knott079: October 2011 Archives

There is much evidence of false memories being persuaded into people being put on trial for a crime that they have not committed. This evidence has been greatly discussed by Elizabeth Loftus who wrote an article entitled "The Memory of Things Unseen." For further information, I am going to provide you with a link to her article. (https://webfiles.uci.edu:443/eloftus/LoftusCurDir04.pdf)
One of these cases includes the McMartin Preshool Abuse Trial, which was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. Ray Buckey was one of the principal defendants, having spent five years in jail awaiting the trial of a crime he never committed. The case that led to no convictions and the sufferers included hundreds of emotionally damaged children, ruined careers of the McMartin staff, and Buckey, who paid the biggest price.
The accusation started off with a boy claiming to have been sexually abused by Ray Buckey and whose mother filed a police report. But instead of handling it in the right manner, in my opinion, the police and other people considering the case handled it in the wrong manner.
First of all the police sent out a letter informing 200 McMartin Preschool parents of these accusations and asking for information. In this letter they listed many forms of sexually assault that could have been performed on their children. This letter should not have been sent out without the conviction of Ray Buckey at a trial for it can lead parents on.
Then, the children were sent to the Children's Institute International (CII) to be interviewed. These interviews were not done in the right manner either, for the children were given suggestive techniques to persuade them into giving the CII the "right" answer although their initial response to their questioning of having been sexually abused was "no."
Another portion of the case handled wrong included the medical examinations, in which the examiner didn't look for physical evidence but instead looked into the medical history of the children and found causation where no correlation existed. And on top of that, the preliminary hearing was not handled correctly. Instead of conducting a typical preliminary hearing, the court held one that mounted on an affirmative case and with aggressively cross-examining the witnesses.
Not only was the cased handled in an unfair manner, but there was much evidence that contradicted this extraordinary claim. This included the fact that the original boy was unable to identify Ray from photos and showed no sign of sexual abuse after medical examinations. But the searches of both the preschool and homes of the defendants showed no evidence that could potentially lead to conviction. Also there were no findings of secret tunnels, animal bones, or photographs of nude children. Lastly, there were many inconsistencies and contradictions among the children's stories.
Overall, the trial proved to be an expensive waste of time. But it taught people a valuable lesson regarding false memories and suggestive memory techniques. McMartin juror Brenda Williams said that the trial experience taught her to be more cautious: "I now realize how easily something can be said and misinterpreted and blown out of proportion."

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mcmartin/mcmartinaccount.html

A famous poet once claimed, "A person's a person, no matter how small." This was the astounding Dr. Suess, a rhythmical author of children's books. In his prose, "Horton Hears a Who," he stated this brief, yet complex sentence that brings about the moral debate over stem cell use.
Stem cell research is a process in which scientists use embryotic stem cells in attempt to treat or potentially cure diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. In this process, scientists take the embryotic stem cells and transplant them in areas where there is damaged tissue, in attempt to heal it. Here's the site to a 6 minute youtube video discussing more about stem cells and how they can be used for medical benefit--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JTw2RpDo9o&feature=related Although this process seems quite remarkable, it is not yet considered a treatment and has brought on debate over its morality.
Debate has been about in many aspects, including moral, religious, and scientific. People consider it morally corrupt for someone to use an embryo, which is essentially a child that has the potential of life, for both scientific research and as a treatment. This brings about the religious debate on stem cell research. In most religions, it is inhumane to abort a child. And in a sense, using these embryos kills the child held within them.
But, now to the scientific portion regarding this debate. Of course this research could bring about success in the world of science under certain circumstances.
So now it is up to the world to raise their voice in this debate to decide whether it undergoes further research and experimentation or whether it's cons should put an end to it's potential pros and its potential cure to extreme diseases.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,167245,00.html

covert-hypnosis.jpg After my senior prom, some friends and I decided to go to the post-prom party that our high school hosted. At this party, there were refreshments, pizza, and many activities, including a hypnotist that came in right before the party ended. In his act, he asked students to perform multiple tasks after putting them into a "deep sleep." Some students obliged and others left the stage for the hypnosis did not work for them. But while watching, I couldn't help but to consider whether this performance put on by this man was actually hypnotization done by a hypnotist or a performance done by a fraud.
There have been many debates over the topic of hypnosis and whether or not hypnotists have the ability to truly hypnotize people. But to truly understand this debate, one must know what hypnosis really is and how it is performed amongst humans. Hypnosis, essentially, is a method of using deep relaxation and focus to communicate with the subconscious part of the human brain. During this relaxed state, a person tends to feel at easy physically but mentally awake and the person is highly susceptible to suggestion. This is where hypnotist comes in to suggest ideas or performances for the person to act on.
But there are two different types of hypnotists; there are stage hypnotists and hypnotherapists. Stage hypnotists focus on stage performances and having people perform odd tasks. This is the type of hypnotist talked about in my opening statement. But there are also hypnotherapists who use hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.
Also to look into this debate further, we must consider the following principal of critical thinking: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Is there actually evidence to support that these participants in hypnotic performances are actually being hypnotized or whether they are simply a performance by both the hypnotist and the participants. It is a very difficult subject to gain evidence on; especially considering evidence to support stage hypnotists true abilities. But there have been a great amount experimental evidence to support the abilities of hypnotherapists and their successes in their patients through therapeutic processes. So next time you are attending a performance done by a stage hypnotist, I would not suggest to fall for his fraud.

http://www.bt.com.bn/health_fitness/2008/01/15/hypnosis_fact_or_fiction
http://ezinearticles.com/?Is-Hypnosis-Fact-or-Fiction&id=510616

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