Author Topic: Lab rats, enriched cages  (Read 168 times)

Sunny Clouds

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Lab rats, enriched cages
« on: October 01, 2017, 04:38:54 PM »
Some of you will know about this, but just food for thought for those that don't.

Over the years, researchers looked at what happens if you put a rat in a cage and feed it on food that rats seem to like plus water, and then offer it the choice of an addictive drug instead.  Offer the rat heroin or cannabis or cocaine and you've soon got an addicted rat.

But one day a researcher took a different approach.    What he did was to make new cages for some of his rats.  He made bigger cages with tunnels and toys and other rats to play with, (and have sex with).  The rats in those cages showed a preference for ordinary, boring lab rat food and water.

Yet this simple bit of research never penetrated politics.  It hasn't made much headway in psychiatry, either.  The simple notion that creatures need stuff to make them happy and function better if you give it to them, and that 'the best things in life are free'.  Well, ok, tunnels and toys aren't free, but the human equivalent in everyday life is probably cheaper than street drugs and widely over-prescribed mind-altering drugs.  (I don't mean psychotropic meds don't have their place.)

But now I want to come onto something else on how things are seen.

Remember that famous experiment about 'delayed gratification' that's been repeated a lot and followed up for years.  You put a child in a room and give it a sweet.  You tell it that it can eat the sweet now, but if it waits, it can have another.  You then follow the children in the experiment and find that when they grow up, those that wait for a second sweet are more successful.  Hence, we're told that the ability to delay gratification is really important to success.  But does that actually match the successful people you see?

Anyway, someone looked at the research again from a completely different angle.   They scanned the brains of children in a repeat of it and found that the same bits of their brains lit up for the same sort of time etc. whether they chose to eat the sweet or 'delay gratification', so what was going on?  The researchers looked again.  Upon closer inspection, there was another factor.   Those children that ate the sweet straight away were more likely to be from food-insecure families.

In other words, if you don't know where you're next meal's coming from, you eat when you can, and if you're hungry, you see a sweet as 'food' and eat it.  If you're sure you'll get food as and when you want and need it, you just wait and eat at mealtimes, and you see a sweet as 'a special treat' that you can eat as and when you'll enjoy it.

And?

Well, food insecurity generally maps onto poverty.  The original research, and much that later followed it was American.  In America, poverty generally maps onto lower educational attainment (because education is so expensive) and fewer job opportunities etc.  In other words, it isn't the ability to delay gratification that accounts for success, it's having money; and seizing food when you can get it is actually a perfectly good strategy.

My parents started at the bottom and worked their way up to the top.  I wish they'd explicitly taught me a lot of the things they'd grasped that enabled them to do that.  I cannot imagine my father ever 'delaying gratification'.  His success was built on swift decisions.  Seize the moment, seize the opporunity, seize the power.

I look at the rhetoric that says that lazy scroungers make a decision not to work when they could.  Rhetoric that accompanies benefit changes that increase the risk of taking work.  Benefit changes that mean that you can no longer, in practice, just do what you can when you can.  Yes, you can work for a zero-hours employer, but that's not the same.  It offers no progression.  Frustratingly, I don't think most of the companies that provide the zero hours work even give decent backhanders to the politicians doing this to people.  Politicians doing this aren't, mostly, even gaining from it.  Just nasty, perverted ideology.

How we're supposed to survive this, I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm beginning to realise that most of the decisions poor and disempowered people make that they're derided for are actually predicated on the same principles as those of rich people.

Again, a pet topic.  You know those 'doley scum' that brag about not wanting to work?  I've done lots of voluntary work with young people.  My inclination is to suppose that most people that brag that do actually want jobs.  What they don't want is the humiliation of people knowing they're considered unemployable and getting hundreds of rejections/non-replies when they apply for jobs. 

Yet if you were a politician or powerful person would you tell people you were being rejected?  Of course you wouldn't.  You didn't stand again for election or get a cabinet post or whatever not because you didn't stand a chance in hell of  being re-elected or appointed, but because you'd decided to go and work for such-and-such company, or you wanted to 'spend more time with your family'.

I'm now working on a new CV.  No more did I 'do jobs', I 'held positions'.  My new CV won't look like the sort the Jobcentre tells you to do.  It will look more like a Who's Who entry. 

lankou

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Re: Lab rats, enriched cages
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 04:42:52 PM »
  You know those 'doley scum' that brag about not wanting to work?

They appear to me to be figment of the imagination of Tories and the Daily Mail.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Lab rats, enriched cages
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2017, 05:57:31 PM »
I agree they're mostly fictitious.  Nevertheless ordinary people do meet people that say they don't want to work.  And put yourself in those people's shoes.  I maintain that an awful lot of those that make out they don't want to work do want to work.  Rather like the young person that tells you they're going straight into the world of work rather than run up a huge debt doing a pointless degree like "media studies" [which statistically is more useful than jealous unqualified journalists make it out to be].  Quite possibly they applied for  a degree course and didn't get a place.

However, how's this for another comparison.  Middle class person says "I'm working from home at the moment" [actual work unspecified] or "I'm looking after my elderly parents/my young children at the moment" or "I'm studying for higher qualifications".  I wonder how often when many say this it's actually the reason why they're not going out to work, and how often it's putting a face on it.

I'm not saying everyone puts a face on - far from it.  I just find we live in such a cruel society where those in charge do things one way, and their media moguls and those the media moguls employ do likewise, but if someone lower down the social heirarchy does it, they're damned for it.

I only just realised that it only became an offence to lie on your CV in England and Wales in 2006.  I bet IDS is glad of that, but at the same time, I wonder how many other politicians have dodgy CVs, just more carefully drafted than  his?

If you're young and join a gang, watch your back, even if it's one that doesn't go round killing people or dealing hard drugs.  Well, unless that gang's called the Bullingdon club.

Sorry to be so ranty.  I'm just going through a tranformative phase.  I feel incredibly depressed and I'm thinking how rich and famous and connected people survive.  I don't think they use actual different thinking from ordinary people to do it.  I think they do different thinking from the likes of me that grew up with a whole load of fake social memes about working hard and climbing up and getting qualifications etc.


auntieCtheM

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Re: Lab rats, enriched cages
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2017, 06:27:26 PM »
Yes, I was brought up to believe that qualifications and hard work were important and that people take notice of them.  Sadly practical application shows that this is not true.  It is who you know that is more important.

I once had a dreadful boss who kept being promoted.  This was because the top boss found 'he could wind her round his little finger'.  This is what she boasted.