They’re on to me

Via Crooked Timber:

My new diet: hang out with skinny people

Not that I want to lose a lot of weight, but I’d like to get down 10 pounds or so.  I’ve got from 2 slices of pizza at lunch to 1.  No effect.  I gave up candy (and I eat a lot) for Lent.  No effect.  Last summer I tried running four days a week instead of three.  No effect.  Wrong strategies all.  I’m going to just start hanging out more with skinny people.  Via Jonah Lehrer:

A few years ago, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler made a striking discovery about obesity: it spreads from person to person, much like a contagious virus…

But this longitudinal data – it’s a bird’s eye view of human life – still begs the question: How do other people influence us? Why does an obese friend make us so much more likely to gain weight? Why do the habits of others influence our own habits?

A brand new paper by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder helps answer these important questions.

Love these experiments:

In one of their experiments, researchers asked random strangers walking through a lobby at the University if they would take a quick survey. The surveys had photos of an overweight person, a person of normal weight or a lamp. After completing the survey, the researchers asked the subjects to help themselves from a bowl of candy. Those who were exposed to the picture of the overweight individual took, on average, 3o percent more candies than those exposed to the control pictures.

In a second study, subjects were invited to do a cookie taste test. Those who were first exposed to pictures of overweight individuals ate twice as many cookies as those were exposed to images of trees, fishbowls and non-overweight subjects. This effect held when participants said they had a goal to maintain a healthy weight. As the researchers write, “Exposure to a negative stereotype [seeing someone who is overweight] can lead to stereotype conducive behavior.” Even when we are determined to maintain our diet, we are still subtly undermined by the choices and habits of everyone else.

Wow.  And, of course further evidence that we’re not half as much in control of our lives as we think we are.

What is it with those white Mississippians?

Why are they so much more racist than even the rest of the South?  Does this have anything to do with the fact that 90% of White Mississippians voted for McCain?  Anyway, before I linked to a PPP poll on MS Republicans and gay marriage.

PPP has now asked the same question of Republicans (and all voters) in Georgia and NC.  The comparison makes Mississippi look even worse (this is actually gleaned from a post about views on the Civil War):

A few weeks ago we released numbers showing that a plurality of Republicans in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal. Democrats there think it should be legal by a 68/18 margin and independents do so 56/21, making the overall numbers in the state 54% who think it should be legal to 28% who believe it should be illegal.

GOP voters in North Carolina and Georgia don’t have the same hang up about interracial marriage that their peers in Mississippi do. In Georgia Republicans think it should be legal by a 52/29 spread. Democrats do so 67/20 and independents do 74/13, making the overall numbers 62/22. And in North Carolina Republicans think it should be legal by a 55/30 spread. Democrats do so 74/15 and independents do 80/11, making the the overall numbers 68/20.

I usually pick on Alabama or Mississippi in my classes when I discuss downsides of federalism, I think I’ll stick exclusively with Mississippi now.

Where all my free time has gone lately

Ipad version:

Daniels for President?

Interesting profile of Indiana Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Mitch Daniels in the Post yesterday.   Daniels basically seems to be the favorite Republican among policy wonks of all stripes as he A) seems to take policy seriously; and B) ummm, I think that’s about it, but sadly “A” is in very short supply among Republican Presidential wannabes.  That said, seems to me his policy ideas are not much better than Paul Ryan’s, he’s just smarter, better informed, and really has the rhetoric down in a way that impresses across the political spectrum.  Nonetheless, I just don’t see this guy winning the Republican nomination this year because there’s no way a guy this sober-minded wins the nomination in an era when more than half of Republicans can’t even except that Obama was born in America.  And that number is surely much higher among Republican primary voters.   Does this sound like the description of someone who can win over the Republican base in 2012?

But Daniels also would challenge his own party, with a message that calls for focusing on fiscal issues over social ones, for appealing seriously to voters who are not part of the conservative coalition and for being prepared to compromise with Democrats to solve the debt problem.

Sounds like someone who has the best shot in a general election, of course, but the base has no interest in someone who can actually appeal to independents.  Or how about this:

Daniels’s potential supporters see him as the anti-Obama, a 5-foot-7-inch, motorcycle-riding, balding politician who lacks the charisma Obama displayed during his 2008 campaign but who they believe has the intellectual heft and plainspoken appeal to go toe-to-toe with the president.

Really?  Short, bald, and lacking in charisma as somehow a political positive.  There’s spin and there’s spin.  Wait, there’s more:

In a field with many candidates who carry baggage, Daniels’s biggest burdens might be how he would run. Although he is solidly antiabortion, he has called for a truce on social issues to keep the focus on the country’s fiscal problems. That has riled social and religious conservatives and is already drawing criticism from potential rivals.

Seriously, among Republicans he would certainly be my choice to be president, but I think that in itself is pretty telling.  Tell me how this guy is supposed to win the Republican nomination given the current state of the Republican party and their activists?

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