Approximately 563 minutes ago, I noticed this peculiar analysis of language use on Pharyngula that suggested that we use the phrase “N minutes”, where N is 5 or 10, with a slightly greater frequency than the web population as a whole. This made me self-conscious for a whole 18 minutes, so I thought I’d better sleep on it for about 480 minutes before taking 4 minutes to make a short post about it. Go on and read the Language Log — it’s short and will probably take you only 2 minutes to skim through it.

Now I’m thinking, because I’m an evil and devious sort, that since this is already a low frequency event where we use that phrase, we can easily muck with people’s heads while demonstrating an observer effect. From now on, everyone try to remember that whenever you reference a short estimated interval of time, and you are about to use one of the common multiples of 5, add one to it. We don’t have to do it every time, nor does everyone have to participate, but by adding a little verbal tic on top of a tic we can skew this analysis.

The experiment began 11 minutes ago. Keep it up.

Greg says

cool, a time experiment, and at 46 minutes after 7 (or thereabouts)

mr-zero says

It took me 2 minutes to read the article. I now need to think about it for a further 39 minutes.

Z

Kirk says

In 67 minutes I will be attending a film at the Traverse City Film Festival. I will be pondering this until then.

Ted Dahlberg says

The post’s been up for barely 11 minutes, and already people are jumping at the possibility of screwing with other peoples’ heads? I love this place!

Kryth says

Well, I’m 32 years old. I read this in 3 minutes. It took me another 7 minutes to understand it. Then another 6 minutes to realize that I don’t understand what in 7 hells PZ is talking about.

7337

l8r

leeleeone says

The person responsible for the language log posted it on 08/01/2008 at 2:55 PM which, for me, was approximately 1024 minutes before I read this blog, or 61,440 seconds, or 17 hours and 4 minutes ago. So I will probably continue reading pharyngula for another say 28 minutes and 6 seconds.

Wiggy says

Me thinks that this post will quickly gather a lot of oddly similar sounding comments over the next 60 minutes or so. Therefore I shall come back in 60 sixty minutes or so to see if my prediction was correct.

Daniel says

This post will self-destruct in 19 minutes…

RoonieRoo says

5 minutes ago I started reading this post outloud to my husband.

His response was – You should use powers of 2. Therefore, 8 minutes ago I pulled up Pharyngula and it took slightly more than 4 minutes to read it to my husband.

afterthought says

I expect to finish my 2nd cup of coffee in about 16 minutes, though sometimes I get reading something so it might take 21 minutes. I might decide to stop sitting around OTOH, and try to finish it in as little as 6 minutes. I guess t=5*N+1 is pretty much assured. I’m thinking it might be fun to only allow “N” to be prime numbers. Should I include the kinda fake prime number “2”?

Decoy says

@10

Sure, because 2 is a real prime. If you wanted to include fake primes, you should include 1.

JoJo says

Rather than

nminutes, should we be usingmminutes? After all, D-Day tells us that initials are useful when discussing units of time.I will give m ± n (where m and n are numbers arbitrarily selected by me) minutes for a consensus to be achieved. If, in mⁿ minutes, no decision has been made, I’ll be forced to make myself a ham sandwich while contemplating the non-eliteness of others.

Don Smith, FCD says

9 minutes after 9 here. I have to be at work today in 51 minutes,. so I can only spend another 6 minutes or so online.

So how are you going to get him to reanalyze these frequencies?

Steve_C says

I got up 9 minutes ago, and have been confused for about 3 minutes. Maybe in 11 more minutes it’ll make sense to me. I need to leave the apartment by 41 after 9 though.

Jonathan Lubin says

To an old fogy like me, wearing one of those funny round analog devices strapped around his wrist, counting time in multiples of five is perfectly natural: the hour is conveniently divided for you into those twelve blocks, after all. It’s only someone using a digital clock who would have even asked this question.

protocol6 says

In case you are wondering why fewer people than normal are looking at your site yesterday and today, sitemeter seems to have broken it’s script for all IE 6 and 7 users.

http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/general/sitemeter-crashing-internet-explorer-sites-august-1-2008/

ennui says

Surely our LORD GOD will send you to perdition for monkeying about with the sacred base ten universe! Not to mention HIS Holy Numerology and the BIBLE Code intervals! It’s not just a frackin’ integer!

We will pray for you, now and at the time of your ‘selection.’!!1111one!! eleven minutes !!!!

Ian H Spedding FCD says

It’s taken me a lot longer than a few minutes to discover that the reason I suddenly lost all access to ScienceBlogs and Blogspot sites is because of a Sitemeter software update which is causing IE to crash when it tries to log on.

I assume others are having the same problem.

PZ Myers says

Using powers of 2 is brilliant! We shall expose the binary nature of the web substrate!

About the sitemeter thing: yeah, our tech got back to us this morning about it. I’ve added updated code to all the pages, which I hope will correct the problem.

S.Scott says

It’s too early for this …

JoJo says

Those of us using Firefox are having no problems.

afterthought says

At least “1” is odd. I always thought having a single even prime was an unintended quirk of definition, but that is obviously just me.

I am fine with the powers of two, but I think it should be written in binary. So, It is getting close to 6’b100000 minutes I have wasted on this foolishness.

tacitus says

It’s all right. Those who continue to use IE6 or IE7 don’t count anyway :)

mikeg says

(+) + 1

SC says

Ah! I thought it was just me! I downloaded Firefox last night when I got fed up with it, and that’s how I’m here (of course, since my computer is a relic, I could only do Firefox 1, which is very sad, but it works).

Lee PIcton says

#18 et al.

I thought at first it was my computer, but lo, I too cannot access Pharyngula or the blogspot sites. Thank goodness it is not my personal problem, and I am only here because I installed Firefox. Talk about incentive. Now, if I can just figure out how to use greasemonkey to get rid of trolls, I will be very happy. Oh, BTW, can you change the format of all posts to put the “Posted by:” tagline at the TOP of the posts? That way we won’t get suckered into slogging through long troll posts and can just blow by them. I would be very grateful, and I’m sure others would be too. Thoughts?

Nick Tacik says

How aboutt adding seconds to it? ie: “Hey I’ll be there in like, I dunno, 8 minutes and 34 seconds or so”.

Wicked Lad says

What a waste of time! Okay, I only wasted 8 minutes or so on the Language Log post, but I’ll also waste about 16 minutes on this Pharyngula post and writing this comment. A lot you are missing or ignoring the fact that Liberman is only attending to 2 ≤ N ≤ 66.

I do like Language Log, although I read it less often than Pharyngula.

CosmicTeapot says

What if a secretary goes to 100 meetings and takes 100 minutes, do they count?

Just asking?

mikeg says

Blogs by radical atheists with an irrational contempt for wafers?… telling, no? (+)

Mike Haubrich, FCD says

I took a 13 minute break from trying to decide if I should download KDE 4.1, was amused for 47 seconds that people are having trouble reading pharyngula with IE6 and IE7, took 7 sips of coffee.

Back to deciding.

Wanderer says

It took me 2 seconds to load this page and then get an error … and internet explorer crashed. I cannot load it or the languagelog without crashing IE ( I had to stop the connection to write this before the full page is loaded).

Just wondering.

Is my PC cursed by a corrupted IE or is there more to this ?

Posting in case other have had this problem..

Ian H Spedding FCD says

It hasn’t. Not for IE7, anyway.

Luckily, now I’ve fired up Firefox, I can be as smug and self-righteous as all the other users. :)

Wanderer says

..using Firefox now…thank you protocol6, now I know I`m not getting crazy(er)..

If you have 101 minutes to spare, I recommend watching ” on the Cliff by the Sea”.

It is full of squids and fishes.

wanderer says

wrong edit… read “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea”

( new Studio Ghibli release this summer… )

ok I`m off now…

antaresrichard says

By my John Allen Paulos, I’m innum… enoom… inewm…

…illiterate as well. -wink-

chancelikely says

Ahh… Language Log posting about Pharyngula – that’s one of my regular haunts talking about the other. It’s sort of like when I found out that my seventh grade math teacher and my aunt had gone out on a couple of dates in the early sixties.

MH says

There are Pharyngula readers who use IE?!

David Davidson says

It took me 24 minutes to read and understand this post, but I got distracted for twelve minutes by Natalie Portman and Wikipedia articles on chaos magic from the other thread. I have to leave for work in 31 minutes, so I’ll have to make sure to check this thread for progress when I get home in 404 minutes.

Anthony says

What in 56 minutes is going on here?

(There, I hope I caused even greater confusion.)

clinteas says

IE readers not getting on to scienceblogs? Thats natural selection right there !

To the language log thingy,I read it this morning before I went to work,had no idea what they were talking about and kinda ignored it.Now that PZ has explained it,I kinda get it,but still dont quite see the point…..

Benjamin Geiger says

Separated at birth: PZ Myers and Victor Borge?

James Crooks says

Well, the analysis and the comments have certainly made for an enjoyable way to pass the last 2^4 minutes. Although I must admit I was distracted by Natalie Portman for (2^2)+(2^0) minutes. In (2^3)-(2^0) minutes I shall have to leave town, where I’ll be on the road for about (2^8)-(2^6) minutes. However, when I finish my trip I shall certainly check in on the experiment again! One can certainly spend 2^N (for N is very large) minutes on Pharyngula.

craig says

I used this kind of patterning to win a contest once.

It was a “guess how many mini-pool-balls are in the trash can” contest. One dollar an guess. Winner gets a 3-in-1 pool, hockey and ping pong table.

After trying to calculate volume unsuccessfully, I decided to take a different tack. I thought of what OTHERS would be guessing – 275, 250, 225, etc., and I bought guesses bracketing those figures… 273 and 277, etc. Spent under ten bucks, won the table. I don’t remember the number, but I was one off from the correct number. It was something like 227 balls, my guess was 226, someone else had 225.

Romeo Vitelli says

Now you actually

sayingthat you’re evil and devious? Don’t be giving the fundies ammunition.Maria says

For about 3 minutes I thought #44’s trash can had 275,250,225 mini-pool-balls. Those must have been seriously mini balls, I thought.

BaldApe says

Just a minute, I’ll get my stopwatch.

That took 4 minutes, and scrolling down and scanning all these other comments took 1 minute.

I once knew a person who said he did all of his high school physics problems with milli-furlongs and micro-fortnights. That must have taken 11 minutes extra for each problem. Quite a bit of extra effort to be a PITA.

I’ve rambled for 1 minute, so I’ll go get something to eat. Then I’m going to see the new Mummy movie in about 62 minutes.

Who Cares says

Bah small numbers and times?

I rather have things like the following.

in 41 minutes I’m going to the toiler, in 43 minutes I’m back. In 47 minutes I’ll start up another webpage. In 53 minutes I will have finished reading that page and over 61 minutes I’ve finished telling the people around me what was on it. Then 71 minutes later I’ll be back to see if people have gotten the clue which probably mean that I need to spend 83 minutes reading the rest of the comments.

Noam Zur says

I’ve been using 7 minutes as a standard time measurement for years already!

Ludo says

42 minutes

after7? A quick statistical Google analysis showed that ‘past’ is used roughly three times more frequent than ‘after’ in time telling. You North-Americans are clearly a minority in this. HOMOPAWOTI*!*Hundreds Of Millions Of People Are Wrong On The Internet

Budbear says

While reading this thread I was listening to Barbra Streisand singing the classic, ” I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Six and Eleven Cents Store”… Is Mr. Woolworth rolling in his grave yet?

Pierce R. Butler says

It’s time to use the spacefarers’ chronometry first (I think) employed by Vernor Vinge in

A Deepness in the Skyapproximately 300 megaseconds ago.I’d try to explain it in more depth, but I have a meeting across town to prepare for in less than 5 kiloseconds.

Norman Doering says

There are 6 works of art on this page:

http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Blog-from-Hell

Jim Anderson says

Extra added bonus: numbers, when written as digits rather than words, are more eye-catching to blog readers. For example:

“I awoke two minutes ago and am still groggy.”

Is less visible than:

“I awoke 2 minutes ago and am still groggy.”

Of course, if you’re writing a novel, I wouldn’t recommend using digits instead of words. Even 1 time looks weird.

DLC says

In binary: I started reading this blog 111 minutes ago. So far I have only read through 10 posts. I will probably spend the next 1010 minutes reading up to the top of the feed, and then go do something else. Of course, my estimate could be wrong if there are more replies to page through or if more posts are added to the feed during my reading, but most likely I’ll be done here in about 1101 minutes at most.

(there.. let them analyze that!)

AK47 says

It took me exactly pi minutes to skim through the comments here. (I have an amazing watch.)

Jim Hutton says

I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

aleph1=c says

[discaimer: sorry, can’t help this. Sorta like the Shave and a Haircut thing from Roger Rabbit. Please accept my apologies.]

Yeah, but what if someone comes along and does this:

5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes 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Donalbain says

I is a science teacher and whenever I give the kids a period of time to do a task, I NEVER make it 5, 10, 20, 20 minutes.. I always make it some other duration such as 4 or 17. If you say “five minutes”, what people hear is “some arbitarily short length of time that can be negotiated later.” If you give another duration, they hear that actual length of time and will stick to it.

Sam L. says

Noooooooo! The master plan is lost!

Kyle W. says

Things were perfect until 16 minutes ago.

dsmccoy says

Using arbritrary numbers would merely smooth out the spikes in the data.

A better way to mess with people’s heads would be to pick a couple of special numbers, say 17 and 42, and always round off everything to one of those to particular numbers in an attempt to introduce new spikes on the graph which leave fingers behind if counted up by the handful.

No One Of Consequence says

I read this at 47 minutes past 4 and wasn’t quite sure where it was going until 48 minutes past. Number 58 minute repeat was a good question, but I only pondered it for a 3 minutes. Actually, this was only fun for about 3 minutes.

Can we go back to talking about crackers or pygmies now?

Susannah says

#58:

That’s easily fixed. Like so;

6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 6 minutes 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dubiquiabs says

I just wasted 2^3 minutes tuning into another blog and a discussion of taxonomies of non-belief. In spite of what looked like 2^14 tons of horseshit, there wasn’t a pony to be found.

JFK says

And you wonder why this is my new favorite blog? Oh, you already know!

gaypaganunitarianagnostic says

And this is worth wasting time and energy talking about…Why?

Samantha Vimes says

It’s 32 minutes past five, and this is a very quirky thread.

Katkinkate says

I know there will always be the type of person who would be interested in fiddly little things like counting and analysing the number of times ‘n minutes’ is used in a piece of text and find great satisfaction and meaning out of it. But what blows me away, is that there is enough interest that a blog describing the ‘experiment’ actually has serious comments. Have these people nothing more interesting to do?

To support the effort: this comment took about 3 minutes to type up. And I use both Firefox and Internet Explorer. :P There are some sites out their that don’t work on Firefox.

DingoDave says

The Scene:

Four well-dressed men are sitting together at a vacation resort.

‘Farewell to Thee’ is playing in the background on Hawaiian guitar.

FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN:

“Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down at mill, and pay t’ mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.”

FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:

“And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.”

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – “Four Yorkshiremen”

Spicoli says

wait…

what?

karen says

It’s 1:24 PM. Do you know where your children are?

Patricia says

23!

Hail Eris!

John B. Sandlin says

3 minutes ago, when I read the linked page, it was 27 minutes after the hour. I think that says something important… to bad I have no clue what.

We could always couch our time estimates with error bars, so that you could say something like 4 minutes to 6 minutes ago, with an error margin of plus or minus 1 minute, I started typing this post.

For a definition of self referential, refer to this comment.

JBS

megan says

ha! it’s like the x+1 card in flux. luv it.

Ian says

Since there were 74+1 comments here, I decided I’d better add this quickly. It took me less than 4 minutes to write it.

Ian says

Jojo – “Rather than n minutes, should we be using m minutes?”

m is really Siamese n’s, so I don’t see how that helps….

Mike says

“There’s a small pharyngular excess…”

This phrase made me laugh for about 6 minutes.

rob says

it took me 3.14159265358979 seconds to skip to the end of this post, and another 2.718281828459045 seconds to write this post.