Science vs Intuition

I think the notion of a connoisseur is interesting, especially when you start exploring what exactly it is that makes up a connoisseur. Someone who knows a lot, or is particularly well versed in a subject. What exactly makes one a connoisseur, exact scientific knowledge about everything on the subject, or first-hand experience? I feel like all of the articles, particularly Widdicombe’s and Fuller’s articles, explore this.

In Widdicombe’s “The End of Food”, she talks about a new product, Soylent, which is a product with a growing fanbase. The product itself is a grayish goop that has all of the ingredients that people need to survive for a day. The connoisseurs in this case are different than your normal ones though. In most cases, you think of a food or music connoisseurs, someone who has refined tastes or knows a lot about what they love. Well, the people who are Soylent connoisseurs could also be said to know a lot about it. The developer or the product itself, Rob Rhinehart, is a man who developed the product out of a need for inexpensive sustenance. He worked and worked, studied more, and eventually came up with a solution. But how did he come across his solution? It was a combination of both science and experience, and he’s not the only one experimenting. He posted the recipe online, and now, a myriad of people have tried to tweak the recipe for their own versions, and possibly an improvement on the middle. Rhinehart talks about how, in the beginning, the farts smelled awful for a long time because they overestimated how much sulfur, and Widdicombe talks about students who tweak the recipe to their own needs, like more active individuals or ones with soy allergies. They have to research, but they also have to see what works through their own experience.

Fuller also adopts similar views, but seems to focus more on the fact that taste can be measured and scientific. While at the end of the article, it mentions how there are street vendors who sell their food that they cook without recipes and how those chefs rely on how it tastes to them, the main focus of the article is on the titular robot taster. At the same time, it does talk about how, because taste is all about personal preference, the fact that it needs to collect data from taste tasters. But despite this, the idea of using a robot based on human data suggests that something as profound as taste can be quantified and measured.

Friedlander also talks about how scent is simultaneously a biological process and something acquired. Some scents, particularly those that come off of dead bodies, are naturally something that humans are opposed to. And then, there are those scents whose odors we can overcome, or even learn to appreciate.

All of these articles suggest that there is a slight connection between science and intuition. In everything you do, by gaining scientific knowledge, you can gain some mastery about what you are studying. At the same time, some people are naturally gifted and sometimes, you just need to actually experience it, like the Thai chefs, to truly get an understanding of what you are studying. And sometimes, you need both.

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Reverse “Super Size Me”

Do you remember the movie “Super Size Me”? This documentary is going to be the exact opposite of that. In “Super Size Me” there are cameras that follow around a man who eats only McDonalds for one month. This movie will be based on a person who only drinks their meals for one month. It will chronicle the journey of a person who drinks Soylent and his/her struggles and successes with this product.

Soylent is a man-made concoction of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and micronutrients. The creators of Soylent report that “drinking Soylent was saving time and money: food costs had dropped from four hundred and seventy dollars a month to fifty” (Widdicombe). One of the creators of Soylent even said that ‘“I feel like the six million dollar man. My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker and my dandruff gone. I haven’t eaten a bite of food in thirty days, and it’s changed my life”’ (Widdicombe). However, Soylent may have some drawbacks as one Witticombe describes her experience in passing her usual bagel shop with envy. She saw the other people indulging in this experience and was very jealous. She realized the health benefits of Soylent but missed the act of eating food, especially good food.

This documentary would could raise many questions to the public about what they really should be eating but it would also make them aware of any difficulties that come along with completely flipping their diet upside-down in order to drink Soylent for every meal. Changing someone’s whole diet to Soylent would be very hard but this documentary would be the first to show how it would affect a person. Compared to “Super Size Me”, this movie would show the exact opposite experiment.

This movie would have great success in the pubic but it would also be shown in every health class across the nation. “Super Size Me” was shown in many health classes in order to show what not to do in terms of eating habits. As a result of this movie, at least in my high school, many people no longer went near fast food because of the terrible effects on the man in “Super Size Me.” In comparison this documentary would be shown along with “Super Size Me” in many health classes in order to show a way that people can be healthy. The moral of this movie would not be that drinking all meals with Soylent is the right solution for everybody and their lifestyle but it would give people another idea of what healthy eating could look like. I am interested in seeing how people would react to this documentary and how it would change their eating habits. I think that it would cause people to see the errors of their ways of eating and getting nutrients and cause some groups of people to begin to drink Soylent but others to just change their eating habits to include more vegetables and the right amounts of nutrients, minerals, macronutrients, and micronutrients.

“Brief History of Scent”

If I were to make a movie based off of an article from this week I would choose “Brief History of Scent.” I would choose this because everyone can relate to scent and knows and understands what it is like to experience smell. While smell and the ability distinguish different scents is normal, many people don’t cherish the importance and true gift of it. If I were to make a movie based off of this I would make it a romance-drama. It would have two main characters, a man named Robert and a woman named Charlotte, who are wildly in love. Charlotte is a famous and gifted chef and is also the owner of a world-renowned restaurant called Amor. Charlotte is so talented that people travel all around the world to come and eat one of her dishes. The movie would begin with scenes of her working in her restaurant one late snowy night in January. Then Robert would come and pick her up from work to take her back home. However, on the way home, they would hit an icy snowy patch on the road and their car would go skidding into traffic. The next scene would be three days later, in the hospital with Charlotte in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and with Robert sleeping by her side dangling a pair of glasses in his fingers. A few minutes later, Charlotte would wake up only to panic because she can’t see or feel anything. Robert would calmly deliver the news that she fractured her spine so her arms are paralyzed and her eyes were hurt in the accident so she can’t see. Charlotte would of course freak out and begin to panic because she thinks that she’ll never be able to cook or even live a decent life without her eyesight and arms. Fast forward to August, only eight months after the accident, a scene with Charlotte, first stepping back into her restaurant again would occur. When she steps in, she would begin to step around and into the kitchen with the help of Robert. At first she’s scared and starts to cry because she thinks that she’ll never be able to cook again, but then Robert would come up with a brilliant idea. He would her that she can cook by using her sense of smell to put different ingredients together and come up with new recipes. Now fast-forwarding to Thanksgiving Day, the movie would end with Charlotte in her kitchen at home telling Robert what to do and put together in making the Thanksgiving Feast. While this explanation of the movie is very brief, the actual movie would run for about one hour and forty minutes and would have more drama, and tear-jerking moments.

The movie would be a critical hit because it goes in to depth about how humans can recognize different scents and how we associate scents with flavors and different things. It could be a commercial hit because it would have drama and romance and would move the audience to tears at times but also put smiles on their faces in others. It would also be a hit because viewers would leave with a newfound appreciation for what they have, and especially their sense of smell and ability to detect scent.

Lauren McCarthy’s Apps

Lauren McCarthy developed two social networking applications called “Crowdpilot” and “Inneract”. These two applications have redefined the social definition of networking and association. Crowdpilot is an application that people use to seek daily advice from one an other. Everyday activities can be recorded on to the application and crowdsourced for a series of advice from total strangers. From dating tips to dressing advice, Crowdpilot can be used for a range of doubts. Inneract on the other hand is a similar application created by Lauren McCarthy with a completely different goal. Inneract looks to connect people with similar interests in the spur of the moment and allow them to meet at a particular location to share certain aspects of their day together. As shown on the company’s website, for example, an individual can ask to share their meal with a complete stranger and the application would direct these people to one and other.

In my opinion, McCarthy’s applications are very different from any social networking applications I have come across so far. Although applications like Twitter and Instagram come close in terms of updating followers about your daily activity, the idea of being in touch with complete strangers at all times is out of the question when it comes to these applications. Facebook is another social networking tool that uses a very advanced privacy tools to ensure that two complete strangers don’t come across each others profiles unless they intend to do so. Although these applications are deemed to improve social interactions on a very high level, I believe that McCarthy’s applications do a far better job at connecting people with similar interests.

While Crowdpilot looks to help individuals seek advice from their community, Inneract allows them to find people with similar sets of interests. Not only do these applications improve social networking on the whole, they enhance the process of meeting new people and making friends. While some people may find the idea of making new friends extremely daunting, McCarthy’s applications improve this process drastically, refining your interactions and restricting them to allow you to meet people who you are truly compatible with. Crowdpilot can be used to smoothen the process of getting to know someone and Inneract can let you meet people who are just like you. Although these applications may not fall under the constraints of conventional social networking applications, they are definitely effective means of communication today.

McCarthy’s Apps

Crowdpilot is a networking program in which you explain a situation and then receive advice for it. For example, you could write that you are at dinner with a date and don’t know what to say. Then other people on the app would respond with advice and questions that you could ask the person that would hopefully get the conversation going. Another way people use it is to just ask for advice about plain everyday situations in their lives. One of the strangest examples of this is that during the advertisement, one of the situations that someone is asking about is of a mom asking for advice about her daughter wanting to have a tea party. Inneract is an app that you can use to basically invite other people to hang out with you. An example from the commercial is that of a man eating a sandwich who then asks if anyone wants to share it with him. In minute another person shows up to share his lunch with him.

Both of these apps are pretty weird to me. The only social media I use is Facebook and Twitter, which to me are both very different from Lauren McCarthy’s apps. McCarthy’s apps are about getting conversation going and essentially helping people have conversations with other people while, in my opinion, Facebook and Twitter are more about keeping in touch with people. I think that it’s really sad that people find it necessary to use apps like these.

If I had to choose one of McCarthy’s apps to download and use, I’d probably be more likely to use Crowdpilot because it seems less creepy to me. The Inneract app is more creepy because you are literally meeting a stranger that you know nothing about who spends time on the weird app. In a way, it reminds me of a quicker and weirder version of on online dating because you just meet up instead of getting to know each other first.

The invention of these apps only furthers to prove that we, as a society, have gone too far down the technology road that we find if difficult to meet other people in real life and can’t even have a conversation with other people without strangers “helping” and putting their two cents in. In general, I hope that people look at this app and realize that there’s a problem with the way our society functions. The lack of basic communication skills and need for technology is borderline pathetic in that grown adults shouldn’t need help with basic skills like these.

 

Separation from the Truth

To be honest, it took me a little bit to read Carl Straumsheim’s and Lydia Brown’s articles than I would have liked. This is because I had to reread some parts, as I took part in one of these programs. It was at my middle school, and put on by one of the teachers who was confined to a wheelchair, where her whole class and then some more students would, for 3 days, confine themselves to a wheelchair. Some students could opt out of it, most particularly in cases when they might already be living with a disability or other strenuous circumstances. But, back to the articles, once I really started thinking about what I did, I realized that the articles really did have a grain of truth.

While I was confined to the wheelchair, there wasn’t really anything wrong with me. Yes, it made life a little bit harder. It made getting in cars impossible without help, and going up hills were awful. But I knew that on the inside, that if I really needed to for some reason (maybe there was an emergency), that I could very easily get up from the chair and run for my dear life. Despite “living” in the chair for three days, my life wasn’t tied to the chair. It made me aware of some hardships yes, but at the same time, may have downplayed others by refuting their existence.

Refuting may have been a strong word, but nonetheless. By introducing this program to get people to understand hardships, they may only “understand” (I say that generously) the hardships they experience in that limited time. It’s almost the same as race discussion, a topic that was alluded to in Straumsheim’s article. You can explain the problems of living with race as much as you want, but other people will never truly understand. In much the same way, I will (hopefully) never truly understand the kind of judgement I would face for the rest of my life and so forth if I was put in a wheelchair.

So, despite its intentions, I think that the game depression had the same effect. It was engaging, and tried to be informative. It tried to take people through the same train of that depressed people have, it just isn’t on the same level of magnitude. Now, I’m not saying that everyone should go and get depressed, but this kind of game just can’t simulate well enough the actual effects of feelings of being depressed and create the same problems as above discussed.

The Evolution of Human Interaction

With the growth and unprecedented development of technology in various fields and especially in the field of communication, face-to-face human interaction has become a farce. One doesn’t need to be physically present to communicate or hear the other person’s voice. Gradually but slowly the world has become such a small place that a student sitting in Atlanta may talk to his parents in India with the ease of just making it look like they are sitting in separate rooms.

Today technology has evolved far more than just phone calls, Skype and FaceTime. It has developed so much that you don’t even have to know that person to communicate with him/her. Today with creations like those of Lauren McCarthy’s the world has known communication like no other. The two social networking programs that I came across developed by Lauren, Crowdpilot and Inneracted, deal with what people still want hidden. What we don’t realize is that in normal day-to-day communication people have a habit to suppress their innate desires for fear of judgment from others. The program Crowdpilot, allows people to take opinions from friends and strangers therefore allowing true and trustworthy opinions because everyone using the pogram will be insecure and looking to others for opinions. The program Inneracted on the other hand allows the person to actually type what he wants to do and the application connects you to the people also interested in the same activity, in the same locality at that particular time.

Modern communication is so advanced that there are interfaces that also keep your identity hidden if you chose not to disclose. The only other program that comes to my mind related to any of these is ‘Yik Yak’. Through this program the people using it can express themselves freely and without any hesitation. This application allows people to post their opinions, feelings and innermost desire to the society they are living in without actually disclosing their true identity. The app does not ask for any name, phone number or even the right to post on Facebook on your behalf, thus giving the users the required anonymity to do as they wish.

I think all means of interaction has happened through evolution. First there was only the landline, then came the mobile phone and later Skype, FaceTime, etc. This shows that human interaction has reduced from being more physical and real to being more virtual and gadget-oriented.

In the generation preceding ours it was of utmost importance to know the person before interacting with him or her over the telephone or even through letters and the early stages of the mobile phone.

We can see the difference in the way we communicate through the stories our parents tell us. In their generation they actually had to muster up the courage to go and ask for a person’s number but now they have to just add them as a friend on Facebook and start a conversation there.

In many ways the world has become an easier place to live in but these new methods of communication had created such transparency that it had become impossible to communicate freely through any medium, and that is what these apps such as Crowdpilot, Inneract and Yik Yak offer the people; anonymity.

Why are people so scared of human interaction?

Social media these days has made people extremely complacent during social interactions. Popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr have made people extremely reliant on others to make social decisions for themselves. This is exactly the case with Lauren McCarthy’s Crowdpilot and Inneract. All of these social media apps are creating an environment where people can’t make social decisions without the help of millions of other people using the app. Social media apps should make you more confident in your abilities to talk to other people, but they in fact do the opposite. The fact that they make the opposite effect happen is why social media apps are so profitable and popular.

Let’s start with comparing the more popular of these social apps like Facebook. Facebook, as well as the other more popular apps, has made people complacent in meeting others. The culture of “Facebook Stalking” is alive and well. Maybe even before you decide to meet a person in real life you will stalk their Facebook profile to see you even want to meet them in the first place. On a daily basis, people can look you up on these social media websites and consistently judge who you are as a person before even seeing you face to face. Also, users of social media love to bring their problems to the Internet before even asking a single person. Why has everyone become so scared of social interaction? It’s because of social media, and Lauren McCarthy’s apps scare people from more social interaction to an extreme point.

Lauren McCarthy’s apps like Crowdpilot and Inneract have created an environment where it’s not socially acceptable anymore to even be alone, or not understand what to do. With Crowdpilot, you can ask for help during situations and random people can offer tips on how to help deal with your problem. Why not just ask the people you’re in the situation with? What happened to common human interaction? With Inneract, people can post what they want to do and people within their area can choose to interact with that person in this way. Why not just ask someone normally? Why not introduce yourself to a random person? All these questions can be simply answered by saying that humans have simply become scared of human interaction. Maybe it’s because of social pressures not to interact with strangers or maybe it’s people’s innate awkwardness or lack of social smarts, but I believe that social media has a larger role in people’s fear of human interaction than any other one of these factors.