March 2012 Archives

Pinocchio Response

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Do you ever wonder how to tell if a person is lying and how other people say they know someone is lying? In today's society there are many ways to try to detect if people are lying but there is no way to know with 100% certainty that someone is lying without knowing for a fact the correct answer.

A couple ways that people try to detect lies is either using humans as lie detectors or by using the polygraph test. In the TV show "Lie to Me", the psychologist in the show uses nonverbal cues to detect when someone is lying. But in reality it is best to listen to what they are saying rather than how they are saying it to detect lies, but even then humans are only right about 55% of the time when detecting lies.

Another way is the polygraph test. When using this they ask three different kinds of questions: Relevant questions, irrelevant questions, and control questions. When asking the questions they monitor blood pressure, respiration, and skin conductance to try to detect when someone is lying. What I found interesting was that the polygraph is biased against the innocent and it typically misclassifies innocent people as being guilty of crimes. Both of these tests are good ways to help detect a lie but they should not be completely relied on when proving someone guilty or not because they are not 100% accurate.


I've never been an active person and I never like to leave my house. This might explain why I became totally confused when I was asked to finish the survival game. I never think about what should I do if I was in a cold dangerous forest, and my innocence about survival in the extreme environment leads to an interesting outcome of the score I got in the game.

My ranking for the 12 items is: canvas, shirt and pants, chocolate bars, whiskey, compass, pistol, map, lighter, newspaper, ax, crisco shortening, ball of steel wool.

This ranking seemed pretty logical at that time, but after comparing with the survival expert's ranking, I found out that if I follow my ideas in the real situation, I might die. Then I went through my answers again, and I found out that my ranking was as logical as I thought.

Here is how I thought: canvas can build a shelter; clothes, chocolate and whiskey might keep me warm; compass gives me a direction; pistol protects me; map gives me a direction; lighter and newspapers creates fire and keeps me warm; ax helps to build shelter; shortening helps keep me warm; steel wool doesn't do anything.

Find the problem? The problem is not that I use some stuff in the wrong way; the problem is that I was only looking at the items themselves, but never considered what kind of problem could be solved by using these items. By saying that, I mean that if I was focusing on keeping warm, then I wouldn't insert compass, pistol and maps between the whiskey and the lighter which I think could make me warm. By doing this, I believe that my score would be better.

This reminds me of the backward chaining. I could consider the problem in this way:"What is the most important factor in such a terrible condition?--Keep warm. What kind of stuff can make me warm?--Canvas, clothes, chocolate, whiskey, lighter......." And by doing this, I found out that my score was better than my original score.

Now I believe that a logical thinking is extremely important when we solve problems. This is not just about the game or survival; it's about every aspect in our lives.


Disclaimer: Please don't judge me too harshly for the Twilight reference.

When I read the term imprinting on page 385 of the textbook, I am embarrassed to say that I immediately thought about werewolves from Twilight. Stephenie Meyer, author of the famous Twilight series, cleverly chose the term "imprinting" to describe werewolves tendency to find another person and be bound to them for life.

In reality, imprinting is the process of young geese following around the first large, moving object they see after hatching. Once a gosling has imprinted on something or someone, it becomes largely fixated on it, and is unlikely to follow or bond with anything else. While nearly 100% of the time the first large, moving object that the gosling sees is its mother, Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz found that they will cheerfully imprint onto whatever large, moving object they see first, including Lorenz himself.

While humans don't imprint the way geese do, we exhibit a "softer" form of imprinting on those who care for us soon after birth. Think of a time when you were caring for a young child and it cried when the mother left the room, this exhibits a soft form of imprinting.

Werewolves, like young goslings, imprint on a single person and are "fixated" on that one person. Think of Jacob imprinting on Bella's daughter. He became her shadow, like the baby goslings do to their mother. However, while the two uses of the term are similar, Stephenie Meyer's use of it can be misleading in that werewolves imprint out of love, not instinctively for survival like goslings do.

Here is Jacob explaining the process of imprinting to Bella from Twilight.

Aggression in Children

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In discussion this week we focused on if what children watch could contribute to their aggressiveness. I found this a very interesting topic because it can go either way. There is good evidence on both sides that claim whether or not aggressive and violent television shows or video games contribute to the aggressive behavior of children. Although the video we watched in discussion was compelling (how the children became significantly more violent after watching power rangers compared to barney), I would still have to side with the idea that violent television or games does not lead to overall aggressive behavior in a child. Granted, during the moment the child is participating in the violent show or game they seemed to be riled up more than normal, that sort of aggression does not last.
I believe that people want or need something to blame when a person commits a violent act so they turn to media, however, what people do not realize is that violent crime rates have actually decrease when the popularity of violent video games has increased. Also, according to an article we read this week, there is no obvious link between real world violence statistics and video games. There is also a contribution that seems to be frequently overlooked of the other factors that play into aggressive behavior aside from the media. I do not believe it is fair to place all of the blame on one solitary issue.


According to Diana Baumrind, there are three major parenting styles that parents typically adhere to, each resulting in different effects on children. Those being: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. Oftentimes a fourth category (uninvolved parenting) is added for those parents who tend to neglect their children's emotional needs while barely meeting their physical needs. Authoritarian parents typically have strict rules that a child has to follow without question or risk being punished. Permissive parents are typically lenient and don't have strict rules or punishment at all. And authoritative parents are somewhere between authoritarian and permissive, being assertive and having rules but being more forgiving than punishing.
I think it's safe to say that all parents lay somewhere on this scale from being overbearing to not being there at all though I think it would be difficult to determine how this affects the children as all children differ and gain from different circumstances. Personally my parents are both on a different part of the scale, my mother being between authoritarian and authoritative (authoritarian-ative: my own twist on the words) and my father being between authoritative and permissive. The effects of their combined parenting have led to three very different fully functional children (my two older brothers and I) so I find it hard to believe that this article puts things so simply in terms of the results of specific types of parenting being specific types of children. "Permissive parenting often results in children who... are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school." Honestly who's to say what parenting style is perfect?

My nephew Jace is three years old and therefore falls into the category of the 2-7 year old age range that Piaget refers to in the text. According to Piaget, this is the "preoperational stage", where children's mental representation differs from their physical experience. In other words, their imagination blossoms. Jace definitely depicts these characteristics so I was curious to test him in these "conservation" tests. With Jace, I simply put his favorite juice in two different cups. These cups were very similar and held the same amount of juice. Then, there was a tall, narrow bottle. When I poured the liquid from one of the cups into the bottle, Jace wanted the bottle more than the cup because he wanted more juice. The bottle and the cup held the same amount of juice, but he failed to realize it based on the appearance of the liquid. I tried explaining to him that the cup had just as much, but he wouldn't believe it. I thought this was an example of egocentrism. He didn't want to look at the juice from a different perspective other than his own. image004.jpg

Harry Harlow began his studies of rhesus monkeys in 1930. He was inspired by watching the monkeys become attached to terry-cloths and throw tantrums if they were taken away. Harlow sought to find out why baby monkeys became so attached to inanimate towels.
The 30's through the 50's was a time period in which the common approach to raising children was to be unaffectionate and cold. According to an article from the Boston Globe, some researchers were convinced that humans love their mothers because they love their milk. This theory was called "drive reduction" because hunger was thought to be a driving force that needed to be satisfied.
Harlow devised experiments where he constructed two surrogate mothers for the baby monkeys. One mother was made out of wire with a steel nipple that gave milk. The other surrogate mother was softer with a cardboard and terry cloth body, but no milk. When the monkeys were hungry, they would quickly run to the wire mother and then run back to the cloth mother. Harlow concluded that since the monkeys spent more time cuddling with the cloth mother, love was more important to the contact comfort theory than pure desire for milk.
Harlow also performed cruel studies with monkeys that involved a spiked mother that would propel the monkeys off with cold blasts of air. He also created a black isolation chamber that hung animals upside down for up to 2 years and deprived them of contact with the world. These disturbing studies that Harlow performed prompted criticism of his chilling and controversial work. Harry Harlow.jpg

Slater, Lauren. "Monkey love." The Boston Globe. 21 Mar. 2004

I just read about Lawrence Kohlberg's morality stuff, and this guy really pushes my buttons. Morality is COMPLETELY subjective. What is considered moral in one culture may be completely immoral in another, and things that an "enlightened" society think of as moral might merely be a pipe-dream due to their clouded way of thinking.

I think one of the problems with our society today is people being overly sympathetic and then trying to also be overly moral. Is it moral to allow someone to die due to their own stupidity? And I mean not ignorance, for surely if someone does not know any better letting them do something stupid would be unfair. Society believes that letting people climb Mount Everest is a choice we can let them make, yet it's morally wrong to let adults decide if they want to wear a seat belt or not.

Is the use of this copyrighted image moral? Well I wouldn't care if others used it had I made it, so it must be moral.

Now we have "universal healthcare" in the name of morality. Now, will being a smoker or being fat be immoral, because they are literally costing me tax money to pay for their inevitable health care? So every time I see a fat person, I now have the moral grounds to get up in their face about losing weight, because they are costing me money to save them when they have a heart attack?

I think moral enlightenment comes when one can truly look at a situation through every involved party's perspective; only then will one be truly thinking outside the box.


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Through some basic research I have found that the hallmarks of Alzheimers are believed to be plaques and tangles. What these do is they attack nerve cells and take away function from the brain. A treatment has yet to be found for this disease that touches many families and is carried genetically.
"Evidence is also mounting for the promotion of exercise and a healthy diet to reduce Alzheimer's risk. Avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, staying socially active, and engaging in intellectually stimulating activities have also been shown to have a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease."
The information listed above gives some of the examples physicians give to help those susceptible to the disease fight it off.

Although I may not know much about the true science behind this disease I have seen it in work. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her 60s and lived well into her 80s with the disease. What began as forgetting she had just said something turned into repetitive thoughts, although always kind, forgetting where she was headed when she got into her vehicle, not knowing how many drinks she had consumed, and even to a point where names of her own family were at a loss at times. The disease brought memories of the past to her at times and for her it was typically Christmas in July. It is a wicked disease that takes away a person's quality of life by making them believe they are somewhere other than where they are and make them forget their own thoughts as soon as they have been spoken.
One painful memory for my family was when my grandmother was in hospis care. She was asking my mother, one of four sisters, when her husband would be coming to see her. Caught up in emotion one of the sisters answered, "Mom, dad passed on ten years ago. He is not coming." If this would have been good news, which is what they eventually resorted to saying, "He'll be here soon. Dad is just tied up at work!" for some reason the bad memories lingered longer.

As I said it is a wicked disease and what frightens me most is that it is said to skip a generation, which means my brothers and I are possibly going to be diagnosed one day.

There are a lot of us who may know or knew someone with Alzheimer's which is a form of Dementia. Dementia is where there is a loss of brain function. With Alzheimer's, this effect gradually worsens as time goes on. It affects memory, language, and behavior. Things that may be a factor in the causation in Alzheimer's are age, genes, being female, having head trauma, or having high blood pressure for a significant period of time. Although, having Mercury, Aluminum, or lead in the brain is not a factor for causing Alzheimer's anymore. Symptoms that go with Alzheimer's is having problems with memory, language, behavior, or judgement. It is not just being "forgetful", it is also being not able to problem solve or comprehend a multitude of things such as forgetting recent conversations or take longer to preform difficult task. One can have many test preform to rule out other brain issues if this is happening to someone. For example, someone can make sure they do not have a brain tumor or a vitamin deficiency. The only known way to for sure see if someone had Alzheimer's, however, is to examine a piece of brain tissue after death and search for various areas of dying nerve cells. Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer's, a major treatment is to just slow down the process. Taking drugs can help slowing down the process of nerve cells dying, however, the symptoms that are associated with Alzheimer's just typically get worse. Another way to help this process is to change the environment around you to hopefully help you preform simple task longer. Even just knowing that one may have this condition may improve the person since they are aware of why certain things may be changing. Lastly, another helpful element is the love from family and friends who will, hopefully, help out their loved one as much as they can. Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer's. However, there are some simple changes that may lower one's chance in perhaps getting Alzheimer's. One can eat a low fat diet or eat cold-water fish rich in omega-3. Also maintaining a normal blood pressure and being social throughout one's life is ideal as well. alzheimer.jpg

Sometimes it is strange that you have the memory of having done something but the truth is that it has never happened. Recently, a group of Germany scientists announced that people usually are tricked by their own brain. They did the experiment which is generallhy about showing videos to the audience and the later ask them about the phenomenon that they have seen. For some of the people, they are asked to do some specific actions which were recorded in the video. Though they are reminded that some of the scenes may be misleading. To their surprise, most of the experimentors adimitted about what they have seen as they truly did those. Ii t has already been a kind of intensive memory o people's minds based on what they have seen visually.
After the experiment, they kin o got the idea that people's memory is not always reliable. Sometimes it is necessary to be skeptical about what you have seen and remembered. They tend to believe that this kind of system in the body is kind of imitation. People are potentially imitating about what they are seeing around them and have the ability to imitate in the memory. It is truly a double edged sword that you can be skeptical and questioning as well as believing in yourself.

Bilingual Kids

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Bilingual education is becoming more popular in the United States. However some people do not believe that it is a good use of young students time. One of the disadvantages people see is that children will be too busy learning both languages to master one or the other. The addition of a second language will work against the success of their education. Adults also believe their bilingual children might become isolated from other children for speaking another language, and might even be teased for it. Also, if the child has any sort of speech impediment, learning a foreign language will make the impediment more difficult to fix. Instead of fixing the impediment first, it will have to be addressed individually through each language.

However, with all these disadvantages to teach children to speak a foreign language too early, some people still have reason to believe it is useful for the children in the long run. If kids learn a second language at a young age, they will realize the importance of understanding language and the purpose of education. Learning another language will help children to learn even more languages with more easy and will more easily be able to become fluent. Being fluent in multiple languages opens up more jobs in the future and are better able to feel for cultural differences and peculiarities of the world. Finally, by learning another language, children will have greater comprehension with grammatical structures and will enhance their vocabulary.

So what do you think? Is teaching children a second language at a young age a good thing for their future, or a road block in their current education?

Many of us have learned (or at least tried to learn) a foreign language. Depending on the course, we spend about five hours a week in class, and then maybe another five hours worth of assignments and studying. For polyglots, they put in that ten or more hours of work every day, depending on the person. Most of the polyglots that I was able to read about have pretty strict study routines that are based around maintaining the vocabulary, grammar, and written forms of the languages they are studying. Some of them also listen to audiobooks in foreign languages, travel to immerse themselves in the language and culture, and have conversations with native speakers that they have met in their travels, all in an effort to keep up with their language skills.

This blog is not to say that anyone who puts in ten hours of work a day into seven different languages can learn them, because that is simply not true. Some research has shown that there is a difference in the organization of the Broca's Area between polyglot men, and monolingual men. Others have compared language to music. Just like some people are incredibly gifted musically, polyglots have the unique ability to quickly pick up on all things language related, but only after they have put in the hours of studying required to keep their talent. I think once you watch the video, you will have a better understanding of just how much work these polyglots put into maintaining their language skills. It's pretty amazing.

Polly Want A Cracker?

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Many of us have probably heard a parrot say, "Polly Want a Cracker?" on television or in a movie. Parrots are able to produce sounds resembling human speech, barking dogs and even vacuum cleaners. African grey parrots are even able to generate new thoughts. The question is whether these sounds that parrot makes are language or not.
Parrots cannot distinguish between the "a" and "i" sounds. How would they be able to communicate with or like us without distinguishing between these sounds? The answer is that what we call talking parrots are really only parrots mimicking sounds. The speech that is coming out of parrots is due to repetitions and not from actual language comprehension.
The grey parrot's speech is better because they have far greater mental capabilities than other parrot species. This allows them to generate some new thoughts. Now, let's not get excited about thinking that a person could have a grey parrot as a good pet and have meaningful conversations with it. The grey parrots' speech is also due to repetition, and they are not recommended as pets because they are in need of a constant companion, which would make them rather annoying.
I believe that the parrots may use language when they talk like humans, but there is no comprehension of what they are saying. Bringing up a commonly used psychology concept, operant conditioning is more than likely used to get the parrots to mimic the human sounds.

Video of Talking Parrot:


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