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My ‘some-what’ opinion

January 31, 2013

Published here on January 30, 2013

This column is in honor of the death of absolutes. We can no longer claim anything with conviction because there is another side to every statement imaginable.

For example, “creative” won as the most overused buzzword on LinkedIn profiles in both 2012 and 2011. However, this same word ranked among the top qualities that employers looked for in job candidates.

The concept of black-and-white no longer exists. Health trends, political views, business moves — they’re all evaluated inside a vague gray zone. We’re still making up our minds about whether or not global warming is our fault. “Yes” or “no” are no longer the right answers to hypothetical situations. It all “depends.”

I blame the rise in “unsurity” on the increasing use of statistics in our everyday lives. Last year, a single statistic, Mitt Romney’s 47 percent, was on the end-of-the-year list of overused phrases. Other famous statistics are the “1 percent” and “99 percent.” Read any ESPN article and you’ll start to feel like sports articles consist more of numbers than words.

I criticize statistics because statistically, it’s impossible to prove that anything is true. Instead, we can only prove the untruth of something. In other words, I could never prove that all Wolfpack fans have been to an athletic event. I can only prove the opposite by finding at least one Wolfpack fan who has not been to an event. You can see why I hated my statistics class.

It’s this frustrating mode of thinking that has murdered the all-or-nothing attitude. In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, “We must act knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial.” I realize that completely fixing society’s problems is impossible, but I always thought our government should at least aim for it.

Sigh, I give up. In honor of the death of absolutes, here are some more things that are apparently not quite true:

Being overweight is unhealthy. A Reuters Health study found that people who were overweight were 6 percent less likely to die early than thin people. According to lead author Katherine Flegal, this is actually the common finding — as in this has been replicated more than once.

United we stand, and divided we fall. According to psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, the United States is one of the most individualistic countries in the world. A recent PLOS One study found that the words “I” and “me” have been rising in conversation since the 1960s.

Whole grains are good for you. Talk to any Paleolithic eater, and you will soon hear about how absolutely awful grains are for your body. Jared Diamond, a UCLA evolutionary biologist, claims that grains are the “worst mistake in the history of the human race.” The base of our food pyramid has been associated with lower Vitamin D levels, autoimmune disease and digestive problems.

Too much sodium can result in high blood pressure. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that reducing sodium intake doesn’t change a thing when it comes to risk for hypertension.

An obsession with perfectionism is counter-productive. This past March, Reader’s Digest reported that people with OCD, perfectionist-based tendencies, are more often “very productive” at work than their more easy-going counterparts.

Please write letters to the editor describing how you partially agree or somewhat disagree with me. When you’re going about your duties today, try to stay mostly safe, and try to do a pretty good job in class.

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