jinxx198: October 2011 Archives

A false memory is a fabrication or warped recollection of an event that someone may believe happened, but in reality never happened. People think of memory as a video recorder, which accurately records everything. However, memory is very susceptible to fallacy. People who are completely confident that their memory is accurate could be fooling themselves.
Interestingly enough, according to two researchers, adults are more prone to this than children. Valerie Reyna, human development professor, and Chuck Brainerd, human development and law school professor; argue that memories are captured and recorded separately and differently in two distinct parts of the mind; much like the two-headed Roman god Janus
These two hypothesize that children depend more heavily on a part of the mind that records "what actually happened," while adults use the other part of the mind that records, "the meaning of what happened." Such a difference results in adults being more susceptible to false memories than children.
"Because children have fewer meaning-based experience records, they are less likely to form false memories," says Reyna. "But the law assumes children are more susceptible to false memories than adults."
Their research shows that children are less likely to produce false memories than adults, and are more likely to give accurate testimony when properly questioned. The finding doesn't exactly square with current legal tenets, and may cause many problems in future legal proceedings.




The Magic Number 7

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During the last lecture, we learned about memory and just how complex it is. I feel that as we have been learning about new things in class, we have been debunking myths surrounding these topics. This made me want to look up myths surrounding memory, and one of the ones that I found was mentioned in the last lecture. According to http://www.learningideas.me.uk/memmyths/index.html , the magic of 7 items (plus or minus 2) is a myth that came from a very good, but incorrect, theory by a famous psychologist named George A. Miller is just a myth.

The magic number 7 is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology. George A. Miller, of Princeton University's Department of Psychology published it in 1956 in Psychological Review. It theorizes that the number of objects that an average human can hold in their working memory is 7 +/- 2. More recent research has shown that the magic number 7 is not only based upon a misinterpretation of Miller's essay, but that the actual number of objects that can be held in the working memory is around three or four. The research revealed that span depends on the category of "chunks" used, and also features of these chunks within categories. For example, compare remembering a list of 7 things and a similar list split into categories. This could be 7 animals in one list and 2 birds, 2 cats, and 3 dogs in the other list. The second list is easier to remember.

#2 Hypnosis

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At my high school senior lock in, a hypnotist performed in front of us and used our own classmates as test subjects. Some responded well and others did not; all in all it was quite entertaining and proved to be what I expected of hypnosis. Hypnosis has always peaked my interest, although I've never known that much about it until I had read the psychology book. It is defined as a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. An induction method is used to increase people's suggestibility, which often includes suggestions for relaxation and calmness.

Prior to reading the text, I had believed in nearly all of the myths that I read about in the book. These are all preconceived notions that popular culture has taught us about hypnosis, yet all are untrue. I learned that hypnosis does not in fact produce a trance state in which "amazing" things happen. It all depends on how suggestive the subject is. Hypnotic phenomena are not unique. The same tricks we see in hypnosis shows can be replicated without hypnosis. Hypnosis is nothing like a sleeplike state. People who are hypnotized don't show brain waves similar to those of sleep. Hypnotized people are aware of their surroundings. Contrary to the popular idea that hypnotized people are so entranced that they forget about their surroundings, some people can recall whole telephone conversations they overheard while hypnotized.

While hypnosis shows may be more entertaining when you believe in the myths surrounding hypnosis, it is still just as interesting after learning more about it. Its wide range of clinical applications also make it worth researching more.


Rebirthing Therapy

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Pseudoscience is a set of claims that is presented as scientific, yet does not follow a valid scientific method, nor has evidence, plausibility, and testability. It is usually characterized by vague, exaggerated claims and an over-reliance on the confirmation bias as opposed to evaluation by other experts. I have always known of pseudoscience, and I have always dismissed it as illogical and harmless. I had always thought of it as a type of for-profit, phony "science". However, after reading about the tragic case of Candace Newmaker, a 10 year old child who received pseudoscientific care for her behavioral problems in Colorado in 2000, I found out that pseudoscience can be deadly.

Candace received a treatment called "rebirthing therapy" which was premised on the notion that children's behavioral problems are due to difficulties forming attachments to their parents that stem from birth. Candace's mother paid $7,000 and flew from North Carolina to Colorado to get the controversial treatment provided by Watkins and Ponder.

During her rebirthing session, which was taped, the two therapists tried to simulate birth contractions. The tape showed them first wrapping Candace up in a multitude of flannel blankets. Then, instructing Candace to try to come out of her flannel "womb" and afterwards making it more difficult for her to do so. They blocked her, retied the ends of the sheets, shifted their weight around and ignored her cries for help at least 34 times. Even though Candace complained of being nauseous, needing to poop, and a lack of air, they continued the session. At one point she could be heard vomiting, and seven times she said she felt like she was dying. Once she was unwrapped, she was discovered to be blue and without a heartbeat.

To think that people could do such a thing to a 10 year old child is absolutely disgusting. At least pseudoscience forces actually scientists to think so critically, as to safeguard against such drastic human errors such as this ridiculous "rebirthing therapy".



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