you enjoyed and be oblivious to what the rest of the world thought.
You’d surround yourself with the beautiful people you liked and might
even just wear a bathrobe most of the time. Gee, that describes Hugh
Hefner. On the other hand, now that I think about it, it also describes
Michael Jackson. Well, never mind.
Anyway, the real point is that this innate dissatisfaction and unhappiness is a distinctly human trait. You never see mice or rats creating a
reality TV show (although occasionally, they are unwilling and unpaid
participants). Mice never trade their hard-earned mouse food for pills to
reduce wrinkles or to enhance their love lives. However, it should be pointed out that mice do occasionally hoard food. But that makes sense when
you swipe dry food from the cat’s bowl. I mean, you wouldn’t just sit around
the bowl munching kibbles and watching The Apprentice. Otherwise,
you’d be the TV dinner. Instead, you take it into
the corner of the closet and eat it there. Any
extra (and I’m not making this up), you stuff into
the toe of the unused sneaker for later
consumption during commercials.
go unheard. Isn’t it interesting, though, that no politician has complained?
It is clear that human behavior is, quite literally, anything you want it to
be. You can behave like you mother says, or not. You can be part of a
social group or be voted off the island for picking your nose and not
sharing. Studying how humans behave is really a topic best left to the
professionals. You should never do it at home.
Lastly, I want to respond to a sharp-eyed reader from McMurdo,
Antarctica, who pointed out that if you forgot your keys, you could always
have someone else drive you home. ■
P.S. Will someone tell Dave Barry to get back to work?
All living things can learn by association.
Quite simply, this is another name for cause
and effect. But, since psychologists don’t read
physics texts, they made up their own name
for it. The classic example of associative
learning is Pavlov’s dogs, which he trained to
salivate at the sound of a bell. He did this by
ringing a bell just before dinner. Of course, his
work was based on the TV show Wagon Train,
where the cook, Wishbone, would strike
(de-press?) a large metal triangle and shout,
“Come and get it!” A more up-to-date example of this behavior can be seen when Homer
Simpson hears the word “donuts.”
Of course, associative learning is not limited to eating and drooling. It is often the case
where we associate one idea with another. Marketing people have been doing this forever. They
always show their product (for example, laundry detergent) with a sexy person. In this way,
you will associate their product with sex. So, the
next time you are kissing a pretty girl you will
have the irresistible urge to wash clothes.
Association can also couple unrelated
items, so that the items can be confused with
each other, like politician and weasel. Normally, there would never be any confusion because
there is nothing similar between a politician and
a weasel. (Except that they both have two ears,
two eyes, and a large bushy tail.) But, if I say,
“Politician ... Weasel ... Politician ... Weasel”
enough times, you will eventually come to think
of them together, or a “Poli-Weasel.” (This
should not be confused with a “Poli-Wog,”
which is what you get when you associate a
politician and a hedgehog.) Naturally, this is totally unfair to the weasel, which has worked hard
for his reputation and objects to the association.
But, since weasels don’t speak, their complaints
November 2005 NUTS & VOLTS 29