ibach006: October 2011 Archives

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While reading, I thought the concept of Linguistic Relativity to be extremely interesting. The basic idea of linguistic relativity is that characteristics of language shape our thought processes. Lilienfeld ultimately decides that the theory isn't conclusive and that other aspects of perception play an important role in shaping how we think.
I, personally, was intrigued by the study that goes against the idea that language affects thinking: color categorization. Although people across the world that are part of different societies and cultures speak various languages that have different numbers of basic color terms, still all people can, for the most part, divide the same color categories. This study shows that people can still understand something, even if their language doesn't outright teach it to them.
For example, in a New York TImes article, the author uses the example that even though an English speaker has never heard the German word "Schadenfreude" doesn't mean that he or she cannot understand the meaning if given an explanation or that he or she is incapable of feeling the emotion. (Schadenfreude refers to the pleasure derived from another person's misfortune.) Just because a language prohibits a person from an initial understanding, it does not rule out the possibility of being able to comprehend it if given the chance. Given this view, it seems to suggest that people from different cultures and societies cannot learn about or understand other people in different countries with opposite ways of living.
However the article also discusses the ways in which giving directions through language can affect the way we think. For example, most people typically use egocentric directions which are dependent on our own bodies..."go left then walk straight until the house and then turn right." Versus geographic directions which are oriented on the earths axises..."head north then turn east." The different sets of directions would influence the way we think of getting to each place.
Still, I think that Linguistic Relativity can be a little far reaching, but definitely holds true to a point.

Narcolepsy is "a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep." In this case(video), a dog is suffering from narcolepsy. At first, I found it somewhat funny because, ironically, every time the dog got too excited, it would fall asleep. But by the end of the video and through the textbook reading, I realized that narcolepsy is a serious sleep disorder that dramatically affects people's lives.
Some people with narcolepsy experience cataplexy, which is a complete loss of muscle tone. This can happen from surprise, excitement or any strong emotion. When I imagine my own life being affected by narcolepsy/cataplexy, I realize how problematic this condition would be. You couldn't drive, safely anyways, which for me growing up would have made life difficult. Thinking back on birthdays, Christmas, and just other happy moments in my life, suffering from narcolepsy would completely change all of these memories. I think it's really unfortunate that it seems to affect people during the more exciting or significant moments of their life.
While some people are born with narcolepsy, (some with a genetic abnormality that increases the risk) others develop it after sustaining damage to the brain. So, unfortunately, everyone is susceptible to developing narcolepsy.
Complications that come with narcolepsy include: a misunderstanding of the disorder, an interference with close relationships, and physical harm. People can mistake the side effects of narcolepsy with laziness and apathy. Because extreme emotions can trigger narcolepsy or cataplexy, people sometimes refrain from forming close relationships that would be affected by the disorder. Physical harm may result from many activities that are interrupted by a sleep attack. Clearly, narcolepsy affects people on a personal and everyday basis, changing the way he/she lives. In the case of the dog from the video, narcolepsy has made a normal, happy life impossible.


Faking a muscle disorder?

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I came across an article about Desiree Jennings- a young, lively woman in the prime of her life, that is suddenly reduced to limping, stuttering, convulsions and other degenerating symptoms. She believes that a flu shot vaccination caused her current condition, however, some medical experts disagree.
My first thought after reading the article was, "This is an extraordinary claim." If it was the flu shot that caused her affliction, then why hasn't anyone else reported a similar case? I'm not saying that she is faking, just that maybe there is another cause, maybe she ruled out a rival hypothesis. Desiree became a poster child for the anti vaccine movement. Whether involuntarily or by choice, this label presented the movement with a new force, making me wonder if vaccines truly are a problem? Is it safe to take these drugs that can have such malicious effects? Well, it's definitely not safe to not get them. Vaccines have even managed to eliminate smallpox in the human population.
Thinking critically to avoid ruling out a rival hypothesis, I moved to the idea that she could be faking it. It seems like a lot of people are looking for ways to make themselves famous, whatever the repercussions. However, this claim would be difficult to disprove (falsifiability). Some medical experts believe that she is suffering from a psychogenic disorder rather than a physical or neurological disorder, meaning...it's all in her head. If her symptoms really were unconsciously invented, then her up and down improvements from various unreliable treatments would indicate the placebo effect. She anticipates her improvement after a treatment, therefore, she temporarily improves.
So, is she faking it? No, I don't think so. While her flu shot claim seems extraordinary and her symptoms can appear suspicious, doesn't mean she's lying. However, instead of an extremely complex, degenerating physical disorder, it seems more likely that she is unknowingly causing her own symptoms.



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