Ridiculing You In Order To Save You

Every so often, science likes to saunter along and nerd-splain something to you that you knew all along. Flush with funding, researchers have made stunning discoveries, such as “people like chocolate,” and “cats can slip through small openings.” Now humanity can bask in the glory of yet another Breakthrough of the Completely Obvious, for the latest no-brainer to be needlessly confirmed by scientists is “people in safety gear look like giant dorks:”

To prove this, researchers at the International Institute of No Duh showed test subjects pictures of normal people and people dressed like giant dorks, and guess what? The subjects thought the people dressed like giant dorks looked like giant dorks. And we all know how people feel about giant dorks:

“We tested this hypothesis through a survey comprised of two-paired alternate forced choice questions to identify which image of a cyclist respondents consider to be less human,” the study’s abstract explains.

“We then analysed the results using a Bradley-Terry probability model. We found images of cyclists wearing helmets or safety vests to have a higher probability of being selected as less human compared to images of cyclists wearing no safety equipment. The results have implications for research on cyclist dehumanisation and its mitigation.”

The Bradley – Terry probability model is of course a landmark study in dorkitude in which Bradley was dressed as a huge dork and Terry was not. Both were then placed in a high school restroom every day for two weeks and scientists counted the number of wedgies administered to each, as well as the depth of underwear insertion and the composition of the resulting stain. Over the course of the study, Bradley received 436 wedgies at an average depth of 6.7 centimeters, with both fecal matter and blood indicating not only direct rectal contact but also abrasions resulting in bleeding and thus very high wedgie severity, with torque at times approaching10,000 Nm! Meanwhile, not only did Terry receive zero wedgies, but the cigarettes he brought with him proved extremely popular, and a subsequent study confirmed that tobacco, alcohol, and other recreational drugs can be a useful tool for peer acceptance. This has come to be known as the “Smoking In The Boys’ Room” model.

Anyway, in addition to the “helmets are corny” revelation, these same researchers also concluded that cycling caps are cooler than foam bike hats, go figure:

On the same lines, cyclists wearing a cap were viewed as more human than those wearing a full helmet.

“Our findings add to this growing research, suggesting that cyclists wearing safety attire, particularly high-visibility vests, may be dehumanised more so than cyclists without safety attire,” the study concludes. 


Utterly shocking:

Of course, this study merely quantifies something that anybody who grew up before bullying was banned already intrinsically understands, which is that there’s an inverse relationship between the impulse to keep people safe and their actual safety.

Consider for example the hypothetical child who is not me, and who wants to go to school in a muscle shirt with a Kiss logo on it so he’ll look cool and nobody will mess with him. However, it’s chilly outside, so not only does his mother refuse to allow him to wear the muscle shirt, but she insists he wear a warm jacket and mittens and gloves, on the basis that she doesn’t want him to “catch a cold.”

But while one does not “catch a cold” because of the ambient temperature, one could in fact catch a a great deal of grief due to one’s wardrobe–which is what happens when the child who is not me arrives at school in May in a scarf and a knit hat with pom-pom on top, bundled up like it’s 30 American Freedom Degrees, and a bunch of kids in muscle t-shirts and wielding now-politically incorrect “Dukes of Hazzard” lunchboxes proceed to victimize him. So had his mother (not my mother, his mother) simply allowed him to deal with the goosebumps, not only would he have avoided the beating, but he might even have gained entrée into the Muscle Shirt Gang and joined them in beating up someone else–a crucial step in the journey towards a successful American adulthood. Perhaps he’d even have grown up to be a captain of industry and not, say, a semi-professional blogger specializing in an obscure subject. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Similarly, while an adult smoker may puff his way to an early death, the ill effects of smoking on a child are likely negligible, and probably even worth it for the social benefits it confers. Indeed, provided the child abandons the habit before the age at which someone with a cigarette simply looks like a loser, one could argue that pediatric smoking is a net benefit in terms of physical and emotional development.

(But there’s a grain of truth there and you know it.)

It is precisely this “coddling effect” that is at play when people on bicycles dress as human traffic cones, and we shouldn’t need a study to tell us that society determined to keep cycling and cyclists down by subjecting us to endless “safety” messaging forced helmet fittings and making sure we always look and act as dorky as possible so that we remain targets for bullies:

People respect other people, but nobody respects a traffic cone. Perhaps if things were different and we abandoned helmets and other forms of safety gear altogether we’d mature and toughen up and learn to fight our own battles and eventually command some actual respect. Instead, people keep trying to foist helmets on people in ever-more creative (and ridiculous) ways:

It’s important to stay safe when you’re shopping for produce:

By the way, apart from accidental deployments (sooo many accidental deployments), I was wondering if anyone’s actually been saved by a Hövding, and the answer is yes–well, according to the company, anyway:

I’ve always suspected helmets (even inflatable ones) interfere with critical thinking, and this would appear to support my hypothesis:

Really, nothing at all? You’d ride right up the steep muddy path for some fucking onions again? You wouldn’t maybe consider dismounting and walking the muddy path instead? Nothing about any of that sounds stupid to you at all?



And if this video forwarded to me by a reader is any indication, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better:

Alas, even at the professional level cycling loves its useless totems, which is why it’s the last place on the planet people are still doing face helmets and “social distancing:”

“Do not get too close to the spectators – Social distancing, no selfies, no autographs,” a document seen by Reuters, said.

“For all the team members: Respect a confinement – Limit the interactions outside the race bubble. No eating out. Respect social distancing at the hotel.”

I suppose it’s only fitting that they’re still rebuffing fans in 2023. After all, making sure it doesn’t attract too many fans has always been pro cycling’s greatest strength.

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