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The Peanut Butter Delusion by Ahmed H. '12

Arguments as old as man.

September 13, 2008

Alright, it’s been a good five days since our blogs have come online, and I still haven’t found a novel way to detail my first three and half weeks here at MIT. So I’ll dive right into two arguments I’ve stumbled upon while on campus.

I spent a good chunk of time during rush with the brothers of Alpha Delta Phi. One of the rush activities was a pizza dinner at Uno’s near Harvard. Here, I got into a heated debate with Arun ’10 about the superiority or inferiority of crunchy peanut butter compared to creamy. Initial arguments centered around texture or lack thereof (looking at you, creamy). But Arun quickly turned the conversation towards much less tangible subjects, namely the homogeneity and isotropy of the universe. Being Course 8, he had an advantage over a mere frosh, but I had the powers of Course 16 in the form of Raul ’10 to back me up. Arun claimed that creamy style peanut butter much better fits with the universe around us. I disagreed, pointing out that the bits of whole peanuts represent galaxies floating in that universe, and also that this had nothing to do with peanut butter. Thirty minutes later we were still arguing. A thought experiment involving a bathtub full of the stuff brought the discussion to a close, and at the end of the day, we accomplished nothing. No argument, no matter how ridiculous, will change someone’s preference. Which brings us to a debate I witnessed this Friday.

During my one hour break between 5.111 and 8.01, I headed to the Student Center for some food. In front of the bike racks there were signs advertising a question and answer session later that night with Cliff Knechtle, a Christian author. The writer was actually there by the signs in the afternoon, and was in an intense argument with a heavily accented Australian man. The Aussie would always disclaim his sentences by saying “Now, I’m a raving atheist, but…,” to which Mr Knechtle would always reply, “Now, what if I slapped this man? This man right here. What if I slapped him?” The only thing the Australian man ever actually said was “I don’t need to believe in God to believe in absolute morals,” which he repeated about every three minutes. Mr Knechtle always—seriously, always—responded with “Now, listen. What if I slapped this man?” Except he said it as if he had just received this intense deep revelation; as if every time he said it, he had stumbled upon a brilliant observation. It was all a bit absurd, really. On my way to lunch, and two strangers, an evangelical Christan and an atheist Australian are almost coming to blows over moral relativism.

Eventually I got hungry and annoyed by these people who couldn’t argue so I bought a burrito, ate it, checked my email, and then went outside again. Same people. Same arguments.

As the conversation continued, Chi Alpha, the Christian group that brought Mr Knechtle here, was handing out business cards about his upcoming session that evening. There was a big picture of a pizza on it, so I attended. In a room in the student center, the organization had put about thirty chairs in a circle so that anyone could stop by and ask the author a question. I’d say that 28 of the people there were Christians, and that me and another freshman were the only skeptics in the audience. I asked some hard-hitting questions, and I was extremely pleasantly surprised when the leaders of Chi Alpha genuinely thanked me for coming and putting the questions on the table. It was a great experience, and in that room I saw the vast differences in personal Christian philosophies.

At the end of the program, there was a drawing for three gift cards. The other skeptic and I got the two of highest value (I walked away with the equivalent of 16.8539326 free donuts), which may be a hint…

So, the (relative or absolute?) moral of this roundabout story: Be prepared for a debate at MIT. Anytime, anywhere, any asinine argument.

46 responses to “The Peanut Butter Delusion”

  1. Ahana says:

    “The Peanut Butter Delusion” seems straight out of “The Big Bang Theory”, which is kinda cool. This is one of the reasons MIT is such a great place; all kinds of people, all kinds of ideas, and most importantly, knowledge!

  2. Alex says:

    Yay, I like debates… now I have another reason to go to MIT :p lol

  3. Chris '12 says:

    @Ahana
    Points for the Big Bang Theory reference, it is the greatest thing in the world.

    Speaking of the greatest thing in the world, it’s all about the chunky peanut butter, and for one inarguable proof:

    the second law of thermodynamics.

    Indeed starting with chunky peanut butter, it would be simple to continue to grind it and wind up with creamy, but once we have creamy there is no way to “ungrind it” back into chunky. To maintain maximum levels of entropic possibilities, one must use chunky. Plus it tastes better, so there!

  4. Ahana says:

    @Chris

    I’m not a peanut butter expert(I’ve only had it once, so correct me if I’m wrong), but if you want it chunky again, you can put in ground peanut…but then of course, one has to use more energy in the first place to grind it. I’d say either ways, its peanut butter smile

  5. Ahana says:

    Whoops-looks like the allure of peanut butter messed with my head; I meant, just put in the goddamn peanuts raspberry

  6. Jeremy says:

    1) Awesome and completely entertaining post.

    2) Crunchy peanut butter beasts creamy peanut butter any day.

  7. Ahmed says:

    Thanks for the good wishes, guys. As for the title, I actually meant it as a Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) reference, considering the argument that followed the peanut butter debate.

  8. Alex says:

    I’d comment more on how peanut butter is good but I can’t because I don’t like peanut butter. Not crunchy, not creamy, not even nuts. :p

  9. mengshuen says:

    cool. some personalities just like debates!

  10. Shreya Vora says:

    That’s the whole point of attending MIT. Lots of interesting people, lots of interesting conversations and a brilliant faculty and campus. Congratulations on getting in and being selected as an MIT blogger. Will definitely look forward to your blog posts.

  11. Jimmy says:

    Hey babe. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself up at MIT. Keep this link in your profile. I’m going to enjoy reading your blogs. Hey babe. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself up at MIT. Keep this link in your profile. I’m going to enjoy reading your blogs. <3

  12. JAJA says:

    JAJA, UPYACHKA! UG NE PROIDET, BLYA!

  13. Oasis '11 says:

    Re: your last sentence.

    I actually think this is true. My explanation for this is that I think people are so used to being “know-it-alls” in their high school before coming here, and now that they come here – guess what happens when you put a lot of know-it-alls in the same place!

    Same goes that other university down Mass Ave.

  14. Oasis '11 says:

    Uhm, more like your second-to-last sentence, lol. =p

  15. Alex says:

    However, in order to make creamy you have to pass by the crunchy state, so more energy is expended in making it creamy, and further energy is expended to make it chunky again by adding peanuts back.

    @Piper:
    And what was the conclusion of that one?

  16. Anonymous says:

    @Alex: What was the conclusion of that WHAT?

  17. Barack Obama says:

    Reading your entry makes me feel sick!!

  18. Alex says:

    The argument over the existence of numbers.

  19. Piper says:

    The night before I left campus, I had an argument with a Course 18 major about whether or not numbers exist ^.^

  20. Tracy says:

    Great post Ahmed!

  21. Anonymous says:

    @ chris…

    …wait, doesn’t that mean that the creamy peanut butter has a higher entropic state? since by grinding up the peanut you are increasing the entropy?

  22. Anonymous says:

    It was a joke. If numbers don’t exist, and you said “What was the conclusion of that ONE”, and one doesn’t exist… well, never mind. It’s not funny if you explain it.

  23. Ahmed says:

    Here, allow me to complicate things further:

    Crunchy peanut butter is actually just creamy peanut butter with chunks mixed back in (it’s more cost effective and consistent to have everything start out as creamy and modify it later for crunchy and extra crunchy styles).

  24. Ahana says:

    Exactly what I meant back there about adding the peanuts..lol

  25. deng says:

    how the hell can you even begin to argue that numbers don’t exist??
    seriously. I want to know.

  26. Ramon says:

    Hey Want to have my peanuts?? They chunky, sweet and tasty. A good flavor in your mouth. LOL. You all know it all people. Whats the answer to fit in your academic campus?? How do i become an MIT student???

  27. Aditya says:

    You write well. Snively style. =P

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. =)

  28. sidd'13 says:

    well… your posts are making me more eager to get there(MIT).

    @Chris:
    You seems to have quite a lot of faith in “the Big Bang Theory”.

  29. Ahana says:

    @sidd(not ’13 yet)
    BBT is also a TV show.

  30. sidd'13? says:

    i know i m not there… but i am really dying to be there…so can’t keep my fascination for MIT away always….

    well…u mean the comedy created and produced by chuck lorre and bill prady……

  31. sidd'13? says:

    and…i was just trying to start a new debate.[:)]

  32. Banerjee says:

    May I peacefully point out that I hate peanut butter, and I think its ridiculous that people put it in their sandwiches. Peanuts are yummy by themselves (positive), and butter is disgusting (negative), and since we all know that positive and negative makes a negative, Peanut Butter is therefore a BIG NEGATIVE!!!

    No offence to those who like it.

  33. Chris '12 says:

    @internet

    Why yes, I do have a lot of faith in the Big Bang Theory, it brightens my days.

    To make clear my argument, I justified it based on maximum entropic POSSIBILITIES, not maximum entropy. Chunky holds more possibilities since it hasn’t been ground into creamy yet, but it still could. Thus in some capacity it retains both the characteristics of creamy and all the characteristics of chunky within some sort of peanut buttery, schrodinger foam-like state.

  34. Anna’s Mexican food restaurant (kitchen?) has the best burritos (chili verde) I’ve ever tasted. My digestive tract disagrees when I drink a soda with it. That counts as a debate.
    The best peanut butter is a matter of preference. You need facts to back something up ie.. there are nine million bicycles in Beijing. Anna’s Mexican food restaurant (kitchen?) has the best burritos (chili verde) I’ve ever tasted. My digestive tract disagrees when I drink a soda with it. That counts as a debate.
    The best peanut butter is a matter of preference. You need facts to back something up ie.. there are nine million bicycles in Beijing. <- four gangsta points if you recognize the allusion

  35. sidd'13? says:

    @chris:
    well…. u tried to xplain things quite sufficiently(quite good), though i knew those(POSSIBILITIES) already….

  36. Arthur says:

    You are the right man for the job, Ahmed. I still remember your legendary website. Is college hard?

  37. Ahmed says:

    Hey Arthur, thanks for the complements. College is not as hard as I was expecting it to be, but I’m only two weeks deep into this deal.

  38. Everson says:

    So I just had to comment on the awesomeness of creamy peanut butter. And extend my deep sympathy to those of crunchy preference. I know it might be a little ROUGH for you having to go about your peanut butter sandwich experience with so much effort and it might be a bit of an inconvenience being DEAF for that period of time… But we creamy lovers have a contrarily SMOOTH eatting, and easier spreading plus with the added bonus of not having to CrUnCh every time we take a bite…
    Besides Reeses aren’t crunchy
    GAME; SET; MATCH!

  39. Anonymous says:

    So true. I’ve had some of the most absurd arguments in my life here. When scientific laws come in to discussions about laundry, you know you’re at MIT.

    By the way. I know who humble pie is. And I hope to become an EMT during IAP.

  40. April '12 says:

    So true. I’ve had some of the most absurd arguments in my life here. When scientific laws come in to discussions about laundry, you know you’re at MIT.

    By the way. I know who humble pie is. And I hope to become an EMT during IAP.

    Did you rush α∆ϕ?

  41. Ahmed says:

    Hurray for Humble Pie! Most underrated band in all of blues music, in my opinion. I too will hopefully become EMT certified over IAP. And yes I rushed ADP, received a bid, but respectfully declined to pledge.

  42. Fatimah says:

    Ahmed you’re an excellent blogger! You should post more often.