Friday, February 27, 2015

Who Saw What Colors in #TheDress? My Poll Results!

After all of the chatter concerning the color of what is now called "TheDress," I got annoyed with what people termed "the science behind TheDress. They talked about cones and frequencies, but no one could suggest anything about the individual differences across people. I should probably have left it alone (this is not my area of research expertise), but I decided to take an informal poll on Facebook to see examine a few factors and see if they were related to the individual differences in seeing the colors of the dress.

Here are the questions that were posed:

- What color is the dress? - Black & Blue, White & Gold, Changing (I have seen it both ways)
- How old are you?
- What is your gender?
- What color are your eyes? - Blue or Green, Brown, Hazel
- How would you describe your mood when you first saw the dress? - very sad, a little sad, neither happy nor sad, somewhat happy, very happy
- Have you been prescribed corrective lenses? - yes or no

I received 52 responses! I used binomial logistical regressions to examine which of these factors increased the likelihood of an individual choosing one of the three options concerning the color of the dress. Controlling for the other factors, the most closely related of these variables was gender! Look at the table below.

Although people on the internet have suggested it, neither mood or wearing corrective lenses appeared to be related to which option was chosen. However, there was some modest results from the factor of eye color.

These results suggested (the results of the logistic regressions, not just the graph) that those with blue/green or brown eyes were more likely to see the dress as either blue & black or white & gold, not changing from one to the other.

Due to the strong effects of gender, I was wondering if any of these factors were related to the propensity to be different from the majority of one's gender. This would involve seeing the black & blue dress for women and the white & gold dress for men. A logistic regression using the aforementioned factors suggested that age was an important predictor of this particular difference. As you can see below, the individuals who saw different colors than the majority of the genders tended to be the younger ones in the sample.

I am not going to speculate why these relationships may exist. I will leave that to everyone else. I will say that it is not too surprising, since previous findings in psychology concerning colorblindness and other vision related factors have found gender differences. What do you think?

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Fear Voices

Sometimes it seems easy to only listen to voices of fear. If I am looking at a job opportunity advertisement, there are two possible fear-related voices I can hear. One voice is imploring me to apply for the job, in fear that this application may stand between me and facing the difficulties of unemployment. The second voice declares that applying for this job would be a waste of time, since I am not good enough for the job. Both of these voices shout at me at varying volumes dependent on the characteristics of the job and how I am feeling at the time. 

I think this level of cognitive effort might be what can make job searching such a taxing process. When I spend effort trying to silence these emotional voices of fear, I am not thinking clearly. Even the more healthy fear that encourages me to try can still be debilitating.

In Luke 8, Jesus’ disciples were crippled by the deafening voices of fear. The winds and waves tossed their little fishing boat so that the water began to close in. They must have been very confused at the contrast between this dangerous situation and the peaceful slumber of Jesus amidst all of it.

In this situation, it seems like the disciples may have ceased thinking clearly. The voices of fear may have been telling them that Jesus was just a really deep sleeper and he did not know what was happening. Maybe they were thinking that he was sleeping because he did not care about them. 

Finally, the disciples did what I need to do. They alerted Jesus, simultaneously admitting their fear and acknowledging his authority. He responded by calming the storm. Their fear was vanquished. They knew Jesus was in control. 

I know there is a plan and that it is a perfectly good plan. Amidst the wind, I pray that God will grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Obscurity or Oprah?

I have to admit that sometimes I long to be heard. I will have some interesting epiphany while riding my bicycle or taking a shower. From there I want to move on to do a little background work to support or refute whatever idea has taken me captive. If that does not send me down the rabbit hole of obscurity, the next step is a difficult one. My thoughts start to build pressure and I wonder: “who might benefit from this insight?” Eventually, that question gets reduced to; “who would not be utterly frustrated and annoyed by listening to me ramble about this?” Finally, I look for an opportunity and jump at the chance even if it is not necessary. 

Since you are reading something I have written, you probably have found yourself in this category. You also might be one of the ones who has at times regretted that you were too nice to somehow prevent me from needlessly sharing one of my rants with you. I am sorry. I feel like God has called me to think deeply and share my thoughts with others, yet this does not make it right to share when the situation is not appropriate.

In reading about the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4, I wonder if Jesus may have had similar feelings to my own. He had more insight for the world than anyone. He saw the injustice and spiritual apathy in his world. Surely Jesus had volumes of valuable wisdom to share, yet he spent the first 30 years of his life listening and working with hands. Then someone comes along and offers Jesus the chance to go from obscurity to Oprah, with all the world hanging on his every word.

Thankfully, Jesus did not jump the gun. Instead, he pointed to his father to sustain him. He spoke when his father led him to speak, in a time in which his words were needed. 

I know this word has implications for my own desire to be heard. How about you? Do you think you should consider carefully your timing and audience with your next tweet, status update, or blog post?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Denied: The Shotgun Approach

When I was in high school/college, I struggled with rejection. People say that you need to simply “shake it off,” but it is not always that easy. I would find myself personally invested in an opportunity and be devastated if it did not come out in my favor. I would wonder for hours about what went wrong. Rejection sometimes motivates people to try harder and succeed when the next opportunity arises, but it had the opposite effect on me. It would make me want to roll over and not consider myself at all worthy of attacking  the next opportunity.

Then after finishing graduate school (my master’s), I had to get a job. The market was not good, so I knew I needed to work really hard. So I tried the shotgun approach. I pounded the keyboard day after day. I sent out one or two applications a day. I applied if the opportunity was even remotely related to my training. After a month or so of this routine, the rejection letters started to roll in. As they did, I noticed something strange. I did not really care. I thought it was funny because here I was getting this nice letter about a job for which I did not even remember filling out an application. After a while, I ended up getting a job that I loved. 

Later on, I used the same technique with online dating. I would see a new match and gauge my gut reaction, then I would quickly send her a message without thinking too much. I sent these messages quickly enough that I would not always remember them, so not getting a response would not phase me. Again, the technique worked. I did find the love of my life.

Although I do recommend that others try my technique, it may not work for others. My ingenuity is not the point of my story. I think improving my ability to cope with rejection has been one avenue that God has used to transform me into someone that is more capable of being successful in life. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 3:18 that we are continually being shaped in his likeness. In the same chapter, Paul also wrote that being in God’s company espouses freedom and boldness.

As I now find myself in a position of job searching once again, I am not completely free and bold. Thankfully, I can look back and see growth. I am still learning, being shaped and molded. I pray that I will continue to seek the sweet nectar of freedom!

Friday, February 1, 2013

To Wait

I started to feel a little anxious. The opportunity looked good, possibly even attainable. Unfortunately, they wanted one thing that I lacked. They needed me to send them a transcript. Having been around several different colleges, I had the feeling that this might not be an easy or quick process. Recalling previous experiences with long lines, I requested that they send me the transcript in the mail, thinking: “only 4 miles away, how long could it take?” Then I started to wait.

Five days came and went with no transcript. With my anxiety rising, I decided to call. The person at the office told me that it usually only takes 5 minutes to get one in person. The next day, I was on campus and contemplating whether to go or wait. I listened to an internal voice speaking of continuous chaos around the bend. I wondered if it had gotten lost in the mail (which has never happened to me before), or if the days I might have to wait longer could cost me this job opportunity. After all the contemplation, I let my anxiety win and I went by the office. There was no line and it took about 5 minutes.

About an hour after I got home and began the process of completing my application, I heard the mail slot close and saw the letter containing my transcript fall to the linoleum. 

Waiting is a theme in the Bible. Esau sold his birthright because he could not wait long enough. Abraham could not wait for God to give him a son with his wife Sara, so he had a child with Hagar. The Israelites in the desert could not wait long enough, so they made a statue. Despite the difficulty, the prophets in the Old Testament speak very often of the virtue of waiting on God. In Luke 12, Jesus told his disciples not to worry, but to wait and be ready to open the door.

Even though I believe the promises of God, it is still hard to wait! How do you wait? How do you silence the control-seeking voice in your head?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Context

One of the core ideas that is inherent in individualistic cultures is the righteousness of human agency. We tend to think that a person who has ability and a little moxy should be able to succeed in any walk of life. Our heroes are people like Abraham Lincoln, who is said to have risen from humble beginnings to become one of the most beloved presidents and the one who put an end to the injustice of slavery.
Upon further inspection of Lincoln’s Wikipedia article, you can see that some of these aspects of Lincoln’s life were not accidental or solely due to his agency. It says that Lincoln attended a “Separate Baptist” church which opposed slavery. His father also moved their family from Kentucky to Indiana partly because of his father’s opposition to the slavery. It seems like Lincoln’s young life involved many encounters with slavery as well as moral teachings concerning it’s injustice.
In some ways, the life of Paul was not a whole lot unlike the life of Abraham Lincoln. Although he is known for his passionate missionary work, it is not hard to see the hand of God molding his pre-conversion life. His place as a Roman citizen and his Jewish education would later be used for his work. In his biography of Paul, John Pollack suggested even that Paul’s position as a prosecutor of Christians may have resulted in him witnessing the testimonies and devotion of hundreds of Christians prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus. 
When Paul was writing his letter to the church in Corinth, he seems aware of how life is much more than the result of one’s desire and hard work. In the third chapter, he casts himself in the role of only a sower of seeds. Although he worked very hard, he knew that the success of his hard work was always dependent on God’s agency.

In modern individualism, I think it is easy to forget the role of God. We start to blame others (usually) for our failures and credit ourselves for successes. We also start to believe what others say about our ability or lack there of. Although I do not see any harm in learning from mistakes or celebrating our victories, I think it is very important that we acknowledge the hand of God in all of them. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Understanding Tebowmania

Like many other people, I have been perturbed by the ordeal of Tim Tebow. The kid has not done anything wrong, he has merely done his job and represented his faith to the best of his ability. Despite his hard work and success, he has been met with tribulations ever since he left the confines of Gainesville, Florida. First he was welcomed with fanfare, then he was ostracized by his boss. What was his reaction? He continued to work hard for the team and was not afraid to speak out about his faith. The media then largely reacted by relegating him to the role of popular back-up and dismissed his popularity as a fleeting relic of his college success. 

When hardship and frustration led his boss to reluctantly put him on the field, Tebow continued to do what he does, play hard and win games. His success despite the odds inspired his team, but it still has not endeared him to the sports world. Many have even criticized and mocked him because of his unswerving spiritual commitment.
I think the church in Corinth may have had a lot in common with Tim Tebow and his predicament. The culture of Roman Corinth likely rewarded those whose mindset involved the abstractions of greek philosophy and the hedonism of the prevailing sexual idolatry of that city. In the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells them not to be surprised when people do not understand them. Even though they are misunderstood, Paul continues to exhort them to have the mind of Christ, using their spiritual judgment to love others.
I think Christians are often good at being misunderstood, but we often use this difficulty as an excuse to disengage from loving others or to have an “us against them” mentality. The script for this type of situation has been has been championed by the religious right in the world of politics. An alternative pathway has also been to go under the radar and pretend that our faith does not motivate our actions.
I am sure Tim Tebow has many human flaws, but I think he is a pretty good example of the third way that Paul is suggesting to the Corinthians. May be Tebowmania is the result of Christians seeing a successful young man who is misunderstood, yet perseveres in loving and serving others. It is like the Christians of America now have our very own real-life Rocky. Although he is inevitably not perfect, I think Tebow’s example can help us to live out a misunderstood life with the love of Christ.