Blog posts

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A blog post is a specific form of writing, but one that is easily adapted to other settings. A good post starts with some prompt--an idea, a claim, an article, an experience--and the post responds to this prompt by providing evidence to support or rebut the prompt, in writing that is brief, focused and interesting. One of our goals in Psy 1001 is to help you develop critical thinking skills and a blog post is an excellent way to practice critical thinking as you write. Behaviorally, writing that reflects critical thinking has these features: the author a) asks questions and is willing to wonder; b) defines problems clearly; c) examines evidence; d) analyzes assumptions and biases; e) avoids emotional reasoning; f) avoids oversimplification; g) considers alternative interpretations; h) tolerates uncertainty. (from Wade, C. (1995). Using writing to develop and assess critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22. 24-28.) I would add to this list, i) takes the perspective of others.

Generic prompts:

We have several general topics that can be used for any of your posts, 1-6.

1) Identify one important concept, research finding, theory or idea from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text from the past two weeks. Summarize the concept in your own words and explain why you believe this concept research finding, theory or idea is important. Apply this to some aspect of your life (real life example are an excellent way to learn. Photos, You-tube videos, etc. are encouraged.) As you reflect on this concept, research finding, theory or other idea, what other questions occur to you? What are you still wondering about?

2) Provide a link to an article, hoax or claim that has been made in the media and evaluate the claim using one or more of the six principles of critical thinking. Apply a concept, research finding, theory or idea that you have learned about in Psychology to provide an alternative explanation. Which principle is most useful for evaluating this particular claim? Remember to cite your sources.

3) If you can think of a different explanation or want to support something one of your classmates has posted, you can respond with a post of your own. Be sure to provide evidence to support your response.

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After reading a recent article online, pseudoscience gauged my interest because it is such a common issue that gets brought up in society today. Pseudoscience is a set of claims that seem to hold scientific credibility but do not. With so much information in spreading throughout the world at such a quick pace, it’s hard not to believe some of the things that we hear. It almost seems like new evidence comes out every minute of every day attempting to prove something but can’t be fully supported by trustworthy evidence. For example, I recently heard from a psychic on the radio that my relationships would prosper in the month of August. However, there is no scientific way to create a test to find out how everyone’s relationships in the month of August actually turned out being. This seems to be why pseudoscience is so misleading. Most often, you can neither support the claim fully nor discredit it to the full extent. So, if it is left up to an individual’s choice to believe a claim or not, why do so much of us choose to believe the things we hear? Is it because we want to believe that some outrageous claims are true?

Although pseudoscience can be very believable, there are a few safeguards from falling for absolute ridiculous claims. The simplest thing to do is to ask oneself first if the claim is outrageous or not. Next, one can ask if there is any trustworthy research connected to the claim. Also, one can ask if there is any review of the claim by scholars available. If any or all of these result in negative answers, the claim is likely to be pseudoscience. However, even if a portion of America knew and practiced these questions when reviewing the claims that they hear, would we still make the right decision to believe them or not?

The article that I read has a lot of interesting information about pseudoscience. The link is:
http://www.skepticalanalysis.com/reports/pseudoscience/pseudoscience.html

After reading chapter one the most interesting and intriguing thing to me was the terror management theory. The terror management theory was derived from anthropologist Ernest Becker’s work: The Denial of Death. The basic idea of the theory is that all human behavior is motivated by our fear of death; we know we’re going to die eventually which causes great fear and anxiety. People are the only creatures smart enough to know we won’t always be here and that our deaths can happen at any time for any reason. According to Becker humans get around this anxiety and terror with culture, whether consciously or unconsciously. I spent some time thinking about what the so called culture we form actually is. To me this culture is a combination of ideas and views that we share with everyone else, which makes us feel like individuals in a world of meaning. One question I have is if people have a strong enough belief do they feel like they can live forever? Of course one belief is religion and in many religions there is an afterlife which is one possible way to live forever. Based on this theory one could say that religion comes from our fear of death which I find extremely interesting. It definitely makes me think about what I do day to day and what others do. Is everything we do caused by our fear of death? I found an interesting article about studies that were conducted by an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin which was based around the terror management theory and how it applied to the 9/11 attacks (link below).
http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/generation/index.html

Instead of leaving a comment, create a post of your own. If you aren't sure what that involves, go to the blogs link and see the kinds of posts that students in other sections are creating.

To create a post, however, you need to start at UThink, then you click on "start blogging." The "system overview" will give you a link to the creative side of this blog.

I've updated the blogs page to make this clearer for students.

:)

I am a big sports fan and my major is Sports Management; So I tried to connect Sports and Psychology together. My three past weeks in Psychology has been confusing, but one interesting concept I picked up was Nature vs Nurture. How is athletic success determined? That is the question I was curious about, ever since I started playing basketball at the age of ten. Is it nature which are the effect of genes or is it nurture (environmental factors).

When I grew up playing basketball, I got into my middle school team and noticed that everyone was somewhat athletically similar. I was about 5,9" and my teammate Jonah Travis who now plays basketball for Harvard University was about a inch taller then me; and our muscle density was about the same. We averaged about the same, he had 12 ppg and I had 10 ppg. I wondered how this middle school kid turned into a really muscular basketball player that averaged 21 points in his senior year and I averaged only 6 points. In high school he was 6,4" and I grew a inch, which made me wonder if nature (genes) was going to effect my performance on the court? Because we went through the same program and did practiced about the same amount throughout our life, so Nurture really doesn't have any effect to this cause. I ask myself, is it because he's half white and black, and I'm Asian? A typical stereotype for African-Americans and I believe is a critical thinking principle of Falsifiability, which is a claim that must be capable of being disproved.

The article "Nature v Nurture in Athletics" talks about how you need both nature and nurture in order for athletes to become successful. "The athletic capacity of any person is influenced not just by nurture or environmental factors but also by nature or inherited genetic characteristics." After reviewing this article I can say that my claim about me being Asian isn't necessarily why I didn't become athletically successful like Jonah, but now the answer from this evidence is that nature and nurture both support this claim.

The link to the article http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/88780.aspx

After reading an article online regarding Childhood gender nonconformity, as it concerns a child's sexual orientation, my interest was sparked and I decided to look deeper. It is not a topic we are unfamiliar with, homosexuality or the lack thereof. It's a question many people wonder: just what causes it? Is it nature or nurture or something else?

Childhood gender nonconformity(CGN)is a phenomenon in pre pubescent children in which the children exhibit behavior contrary to their gender. For example, boys who enjoy playing with Barbies and dressing up as princesses. This often results in claims that the child concerned is homosexual. In fact, an article which I read claimed 75% of children exhibiting CGN, turn out to be homosexual or bisexual. Beginning in 1993 many scientists, namely Dean Hamer, began to claim that a so-called “gay gene” was the cause of homosexuality. He found that gay brothers shared a specific region of the X chromosome, called Xq28, at a higher rate than gay men shared with their straight brothers.
However, in the article I read, identical twins with the same genes exhibited two very different behaviours. One exhibited CGN while the other behaved as a “normal” 7 year-old boy. So then, what causes homosexuality, nature or nurture? At this point, there are studies arguing for either. It is safe to assume that the identical twins had the same upbringing and obviously the same genes. So then, what caused one of them to exhibit severe CGN while the other was completely normal? It is safe to say that at this time, there is not enough evidence to solidly argue for either. However it is my belief, that though both nature and nurture may affect the final outcome, there is an element of free choice in any decision a person makes.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/08/14/what_makes_people_gay/?page=1

Get fit quick advertising schemes are always entertaining, especially the ones that promise huge results. It is hard to believe that you could "Melt inches off your waistline" just by rocking back and forth on a chair or lose that gut by electrically zapping your abs. Scams like these are the perfect example of pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is "science" that isnt supported or researched using the scientific method. Extraordinary claims are usually a dead giveaway, as is the lack of independent lab testing or testing at all. In my time working retail, I saw a lot of products claiming to change your life in a few easy sessions. One product that moved off the shelves really fast was a device that promised to eliminate extra chins by essentially having you do chin presses against a spring. While this may work, if you continue to eat unhealthily, you wont lose those chins. Individuals are extremely willing to buy into easy fixes for small (or large) problems without doing any real research on the topic. For this reason, pseudoscience equals money, and therefore continues to exist.

A very popular recent exercise device is the ShakeWeight. It promises amazing results by using it six minutes per day for an undefined period of time. This could be a week, a month, or ten years. It also claims to have been scientifically proven, but provides no link to research or any lab names beyond the company that holds the patent for it.

https://www.shakeweight.com/

The principle of extraordinary claims can be applied with this scenario. No evidence is provided besides a couple user testimonies and a demonstrative video. In small print at the bottom of the page, the site states that the ShakeWeight also comes with an exercise program. In order to attain the results you desire, proper diet and exercise are necessities. So, what real purpose does the ShakeWeight serve if diet and exercise would do the job just fine? Why is there no legitimate research posted on their website? How come the only button on the site is to purchase it? The simple answer: its a scam.

Recalling the topics we discussed these past few weeks during lecture and while browsing the Lilienfield text, I found the sensation and perception chapter very interesting. One topic in particular—inattentional blindness—really intrigued me. Inattentional blindness refers to our failure to recognize objects or situations that occur right in front of us because our brain is attentive to other sensory channels. When we saw the video clip showing the man in the gorilla suit prancing around while a group of people tossed a basketball around during our discussion section, I found it ridiculous that I had been completely unaware of the gorilla entire time. I was so focused on counting how many passes were completed that I didn’t realize that a gorilla, who looked very different from the rest of the players, had paraded, danced, and flailed his arms wildly, in the middle of the screen for several seconds.

Although flexible attention is crucial to our survival and it is critical for us to tune some sensory channels out to focus on others, inattentional blindness can lead us to tune out very important occurrences. Even though inattentional blindness can be funny on occasions such as the “Invisible Gorilla” or the “Person Swap Experiment”, it can also be life-threatening such as in the case of Kenny Conley. http://www.npr.org/2011/06/20/137086464/why-seeing-the-unexpected-is-often-not-believing This police officer claims to have not seen one of his fellow undercover policemen get beaten because Conley was too busy chasing down a murder suspect. This story becomes controversial when he denied seeing the beating, but despite his claims, he was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice. Had his focus been on his immediate surroundings, the undercover policeman could have been saved. This is an example of how inattentional blindness can be harmful for not only the victim of an unnoticed situation, but also the “blind” person.

I can think of many times where I am victim to inattentional blindness, especially when I’m on my phone. I’ll get a text or go on Facebook, and all of a sudden, I almost run into someone or a biker narrowly avoids me. As many can probably relate, I am so absorbed on the conversation I’m having with someone that I’m completely oblivious to the red light, my friend’s voice calling out at me, or some other natural occurrence that I would otherwise notice.

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This page contains a single entry by hamdi002 published on September 20, 2011 10:52 AM.

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