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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 23.2 > The Gadfly

The Gadfly

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HERE ARE A FEW SMALL STUDIES YOU CAN do on your own to introduce this column’s subject:

—Sit in a coffee shop and watch people who are eating together. Count how many times one person touches the other as they converse. If you live in a large city, you should have a wealth of diverse individuals to observe; if your coffee shop is monocultural, you might have to do a little traveling. Many years ago, Sidney Jourard did this in San Juan (Puerto Rico), Paris, London, and Gainesville (Florida).1His scores were: San Juan, 180; Paris, 110; London, 0; and Gainesville, 2.

—Examine the photos of survivors of any horrible event—a natural disaster, such as flood or fire, or a human-made disaster, such as a mass shooting or bomb. Try to find an image of survivors standing apart from one another, arms crossed in front of them. You can’t, can you? Total strangers as well as neighbors will be hugging each other, whether stoically or in tears, for comfort and support.

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About Skeptic

THE RISE OF THE NONES Imagining No Heaven — The Rise of the Nones and the Decline of Religion; Never Doubting God — Surveys on Belief in God’s Existence; Persistence of Belief in a Purposeful Universe; Honor, Dignity, Victim — A review of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars; The SkepDoc — Premature Ejaculation in the News: How Headlines Influence Our Thinking; Is the Earth Flat? Flat Earthers Are Back — How do You Best Make the Argument for a Round Earth?; Conspiracy Theorists and the Harm They Do; Bruce Perkins and Another Terrible Tragedy of the Recovered Memory Movement; Deterrence and Its Discontents: Now That Nuclear War Seems to Be Getting More Likely Again, It’s Time to Turn a Skeptical Eye on Deterrence; Reality Need Not Diminish Our Concept of Our Place in the Cosmos; Junior Skeptic — Perpetual Motion; and more…