Saturday, January 29, 2005

Study - Self Esteem Not So Esteemed

Finally!! A major study by an expert in self esteem commissioned by the American Psychological Society to study the benefits of self-esteem, and the finding is “disappointing.” Professor Roy F. Baumeister of Florida State writes in the Tuesday Opinion Section of the Los Angeles Times:

1. Does not produce better grades
2. Does not produce better work habits or quality
3. Does not result in more friends or better relationships
4. Does not produce better leaders
5. Does not keep people from becoming bullies
6. Does not keep people from cheating, stealing or experimenting with sex or drugs

Other findings suggested that

1. Humility was better predictor for leadership
2. Kids told to suck it up were more likely to get better grades

Some benefits may be that those with self-esteem are happier, bounce back from problems faster, and exhibit more initiative. It is not clear that these benefits can be derived from trying to build self-esteem. It may be that these individuals think well of themselves because they are predisposed to, or that they are actually doing well.

The author suggests discipline and self control are more likely to produce the results that the self-esteem movement only promised, but didn’t deliver.

In an e-mail exchange with the professor, I suggested that unconditional love resulting in feelings of being valued or having worth might also produce the results that the self-esteem folks hoped for. The only source of such unconditional love is God. He responded: “ as for feeling valued rather than esteemed, this is an interesting distinction i had not thought about. boosting self-esteem for its own sake probably contributes to narcissism, and the christians among my friends seem refreshingly immune to becoming narcissistic, so they must be doing something right!”

Once again the Bible of the ages trumps the scientists of our times.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Master of None

Just spent an hour on a very successful blog published by my old friend Michael Williams. I would definitely point you to his outstanding effort on abortion, "The Cost of Abortion to My Generation" in the most commented on section. I would stay away from his Bio, however, or at least not allow any underage children to see the photo's. (just kidding.)

Book Review: THE EDGE OF ETERNITY by Randy Alcorn

The Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn
published by Waterbrook Press

Randy Alcorn is one of the most versatile writers in the Christian world today. He has produced six fictional works and numerous nonfiction on a range of subject from inner-city race relations to a theological review of heaven. One notable aspect of Alcorn’s work is that you can often see the root of the formula in the works of masters. So, his Lord Foulgrin’s Letters is very much like C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape letters. The Edge of Eternity will remind you of Pilgrim’s Progress. This is in no way intended to denigrate what Alcorn has accomplished, for in this work, he has created a first rate allegory.

The book opens very quickly into a surreal place that will leave you confused and sometimes frustrated through the first 40 pages. I put the book down, and almost forgot about it for several weeks. I am very thankful that I picked it up again and stayed with it during this very strange opening.

Like Pilgrim’s progress, the protagonist is on a journey in a strange land. Unlike the classic, however, the character’s names and the places they visit or not quite so obvious in what they are analogous to. But when clarity comes, it is like a spiritual awakening, and often includes having to deal with feelings that we’d rather leave in a closet somewhere. Skewered is a word that comes to mind.

This book easily makes my top 10 list, and I have consumed 1000’s of books. I don’t think you can read it to the end without having it change your life. . . at least for a season.


A “Scientist” Explains the Evolution of Birds

Los Angeles Times editorial, March 22, 1998 “Tweety, Son of Dinosaur.” “Most scientists now view the debate as settled. . . modern birds evolved from fast-running dinosaurs with feathers. . . [not] reptiles that developed feathers for gliding down from trees in which they lived.”

Once upon a time, a theropad (a small two legged dinosaur), we’ll call him Ther, was in grave danger. He was running just as fast as his two little legs could take him (which, by the way, was very fast.) Unfortunately, his hopes of outrunning a much larger T-rex who had dinner plans for Ther, were not too good. As T-rex closed in, and Ther’s little heart faced exhaustion, his thoughts turned to the sky. If only he could fly like those other animals he’d seen, he would surely survive this threat. He put out his puny little arms and ran as fast as he could to see if he could reach the critical point of lift off. But alas, it was not to be.

Over the next few million years Ther’s great grandchildren x 10356 had adapted to the threat of T-rex and were much faster runners. They had grown feathers to keep from getting cold, and their little arms had grown longer so that they could reach their food better. But so far, not one had been able to fly, even though they were forever trying to. They passed along from generation to generation the hope and desire to someday achieve flight.

From time to time, one or another Ther would enjoy a little short flight during practice, but frequently the landing would create serious injury or death. Of course, each failure was carefully genetically stored and transmitted to future little Thers.

The Thers who could fly a little bit were seen by other Thers to be more attractive, and so they found better and more mates. This resulted in more offspring with the marginal flight capability. As luck would have it, these very ones also grew more feathers and longer arms, and their arms were by far the strongest.

One day, after more 1000’s of generations, a Ther truly flew. He got up into the air, but realized pretty quickly that nobody had told him how to steer or land. Each time a Ther would finally get off the ground, a cliff or a tree would cause the crowd on the ground to groan as their expectations for flight were dashed again.

But fortune smiled on those Thers who were the best fliers. They would always produce lots of kids before their first test flight. This provided hundreds and hundreds of Thers who had the right amount of feathers, the right length and strength of arm, the right body weight, and the required ground speed for flight. After many, many, many, many, many failures, one Ther raised his feathered arm to avoid hurting his face in what appeared to be an inevitable crash with a passing mastodon. This action caused him to veer. Boy, he never forgot that move! Of course, all the ladies wanted him, (or did all the men want her?) In any case “the move” was passed along to future generations. Similar results came for landing, flapping the wings to maintain air speed, and eating enough of the right foods to provide the necessary energy for sustained flight. Most amazingly of all, information was implanted in their itty bitty brains and genetically transferred that would help them deal with wind currents, drafts, and other aeronautical aids. And this is the true story of how reptiles learned to fly.

We humans are truly blessed to have thousands of scientists digging up fossils so that we can understand how reptiles evolved into birds. Our next story will be about lizards who lived in trees, who having experimented with LSD, thought they could fly. And after eons of trial and error, the finally did.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Randy Alcorn

Having just completed an extensive review of Googles' listings for Randy Alcorn and his many writings, it seems as if nobody reviews his work. Moreover, unlike other popular Christian writers, nobody is criticizing him in chat rooms or blogs. Thus I will undertake to do some reviewing of his books over the next few days. Be forewarned that I am his biggest fan. After reading THE EDGE OF ETERNITY, I called his ministry, ordered 10 copies, and passed them out to my friends and members of the elders of our church. Therefore, if you are the sort who reads reviews to watch the bloodletting, it won't be from me. Of course, there may be responses that take issue with my devotion.

First a few general comments. First, I did not choose Randy as a favorite because of our names. Second, sometimes it takes a while to get fully involved in his books. A few of my friends don't even like his writing style. Most do. Third, Randy is one of the most versatile writers I've read. His fiction includes works about inner city race relations, the Chinese underground churches, adult male bonding, and teenagers coming of age. Then he adds non-fiction on finances, abortion, and heaven. Somehow, he carries it off.

My next post on Randy Alcorn will be a review of THE EDGE OF ETERNITY.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Chocolate Diet

Everyone has a diet plan these days. Why not ideaplace? This works for me. Maybe it will for you.

I grew up with the expectation of desert after lunch and dinner. Generally cookies for lunch, ice cream or other goodies for dinner. Atkins claims that full-of-fat ice cream is good for desert because it satisfies the craving for fat with not too many calories. The ideaplace plan goes Atkins one better.

Dark chocolate, the darker the better, also fulfills that fat craving. But in addition, study after study is showing that dark chocolate is excellent for your health. It is loaded with antioxidants. And quality dark chocolate is low in calories.

Personally, I recommend Hershey's Special Dark. The large, 6 oz bar, only costs $2.00 at Target or Sav-on. Sometimes its on sale for as low as a buck. Four blocks (one fourth of the bar) is a serving, and is quite enough most of the time. Total calories 230. Total cost per meal $.25 - $.50.

For Dinner I switch to Pound Plus from Trader Joes. It is 70% dark chocolate, so even better for you than the Hersheys. The bar weighs 17.6 oz. and is under $3. Recommended serving is 3 squares or 1/13th of the bar. I find that 2 squares is plenty. At 3 squares total calories are 200 and the cost per meal is only $.30.

My personal experience is that I will lose at least a pound per week if I consistantly eat these dark chocolate products for desert and make no other changes to my diet.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What To Do About Global Warming - Really!

No matter how many really talented scientists say it, we will never really know whether or not man is even a fractional participant in weather patterns. While not even remotely an expert in the area, my reading would lead me to the logical conclusion that the earths weather seems to be relatively self healing even with regard to natural catastrophes and biological contributors other than man.

On the other hand, there is at least a chance that the one degree of temperature increase over the last century is really the beginning of a trend. It may even be that we could have increases of three or more degrees in the next century, whether or not man contributes negatively or tries to intervene in some way to circumvent such an outcome. Historical evidence seems pretty conclusive that we have endured (or maybe enjoyed) periods where the earth was quite a bit warmer than now.

From this I would conclude that science is spending their resources on the wrong questions. Rather than try to determind man's contribution and/or man's response to global warming, it would seem we should be studying the most likely consequences of warming, and what we should do to prepare for such a future. In other words, if we continue to work only on how we might stop the warming, and we are unable to, we may run short of time and resources to wisely respond.

If we can get agreement on this course of action, please don't turn the task over to the UN.

Women not as good at puns - Inate?

To my knowledge, no one has done scientific research into the issue of why men seem to be more interested in, and better at creating puns than are women. Certainly all of the observational evidence would point to such a conclusion. Puns are referred to as Dad Jokes, not Mom jokes or adult jokes. I can't recall any of the many women I've known to have had a reputation as a punster, although many of my men friends are quick to spin off one after another. While strictly annectdotal, most women I know tire very quickly of puns, assuming they laugh at them at all.

Assuming for the moment that this distinction between the sexes is accurate, one might next wonder at the reason why. Surely it could be social. Puns don't encourage conversation, and in American society, at least, women seem to like conversation. It could be a right brain/left brain thing. Puns seem to flow from a kind of logical manipulation of words, and requires an ability to disconnect from the meat of the information to concentrate on a word or group of words. Or it could just be that women lack the natural ability to pun as well as men.

Please don't misunderstand me. I would also make the claim that men seem to have a huge lack of talent in multitasking, floating, and resisting the urge to scratch in public. I think there have been studies on the first two, but so far Google doesn't show any on the third.

If I should receive hundreds of emails describing the immense harm that I've done to womankind by having this opinion, there is a chance that I will back down, and profusely apologize for having an opinion. If any woman who reads this blog feels the urge to purge, please feel free to describe your feelings in detail herein. Should the Washington Post or CNN call and ask me to explain my herasy, I am prepared to face the music in front of millions.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sex Kills

Out of wedlock sexual activity is one of the main causes of death, disease, emotional illness, and long lists of other maladies.

From Fox News

Risky Sex Habits Linked to Early Death, Disability

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

By Jennifer Warner

Risky sexual behavior among Americans is putting the public’s health at risk, according to a new CDC study.

Researchers found that the rates of early death and disability attributed to sexual behavior in the U.S. are triple those of any other industrialized country, and women bear the brunt of this public health burden.

The study showed that sexual behavior accounted for nearly 30,000 deaths and around 20 million adverse health consequences in 1998, such as infertility, abortions, and sexually transmitted infections.

Researchers found cervical cancer (search) and HIV infection (search) were the leading causes of sexual behavior-related death among women and HIV was the single biggest cause of death among men.

They say the findings highlight the range of adverse effects that sexual behavior has on public health.