loosb007: October 2011 Archives

The concept of false memories is an interesting one. It is possible for sources outside of the person to influence the way that one perceives an event, even if said event never occurred. With the strong influences of those around you and those that are close to you, false memories are a reality, as we learned in discussion this week.

Initially, I felt as if this concept was a hoax and could not be true, until the substantial evidence we reviewed and evaluated. The point that stood out most to me was the idea that if we are close friends or family with someone, we tend to take their word for things, especially if the effort of our family or friend is repeated by multiple members of this group.

Personally, I have experienced this scenario. A few months ago, a girlfriend (Sally) and I took a trip to visit the University of Minnesota Duluth campus to visit with some friends. During the trip, Sally and I did not leave each other's side, so anything that either of us did, the other one knew about.

A few weeks after returning from the trip, the rumor mill began to circulate in our hometown among friends, which I was unaware of. The rumor instigators, close friends of Sally, had told her that she had kissed a guy that she realistically had not, as I was present during the time the guy friend was with us. However, after hearing the same story from multiple parties within our social circle, Sally found herself creating a possible memory of the event. Once I was informed by Sally of the rumor, everything was set straight and she realized this memory was a created because of all the vivid stories she was told by our close friends. Luckily, Sally had me, a voice of reason, to stop her from totally believing the memory she created.

Thorndike's Instrumental Conditioning is what we learn from the relationships between behavior and consequences. An important aspect of this type of learning is that behavior can change due to the effects or consequences that the behavior has had on the individual. This is a very important aspect of psychology because it shows that we are able to adapt to situations and read patterns within our own lives and circumstances. I'm going to share with you my own experience with Instrumental conditioning and the law of effect.

I have two miniature wiener dogs; dachshunds are notorious for not being able to be fully potty trained. After months upon months of accidents in the house, we decided to try out using a signal for our dogs to tell us when they wanted to go outside. The signal we used was a bell like those at front desks of office buildings. The dogs were showed the bell and initially they would not go near it unless I tapped the bell with their paw. After the bell made a ringing noise, I brought my dogs outside and if they went potty they got a treat. My family and I continued this training with a positive consequence of a treat and eventually the dogs started ringing the bell on their own when they had to go to the bathroom, as we continued to give them a treat afterward. It took months to train these dogs, but after some time had passed, they became independent in ringing the bell and they were also doing it on a regular basis.

This example is a demonstration of how living things are able to adapt mentally and learn from their environments, especially when there is a consequence or effect attached to that action.

Brief video of a random dog, same training: http://youtu.be/Fn5TtyDIRAM

SOURCES: Gail Peterson Lecture Oct 5, 2011 (UMN-TC PSY 1001-F11)
http://youtu.be/Fn5TtyDIRAM

In the Weekly World News, an entertainment tabloid, there was a claim made that stated that in less than six years the sun was going to blow up. The evidence stated was that there was a large explosion that had occurred on the surface of the sun that sent a massive plume of fire into space captured by satellite. The writers claim to have spoken to and gotten quotes on this information from a credible scientist. The scientist gave the writes at WWN the idea that the sun was over heating and would soon incinerate the earth and all of its inhabitants in less than six years.
These statements made by WWN are not credible for a few reasons. Primarily, the scientist that the WWN writers spoke with has no affiliation with the credible scientific association that the article claims. Therefore, his testimony and comments regarding the explosion on the sun being a "sign" of the sun incinerating earth are not even ones to be considered. Also, the word "sign" does not meant that there is any evidentiary support or research done, but simply just his opinion. There could be other explanations and this violates the principle of extraordinary claims, along with my next point. Second, the WWN is an entertainment tabloid with no reliability. In fact, WWN produces many articles that are hoaxes and speculation based on minimal or no evidence, such as an article stating that there was a plan to blow up the moon to change the effect of global warming, which turned out to be a totally false article as well. Finally, this goes against Occam's razor because the thought of the fact the sun had an explosion will lead to the incineration of the earth is far-fetched.
The simplest explanation is probably the best in this case, which is that there was a solar flare coupled with a buildup of physical gas causing a massive eruption. This however does not mean that there is a reason to worry that we will be blown to smithereens.


VIDEO: WATCH SUN EXPLOSION-SUMMER 2011
The video is only 20 seconds long and pretty cool, take a look!
http://youtu.be/Hyi4hjG6kDM


Sources:
http://youtu.be/Hyi4hjG6kDM
http://io9.com/5810057/massive-eruption-on-the-sun-yesterday-means-a-solar-storm-zooming-by-earth-tomorrow
http://www.snopes.com/science/sunboom.asp

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