Thursday, December 22, 2016
Naughty or Nice - How Does Santa Really Know?
As we all know, Santa Claus traditionally keeps two lists: the "naughty" list, identifying children who, on the basis of past performance, are less likely to have their Christmas wishes granted; and the "nice" list, identifying children who have behaved in an acceptable fashion during the previous year and are, thus, more likely to enjoy a materialistically positive visit from Santa.*
There are many hundreds of millions of children in the world, and keeping track of who's naughty and who's nice is a daunting challenge. How does he do it? How does he keep track of all those deserving (and undeserving) children? There are many ways to look at how Santa makes his naughty and nice decisions, but you may not have realized that at least some of them have been the subject of (quasi-) scholarly study.
Each year at Christmas, the esteemed British Medical Journal (BMJ) publishes an issue that features a number of satirical articles alongside the real ones. In this year's Christmas edition, the BMJ offered this article: Dispelling the Nice or Naughty Myth: Retrospective Observational Study of Santa Claus. This excerpt from the introduction to the study explains the basis of the study -
It has long been thought that Santa Claus visits children depending on whether they have been naughty or nice in the past year. This belief finds textual support in the popular holiday song “Santa Claus is coming to Town,” written by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie and published in 1934. The Christmas classic goes on: “he sees when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” Yet no empirical evidence exists to support the assertion that Santa Claus rewards children based on good behaviour or to establish whether this is the only factor determining the likelihood of a visit from him. We chose to study paediatric hospital wards because sick children are the most deserving of a visit from Santa Claus at Christmas. We evaluated the relative importance of children’s behaviour, distance to the North Pole, and contextual socioeconomic deprivation on the likelihood of a visit from Santa Claus.
Please don't share this with any Republicans, because they'll reflexively think it's a real study and their heads will explode at the waste of money.
Anyhow, we now see that a review of Clausian visits to pediatric wards can serve as a potentially source of information on Santa's naughty/nice decisions; nevertheless, there are any number of other sources of information available to The Big Man as he makes his assessments.
For instance, it has long been known that Santa Claus assigns senior liaison elves to America's National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6), and their sister agencies around the world**. This means it's a good idea to always be nice on the phone, and not to act like a despicable troll online.
In addition, investigative journalists have uncovered indications that Santa has long-term contracts with major private investigation services to provide physical surveillance to complement the data provided by NSA and GCHQ.
And it has also been reported that Santa's North Pole Naughty/Nice Operations Center (known to insiders as the NPN2OC) has recently installed a new computer system that allows it to access - in addition to the information from NSA, CIA, GCHQ, MI-6, and other intelligence services - video feeds from traffic cameras, automatic teller machines, security cameras in banks and other businesses, as well as real-time text and video feeds from Facebook, Twitter***, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Given the state of the world, with rampant religious intolerance, political chicanery, greed, corruption, anger, and general hostility, Santa needs all the help he can get to keep track of the naughtiness ... but he's up to the challenge. He really does know if you've been bad or good.
And a whole lot of naughty people out there are well and truly screwed this Christmas.
Have a good day. Be nice, if only for a little while.
More thoughts tomorrow.
* It's a little-known fact that Santa doesn't just track the naughty/nice statistics of children ... there are a lot of adults looking at a pretty bleak Christmas, too.
** This explains why a traitorous twit like Edward Snowdon will be on the naughty list in perpetuity.
*** There's a whole separate server farm at the NPN2OC specifically dedicated to Donald Trump's Twitter feed. He'll be on the naughty list for a long, long time.