I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

little, yappy dogs

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cafeteria Food

I once worked at the coffee cart at my college. This had me going back and forth through the cafeteria to get things from the back, and of course, there was the benefit of cheap/free lunchroom food.

On noticing the consistently bland and lame food served by the cafeteria and also the capability of the kitchen staff, I asked one of the cooks why the food was always so bland and lame.

He told me that despite the capability of the kitchen, the food had to be dumbed down to meet the needs a mythical, median cafeteria patron.

That is to say, the food couldn't be really good, because that would lessen the number of people that could appreciate it. People who normally would have been ok with their dinner because it was at least sufferable in their boxed-macaroni-and-cheese-world would buy and then be dissatisfied with the overly healthful and non-processed flavor they had received, and thus not be able to eat in the college cafeteria.

This brings to mind a similar story. A very good friend of mine once worked in a group home for mentally retarded adults. The premise of the job was that you went there and worked 3 days straight, sleeping there and everything, and you were paid for a full 40 hour week. Part of the job was feeding the 'clients', which often involved microwaving a hot dog or opening a pudding cup, as the extent of their palate was such items (except for that one guy with pika).

This friend would prepare the food for the 'clients' and then go on to cook for himself, and often create exquisite meals. He has honed his cooking skills to the point he is the best cook out of any of my friends, hands down.

So here we have two sides of the same coin.

On one side, we all suffer because of people who have bad taste. The people who didn't like that fancy cafeteria food could be the ones who were made to suffer, while the rest of us could go to the cafeteria and eat food that was just a little bit better, that seems fair to me.

The other side of the coin is that in some cases we would have less great cooks if there were not a plethora of dingdongs in the world. Can that be?

So, yes, I am being silly.

But in any case, I turn now to the subject of framing.

Framing essentially refers to taking your argument and tuning it so that if an idiot listens in, they will choose your side over the one they already like.

For example, given:

An ancient religious belief enforced by peers, elders and family

which disagrees with a modern scientific belief,

we now have the option of dumbing down and or lying about the science in order to make it more agreeable to someone who is unwilling or unable to let go of their belief in myth.

If you will, we have the option to sell science in the same drink-the-kool-aid fashion that religion is sold in. We can lie and control you, and essentially supplant one bad leader with another.

Framing, as far as I can tell, is the argument that in order to assure victory in any sense, we must pander to the stupid.

In politics, this is certainly true, as those willing to pretend to be upright and religious (the republicans) can control the ignorant, stupid, and irrational- and as they will always outnumber the brilliantly smart in any population, controlling their vote makes the country yours to waste ignorantly, no matter what the people who actually know better say.

In science, however, this kind of control concept goes beyond the 'framework' that most scientists would prefer to operate in. They want to find the data, interpret the data, and give it to the world for all to benefit from- controlling how the world benefits from it is not on their to-do list- unless they work for Monsanto or something.


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