September 2011 Archives

http://tinyurl.com/nowj23

This article states that Facebook has the same effect as games like Suduko in making you smarter, by strengthening your working memory. On the other hand, it says that Youtube, Twitter, Text messaging, and other activities like these, can contribute to making you less intelligent, by weakening your working memory. Working memory is basically our ability to remember and use information. The article also states that working memory has been believed to be more important than a person's IQ when it comes to their happiness.

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I personally have a few problems with the claims this article makes, because it does not give any details about how the findings were found. They do not even really mention the study in which the claims were made from, they only referenced other studies having to deal with working memory. The article doesn't actually have any statistics about the claims at all, they only say general things like "believed to be" and such. Also, this doesn't hold up to the principal that extraordinary claims require extraordinary measures. The claim that Facebook and other activities, like playing video games, which was also mentioned in the article, can improve our intelligence is quite extraordinary to most people. Therefore, it should require extraordinary explanations behind the findings of this article. However, the article lacks to really provide much explanation other than Facebook engages our memory senses, while Twitter requires us to really remember nothing. That doesn't really have much backing either.

So overall, while I find this concept interesting, I feel that it would be nice to know how these claims were found. I would also like to have these findings further tested on their reliability, as to whether or not they can be recreated in other studies.

A heuristic is a mental shortcut that helps people to make sense of and simplify things. Without them we'd become buried beneath all the information we are presented with all the time. Two types of heuristics are the representative heuristic, and the availability heuristic. The representativeness heuristic is comprised of judging the probability of something based on how much it resembles something else, or how similar they are. People tend to judge things based on stereotypes. If a person relies too much on the representativeness heuristic, he or she may forget to contemplate the base rate (how common a characteristic or behavior is in the general population). For example, based on just looking at the pictures, which person is likely to read more books?
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You might say the guy wearing the glasses, based on your stereotypes.

Another heuristic is the availability heuristic, which incorporates estimating the probability of something based on how easily it comes to your mind. You don't take the time to measure or calculate precise things, but instead estimate based on experiences and what you remember.
Heuristics can show that we can be fooled easily. We should keep in mind that not all heuristics are helpful that they can lead us to faulty conclusions- but many research methods can help us avoid the negative results of misapplying heuristics.
I wonder though, is it possible to control these heuristics? Take the representative heuristic for example, is it possible to not judge someone when you see them? As much a person says they don't judge others, I find it almost impossible to not judge people to some extent- it's almost like asking for someone to have a blank mind when meeting someone until you actually get to know them. I find it only natural to have some thoughts about the person- although you could just focus on positive aspects about the other person.

Equinox Egg Balancing

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Many people believe in very odd traditions. Stemming from the Chinese tradition of standing eggs on the vernal equinox, many believe that eggs can only be balanced this way on only that day. All over the world, people are up at midnight on the equinox, hanging out in their kitchens balancing eggs. winter-solstice-egg-balance.jpegWhile this may seem magical to them, they're wrong in thinking it's an amazing spectacle. This hoax is nothing more than confirmation bias at its best. So many people are enthralled by the idea of the vernal equinox as being some incredible earth changing experience that they forget that eggs can be balanced like this any day of the year.These people forget that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Of course, the evidence of being able to balance the egg on the equinox works, however they must also show the evidence that you cannot balance the egg on any other day, and unfortunately for them, that just isn't the case. We can use the Occam's Razor principle to dispel this hoax by choosing the simpler explanation: an egg's possibility of being balanced on its end depends on its smoothness, the surface it is being balanced upon, and the steadiness of the person doing the balancing.
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Think seeing is believing? Check out the video below and make your own choice on whether or not the vernal equinox effects an egg's ability to balance. (Hint, it doesn't.)


Sources:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZGDdjB-hM&feature=related
http://www.snopes.com/science/equinox.asp

The debate of nature vs. nurture has been going on for years, is very controversial, and will probably never come to a straight forward conclusion. The question is whether our intelligence, personality, and behavior should be attributed to genetics or to environmental factors and learning.
Psychologists originally believed that almost all traits were due to learning and experience, but throughout the years, views have changed. Genetic psychology, behavioral genetics, and evolutionary psychology all study this great debate and attempt to find answers. It is widely known that BOTH nature and nurture play huge roles in our personality and behavior, but the controversy is how much each of them comes into play.
Behavior genetics has shown that intelligence, personality traits, and general interests are based largely on genetics. Of course, we've also seen that the environment an individual grows up in affects them greatly as well. Adoption studies, family studies, and twin studies help us continue to find out more about nature vs. nurture.
The following article, titled "Identical Strangers" is about a study that was conducted on twins separated at birth. As the title suggests, the twins were extremely similar, proving that genetics is a key factor in psychological traits and behavior. The twins were separated and raised in completely different families and environments, and they reunited at age 35 to find they were very similar. They have had different experiences in their lives, of course, but their interests and personalities were so alike it was uncanny. "It's not just our taste in music or books; it goes beyond that. In her, I see the same basic personality. And yet, eventually we had to realize that we're different people with different life histories" (Joe Richmond).

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15629096

Several correlation studies have been conducted to determine the relation between the phases of the moon and the behavior of animals; for every study which shows a positive correlation there is one which shows that there is no correlation whatsoever.
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However, there are a lot of people who continue to strongly believe that the moon does have an effect on the behavior of animals. Predominant among those who believe are a large number of doctors and nurses who have found that the number of patients admitted to hospitals for animal bites increases around the full moon. Contrarily, there are some doctors who refute these theories as absolute nonsense, because they have not observed anything of this sort.
When I came across an article on this topic (which can be found here), I felt that it was all a joke and that there can't still be people who believe that the moon can affect animal behavior. I mentioned this to my mother and I was astounded to find that she too believed this hypothesis- this convinced me of its relevance and also got me thinking about why people might persist in their beliefs.
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Since a majority of studies cannot agree on the positive correlation, I felt that it might be a case in which people were assuming causation from a few instances of correlation despite contradicting data.
This eagerness to jump at causation seems to point to a clear case of confirmation bias. People already believe that the moon affects animal behavior and they are simply looking for proof of their ideas- they refuse to see contradictions. As a result, the studies which have clearly demonstrated that there is no correlation are ignored. Also, doctors who have conducted studies have found that their belief in the lunar effects have been indicated- this is a clear indication that they think they know what they are going to find, they are suffering from confirmation bias.
This line of reasoning raised several questions in my mind. What might be the cause for this initial belief which leads to confirmation bias? Could it be popular media like movies and novels, or is it just plain superstition? Have people encountered a lot of coincidences which have led them to believe that the moon has some mystic effect on the behavior of animals?
The article which I earlier provided a link to is a fair description of the disputes regarding the study, here is an article that talks about people who strongly believe in this hypothesis.

Being a huge reality TV show fan, I'm really interested in how people say that reality TV shows affect society and how people act. I tend to mostly disagree with this, seeing that I don't watch reality TV because I idolize the characters or anything, I'm just interested in the drama and mostly find it to be humorous (Jersey Shore, for example). However, some people I have talked to disagree. My friend for example, once told me that he can't understand how I can watch reality TV because whenever he does, he can feel the intelligence being "drained out of him". A lot of people seem to think that reality TV shows make the audience that watch them less intelligent or think that they can act a certain way.

http://www.citytvweb.com/the-reality-television-shows-and-their-effects-on-society/

Above is a link to an article I read about the effects that reality TV shows have on society. It brings up a good point about why people may find reality TV more appealing. It explains how reality shows have non-celebrities as their cast. This makes the audience better able to connect with the people on the shows because they're "normal". The article claims that this makes it so the audience begins to think, act and speak like the people on the show. It states that the audience may begin to lose their own emotions about certain things and basically turn into the people represented on the reality show.

In my opinion, you just have to realize that reality TV shows do not represent reality. I disagree with this article and do not think that anyone that watches a reality TV show turns into the people represented on the show.

Any excuse to get "high"

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Sunny, Thrilled, Euphoric, Elated, Ready, Confident, Loving, Exhilarated, Airy, Relaxed... Don't these words make you feel a sense of simple happiness? That is, until you realized what it stands for. STEER CLEAR. Of what..? You may ask. This warning is to steer clear away from the seemingly attractive qualities of the mood-enhancing drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine, better known as MDMA, or 'Ecstacy'.

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This article states that Ecstacy causes "No Brain Damage", in absence of sleep-deprivation, drug/alcohol use, or any previous form of cognitive damage. By eliminating the subjects down to 53 cognitively clean users, a better understanding for the effects Ecstacy truly has on the brain was seemingly evident. This study was the first opportunity to get their hands on a better-controlled experiment to gain more knowledge on the drug, trying to falsify the previous urban legends of how Ecstacy literally takes an ice cream scoop size portion out of your brain. Most importantly, this seems to be, to an extent, an extraordinary claim, considering that it also states the drug being "possibly fatal". If this drug has the ability to potentially kill the user, wouldn't it be an indirect form of brain damage if the brain ends up being totally dead anyways? Another reason why it is hard to believe is because we all know people who drink heavily and recreationally use drugs, with no previous cognitive damage, who get sufficient sleep. I have personally seen these types of people take Ecstacy, and their behaviors and reasoning/intelligence seem to diminish every time they ingest the pill.

I will note that these are clearly not regulated drugs made by the government, rather they are street drugs. Street drugs have a significantly higher risk.

An alternate explanation for this research finding could be the most useful evaluational concept of correlation vs. causation. They believe taking out drug/alcohol use, sleep deprivation, and previous cognitive damage were the reasons for some of the brain damage. However, it could be a different third variable determining those who appeared to have brain damage from Ecstacy, such as certain stages of cognitive development. Maybe it affects the younger crowds I have personally seen take the drug because of their less developed brain, but not necessarily the brains of those more fully developed. It is a wide claim for the article to say there is no cause of damage. It would be neat to see this study replicated and controlled in a neater fashion, because they would need a fairly large claim to support such a mind-altering drug. Further studies should follow.

Sources:
http://www.street-drugs.org/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/20/ecstacy-doesnt-damage-the_n_825704.htmlhttp://www.thegooddrugsguide.com/files/images/e_pills_01.jpg

Nurture vs. Nature (Isabelle)

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Nurture vs. Nature
The Nurture vs. Nature debate is widely popular in psychology. The big question is what makes up who we are? It could be genetics, but it could also be the environment we are raised in. Another option is it could be part of both. For example, natural hair color, height and foot size all come from genetics. They are passed down form your parents. Things you develop from your environment are dyed hair of what kind of athlete you are. One thing that proves not only nature exists is the case of Isabelle. Isabelle was isolated in an attic with her deaf and mute mother the first six years of her life by her grandfather. She could not speak but could communicate to her mother with gestures. She had a disease known as rickets which is the result of a bad diet and a lack of sunshine. When she was discovered at the age of six, she was shy of men. It is said that she acted like a wild animal around them; she would hide from them because she was fearful. Within two years, Isabelle was at the appropriate intelligence level for her age. When first discovered, she only scored a little over zero on an IQ test. Isabelle had very little nurture when she was in the attic. It made her act as an animal and was also very unhealthy. After just two years of nurture, she was right on track. A big part of this was teaching her language. Language is key in communicating amongst humans. This story goes to show that our environment plays a role in who we are. Nurture vs. Nature relates to me because I can see how both affect me. Nature determined my phsical characteristics such as my black hair and hazel eyes. Nurture determined my studious side. I was raised to work hard in school. I also took courses that would challenge me. My environment made me studious.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Nature-Vs-Nurture---A-Sociological-Approach-to-Feral,-Isolated,-and-Institutionalized-Children&id=2405260

Subliminal messaging can often occur in many scenarios, such as TV commercials, billboards, or magazine advertisements. These are ads, that although we don't perceive when we register the stimulus, we still subconsciously recognize in the back of our minds. The idea of these types of messages is so important because for businesses it is very beneficial to use. If these mind games are played without them knowing it then the customer will unknowingly be tricked into wanting what is being advertised, which is very good for the company. But if a person knows that they're going to be deceived using tricks in advertisements they probably won't want to be associated with that company. Examples of these subliminal messages are everywhere in our life today, one being this television clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMzbwa6PvEE If the person viewing this show had not consciously noticed the flicker of the McDonald's logo during the show, then after a while they may have randomly been craving some sort of food from McDonald's, not knowing that it was triggered by the short frame. However since the person watching the TV did notice he probably now has negative thoughts about McDonald's as a company trying to trick him. Some questions that occur to me when thinking about this is how often has this happened to me? Are these subliminal messages in almost every advertisement we see? How beneficial is subliminal messaging for a company, and how many more customers do they receive per year because of it? Should they be outlawed because of the unfair psychological trickery played on customers?

Inattentional Blindness

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Imagine that you are sitting alone in a room, studying very diligently for your next psychology exam. Maybe you're looking over your notes, reviewing the study guide, or completing the practice test. Regardless of what you're studying, the key point is that you are deeply immersed in the captivating world of psychology. However, you suddenly feel a strange sensation, as if someone has just poked you. Indeed, you have been poked. You begrudgingly turn your head away from your work to find that your friend is sitting in the chair next to you, attempting to get your attention. This incident raises several questions: How did this happen? Who actually pokes people outside of Facebook? More importantly, how did your friend enter the room and sit down in the chair right next to you, without you even noticing? The answer to this last question is inattentional blindness.

Inattentional blindness is the phenomenon that takes place when a person is focusing all of his/her attention upon a subject, consequently failing to notice other important things that are happening in their surrounding environment. In the example, you, the responsible and dedicated student that you are, are absorbed in your studying. All of your attention is centered on one task, leaving you clueless to the fact that someone else has entered the room. This situation occurs more than we realize as, evidently, we don't realize when it is actually happening.

Studies have been conducted to analyze such occurrences, whether people will notice external stimuli or merely miss it due to their high levels of concentration. One of the more prominent studies about inattentional blindness consists of the subjects watching a video of a group of people throwing a basketball around. They are instructed to count the number of times the basketball is thrown, causing the subjects to focus all their attention on keeping track of the passes. During the video, someone will walk across the screen in front of the basketball players, it could be a woman with an umbrella or a person dressed in a gorilla costume. Either way, a majority of the subjects entirely missed the fact that someone walked into the video even though it was blatantly obvious. This study and many other similar ones are discussed in an essay aptly named "Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events" (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.125.9246&rep=rep1&type=pdf).

The question now stands, how does inattentional blindness affect us in our daily lives? Looking at it from multiple perspectives, it can affect our lives in positive or negative ways. The positive aspect includes it allowing us to concentrate when we need to, allowing students to work on their homework even when their roommate has the TV on in the background. On the other hand, it can be harmful if a person doesn't notice a dangerous change in their environment due to their concentration. Questions for further investigation include: How can we discern when to be on our guard and when to let ourselves fully become unaware of our environment? Is there a way to control when we are subject to inattentional blindness or is it completely "inattentional"? Although it may often be harmless, inattentional blindness is a central concept to understand and one that will need further investigation in the future.
(For more information and examples of inattentional blindness see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ0l9s8_Hmk&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLA8472D081B0EA6FC
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7LuvAM6XLg&feature=bf_next&list=PLA8472D081B0EA6FC&lf=results_main )

The hype created by hair loss

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Scientists and Researchers have been searching for a baldness cure for years.
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So far, in America, the 35 million bald/ balding men, are without luck, according to The Today Show.

So why do these men fall for the 3.5 billion dollar 'hair loss cure' hype? This happens because of the bandwagon effect. The bandwagon effect is the phenomenon of a popular trend continuing to gain popularity. These men believe, that maybe if it "worked" for these men, it'll work for me too! George Costanza even fell for this hype, in the Seinfeld episode, The Tape.

There is no proven evidence for any of these hair loss hypes. Even Caboki has no scientific or researched evidence behind it. Although these visuals look real and seem unreal! And it is just that, unreal. Check out these results from people you tried Caboki. Sorry men, but this may just be one wagon you want to stay off.

During the lectures in psych, I was curious of the consequences of not using the scientific method. Surely our ancestors had gotten along just fine without them using the everyday heuristics. Or had they? I was born in Central America so I know a thing or two about the cultures that exist down there. When I asked my question about the scientific method one of those cultures immediately came to mind. The Aztec civilization. The Aztecs had faulty Cause/Correlation thinking and it led to the slaughter of thousands of people. The Aztec society was a very large practitioner of human sacrifice. How they came to believe it was helpful is very interesting. They believed the universe ran on a perpetual energy of motion called "Tonalli" which literally means animating spirit. (http://wynja.com/arch/aztec.html) They beleieved the sun ran on it and without tonalli the universe comes to a stop. They also believed in humans, blood was where our tonalli dwelt. This cause correlation between the tonalli and what they thought the universe needed to run on made them believe that they needed sacrifice to help the universe to continue working. How sad that so much death could have been avoided if only the minds of that time had realized that the blood oh mankind did nothing to change the way the sun or the mechanics of the earth worked. In modern times we don't have things like this happening but its good to look back and reflect on what was done in the past.

I recently came across an article from MSNBC that posed the question of whether reality television makes us dumber. In the article called "Watching Jersey Shore Might Make You Dumber, studies suggest" researchers performed a study to test their theory. They split a group of randomized subjects into two groups; one group read a screen play on a man who does crazy things with his friends when he's drunk, while the other group read a boring screen play about an "average-joe's" life. After, the researches asked the subjects a series of questions, the people who read the screen play on a man doing crazy things scored worse than those of the other group.
The idea is called media priming: the things that we read or watch influence our behavior and emotions. I, for one, don't feel this study is completely accurate because of the possible outliers that could have effected the results such as age and social class. Also, they reported in the article that the questions were difficult for most people in general. That being said, I do think they are on to something. Maybe if they replicate the study, I'll be more willing to flip the channel once I see Snookie's poof appear, but for right now, I will continue to watch my favorite reality shows.

For myself, the intricacy of the brain is difficult to really fully comprehend. From the microscopic neural cells to the teamwork of the different lobes, it's astonishing to learn about all of the ways in which the brain controls our body. With one single malfunction, the whole system could be thrown off and we would be unable to accomplish many things. A simple bump on the head could turn life changing and an intense brain surgery could be life threatening. As we discussed in class, however, the brain exhibits a special characteristic that keeps malfunctions in the brain from affecting us entirely. This trait is referred to as plasticity and it explains the concept that our brain is able to altar parts of its structure in order to recover from an injury or in response to learning something new.

In order to help describe the miracles of the brain, I found an intriguing Youtube video that follows a young girl that undergoes a complete hemispheric lobotomy at a very young age. With only half of a brain left, it would seem that things would be very tough for her in terms of functioning, but impressively, it's not! Her story is a wonderful example of the brains plasticity because one can see that although an entire hemisphere of crucial material in the body was removed, the other parts of the brain are able to pick up the slack and allow the body to function close to its normal capacity. After seeing an example like this, it makes me wonder at what age this sort of recovery is impossible. Will Jodi (the young girl) continue to make progress or are there certain functions of the brain that can't be recovered?

Nature has to do with your genetic composition.
John Locke, a psychologist mentioned in our book believes that we all started out as blank sheets of paper when we were born. Nurture is when the environment and upbringing you were in have a role in the person that you are. I believe both play off each other and in the example from this article I will discuss how I believe both coincide in this topic.

http://theriverreporter.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/thin_narrowweb__300x4720.jpg?w=300&h=472

When you see this picture, does this model look too skinny too you? How do you think she came to be like this? I believe that this model was pressured by the media's constant visual of abnormally skinny girls as being the "it" factor (her nurture side) along with her genetic factors, some may be a fast metabolism (nature side). The media is one of the biggest factors in our modern time society that influences our thoughts and views, and this is not a good nurture to be influenced by.

This article goes on to talk about one media source that is a positive view; Dove's normal women sized commercial. They specifically found woman (mostly mothers) who have a body and curves but are not considered overweight what so ever. This is a good example of the way the media should be portraying models, like us, the everyday norm. This article also plays off on the representative heuristic. This is the stereotypes that people follow by because they think that its right and most common. As in this article, people think that being skinny is most common because that is what they see the most from media.

Now in the debate on Nature vs. Nurture, I believe you should see that they both play a factor on models and in many other situations.

You can find more information on the article link: http://theriverreporter.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/nature-vs-nurture-the-media's-effect-on-body-image/

Mother Knows Best?

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Nature_Made_Vitamin_C.jpgGrowing up my mother always told me that taking more Vitamin C would help prevent me from getting a cold. In fact, she always had me take a supplement pill with Vitamin C at the first signs of a "runny" nose. Going along with the saying "mother knows best", I always believed her. But did it actually work?

According to Linus Pauling's 1970 book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, taking a supplement pill for Vitamin C will prevent the common cold. After his book, many people rushed to the store and took his advice. They believed him because his studies showed it worked.

However, his evidence could have been a fluke. Most recent evidence shows that his findings cannot be consistently replicated. In fact, they show that people will get a cold regardless of whether they take in extra Vitamin C. They also demonstrate that the intake of a supplement Vitamin C pill has no effect on cold symptoms (Examples of studies that demonstrate this point can be found here and here)

This demonstrates one of the Six Principles of Scientific Thinking: Replicability. This principle states that evidence from scientific experiments must be able to be duplicated consistently by multiple investigators. If it cannot be, the results should not be considered reliable.

Because multiple experiments could not replicate Pauling's original findings, his evidence should not be considered reliable. Therefore, the idea that a Vitamin C supplement pill will help prevent or reduce the symptoms of the common cold is incorrect.

So my mother was wrong; extra intake of Vitamin C will not necessarily prevent me from getting a cold. Now I have to wonder, how many other times has my mother NOT known best?


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Pictures taken from:
http://megsmakeup.com/sites/default/files/images/Nature_Made_Vitamin_C.jpg
and
http://001yourtranslationservice.com/me/Health/common-cold-remedy.html

Lobotomy,Fantasy or Reality.

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I was watching the movie Sucker Punch the other day. Sucker-Punch-Movie-Poster1.jpgIn the movie a young girl (Baby Doll) is locked away in a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather where she will undergo a lobotomy in five days' time. Faced with unimaginable odds, she retreats to a fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum, plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her four companions, as well as a mysterious guide, fight to retrieve the five items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late...
Lobotomy is a surgery where the patients front lobe is removed or damaged. Frontal lobe is the forward part of cerebral cortex responsible for motor function, language, memory, and planning. They also oversee and organize most other brain functions, a process called executive functioning. lobotomy-22.jpg
At the end of the movie, Baby Doll was given lobotomy, thus she becomes a vegetative patient. She live in a world where she imagines, but she does not sense anything from the real physical world. If you watch the movie, you will know that live in a fantasy world is pretty cool actually. You just need a lobotomy.

For more information please go to
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0978764/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobotomy

Nature vs. Nurture is one method of studying behaviors. The "Nature" aspect is based on the idea that your genes shape you. The "Nurture" aspect is based on the idea that the environment shapes you. I feel that this theory is important because you really have to scientifically examine all the possibilities. You cannot just assume something like causation vs. correlation. You can also apply replicability to finding in studies such as adolescents engaging in smoking at a young age are more likely to engage in health risk behaviors (Drs DuRant, Kreiter, and Krowchuk). Basically, you can use multiple methods of scientific thinking in regards to nature vs. nurture.
But it has to make you wonder though whether or not nature vs. nurture can be confused with one another or work together hand in hand. For example, I'm a clean freak. I like to keep things tidy and in order. So does my mother. So it makes me wonder, is it by nature or by nurture? My mother likes to clean so maybe it got passed down to me through traits? Or is it because I've always grown up in a clean house that now I feel the need to live in a clean environment? An example like that makes me really wonder if the two can be linked together. With more studying of nature and nurture, things can be examined more in depth. An article online looks at this a little bit closer.

http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/nature_nurture.htm

Overall, I feel that the best way to observe the nature vs. nurture debate is to study in through natural observation.

Nazism Right Here and Right Now

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The other night I was listening to a radio presentation and it was about the current state of Nazism in America. I guess I know it is out there floating around us, but I never gave much thought to just how active the followers are in the United States. In the presentation a members wife was talking about how her husband had been murdered recently. She went on to say it was particularly cold blooded and horrifying because the person who did the killing was the victims', her son. She went on to say she was not really surprised by this and in fact, had been expecting it to occur sometime in her future. Her son was only ten at the time he murdered his father. He had been trained in handling all of the automatic weapons imaginable and had been groomed to respect only Aryan greatness and submission to no one other than his Nazi comrades.
So the words Causation Correlation popped into my mind. Was this the root of the murder? Am I just jumping the gun? What do you think? A good web site about Nazism in America is video.google.com/video playdocid=4861099270516462721

http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/healthday/071022/whole-grains-do-a-heart-good.htm

In this article, researchers have studied and came up with a conclusion stating that men who consumed 2 to 6 servings per week saw their risk of heart failure fall by 21 percent, while those who ate 7 or more servings per week reaped a 29 percent reduction in risk.

This is a good example of Correlation vs. Causation. We do not know that eating wholegrain cereal really effected the results that they came up with. We know nothing about the peoples weight, their diets,and lifestyle of these people who ate whole grain cereal for breakfast. Some of the people on the better end of the spectrum could have possibly been more active in there life and eaten better not just for breakfast. They could have watched their cholesterol more and consumed more fruits and vegetables. While on the other side, the people could have eaten out more and not been as active as the other group. We also do not know what kind of whole grain cereal was consumed, or how much was consumed. One side of it could have eaten, a very sugary cereal while the other could have eaten just plain granola. Although this study looks like it is helpful, we still have to doubt it because of the correlation vs causation facts when looking deeper into it. There are just to many variables present to really trust a study like this. It looks nice on paper but you have to think, is this really true.

Water Treatment-Does It Work?

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In early August of 2004 an interesting method for treating several different diseases found its way to message boards all over the Internet. This method claimed that drinking four glasses of water immediately after waking up would help cure several different disease and the person suffering from the disease would see results fast.
When looking at all of the claims as to what this form of treatment can cure, it is easy to see that there is a lot of pseudoscience occurring. This treatment claims that it can cure the following diseases, headache, body ache, heart system, arthritis, fast heart beat, epilepsy, excess fatness, bronchitis, asthma, TB, Meningitis, Kidney and Urine disease, vomiting gastritis, diarrhea, piles, diabetes, constipation, all eye diseases, womb cancer and menstrual disorders, ear nose and throat diseases. Now can drinking four glasses of water right away in the morning actually cure these diseases? This claim if most definitely exaggerated. Some of the diseases listed above can hardly be cured with today's latest medical advancements so it is highly unlikely that it can be cured by four glasses of water. It is also important to note that maybe people suffering from these diseases who tried this water treatment could have started using other treatments at the same time. In order to actually prove this treatment would actually work the creators needed to rule out rival hypotheses. Also, one must notice that there isn't any scientific evidence to support this treatment. In the original post, there were claims that "scientific tests have proven its value" and "water treatment had been found successful by a Japanese medical society as a hundred percent cure for various disease" when researchers went to look for these scientific tests and claims by a Japanese medical society none could be found.
By drinking water more frequently at certain times of day it is said by the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse that it can help constipation but that's it. So can this water treatment actually work? Based on pseudoscience this blogger would have to disagree. To learn more about how this treatment doesn't work visit, http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/water.asp.

Recently, there have been many amazing claims about the Acai Berry Diet. In an article found at the link http://acaiberrydietnow.com/, the writer talks about how the Acai Berry found in the Amazon helps people lose weight. It also states that the berry is a "Super Food" filled with the highest levels of antioxidants. It even says that it was promoted by Dr. Oz and Oprah. These claims sound great! However, there are many problems with this article and the accusations it makes.
One major problem is that it has many warning signs of pseudoscience. It gives exaggerated claims when saying that this berry will help with not only weight loss, but sexual dysfunction, insomnia, cancerous cells, and diabetes as well. It has an overreliance on anecdotes. In fact, the only evidence given for the diet is anecdotal. The only other "evidence" really isn't evidence because it doesn't have a connection to research. It states the claims but gives no links to any actual studies. Even the claim that Dr. Oz and Oprah recommended it, upon further investigation, was found to be completely false! In fact, they are suing companies who said they endorsed it.
Near the end of the article, it talks about how Amazonian people have been using the Acai Berry for years and that is why they are so healthy. However, the Scientific Thinking Principle of Ruling out Rival Hypotheses helps the most in seeing that this is an unsupported claim. There could be many other hypotheses for why the Amazonian people are healthy. Maybe they walk more, or eat less, or their genetics keep them healthier. One or all of these hypotheses could have caused the Amazonian people to be healthy. So when the article says that the health of the Amazonian people speaks for itself it's really saying absolutely nothing!
In this blogger's personal opinion, this Acai Berry diet is a waste of time and, if anything, potentially dangerous. Maybe the Acai Berry diet does have great health benefits. However, I'm going to wait until there is more evidence before running out to buy these pills.

We've all got to admit that when watching the news, whether it be morning, mid-day, or late at night, when the anchorman reports to us about a crime that has been committed we tend to jump to the conclusion that that person is immediately an evil being that deserves whatever is coming to him/her. Before, everyone could agree, that that person is terrible and really needs help, but now that we've learned about the concept of Nature vs. Nurture, it's difficult to determine if the blame really lies with the person themselves, or can it be blamed on his/her upbringing or say...genetics?
For example, recently on WCCO news, the story of a man killing his wife appeared on the news. Of course the normal reaction to this is...go to jail.
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But here's the thing...what we don't know, what we don't hear is what is in his genes and what his upbringing was like. These things are things that the public don't hear, things like this aren't reported on the news. What was reported was how the man killed his wife and what he testified before court. It was said that he "it seemed that he somehow left his body and became a spectator to the shooting." (WCCO, Crime News) What can we say to this? Of course, normally we would scoff at it but let's try to apply the knowledge of what we've learned about Nature vs. Nurture. If we look at this through the lens of a critical thinker without bias thoughts, wouldn't we first wonder what this man's upbringing was like or whether any of his family members had any aggressive, violent, or abusive tempers, reactions, etc. Is it because of his upbringing that he zoned out and let whatever anger take over and run wild? Or was it part of his genes that he can lose control and look back at it remorsefully later because he couldn't control that anger? Now, the news never gives us any of this information, so we can never draw the right conclusion that because of this man's environment or genetics he is acting this way. We are only given the details of wrongdoing, we are not given the details that because of how he was raised or what is within his DNA is the reason he reacted the way he did. Now, of course this does not justify his actions either. It's always questionable about why someone does something and why they don't do something. But the thing is, because the news only gives us one side of the story, does it also mean that they are right? Can't assumptions based upon news or the media be considered extraordinary claims? The duty of the media is to inform the public of crimes being committed and to help keep the public safe but at the same time if it chooses not to reveal the nature vs. nurture side of things, so how do we know what drives the guilty to do what they do? Can right assumptions be made through the media without the Nature vs. Nurture facts?

Nature vs Nurture. Does the way one behave run in genetics (nature) or is it dependent on the way they were brought up (nurture)? This is a main issue in the field of Psychology, and there is evidence supporting both.

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A few years ago, Michael Vick, a star African-American quarterback in the NFL, was arrested for dog fighting. Now there is no disagreement that his actions were intolerable, but recently an article was written for ESPN The Magazine by a man known as Toure' that raised the question "What if Vick were white?" (the article can be found here)

The idea is that if Vick were born into a white family, he wouldn't have been involved in the dog fights. One must look at both sides of the nature vs nurture debate to decide what they believe.

On one hand, Vick could be genetically programmed to participate in the dog fights. His genetics could have made him more aggressive, or more likely to gamble, and fighting dogs was how he used his aggression.

On the other hand, the reason for Vick's behavior could have been because of the way he was raised. His father introduced him to dog fighting at a young age so he thought it was acceptable. Also his father left him at an early age as well and that could have caused Vick to search for a new father figure, perhaps one involved in horrible acts such as dog fighting.

I do not believe race is the issue in this situation, if Vick were white he could have been born into a bad family as well. How can someone think that his life would have been better if he were white? I believe that both nature and nurture affected him. Vick was introduced to dog fighting at a young age and he thought that it was okay and therefore continued to do it as he grew up. But still his genetics were also responsible as he found the dog fights enjoyable, and continued to take part in them.

For a brief description of nature vs nurture, watch this video here.

Executing the Wrong Man?

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troy_davis11-04-2008.jpgThe recent execution of Troy Davis, an African American man convicted of murdering a police officer, brings into question the accuracy and procedures of our current justice system. Our justice system bases its convictions on expert and eye-witness testimony rather than on empirical data.


In the case of Troy Davis, his conviction and subsequent execution were based almost entirely on eye-witness testimony. Unfortunately for Troy Davis, Psychology has long known the fallibility of eye-witness testimony. Eye-witness testimony can be swayed by subtle cues from interrogators, the way the line-ups were presented, and subsequent discussions and recall of the events.


It has been reported in the news media that in the case of Troy Davis that the eye-witness accounts were subject to all kinds of problems that could easily have altered people's memory of the event. For example, it was reported that police placed wanted posters of Troy Davis in the neighborhood, cued witnesses as to who they expected the witness to pick from the line-up, and creating a mock-up of the event. These factors could have easily produced false memories of Troy Davis' role in the shooting of the police officer. Out of the nine eye-witnesses who identified Troy Davis as the killer, seven individuals have subsequently retracted their testimony. They are no longer confident that he was the real killer.


How can we execute a man based solely on eye-witness testimony when we know that such testimony can be so flawed? What if we just killed the wrong man? Perhaps, we should rethink how our justice system uses information to convict individuals. I believe we should focus more on verifiable evidence and focus less on eye-witness testimony which is so often intrinsically flawed.


For some good news articles on the Troy Davis case (and my inspiration for writing this post) check out CNN and Slate News.


For a good review of our knowledge of eyewitness testimony and its flaws see this article.

Blog It

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Welcome class! This is your new blog site.

You can find more specifics about your assignment in your syllabus, but I wanted to point out a few things that make a good blog post.

1. Pick a good topic that is relevant to Psychology. Make sure you clearly show in your post how it is relevant to Psychology.

2. Connect it to every day life. This could be your own life or another person's life.
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3. Be creative in your posts. You are encouraged to include media (photos, videos, and links) to improve the quality and content of your post (and to make it eye catching!).

4. Read each other's blogs. Commenting on each other's blogs is strongly encouraged. This is particularly true if you are writing on the same topic.

5. Use appropriate writing mechanics and styles to clearly communicate your topic and points.

Thanks to Jhon Wlashin for ideas on the key points for blogs (see his tips here).

You can also check out more tips on good blogging by reading:
The 4 pillars of exceptional blogs


For Topics (from your syllabus):
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. (You can find a rich source of urban legends at Snopes.com.)

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 to a classmates post with a post of your own. Be sure to provide evidence to support your response.

Good luck and have fun!

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