havl0034: October 2011 Archives

That Was Easy

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Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, researched digestion in dogs. In measuring the salivary response to meat powder, he observed that the dogs salivated to the neutral stimuli that was previously associated with it. They began salivating at the sound of the assistants' footsteps coming into the lab. We call the association of the meat power to the footsteps classical conditioning. Pavlov's classical conditioning is defined as a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. This finding is very important in researching relationships between unconditional stimulus and unconditioned response, and the relationships between conditioned response and conditioned stimulus.
A boy at BGSU did a test on his roommate of this study. After hitting the button saying, "that was easy", he would shoot his roommate with an airsoft gun. The roommate soon associated the easy button noise with being shot with the gun. After the boy shot his roommate a couple times, he did a test where he pressed the easy button but did not shoot him. When the easy button was played, the roommate cringed as if he was going to get shot, however, he wasn't actually shot. The easy button was the conditioned stimulus, while the shooting of the gun was the unconditioned stimulus. The unconditioned response was the pain or flinching of the roommate, while the conditioned response was the flinching from hearing the easy button sound.


Cortex of Consciousness

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Where does consciousness reside in our brains? Well, our brain has over 100 billion nerve cells in the brain. But are all of those cells or just some of the cells used in consciousness? (With consciousness being our subjective experience to the world and ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, events, and actions). In a BBC video, "A Secret You", Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy becomes a human guinea pig and subjects himself to a series of experiences to seek when we become aware of ourselves as unique individuals. When de Sautoy went to visit Dr. Stephen Gentleman from Imperial College London, Gentleman explained that consciousness resides in the cortex. The cortex is the outside of the brain and is highly developed. In order for your consciousness to be activated, the feelings need to be put through a relay system. The reticular activating system in the brain begins in the brainstem with reticular activating cells: a group of diffused nerve cells that project into the thalamus and are then spread out into all areas of the cortex. This system activates the cortex and creates consciousness. Consciousness is all about constant activation of the cortex. This is only the anatomy of consciousness. It is valuable, yet, it doesn't tell how or what consciousness is. Although we have the definition of what consciousness is, it is hard to think about. Since it is our thoughts and emotions and everything we do, it is hard to think that it only resides in the cortex. If something happened where our brain got injured our bruised, would our consciousness change? Technically, it would because of what happened to Phineas Gage, when the tamping rod passed through his frontal lobes. His personality completely changed, but does that mean his consciousness changed? Are they the same thing?

12:30 - 15:50 minutes

"Hope in a Jar"

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"Hope in a Jar"

Looking younger is a high priority for many women, so it is no surprise that women will believe that a crème can do such a thing. Anti-aging crèmes are all over the market. For example, Olay's Pro X wrinkle smoothing crème is a product that claims to create younger looking, younger acting skin in 28 days:
The six principles of scientific thinking are there to save you from believing claims such as this:
Ruling out rival hypothesis: Is just using this crème going to help the skin? Or are other factors contributing to the skin's change? Tests have shown, according to ABC news, that some consumers, when given sugar-watered crème, still report a positive change in their skin. Also, according to the article, it states that they seem effective at first, but are actually harming the skin.
Correlation vs. causation: Just because the wrinkles on the skin are less apparent, this does not mean that the crème caused it. The article also states that with putting so many products onto your face, "you're going to gain some degree of inflammation and irritation which makes the skin swell slightly, plumping it up and making your wrinkles look temporarily less visible." So yes, the crème did cause the wrinkles to be less apparent, but not because of what they said would happen. The inflammation that the crème causes will go down in time, causing more wrinkles in the end anyway.
Falsifiability: It is not as much being disproved, but this product can be tested against other products that seem to work more and be more productive over a longer period of time. Sunblock is one example that seems so simple but is so effective. This prevents the sun's harmful rays from drying out your skin and is the "number one thing for anti-aging... as well as not smoking" (Cheung).
Replicability: The studies that were mentioned before, about giving the sugar crème to the consumers and they would still report a difference, were experiments that were replicated to prove that this product would "work" all the time.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: As the article clearly states, and basic biology clearly taught us, skin is meant to keep things out, not take things in. So the fact that the products are trying to have your skin absorb vitamins and minerals is something very extraordinary and harmful to your skin. Pro X claims to, "Pro-X re-signals skin to repair the moisture barrier and boost surface-cell turnover rate." According to ABC news, if it were able to do this, it would be considered a drug by the FDA.
Occam's razor: If the product can change the cells in the skin, does it sound very simple?

Anti-aging crème could work for a short-term skin care, but in the long run is just "hope in a bottle".


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This page is an archive of recent entries written by havl0034 in October 2011.

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