Critical ThinkingPop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Gut vs Mind – What’s your woo?

My house is currently overrun with ants, tapinoma sessile to be exact.  (As I type one just ran across my desk.) My husband and I have been battling these arthropods every year since we have moved into our current home.  Every spring the ants emerge and we deploy our arsenal.  Our weapons include: laying down ant traps in strategic locations, keeping the house clean, killing the ants you see with cleaning solution and while you’re at it clean up the invisible pheromone trails that these little buggers lay, as well as employing our allies, the spiders.  That’s right, spiders.  We have a mutually beneficial alliance.  They can live in our house and eat all the bugs that they want and we will leave them alone, at least until their webs get all gross and dusty, then we remove their webs, but most times I think they are done with them at that point any way.

In the past our unified forces have always been able to win against the ant invasion.  After a few weeks of invasion the ants would fall back against our combined defenses, but not this year.  2014 was the year of the ant blitzkrieg.  They would not stop.  Our forces were completely over-whelmed.  I think it was partly due to the winter we had and partly because we had a traitor in our midst.  Daisy, our dog, suddenly started to eat in a messy manner and always left a few pieces of kibble which when discovered would inevitably be covered by so many ants that by the time I cleaned it up I had ant commandos crawling up my arm.  I tried to rally the troops giving what I thought was a truly Churchill-esk speech to the spiders, but they just wove their webs and ignored me.  We knew the battle was truly lost the other night when my husband tried to turn on the backyard light to let the dogs out and it did not work.  When he removed the plate to check the switch and connections a swarm of ants poured out of the switch like in a horror movie.  The ants fled carrying larva all the while mocking us with their numbers.

Our choice was to be overrun by ants or call in an exterminator.

This morning as I was sitting on my patio waiting for the exterminator to come and watching the trails of ants making their daily commute to my house I realized that besides personifying the denizens of my house, I have a strong aversion to insecticide chemicals.  I know what the word chemical means and it is not a scary word for me.  In fact my husband makes me turn off the “organic” gardening radio show when I start yelling at it about the misuse of the word.  I also know in my head that when applying things like insecticides it is best to use a professional who is making a targeted application and has been trained on the proper use and disposal of them, but yeeeeee chemicals.

Then I realized that this is my woo, my sacred cow.

I think that from time to time it is important to reflect on my beliefs, to examine my gut reactions to things.  We are animals of emotion, but we are also rational.  So when I find myself in this kind of situation I try to take a step back, look at the pros and cons and give my rational mind the weapons to beat down my reactive gut.

What was the last time your own personal sacred cow reared its head?  How do you balance your gut reactions with you rational mind?

Featured image Tampinoma sessile by JJ Harrison

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).

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Jennifer teaches science in a public school in Pennsylvania. She lives there with her husband and two dogs.

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