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PSY 1001

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Psychology to me is very interesting. It makes my mind intrigued about all the ideas and theories that has to present. Sometimes it would make my head start spinning around circles with all the complexity of its definitions to certain term. However, I find it more and more interesting as the time passes by. It brings up very interesting ideas to the individual attention for example, such as the4 naive realism. We would think that we know what we know, and we are very sure of it just because we saw it with our own eyes, or as the book would put it, " Is seeing believing?". There is a famous saying that goes, " Tell a human that there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he'll believe you. Tell a human there is a wet paint on that bench and he would have to touch it to make sure." And I think that this famous saying kind of have the same message as the naive realism.

*I wrote this last week, but was unable to upload it.

Achluophobia is a morbid fear of darkness. But if we really fear the dark, why is it that we watch movies in a dark room? Why is it that we eat with a dim light on to have a romantic atmosphere? And why is it that we sleep with the lights off?

I began to wonder about the cause of this fear. Perhaps we are not scared of the darkness itself, but the possible or imagined thoughts that are created by darkness. Although there is no one reason why people are scared of the dark, I thought that pareidolia could be one plausible cause of this phobia.

Our brains tend to make order out of disorder and find sense in nonsense. And this tendency to seek out patterns can sometimes lead us to experience pareidolia, seeing meaningful images in meaningless objects or visual stimuli.

Most of us probably have experienced a time when we woke up in the middle of the night to get a cup of water and were surprised by the ghost-looking object sitting on our chairs, only to find out that ghost was actually a jacket hanging on the chair. That is exactly what pareidolia is.

I had considered pareidolia to be the only cause of achluophobia. But I remembered from my reading that almost all actions are multiply determined. Thus, I began to look for more possible causes of achluophoiba and came across reading about top-down and bottom-up processing. These two important concepts basically explained how we perceive an object. In bottom-up processing, we construct a whole from its parts while in top-down processing, we construct whole from our expectations. So then, I concluded that, maybe it isn't just our brains' tendency to seek out order out of disorder, but also our expectations of scary things and objects that cause us to experience pareidolia, which ultimately leads us to have a fear of darkness.

Life is but a dream?

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In class lately we've been discussing how we sense and perceive the outside world. As we go about our daily lives, our bodies send signals to the brain allowing us to see, hear, taste, smell and touch the physical world around us. But what if that physical world wasn't actually there? While searching for information about perception, I came across a YouTube video that explores that possibility. (

It starts off explaining some of the things we learned about how light and sounds are converted into electrical signals into our brains and that's what makes up our vision and hearing. That all was pretty solid science and went a long with what I've learned in this class and biology. It then went on to say that since everything we experience is actually happening inside our heads, it could all just essentially be an illusion created by electrical signals going into our brains from another source. It reminded me a lot of the matrix. However instead of bodies trapped in a pod, we're only souls and all physical matter is an illusion much like a television program being continuously streamed into our consciousness.

It's a very interesting concept and fun to think about, but I don't completely buy it. It deals with the metaphysical, so it can't be scientifically tested and doesn't explain some things. If physical matter doesn't exist, what is the point of pain? Why do bodies need fuel? I do think that we can take some things from this though. It reminded me of how little of the world I perceive. Other animals have better senses than humans do and there are parts of this world that we cannot experience through the bodies that we have. It reminded me of my limitations and that what I know of the world may not be all that there is. However with such an extraordinary claim as the physical world is nonexistent, there needs to be a way to test and falsify it in order for me to believe.

Weight Loss is SO Easy...?

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Being an expert on "Weight-loss-blues", I can tell you that weight loss pills are to be met with caution before purchasing them. Claims that "IT'S CLINICALY PROVEN!" or that "Test subjects experienced significant weight-loss 8- and 12-week studies!" are quite extreme. Let's think for a minute: Is it really that easy to lose weight by just popping a pill two times a day?

Let's look at a prime example of a glorified weight loss supplement!

Hydroxycut ( An amazing supplement that's been "proven" to get you on the right track! Well, unfortunately, Hydroxycut's key advertisements show quite the amount of pseudoscience.

PSEUDOSCIENCE #1: Exaggerated Claims.
"Increase Energy for Your Busy Lifestyle!"

PSEUDOSCIENCE #2: Talk of "Proof" instead of "Evidence".
"Clinicaly Proven Key Ingredients"

PSEUDOSCIENCE # 3: Overreliance on Anecdotes

The more signs of pseudoscience we see, the more skeptical of the claims we should be. Honestly, Hydroxycut's advertisements sound very appealing. It's no wonder I purchased them in hope of a great fix to my weight problems. Yet, at the same time, I was unaware of a simple psychological effect: the Placebo Effect. The Placebo Effect is when improvement results from the mere expectation of improvement. I lost weight merely because I wanted to lose weight.

There is really no proof for this product, as well. Just a few claims about how they used a placebo-based experiment. What they fail to mention is whether or not they had the same diet and exercise pattern. Is it possible the group given Hydroxycut exercised more rigorously then the Placebo group? We don't know because they won't tell us!
Also, they give a few true life stories of how people lost up to 40 lbs in a short amount of time. This is possible, but was it the pills? Is it possible they just exercised and ate healthy? They also knew they were taking Hydroxycut, so it's possible the Placebo Effect was engaged.

All in all, be careful on what you believe. Not everything is backed up like they say it is.

Yesha Yismaw
Neural Plasticity: Stem Cells a solution?
An important concept from the Lilienfeld text is Neural Plasticity particularly following injury and degeneration. As it was discussed in chapter 3, we learn that neural plasticity is the ability of the nervous system and brain to make changes. These changes are critical for development and efficiency in the ease at which neurons send messages. While the brain is still developing, from birth to early adulthood, the brain has heightened neural plasticity. Later in life however, the ease at which the brain and nervous changes can adjust drops drastically. Plasticity in adulthood is mainly limited to learning, which can pose problems when injury and degeneration occur in the brain and spinal cord.
Currently, researchers are searching for ways to stimulate and enable the brain and nervous system to heal itself. Leading research is looking at stem cells; cells coming from embryos that have the ability to develop into different more specialized cells. The idea behind stem cells is that they would be implanted into a patient's nervous system, induced to grow, and then would replace damaged cells. Another way stem cells can potentially aid regeneration and healing in the nervous system is by gene therapy where stem cells can become genetically engineered replacements.
Although a controversial hot button issue, stem cells and stem cell research is an important concept. It has the potential to open many doors in the medical field and has many applications in medicine. Stem cells are cutting edge in treatment options and if they become more widely accepted, diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's will not be the only ones that will be seeing cures in the near future.
This concept may not be applicable to me at this very moment, but at some point in my life I may be faced with an injury or a disease that stem cells may pose the only solution too. A real life example could be a car accident victim who may have spinal cord damage and be faced with partial or full paralysis. Stem cell research would provide them with the only hope they have to regain control. Something I have been wondering while learning more about stem cell research is how many applications it may have in medicine and how many diseases it may be beneficial to. Another thing I was curious about is how stem cell research can be regulated to make sure that these scientific capabilities won't be getting in the wrong hands. Like most scientific discoveries we need to safeguard our knowledge to prevent it from being abused.


Jenny Vue

Naïve realism is someone's belief from their perspective of the world. It is an everyday thing that people use. In other words, naïve realism is: what we see, we believe; it is similar to our common sense. For example, if you are playing a game of dodge ball, you would either be running around like crazy or standing there like a statue. However, once the balls begin heading for you, you would either doge the ball, like how the game was supposed to be played, or stand there and get smack with the balls. Furthermore, you may react to the balls as they hit you - like scream, turn away, or block - which you occasionally perform. Our perspective may be right at times, but it can be wrong.
It does not mean that naïve realism is bad, but in some cases our common sense can lead us to the wrong idea. For instance, a triangle and a square are displayed in front of you. It would be difficult to determine if their sizes are identical or not. On the other hand, when you measure them with a ruler, they are similar in size to one another. In this case, your common sense has misinterpreted the triangle and square's sizes. Although naïve realism can be risky sometimes, its precision is also incredibly effective.

This is a website that contains a brief summary of naive realism:

I found this photo really amusing and easily interpret naive realism because each of them have their own aspect when thunder A and B strike.

Have you encountered someone you thought was overly superstitious? It turns out that superstitious tendencies are a natural occurrence, not just in Humans but other animals as well.

In 1947 B. F Skinner conducted an experiment studying the behavior of pigeons. A system was set up in which the hungry birds were given food at timed intervals. As the pigeons waited they would interact with their environment when eventually the food would be given to them. Whatever actions they were doing at that moment were positively reinforced by the food. If this action coincided with the food again, they would learn that that action was a means for being fed. There was no correlation between their actions and receiving food, but they detected a pattern when there was none.

Instances where the pigeon was doing a specific action at the time of feeding were particular memorable, but if the pigeon was doing something different each time, it was not memorable. This is called an illusory correlation, finding a statistical relationship where none exists. Illusory correlation is part of nature, as indicated by this study. This is similar to the person sitting at the blackjack table with a lucky shirt. There is no correlation between the shirt and the cards dealt but after receiving a few 21's by chance the actions were reinforced. Next time you go to the casino, you will know why everyone acts so crazy.

The Manuscript of the original study can be found

Brandon Budnicki

The above article claims that it takes more facial muscles to frown than it does to smile. As one reads further down in the article there are many claims from doctors and others stating exactly how many muscles are necessary to produce a smile or a frown.

The above claim has been ruled undetermined and I believe this is due to two of the six principles of critical thinking (replicability and extraordinary claims). Firstly, I believe one could design a study that would take people chosen at random and ask them to smile or frown. We could use cameras and other visual devices to count the number of muscles used while each person smiles and frowns. The sample population would consist of different genders, ages, ethnic backgrounds and environments because subjects would be chosen randomly from a bank of applicants that wanted to participate in the study. With this type of study replicability could be achieved by repeating the study with a new bank of applicants. This would be beneficial because each person frowns and smiles differently so it is very possible that each person uses a different amount of muscles during a smile or frown (this would be analyzed and recorded using the cameras). Also, the doctor conducting the study could demonstrate how he/she wants the person to smile or frown to make the action a more constant variable.

Secondly I believe, this claim falls under the category of extraordinary claims. According to the Lilienfeld textbook (pg. 22, figure 1.7), the "extraordinary claim requires more rigorous evidence than a less remarkable claim" or in other words is the evidence that frowning takes more facial muscles than smiling strong? In this case no. A study in 2002, performed in Sweden asked subjects to look at facial expressions and then respond with facial expression of their own. The expressions the subjects were asked to look at consisted of frowns and smiles. The study concluded that people had an easier time making a "smile" instead of a "frown". However, the study did not specifically take into account the number of muscles each person used to create their own unique facial expression. This falls under the category of extraordinary claims because the evidence is not strong enough to support the claim, just because it appeared easier for one to smile than frown does not mean that more muscles are used to frown.

In conclusion, I would prepare a case study to evaluate this claim. I would carry out the procedure as a study to achieve replicability. I explained above (see paragraph two) the way in which I would design the test and have the data analyzed.


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During the winter as a child I would notice that I get static shocks much more often. Because the air is dryer in the winter than it is in the summer I generate more static electricity. For example, I would sit in a classroom chair. When i got up I would be charged with static. I would then touch the door handle to leave the classroom. I would always receive a shock. Very rarely was it painful, but it always surprised me. By the end of the winter I try to avoid touching any metal because I now associate touching metal with getting a shock. This demonstrates classical conditioning. The neutral stimulus was the metal. I would have no positive or negative reaction to metal. The negative stimulus was the shock. Both were then presented at the same time, when I touched the door handle. Then I would get these shocks for three months. By having the two stimuli happen for a long period of time I begin to associate the metal with surprise and pain. After the winter though, the air would become more humid and less able to carry a charge. I would begin to get fewer shocks and they become less startling. At this point the relationship would begin to deteriorate. I would finally stop associating metal with pain sometime in late spring.
Patrick Dougan
Section 12

One of the concepts talked about in the text is the idea of heuristics, or shortcuts, that our brains use to make sense of everyday life. Heuristics are the brain's was of conserving energy and simplifying a matter without taking the time and energy to contemplate a certain problem. The example the book uses is the San Diego-Reno question. Because the vast majority of California is west of Reno, Nevada, our brain uses a heuristic to assume that San Diego is west of Reno, when in reality, Reno is farther west than some of southern California, including San Diego. I find this idea a fascinating part of psychological studies and, it is important because our brains can often mislead us into thinking something that isn't actually true, as is the case with the San Diego-Reno example. It is important to train our brains to know when a heuristic is helping us simplify a problem, or if it is misguiding our thinking in a certain way. I can apply this concept to my life when I meet a new person. I, and presumably everyone else, instinctively judge a person based off of their physical, personal, and social traits, and place them in a category solely off of this experience. For example, if I meet a kid wearing a sports jersey, my representative heuristic makes me assume that this person enjoys sports, when in reality they may dislike sports but are wearing the jersey for another reason. This is the idea of heuristics at work, and it is essential to not become too invested in certain heuristics as they may misguide us.

This is a link that talks about a type of availability heuristic(our perceived chance of something happening) in which it is assumed that increased road rage will lead to increased accidents when in reality accidents aren't increasing.

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