All or Nothing Thinking

Posted: May 16, 2017 in General Rants

I was just on Facebook, as one is, and was reading about the powerful retaliation against Leonardo DiCaprio’s stance on the environment. The argument goes something like “How can he claim he cares about the environment when he flies a jet which has a big carbon footprint?”.

I think this is a big part of why people deny climate change theory – or parts thereof. The human brain cannot reconcile two seemingly opposing ideas, and most people engage in at least some behaviours that are not environmentally friendly.  For example, I love road trips and driving for the sake of driving. I also know that the carbon emissions from doing so are contributing to the climate problems we are facing.

How can I justify my behaviours if I acknowledge the damage it does to our environment.  This is called cognitive dissonance. Our brains don’t like when our behaviours don’t match our beliefs compelling us to change our behaviours, or change our beliefs.

One of the early psychological experiments on cognitive dissonance is one of my all time favourite psychological experiments.  A group of participants was brought in to the lab and asked to eat a cracker with a tiny fleck of fecal matter on it – yep, that means poo.  In reality it was a tiny crumb of a chocolate brownie, so don’t freak out, but the participants were told it was poo.

Now here’s the important part.  Half of the participants were given $10 for their participation and the other half were not given anything.

After the poo eating, participants rated how disgusting it was.  Those who were paid $10 said it was awful!  Hideous! The worst thing ever!  Those who were paid nothing said it was fine, no big deal, not so bad.

Same poo, different disgustingness?

The researchers argued that the people who were paid had an external way of justifying their behaviour. In other words these participants were able to say they ate this horrible, disgusting poo because they got paid. Their beliefs about the disgustingness of the poo did not conflict with what they did. The people who were paid nothing, had no way to justify engaging in something so disgusting – their behaviour did conflict their beliefs – so they had to change their beliefs to justify their behaviour.

When we love something like driving, or the convenience of something like an electric dryer, it is a struggle to justify these behaviours if we believe we are damaging the environment, and currently the joy of driving/using the dryer/using plastic cutlery with takeaway/quad-ing or snowmobiling/and so on is strong enough that it compels us to change our beliefs.

If we could acknowledge both, accept that we are doing some damage, would it possible to make minor adjustments?  If we don’t acknowledge the problem, we’ll never change our behaviours that are contributing to it. So maybe we have to start saying something like – “I love driving, and it damages the environment so I’m going to hand my clothes to dry and minimize the plastic I consume.”  It’s better than not changing at all.

The other day my partner and I were at a dinner party where one of the guests was extolling the virtues of cutting down on starches and sugars in response to the other guests compliments on his weight loss.  My heart went cold.  My greatest fears were realized when, inevitably, my partner mentioned that perhaps this was something we should consider.

I love bread.  I eat bread, in some form, pretty much every day.  And I love baking bread. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to take bread baking courses.  I’ve taken the same course more than once because I loved hearing all the details and science and professional baker insights!  My dream is to travel the world learning to bake bread in every culture. The fact that every culture has some sort of bread like substance to me says that this is one food worth keeping in the repertoire.  Now I will agree that over processed, sliced, white bread from the grocery store is not healthy, tasty or particularly satisfying, but if that was all that was available, I’d eat it.

There has been a lot of flack about gluten and wheat and how bad it is for you. Suddenly half of my social circle is gluten intolerant. One of the bread class instructors ( argues that it isn’t the wheat that is to be blamed, but the processing of mass produced breads that is causing the dietary distress.  The bakers at Flour Station ( suggest that artisan breads are easier to digest because of the longer fermenting and proofing process where the enzymes have more time to start breaking down the gluten.

I have looked at the empirical research about gluten intolerance and the findings are mixed.  Some suggest that there are very specific biomarkers that may make it difficult for some people to digest, while other articles suggest that it is predominantly in the minds of the sufferers.  One summary article concludes that Non-celiac gluten sensitivity should be considered a subset of irritable bowel syndrome and probably occurs in small number of people (

I, personally, thank my lucky stars every day that I am not gluten intolerant, or have celiac disease, or a wheat allergy.  I bake bread every weekend and sometimes during the week. Kneeding dough is my zen.  And with outcomes like this? Who could resist?


It would be sublime

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

If the driver’s nickname was Mad Dog.

Bark King

Home Ownership

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, I bought a house.

Well….I put in an offer on a house, they accepted, got a mortgage, chose a settlement date, gave all the stuff to the lawyer and they said, “There is no title for this address”.

I had a stroke.

They said “Don’t worry, happens all the time. Your settlement date is so far away, it will be sorted by then.”

Gave my notice at the place I was renting. Hired movers. Packed. Cleaned.

Settlement date arrives.

No title.

Panic arrives.

Lawyers say “Don’t worry, happens all the time. You can move into the house on a license agreement.”

Question hiring a lawyer from a Facebook ad.

Signed a licence agreement – I’m kind of a renter, in the house I’m buying…someday.

Title comes through. Sigh of relief.

(Although I have to admit it isn’t so bad being a kind of renter because my kind of rent is cheaper than my mortgage will be and I still feel free to put nails in the walls.)

New settlement date set for September 24th.

Mortgage lady calls to check in. Mentions that mortgage offers expire. She checks. Yep, it expires 4 days before new settlement date.

Panic returns.

May need to re-apply for mortgage.

Second stroke.

Try to focus on problem solving skills. Gather necessary paperwork.

Mortgage lady calls back – bank made a mistake. Expiry date on DECEMBER 20th. 3 months away.

And that, children, is where grey hair comes from.

Customer Service

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I don’t like talking to people.  I know this is odd coming from a psychologist, but I really like that much of what I need in the world can be found online with a few button clicks.  Last year when I bought my new car, I was able to purchase car insurance in about 5 minutes online. I just got my renewal in the mail and it is higher than I excepted so I decided to shop around.  I figured since I bought insurance in 5 minutes, surely I could get a few quotes in that time.  There is a company here called Youi that is constantly advertising their ability save EVERYONE money.  So I tried them first.  I went through the 5 minutes of online questions and clicked on “Get Quote”.

I have to admit it is probably kind of sad how excited I was at this point – curious to know how much I would be saving.  I mean, on the commercial, they saved Sophie over $900/year!  And my insurance isn’t even that much now! Maybe my insurance would be free!

You can imagine my disappointment when what came up was:

“Grab your phone!  You are one of our preferred customers and one of our representatives is going to call you right now.”


So yes, someone called and proceeded to tell me what a great company they are and asked the EXACT SAME QUESTIONS I had just answered online. The fast talking, annoyingly mumbling call centre worker asked if I would proceed if I found their quote acceptable.  I said:


She laughed and asked why maybe.  She seemed genuinely surprised when I said that this phone call was a pointless and irritating waste of time.  She then proceeded to waste even more of my time explaining how this is customer service and how all of their customers appreciated that by asking more questions than other companies, they are able to tailor their insurance to the specific client and save them money by doing so.

What she should have said was “Ok, let’s get this over as quickly as possible and get you that quote you were looking for”.  That would be serving THIS customer.

Many years ago I worked for The Bay, a big department store in Canada.  They had a customer service plan that involved asking customers if there was anything else they needed and trying to sell them other products related to their purchase.  That is NOT customer service.  That is BAY service.  And that is fine – you’re a company that is out to make money – but DO NOT try to sell me something and say it is for MY service.  I’m not a moron.  And it is insulting to try to fob off your gain for mine.

So back you Youi, the call centre lady then asked the compliance questions that every insurance company asks – are you a criminal, have you had an accident, have you made a claim blah blah blah.  All of these could have been asked online (indeed they were when I bought my insurance online last year).  Why on earth did they need to be asked in person?  Does the call centre person have super powers to detect lying?

Not one of the questions they asked seemed different from what any other company asks.  Any modifications to the car? How is the car used? Where is the car kept?  Everyone asks these questions.  Does this company even know what their competitors do?

While the computer churned out my quote, the call centre lady again regaled me with advantages for choosing Youi.  It had now been ages since I started the quote process online – Just give me the damn quote!!!

$50 more than my current company.

You have GOT to be kidding me!!! The woman was ready to sign me up.  I opened my current policy to confirm.  How can this be?!  Sophie saved over $900 a year.  Where the hell was she getting her car insurance before?  The Royal Diamond Studded Insurance Company for Stupid Rich People???

I told the lady her quote was more than my current policy and that I would be staying where I was.  I heard her call my name as I hung up.

Sorry, but you’re not serving this customer.


Oh good lord….

Posted: May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


Do it for Denmark!

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ovulation Discount.  Bahahaha I had no idea the Danes were so funny.


Journalist misses irony

Posted: March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

There is a new app called Cloak.  It uses social media platforms to track where your friends, “friends” and non-friends are so that you don’t accidentally bump into them.



I’ve taken this pic from the article below.  It appears to track people you’ve selected and then tells you where they are.  I see this being a hit with the infidelity set.  But this is not the point of my post. The journalist writing about this app says:

“Cloak is the latest app in the “anti-social network” trend, in which online users are increasingly valuing privacy over publicizing their every move.”

So, it is valued by users who  want to maintain their privacy and not publicise their every move but want to know this about everyone else???

Good grief.


The other day I was telling one of my students that in the ye olde days, the lower categories of IQ scores were given names, in particular moron, imbecile and idiot. But I couldn’t remember the order.

In the process of searching for this information on the internet – the font of all knowledge – I discovered that moron comes from the word moros meaning dull. As opposed to oxy which means sharp.

So oxymoron means sharpdull.


If you don’t know what oxymoron means, I suggest you look it up or risk being recklessly categorised by pedantic dinner guests.

FYI, moron is one step above imbecile which is one step above idiot.

Naomi Campbell joins march to stop violence against women    O.o