Saturday, October 20, 2018


There was a study a long time ago where four-year-olds were given a marshmallow and told they could eat it right away, or, if they waited, with their tempting, uneaten marshmallow, for the marshmallow dispensing researcher to return, they could then have two marshmallows. A second marshmallow would be added to the first.

The study found that some kids could wait, and some kids could very much not wait. And when they revisited those kids 13 years later, when they were all 17, they found that the kids who were able to wait and get two marshmallows, back when they were four, now all had notably higher IQ's than the kids who, back then, couldn't. The kids who ate the one marshmallow, besides turning out dumber, were also more likely to have drug problems and to get in trouble a lot too.

Naturally I wondered what I would have done in the test as a four-year-old. I longed to be the smart child who would have waited and gotten two marshmallows, but that didn't ring true. Did I eat the one marshmallow? that seemed a bit off too.

And then it dawned on me what I would have done, even as a four-year-old.

I would have gotten mad at god.


  1. Hello, Feldenstien Calypso. God here. I just wanted to write you and let you know that I had nothing to do with that nefarious study, but I understand your anger. First of all, I didn't create marshmallows. They are pretty disgusting, all sticky and gooey and chemically. Also, who the hell (pardon my French!) would subject children to such a thing and come up with conclusions that seem pretty obvious? What if the kid ate half the marshmallow? But, alas, this free will thing. I must stick with it! It gives us horrible things, like these kinds of studies, but also wonderful things, like your blog! I'm a big fan, by the way. Love the turkeys on your walks!

  2. My favorite angle on this study is to look at the ways the "abstainers" distracted themselves in order to succeed at waiting. Some turned their backs, some sang... All exercising the executive function of the frontal lobe of the brain.

    As a four-year-old kid, I would probably have resisted the marshmallow, not because I had great executive powers, but because I'd have been afraid there was some trick involved and the adult would punish me.


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