7 Quick Takes—7/19/2013

— 1 —

First and foremost: ironists rejoice! For students of literature—and all pedants everywhere—someone has finally fixed Alanis Morissette’s totally un-ironic song “Ironic.”  If you haven’t already encountered it bouncing about the interwebs, here it is:

— 2 —

If you’re not already aware of Leah Libresco’s “Ideological Turing Test” series, you should check it out—the most current iteration is happening on her blog right now. A “Turing test,” as you might recall, is a test to see if a computer can fool people into thinking that they’re talking to a human when they’re, in fact, chatting with a computer. The concept of an “Ideological Turing Test” was developed by economist Bryan Caplan; in the test, participants try to successfully pass off the positions of their ideological opponents as their own. It’s basically a way to check how well you really understanding the viewpoint of those you’re arguing with.

I’ve found that the “Ideological Turing Test” also makes a great teaching tool. I’ve done classroom experiments in which students were asked to write a paragraph defending a thesis they agreed with and the opposing thesis and their classmates then had to vote about which answer they thought was the “real” one. Freshman are terribly prone to strawmanning, and this is a nice way to get them break out of it.

On Leah’s blog, Christians and Atheists—whose true identities will be revealed at the end of the series—are composing both a “real” and a “fake” response to questions about the ethics of polyamory and euthanasia. Readers have the opportunity to vote on whether they believe each entry to be a true representation of the person’s position or not.

— 3 —

Key to emphatic arguing of one’s position—or pretending to argue one’s opponent’s position—is the artful deployment of vague hand gestures. Fortunately, Jasmine Johnson & Alice May Williams have produced a Tumblr to serve as “A Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion.” Now I find that I’ve been doing “The Dialectic” and “The Tiny Dialectic” for years without ever knowing their names! (For some reason, WordPress doesn’t seem to be letting me embed animated GIFs—check out the Tumblr for the full effect!)

"The Dialectic"

“The Dialectic”

“The Tiny Dialectic”

— 4 —

So long as we’re on the topic of grad school, Daniel Fincke over at Camels with Hammers on the Atheist channel has a great post on overcoming procrastination (with particular focus on grad student procrastination!). There’s lots of solid practical advice on fighting procrastination, but this is the passage that most stood out to me—I relate to it far too well:

Research has shown that children who are told they are smart, rather than merely praised for their hard work when they do well, can be prone to avoiding tasks they might not succeed at. Because their identity is as a “smart” person, the prospect of failure and not feeling smart is a threat to who their very sense of self.  So if you understand yourself as a hot shot with respect to the subject you’re dealing with in your graduate studies, starting to struggle can shatter your entire sense of who you are. You feel like, you’re not supposed to struggle with this subject or these kinds of tasks. You’re The Natural. This comes easy to you.


— 5 —

Now for something completely different: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is now streaming on Netflix! Yes, it’s a complete butchering of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, but it’s also a fond childhood memory (and perhaps an early sign of my burgeoning Catholo-philia).  Most importantly, it has my favorite (and, in retrospect, wildly age-inappropriate) Disney villain song:

Also, IMDB reveals that the voice of Quasimodo is the same actor who played Mozart in Amadeus (can’t imagine why I didn’t care about this when I was a child…)

— 6 —

Sadly, the knowledge that I am most certainly no longer a child—and very soon no longer to be a twenty-something—was cruelly driven home by this brutal Buzzfeed list of “30 Signs You’re Almost 30.” Let’s just put a big fat “check” next to all of those.

— 7 —

Other sign of aging: putting off fun activities like hanging out with friends and blogging to do “adult” things like housecleaning. Thus, dear reader, a bid you adieu and journey towards my mop . . .

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


2 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes—7/19/2013

  1. Great takes :). I had not heard the Ironic remake; I am following Leah’s Turing Test, too; and thank you for sharing the procrastination article! Very relevant to me right now and some fellow graduate students who have been saying they are experiencing the same thing.

    P.S. Thirty isn’t so bad. 😉

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