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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

Nimble Numbers (Do They Tell the Truth?)

Kids Numbers

Numbers will scream at you all your life. “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sparkle tooth paste.” “70% of people prefer dogs over cats.” “66.6% of all girls prefer the color purple over the color pink.” Websites and textbooks and advertisers often have numbers for everything. But are those numbers always true?

Those numbers are most commonly found by asking people to answer a question with one or two answers (a poll) or a series of questions with a larger choice of answers (a survey). By asking the right questions, polls and surveys can get answers that don’t quite tell the truth.

Let’s look at advertisers who use dentists to sell a dental product. And imagine that you’ve just invented a brand new tooth paste that tastes like candy floss. You take samples to ten dentists and ask them if they would recommend it to their clients.

The dentists try the tooth paste and, while other tooth pastes they know would be better at dental care, they see nothing wrong with Candy Floss Paste. They know that some kids don’t like brushing their teeth and think that maybe they would be more likely to brush if the paste tasted like candy floss. Nine give you the recommendation.

The tenth thinks, “Well, this won’t hurt anyone, but other brands work better and still taste good.” He doesn’t give you a recommendation.

Still, you can brag that 9 out of 10 dentists recommended your paste. But what if you had given the dentists your paste as well as one of the most effective and yummy-tasting brands and asked which they would recommend? Think about it—then think about whether or not 9 out of 10 is really the truth.

Another way numbers can lie is found in who you ask. Imagine you stand outside a dog show and ask all the people coming in to watch the show: “Do you prefer dogs or cats?” Of course, most of the people will say they prefer dogs. After all, they are going to a dog show. If you want to get a poll that says more people prefer cats, take your poll outside of a cat show.

You might think this is an obvious example, but consider that many polls and surveys take place in your favorite shopping mall. Teenagers in a mall would be more likely to say yes to the question: “Do you plan on buying a new cell phone in the next year?” If you asked that same question in front of a senior citizen’s home, what do you think the results would be?

Now think about how you would get 66.6% of girls to say they preferred purple over pink. Here’s one way: Go to a schoolyard or mall and look for girls wearing purple. Ask them if they prefer purple over pink. If they are wearing purple, chances are very good that they will say that they prefer purple over pink. One, though, might prefer pink but didn’t have an clean pink shirt to wear that day.

Here’s another way. Get a celebrity or a person who resembles a popular singer. Dress that person in an expensive, cool purple shirt or dress. Studies have shown that people will give poll responses that they hope will get the approval of the attractive person asking the question. That answer might not be the truth, but it might help make purple more popular.

Next time you see a commercial or read a news story with a percentage in it, think about that number. More importantly, think about how that number was created. That number might not be as true as it sounds.

Numbers will scream at you all your life. “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sparkle tooth paste.” “70% of people prefer dogs over cats.” “66.6% of all girls prefer the color purple over the color pink.” Websites and textbooks and advertisers often have numbers for everything. But are those numbers always true?

Those numbers are most commonly found by asking people to answer a question with one or two answers (a poll) or a series of questions with a larger choice of answers (a survey). By asking the right questions, polls and surveys can get answers that don’t quite tell the truth.

Let’s look at advertisers who use dentists to sell a dental product. And imagine that you’ve just invented a brand new tooth paste that tastes like candy floss. You take samples to ten dentists and ask them if they would recommend it to their clients.

The dentists try the tooth paste and, while other tooth pastes they know would be better at dental care, they see nothing wrong with Candy Floss Paste. They know that some kids don’t like brushing their teeth and think that maybe they would be more likely to brush if the paste tasted like candy floss. Nine give you the recommendation.

The tenth thinks, “Well, this won’t hurt anyone, but other brands work better and still taste good.” He doesn’t give you a recommendation.

Still, you can brag that 9 out of 10 dentists recommended your paste. But what if you had given the dentists your paste as well as one of the most effective and yummy-tasting brands and asked which they would recommend? Think about it—then think about whether or not 9 out of 10 is really the truth.

Another way numbers can lie is found in who you ask. Imagine you stand outside a dog show and ask all the people coming in to watch the show: “Do you prefer dogs or cats?” Of course, most of the people will say they prefer dogs. After all, they are going to a dog show. If you want to get a poll that says more people prefer cats, take your poll outside of a cat show.

You might think this is an obvious example, but consider that many polls and surveys take place in your favorite shopping mall. Teenagers in a mall would be more likely to say yes to the question: “Do you plan on buying a new cell phone in the next year?” If you asked that same question in front of a senior citizen’s home, what do you think the results would be?

Now think about how you would get 66.6% of girls to say they preferred purple over pink. Here’s one way: Go to a schoolyard or mall and look for girls wearing purple. Ask them if they prefer purple over pink. If they are wearing purple, chances are very good that they will say that they prefer purple over pink. One, though, might prefer pink but didn’t have an clean pink shirt to wear that day.

Here’s another way. Get a celebrity or a person who resembles a popular singer. Dress that person in an expensive, cool purple shirt or dress. Studies have shown that people will give poll responses that they hope will get the approval of the attractive person asking the question. That answer might not be the truth, but it might help make purple more popular.

Next time you see a commercial or read a news story with a percentage in it, think about that number. More importantly, think about how that number was created. That number might not be as true as it sounds.

Elephants In The Sky & The Man On The Moon

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

The History of Google Doodle

The history of Google Doodle

In this article we will explore how Google Doodle got started, what it has evolved into and how students aged K – 12 can ‘Google 4 Doodle’. The Google Doodle is a creative altering of the Google logo to celebrate holidays, special events and achievements by people – past and present. It is featured on their main search page during these special days.

Since the Google logo is made up of the spelling of their name “Google”, the artistic rendition incorporates the letters of their company name.

To effectively explore the beginnings of Google Doodle, it is helpful for us to take quick look back at the very beginning of Google itself.

Back in the 1990’s when the internet was first evolving, there were only a few search engines. Google was not even one of them until 1998.

The home pages of most search engines did not look as simple as Google did when it launched, which is surprising very much how it looks today. Back in those early year, search engines also provided a lot of other resource links and information on their websites.

When Google Search was born, they simply featured their logo above the search bar along with a couple of resource links.

The rest of their website was all white space and as noted earlier, it continues to be like that today. So with the focus always being on the Google name contained within their logo, redesigning the logo to commemorate days was easily noticed by users.

The very first Google Doodle was featured back in Google’s infancy as a company in the late 90’s. Over the years, it was used for more and more events including great achievements by people in history.

The first Google Doodles were simple additions to their logo letters, then became more creative in their design.

More recently, the Google Doodle as incorporated animation, videos and even fun games related to the special day Google is celebrating. As well, today’s Google Doodles offer a link to reveal search results related to the day being recognized.

We think the most fun Google Doodles are the ones created by artists. The video at the bottom of this article shows how it’s done.

Doodle 4 Google

Google 4 Doodle is contest for students run by Google in the United States and other select countries. When Google decides to run the contest they pick a theme and ask entrants to create their Google Doodles around this theme.

Artistic creations by kids and teens are judged according to artistic merit and creativity, which includes how well the doodle fits the assigned theme and incorporates the Google logo. The winner of the Google 4 Doodle contest will get their drawing featured on Google’s home page.

To learn more, search “Doogle 4 Goodle” in the search bar at the top of this website.

In this article we will explore how Google Doodle got started, what it has evolved into and how students aged K – 12 can ‘Google 4 Doodle’. The Google Doodle is a creative altering of the Google logo to celebrate holidays, special events and achievements by people – past and present. It is featured on their main search page during these special days.

Since the Google logo is made up of the spelling of their name “Google”, the artistic rendition incorporates the letters of their company name.

To effectively explore the beginnings of Google Doodle, it is helpful for us to take quick look back at the very beginning of Google itself.

Back in the 1990’s when the internet was first evolving, there were only a few search engines. Google was not even one of them until 1998.

The home pages of most search engines did not look as simple as Google did when it launched, which is surprising very much how it looks today. Back in those early year, search engines also provided a lot of other resource links and information on their websites.

When Google Search was born, they simply featured their logo above the search bar along with a couple of resource links.

The rest of their website was all white space and as noted earlier, it continues to be like that today. So with the focus always being on the Google name contained within their logo, redesigning the logo to commemorate days was easily noticed by users.

The very first Google Doodle was featured back in Google’s infancy as a company in the late 90’s. Over the years, it was used for more and more events including great achievements by people in history.

The first Google Doodles were simple additions to their logo letters, then became more creative in their design.

More recently, the Google Doodle as incorporated animation, videos and even fun games related to the special day Google is celebrating. As well, today’s Google Doodles offer a link to reveal search results related to the day being recognized.

We think the most fun Google Doodles are the ones created by artists. The video at the bottom of this article shows how it’s done.

Doodle 4 Google

Google 4 Doodle is contest for students run by Google in the United States and other select countries. When Google decides to run the contest they pick a theme and ask entrants to create their Google Doodles around this theme.

Artistic creations by kids and teens are judged according to artistic merit and creativity, which includes how well the doodle fits the assigned theme and incorporates the Google logo. The winner of the Google 4 Doodle contest will get their drawing featured on Google’s home page.

To learn more, search “Doogle 4 Goodle” in the search bar at the top of this website.

What Do Cats and Flies Have In Common?

Cute Cats and Kittens

Cats and Flies. An odd pairing indeed. What do they have in common? The answer to this question is simple: useful hair. Your own hair can be useful. It can keep you warm, protect you from sunburn and, yes, show the world your style. But the hair on cats and flies can save their lives.

Have you ever watched a cat stalking something in grass? You strain to see what they’re after, but you can’t. The cat might not be able to see it either. What tells a cat that something is skittering around in the grass is its hair. Cat hair is extremely sensitive. When a mouse of beetle moves through the grass, it disturbs air. Cat’s hair is able to detect that movement.

Even tiny changes in air pressure can be felt by cat hair, pointing the animal toward a potential snack. The hair also alerts them to predators sneaking up behind them, helping keep the kitty alive.

That same special hair ability tells flies when someone is trying to swat them. When you swing a swatter towards a fly, the swatter compresses the air between it and the insect. The fly’s hairs can feel the air pressure changes overhead and has time to take off before the swatter comes down.

Cats and flies have something else in common: useful foot pads.

The pads on the bottom of a cat’s paws are very sensitive, able to detect temperature, pressure and even vibrations, giving the feline yet another tool for staying alive.

Fly foot pads perform valuable work, too, but again, the main reason is hair. Flies have hair on their legs.

They also have hair on their foot pads that produce a form of glue made of sugar and oil. This glue helps them land and walk on walls and ceilings. It also means that flies leave tiny, sticky little footprints on anything those foot pads touch, like counters and people.

This glue can hold diseases that stay behind after the fly has swooped away, which is why flies are known as health hazards.

Cats can carry disease on their pads, too, but at least they don’t make glue.

Cats and flies are incredibly different, belong to different animal categories. Still, they share the biological advantage of having useful hair. That hair, with its sensitivity to air pressure, means that when your kitten is trying to catch a fly, the fight will be even.

Cats and Flies. An odd pairing indeed. What do they have in common? The answer to this question is simple: useful hair. Your own hair can be useful. It can keep you warm, protect you from sunburn and, yes, show the world your style. But the hair on cats and flies can save their lives.

Have you ever watched a cat stalking something in grass? You strain to see what they’re after, but you can’t. The cat might not be able to see it either. What tells a cat that something is skittering around in the grass is its hair. Cat hair is extremely sensitive. When a mouse of beetle moves through the grass, it disturbs air. Cat’s hair is able to detect that movement.

Even tiny changes in air pressure can be felt by cat hair, pointing the animal toward a potential snack. The hair also alerts them to predators sneaking up behind them, helping keep the kitty alive.

That same special hair ability tells flies when someone is trying to swat them. When you swing a swatter towards a fly, the swatter compresses the air between it and the insect. The fly’s hairs can feel the air pressure changes overhead and has time to take off before the swatter comes down.

Cats and flies have something else in common: useful foot pads.

The pads on the bottom of a cat’s paws are very sensitive, able to detect temperature, pressure and even vibrations, giving the feline yet another tool for staying alive.

Fly foot pads perform valuable work, too, but again, the main reason is hair. Flies have hair on their legs.

They also have hair on their foot pads that produce a form of glue made of sugar and oil. This glue helps them land and walk on walls and ceilings. It also means that flies leave tiny, sticky little footprints on anything those foot pads touch, like counters and people.

This glue can hold diseases that stay behind after the fly has swooped away, which is why flies are known as health hazards.

Cats can carry disease on their pads, too, but at least they don’t make glue.

Cats and flies are incredibly different, belong to different animal categories. Still, they share the biological advantage of having useful hair. That hair, with its sensitivity to air pressure, means that when your kitten is trying to catch a fly, the fight will be even.

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