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Friday, July 20, 2012

An Index of Five Curious Indices Plus One

The human brain seems to be hardwired for designing order and structure out of the chaos of ignorance. Ignorance is used here in a purer lexical sense which implies a lack of knowledge or information. Science enters the arena of ignorance to supply us with a set of rules to demystify that lack of knowledge. Empirical scientific inquiry has led to an understanding of how complex human perception is shaped. The need for order and understanding has led science to codify and thereby explain by using sets of diagnostics. These sets help to simplify by categorizing the experiences. These categories which are established, purposely avoid the deviations of those sets in order to garner understanding out of the ignorance. The scientific order and structure which are created, fulfill an intrinsic need for comprehending why a perceived chaos is actually reflective of complicated system of harmony. Mythology has been the instrument which man has used to create the harmony and melody of understanding and acceptance before the development of empirical scientific research. Mythology allows knowledge to be acquired while simultaneously circumventing an analysis of the fractional mechanisms of how the order and structure are developed. Science and mythology are more intertwined than they are generally portrayed in modern culture. Here are 5 examples of science's efforts to demystify the complex human experience.

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index: designed in 1990 by American entomologist Justin Schmidt at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tuscon Arizona 

The scale measures the relative pain caused a sting cause from different Hymenoptera insects. It ranges from one through four where four is the most painful.

1.0 Sweat bee and Fire ant
2.0 Bullhorn acacia ant, Bald-faced hornet and Yellowjacket
0 – 2.0 Honeybee and European hornet
3.0 Red harvester ant and Paper wasp
4.0 Tarantula hawk
4.0+Bullet ant

The Scoville Scale Index: designed in 1912 by American Pharmacist Wilbur Lincoln Scoville.

The scale measures the spicy, piquant heat from chili peppers in the amount of Capsaicin the pepper contains. Capsaicin is a chemical found in plants which causes tissue irritations in mammals.


0 units SweetBanana pepper
500-700 units Red chili pepper
3,500-8,000 units Jalapeno pepper
30,000-50,000 units Cayenne pepper
2,000,000-5,300,000 units US grade pepper spray
15,000,000 units Pure Capsaicin

Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale: developed by Stanley Kay, Lewis Opler, and Abraham Fiszbein and first published in 1987. 

The scale measures the severity of schizophrenia in patients with either positive or negative symptoms. Positive symptoms refer to overabundance or interference of normal functions (e.g. hallucinations or delusions). Negative symptoms are reduction or absence of normal function.

Positive questionnaire has 7 components (min. score = 7, max. score = 49)
Negative questionnaire has 7 components (min. score = 7, max. score = 49)
General psychopathy scale has 16 components (min. score = 16, max. score = 112)

There are no zero points allocated so the minimum aggregate score is 30. In the initial prepublication testing the scale was administered to previously diagnosed schizophrenics to arrive at mean averages.

    Positive scale 18
    Negative scale 21
    General psychopathology 38
Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale: designed in 1948 by Alfred Charles Kinsey a professor of Entomology and founder of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. 

The scale measures and plots sexual history and experience of a persons sexual activity. It then assigns them on a sliding scale to being entirely homosexual (0) or entirely heterosexual (6). The implication is that the variants between 1 and 5 are bisexual. The scale applies to both men and women.


0- Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
1- Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2- Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3- Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4- Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5- Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6- Exclusively homosexual

Gross National Happiness Index: designed by The King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the early 1970's. 

The index attempts to create a holistic mechanism to determine a country's economic progress while ensuring that the psychological and cultural well being of the country is not undermined. The index was first applied to the country of Bhutan but, in principle, can be applied to any nation state.

The four main variables are:

good governance
sustainable socio-economic development
cultural preservation
environmental conservation

The index is scaled from 0 through 1 whereby 1 is “full happiness”. A 2010 survey held in Bhutan concluded that Bhutan is .743 Happy.

Bristol Stool Index: designed and developed by Dr. Ken Heaton in 1997 while at the University of Bristol.

This index endeavors to approximate the transit time of stool within the colon. It continues to be used clinically when evaluating various diseases and pathologies of the bowel as well as the success of their subsequent treatments.

The seven types of stool are:
  • Type 1: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
  • Type 2: Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
  • Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
  • Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
  • Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
  • Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
  • Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid

    The range of stool begins with types 1 & 2 reflecting constipation; 3 & 4 indicating the ideal range; and 5, 6 & 7 displaying increasing forms of diarrhea.

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