Spoiler alert: Spoilers don’t necessarily ruin the fun
OK, here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to report a few of the week’s most noteworthy and/or surprising studies, most or all of which are at least tangentially related to women’s health or wellness, and then annotate each of them with my patented acerbic wit, peppering the commentary with snarky one-liners and puerile pop-culture references. Did I ruin things for you?
Not according to a new study by UC San Diego psychologists Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt. They recently tested whether spoiling the endings of 12 short stories—four mysteries, four pieces of literary fiction, and four “ironic-twist” tales—ruined things for the reader. As it turned out, not only did it not spoil the fun, it actually enhanced the experience, at least according to the subjects’ reported “hedonic measurements.” Why? No one could say for sure, of course, but that didn’t stop the researchers from trying. “Plots are just excuses for great writing,” Christenfeld said. “What the plot is is (almost) irrelevant. The pleasure is in the writing.” Sometimes, Nicky, but not sure I buy that explanation.
P.S. You never saw The Sixth Sense? Bruce Willis is dead all along. Oh, and Rosebud is his sled. You’re welcome.
Smoking still a bad idea, says new study, especially for women
If you’re a smoker, and you’re waiting for a study to come out showing that smoking really isn’t as bad for you as everyone says, don’t hold your breath. (Seriously, don’t. You smoke, remember?) The newest one, published in the venerable British medical journal The Lancet, just has more bad news: smoking is even more harmful for women. The analysis, of 2.4 million people spanning more than three decades, showed that “women who smoke boost the chances of having a heart attack by 25% more than male smokers.”
I often wonder why studies like this are still done. I mean, regardless of how singular or surprising the conclusion may be—and this one is both—the takeaway is always the same: Smoking is bad for you; don’t do it. It’s not like female smokers reading that are going to say to themselves, Oh, well if it’s 25% worse for me than it is for a man, I should probably quit. I’ll get on that. The cynical side of me suspects that such studies are just ways for wannabe professors to win tenure in the cutthroat publish-or-perish realm of academia. Am I off-base here? I’m not, am I? Man, I need a cigarette.
Breaking: Women somehow also insecure about a body part that guys seriously—really, truly—don’t care about
Never ask a woman her age, our mothers taught us. Never ask a woman her weight, our sisters and girlfriends taught us. Never ask a woman to go home with you right after you’ve met her and told her that you don’t really find her attractive but it’s 2 am and you’re desperate for some physical intimacy and the only other female in the bar is the town lush passed out in the corner, a girl named Donna taught me last week. Well, apparently now there’s a fourth thing we gentlemen are never supposed to ask you ladies about: your shoe size.
According to this story on my new favorite website, SoFeminine.co.uk, “about two thirds of women with larger-than-average foot size hated to ask sales assistants for help inside shoe stores.” Furthermore, “a shocking 82% of women who have size 8 or 9 foot [sic] feel that it’s a constant source of embarrassment for them.” Ladies, ladies. Trust me, size doesn’t matter. Every one of my girlfriends has assured me of that. Besides, you know what they say about girls with big feet… That’s right—they prefer shopping for shoes online, which was another finding.
The “study” also “showed that women’s feet [sic, again] size has increased by a size-and-a-half since [sic, again (again)] the past 20 years.” What? Either people’s feet have bloated commensurately with overall average weight gains across Western societies, or there is a weird new trend in plastic surgery I didn’t know about. One of those two.
New Jersey is the “flirtiest” state, according to terrible reality television and, now, at last, a landmark new study
If you thought it wasn’t possible to find a study less rigorous, less significant, and more stupider than the last one, think again. (I never stop working for you, dear reader.) Tagged.com—“the leading social network for meeting new people,” according to this article, which was definitely not at all paid for by Tagged.com—has found that New Jersey is the “flirtiest” state, followed by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, where I, for one, get flirted with all the time by the cutest little homeless men. As the asterisk in the story explains, “Flirtiness was measured by Tagged across over 2 million Americans and their online flirting or ‘winking’ habits in June 2011.” See, totally legit. At least until Facebook debunks this study with its own based on “poking” data from May 2007.
My favorite part of the story is the section where the Tagged “researchers” try to explain the results. “The state’s pop culture reputation for unabashed opinions and extraverted residents may be more than a myth and translate into higher average flirting numbers,” they write. “Extraverted.” I like that. That’s one way of describing Snooki. “The Situation,” on the other hand, prefers the word “aggressive” when it comes to his flirting. I wonder if they’re on Tagged…