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Well, this is kind of a tragedy. I started out researching this column with the intention of writing "5 Snobby Comments Science Says Aren't True," but clearly the research just didn't shake out. Time after time, I kept discovering that the most obnoxious, condescending, scarf-wearing douchebags in the world are correct, justified, and [some third thing] in their attitude. This is proof that either we need to completely reshape the way we react to people or that all of science is just trolling us for the lolz. Either way, I found studies that conclude people aren't wrong when they say ...

"Books Are Just Better Than Kindles"

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If I'm gonna write this article, I have to admit that I do think that paper books are better than e-readers -- but, like my preference for manual transmission and single-malt Scotch, it's one I rarely bring up in mixed company because ugh, god, shut up, me. There is no practical, real-world reason to prefer ink-print to digital-print, right? Paper books are heavy, outdated, and they take up like half the living room when you compulsively buy them. There are three bookshelves in my parents' house that contain almost enough information to fill up one microSD card, yet we stick to it and even think it's better.

How? How is it better? How? Tell me, goddammit!

The Terrible, Terrible Science

According to a study by scientists who may have been librarians wearing Halloween costumes, people actually absorb information from books way better than they do from Kindles, and nobody can really figure out why. Their best guess is that the sensation of pages moving from one hand to the other provides a "sensory offload" of progress, which is why I developed the theory that these people aren't real scientists.

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"That is clearly just food coloring, Ted."

But, honestly, I can't think of any better theories. Does the arm-movement associated with turning pages stimulate the brain stem into hyper-speed? Does the knowledge that you look like Gandalf in that scene in The Lord of the Rings give you the confidence you need to learn? Are there magic, microscopic gremlins that feed on wood pulp and poop knowledge-nuggets that we absorb through our finger-tongues? Shit, yeah, it's gotta be that one.

"You Guys Don't Understand Me -- I'm Just on Another Level"

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There's nothing more insufferable than the twat-monkey who thinks he's smarter than everyone. You know who I'm talking about. He's the guy who thinks he can get away with wearing a trenchcoat and a cabby hat. The guy who carries his shit around in a messenger bag instead of a backpack like, ya know, a human would. The guy who occasionally quotes Kant just so he can smile smugly when people say, "Dude, what?" because newsflash, buddy, there's no real-world reason to ever quote Kant. This guy is captured perfectly in this Penny Arcade comic.

The only way to have a satisfying interaction with a person like this is to get the opportunity to point out what an insufferable douchebag he is. And I'm sorry to take that away from you, because it turns out ...

The Terrible, Terrible Science

... rejecting him only makes him stronger. Studies have shown that social rejection stimulates creativity in people who have a "strong sense of independence." People want to feel superior and unique and too good for this filthy, shallow world, and rolling your eyes at their shitty ironic T-shirts simply validates that idea for them and encourages them to spread their wings and fly.

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"Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized [woosh]."

Of course, the science isn't advocating bullying here, so shut up, dumbest motherfuckers in the comment section. The point isn't that you should mock people into a pit of depression for their own good; the point is that some people totally get off on light cliquing and mockery. And by "get off on," I mean "manage to have functioning lives despite." What pricks, huh?

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"You Have to Go Back to Nature for a Better Perspective, You Know?"

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There's always that one person in the office who talks about how they spent their weekend climbing a mountain or sky diving or living with a pack of wolves, totally disconnected from technology, and they're always awful. Being outside doesn't make you better, guy. I spent my vacations and off-days hiding from nature and playing video games, like a goddamn American, and that's fine. I don't need to climb a mountain, because mountains are covered in spiders, and I don't need to hike through the woods, because the woods are full of spiders, and I don't need to see the sun, because I'm reasonably sure the sun is just a huge, flaming spider.

Besides, we invented air-conditioning units and bidets for a reason, right? What can living like cavemen actually do for us? Hit me with your best shot, science!

The Terrible, Terrible Science


Turns out, hanging in the woods is the best way to stimulate the kooky and thoughtful part of your brain, and scientists aren't totally sure why. It might be that escaping from the multitasking associated with technology lets your brain reset, or it might be that the smell of bear shit is fucking magical. Or it might be that, as the psychologist in that study says, "Natural environments are associated with gentle, soft fascination, allowing the executive attentional system to replenish." But what the hell is that even supposed to mean? I bet that guy made those words up.

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"Stop making up words, Ted!"

The point is that all the wood-nymphs who think they're better than us because they spend their weekends picking ticks out of their hairlines and clogging their shower drains with dirt pancakes are right. They actually are getting regenerated, refreshed, and revitalized. What a bunch of turds.

"Classical Music Is More Intellectually Stimulating"

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This might be the snobby remark that I am most guilty of, but let me try to qualify the statement a bit: I understand that not everyone in the world has a refined enough auditory palette to enjoy musical genres as stimulating and complex as fart metal, but I don't think that makes those people inferior to me. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that no musical preference is any reflection of your value as a person unless the music is performed by Modest Mouse, obviously. I mean, only a complete snob would disagree with that, and those guys are never right.

Hey -- what's the name of this article again?

The Terrible, Terrible Science

Yes, scientists have discovered that if classical music doesn't outright make you smarter, then there must be some other reason that people who listen to classical music tend to be smarter than the filthy fucking plebes they're forced to share this world with.

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Only Beethoven can drown out the insipid cries of the unwashed.

The theory that scientist puts forth is based on his older idea, called the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, which says that smart people are more likely to seek out novel stimuli, and since classical music doesn't feature lyrics, and since lyrics have been around for a couple millennia more than instrumental music, the latter is more evolutionarily novel. That first part, at least, makes sense to me, because dumb people are happy to watch a Transformers sequel or read a Dan Brown novel, while smart people are more likely to go see innovative movies like Nightcrawler or read exciting, unique books like the one I helped write, and that's just a scientific fact.

The problem there, of course, is that it implies that Skrillex is enjoyed by really smart people, which is clearly untrue. But then again it also implies that Godspeed You! Black Emperor is enjoyed by really smart people, which is clearly super true. But then again again, it implies that when I made that joke earlier about fart metal being a really intellectually stimulating genre, I was technically correct, so clearly we're down the goddamn rabbit hole and none of us will ever see our families again.

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"Taking a Year Off to Travel Really Broadened My Perspective"

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Bragging about traveling is the least self-aware thing a person can do these days. Like, this isn't the 15th century, and you're not a goddamn conquistador. Traveling the world isn't a mark of bravery or strength or intrepidness (whatever that means); it's a mark of opportunity and privilege.

The most irritating example is at the end of the otherwise-fantastic autobiography Dove, which chronicles Robin Lee Graham's adolescent single-handed sail around the world. After a few hundred pages of absolutely fascinating adventure, he concludes the story with a dimwitted rant about how everyone who works in an office is a sheep, man, and if they had any real strength they'd hop on a boat and sail around the world, just like he did. In this moment Graham forgets all the times he had to ask his parents to wire him money, and also the fact that he spent the entire journey one stroke of bad luck away from death. Based on that example, it seems like time spent seeing the world as a young'n would imbue you with tons of arrogance and delusion, but that's where the science comes in to validate the dicks again.

The Terrible, Terrible Science

Turns out that traveling, particularly in the high school and college years, significantly improves your creativity and empathy. When asked what it would be like to wake up with a different skin color, for example, kids who had shortsightedly traveled the world on their college loans or parents' dime gave answers that were "richer in description, detail, and humor."

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Also in wallet.

Most depressingly, it was far greater for people who had actually studied abroad than it was for people who simply wanted to study abroad -- proving that it's the opportunity to indulge curiosity, rather than curiosity itself, that is more valuable.

What This All Means for You

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I dunno, man. Maybe leather seats really are better than canvas ones. Maybe English accents make you smarter and science just hasn't figured it out yet. Maybe drinking single-malt Scotch gives you superpowers. Should we just start groveling before anyone who has a condescending snort?

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Should we make him our God?

No! Fuck that, guys. I will not go gently into that good night. I will not vanish without a fight. I am canceling the apocalypse. Next week, I'm doing the exact opposite of this article: "5 Snobby Comments That Science Has Disproven," just like I originally intended. By Jove, I swear I can find the information I need. Wish me luck.

Let's tear these scarf-wearing sonsofbitches down a peg.


JF Sargent is an editor for Cracked with a new column every Tuesday whether you like it or not. Tweet him on Twitter or Face him on Facebook.

For more from Sarge, check out 6 Reasons Comedy Is Better Than Drama and 5 Reasons We Will Always Blame the Victim.

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