Halloween sweet math helps hold the illusions alive

In the early 1700s, writer Jonathan Swift wrote about how fast falsehoods can fly and that “the truth limps afterwards.” Over the centuries these words developed into the well-known saying: “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on.”

Conspiracy theories are not new. Some people still believe that the earth is flat, or that extraterrestrial lizard people live here disguised as certain celebrities, or that Elvis never actually died. But it feels like this year has produced more than its share of weird ideas.

I am intrigued by how absolutely certain some people are about the conspiracy theories they have adopted. There are only a handful of things that I’m sure of, and I’m amazed when people don’t even allow the possibility that they are wrong.

Like many phenomena, the Internet has facilitated the spread of conspiracy theories. Not only can the truth fail to put its boots on, it cannot even wiggle its toe before a lie goes viral.

I recently came across an article by a technology columnist named Kevin Roose who wrote this in the New York Times: “There is just too much information now being broadcast over too many channels for people to come to each page with a single, straightforward answer could be satisfied with any question. “

In other, less sophisticated words, the Internet is like a huge buffet – like Golden Corral times a million. Most people eat the main courses like steak and potatoes, but there are some who are attracted to the weird jell-o shape full of unidentifiable pieces for some reason.

Perhaps something in our human nature makes us cling to wild theories, especially when we need explanations or just want those theories to be true.

I sometimes struggle with reality in October, especially after the stores put out bags of Halloween candy. When I put the candy bags in my shopping cart, I tell myself I’m doing this because it’s good business (it’s not that) and because it’s for trick or treating (although I know it won’t be until the end of the Month).

As soon as I get it home, I put it in my cute Halloween candy bowl and admire the shiny boxes of chocolates and tell myself I won’t be eating any. (Yes exactly.)

And once I start to eat it, the lies get bigger and more detached from reality. I’m doing something I call “Halloween Candy Math”. It’s a special kind of math where two plus two equals “maybe just another Reese cup”.

If you’re using Halloween candy, you can imagine that four or five “fun size” Twix bars don’t necessarily result in a full-size Twix bar. You can’t add up that high because they’re so tiny and cute and “fun” that they obviously wouldn’t hurt nice people’s waists, right? (And as long as these lovely people are wearing pants with elastic waistbands, it’s easier to keep believing.)

Today I discovered that not only are Twix bars available in “fun size”, they also come in an even smaller package called “Mini”. When I destroyed one of these “minis” in one bite, I wondered how many minis would result in a full-size candy bar that makes you feel guilty. Is it 25 minis? Because I really want the answer to be 25.

Please join in with this theory.

And spread the word!

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email them at [email protected] Your book is available on Amazon.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email them at [email protected] Your book is available on Amazon.

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