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May 19, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Looks like FOX News called it -- UK neuroscientists now suggest that the brains of Apple devotees are stimulated by Apple imagery in the same way that the brains of religious people are stimulated by religious imagery.
posted by hermitosis (162 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I bet the sight of a doughnut sparks the same response in most people.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 AM on May 19, 2011 [22 favorites]


Wish I could have found a better way to work in this song from Menahem Golan's catastrophe, The Apple (1980).
posted by hermitosis at 10:26 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah. That sounds about right.
posted by ColdChef at 10:26 AM on May 19, 2011


Religion and Apple, two things you really shouldn't discuss in polite company.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:27 AM on May 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Which is to say, most of their cognitive functioning is turned off?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:27 AM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The next test is mefites with the metafilter shade of blue. Is it a coincidence that I painted my walls in #006699 with accents in #CCCC00?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:28 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just wait till this thread is linked to when Jobs dies. Just wait....
posted by rough ashlar at 10:28 AM on May 19, 2011


Fox's point, of course, is that all the cool kids are getting religion.
posted by msalt at 10:29 AM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have deeply religious feelings about computers in general.
posted by loquacious at 10:29 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]




I can quit at anytime.

As long as that anytime is sufficiently far enough in the future.
posted by tommasz at 10:30 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, but does it match the emotional response of dead fish that are stimulated by Apple imagery?
posted by burnmp3s at 10:30 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This will not go well.

Fox News, Apple, and Religion in the same post! What were you thinking?
posted by tomswift at 10:30 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do they also give 10% of their income?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:31 AM on May 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'd like to know how this compares to other popular brands. Quantitatively different, to be sure, but is it qualitatively different?
posted by roll truck roll at 10:31 AM on May 19, 2011


No one knows nuthin....
posted by Senator at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2011


Just wait till this thread is linked to when Jobs dies. Just wait....
posted by rough ashlar at 12:28 on May 19 [+] [!]

While the Book of Jobs is full of tribulations, focusing on his death is missing the point.
posted by Jpfed at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd like to see how their viewers react to the FOX News logo.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:33 AM on May 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Does this mean Microsoft is Satan?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they also give 10% of their income?

If only!
posted by ColdChef at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they also give 10% of their income?

Tithes to Apple are always set at 30%.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the deepest cited article here is by a BBC comedian. He alludes to a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner, but nobody with any kind of qualifications seems to be talking about this. I did some searching for any kind of peer reviewed journal article, or citation, or substantiating evidence at all and found nothing.

Anybody else have any luck? I'd be interested to read more if more does in fact exist. As it stands, this looks like a joke and a big troll.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seems to me it isn't necessarily the "religion" center of the brain, but more the "marketing" center. Jesus is a super successful brand for over 2000 years.
posted by birdherder at 10:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [34 favorites]


The brains of one Apple devotee who calls himself a "worshiper." I'll take Small Sample Sizes for 40, Alex.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a Mac user (and coincidentally, agnostic-atheist-somethingorother), I've tried to steer clear of the discussion regarding this bit of news, seeing that it inevitably leads down the path of bashing Apple and the user base on everything except the things they actually deserve to be bashed about.

Seeing that it now reached MeFi, however, I might as well say that of the many ways of latching on to the story I find this one the most appealing: Apple churns out products that fulfill customers' needs and desires in a way that their competitors in an otherwise bleak and depressing consumer electronics landscape don't. This is not completely unlike how religion fills spiritual voids in the followers, providing for a sense of continuity beyond death etc.

This could do with deeper analysis and better analogies, but now, I suppose the time has come for the usual cheap jokes.
posted by jklaiho at 10:36 AM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


“This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to process religion,” one of the scientists says.

You mean the magical thinking that happiness can be given or purchased?

Maybe they want to take a look at all advertising...all that funding and science in behavior studies didn't just make itself happen.
posted by yeloson at 10:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looks like DFW called it:

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

So I guess the moral of this story ends up being: Steve Jobs is eating you alive.
posted by dubusadus at 10:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [8 favorites]




As a Mac user (and coincidentally, agnostic-atheist-somethingorother), I've tried to steer clear of the discussion regarding this bit of news, seeing that it inevitably leads down the path of bashing Apple and the user base on everything except the things they actually deserve to be bashed about.


Probably best to refer to it as "news" in quotes as long as it's a bunch of hack job articles citing a comedian as proof?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:38 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Further proof that religion == marketing.
posted by swift at 10:39 AM on May 19, 2011


Do they also give 10% of their income?

Only under the threat of the Death Star Logo.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:39 AM on May 19, 2011


Marketers have known this for a while.. there is a bit in the Frontline documentary The Persuaders where they compare brand loyalty to religion/cults and actually show some clips from focus group. Brand loyalty not only helps people define themselves as individuals but also helps create social ties that reinforce the power of the brand.
posted by starman at 10:40 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people

More like 24 amirite??
posted by nzero at 10:41 AM on May 19, 2011


Congratulations, you've resorted to citing Fox News as an authority in your quest to besmirch Apple. Good job.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:41 AM on May 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Apple churns out products that fulfill customers' needs and desires in a way that their competitors in an otherwise bleak and depressing consumer electronics landscape don't.

So what Apple is like the Scientology: fulfilling believers' needs and desires in a way that judeo-christian religions and an otherwise bleak and depressing selection of religious beliefs don't.

And they take all of your money in exchange for the privilege.
posted by three blind mice at 10:42 AM on May 19, 2011


This isn't really about Apple - if it had been peer-reviewed, I imagine that there would have been multiple tests, multiple different brands and so on. It was done for a TV show.

I imagine that during his honeymoon period, Zune guy would probably have registered a quasi-religious enthusiasm for the Zune. There are probably more people who feel that way about iPhones than Zunes, and it would be easier to find one to shove into an MRI scanner, but, really, what does that actually tell us, except that lots of people like iPhones? Some people are enormous fans of the British Royal Family, or the Minnesota Vikings, or Simon Cowell. The press release this is based on comes from a BBC program about tech brands, so it mentions Apple.

(On preview: essentially, what starman said)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:43 AM on May 19, 2011


Fox News, Apple, and Religion in the same post! What were you thinking?

Let's throw some porn in there too.

Earlier this year, Hugh Hefner, founder of the magazine Playboy, made a lot of noise by announcing that the March issue of the iPad version of his magazine would come uncensored, a first for an iOS app – so far, like with every apps in the App Store, the content within the Playboy iPad app was restricted. As it turns out, the app was released as a webapp optimized for the iPad, and not a full blown iPad app, to get around the restrictions imposed by the App Store.
posted by Trurl at 10:44 AM on May 19, 2011


Reading that FOX piece, it's clearly something of a stretch, but a neat metaphor anyway. Also, it's fun imagining a future where Christianity and Apple have long since merged and people pray to the invisible-but-always-present savior, Steve Jobs and fret about being tempted to sin by that sneaky usurper, the Morning Star, his Unholiness Bill Gates.
posted by nzero at 10:48 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what Apple is like the Scientology

Yes, because Apple also routinely breaks families, destroys lives and has you believe that your computers are based on alien technology.

So good to see that the jokey insults never fail to appear in Apple threads here or anywhere else.
posted by jklaiho at 10:48 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does the penile cuff say.
posted by Trochanter at 10:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you stop biting there's a good chance they'll stop poking you.
posted by longbaugh at 10:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems trivially true – iconography is iconography; the goal of every corporate logo is to become the cross. That said I am suspicious of "stimulus A triggers the same part of the brain as stimulus B" as a way of drawing analogies, because I suspect our brains are often more complicated than that.
posted by furiousthought at 10:50 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


So if you're Christian/Jewish and use Apple products, is that like breaking the first/second commandmant?
posted by Jehan at 10:52 AM on May 19, 2011


Marketers have known this for a while.. there is a bit in the Frontline documentary The Persuaders where they compare brand loyalty to religion/cults and actually show some clips from focus group. Brand loyalty not only helps people define themselves as individuals but also helps create social ties that reinforce the power of the brand.

As a young evangelical with a Mac in the early 90s, I remember the profound sense of being Under Siege by an antagonistic culture opposed to what was Good and Right. A friend of mine had similar feelings about his SNES when Sega was doing all of the 'edgy' games. Around the same time, my two uncles half-jokingly stopped speaking: one was a Packers fan, the other was a Bears fan. This week, a friend of mine went on a public tear, accusing every company that used proprietary cables of opposing human freedom and democracy. Seriously, not jokingly.

The big difference between the structure of religious belonging and the structure of product affiliation is the long-term promise/threat. Apple says that you won't enjoy using computers as much if you go to mediocre alternatives; religion (at least, the western Christianity that's being used as a placeholder in this article and others) says that you'll spend eternity being tortured for your refusal to embrace the right path.

The closest analogue I've seen to religious conversion zeal is in the GPL-oriented open source community. There's less delight in one's own choice than rage that someone, somewhere, might choose something else.
posted by verb at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Smells like teen blather.
posted by Aquaman at 10:54 AM on May 19, 2011


This is mildly interesting research presented in what seems to me just about the worst way possible. Case in point being this entire thread being devoted to the discussion of Apple, when really it's the broader implications of this that are interesting.

also, i think anyone claiming to think about any brand 24 hours a day is a twit
posted by neuromodulator at 10:54 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the false argument that is made that marijuana must be an evilly drug because it stimulates the same part of the brain as heroin - the pleasure center - which is also stimulated by a good book.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:54 AM on May 19, 2011


Jehan So if you're Christian/Jewish and use Apple products, is that like breaking the first/second commandmant?


Only if you use them while receiving an MRI. In which case you have more immediate problems.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:55 AM on May 19, 2011


also, it has come to my attention that i use the word "interesting" way too often
posted by neuromodulator at 10:55 AM on May 19, 2011


The best story I have ever heard about the Cult of Apple is Brett Gelman's iBrain. Please give it a listen, but be warned that it is slightly not safe for work.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:56 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 2003 I decided to buy my first notebook computer. I had only ever had desktops before then, and they were family computers. I did a fair amount of research and decided to get a 12-inch PowerBook. I wanted ready to try Mac OS X—I had been following it for a bit, and 10.3 was impressive—and the hardware was pretty and minimalistic. It was expensive, but it held up. All in all, a good investment, I'd say.

Since then I've purchased an iMac, MacBook (when I finally decided to replace the PowerBook), and a couple of iPhones (the original, which I gave to my brother when I got the 3G, which was then stolen and subsequently replaced with the newest model). I've had similar experiences with those products. I'm a happy customer, but my expectations aren't unreasonable.

So as far as computers go, they stay out of my way by not breaking all the time, and they serve their purpose well. They are aesthetically pleasing, but that never gets in the way of usability — if anything, it helps. It seems logical that I'll keep buying Apple products, unless they start slipping or a competitor really steps it up by delivering something undeniably better.


Basically, what I'm saying is that I'm a religious zealot.
posted by defenestration at 11:02 AM on May 19, 2011


I wanted ready to try Mac OS X
posted by defenestration at 11:04 AM on May 19, 2011


Just wait till this thread is linked to when Jobs dies

He'll only seem dead, though. His departmental directors will stuff him in a junk drawer on a slow charger for three days, then resurrect him by executing a hard reset.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:06 AM on May 19, 2011


The fine article makes no mention of what technology or techniques they used in their brain scans. If they were fMRI, we should keep in mind the dead salmon. All of these "Scientists show brain activity" articles are quite likely based on bullshit to sell books or other media which are likewise full of bullshit.

Show me the peer-reviewed article or keep the word "science" out of your headline.
posted by chairface at 11:08 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]




The pushy insulting kind, specifically.
posted by idiopath at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well duh ... Apple stories go all the back to the book of Genesis.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Riley contacted the editor of World of Apple, Alex Brooks, an Apple worshipper who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people. A team of neuroscientists studied Brooks’ brain while undergoing an MRI scan, to see how it reacted to images of Apple products and (heaven forbid) non-Apple products.

According to the neuroscientists, the scan revealed that there were marked differences in Brooks’ reactions to the different products. Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: “The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.”


In other words, this result is derived from non-peer-reviewed work done on a sample size of one.

At least this corroborates the account of neuroscientists at the FOX News Institute, right?

Man, this place can't even get a discussion about basic scientific research right, let alone technology. What a joke.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like my iPhone.

It's easy to use.
posted by Trurl at 11:16 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


*yawn*

You would get the same scans from sports fans in the presence of their favorite team's merchandise and for the most part that is regarded as an innocent hobby not worthy of bait news.
posted by sourwookie at 11:17 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This FPP is making me delirious.
posted by monospace at 11:20 AM on May 19, 2011


Remember what a dial-up modem sounded like? Now that was a religious experience.
posted by desjardins at 11:22 AM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is mildly interesting research presented in what seems to me just about the worst way possible. Case in point being this entire thread being devoted to the discussion of Apple, when really it's the broader implications of this that are interesting.


But are they? Even if this is repeated, and tested, and peer-reviewed, and shown to apply to all sorts of fanatical brand loyalties - sports teams, TV shows, religions - what does it actually tell us? That brands are abstract entities bigger than people, and the brain uses the same part to admire them that it uses to admire other abstract entities bigger than people? How is that a useful or surprising thing to know? The thread is devoted to Apple because the press release was devoted to Apple, because the program (which I have seen) was making the point that people were fanatically devoted to Apple. If the MRI hadn't shown this correlation, it wouldn't have made it into the program.

There's nothing wrong with any of that, but this is marketing about marketing, nothing more.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


In other words, this result is derived from non-peer-reviewed work done on a sample size of one.

I think you just made the sample size two.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2011


Great! Now try it with Coca-Cola, Google, Mercedes and other well-known brands with (mostly) positive connotations. And yeah, maybe try it on more than one person.
posted by me3dia at 11:32 AM on May 19, 2011


posted by tomswift Fox News, Apple, and Religion in the same post! What were you thinking?

"If I can work circumciscion, declawing cats, and Israel/Palestine into this post, I might get a sidebar mention."
posted by mattdidthat at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jeeze, this isn't even television reporting on research (however dubious) - it is basically a one-off stunt commissioned by a television program. And the conclusion -

The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith

Isn't very inspiring. Nearly every word of it is vague, ambiguous, and basically impossible to define with any scientific rigor. This is pretty lame.
posted by nanojath at 11:34 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do they also give 10% of their income?

Feels like it sometimes.

I need to go and fondle my iPod Touch now.
posted by jokeefe at 11:36 AM on May 19, 2011


YHBT. HTH. HAND.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, you've resorted to citing Fox News as an authority in your quest to besmirch Apple. Good job.

Hello. Have we met?
posted by hermitosis at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why have you all got to be so bloody invested in this argument?

I have an Apple product. It's okay. It does what it's supposed to. I don't go around recommending it. It just "is". I don't get the defenders or the attackers in this regular MeFi game, I really don't. It's a fucking device. You paid money for it. It doesn't scratch your back and give you a foot rub.

Apple don't give all their profits to starving children. They also (to my knowledge) don't have starving children manufacturing their devices. The same voices, the same back and forth and oh jesus who cares none of you will change. I'll stay out of Apple threads as it's just dumb.
posted by longbaugh at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant." -- Umberto Eco (via Pants McCracky)
Actually, Apple is quite popular with the Church of Satan.
posted by apatharch at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2011


I would not be surprised were I to find that my brain reacts similarly to Star Trek imagery.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2011


posted by GuyZero YHBT. HTH. HAND.

RTFA.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:42 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It doesn't scratch your back and give you a foot rub.

That's rumored for the next iOS upgrade.
posted by Trurl at 11:44 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a little puzzling how (some?) people feel a need to defend their choices in consumer products (or sports teams, or religion). I mean, to the point where they'll cut you if you disagree.

I am proud to say that the only brand I defend with such vigor is Lucas electrical gear as found in elderly British cars. I would say it stimulates the same parts of my brain that religion stimulates in other's noggins, but that would require carrying electrical impulses through a damp environment and we're not really up to that just yet.

It is lonely but rewarding.
posted by maxwelton at 11:45 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe they're on to something ... remember that Stephen Hawking quote from the other day about heaven being a fairy tale for people who were afraid of the dark? I do use my iPhone as a flashlight on a semi-regular basis...

AND LO, IT WAS GOOD.
posted by modernnomad at 11:45 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find this one the most appealing: Apple churns out products that fulfill customers' needs and desires in a way that their competitors in an otherwise bleak and depressing consumer electronics landscape don't

Lol. No doubt by infusing them with vital essence. Apple's products aren't any different from their competitors, they've just got people convinced they are. And just like religious adherents they insist on blathering on about how much better their lives are, despite the fact that you can't actually tell the difference, and get mad if anyone claims otherwise.
posted by delmoi at 11:47 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


your quest to besmirch Apple

One more word out of him and you're going call for pistols at dawn, aren't you?
posted by pracowity at 11:49 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


One more word out of him and you're going call for pistols at dawn, aren't you?

That depends: Were the pistols designed by Jonny Ives and how many buttons do they have?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:51 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


shut up, shut up, shut up.

So... When I left the borg, my first purchases were a Mini and a 3GS.

Then, with the newest core i7, the shiny MacBook Pro 17" lured me even further into the fold... (although, the plan was to run Windows)

Then, the lure of extreme performance made me buy a third-party SSD and "attempt" to install it... (I hadn't even installed anything yet, I had kept it waiting until the upgrade hardware arrived...)

Next, I learned that the worship of all things Apple, means that one really, really, really should let Apple do upgrades instead of trying to do them yourself.... ()

I know have, what I bitterly refer to as: "the world's most expensive laptop".... All for a little style...
posted by jkaczor at 11:54 AM on May 19, 2011


Tangential, but:

There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.

Atheists get pretty used to this kind of projection by the faithful, and the same applies to brand-worshipers. I suspect that it just doesn't occur to them that some people are simply not attached to brands and do not respond to advertising, except to deconstruct or analyze it.

I poke fun at Mac users, but not because I worship Windows. I just use whatever's there. As far as I can tell, Microsoft and Apple don't even compete in any meaningful way.
posted by klanawa at 11:55 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Doesn't Apple employ some people that call themselves "evangelist" in stores? And present themselves as such to customers? I guess no more proof is needed.
posted by elpapacito at 11:59 AM on May 19, 2011


your quest to besmirch Apple

It's great when people who up to deny an article in terms that only confirm it.
posted by rodgerd at 12:02 PM on May 19, 2011


Why have you all got to be so bloody invested in this argument?

I have an Apple product. It's okay.


No, fuck you, it's not "okay". It is amazing. It is fucking amazing and you will go to hell for not appreciating it. When the nanite apotheosis converts all matter in the universe into perfectly efficient supercomputers your digitized eternal consciousness will either end up in the Apple Superconsciousness or the Microsoft one, AKA HELL. Which is where YOU will end up. Because of your lack of FAITH. Will you people stop confusing religion with science.
posted by nanojath at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


posted by elpapacito Doesn't Apple employ some people that call themselves "evangelist" in stores? And present themselves as such to customers?

Yes. Some of them are right here in this thread.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:09 PM on May 19, 2011


Congratulations, you've resorted to citing Fox News as an authority in your quest to besmirch

Yes, your blasphemy shall not go unpunished.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on May 19, 2011


Apple akbar! All hail the iwatering can!
posted by benzenedream at 12:20 PM on May 19, 2011


Way back when, I was a tech support guy for AOL. I was usually on Windows support, but I got put on the Mac queue from time to time.

One day, I was guiding a very frustrated Mac user through the process of accessing his settings and inputting a modem string, which was a matter of typing in a series of characters pretty precisely. Really standard call, but he was getting really mad, and his anger was making him mess up, which was getting him more mad...

And finally, he yelled at me.

"I paid a lot of money so I didn't have to think about this sort of thing!"

For me, it really sums up the Mac attitude.

Plus, now that I think about it, religion.
posted by MrVisible at 12:20 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes. Some of them are right here in this thread.

Great! I'd like to read their stories, how they did become "evangelist", what it means to them to be so and so on.
posted by elpapacito at 12:23 PM on May 19, 2011


So this makes Jony Ive a god. And I suppose then that Steve Jobs would be Jesus Christ for discovering Jony Ive.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:26 PM on May 19, 2011


I wish I could understand and relate to this. This sort of thing makes me suspect that there really is a "religious gene" -- I don't literally mean a gene (though I guess that's possible), but some sort of brain mechanism/structure that makes some people more ... devotional? worshipful? ... than others. Maybe there's a chemical that gets released when some people worship -- a chemical that gives them a sort of high. Dopamine or whatever. And maybe that process is "broken" in some of us.

I have always been an atheist. I guess that's not true. When I was a kid, I was more of an agnostic. But just intellectually. I've always been an atheist in the emotional sense that God leaves me cold. I neither love Him nor hate Him, evan as a fictional character. Though I don't have a lot in common with most theists, I also don't have much in common with angry atheists. They're as baffling to me as fervent believers.

As a kid, I would have said, "I don't know if God exists or not, but I don't care either way." As an adult, I would say, "He doesn't exist. But if someone proves me wrong, that will be interesting intellectually. But then I'll go on taking out the trash and doing my taxes. It won't change my life in any meaningful way." (It might if I was scared of going to hell. But then I'd just be acting out of fear. I wouldn't have any sort of relationship with God. My main feeling towards Him would be, "I wish He'd leave me alone.")

But this might be because I wasn't raised in a religious household. My parents were meh about religion. They didn't push it; nor did they rail against it.

But I DID grow up around computers. I've been using them since the punch-card days. I work as a programmer, and I love computers. I used to be a PC guy, but for the past five years, I've worked exclusively on Macs. I genuinely prefer them to Windows machines, and I also own a lot of other Apple products. I have a iPod, an iPhone and an iPad. I have bought a couple of thousand dollars worth of music on iTunes. And I get a little excited when Apple releases a new product.

But I STILL don't get it. If some other company came out with a product line that I preferred, I would switch tomorrow without looking back. I am keeping an eye on Android. It's absolutely possible that in a few years, there will be no Apple products in my life. And saying that doesn't make me feel bad or disloyal, because I'm not loyal to begin with. I just happen to like a lot of the Apple stuff that I have.

Which makes me feel like, for me, it's not about Apple or God. It's about something other people have that I'm fundamentally lacking. It's like I'm colorblind, except the color is devotion. (I am totally capable of being devoted to a person or group of people -- I just don't get being devoted to a product or an invisible being.)
posted by grumblebee at 12:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


And I suppose then that Steve Jobs would be Jesus Christ for discovering Jony Ive.

Satan man, cuz Jony Ive (and others) do the work and he takes the credit.

Even spent time not in the Holy Place being a ruler elsewhere VS just serving in the Holy Place.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:36 PM on May 19, 2011


Now I rip on Apple cultism as much as the next guy, but:

Riley contacted the editor of World of Apple, Alex Brooks, an Apple worshipper who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people. A team of neuroscientists studied Brooks’ brain while undergoing an MRI scan, to see how it reacted to images of Apple products and (heaven forbid) non-Apple products.

According to the neuroscientists, the scan revealed that there were marked differences in Brooks’ reactions to the different products. Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: “The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.


one guy does not a phenomena make.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on May 19, 2011


"Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive."

What a load of pure bullshit.
posted by Splunge at 12:50 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


one guy does not a phenomena make

One person is enough to get the same anti-Apple-user axe-grinders going against their tedious, pet strawmen, and that's what counts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been a longtime Mac user because I genuinely like the Mac OS. If Apple changes the OS in a way that I don't like, I'll move to something I like more. But, for now, I think Macs are the bee's knees, and I don't believe there's anything irrational or religious about it. It's my preference. It's OK to have preferences, right?

I've run into a few extreme Mac partisans in my time (I work with one now, actually), but lately I've found irrational hatred of them to be much more common. A Macintosh did not spit in your socks. It's okay for other people to use them, even if you don't like them. For Pete's sake, get over it.
posted by brundlefly at 12:57 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


So this makes Jony Ive a god. And I suppose then that Steve Jobs would be Jesus Christ for discovering Jony Ive.

I guess I'd like to hear more about how you think christian theology is structured.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:01 PM on May 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


One person is enough to get the same anti-Apple-user axe-grinders going against their tedious, pet strawmen, and that's what counts.

Oh yeah, any minute now it'll be brown shirts and death camps and everything.
posted by GuyZero at 1:09 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I just realized that advertising isn't about getting the word out about a product or service. It does that, but that's not what makes it work.

It's about tribalism. Brand recognition. The Cola Wars are good for both Pepsi and Coca Cola. You don't just drink Coke, you are a Coke drinker. It's about personal identity. It's nice to have a good product to hang that identity on - otherwise you look like a loser. He drives a Yugo. LOL. But it's not the product that makes it so seductive and effective. It's the family you belong to.

Ever wonder why some people name drop so much? They are looking for recognition, the common ground they have with other people. Everyone has heard of Brad Pitt. He is one thing we have in common. I sat next to Brad Pitt on the airplane. It' isn't so much that I sat next to a successful artist, it's I sat next to our mutual friend.

The next business meeting you go to - I love watching this ritual - listen to people who have just met run down the list of names of people they have worked with. They find a mutual colleague? Success! You can feel it, the tension you didn't even know was there, the tension dissipates when that happens, replaced with a warm ambience. It's downright weird. If you are of the trollish mindset, reply to every name with "I have never heard of him." That's even weirder.

If religions would advertise on TV, they'd be unstoppable. Mega churches do that, but I mean The Church. Pick your religion, Judaism, Presbyterianism, whatever, and imagine. The LDS does it - haven't you seen the feel good "PSA" type ads on TV? And the LDS is the fastest, maybe the only, growing religion on Earth.
posted by Xoebe at 1:13 PM on May 19, 2011


Doesn't Apple employ some people that call themselves "evangelist" in stores? And present themselves as such to customers? I guess no more proof is needed.

No, that would be a position that was carved out by Guy Kawasaki. He was an "Apple Evangelist" in the sense that he went from company to company in the early days of the Mac, trying to convince them to write Mac software.


But I STILL don't get it. If some other company came out with a product line that I preferred, I would switch tomorrow without looking back. I am keeping an eye on Android. It's absolutely possible that in a few years, there will be no Apple products in my life. And saying that doesn't make me feel bad or disloyal, because I'm not loyal to begin with. I just happen to like a lot of the Apple stuff that I have.

Likewise. And I actually did for quite some time, during the grim years between System 8.5 and OSX 10.4. Platform switches aren't without cost, though, in terms of software acquisition, ramp up time, and so on. Switching from MacOS 8.5 to Windows 98 was painful. Switching from Windows XP to OSX 10.4 was painful. Switching from OSX 10.6 to Ubuntu was painful. And... well, you get the idea.

A bunch of people in the thread have chimed in to ask why people are so invested in their computers. The same can be said of sports teams, gaming clubs, or any other us/them divide. People like their tools, there are (despite Delmoi's protests) actual differences between all of the major platforms that people can prefer or dislike, and there is an active spirit of competition between the various platforms. It's not shocking that there's a degree of tribal/team behavior when people talk about that kind of stuff.

Not everyone, obviously -- I watch football with friends but I honestly, literally can't bring myself to care about which team wins. It's an interesting game to watch sometimes, that's all. For other people, software platforms are the same way.
posted by verb at 1:14 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not shocking that there's a degree of tribal/team behavior when people talk about that kind of stuff.

When I read John Grueber, I find his hagiographic about the Yankees to be just as annoying as his attitude about Apple.

Although I still read Daring Fireball all the time.

presumably because the person i really hate is myself
posted by GuyZero at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2011


er, his hagiographic tweets about the Yankees. Missed the actual subject there.
posted by GuyZero at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2011


Keep on fuckin' that chicken.
posted by drmanhattan at 1:18 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave this here
posted by fullerine at 1:23 PM on May 19, 2011


He was an "Apple Evangelist" in the sense that he went from company to company in the early days of the Mac, trying to convince them to write Mac software.

I just came across this droll tale at Folklore.org.
My former wife, Laura Bachko, had been a book editor in New York and had worked on a project with Bo Derek before we moved to California. One night when Laura and I were having dinner with Steve, Bo's name came up -- as did the factoid that Bo was a heavy duty computer jockey, albeit of the IBM persuasion. Steve took this as a personal challenge; he was going convert Bo to a Mac user -- and who knew what else. Clearly the computer could be a foot in the door. He persuaded Laura to make him an appointment with Bo.

And so one day shortly thereafter, Steve piled into his Mercedes, along with a Mac, and drove down to Bo's Santa Barbara ranch, which she shared with her husband John Derek. Bo was cordial but unimpressed; she accepted the computer but remained a PC user. And apparently she did not find Steve as dashing as Steve expected she would.

Several weeks later, Steve was complaining to Laura about the lackluster impression he had made. "Look," she told him. "She's married. And besides, I don't know any woman who would want her name to be Bo Jobs."
posted by Trurl at 1:24 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's about tribalism. Brand recognition. The Cola Wars are good for both Pepsi and Coca Cola. You don't just drink Coke, you are a Coke drinker. It's about personal identity. It's nice to have a good product to hang that identity on - otherwise you look like a loser. He drives a Yugo. LOL. But it's not the product that makes it so seductive and effective. It's the family you belong to.

It's also about pretending that it's not. You don't drink Coke because you are a Coke drinker, you drink Coke because it tastes the best. You don't buy Apple products because you are an Apple user, you do it because they Just Work and don't crash and have great design and blah blah blah other nonfactual subjective claims presented as objective truth.
posted by kafziel at 1:26 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every tech company has one or more evangelists. Microsoft has hundreds you can meet!
posted by Ad hominem at 1:33 PM on May 19, 2011



posted by clearly at 1:35 PM on May 19, 2011


You don't buy Apple products because you are an Apple user, you do it because they Just Work and don't crash and have great design and blah blah blah other nonfactual subjective claims presented as objective truth.


And you don't dislike Apple because you're from The Other Tribe, you dislike them because it's a walled garden, and they're all marketing! That's the problem with totalizing explanations for peoples' motivations: they ultimately reduce everything that you, I, and everyone else says or does to the smug chuckle of a sociology grad student.
posted by verb at 1:40 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Show me the peer-reviewed article or keep the word "science" out of your headline.

This. Throwing Apple, religion and science together in the same article doesn't automatically create a causal relationship between the three. Plus, religion and science don't see eye to eye in the first place, even though a bit of faith is required for either.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2011


Throwing Apple, religion and science together in the same article doesn't automatically create a causal relationship between the three.

No it doesn't, but it's pretty hilarious to watch all the usual suspects (both pro and anti Apple) lose their shit over it.
posted by modernnomad at 1:55 PM on May 19, 2011


People, people, people. You're all forgetting one critical variable missing from this equation, the one that miraculously solves the whole thing.

Douglas Adams.

Boom. Your whole religion/science/Apple dilemma just vanished in a puff of logic.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:00 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Douglas Adams

QED
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on May 19, 2011


One more word out of him and you're going call for pistols at dawn, aren't you?

You know, I really honestly consider myself platform agnostic, despite my collection of Apple gear. What with the additional pile of windows boxes, and the assorted linux mini servers and the ubuntu laptop and the VMs running assorted strange things that I work with on a day to day basis.

But it's really strange how every thread that remotely involves Apple basically turns into a group point-and-laugh-at-BP exercise, even when his participation is minimal. All he's said in this thread is what everyone else has: this is about as scientifically valid as my cat's blog.

There was a weird period of time where MeFi had fits and starts of Applegasming whenever new product announcements came out, but for the past couple of years, hurf-durf-apple comments have been the new cool thing. What changed? Other than Apple becoming more successful, I mean. It has to be something more interesting than That Band Isn't Cool Now, They're Too Popular.
posted by verb at 2:27 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


It has to be something more interesting than That Band Isn't Cool Now, They're Too Popular.

This is mefi. No, it doesn't.
posted by desjardins at 2:29 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know those studies that indicate that people show the pleasure response from anticipation of something, eventually, rather than the actual thing? I think it's related to that mechanism. Like, there's some feedback cycle wherein people have a thing that makes them feel good, and eventually (through the same process that allows the reward for associated objects, rather the actual object, e.g. for the smell of a meal rather than the consumption) it gets "out of control" in the sense that people can produce that feeling by meditating on the symbol, rather than completing the act which produces the reward.

That would make sense to me. That there's like a "blissing out on thoughts of Jesus" thing going on that enforces religious beliefs because there actual is something real happening within the brain of the believer.

And so you get this same thing with Mr. Apple 24/7. Something's gone amiss (in a very benign sort of way) where his brain has pulled itself up by the reward bootstraps from something he once found legitimately rewarding (whether a real good thing about Apple design, or a "less real" good thing like feeling like he's gaining prestige by owning Apple products) to just like obsessive "I can make myself feel good by contemplating Apple."
posted by neuromodulator at 2:35 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


verb But it's really strange how every thread that remotely involves Apple basically turns into a group point-and-laugh-at-BP exercise, even when his participation is minimal.

More minimal than you think: the example of this you cited - One more word out of him and you're going call for pistols at dawn, aren't you? - was addressed to entropicamericana, in reference to his use of the frankly marvellous word "besmirch".
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2011


Touche. ;-)
posted by verb at 3:14 PM on May 19, 2011


There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.

Atheists get pretty used to this kind of projection by the faithful, and the same applies to brand-worshipers.


I'm an atheist and I channel my religious feeling into a few bands and pop culture symbols. Scan my brain when I'm looking at my band badges or a Triforce or a Spider-Man symbol and you'll see the same thing. They're icons that represent a cluster of things that help me deal with the world.
Apple not so much, since I've got an iPhone and an XBox. Still, we all need something bigger than ourselves.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:40 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm an atheist and I channel my religious feeling into a few bands and pop culture symbols. Scan my brain when I'm looking at my band badges or a Triforce or a Spider-Man symbol and you'll see the same thing. They're icons that represent a cluster of things that help me deal with the world.

One of the things I always found interesting about the religious culture I grew up in was the intense antagonism towards transcendent experiences, whether they were emotional or artistic or sensual, that were not explicitly 'branded' with the iconography of faith and explicitly directed towards the proper theological focal point. Only God deserves worship, and experiencing feelings of transcendence is worship, etc.

I guess vendor lock-in really is everywhere.
posted by verb at 3:44 PM on May 19, 2011


There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.

Can someone explain this to me? I'm not saying it's wrong, but I can't think of a time I've ever worshipped anyone or anything. Maybe I'm just not seeing myself clearly.

Maybe it's a definitional thing. What does "worship" mean here. Is it different from intensely like or love? I've certainly experienced that.

I feel a little like I do when someone says, "Everyone is bisexual." I want to say, "I'm not." When I do, someone usually suggests that I'm repressed. That might be true. But at what point, if you've never consciously experienced something, does it just make sense to say "that doesn't apply to me"?
posted by grumblebee at 3:55 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still, we all need something bigger than ourselves.

This reminds me of my roommate many years ago trying to explain that altruism doesn't exist because there is nothing that can't be explained by selfishness. (eg, donations give us a warm fuzzy feeling, so we're actually only being selfish when donating).

It seems like a lot of clutching at straws to me. It might be the case, but it doesn't really look like it is. It smells more like a projection of and defense of one's worldview.

I'm inclined to put this "Everyone worships!" idea in the same bucket.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:57 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple's products aren't any different from their competitors

It's perfectly reasonable to state that Apple's products aren't dominantly superior, or that whether you prefer Apple or a competitor probably depends highly on reasonable personal preferences.

Saying their products aren't any different (or that all the differences are cosmetic) is not reasonable.

Technical/performance counterexample: Off the top of my head, look into audio latency specs on the iOS devices vs Android devices.

Personal preference/experience counterexample: find me another low system-administration desktop unix-y system that runs commercial design applications (Don't say Ubuntu. It's great within limits, but I don't want to mess around with whether or not my laptop goes to sleep, I have my reasons for not wanting to run Inkscape instead of Illustrator or worrying about whether/how well it the later runs under WINE or Windows in a VM). Oh, you don't care about that stuff? Most people don't? Fair enough. But saying "many people don't reap any particular benefits from some feature differences" isn't equivalent to saying "there is no difference."

And just like religious adherents they insist on blathering on about how much better their lives are, despite the fact that you can't actually tell the difference, and get mad if anyone claims otherwise.

Hey, if you don't derive any personal utility from whatever somebody's evangelizing, or find you get more out of something else, that's cool.

But this kind of commentary moves from making reasonable decisions from a personal perspective. It goes into deciding that you're so much smarter than this other person -- that if you don't perceive the benefits they do, why, they must just not be there. I mean, you're a smart computer guy who knows computer things -- you can't possibly be wrong!

If you've reached this point, even if the religious adherent is being obnoxious about the whole thing, they're not the only foolish zealot in this scenario.
posted by weston at 4:03 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The thing about Apple products is that, apparently, only the self-deluded convince themselves that they prefer them, whereas only the coldly rational and level-headed convince themselves that they prefer [NOT-APPLE].
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:08 PM on May 19, 2011


It smells more like a projection of and defense of one's worldview.

I'm inclined to put this "Everyone worships!" idea in the same bucket.


What worldview do you think DFW was trying to defend?
posted by weston at 4:11 PM on May 19, 2011


I'm inclined to put this "Everyone worships!" idea in the same bucket.

The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that we're just getting confused by fuzzy terminology. If you follow the David Foster Wallace link, he goes on to talk about how some people worship power while others worship the idea of being smart.

I think I know what he means. Less poetically, perhaps, I would say that some people really crave power. Some people get off on it -- or they get off on being smart. I think it's fine for a fiction writer to employ the word "worship" in cases like this, but I think DFW is using the word metaphorically. Craving power is not necessarily the same thing -- if we're being literal -- as religious worship, which, as I understand it, is about unshakable devotion to something oceanic, something bigger than yourself.

Maybe some people would stop craving power and being so selfish if they had something to worship. But that's a different point.
posted by grumblebee at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2011


What worldview do you think DFW was trying to defend?

While beautifully expressed, it's straight out of the AA handbook.
posted by jokeefe at 4:21 PM on May 19, 2011


Craving power is not necessarily the same thing -- if we're being literal -- as religious worship, which, as I understand it, is about unshakable devotion to something oceanic, something bigger than yourself.

Well, in a lot of religious circles it is talked about as the same thing. "Idolatry" in the contemporary religious sense isn't just the idea of setting up a little stone god in the living room; rather, it's the idea of focusing one's thoughts, will, energies, and affection towards something other than God. YHWH's a jealous god, by admission.

So in that sense, someone can certainly "worship power," and a lot of people in our culture "worship" money even though they never set up a little shrine, or sing songs about money on Sunday morning. Ironically, a parishioner at your average protestant megachurch is probably going to be very comfortable with the idea that someone could "worship" Apple, or Twitter, or Football, or what not.
posted by verb at 4:31 PM on May 19, 2011


I think you nailed it grumblebee. DFW makes a lot of agreeable points, but they don't really back up the atheism-doesn't-really-exist angle. He suggests instead that atheism metaphorically doesn't exist.

Revisiting my example, I do find it easier to buy into the idea that altruism can metaphorically not exist.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:32 PM on May 19, 2011


Infinite Jest and some of his essays are basically about the things we give ourselves over to. He was taken with the idea that we all give ourselves over to something: faith, drugs, entertainment, competition, sex, etc. And so I think his comment is meant in that light: if you have to give yourself over to something, isn't something that's at it's core about being good probably better than anything else?

Which is not a bad sentiment, but when he stretches it to "eating you alive", well, he's stretching it too far. Because even if we accept that all the above things are bad for you (which I don't, quite), there are things people give themselves over to like "theatre" or "literature" or "music" that doesn't strike me as all that destructive.

It's a good core idea (worthy of much navel-gazing) applied too broadly, IMO.
posted by neuromodulator at 4:37 PM on May 19, 2011


There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.

Can someone explain this to me? I'm not saying it's wrong, but I can't think of a time I've ever worshipped anyone or anything. Maybe I'm just not seeing myself clearly.


I think it became clear to me one very strange night. I'd gotten trapped in an elevator and a bunch of odd things were happening. One of the people I was with let me crash at his house. So I was anxious and keyed up, in a strange house with someone I didn't know that well. I lay down,, and tried to figure out how I was going to get to sleep.

Across from me I saw a Bob Dylan poster.

I instantly calmed down. Just by looking at the Dylan poster I realized things would be okay. Here was an icon, a token, of someone that I'd invested a lot of mental and emotional energy in. When things were bad, I'd listened to his music and got some guidance from him. So seeing that poster in an unfamiliar place suddenly made it familiar.

I move around a lot, and I always put up my band posters and keep my badges close by, as a comfort. It's logical that Apple fans would get the same feeling staring at the logo.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:52 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft in Brooklyn, that was lovely.

But it just makes me more aware of how I'm different. I've never had an experience like that. There is a lot of music I love deeply, a lot of books, some people... But I feel like for me to say I worship those things would be to debase the word worship.

When times are tough, I tend to either fruitlessly worry, ignore the problem via escapism or try to solve the problem.

I certainly can't imagine finding comfort in any sort of idolatry.
posted by grumblebee at 5:13 PM on May 19, 2011


Yeah, I really can't relate to what you're saying there, Lovecraft In Brooklyn. I'm a bit jealous, frankly.
posted by brundlefly at 5:21 PM on May 19, 2011


Let me tell you about my monitor...
posted by ShutterBun at 5:33 PM on May 19, 2011


While beautifully expressed, it's straight out of the AA handbook.

The higher power thing? Or something else? If not... while he does kindof push things that way by going down a list of names for deity, I think by going into principles/practices/desires he leaves that realm and illustrates he's off on a different road than AA.

Infinite Jest and some of his essays are basically about the things we give ourselves over to. He was taken with the idea that we all give ourselves over to something: faith, drugs, entertainment, competition, sex, etc. And so I think his comment is meant in that light: if you have to give yourself over to something, isn't something that's at it's core about being good probably better than anything else?

This is pretty much my reading too. Although I think that given the context, it might be more accurate to say that he's less concerned with getting people to pick something off the shelf that's about "being good" than generally about being very mindful about what you're buying into.

Which is not a bad sentiment, but when he stretches it to "eating you alive", well, he's stretching it too far. Because even if we accept that all the above things are bad for you (which I don't, quite)

I don't think he's suggesting that anything you or he listed as potentially consuming are necessarily bad. Just that many of them tend to have a pull that without being very mindful can become terribly consuming.

Money and power and sex and beauty are near the top of the list -- most of us have a pretty good idea of how the story can go bad for people who give themselves over to those things, even if we probably underestimate our ability to rationalize our own way down the path. Which is why I think it's good that in the commencement address, he didn't really spend so much time on those (because we've heard all that before) as some simple examples of the habits one might develop in thinking about other people. It's such a little thing, but if you get in the habit of thinking of other people as obstacles or particularly horrible, it does "eat" or change a part of you that you could have used to connect with those you encounter and turn it into a series of little wars you're constantly living through.

I also think it's possible the same thing can happen with music and theater and literature. It's probably more common that when it does, it happens with those things as proxies/means for status/power/money/fame/sex/etc. But I suspect that without applying the kind of mindfulness he's talking about, it's possible that even otherwise worthy pursuits in these arenas can cause people to unwittingly sacrifice other things that are important to them (not to mention stepping on others).
posted by weston at 5:38 PM on May 19, 2011


Since switching to Mac a few years ago, I can say the experience overall has been positive.

But I'm glad I bought the Apple Care extended warranty, because so far I've had to replace a display, a hard drive and two logic boards. The display needs replacing again, and now the superdrive is acting squirrely. That's a rather high failure rate.

However, under Apple Care I was able to get a tech to repair the machines in my home, and hardware problems notwithstanding, the difference came afterwards; I was able to do a complete system restoration with minimal hassles and be up and running fast.

With my old machine (on Windows), I often had to reinstall the software from scratch and spend at least 12-16 hours reinstalling all my software and Windows patches.

But does that mean I go all gooey when seeing an Apple logo?

Please.
posted by bwg at 5:40 PM on May 19, 2011


I'm a Mac user, fairly observant, though not orthodox. My mother called me earlier this week, and she is in the process of converting. After decades of feeling no connection with her computational side, her epiphany began two Christmases ago when my father gave her an iPhone. This was an OS which truly meant something to her, something she could understand and which improved her life. She now sees her old PC as a false solution and is getting fully invested in a MacBook, excited for the possibilities of her new life in Apple.

And all of this is actually true, flavorful or not.

When I lived in Brooklyn 5 or 6 years ago, I was still working on a PC, and hated it. My roommate put an Apple sticker on the door to our apartment. I heartily agreed with this decision, and vowed to switch to Macs as soon as I could. My Macbook has lasted me for four years, and while it's showing some signs of near-constant usage over that period, it still gives me almost no problems. My old PC was essentially non-functional in 2.5 years, a fact which led every programmer friend I had to try their hand at fixing it, to no avail.

So, in my experience, Macs just work much better. When I bought mine, I had to meet a bunch of specs outlined my Georgetown Law, and the Mac was also the cheaper option as well. I love the operating system. I have many, many rational reasons to be a Mac user.

But the religious aspect is part of it as well. With computers so very, very central to daily life now (in previous recent generations, it may have been one's car, but now it is my computer which is an extension of my being) Mac-vs-PC has a shitload of identity qualities. More than that, there are sacrifices. You need to devote yourself to mac peripherals and patches. Your selection of games is severely limited. Etc. But instead of those aspect hitting the brain as things which are a pain in the ass about using a Mac, they instead make one feel like a member of an oppressed, but more enlightened minority.

The symbols and aesthetics, the cavalcade of seemingly miraculous new products, the charismatic leader, it all points to a feeling of church-like devotion. And I have it. I also have the rational reasons, though. They're both there. But either way (and I'm sure y'all could present many counter-examples) I personally don't know anyone who's gone Mac and then gone back.

We just don't do that in our faith.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


"He was taken with the idea that we all give ourselves over to something: faith, drugs, entertainment, competition, sex, etc."

But do you think he's right? That we ALL do this? I certainly know people who do. I think of them as being really well defined. Some people basically ARE professors or filmmakers or seducers or money-grubbers. I know people who even talk about themselves this way and really seem to mean it: I'm a mom; I'm a teacher; I'm basically just a party animal... And with some people, you think, yes, that's about right.

But some of us aren't that integrated. I remember being a kid and wondering when that time would come when I'd "know myself," when I'd be able to say, "I'm THIS kind of person." At 45 I'm still waiting.
posted by grumblebee at 5:50 PM on May 19, 2011


The thing about this is that it's not really newsworthy other than for "shock" (or confirmation bias) reasons. The regions of the brain that are stimulated by religious imagery and other kinds of religious (or wondrous, or ineffable) stimulation are *very* diverse, and even scattered throughout the physical geography of our brains.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The symbols and aesthetics, the cavalcade of seemingly miraculous new products, the charismatic leader, it all points to a feeling of church-like devotion. And I have it. I also have the rational reasons, though. They're both there. But either way (and I'm sure y'all could present many counter-examples) I personally don't know anyone who's gone Mac and then gone back.


I don't see computing hardware as an either/or thing, though. I have an iPhone because I like browsing the Internet everywhere and using the apps and because it's the best designed smartphone. I have a PC (laptop) at home because I like games, especially indie games that might not come out on Mac. I had a PS2, but I switched to an XBox 360 because it was cheaper than a PS3. I keep a DS because I like the game library, and will probably get a Wii because it's cheaper.

I get wrapping your identity in a consumer product, especially when it costs a lot of money. When the PSN went down I felt a bit of that 'console war' feeling, since it seemed to justify my purchase.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:05 PM on May 19, 2011


Do they also give 10% of their income?

Well sure, if you want to go with the totally inadequate standard RAM option.

Somehow this reminds me of this Garrison Keillor short story or maybe it was an aside in one of his books where a church puts little biofeedback monitors in the pews so people can work on attaining what they call the "reverence zone," only people find that it is a lot easier to enter this state by thinking about, say, food than by thinking about God.

Basically what this thread adds up to is an opportunity for a bunch of Apple users to say "I'm not really that crazy (but they are sort of expensive)" and a bunch of atheists and agnostics to firmly assert that they don't feel reverent about anything. You tell 'em, Tiger.
posted by nanojath at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2011


The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

Pure nonsense, utter rubbish. There are plenty of things I could worship that will kill me and cook me before they eat me. Candlejack, for instance.

In other news, this is bad scien
posted by mstokes650 at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I am proud to say that the only brand I defend with such vigor is Lucas electrical
> gear as found in elderly British cars.

NOS Lucas Replacement Wiring Harness Smoke Kit
posted by jfuller at 6:32 AM on May 20, 2011




Interesting. Maybe I'm just an evil hater, but I am unsure how to interpret that except as gutting customer service and support in favor of a marketing bullet point.
posted by kafziel at 2:41 PM on May 20, 2011


That's some awesome, objective reporting, there. All it needs is a thumbs up from a FOX News journalist. Way to go, Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:00 PM on May 20, 2011


Well, if Apple is telling its support people to be tight-lipped about a piece of malware that's making the rounds, for fear that it will "confuse" people about the Mac's security reputation, that's unquestionably bad.

On the other hand, the comments on that post made me dumber just for seeing them. The problem is that people are manually installing programs on their computers that do bad things. There's no easy solution to that, other than preventing people from hand-installing software onto their own computers, or establishing a single trusted source for software.

That's called 'iOS and the App Store,' and it's precisely why people rail against Apple as Big Brother 2.0. The 'Users aren't stupid, let them do whatever they want' crowd needs to go duke it out with te 'Users can't be trusted with their own admin passwords, Apple should protect them' folks. Settle it, and come back with the right answer.
posted by verb at 4:30 PM on May 20, 2011


Settle it, and come back with the right answer.

Two systems.
posted by Trochanter at 5:09 PM on May 20, 2011


People installing a Trojan horse has no connection with iOS or the App Store.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two systems.

Like iOS and OSX, maybe?

That's the current status quo, and the warring groups insist, alternately, that Apple is evil for coddling people with a Nerf OS and evil for not protecting them by giving them the ability to install anything they'd like.

I think the whole 'Tell your support reps not to talk about malware' thing is shitty, but as I said, the comments on that article made me stupider just reading them. Apple was being blamed for "only" requiring a password for users to install harmful software. News flash: if the user of any operating system logs in as a superadmin/root/etc, and allows software they've just downloaded to do stuff, there isn't anything that the OS can do.

The only thing that can be done is prevent the user from doing stuff like that -- removing control.
posted by verb at 7:40 PM on May 20, 2011


Basically what this thread adds up to is an opportunity for a bunch of Apple users to say "I'm not really that crazy (but they are sort of expensive)" and a bunch of atheists and agnostics to firmly assert that they don't feel reverent about anything. You tell 'em, Tiger

Can you explain your position in a bit more detail? From your last sentence, I take it that you're irritated? disdainful? amused? But I'm wary of trying to interpret and getting it wrong.

I AM an Apple user who loves the product but will willingly switch if something better comes along; I AM an atheist who -- to the best of his knowledge -- has never experienced a feeling of worship?

Is your point that I'm lying?

Is your point that I'm telling th truth but what I'm saying isn't interesting?

I am fascinated by religious feeling (because it's an aspect of the human story I've never experienced) and I dearly, dearly wish I could have it. I am extremely jealous of people who experience it and often feel inferior to them. I am puzzled as to why I'm the way I am and not the way they are. Are those issues and questions dishonest or beside-the-point to you?
posted by grumblebee at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2011


Looks like DFW called it:...

While I greatly admire the work of DFW, he's absolutely full of shit on that one, on two points: Frist, we do not all worship, for any really useful definition of the word "worship"; second, most of those things he listed? Worshiping them will eat you alive a lot faster than worshiping, say, music.

(As for the main topic, it's an interesting idea, but if this is just a comedy-routine reference* to a single MRI scan, then: why is this even still here?)

--
*FYI: As with police interrogators, it's best to assume that comedians are not to be fully trusted about anything they tell you.
posted by lodurr at 7:15 AM on May 24, 2011


...as for appleism as a religion or not, for some people it clearly is. Denying that would be disingenuous for people who are paying attention. That fact has more or less no implications for the actual quality (be it good or poor) of Apple products. (If your response to that last assertion is to the effect that the market determines their reputation, I submit for your consideration two exhibits: A) the Advertising industry, and B) the Religion industry [see previous observation about how wrong DFW was in his tacit assertion that religious objects of devotion are less likely to eat you alive than secular ones].)
posted by lodurr at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2011




Much as I like to remind people that Macs are fundamentally as vulnerable to attacks as any other platform, the Mac Defender / Mac Guard scare is really just that: A scare.

The big issue with MacDefender isn't that it's a Mac problem, but that it illustrates a couple of platform/corporate weaknesses:

One, not unique to Apple but in which they're admittedly weaker, is the tendency to set the default to easy (where easy = dangerous). In this case, the default setting in Safari is to run apps when downloaded. If you use Chrome or Firefox on default, you won't be vulnerable to these attacks.

Two -- and this is really an Apple problem, but a business one and not fundamentally a software one -- is that Apple's apparently nickel-diming their support contractor on how to help people who are victims of the exploit. Ethically they should really, really solve that problem, though this being Apple we're talking about the shit will probably just roll right off them as usual.
posted by lodurr at 9:42 AM on May 28, 2011


the default setting in Safari is to run apps when downloaded.

In 2011?
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on May 28, 2011


I think so, yes. I've had it set to save, not open, since I set preferences three system migrations ago in 2006, so I'm not 100% sure, but based on advisories that I've seen distributed lately I think that's still the default.
posted by lodurr at 7:58 AM on May 29, 2011


I think so, yes. I've had it set to save, not open, since I set preferences three system migrations ago in 2006, so I'm not 100% sure, but based on advisories that I've seen distributed lately I think that's still the default.

Nope. Safari does go too far, IMO, in that it maintains a list of 'safe' file types like zip, gz, tar, dmg, and so on that it will automatically open. And if a standard installer package (not just any old app or executable) is inside a zip file, it will open that package to its title screen but still require manual user intervention to proceed beyond a splash screen.

It's exploitable if you can trick people into manually walking through subsequent steps in the installer, confirming the installation, and entering their admin password, but it's not the same as blindly launching any download.
posted by verb at 9:30 AM on May 29, 2011




And the Mac Defender fix is already worthless.

That's rather overstating things. The "Mac Defender Fix" is a system update that adds a software blacklist for downloads, if I understand correctly. The update came with definitions to recognize Mac Defender, but those definitions are auto-updated on a daily basis. The MacDefender folks then rolled out a new version of MacDefender that gets around the definition, but it will take a while to propagate. In the meantime, the daily blacklist definition can be updated.

That's pretty much how virus and malware detection/blocking software works, no?
posted by verb at 1:50 PM on June 1, 2011


No, it's not. Actual security involves heuristics and flagging suspicious activity, not just an easily-bypassed blacklist.
posted by kafziel at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2011


No, it's not. Actual security involves heuristics and flagging suspicious activity, not just an easily-bypassed blacklist.

For software that you manually download, explicitly choose to install, and authorize by entering your root password? I'm serious, not trying to defend Apple. How exactly do you distinguish between a user explicitly manually installing MacDefender, and a user explicitly manual installing of something like, say, theft-prevention software?

If you're looking at 'suspicious behavior,' all that it does is pop up notification warnings and occasionally open web pages in your browser. It isn't a virus, it isn't trying to modify other system files, and the only installation of software that it does, it must obtain explicit deliberate user permission for.

If you're willing to say that 'Real Security' consists of only ever allowing users to install software from the Mac App Store, sure. But that would suck.
posted by verb at 3:38 PM on June 1, 2011


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