Monday, 3 August 2009

F*%# It - I Feel Better Now

My son has been staying with me for a few days, and made the observation that I tend to shout and swear a lot when things aren't going right. The gist of his comment was why do I do this, since it doesn't help the situation 'and just sounds stupid'.

Why indeed? I've written previously about bad situations that I handle calmly and those that are met with shouting, swearing and general banging around, and I seem to recall that the slow painful losses were the ones most likely to trigger an outburst whereas the sudden hit was more likely to be met with a stoical silence.

But it seems I am not alone with swearing when faced with a threat. A recent article in Scientific American reported on a study conducted by Richard Stephens, a psychology professor at Keele University, who became interested in the function of profanity after hearing an earful of it from his wife while she was in labour, and wondered if it served some practical purpose.

In one experiment he conducted, participants who were encouraged to curse freely were able to keep their hands in ice-cold water for 40% longer than those asked to utter words of the type they'd use to describe a table. Afterward, they also reported feelong less pain than their polite counterparts.

Swearing seems to elevate the heart rate and may, by raising aggression levels, trigger the flight-or-fight response. (My son had better be careful about the timing of his next comment, or I will be running away from him - he's bigger than me!) This repsonse is known to mute the sensation of pain, so that we can respond quickly to a threat.

The most popular sear words for people in pain were identified by Richard Stephens as F**k, S**t and 'the two B-words' (although I can think of at least four that start with B). I must have a foul mouth.


Betting Exchange Trader said...

Hi Cassini - your link is up. Question - My approach to US sports (if I traded them) or any sport on the handicap - would be to use the handicap as a guide - i.e. in NBA if one team goes 25 point clear on +12 Handicap - do you figure to lay that team / back the other - effectively betting on a rally by the losing team and the fact that the handicap is generally pretty accurate..other factors to consider no doubt - but wondered if you'd go far wrong...

Cassini said...

The handicap is generally pretty accurate. It's quite amazing how many games finish at or around the handicap mark, so use it as a guide by all means. The problem is that most handicap markets have poor in-running liquidity, and I personally don't like betting on handicaps for reasons that I have written about before - essentially it is a fake finishing line and you tend to get strange finishes to games. E.g. the handicap can be 14.5, and the Lakers up by 23 with two minutes left, but then all the starters are rested and the Lakers end up winning by 14 because they only care about winning!

afropunk said...

Although my straight punting days are long gone, I found handicaps great for backing the underdog, for the same reasons mentioned by Cassini. You can back a team that loses the game and still win your bet due to the favourite easing off once they have established that cusion lead.