Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I wish that was my weight loss this week, but WW isn't until tomorrow.
That IS, however, the score I got on my first college paper at the U.

If you didn't know, it has taken me years to get up the courage to go back to school, fearing the degree of difficulty of my remaining upper division classes. The school nerd in me REALLY doesn't like getting bad grades, so being a mediocre student for me is just as bad as failing. I don't hold other people to that standard, that's just my own measuring stick for myself.

So, back to the 4.1. Did I mention that was out of a possible 4? Who knew you could get extra credit? I told Tim that I did so well because unlike some of my classmates, I have never learned to write in txt language. Punctuation, capitalization, complete sentences- a dying art to some, normal to me.

The paper was analyzing an article about a study on the validity of the 5-second rule. It was an unusual topic, but if you are interested in my amazing (haha) paper, you can read it below. While I did manage to write a descent paper, I can't figure out how to post it here any other way. Ü

There are many means of gaining knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Much of our basic knowledge in taught to us from such a young age that we don’t remember ever NOT knowing it. This knowledge or tradition is such a part of us that we can ignore obvious truths or logic when the tradition meets our needs. However, just because we choose to ignore a fact doesn’t make it any less true. This is illustrated by examining the “five second” rule.

Some say the five second rule goes back to Genghis Khan; others place it in medieval times. Whenever it began, it served to make people feel justified about doing something they knew was probably disgusting or unacceptable. It is reborn on playgrounds, school cafeterias, home kitchens, movie theaters, any place we need to justify picking something off the floor and eating it or encourage our child to do the same. If we want the food item badly enough, we will eat it off the floor. Our tradition of the five second rule trumps logic because it meets a need- the need to eat the yummy thing!

Some traditions are so ingrained that we don’t recall ever being without that information. I don’t remember being taught the five second rule. My first memory of the application of the five second rule was in elementary school. I don’t remember being appalled by it at the time, so I’m guessing I had heard it before. Either that or I agreed that the food that hit the floor was worthy of being rescued. This tradition made it acceptable to scavenge recently fallen food. Our measure of scientific experimentation- no one we knew had ever died from eating a Hot Tamale off the floor- was all the proof we needed.

Other rules that have been tested and proven equally reliable come to mind. Crossing your fingers behind your back makes it OK to tell a lie. Cake consumed on your birthday is fat free. We make many false “rules” to help us justify bad behavior, knowing full well that they aren’t true. As a culture, we agree to abide by these rules together so we all feel a little bit better about ourselves.

As for the five second rule, we continue to use it to avoid ridicule for doing something otherwise unacceptable. When we say it on behalf of another person, we give them permission to do as they wish without being judged. A gift, from me to you! We justify it because of our personal experience. I have never met someone who contracted a horrible disease by eating a cookie that they had just dropped. I do know lots of children who were sad because they dropped a cookie and were not allowed to eat it off the floor. We allow others to do something gross because the positive effects far out-weigh the negative by our measure. The slight chance of a negative outcome is worth the risk. Unfortunately people take this same gamble with higher stakes- failing to use a seatbelt, drinking and driving, having unprotected sex and so forth.

As consumers of information, it is ultimately up to each individual to honestly examine the data we are given in order to make an informed decision. In the case of Matthew Cole, his lack of fatal illness from eating off the floor does not negate the Clemson study findings. Bacteria still gathers on the floor whether or not Matthew chooses to acknowledge its presence. Likewise, we are confronted with vast amounts of knowledge, truth and tradition. Our choice to accept or reject it does not change the validity of any given tidbit.

There are many ways that we gain knowledge. Tradition is a strong source of information, correct or not. Our application of what we learn can protect us from harm and help us succeed if we choose to apply correct principles. It may be necessary to take a step back and re-evaluate the traditions we hold onto in order to make sure they are the best choice. We must decide for ourselves what is truth and what is error. So, how do we gain our knowledge? We pick it up, one morsel at a time.


Anonymous said...

I totally get what you mean about the text message way of writing. I think it's fine in some cases (like in a text message), but I can't believe some of the things I read. I'm a complete sentence kind of girl too! Congrats on your paper.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I posted the last comment before reading the article you wrote. It's very well written. You deserve the extra credit point. Nice work.


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