Switch to mobile version

February 2023

Post image for Most Phone Use is a Tragic Loss of Life

I don’t know if people say this anymore, but it was common in the 1990s to say “smoking one cigarette takes ten minutes off your life.”

It obviously doesn’t work like that exactly, but it may not be total nonsense — this study says the loss of life comes to about eleven minutes, by adding up all known increased health risks and their life-expectancy differences, and dividing by the average number of cigarettes smoked by daily smokers. Smoking X cigarettes shortens a life, on average, by XY minutes. Fair enough.

Most of my friends and family don’t know this, but during my early twenties I smoked daily, and I thought about that 10-minute figure a lot. There were five customary cigarettes in my daily routine while I attended school: the waiting for the bus smoke, the arriving at school smoke, the mid-morning smoke, the after lunch smoke, and the waiting for the bus home smoke. There would be at least one other cigarette every day, which adds up to about an hour of life sacrificed per day to this ritual behavior, according to the formula. That’s about three hours lost per pack, and a day and a half per carton.

Read More
Post image for Thoughts Are Made to Be Thrown Out

When I was a kid we had an aquarium with a betta in it, also known as a Siamese fighting fish. We were told that male betta fish try to kill each other on sight, so you are definitely not supposed to hold a mirror up to the side of the tank to make it look like it has a competitor.

Of course we had to try it once, and it did indeed try to fight its mirror-bound intruder, so my dad made us stop before it hurt itself. When we took the mirror away, it resumed its normal routine of lazily swimming around, as though its foe had never been there at all. It didn’t seem to remember the other fish or worry about it.

I assume it moved on so quickly because fish do not have the ability, as we do, to entertain imaginary scenarios in their heads. They respond to what they’re experiencing — a hostile fish staring at them, an attractive fish flirting with them — but they don’t swim around reminiscing about past scuffles and rehearsing potential future ones. As a salmon flings itself upstream, it does not suffer recurring mental images of being torn apart by a bear or filleted on a rock. It just swims and eats as instincts dictate, and maybe it will make it and maybe not, but it doesn’t agonize over its range of possible fates.

Read More
Desktop version

Raptitude is an independent blog by . Some links on this page may be affiliate links, which means I might earn a commission if you buy certain things I link to. In such cases the cost to the visitor remains the same.