Open Thread, 10/26/2014

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So I recently listened to an interview with the author of The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy. One datum which is of interest is that apparently we as human beings are conditioned to ambient sound, and environments which are truly silent (chambers designed for scientific experiments) are very uncomfortable for us, in large part because our own sounds begin to overwhelm us (e.g., the beating of the heart). Anyway, the issues at the heart of the book turn out to be very relevant to me. Normally I have an iPod shuffle on my person. I have had one since early 2008. But at ASHG 2014 I forwent it in the interests of being able to hear someone if they wanted to get my attention. This caused an unanticipated problem. It turns out I really hate the sounds that you encounter in a public restroom, and I’ve been habituated toward just turning the shuffle on whenever I feel like it. This gets to the point that we all create our own aural environment, and in the age of portable digital devices this is been taken to a new level.

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