Ask Dr. LJ

Ugh! What's the name for the thing where, if you have a belief, you'll notice data that reinforces your belief and ignore data that doesn't?

As Cecil Adams put it in his discussion of full moon phenomena "So how do we explain all those cops and emergency room nurses who believe in the lunar effect? Easy. Nobody notices when there's a full moon and nothing happens--you only notice when something does happen. In other words, heads I win, tails don't count. Case closed."

But I could have sworn that there's a proper term for this, and Cecil didn't help me, neither did My Omniscient Friend Google.

(It's not selective memory, because that's more about looking back over a set of data and only remembering some of it. What I'm talking about is something that occurs in real-time.)

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I am enough of a science/math geek that I have, over and over and over, seen all kinds of "fractals are found in nature" stuff, and yeah yeah blah blah yeah.

To be honest, there's a huge difference between knowing that and believing it to be true in theory on the one hand, and on the other dealing with a reality where beautiful examples are hard to find in real life due to static and stochastic errors etc. But then one day you buy a broccoflower (tm) and holy moly if it doesn't just jump out and hit you in the face, and then in the middle of hitting you in the face hits you in the face half as hard, and then in the middle of hitting you in the face half as hard hits you in the face quarter strength...

I very rarely take photos of things without noses and eyes and some genetic link to me, but wow, look at the broccoflower(tm) I ate last night:

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On the other hand, it tasted pretty much like cauliflower.

Book recommendation

Someone gave us a lovely picture book for Little N. and after we read it to Little S. (such is the way of the world currently) I liked it so much I went looking in the library for others of the author's books.

It turns out that in addition to being a skilled and witty illustrator and good at the small-number-of-words you need for picture books, he's also started writing for the 4.5-foot-high crowd. And so I got out his first such book, The True Meaning of Smekday, and read it. I really liked it. In reading it I found that it meets the Bechdel Movie Rule, and in poking around later discovered that it also meets the Sconstant Rule, which is that anything merits a try if a legitimate source describes it using the words "Douglas Adams".

Look, a girl tries to save the planet from alien invaders, with pop culture references, good illustrations and some interesting (but not overly hammered-home) social commentary. What can be better than that?

Recommended for the 4.5-foot-high girls in your life, and others of varying heights and genders.

How it's going.

So, we had this kid last Saturday in the early morning, and then spent a week with various relatives tromping in and out, figuring out how this kid works, and doing some clearing out of boxes in order to have a lot of people over on Sunday for a ceremony about which I remain pretty profoundly ambivalent, though it was lovely to have a lot of people come and welcome the baby.

The most amazing and unexpected thing is really Little S., who, I SWEAR TO YOU, grew several inches and put on 25% again of her body weight while I was in the hospital. All of a sudden I'm bathing her or helping her with something and I realize that she's HUGE. She's still doing pretty well, I'm still holding in abeyance the "it's totally ok to have negative feeling X about the new arrival" talk until it's clear she has some specific negative feeling X or a few more weeks pass. It's clear she's affected, maybe 10% more irritable and oppositional and with school saying she's noticably more hair-trigger on being upset than usual. But I'd be 10% more irritable too if I suddenly became a GIANT version of myself. We sent her off to school with a photo in a frame she made and some cupcakes to have a "big sister" celebration, and generally are trying to make some of this about her, but it's an uphill battle and one we'll occasionally be losing, I'm sure.

Rutu Modan

So, I've been enjoying these series of pieces by comix artist Rutu Modan in the NYT, and now that they've removed Times Select, they're freely viewable to everyone. However, their interface is kind of crappy, so you can't really find them all in any way I can figure out. Thus, I present for your enjoyment the full set of links to this (now-concluded) series:

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Listen up, all you women and people who know women:

From today's NYT:

Cancer experts have identified a set of health problems that may be symptoms of ovarian cancer, and they are urging women who have the symptoms for more than a few weeks to see their doctors.

The new advice is the first official recognition that ovarian cancer, long believed to give no warning until it was far advanced, does cause symptoms at earlier stages in many women.

The symptoms to watch out for are bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate. A woman who has any of those problems nearly every day for more than two or three weeks is advised to see a gynecologist, especially if the symptoms are new and quite different from her usual state of health.