baart006: October 2011 Archives

How Prominent is the Past?

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As we have discussed in class it is very possible for a person to mend their memory into remembering something that had never occurred, what if the opposite was true too? There have been many documented cases where people have repressed memories of traumatic experiences in their lives.

Many psychologists believe that in some traumatic experiences the mind will repress any memory of the event into a deep place within the unconscious. These memories may not be lost forever though; some of the memories reveal themselves during therapy sessions or just during everyday life when some action triggers the release of the memory. Such was the case for Eileen Franklin.

Eileen Franklin witnessed the murder of her best friend at the age of 8. For many years her memories had gone untapped and unremembered, until one day when playing with her daughter it all began to come back to her. Small pieces at first but then larger portions of her memory came back as time went on. This allowed her to put her father George Franklin on trial for the murder of her best friend that had been committed nearly 20 years in the past.

The topic of suppressed memories is widely debated in the field of psychology. Many psychologists believe that there is no such thing as suppressed memory and no way to run experiments to find out the real truth. Most of the instances of suppressed memory are anecdotal and in no way a scientific study. This leads to a lack of good scientific evidence behind either side. With no hard evidence, the question behind suppressed memories may never be answered either way.

Are We Really A Blank Slate?

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Are we born pre-programmed or are do we start as a blank slate? This is the question that Steven Pinker looks at in his book "The Blank Slate". The Blank Slate theory of Pinker's states that the human mind is an empty vessel with nothing in it but a few basic instincts at birth.
This simplification of the mind has raised a lot of controversy over the years. The idea of the blank slate went against the age old theory of divine right of the king or that people are inherently better than other people. Pinker argues that a person's mind and demeanor are shaped by their environment and experiences rather than a pre-programmed mind. This idea of Pinker's can apply to anything from violent tendencies to the level of intelligence in a person.
There are a lot of people that argue against Pinker's theory of the Blank Slate, saying that much of the processes in the mind are hereditary and unchangeable. This way of thinking has been studied for many years in twin studies. The twin studies can be used for many different things from intelligence studies to behavioral studies, but the ultimate goal of these is to find out whether the differences are caused by the environment or inherited at berth.
With no clear cut answer in the field of psychology, the answer to are we a blank slate may never be answered. So this I leave up to you, are we inherently different or is it the world around us that makes who we are?

Big Feet, Little Evidence

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You know what big feet mean? Nothing. The myth of Bigfoot has been around since the early 1900's. Although this myth is one of the oldest known, it has some of the least amount of reliable evidence to support the claims.

The most famous of this "evidence" is the Patterson footage in 1967. This video catches the supposed creature on camera walking through the woods. This video is a microcosm of the entire myth itself because of the lack of any other proof except for what was seen. Most of the reports are single eyewitness accounts that can be verified in no way.

These extraordinary claims of seeing Bigfoot require extraordinary evidence. This principle of scientific thinking cannot be backed up by the evidence that is being found by Bigfoot enthusiasts. The best evidence is a video that has never been confirmed to be true. All of the other evidence is eyewitness accounts late at night in many cases.

Another principle of scientific thinking that is broken here is Occams Razor. Many of the eyewitnesses believe that they are hearing or seeing something much more complicated than they actually are. If the principal of Occams Razor is used there are many simpler explanations such as everyday wildlife.

The claims around Bigfoot will always exist because of the human fascination for the unknown and unexplainable, but with good scientific procedures maybe the myth surrounding Bigfoot can be solved once and for all.
Patterson Video Link:

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