Sounds deadly

I can see the scenario unfold:

The desk sergeant asks the officer what happened.

“Granola. Crunchy granola,” the officer states.

Seems a couple had a fight and the husband was stabbed with a spoon.

The wife couldn’t take it anymore.

The sergeant shakes her head.

“Another case of Misonphonia. When will it ever end?”

Misonphonia sure sounds like some kind of misery.

Mis refers to dislike while phonia refers to noise.

They’ve finally found a word to describe the reaction when folks can’t stomach the sound of people slurping their soup, chomping on Crackerjacks or snorting snot in their throats.

While some folks spend their days looking at ways to cure Ebola or end hunger, I spend my time avoiding folks who munch.

In my youthful days, eating in front of someone was considered rude, and food was banned on the metro and in classrooms.

So it’s hard for me when a fellow bus-rider scarfs down a burrito at our stop.

Even libraries today serve up coffee and scones, and my fellow professors down burgers and fries in department meetings. One of my colleagues even licks the top of her yogurt container.

It drives me nuts.

Barron Lerner, a professor of medicine, wrote recently in the New York Times that some individuals are so sensitive to the affront of smacking they become enraged.

And while it may not lead to mariticide like in my homemade scenario above, Lerner says the condition is real: Chewing, sniffing and sucking can send people like him and me around the bend.

I can’t stand the sound of knives being sharpened. Or someone snapping their gum.

And when we have ice cream at home, my husband’s tongue runs laps around the bowl.

But the worst is the sound of crunchy granola at 5 in the morning.

Time to hide the spoons.


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Think critically

When a politician recently ranted that universities shouldn’t be concerned with truth but rather serving the workforce, critics sharpened their pencils.

The governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, wants to gut support by 13% and refashion higher education’s mission in his state.

He wants to strike the motto that universities should seek the truth.

Pretty bold for a guy without a college degree. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, communication, education, Native Science, science, scott walker | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

I didn’t grow up in your country

Rendering by Dutch artist MC Escher

Rendering by Dutch artist MC Escher

Sometimes my college students need to set me straight about schooling in North America.

I didn’t grow up in your country, I confess.

Students scratch their heads: how can you be part American Indian and be from somewhere else? Continue reading

Posted in american indian, communication, Dutch, family values, Holland, native american, native press, Native Science, writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Journalistic Schadenfreude

Brian Williams pilloried

Brian Williams pilloried

As news broke in February when NBC anchor Brian Williams got caught in a reporting fib, journalists and critics rushed to pass judgment.

The New York Times, for example, packed the newspaper with stories and editorials that carved a wide swath.

One pundit said Williams’ ego finally got the better of him: that he had been courting fame and was caught in his own braggadocio. Continue reading

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Super Bowl relarity

You have to keep your sense of humor when it comes to mass media.

As scholars we take media seriously but the Möbius folds of our reality—what Jean Baudrillard correctly called hyperreality—illustrate how messages, agendas, persuasion and propaganda get tucked within an event we describe as real.

But the mixture of hyped reality with hilarity creates a relarity.

Take the Super Bowl as an example. Continue reading

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When individual choice causes harm

How ironic that American Indians were helpless against diseases brought by foreigners--diseases that today can be controlled with vaccines that some folks ignore wholesale

How ironic that American Indians were helpless against diseases brought by foreigners–diseases that today can be controlled with vaccines that some parents ignore wholesale

Vaccine lunacy is the way Frank Bruni described a recent outbreak of measles in California: why? Parents decided to withhold vaccinations from their children.

Children are taken ill with a disease that was once wiped from our memories–a disease that can blind you, make you sterile or kill you if you haven’t been vaccinated.

Bruni laid into what he called the madness, listing four key reasons why he thinks parents act foolishly in the face of concrete evidence that risks to vaccines are so low: Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, framing, Indian, journalism, Native Science, science, science communication, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why beliefs matter with climate change

I wish I knew more about climate change.

Problem is I’m occupied with discourse—the stories we grab from headlines, television and Twitter.

How do we (I mean discourse) talk about climate change?

What occurs in my circles is the sheer bewilderment—on the part of scientists and folks like me interested in science communication—that our beliefs trump facts.

Climate change gives us a perfect exemplar when we discount evidence because it doesn’t comport with what we hold dearly.

Take the case of the link between abortion, miscarriage and breast cancer.

A 2004 report based on 39,000 women with breast cancer and 48,000 women without breast cancer reported women who had an abortion were more likely to have breast cancer than other women.

Abortion foes praised the study while freedom-of-choice advocates decried it.

Point is that folks with a vested political or religious belief accepted or denied the evidence.

Turns out today, with 10 more years’ worth of data on women and breast cancer, the interpretation of evidence has shifted: scientists agree there is no significant link between abortion, miscarriage and breast cancer.

Regarding climate change, scientists argue that we—ourselves—are to blame for changes in the environment that have wrought acid rain and drought.

Why, then, should we object to measures that would help restore nature’s balance?

One reason is that some people prioritize benefits to humans over benefits to nature.

Take the example of John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives and a Republican from Ohio, who dismissed science when looking at climate change.

“I’m not qualified to debate the science,” he told reporters.

His argument hinged on a different element altogether—not the scientific evidence of climate change—but rather his beliefs that the Obama administration’s actions to address the environment would harm jobs.

Here is his key point: “Every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs,” said Boehner.

It’s a matter of priorities and values.

Clearly abortion foes value less the freedom-to-choose. And Boehner? He values a robust economy over policies to confront climate change.

By claiming he “can’t debate the science,” Boehner removes evidence-based judgment, opting instead for a value-system that trumps a competing values-system.

Turns out it’s not about science after all.


Picture from the Environmental Protection Agency

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