I'm fairly easy-to-get-along kind of guy...
Not much really irritates me.
But one thing that DOES irritate me is when people needlessly make something simple into something that's purposefully obfuscated and hard to understand. This is technobabble at its worst.
Here's an example of what I mean:
|Sign in a local gym.
The idea here is simple--the gym now stocks chocolate milk in the fridge. Great! That's fine, and maybe even a good idea. What look what happens next...
"It offers an ideal 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and includes branched chain amino acids that accelerate recovery."
I think I'm a fairly literate person, and yet when I read this, I have no idea if it's true, or just bafflegab.
What makes a "2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio" ideal? Ideal for what? Why does including "branched chain amino acids" accelerate recovery?
The thing is, we all see texts like this all the time. We see them in advertising, in op-ed pieces in the news media, we hear people saying stuff that sounds wonderfully technical ("branched chain amino acids") but that we have no way to evaluate it.
You know that 99 people out of 100 will read this and start to believe that "chocolate milk really does accelerate recovery" and that a "2:1 ratio of carbos to protein is an ideal ratio."
But of course, SearchResearch readers are not just anyone--we tend to check these things out, we try to dig into the topic and understand what's really going on. This is what reporters, scholars, and people-who-read-critically do all the time. Here's a chance for us to dig behind the scenes and understand the background.
So this week's Challenge is in two parts:
1. What does that sign really mean? (Is a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio really good? If so, for what? What do "branched chain amino acids" have to do with accelerating recovery? And are they really something special in chocolate milk? Would it be the same if I ate a chocolate bar and drank a glass of milk??)
2. Do you have any examples of signs like this? (That is, ones that make grand claims, but are not understandable without a Master's degree in chemistry, or biology, or some other field? If so, share them with us!)
I suspect that you'll start seeing examples of signage like this everywhere (now that you're attuned to it). I hope I won't make you continuously irritated by these signs!
On the other hand, it's totally possible that this makes complete sense. This is what we want to determine. Is all of this sign true? (And I just didn't have enough background to understand it?) Or is this just plan technobabble?
As always, tell us the path you used to figure out the carbs/protein ratio goodness factor, and what you did to understand the relationship between branched amino acids and chocolate milk!
Share and enjoy.
P.S. Gentle Readers: This month, (September, 2016) is a time when I'll be in and out of internet connectivity. I know I'll be offline next Monday, so expect my answer next Wednesday or so. The next several weeks will be like this--don't panic--it's just vacation travel in Wifi-free zones.