silve309: October 2011 Archives

While reading the section of chapter seven about false memories, I was reminded of a movie called The Fourth Kind. In this movie, a psychologist uncovers her patients' regressed memories, of being abducted by aliens, while the patients are under hypnosis. This movie claims to be one-hundred percent backed up by real case studies, which I find hard to believe. If these events really did happen, however, there is a more parsimonious explanation to these "memories" than an alien abduction. The text book claims that false memories can be induced under hypnosis. The patients didn't remember being abducted by aliens before they were hypnotized, only after. The book also states that false memories can seem to be very real, in some cases subjects of an experiment insisted that the memories they had actually happened (Ceci et al. 1994), (Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, p. 274). In my opinion, if these events actually happened, which I doubt they did, the memories where convincing false memories, not in fact real alien abductions.

Every Seven Seconds

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You've probably heard someone throw out this stat.: "Men think about sex every seconds." It's important not to believe something to be scientifically proven just because whoever said it framed it as a statistic. I mean think about it, if the average man really did think about sex every seven seconds, how would any man get anything done? This particular statistic is really an extraordinary claim, and it turns out, there isn't a whole lot of extraordinary evidence to back this one up. The thought probably stems from the common belief that men's behaviors are more influenced by sexual drive than those of women. However, according to the Kinsey Institute's famous, and highly regarded, "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male", 54% of men think of sex at least once a day, 43% a few times a month or week, and 4% less than once a month. While you can't be exactly sure about what thought go through a person's head when, this survey alone does pretty well to throw out the myth that the average man thinks about sex every seven seconds.

more people die from...

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Statistics can be misleading. People will often use them to make a point, but you can't infer anything more from a statistic than what it explicitly says. You've probably heard a statement like, "more people die each year from swallowing ball point pens than from shark attacks." Some one could try to use this "extraordinary evidence" to back up a extraordinary claim like sharks aren't that dangerous, and it might seem convincing. But really this statistic doesn't mean anything at all.

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Looking at the two images, which seems more deadly? Obviously the shark. If you've ever seen Shark Week, you'll know that sharks are nothing less than underwater killing machines. So how can this statistic be true? The claim falls prey to the base rate fallacy. A base rate is how common a behavior or characteristic is within the general population. Most people have a lot more contact with pens than sharks. I have held countless numbers of pens in my life, but have I ever been swimming anywhere near a shark? No I haven't. Of course more people die a year from choking on ball point pens than from shark attacks, but that doesn't mean that sharks are less dangerous than pens. Simply, a lot more people use pens than swim with sharks, so a lot more people are killed by pens than by sharks. Next time I have the option of jumping in a pool with a Great White, or putting a pen in my mouth, I'll choose the pen.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by silve309 in October 2011.

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