatest height, making our bodies as tall and as large as possible. So submissive behavior must be the opposite. Like military salute; removing the hat actually a procedure of lowering the height of the body. Also the key feature here is the lowering of eyes. A direct stare is typical of the most out-and-out aggression.
Chimpanzees appease by holding out a limp hand towards the dominant individual, to show submission. We do the same gesture. It is our greeting gesture in the shape of a friendly hand shake. Friendly gestures often grow out of submissive ones.
The Power of Stare
During ordinary face-to-face conversations we typically look away from our companions when we are talking, then glance back at them at the end of each sentence, or ‘paragraph’, to check their response to what we have said. Even though a professor with much experience is in such a dominant position, there are so many students in the auditorium, all staring at him, that he experiences a basic and initially uncontrollable fear of them. Only after a great deal of practice can he overcome this. The simple, aggressive, physical act of being stared at by a large group of people is also causing the butterflies in his stomach. He has all his intellectual worries about the qualities of his performance and its reception, of course, but the mass threat-stare is an additional and more fundamental hazard for him. This is again a case of the curiosity stare being confused at an unconscious level with the threat-stare. The wearing of glasses and sunglasses makes the face appear more aggressive because it artificially and accidentally enlarges the pattern of the stare. Mild mannered individuals tend to select thin-rimmed or rimless glasses (without realizing why they do so) because this enables them to see better with the minimum stare exaggeration, arousing counter aggression.
Moths have a pair of startling eye-markings on their wings. These lie concealed until the creatures are attacked by predators.
On a smaller scale certain products have been given threat-face brand names such as OXO, OMO, OZO or OVO. The attention has already been drawn.
In animal world, during the fight, destruction of life is avoided because the enemy either flees or submits. In either case, the dispute is settled. But the moment that attacking is done from such a distance that the submission signals of the losers cannot be read by the winners, then violent aggression is going to go raging on. In modern aggression, the result is wholesale slaughter on a scale unheard of in any other species.
There are 5 solutions proposed by the author to end the massacre:
massive mutual disarmamaent
de-patriotize the members of the different social groups.
provide and promote harmless, symbolic substitutes for war
improvement of intellectual control over aggression.
According to the author none of these are really possible for the near future. So he proposes this as the only sound biological solution to this dilemma: 5. Massive depopulation or a rapid spread of the species on to other planets, combined if possible with assistance from all four of the courses of action already mentioned. To sum up then, the best solution for ensuring world peace is the widespread promotion of contraception or abortion.
From out ancient background there remained a need for all-powerful figure who could keep the group under control, and the vacancy was filled by the invention of a god. At first sight it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency. Because if this, religion has proved immensely valuable as a device for aiding social cohesion, and it is doubtful whether our species could have progressed far without it. We all simply have to believe in something.
Why do we like to eat our food hit?
it helps to simulate ‘prey temparature’ :Although we no longer consume freshly killed meat we nevertheless devour it at much the same temperature as other carnivor species.
We have such weak teeth that we are forced to ‘tenderize’ the meat by cooking it. But it doesn’t explain why want to eat it hot.
byincreasing the temperature of the food we improve its flavor.
Like other primates we find it hard to resist sweets.
The urge to eat meat appears to have become too deep -seated.
The place where the environment comes into direct contact with an animal, its body surface, receives a great deal of rough treatment during the course of its life. Animals have evolved a veriety of special comfort movements that help to keep it clean.
Social grooming, (animals picking food from each other’s fur) the development of a friendly mutual aid system. This can be seen in a wide range of both bird and mammal species, but it reaches a peak of expression among the higher primates. When they groom each other, they do lip-smacking to communicate. Look at this video:
We no longer have a luxuriant coat of fur to clean. Smiling has replaced lip smacking and vocalization replaced grooming. The behavior pattern of talking:
Information talking: Talking with verbs about everything
Mood talking: nonverbal mood signals
Exploratory talking: Talking for talking’s sake
Grooming talking; Meaningless polite chatter during gatherings
Fluffy or furry clothing, rugs, or furniture often release a strong grooming response. Pet animals are even more inviting, and few naked apes can resist the temptation to stroke a cat’s fur or scratch a dog behind the ear.
So, why the grooming adoption of humans did not involved our hair? The explanation appears to lie in the sexual significance of the hair. Its sexual associations have led to its involvement in sexual behavior patterns, so that stroking or manipulating the hair is now an action too heavily loaded with erotic significance to be used as a simple social friendship gesture.
In today’s world we have some psychological disorders and they are coming from the grooming need of our ancestors. Medical care is one of the grooming actions among apes. Minor infection and sicknesses are usually treated rationally, as if they are simply mild versions of serious illnesses, but there is strong evidence to suggest that they are in reality much more related to primitive ‘grooming demands’. The medical symptoms reflect a behavioral problem that has taken a physical form, rather than a true physical problem. This is happening because by examining, writing a prescription, taking care of the patient, the doctor is doing grooming. If psychological the person needs constant grooming, this is a disorder. In modern world we call it: Münchausen’s Syndrome. Those members of a community who are either very successful or socially well adjusted rarely suffer from this. Those that have temporary or long-standing social problems are, by contrast, highly susceptible.
Also, another disorder is hidden here: Some individuals have such a great need to care for others that they may actively promote and prolong sickness in a companion in order to be able to express their grooming urges more fully. This way a vicious cycle of a chronic invalid demanding and constant attention is created. This is called: Münchausen by Proxy syndrome.
OUR OTHER SIMILARITIES
Like other primates we still scratch ourselves, rub our eyes, pick our sores,. and lick our wounds. We also share with them a strong tendency to sun bathe. In addition we have added a number of specialized cultural patterns, the most common and widespread of which is washing with water. This is rare in other primates, although certain species bathe occasionally.
We also sweat like primates. There is a further distinction in the ares of emotional sweating, the palms and the soles differing from the armpits and the forehead. The first regions respond well only to emotional situations, whereas the last two react to both emotional and to temperature stimuli.
The last part of the book is about how naked ape sees other animals. There is some interesting information here. Higher forms of animal life regard other animals in 5 ways: as prey, symbionts, competitors, parasites and predators.
The most ancient symbiont in our history is undoubtedly the dog. We cannot be sure exactly when our ancestors first began to domesticate this valuable animal, but it appears to be at least ten thousand years ago. The wild, wolf-like ancestors of the domestic dog must have been serious competitors with our hunting ancestors. In time – we do not exactly know how- they made a deal in each hunt to share the kill. In time, possibly young puppies were brought in to the tribal home base to be fattened so that they could eat them later. However, their value as watch dogs were discovered. Then, these that were allowed to live in a now tamed condition and permitted to accompany the males on their hunting trip show immediately their talent of track down the prey.
Having been fed and raised, the dogs would consider themselves to be members of the naked-ape pack and would cooperate instinctively with their adopted leaders. Selective breeding over a number of generations would soon get rid of the trouble makers and a new, improved stock of increasingly restrained and controllable domestic hunting dogs would arise.
Individual dogs with unusually well developed abilities in a particular direction were inbred to intensify their special advantages.
With the development of large-scale grain storage, rodents became a serious problem and rodent-killers were encouraged The cat the ferret and the mongoose were the species that came to our aid and in the first two cases full dommestication with selective breeding followed.
Animals We Like and We Don’t Like
They asked 80,000 British children aging between 4 to 14 what their favorite animal is in the zoo. The figures are as follows: 97.15% of all the children quoted a mammal of some kind as their top favorite Birds accounted for 1.6%, reptiles 1%, amphibians 0.055. If we narrow it to top ten animals:
Bushbaby (A nocturnal ape) (8%)
It is immediately clear that these preferences do not reflect aesthetic influences. The top ten are not the most elegant or brightly colored of species. They include instead a high proportion of rather clumsy, heavy-set and dully colored forms. But they look like ‘us’ or they act like ‘us’ somehow. Look at these facts:
They all have hair, rather than feathers or scales
They have rounded outlines (chimpanzee, monlkey, bushbaby, panda, bear,e lephant)
They have flat faces (chimpanzee, monkey, bush baby, bear, panda, lion)
They have facial expressions (chimpanzee, monkey, horse, lion, dog)
They can ‘manipulate’ small objects (chimpanzee,. monkey, busbaby, panda,elephant)
Their postures are in some ways, or at some timesrather vertical (chimpanzee, monket, buhbaby, panda, bear, giraffe)
This is not a conscious process. Each of the species listed provides certain key stimuli that strongly remind us of special properties of our own species. Non-mammalian species score badly because they are weak in these above respects. Among the birds, the top 2 picks were penguin, which is a vertically walking animal, and parrot, who speaks like a human.
The younger children prefer the bigger animals and the older children prefer the smaller ones. Because smaller children viewing the animals as parent-substitutes and the older children are looking upon them as child-substitutes.
Let’s look at the animal hates:
These animals share one important feature: they are dangerous. Most of them lack the anthropomorphic features that describe the top ten favorites. Most of the people can’t even stand looking at their pictures. They cannot hurt you from the pictures, so what is this disgust?
So the fear for top two is very interesting…
An analysis of the reasons given for hating these forms reveals that snakes are disliked because they are slimy an d dirty and spiders are repulsive because they are hairy and creepy. This means that they must have a symbolic significance rather than being dangerous. We might have a powerful inborn response to avoid these animals (MariaExample): 1. They might be symbolizing unwanted sex 2 .Inborn aversion response towards snake-like forms, aversion response has a survival value.
As far as the spider fear is concerned, there is a marked sex difference. The level of reaction to spiders is the same for girls with boys up to the age of puberty, then the fear in females doubles with a sharp increase. This leap in spider hatred that accompanies female puberty because of the growth of unwanted hair on the body of a young girl. That’s why they describe it as ‘nasty, hairy things’ .
At the end of the seventeenth century the world population of naked ape was only 500 million. It has now risen to 7,600 million. Every twenty-four hours it increases by another 150,000. In 210 years’ time, if the rate of increate stays steady – which is unlikely- there will be a seething mass of 400,000 million (400 billion) naked apes crowding the face of the earth. This is scary.
Many exciting species have become extinct in the past and we are no exception. Sooner or later we shall go and make way for something else.
Some people think that our intelligence can dominate all our basic urges. I submit that this is rubbish. Our raw animal nature will never permit it. Of course we are flexible, of course, we are behavioral opportunists, but there are severe limits to the form our opportunism can take. By stressing our biological features in this book, I have tried to show the nature of these restrictions.
If you enjoyed this information as much as I did, don’t forget to add this great book into your library!
This book is full of interesting facts about psychology, economy, business, education, culture, marketing and even biology. Sheena’s writing style was a little challenging for me in the beginning, because she prefers to start with a story, setting the scene and then she explains what that story was all about. So, for a while you find yourself thinking ‘What is her point?’. Despite the pretentious writing style of hers, it is still easy to read and her intelligence and wittiness are remarkable throughout the book.
A brief info about the author: Despite the difficulties posed by her blindness, Iyengar pursued higher education. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. She then earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 1997.The following year, her dissertation “Choice and its Discontents” received the prestigious Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. She taught management classes in MIT and Columbia Business School.
So let’s talk about this wonderful book. I will share with you the highlights of the book and the lines that I thought were so interesting and thought provoking.
In order to choose, first we must perceive that control is possible. We should feel that we have the control to do things. In this experiment, the group of dogs that couldn’t escape and suffered in the first set of experiments tended to show almost no effort to overcome the obstacles although it caused pain to them in the second experiment. Because these dogs, having earlier suffered a complete loss of control, had learned that they were helpless.
BIOLOGY: When we look at FMRI scans, we see that the main brain system engaged when making choices is the corticostriatal network. Its main component, Striatum, evaluates the reward association. It is responsible for alerting us that sugar=good and root canal = bad. However, we have to also make the connection that too much of sugar can cause root canal. That is where the other half of the corticostriatal network, the prefrontal cortex, comes into play. While motor abilities are largely developed by childhood and factual reasoning abilities by adolescence, the prefrontal cortex undergoes a process of growth and consolidation that continues into our mid 20s. This is why young children have more difficulty understanding abstract concepts than adults, and both children and teenagers are especially prone to acting on impulse.
WHY: Sometimes we like to choose things even though it is not practical. For example in this experiment, there were two paths that lead to the same amount food, one was branched the other one was direct. So, one held no advantage over the other. After multiple trials, nearly every rat preferred taking the branching path. Another example from human beings: People were given a casino chip. they had two choices; whether they were going to play it at a table with two identical roulette-style wheels and at a table with a single wheel. Even though they could bet on only one of the wheels, and all three wheels were identical, almost all of them chose to play it at the table with two wheels. Why? Because WE LIKE TO MAKE CHOICES.
HEALTH: Health wise, making choices is good for you as well because when human beings feel trapped, having no choice over things, they feel stressed. As you all know stress had both horrible physical and psychological effects. Because of these, captivity can often result in lower life expectancies despite objectively improved living conditions. According to the research, the less control people felt they had over their work, the higher the blood pressure during the work hours. People with little control over their work also experienced more back pain, missed more days of work due to illness in general and had higher rate of mental illness. Another study suggests that minor but frequent choice making can have a disproportionately large and positive impact on our perception of overall control.
RELIGION: Iyengar interviewed 600 people from 9 different religions with three groups: Fundamentalists, conservatives and liberals. To the author’s surprise, the study showed that members of more fundamentalist faiths experienced greater hope, were more optimistic when faced with adversity and were less likely to be depressed than their counterparts. Indeed, the people most susceptible to pessimism and depression were Unitarians, especially those who were atheists. The reason why the author was surprised was this is the controlling nature of religion. It has so many rules and it doesn’t leave you much room in terms of choices. Yet the presence of so many rules didn’t weaken people, instead, it seemed to empower them. Many of their choices were taken away and yet they experienced a sense of control over their lives.
CULTURE: Culture’s effect on our choices comprises a big part in the book. Iyengar, talks specifically about one dimension of the cultures: Identity. When it comes to making choices, there is a huge gap between the collectivist cultures and the individualistic cultures. Those of us raised in more individualistic societies, such as the Unites States, are taught to focus primarily on the ‘I’ when choosing, primarily motivated by their own preferences, needs, and rights and give priority to their personal goals over the goals of others. Iyengar also explains the roots of individualism going back to enlightenment of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe where the influence of Greek philosophers, Protestant Reformation, scientific advances were profound. Whereas collectivism has been on earth extensively for a longer time. The earliest hunter – gatherer societies were highly collectivist by necessity as looking out for another increased everyone’s chances of survival and the value placed on the collective grew after humans shifted to agriculture as a means of sustenance. As populations increased and the formerly unifying familial and tribal forces became less powerful, other forces such as religion filled the gap, providing people with a sense of belongingness and a common purpose. In Eastern cultures, individuals tend to understand their lives relatively more in terms of their duties and less in terms of personal preferences.
Why is it important to understand the difference between the two: Example of Japanese children and Anglo American children. Iyengar performed an experiment with two groups of children (Please see the chart I made below): American and Japanese children were going to color an anagram. But they were given 3 choices; in one group they were going to choose their own anagram type and the color, in the second group, the anagram and the color were already chosen for them by the teacher and the teacher told them that it was his/her choice, and the third group was told that the anagram and the marker were chosen by their mother. As you can see from the chart, American kids did way better and spent much longer time on their projects (because they enjoyed them) when they made their own choices, whereas Japanese pupils were way more successful when the project material was chosen by their mothers. Another interesting result is that, when the choices were made by this random teacher, a stranger, both groups of children felt the imposition and reacted negatively.
Cultural aspect of choice at WORK: The employees working at the same bank and for the same manager – who reported giving the same levels of choice to all the employees – perceived different degrees of choice available to them, depending on their culture. For example: Employees in Asia, along with the Asian Americans, were less likely than Anglo American, Hispanic American, or African American employees to think of their day-to-day activities at work in terms of choice (meaning freedom of decision making is lacking and/or at work, my supervisor makes the majority of the decisions about what I do), and Latin Americans’ perception of choice fell in between these groups.
It turned out that for all the American employees except Asian Americans, the more choice they thought they had, the higher they scored on all measures of motivation, satisfaction, and performance. Conversely, the more they felt their jobs were dictated by their managers, the worse they did on all of these measures. In contrast, Asian participant, whether from Asia or the United States, scored higher when they thought their day-to-day tasks were determined primarily by their managers. Latin American employees once again fell somewhere in the middle, slightly benefiting from both greater personal choice and greater control by their managers.
WHAT IS ‘FREEDOM’? :Berlin wall was demolished in 1989, even 20 years after its reunification, in many ways Berlin still feels like two cities, divided by a barrier of ideas as powerful as the Wall itself. In Iyengar’s conversations with people from East Berlin, she realized that rather than being grateful for the increasing number of opportunities, choices, and options that they have available, to them in the marketplace, they are suspicious of this new way of life, which they increasingly perceive as unfair: Consider the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and its satellites, including East Berlin. The government planned out how much of everything – cars, vegetables, tables, chairs- each family might need, and projected from that to set production goals for the nation as a whole. Each citizen was assigned to a particular career depending upon the skills and abilities he had demonstrated in school, and the careers that were available were also based on the projected needs of the nation. Since rent and health care were free, consumer goods were all that people could spend their wages on, but centrally controlled production ensured that everyone had the same things as everyone else, down to the same television sets, furniture and types of living space. So, the Eastern Berliner man said “In the Soviet Union you had money but couldn’t buy anything. Now you can buy anything but you don’t have money”
The Idealized capitalist system provides: ‘Freedom from’ external restrictions, one’s ability to rise in society’s ranks.
The idealized communist/socialist system provides: ‘Freedom To’ obtain adequate standard living, aims for equality of outcomes rather than the opportunities. So while the American democracy has led to unprecedented national wealth, it also created a widespread inequality.
TEMPTATION: When we all know that one option will lead to a better outcome, why do we yearn for the other? We have two interconnecting systems for processing information and arriving at answers or judgments.
The first one is: the automatic system which operates quickly, effortlessly, and subconsciously.
The second one: the reflective system, driven not by raw sensation but by logic and reason, that is the one we have to turn on and tune into.
For example, someone offers you a choice between $100 today and $120 a month from today. What is your answer?
Then the same person offers you a choice between receiving $100 one month from now and $120 two months from now. Which amount do you choose this time?
In the first example, people tend to choose taking $100 right away, here, their automatic system is speaking. In the second example, people usually choose waiting for two months to get $120 and here, the reflective systems is talking. This is a very interesting result because the two is identically the same. In both cases, the person needs to wait for a month between $100 and $120. Therefore, in case of temptation, we may be aware that our desire is being fueled by the automatic system and that we’d be better off if we followed the reflective system, but just because we know the ‘right’ answer doesn’t mean we can bring ourselves to choose it.
According to the psychologist Prof. Paul Ekman, the best way to combine the reflective system with the automatic system; allowing the person to make snap judgments that are also highly accurate is ‘informed intuition’.
Lake Wobegon Effect (Illusory superiority) is also explained in detail: Ninety percent of us believe ourselves to be in the top 10 percent in terms of overall intelligence and ability.
PRESENTATION AFFECTS OUR CHOICES: Every time we encounter new information or reexamine old information, we’re influenced by its presentation. Research has consistently demonstrated that losses appear far larger in our minds than do gains. We do whatever we can to avoid losing the things that are most important to us, but we don’t take similar risks to achieve gains because we worry that we might incur a loss instead.
We tend to have a better memory for things that excite our senses or appeal to our emotions than for straight facts and dry statistics.
Research has shown that people are willing to spend significantly more when paying with a credit card than with cash because when we take the bills out of our wallet and hand them over, our senses register that we now have less money.
Even the order in which we encounter options can affect their availability. We tend to better remember the first and last options in a group, so rather than focusing on the merits of each alternative, we may be influenced primarily by the position in which each appeared. This is why items displayed at either end of a store shelf sell more than those in the middle, and it’s also the reason an interviewer might unwittingly pay more attention to the first and last candidates in a job interview. Even in elections, the candidate whose name is on the top of the ballot is most likely to be chosen.
Iyengar also argues that interviewers often subconsciously make up their minds about interviewees based on their first few moments of interaction. In order to break the bias, instead of asking the generic questions like experience and educational background, interviewers should try obtaining samples of candidate’s work or asking how he would respond to difficult hypothetical situations, are dramatically better at assessing future success, with a nearly threefold advantage over traditional interviews.
HAPPINESS: Studies consistently showed that money can buy happiness, but only up to a certain point. Once one’s basic needs are met, the value of the additional material goods that come with greater wealth diminishes rapidly. There are stories proving that rising income doesn’t increase the reported happiness, this is true even for Americans who earn more than $5 million per year.
MARKETING: The name, the packaging the attractiveness of the product we buy affects our choice making. Iyengar explains in this chapter that big fashion brands create a trend and they impose on all of us from different channels of media to increase their sales, taking advantage of “mere exposure effect”. The more we are exposed to a particular object or idea, the more we like it, provided we had positive and neutral feelings toward it at the outset. That is to say, the higher the exposure a product receives and the greater its perceived social acceptability, the more people will buy it, which in turn further increases its exposure and acceptability.
In blind taste tests people enjoyed all of the wines about equally, but when shown the prices, they preferred more expensive ones since they associate the price with quality.
Everything from the color of a product’s logo, or of the product itself, to the shape of its packaging can change people’s preferences in ways not captured in blind taste tests.
When the bottled water say “pure”, “fresh” “natural” on it, the implication is that any water not packaged in such a bottle is probably impure or unnatural, maybe dangerous. However, Iyengar argues that a quarter of bottled water brands are tap water and federal quality standards for tap water are more stringent and more strongly enforced than the standards of bottled water.
In this book, there is an interesting experiment about Coke but I will not write it here. Iyengar talks about Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy quite extensively. Did you know Coca Cola Company holds a patent on the color of Santa Claus? So, Coke is Christmas. Also, free Cokes were distributed in a lot of big events that represented freedom. The collapse of Berlin Wall was one of them. So Coke also tastes like freedom. These positive attributes made the product more than just sugar and natural flavors.
WE ARE UNDER INFLUENCE: Our minds don’t organize stored information alphabetically or chronologically or by the Dewey decimal system but rather by its web of association to other information. Something that activates these automatic associations is known as “prime” and its effect on our mental states and subsequent choices is known priming (imagine a lemon in your mouth, what do you feel? Is your mouth watery?)
Buying a product that a celebrity also wears allows us to feel a little more glamorous by association
The prime itself may be perceived only subconsciously as in subliminal messages.
In 2000 general elections, S. Christian Wheeler wanted to increase education tax from 5.0 to 5.6 in order to increase education spending. The researchers found that the 26 percent of people who were assigned to vote in the schools were more likely to support schools by saying yes than were those people who voted at other polling locations. They did a similar experiment online. Results showed that the people who were exposed to the school images were more willing to support raising taxes to fund education.
A 2007 study showed that about 70% of elections were won by the candidate whom people rated as more competent based solely on their appearance.
Numerous studies also found out that height and salary positively correlated, especially for men, and highly attractive people of both sexes earn at least 12 percent more than their less attractive co-workers.
SOMETIMES VARIETY IS NOT GOOD – DILEMMA: George Miller, Professor of Psychology at Princeton wrote the paper “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” in 1956. For example, determining or distinguishing between the positions of points, the direction and curvature of lines, the hue and brightness of objects, the frequency and volume of tones, the location and strength of vibrations, and the intensity of smells and tastes. For each of the senses, most people can handle only five to nine items before they begin to consistently make errors in perception.
Iyengar talks about the interesting experiment that she performed at a supermarket. There were two booths that were set up for tasting different kinds of jam. The first booth had about 20 kinds and the second booth had only 6. Although the booth with the largest selection attracted 50% more customers to itself, only 3% bought a jar after tasting. They looked actually really puzzled. Whereas the 30% of the customers who visited smaller selection booth bought a jar.
Some brands actually decreased their product variety down to almost 50% and their sales jumped 10%. Chances are that quite a few other companies could benefit from reducing the amount of choice they offer to the customers. Studies show that when people are given a moderate number of options (4-6) rather than a large number (20-30) they are more likely to make a choice, are more confident in their decisions, and are happier with what they choose.
BUT ALSO, we need to still have variety, because we would suffer from being limited to any single item, no matter how much we enjoy it. We would eventually become sick and tired of it, a process known as satiation. Therefore, we need varieties. A study by the USDA found that as the total amount and variety of food in the US increased in the recent decades, average food consumption rose at even faster rate.
Finally, study shows that people can learn to choose from more options, but they are less likely to drown if they start off in the shallows and then slowly move toward the deep, all the while building their skills and nerve.
WHEN CHOOSING COMES WITH THE PRICE: Iyengar leaves the most touching study to the last. Think about the same situation that applies to two families: You just had had a baby and the doctors explained that your baby was in a critical condition and even after weeks, there is no improvement. They say: “Her critical condition implies severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk, or interact with others. After much deliberation, they have decided that it’s in your baby’s best interest that they withdraw treatment – by turning off the ventilation machine – and let her die.” Here, doctors make the decision and they don’t give any possible courses of action or their prospective consequences.
The second time, in the same situation, they say this “There are two possible courses of action: Continue to the treatment, or withdraw the treatment by turning off the ventilation machine. They also explain the consequences of each action. If the treatment is withdrawn, your baby will die. If the treatment is continued, there is about a %40 chance that she will die and about %60 chance that she will survive with severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk or interact with others. Because of her critical situation, the doctors have decided it’s in her best interest that they withdraw treatment and let her die” Here, hearing the possible courses of action and their possible consequences probably made it easier to accept their decision, both increasing your confidence that it was the right one and reducing the emotional stress associated with it.
In the last example, they tell you “There are two possible courses of action: Continue to the treatment, or withdraw the treatment by turning off the ventilation machine. They also explain the consequences of each action. If the treatment is withdrawn, your baby will die. If the treatment is continued, there is about a %40 chance that she will die and about %60 chance that she will survive with severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk or interact with others. It is going to be your decision to continue the treatment or let her die.” Here, the choice lays in your hands. You are responsible for the consequences.
In France, the second example takes place whereas in America, the last example is the case for the same situation. With the study done on parents who had to go through these painful times, the results have shown that American families suffered from personal guilt, doubt and resentment much more than French families who blamed neither themselves nor doctors. Because they did not make the choice, doctors did.
As a final word, I highly recommend this great book. Iyengar shares more interesting studies and she expresses her own opinions and speaks with expertise. This book needs to be on your bookshelf. Forever.
My 7-hour flight from Boston to San Francisco turned out to be not a terrible one after all, thanks to this book. With its maximum two-page-long chapters and cute drawings, this book is a little bundle of joy. If you are interested in learning little secrets of everything about life: from biology to psychology, from astronomy to chemistry, it is wrapped in a 149-pages long hard cover book for you!
Since the chapters are short, it is easy to leave it and come back to it later. There are more than 50 chapters in it!That’s why I won’t go into too much detail, but I will talk about some sections so that you can have an idea about this lovely book.
To be honest, I had already known 75% of the facts included in the book: It is just because I’m interested in science and I read about it a lot. But the 25% that I gained after reading this was still very important and very interesting.
The writer’s style is very sincere and she simplifies the complex topics as much as she can. Here are what I selected for you from the chapters:
Chapter: I AM MADE FROM CARBON
“… Your body is composed of the products of such cosmic events, those remnants of burning giants (dead stars). Depending on where you look, what you touch, you are changing all the time. The carbon inside you, accounting for about 18 percent of your being, could have existed in any number of creatures or natural disasters before finding you. “
Chapter: PLANTS BEHAVE BETTER
“… Trees are able to distinguish their own roots from those of other species, and even those of their relatives. They share food and help to nourish their competitors when they are sick or struggling (in winter an aspen will likely not do as well as a conifer, so conifer lends a hand) and all this apparently for no other reason than that living becomes much easier when you are helping others, rather than simply ensuring your own survival. In fact, trees’ roots can sometimes end up so connected that two often will die at the same time.”
Chapter: I’LL BE WHERE THE BLUE IS
“… A phenomenon known as “Rayleigh scattering” is responsible for both the blue of the North American Bird Cyanocitta Cristata (Blue Jay) and that of the sky. In the case of the jay, its feathers contain melanin and would appear black if it weren’t for tiny air sacs in the feathers that scatter light, and so to our eyes the bird seems rendered in endless variations of blue. And when we gaze skywards, we are observing sunlight entering Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with particles in the air – compared to the other colors contained within light, blue has a shorter, smaller wavelength, and is therefore scattered more, resulting in Blue skies. “
Chapter: CLOUDS TO BREAK YOUR HEART
“… Clouds are formed by water vapor or ice crystals hugging determinedly onto the microscopic particles in the atmosphere known as “condensation nuclei” – things like smoke and dust and salt (aerosol)- and they do so because the air is simply too saturated to hold onto all the water anymore. Put millions upon millions of these together and you have a cloud perhaps weighing, although hard to believe, the equivalent of one hundred large elephants.”
This animation shows how a cloud is formed on the particle-level. Water droplets and black soot carbon aerosols mix in the air. Water droplets cling to aerosol particles, creating a larger water droplet. The droplet becomes very large and ‘pops’ into smaller water droplets, each with an aerosol particle inside, thus creating a cloud. (Official NASA Website: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/10387 )
Chapter: DOES ANYBODY ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IS
“… Culturally, the organization of time can be quite different, and this directly affects our experience of it. In some languages, the past is referred to as behind, and the future is ahead, but in others, the past is ahead and the future behind, perhaps because the past can be seen, and in order to observe something, it needs to be in front of you, not behind. While some languages refer to time as a distance travelled, others refer to it as a growing volume – a long day, full day. In English we think of it in linear terms, from left to right, but Chinese speakers think of time in terms of over and under, and in Greek time can be large, small. So easily do we mistake a word for the thing or phenomenon it speaks of, that it represents.”
** Blogger comment here: Speaking of languages and their effects on our time perception, I remembered this interesting talk about how languages can affect our money saving skills. Have a look at it if you have time. I wonder what you will think about it!**
Chapter: YOU ARE MOSTLY BACTERIA
“… Perhaps the greatest achievement of bacteria is the gut, part of an organ system that contains the largest number of bacterial species found anywhere in the human body – an incredibly complex community of microorganisms, known as gastrointestinal microbiota, or gut flora. The gut and the brain are connected by an extensive network of neurons, chemicals, and hormones, collectively called the “enteric nervous system,” which stays in touch with the central nervous system (linking the brain and the spinal cord) but also can act independently of it.
It seems that the bacteria in yor gut are capable of wielding power over more than just your breakfast – they can influence your perception of the world, your behavior. Most of the neurons involved in brain-gut discussion are carrying information to the brain, not receiving it, and it’s strange and wonderful to think that your gut might have more of an effect on both your long- and short-term mood than anything else.
Below: Pretty looking gut bacterias! Intestinal villi. Small finger-like projections that extend into the lumen of the small intestine. Gut bacteria, flora, microbiome. 3d illustration.
There are many more interesting chapters in this book. For a fun read and many moments of enlightenment, I highly recommend ‘Eating the Sun’. Especially great for commutes, beach vacations and long trips!
When I woke up in the middle of the night on August 17, 1999, in our 3-bedroom apartment in Ankara, Turkey, I realized somebody was knocking on the door like crazy. I walked through the living room and saw my mom looking outside the window to understand what was going on. I opened the door to see our older neighbor couple holding burning candles in their hands. They were terrified: “There has been an earthquake! Are you OK? It’s not safe here, you need to get out!” I woke my then 9-year old brother up. The power was out. We grabbed our radio and our shoes and we left our apartment in less than 3 minutes. The whole neigborhood was outside. I remember a woman had just a robe on. Another man was barefoot. There were kids crying, they were all so confused and scared. It was only 3:10 AM in the morning. The only light in our pitch dark street were the flashlights and cigarettes that our neighbors lid to relieve their stress. The radio said the epicenter of the earthquake was Izmit, which was at least 200 miles away. I thought to myself: “How come we felt it so strongly from this far away?” Then the news continued and I got my answer: It was 7.4 of magnitude and it lasted 45 seconds…
I don’t know if you ever experienced an earthquake. If you did, you probably know that even 10 seconds feel like a life time during the shaking and rumbling. I thought to myself: “A 45-second-long earthquake must have destroyed a lot of homes with people in them. The earthquake had happened at 3:01 AM, the radio said, when everyone was at home, sleeping. Oh, God! This is bad!”
The deadliest earthquake in Turkish history took place in Erzincan, in 1939. The 7.9 magnitude earthquake started shaking the ground at 2:00 AM and it lasted 52 seconds. The calendars marked December 27, so the weather was extremely cold, temperature varying from 23 to 27 F degrees. This lead more than 32,000 dead and more than 100,000 injured, several hundred thousands homeless.
I thought to myself, it could be as bad as Erzincan one… We all stayed outside until the sunrise. Then some of us got inside to get some sleep. The after shocks were scary but we knew that they wouldn’t be damaging. The most difficult one was over and thankfully, no one had a single crack in their walls, It was just ‘scary’ for Ankara. But the next day we were going to learn from the news that Izmit was not as lucky as we were: it was ‘devastating’.
Although I’m not a structural geologist, I’m still a geological engineer and I know a lot about earthquakes. The North Anatolian Fault is an active right-lateral strike-slip fault (transform fault) in northern Anatolia between the Eurasian Plate and the Anatolian Plate. As you can see below, Turkey is under a lot of pressure from the Eurasian plate pressing on one side and the Arabian plate from the other. Due to these constant continental movements, Turkey is a very tectonically active country.
Later we were going to learn that Izmit Earthquake was the 12th high magnitude earthquake (above 6.5) recorded on the North Anatolian Fault and the second deadliest one after Erzincan:
If you are not familiar with the earthquake magnitudes, you can check out the below chart. There is a myth that there could be mega quakes which can go up to 12, USGS debunks this by stating the facts:
“Earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth’s crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.
Turkey was not prepared for this at all. Although the international help arrived the next day and all the civil people volunteered to dig up the ruins to save people, there were A LOT of ruins and not enough man power. An AKUT (non profit rescue organization) member reported when their team of 12 first arrived at the scene, a neighborhood in Golcuk to be exact, there were 6 buildings collapsed and in each one of them, there were expected to be at least 40 people living. He said: “There were screams, groans, cries under every ruin, some of them weak, some of them strong. I could hear them yelling “Can anybody hear me?!” We were just 12 people, though. We were frozen. How would you choose who you will save and who you will have to let die?”
An Akut member Nasuh Mahruki says: “Sometimes their arms or legs were trapped under the rubble. Maybe amputating might have been a solution but we didn’t have the medical support we needed. Those were tough decisions to make.”
When the excavators and loaders arrived in the affected neighborhoods, it was already 4 days after the disaster. The voices were already silent at this moment. It was hot, like 110 F degree hot, and the smell of death was heavy in the air.
Because of the large number of injured victims, the hospitals had to use the parking lots. There weren’t enough blood ot bandages. People were in line to donate their blood.
Deads weren’t buried right away since they needed to be identified first. As a quick solution, they were kept on the ice skating rings nearby.
There have been thousands of deaths. But luckily there were also hundreds who were rescued. All the people you see in the photos below were rescued from this heart wrenching disaster, alive.
One of the survivors, Erkan Isik, became famous since he had squeezed Bill Clinton’s nose during his visit to the earthquake site. That cute moment made everyone forget about the terror they had been living for days, even for a few seconds. Now he is 20, and he is volunteering in AKUT rescue organization:
There were many coasts went under water after the earthquake: Istanbul was one of them. This created strange scenes like these:
The survivors were happy to be alive but their struggle had just started. They had lost everything: their homes, their valuables, some of them had lost their businesses. There were many camps around the city with thousands of tents. One of the biggest problems they were facing was an epidemic; Many dead bodies were still buried under the wreckage and each time it rained, there was a pollution risk of the underground water.
Besides homes, there were other damages in the city structure as well such as mosques, rail ways and gas stations. I would like to show you something here so that you could understand how the North Anatolian Fault, a strike slip fault, works. I will try to explain it as simply as possible, I promise.
Think about our earth with cracks everywhere, like an egg shell. Along those cracks, the pieces of the shell can move in different ways: up or down OR left or right. These types of movements along the cracks form different kinds of faults. For the strike slip ones (Remember, the North Anatolian Fault one is a strike slip one), the movement is horizontal as it is shown in the rectangle with red arrows:
Now, to give you a real life example, I will show you two photos below that are from the 1999 earthquake showing where exactly the fault line (the egg shell crack line) passes:
What is Awaiting
The scientists confidently say that the next earthquake will probably happen in Marmara Sea because there has been a westward progression in the big magnitude earthquakes on the North Anatolian Fault line so far. The part that lies under Marmara Sea hasn’t had a big tectonic movement yet. The scientists are expecting an above 7 earthquake here someday until 2029. Because the average time that the stress is accumulated and finally released on a big active fault line like this is maximum 30 years.
Without the recent undocumented Syrian immigration, and other undocumented residents counted, there are currently around 15,000,000 people living in Istanbul: This number is 10 times bigger than the population of Izmit. If we are not prepared, this earthquake will have devastating results: It is going to be a catastrophe. Istanbul is an old city with a lot of old buildings, historical sights and monuments. It has two international airports, three big bridges and an underground metro which goes through Marmara Sea, called Marmaray:
While remembering the pain the 1999 earthquake inflicted on Turkish people, I also wanted to emphasize the fact that we need to realize the severity of the potential danger that Istanbul faces right now. There are many ways to fix this and the below documentary mentions these methods at the very end.
I highly recommend you to watch this documentary if you are interested and want to hear more about what happened on August 17, 1999. The two things that break my heart even more after watching this: Aykut Barka, the geoscientist you will meet at the end of the video, died in a car accident 2 years after this documentary was shot, leaving a wife and two children behind. Also, a hero, co-founder of AKUT organization, Iskender Igdir, who saved tens of people’s lives during the 1999 earthquakes, lost his life just months after the earthquake while he was climbing to Mount Ararat.
May the peace with you, the wonderful men.
On November 12, 1999, very close to the same area, this time Duzce was shaken by another big earthquake: 7.2 magnitude, at 6:57 PM causing 845–894 dead; 4,948 injured; 55,000 displaced. The cost of the damage to the North west of Turkey was now about 10 billion USD.
I never forget. I hope our government does the same.
A summer night, hot and humid… You are together with friends, catching up, laughing and talking non-stop. Then the sip of that ice cold beer you just took touches your lips then fills your mouth with joy. As it travels down to your stomach, you don’t feel the disturbing heat anymore. The ice cold beer had just made your joyful night even more perfect.
This is how I see beer; such a great drink when it is consumed in the just right amount at the right time with the right people. Among all those types of beer out there: stouts, porters, pilsners, lagers, sour ales, pale ales, red ales, brown ales; my absolute favorites are India and American Pale Ales. This blog post is dedicated to best IPAs I have tried so far. All the tastings I did was just for you all, so that you would know what to try next time when you order an IPA. Mind you though, the USA is an IPA land, there are so many breweries that I haven’t tried yet. But I tried many through the years and finally I can share with you what I experienced.
THE IPAs THAT I LOVED
9. Lord Hobo Boom Sauce ( Massachusetts )
Let’s start from Number 9. I’m not big fan of double IPAs although I enjoy grapefruity ones once in a while. Boom Sauce is a good transition between double IPA and IPA. It is very hoppy but not too bitter. Leaves a nice non-metallic taste in the end. Slight notes of citrusy sweetness is present in the second wave after you take a sip. Golden, slightly hazy.
Alcohol: ABV: 7.80% IBU (bitterness scale 1-120): 78
8. Brooklyn Defender IPA (New York)
This hoppy, golden IPA has strong notes of tropical fruit, well-adjusted hop bitterness, and an incredibly dry finish. This would be perfect with barbecue, vegetables and spicy food.
Alcohol by Volume: 5.5% IBU: 59
7. Revolution Anti Hero IPA (Illinois)
This iconic ale features a blend of four hop varieties which creates a crisp bitterness and imparts massive floral and citrus aromas. So, it is flavorful but also beware of the bitterness!
6. Harpoon IPA ( Massachusetts & Vermont)
Harpoon has a bitter hoppy start but it is in overall smooth to drink. It is medium bodied, the bitterness hangs for a while. The only thing I didn’t like about Harpoon is that it has low carbonation. Sweet citrus, resin, syrup & caramel aroma.
ABV: 5.9% IBU:42
5. Night Shift Brewing – Santilli IPA ( Massachusetts )
Really hoppy, flavorful beer on the bitter side. Two full layers of hoppiness quickly fades. It is very similar to Harpoon but I would say this one is more flavorful. It could be paired with fries, pizza or sharp cheeses! Bronze Medal Winner in the 2016 World Beer Cup American IPA category.
ABV: 6.00% IBU: No IBU
4. Lagunitas IPA (California)
Lagunitas IPA has a strong full start and smooth finish. It leaves a bitter taste but it doesn’t last more than 4 seconds. This IPA is full of flavor with notes of spice, roasted malts, caramel, and citrus fruit. Perfect for drinking out with friends.
ABV: 6.20% IBU: 45.6
3. Sierra Nevada – Hazy Little Thing IPA (California)
This super mild IPA is easy to drink, very citrusy, still hoppy, no bitterness at all, closer to a wheat beer. Its after taste is sweet tones of tropical fruit aroma like mango and overripe grapefruit. The after taste dissolves quickly. The color is quite hazy.
6.7 percent ABV IBU:35
2. Wormtown Be Hoppy ( Massachusetts )
This really hoppy and citrusy beer doesn’t resemble in taste to Harpoon or Santilli. Three notes takes place in the order of: sweet, bitter, then citrusy sweet. Reddish-gold hazy unfiltered brew. Pungent aroma of citrus, floral spice, and grapefruit. A real IPA taste without bitterness ruining it.
ABV: 6.5% IBU: 70
1. Bell’s Brewery-Two Hearted Ale (Michigan)
Here comes my favorite! this IPA is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit from massive hop additions. Great with any occasion, perfect when paired with steak or kebabs. It has a hoppy start but fills your mouth with a full taste. Bitter finish doesn’t last long. With its high quality taste, surprisingly it is on the cheaper side.
ABV: 7.0% IBU: 55
THE ONES THAT I ABSOLUTELY DIDN’T LIKE
Brooklyn Brewery – The Stone Wall Inn IPA (New York)
Sour, low alcohol, more lager tasting than IPA. It is too citrusy and sour for me, giving some metallic sweet under tones. bright gold with a fizzy white head. Tastes like biscuit malt, lime, pine hops, very smooth. Light body and low carbonation. Smells like biscuit malt, lime, and pine hops.
ABV: 4.8% IBU: –
Founders All Day IPA (Michigan)
I know this beer has a lot of fans, and I don’t want to offend anybody. It is just ‘meh’ for me. It has this sweat-like smell that I can’t overlook. It has mild bitterness, and low carbonation. Its metallic plus cirtusy taste is not something I look forward to.
ABV: 4.7% IBU:42
Stone Brewery – The Stone IPA (California)
Don’t get fooled by my smiling face in the photo, this beer has a terrible after taste. Deep golden- orange beer. Taste starts sweet malty becoming bitter grapefruit, pine at the back of tongue and lingering there on the swallow. Medium body with nice carbonation and persistent bitterness – super hoppy IPA.
ABV: 6.9% IBU:77
Everyone has their own taste for sure, but after this beer tasting adventure I realized I like not too bitter (IBU 45-65), high alcohol,high carbonation, flavorful and smooth IPAs.