Tag: Ethics

The strange psychology of a Korean BBQ dinner

The strange psychology of a Korean BBQ dinner

I’m officially convinced my pursuit of a Psychology minor has ruined me forever.

Context. After dropping Aly off at Cal State Long Beach this morning (the genesis of this Tweet that made me laugh):

I wound up going out to dinner tonight with a bunch of people from high school. A pretty diverse range of people at that — from those I’d consider good friends I hang out with regularly to some that I literally haven’t seen since graduation three years ago.

There were about 10 people there and I was right in the middle between two Korean BBQ hot plates.

On the bright side, I got to take food from both.

On the not so bright side, pretty sure I got whiplash trying to split my time between two totally different conversations. If not more considering those two major groups were further split into a number of subgroups.

That said, being somewhat ephemeral in each different conversation gave me time to reflect on other things. As I stipulated at the very top of this post, a lot of the things I wound up thinking about were concepts I’ve learned in my psych classes coming up in reality.

For instance: Right when I arrived, half the group wasn’t there. Long story short they were waiting for one person who was apparently out watching Into the Spider-Verse and didn’t realize the timing or something. They wound up being an hour late.

As I’m sure you all know by now, I wouldn’t say he made the wrong choice necessarily.

Though we wound up being at the restaurant for three hours as a result so… Maybe it was the wrong choice from a utilitarian social standpoint?

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Me incidentally bug-eyed while checking my watch, with Nina caught in the background. Seemed like a good enough place to slip this in.

I’m here to talk about psychology though. Not philosophy.

This one girl and I thought we knew each other from something, but for the longest time all we knew was that we went to the same high school. We couldn’t figure out exactly HOW we knew one another.

It was a very ‘tip of the tongue’ moment up until I finally got just the primer I needed.

Found out that she was studying creative writing, and that pretty quickly translated to my realizing we must have been on the newspaper together at one point. And we were!

Long-term memory retrieval via priming. Classic.

But wait, my nerdiness gets worse.

See the Korean BBQ place we were at in Gardena had a call button for the servers:

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My friend Nina got pretty obsessed with the button the longer the night went on. Whenever any of us even considered getting more food or water, she immediately hit the button.

It let out a very distinctive chime, like two doorbells ringing in sequence.

After the third or fourth call, one ring seemingly didn’t work. The servers were just busy helping other tables, but Nina seemed to get visibly distressed that the call hadn’t served its purpose.

For everyone else? This was pretty much nothing.

But for me? All I could see was a conditioned response being slowly extinguished by the removal of a response to the conditioned stimulus.

Pavlov would be proud.

I swear, this was 100 percent what was going through my head all night. No idea why, but it definitely happened.

That said it isn’t like all that school leaking in ruined the night. I actually had a great time catching up with some people I haven’t seen in a very long time, and I imagine I’ll probably go out with this particular group more often in the future!

Plus there were some extra added benefits. We actually ran into a totally different group of people from high school who I haven’t seen in years that just so happened to be eating at the same place.

The boba we got after wasn’t half bad, too.

That essentially sums up my day overall. Since it sparked this particular conversation, I guess it would be pertinent to ask all of you in the viewing audience if you’ve had any times where something you learned in school viscerally leaked into an everyday experience.

I’m sure someone has a fun story with that. As fun as school-related stories can be, anyway.

When did we start labeling ingredients?

When did we start labeling ingredients?

A few weeks back I talked about the essay I was going to have to write for my Visual Communications class.

I’m sure if you follow my posts regularly you remember this one. My little laugh at the 1950s era advertising we could choose to analyze.

In that case I’m sure you also remember that I decided to go with this 7-Up ad.

Boy is it more and more beautiful every time I see it.

I bring up the subject again because I started to work on the actual paper itself yesterday evening and already the damn thing has taken me down a bizarre rabbit hole.

A rabbit hole that, in all honesty, is pretty interesting. If you ask me at least.

Here’s some more in-depth context before I get into that branch of my research. The content requirements for the essay are relatively straight forward. We simply have to examine the image we chose from the six perspectives that were elaborated in earlier in the semester:

  1. Personal — Our gut reactions to the image.
  2. Historical — How the context of the time shaped the image.
  3. Technical — What techniques and elements went into creating the image.
  4. Ethical — Would ethical philosophers find the creation or use of the image justified?
  5. Cultural — What symbols can be found in the image that relate it to the culture of the time.
  6. Critical — Taking a second, more objective look at the image now that all of the analysis isdone to see how thoughts and opinions might have changed.

My deep dive began as I broached into the historical aspects of the advertisement.

Most of the analysis was easy enough. The ad comes from the 1950s, so there was plenty to discuss as far as the post-war economic boom and opening stages of the Cold War went. Both contributed to the development of a middle class American ‘nuclear family’ that in many ways became dependent on purchasing power to show their status and connection to the mainstream culture.

What I looked into had nothing to do with that overall historical context. Instead it came from pinpointing a very specific part of the advertisement.

In the lower right-hand corner there’s a block of text which, among other things, tries to convince new parents to feed their babies a “wholesome” mix of 7-Up and milk.

More important to point out for my purposes is the section where the advertisers tell readers that they have all the ingredients in 7-Up listed on the bottle — despite the fact that it was not required.

When I read that I stared at the screen for a moment mulling things over. Were food labels not required in the 1950s? There was a Food and Drug Administration overlooking those matters at that point in time, wasn’t there?

It was a bit of a tangent, sure, but if I found the idea so interesting it seemed like a good research avenue to go down.

… Only in part because I needed a few more sources to fit the requirement and some U.S. government resources seemed official enough to justify using. I promise.

I found that, yes, the FDA did exist prior to the publication of this 7-Up advertisement. The FDA came into place alongside the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act in 1906 according to the horse’s mouth.

However, labels on food like you see required today, with their widely enumerated requirements that are stipulated upon in this most recent FDA Food Labeling Guide from 2013, were not required until the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). Prior to that, listing things like ingredients and nutritional information of food product labels were purely voluntary.

So it seems like the 7-Up people were right in congratulating themselves for posting that kind of information on their product in the 1950s.

But in that case, just when did it become a requirement for everyone?

Diving a little deeper into the subject I came across this discussion of the history behind nutritional labeling on the National Center for Biotechnical Information’s website. As a subset of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, I figure they’re a pretty reputable source.

According to this source, the NLEA wasn’t officially passed until November 1990.

That’s almost 90 years after the FDA first came into being. It’s astounding to me that it took that long to get this kind of legislation passed!

Perhaps that’s hindsight bias in some respect. Food labels are so ubiquitous in the 21st century, and they’re the butt of so many jokes about GMOs and fake ingredients, that it’s hard to imagine a time they weren’t in use.

To think that time was just a few short decades ago…

Humans are pretty crazy, huh?

Conflating Art and Reality on… Ethics

Very bizarre premise for a blog post, I know. But that’s kind of what you get when I spend all day doing homework and can’t figure out too much more to write about outside of that homework.

It just so happens that today my homework weirdly connected with outside forces.

I’ve been working on the at-home midterm essay for my Mass Media Ethics class for the past hour or two. The premise of the assignment is simple, we were given four cases of ethical debate and asked to defend one side in one of those debates. A fairly open-ended piece of work meant to show our general understanding of the ethical philosophies and case study analysis methods we’ve been studying this semester.

I decided to write about the case where a reporter in New York was forced to withdraw from a potential candidacy on the city council in his hometown. All things considered a pretty straight-forward argument between conflicts of interest and breaking company policy on one side with a desire to improve the community using a more hands-on approach on the other.

Honestly the paper went far smoother than I expected it to. The vague nature of the assignment was a bit daunting, so the fact that I was able to write it in just a few short hours with a quick seal of approval from the initial parent check was great. I might run over it again before I have to turn it in on Tuesday considering it is a big chunk of my midterm grade, but overall it feels really nice get it off my plate.

Where the art side of the headline up there comes into play only makes sense if you know some context.

Not too long ago, my family started watching NBC’s The Good Place. It wasn’t a show I was interested in watching when it first started to air a few years ago, but after hearing from some friends that it was an amazing piece of television on the eve of season three starting, we decided to pick it up.

Got through season one in a day or two. Still making our way through season two right now.

It. Is. A wonderful show.

Absolutely wonderful.

It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s fresh. I especially adore Ted Danson, though the whole cast makes for a great ensemble. Plus the occasional guest star that slips their way into the cast helps sell it with some stellar comedy.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s also essentially a hyper condensed ethics class masking as a comedy. The fact that I happened to start watching the show while taking a Mass Media Ethics class is serendipity to say the least.

The most recent episode we watched focused on the classic trolly problem, for example. A thought experiment so intrinsically linked with Utilitarian arguments that the episode as a whole might as well have been plucked out of my class’s week 3 lecture.

If nothing else, it certainly presents some fun examples of concepts to help remember them for when you have to utilize the ideas in an essay.

So I guess the lesson of the day is that television will help you when you have to do homework.

And also to go watch The Good Place. Because it’s an A+ show in basically every regard.

I just wish I’d known about it way back when I went to Universal Studios earlier this year. Because I would’ve paid way more attention to that soundstage on the Studio Tour if I had.