5 Extremely Wrong Things ‘Smart’ People Love To Say
Nobody likes a snob, but everyone has one inside of them, like an insufferable version of the little alien living in the old guy's face from Men In Black. We all secretly feel superior to our peers in some sense. Maybe it's the music we listen to, or the food we eat, or the fact that it's 2016 and we still don't know what YOLO means.
The problem is that many of the "superior" opinions you (or your annoying friend) might hold turn out to be hilariously wrong when you look at the data. For instance ...
"Texting Is Ruining The English Language!"
The English language had a good run, but it's done. Young people are killing it -- or perhaps we should say "young ppl r [knife emoji] it, lol." Sure, it's fine to use shorthand in a text message when you're in a hurry (or too horny to be coherent), but youngsters these days do it so often that this inferior vocabulary is infecting our everyday speech. Soon, we'll forget how words were spelled in the first place, and all books will look like Prince CD booklets.
How bad is it? Even the Oxford Dictionary has started incorporating these made-up "words" in a pathetic attempt to keep up with our crumbling tongue.
Of course he's sick. He just ate a shitload of Chinese food.
Why It's Bullshit:
Texting doesn't ruin children's grasp of the written language; it actually improves it. According to a study at Coventry University, school students who use "textisms" (shortening words, pissing all over the rules of grammar, etc.) tend to be better at spelling and grammar later on. This is because they're literally playing around with language instead of simply memorizing a bunch of confusing rules so they can pass a test. This gives kids a chance to practice alternative ways of linking sounds and letters, which is way more effective than doing a million boring grammar exercises.
"WRONG! That's it! Come up here and send 20 texts about Taylor Swift's new haircut to your BFF!"
By consciously breaking the conventions of spelling and grammar, kids are engaging with them at a greater depth ... and yeah, changing language itself in the process. Which is a good thing. In a world in which more and more people communicate through symbols on screens, textisms allow us to modify the meaning of words to convey ideas or emotions more accurately. Texting someone "Where are you?" doesn't communicate urgency as well as "WHERE R U???????? >:O"
And if you're upset that people are making up new words and terms to better express themselves, here's someone else who did that: William Motherfucking Shakespeare. Take it up with him.
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"The Older The Wine, The Better It Tastes!"
"Ah, there's nothing like a 40-year-old vintage Cabinet Soh-vee-nyawn. That shit-brew you bought that was cooked up last year? Please. Everyone knows that the more time wine has to age, the better it tastes. Trust me, I'm an expert. I saw most of Sideways once before falling asleep."
"Pssst, you drink it with your mouth, dumbass."
Why It's Bullshit:
In truth, over 90 percent of all the wines made in the world are best if consumed within one year. Still have a 2008 bottle of red sitting in your pantry, waiting patiently for the day when you have to impress a hot date? Well, we hope they like vinegar.
Self-proclaimed wine experts love to lecture anyone within earshot about how an ancient wine has a more "sophisticated" taste because it's been rotting in the barrel longer, but for the most part, this is a myth. Less than 1 percent of wines should be stored for more than five years -- some have been aged already when you buy them, and most are made for gulping down as soon as possible. Even those that are meant to be aged will be ruined if you don't keep them in very specific storage conditions (that is to say, not in your shitty closet).
Unless your closet looks like this. Then we apologize.
We're not saying you should go pour all the wine in your house down the toilet right now. "Ready to drink" wine can be stored without going bad for eight to 12 months, if the conditions are right. On the other hand, if you have a pompous friend who won't shut up about that bottle he's been saving for a decade, we recommend you bide your time and watch his face carefully when he finally tastes it. It will be well worth the wait.
"Music Was Objectively Better In The Old Days!"
We've talked about the fact that people tend to forget there were also shitty songs in the days gone by (we only remember the classics, and forget the junk). But come on, let's be honest here. If you take the greatest songs from the '60s or '70s and compare them to today's cream of the crop, there's no competition.
Almost no competition.
There are some good artists these days, but back then, you had goddamn geniuses -- who are still making music, sure, but it's a pale imitation of their old stuff. If you can't see that music is getting worse all around, we're sorry, but your tastes aren't as refined and sophisticated as ours.
Why It's Bullshit:
The explanation is simple: The more you hear a song, the better it sounds to your ears. Ever hated a TV show's theme song, but then found yourself whistling it at work? There you go.
A bunch of scientific studies, including one from Harvard, have confirmed that subjects had a much higher tendency to report positive feelings from a piece of music they'd heard before. The reaction is stronger if it's that song you were listening to the first time you kissed someone, or ate a McRib, or both, but this also goes for old tunes you might not even really like. It's not that the music was necessarily better; it's just been drilled into our heads by decades' worth of replays.
Above: us, enjoying the soothing sounds of Skrillex in 40 years.
You're thinking that there are obviously exceptions to this. If you grew up in the '90s, you probably don't need to hear "Barbie Girl" by Aqua ever again. Still, it might seem like common sense to you that even that crap is better than Iggy Azalea, or whatever new artist you can't stand. In truth, familiarity has a way of giving a certain respectability to any song. Even "Barbie Girl" by Aqua.
Come on. You know you want to click. We won't tell anyone.
Related: Happy Birthday, Badass - August 3
"Blockbuster Movies Are Way Too Long And Bloated These Days! Hire A Damned Editor!"
Remember when you could go see a movie and come out during the same presidential administration? Modern movies are long, bloated monsters that test your patience and bladder. The last Transformers was freaking two hours and 45 minutes! What happened to the taut and sexy 90-minute films of yesteryear? We'll tell you: Hollywood started letting big-shot directors like Michael Bay and Chris Nolan make these huge, noisy vanity projects, surrounded by nothing but yes-men. "I agree, this whole sequence needs to be in slow-mo!"
"For the dramatic tension, you see."
Hey, don't take our word for it -- the professional critics agree. Leonard Maltin, author of a movie guide that has bafflingly stayed in print despite the existence of the internet, is constantly complaining about the length of films like The Hateful Eight, Spectre, or The Dark Knight ...
Why It's Bullshit:
Yes, Maltin has been saying movies are too long for decades -- probably because they've been roughly the same length for over half of a century. Seriously. Dr. Randal Olson of the University of Pennsylvania, our kind of data analyst, used IMDb to map out average film running times since 1906:
The hill that cinephiles want to die on.
As the white line shows, it was in the 1950s that films parked their butts at the fabled 90-minute average, and they've comfortably sat there ever since. In fact, in the last few years, films are getting shorter. But maybe it's just the big, popular movies that are suddenly longer than human endurance will allow? Well, here's another chart with only the top 25 films from each year:
Pictured: an existentially crushing amount of money.
Popular films have always been longer than the average. They peaked at a bit over two hours in the early 2000s (thanks, Peter Jackson), but again, they've been politely shrinking in the last decade:
That big drop was on the year The Avengers came out, by the way.
So the next time you feel like a film is too long, remember that Hollywood hasn't cared what you think for almost a century, and probably never will. It's reassuring.
"Children Are Too Spoiled, Not Like When I Was A Kid!"
"Children these days need less Pokemon Go and more 'Pokemon? NO! Do your homework and go to bed!' There's a lack of discipline in this new generation, is our point. All those participation trophies and feel-good parenting guides have turned kids into spoiled little brats with no respect for their elders. The result? They become lazy, worthless punks who constantly get drunk, high, and pregnant. In our day, you got a spanking if you so much as looked at your dad funny, and we turned out better for it!"
"It's not too late to punch this sad sack into a model citizen."
Why It's Bullshit:
Let's start with the obvious: Every single generation has thought the subsequent generation was spoiled, going back to days when those sentiments were conveyed via cave paintings. But if you want evidence that the pussified Participation Trophy Generation isn't as bad as they say, look at the data.
The University of Michigan keeps track of various stats related to children (it's not as creepy as it sounds), and guess what? Kids today are less likely to become addicts or develop antisocial tendencies. Enrollment in higher educational courses is at an all-time high. Crimes, smoking, drinking, teenage pregnancy, and drug addiction levels among teenagers are all on the decline compared to what most adults today would refer to as "the good old days."
Present-day children are also way more active in community life in general, and are better behaved than those from previous eras based on most parameters. It may not always feel that way, but comparatively speaking, we're raising a generation of goddamn saints. So what is the mysterious force behind this improvement? The fact that we're moving away from the "I'll punch you and ground you for a week if you don't do what I say" style of parenting.
Yeah, it turns out sparing the rod doesn't spoil the child, because the rod was only teaching them that adults solve problems by whacking people with rods. Instead, all of those decades we spent studying behaviorism has resulted in better parenting. Parents are giving up more violent practices and focusing instead on forming emotional bonds and inculcating a basic respect for children's autonomy. And that shit works.
Huh. Who could have guessed that treating the little turds like human beings could help them in the long run?
Rachel P. has a webcomic called Terribilis Est, and her Twitter is @plehcar. No one will talk to Chris about films anymore after he only wants to communicate in graphs, so he tweets about movies instead at @NotQuiteCool.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "Actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say, "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, Cracked staff members Dan O'Brien and Michael Swaim, and Psychology Professor Martie G. Haselton of UCLA as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effec,t and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
For more myths that just don't hold up, check out 20 Famous Stereotypes That Are Statistically B.S. and The 5 Most Statistically Full of Shit National Stereotypes.
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