October 2011 Archives

I have twin telepathy!

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twin telepathy.jpgThere is much controversy over the topic of twin telepathy or otherwise commonly called twin extra sensory perception (ESP). Can twins really sense another being's perception unlike the rest of the population? How can we test this? Most evidence is provided by stories of twins experiencing this so called phenomenon. However, when put in a lab setting twins are unable to silently communicate better than any other close relationship sets. Without replicablity or testable results this claim is not falsifiable.
Because of, perhaps, coincidences between twins, such as buying the same item or supposedly feeling pain from the other twin, the idea of ESP is born. If we critically think using Occam's Razor perhaps there is a simpler reason. Is it not true that long-time best friends may behave in this same way? Could married couples not have the same symptoms? It is more likely that anybody having a close relationship could develop the same coincidences claimed to be telepathy. The idea of twin telepathy is an extraordinary claim; to be valid it will require extraordinary evidence, which is not yet present at this point.
Because twins have been together since the womb, they may have a more tightly knit bond than another set of siblings. This correlation does not result in the cause of ESP; if telepathy were even proven valid of course. As a twin myself, I do not believe the idea of telepathy among twins is valid. Though my identical twin and I have a much closer bond together than that of our other siblings, she also disagrees with the theory of extra sensory perception.
Sure, we have experienced weird coincidences such as finishing each other's sentences or knowing what the other is thinking during a given situation, but critically thinking this is no more than just knowing each other very well. Last year we bought the same pair of jeans not because we have telepathy, but because we grew up in the same environment and have the same taste in clothing. In fact, the same coincidences occur between our very close friends. Just because we shared an egg and sperm does not mean we somehow gained an extra sense than the rest of the world.
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No benefits of amnesia

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I'm sure all of us would agree that one would prefer to keep our mental health perfectly intact. However, with mental illnesses often comes the presence of a rare gift. For example though autistic people can often not perform simple tasks such as daily functioning or social comprehension, many have extraordinary talents such as the ability to memorize a dictionary, play a classical piece on the piano after hearing it once, or solve nearly impossible math problems. Manic depressive people sometimes have great talents for comedy. Mental illness can inspire musical, visual, or theatrical creativity. Van Gogh suffered from epilepsy and hallucinations, but he is one of the most renowned painters in history. Antonin Artaud was a schizophrenic, but he is one of the greatest theatre masterminds of history. Of course, mental health is always preferred, but if that's not a option, it's nice to know there are still some "perks," so to say.
Unfortunately this is not the case for those who suffer from severe amnesia. Those who cannot remember much of their past and have difficulty encoding new memories suffer in more areas that simply forgetfulness; due to the fact that so much of their memory has been erased, those with amnesia tend to have far lower imaginative and creative skills. Think about it. If someone told you to paint a sunset over mountains with trees and flowers but you had very limited memory of these things, you would not be able to complete the task well. You would certainly not be able to come up with imaginative ideas easily on your own.


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070117-amnesia_2.html

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=amnesia+brain+damage&num=10&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&biw=1212&bih=680&tbm=isch&tbnid=p4hMTW-REtaXgM:&imgrefurl=http://www.undergrad.ahs.uwaterloo.ca/~kkwlau/amnesia101.html&docid=zwovzoPSu-HZ9M&imgurl=http://www.undergrad.ahs.uwaterloo.ca/~kkwlau/clip_image002_0000.jpg&w=408&h=381&ei=gz6mTuW1G9KSgQezsrH8Dw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=508&vpy=142&dur=1057&hovh=217&hovw=232&tx=91&ty=135&sig=111762342993106543989&sqi=2&page=1&tbnh=142&tbnw=152&start=0&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0

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Classical conditioning is used when you take an animal that responds to a previously neutral stimulus which is paired with another stimulus, to automatically draw out a response. The most well known way of learning this concept, is knowing about Pavlov's discoveries. Within his discoveries he discovers the meanings of: unconditioned stimulus (UCS), unconditioned response (UCR), conditioned response (CR), and conditioned stimulus (CS). In the video provided by an Office episode, Jim Halpert is trying to get Dwights Schrute to do what he wants; similar to how Pavlov tries to get the dog to do what he wants. In the Office situation, the sound of the computer re-booting is the UCS. When Jim supplies Dwight with the Altoids that is the UCR. Eventually as the video keeps playing, Jim's goal is to re-boot the computer which is now the CS without offering an Altoid. Now that Dwight is used to getting Altoids every time he hears that re-booting sound, that is the CR; he starts craving the Altoids every time he hears that sound.

Previous to listening to Dr. Peterson's lecture on consciousness, I had never critically examined the idea of a conscious thought in relation to those choices made without us being actively aware of them. The idea that we could be aware of something, without actually being conscious of such an awareness, is extremely interesting and shows the complex nature of our brains. To explain such a concept, we discussed and viewed a video regarding a patient who had his corpus callosum severed in order to relieve his severe seizures.

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As seen in the above picture, the corpus callosum serves to connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain so that they can share the information that they receive simultaneously. In this way, despite the fact that information is relayed to one side of the brain or the other depending on the position of the stimulus, the entire brain is aware of it. So in severing this connection, communication is stopped and any functions that are unique to one side of the brain or the other don't get relayed in the fashion that they should. This is especially evident in looking at the Broca and Wernicke areas of the brain.

Broca and Wernicke.png

These areas, responsible for the production and understanding of speech, are localized to the left area of the brain. This means when someone who has a severed corpus callosum interacts with something using only their left hand (meaning the signal is sent to the right half of the brain) they will not be able to articulate in words what the object is without viewing it. What is intriguing, however, is the fact that they are still aware of the identity of the object, just not on a conscious status.

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As can be seen in the video, this experiment yielded very unusual results that present a variety of questions. It would seem that our mind can be aware of things without us even knowing it, which throws into doubt the idea of a unified consciousness. Another question that I find myself asking is in regards to how how much info is stored in our brain subconsciously and how often such information is used by our brains without us being actively aware of it. Also, if our brain comes up with falsified stories to explain such information, how much of what we think we know about ourselves and our self consciousness is really true?

Pica Disorder

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Pica is a disorder that is characterized by an appetite for substances that are non-nutritive. An example of what one person might eat would be clay, metal, sand and dirt. It can go to even higher extremes and one might eat batteries, spoons toothbrushes. In my friends roommates case, she eats aluminum can tabs and the white strings that can come from your jeans. Pica can be seen in all ages, but is normally found in women and children. Either way, there are some very serious health hazards such as lead poisoning, bowel problems, intestinal obstruction and dental injury. The reasons for Pica can be linked to a mental disorder, or mineral and iron deficiency. Ways to treat Pica range from a lot of different approaches. If it is a child that keeps putting dirt in their mouth, its just a physical restraint that is needed to keep objects out of the mouth. For older women taking zinc as a supplement will help balance out the chemical imbalances. So todays lesson, don't eat random objects!!!

Stuttering and the brain

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During our lectures on language and thought, I was absolutely amazed to see how the brain could know something yet be unable to speak about it, or somehow communicate its knowledge due to a severed corpus callosum. This idea of thoughts being unable to be spoken led me to think of stuttering.

Stuttering is a speech impediment that affects a lot people, mostly children. (I was a child stutterer, myself). It can range from the repetition of sounds, the prolongation of syllables, or elongated pauses between words and speech that occurs in spurts. For more information, go here. Many might recall the recent movie The King's Speech, where King George VI deals with many problems, such as his own stuttering.

Some scientists have found that while stuttering is often caused by emotional factors (such as stress or family dynamics), there are genetic factors as well (over 60% of stutterers claim someone in their family has stuttered as well). Stutterer's brains process speech and language differently than non-stutterers, but it's not that they don't use language and grammar properly. According to this article, when they begin to speak, their motor output does not function properly. In fact, "The right hemisphere is considered the non-dominant hemisphere for language, and the activity may indicate that the right hemisphere is compensating for something that is not happening in the left hemisphere". This subject still remains to be fully understood, but while most children phase out of stuttering by themselves, speech pathologists and therapists are able to help adults with their stuttering too.

Alzheimer's disease

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The chapter on memory had many interesting finding regarding the factors involved with how human memory works, and the theories that explain many aspects of our ability to remember. One area that I found particularly interesting is biology involved with memory loss. This topic is very interesting to me as my great grandmother, who has recently passed away, was experiencing dementia before she died. The book explained that the memory loss occurs with people experiencing Alzheimer's disease and dementia starts with recent memories and continues on, with memories in the distant past being the last to be forgotten. Because of this, grandchildren's name will be forgotten before children's names. I found this especially interesting because my great grand mother could not remember my sister's name and my name, and often did not recognize us at all, but had no problem remembering my mother or grandfather. The process of my great grandmother's memory loss fit perfectly with the way Alzheimer's disease was explained.
The book also explained the theories involving why and how people lose their memory. Many people believe that memory loss should be expected over time, and is an unavoidable part of aging, However, studies have shown that although a small amount of memory loss has been shown to occur over a lifetime, it is not an unavoidable event that will occur no matter what. Certain correlational studies have shown a strong interaction between physical and mental activity over a lifetime and memory loss. People who have taken part in a large amount of physical activity, or have been intellectually active over their lifetime have a lowered chance of getting Alzheimer's disease. Although there is no causation associated with this interaction, it could support further research into how to avoid Alzheimer's.

What is Beauty?

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Everyone wants to be beautiful nowadays, but what is beauty? In Hippias Major, one of the dialogues of Plato, both Socrates and Hippias tried to define beauty. The question Socrates asked Hippias, "consider: for he asked you, not what is beautiful, but what the beautiful is," sparked a long abstract debate between them two. The first half of the dialogue involves Hippias answering to the question what is beautiful. Then, Hippias slowly shifted over to answering what the beautiful is in the last half of the dialogue. In summary, the question, "what is beautiful (or fine)," is a questions asking for a person, place, or thing that is beautiful. Hippias answered, "A beautiful maiden is beautiful." Then, Socrates asked Hippias to make a comparison and state which one is more beautiful, Hippias answered, "the most beautiful of monkeys is ugly compared with the race of man, and the most beautiful of pots is ugly compared with the race of maiden." But this idea contradicts itself because Hippias then answered that, "the human race is not beautiful in comparison with gods." Therefore, this answer is fallible because there are infinite numbers of beautiful things and the question is to define beauty, not list what is beautiful. So the next time, do not try to strive for beauty but rather look for beauty.

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It is easy for people to create false memories or memory illusions, like we experienced during our discussion this week. Many people included words in the lists that weren't actually said. It is amazing how our minds associate certain words, which causes us to believe that the words were actually in the list when they weren't. False memories can have a large affect on many situations throughout the world. An example of this was the case of Paul Ingram. He was led to believe that he had sexually abused his two daughters, when in reality he had never committed any crime. He merely believed that these events had occurred, because of people that he trusted providing him with all of this false information. People believed the girls even though there were many inconsistencies with their stories. The dates were constantly changing with each time that they were interviewed and there was no physical evidence of abuse on any of the girls. Paul even "confessed" to these crimes, but his stories of the events were not close to the accounts that the girls had given. The charges against Paul were eventually dropped two days after he pleaded guilty because the officials knew that he was having false memories.

This story of the Ingram family shows how false memories can truly affect people's lives. Many false memories consist of the mixing of multiple memories. For example, when recalling an accident that happened while driving home from work, someone might say that there was shattered glass covering the road. However, in reality, there might have been no shattered glass anywhere.

False memories occur all the time without notice. Did you ever think of how many false memories you've had that have lead you to stray from what had actually occurred in the past?

Here is a link to a story of a woman's experience with her own false memory:
My Lie: A True Story of False Memory

A Simple Trick to Remembering

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A mnemonic device is "any technique used for the purpose of either assisting in the memorizing of specific material or improving the function of memory in general." There are several types of mnemonic devices. You've probably used them before without even realizing! Most people use acronyms, acrostics, and rhymes, but there's also grouping, visual association, and the Method of Loci in which you place the items you want to remember in a visualized room or route.

The concept of mnemonic devices is a helpful one, especially to college students. Everyday we are presented with loads of information that we need to absorb so that it can be used at a later date. Learning mnemonic devices can help us with that. Take this video for example. In the popular TV show The Office, we see Michael Scott use mnemonic devices to remember his clients names. Although his way of doing so is offensive, it does work!

Mnemonic devices can be used for many things: remembering dates, remembering names, remembering the order of the planets (I'm sure as a child you were taught My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos!); the list is endless. I'm sure you also learned this one, too: mnemonic device.jpg

However, mnemonic devices don't work for everything. Although they are easy to use for recalling small pieces of information, or simple facts, larger concepts and ideas are a lot more difficult and many times making the mnemonic device more difficult to come up with and memorize. When this happens, it is important that people learn to recall the information in other ways.

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These are the faces of a miscarriage of justice. The Norfolk Four case is eerily similar to Paul Ingram's-- if not even more terrifying. Four former naval officers confessed to the rape and murder of a young woman. They were tried, sentenced, and served time for a crime they had no hand in. The true criminal also confessed, confessed to committing the act alone. Yet his testimony was ignored, as was other irrefutable evidence.

Why do individuals admit to obscene acts they have not done? Why are countless people willing to ignore facts that stare them in the face?

First, I suggest referring back to the suspects themselves. All were former naval officers. This suggests that they had been conditioned to respect authority. When the men were brought into questioning and interrogated by a ruthless and unforgiving detective who would not take "no" for an answer, this conditioned response may have made them more susceptible to falsely confessing.

Loftus's interpretation of the "misinformation effect" undoubtedly played a contributing role. The interrogator would feed the men parts of others' confessions until the stories lined up more consistently. When the true rapist and murderer was discovered, they even convinced the Norfolk Four that they had found this man on the street and invited him to join in their mass crime.

As with Paul Ingram, police were under intense pressure to imprison for a heinous crime. Though there was no false testimony working against them, the cop harassing them was notorious for eliciting false confessions and later indicted on charges of corruption. One of the four had a particular interest in the woman killed which sparked a tangled web including more than seven suspects-- none of whom were related to the crime in question.

Per haps the jurors were biased by the suspects pleas of "guilty" and their brutal depictions of the crime they thought they committed. The men were told they would receive the death penalty if they didn't plea guilty and since sentencing each of them has rediscovered their innocence and are released or pending pardon from the mayor.

This Frontline video provides just a glimpse as to what the human memory is capable of believing:


The topic of dreaming has been the inspiration for many different films over the years. However, innovative filmmaker Christopher Nolan changed the cinematic perspective on dreams in his 2010 blockbuster, Inception. Nolan, who stepped into the realm of psychological cinema previously with Memento and Insomnia, comes back to tell a tale of psychological espionage and bring viewers into a fantastical world where one has the ability to invade another's mind.

The film deals with many psychological themes and is mainly based off the concept of what is real and what is a dream. The film blends worlds, often spending time in the dreams as the story progresses. A skilled thief is hired by a powerful man to infiltrate the mind of his rival and plant an idea to disable his corporation entirely. The film is relatable to psychology due to the fact that the film is based of the concept of lucid dreaming.

Lilienfeld defines, in the chapter dealing on human consciousness, that lucid dreaming is an "experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming" (171). Inception's characters work in the area of dream invasion, and often share a lucid dream together. Unless they get lost in limbo, an unconstructed dream space, they are fully aware of the dream. Stay with me here. The film gets very bizarre, convoluted and, basically, crazy as it follows the characters on their journey into the different levels of the subconscious mind. One character is labeled as the architect, the member in charge of knowing the levels and controlling the dream. This person is essentially the lucid dreamer.

In reality, many people have stated that they have experienced a lucid dream from time to time. Personally, I don't think I ever have been able to become fully aware while in a dream. I think I would remember something like that. I wish I could, though and will give it a try. A former roommate of mine claims he lucid dreams almost every night. I'm not sure if I believe him, but yet again the descriptions of some of his dreams he made me wonder how anyone could make such things up. The topic is only becoming increasingly more popular in modern science, and Inception brought the concept to life on the sliver screen.


http://john-b-badd.hubpages.com/hub/Inception-and-Lucid-Dreaming
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASf55cov5F8&feature=player_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66TuSJo4dZM&feature=player_embedded


*I have been trying to post pictures and a link to a video on lucid dreams but it freezes my browser when I attempt to post it. I have tried firefox, chrome and safari. What am I doing wrong?


Memento

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Memento is a well known movie directed by Christopher Nolan that depicts the life of Lenny who suffers from short-term memory loss. He still retains his previously long-term memories before he was afflicted with the condition, but he cannot make any new ones.
To see a trailer for Memento: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vS0E9bBSL0

After watching Memento (if you haven't I highly recommend that you do) it begs the question of whether or not it accurately depicts what it would be like to suffer from short-term memory loss. I do not not have much background or experience with the constructs of memory so after doing some research I found that the scientific community generally agrees that Memento is one of the most realistic and accurate depictions of anterograde amnesia.
Here is an interesting article on the validity of Memento:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/292/5522/1661.full

What makes Memento so powerful is that you are immersed into the life of Lenny and feel as if you are in his shoes. From the way the movie is presented in reverse you get a real sense of what it is like to suffer from anterograde amnesia. It is as if you partake in Lenny's thought process and are as clueless as he is of what just happened.
Here is an interesting graph of how time progresses in the movie:
Memento_Timeline.png

In the end, Memento raises the question: what is real? Is our memory to be completely trusted? Can we always trust our interpretations of the world around us? Memory can be flawed so easily, how are we to know if anything in our past ever happened? In the end, as in the case of Lenny, reality is what we make it.

Lucid Dreaming

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I have always had questions about lucid dreaming, and when I came upon the section in our Psychology book I was happy to see some information on it. I always wondered if I was one of the few that could tell that they were in a dream, and I like knowing that I am in a dream, specifically scary ones so that you know you are safe and really are not going to die. In the video I looked up on youtube, it explains more about dreaming, and has information about lucid dreaming particularly. It says that our brain is the one organ that we cannot control, and I wonder if that is the way it is supposed to be. They are trying to figure out how we can control what our dreams are about but I strongly disapprove of that. I think that we should leave our dreams up to our imagination, because for a few hours of our life everyday, we do not have control over anything that is happening. It would be neat to be able to pick our dreams, so that we can see places and experience things that are not possible, but I also think that dreaming is a part of life and a gift because dreams seem to always surprise us. The only way I would maybe think that dreams can become useful is if kids would use them so that they did not have so many nightmares. It can be really scary for kids, they might not even be able to sleep alone, so would kids learning to control their dreams make them happier children? What would happen if we were able to control our dreams, and we regretted that decision. Would we be able to stop controlling our dreams if we decided we did not enjoy the skill? Is taking control of our dreams pushing us over the edge on how much we are supposed to know about our bodies, and should we be thinking about our dreams when we are supposed to be sleeping and letting our brain take over while we get rest? What I really wonder is, would being able to control our dreams even make the world smarter, because we would be able to figure out problems we do not normally have answers for all the time, and would we be way smarter considering we would constantly be thinking and solving problems almost double our time here on Earth? I couldn't imagine people being way smarter then they already are.

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Have you ever experienced a night terror or a sleepwalking episode? In my younger years, I definitely experienced both of these sleep disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, night terrors, also commonly known as sleep terrors, are episodes of fear, screaming, perspiring and confusion while asleep. Even though these sleep terrors seem extremely disturbing while they are occurring, they really are not anything to worry about. They are normally harmless and occur mostly in children ages 4-12. This is exactly the age I used to experience my sleep terrors. After sleep terrors, children usually do not remember much of what or anything that happened. Mayo Clinic also states that night terrors are almost always paired with sleepwalking. This is ironic, because I definitely have had times where I have experienced the two together.
According to PubMed Health, sleep walking is a sleep disorder when people walk or do any other activity while still fully asleep. Comparable to night terrors, sleep walking usually occurs during stages 3 and 4 of sleep, or non-rep sleep. It normally takes place in the beginning of the night when a person is in a deep non-rep sleep state. Many of the symptoms of sleepwalking are similar to those of night terrors, such as confusion, being wide eyed, sitting up during sleep, not remembering the episode, and more. Also, like night terrors, sleepwalking is definitely more common in children, but is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder. According to Lilienfeld, sleepwalking occurs 4 to 5 percent in adults and 15 to 30 percent in children. A difference between these two is that night terrors are generally not harmful, but people often do bad things while sleepwalking. In fact, a few people who committed murder have used sleepwalking as a defense.
An occurrence I had with night terrors and sleepwalking was an extremely intense experience. According to PubMed Health, you are more likely to encounter these sleep disorders if you have experienced lack of sleep; this is the only time I experienced them. One night when I was about 10 years old, my friends and I stayed up all night. The next day I was going to MOA with my brother Cory for my birthday, so I decided to get some sleep from 6 am to 8 am. During these two hours, I woke up sweating and experienced a night terror. I got very mad at my family, stomped my feet and cried, not even realizing that I was actually asleep. I also remember being very confused during the entire occurrence. After this, I fell back into a deep sleep. My brother woke me up at 8 am to go to MOA, but I didn't actually wake up. I rode in the car and we even stopped at a restaurant and ate on the way. I specifically remember when we got to the mall, I stepped out of the car into the parking ramp and woke up from my sleepwalking state. I had no recollection of the ride to MOA or even eating at the restaurant. These sleep disorders are extremely weird to think about, but definitely do occur.

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http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/night-terrors/DS01016
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001811


As you're thinking about this upcoming Psych exam and perhaps all the other midterms you have in the coming weeks, you may be wondering how on earth you will manage to stay awake long enough to get all your work done and still find time to study. Maybe you are planning on drinking coffee, energy drinks, or other sources of caffeine, but perhaps you have also heard about a pill that can not only help you stay awake, but also increase you focus and help you to do better on your exams.

These "smart pills," as they are called, come in a variety of forms, including herbal remedies and prescription pills and are becoming highly popular on college campuses. However, students who are using them may not be aware of their "true identity." While it is true that drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin make a person more alert and awake, there is no evidence to support that they help a person to retain more information or to do better on a test. In fact, use of a drug that is not prescribed to you can be extremely dangerous. Some people even worry that drugs like this may become "gateway drugs," and lead users to try other prescription meds.

The truth is, these medications are no more effective than caffeine, and they may be hurting you more than they are helping. There is no way to "enhance" your memory. You were born with the brain you have, and all the knowledge you need is already there. So, forget about these phony drugs and just do the best you can. Good luck to you all on this exam and on all the work ahead of you in these busy upcoming weeks!

Have i been here before?

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In chapter 5 of our Lilienfeld textbook we delve into the discussion of consciousness. A concept that i can definitely relate to was Déjà vu. The average person has experienced at least one instance of the "this seems eerily familiar" feeling in their life. I've personally experienced the strange sensation many times. I was curious about this topic because it is so common with my friends and I. The strange feeling you get when you see a photo, go to a park, or smell a scent that you've never encountered before yet you can almost you've seen it before always left me wondering if i'm either going crazy or it actually happened.

The word Déjà vu is French meaning "already seen".The feeling of Déjà vu itself may also come about from a difficulty in recalling when you had experienced something of similarity. Another means of which it can arise is the excess of dopamine in your temporal lobes.(Taiminen & Jääskeläinen, 2001) As described in our textbook the feeling lasts normally from 10 to 30 seconds.

After doing some deeper research on Déjà vu I came about the special case of a retired British engineer who seemed to have longer lasting feelings of Déjà vu than the average person. A psychiatrist by the name of Robert Efron was interested in the sensation and wanted to create an explanation. After much research he gave rise to the Dual Processing Theory which states that the brain receives so much information during the day that much of it is not consciously analyzed. So then when the brain is sorting all these bits of knowledge can be integrated to their rightful place with a little delay causing the strange sensation. You can click on the following Link for more information.dejavu.jpg

Dr.Efron's theory left me with a few questions of my own. Is it Deja Vu merely a neurological process or could there be more meaning behind it? Could there be more behind it beyond the scope of observable science?

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Pitching the first ball is a longstanding ritual of American baseball. The ceremonial pitchers can be the ones who are well-known as dignitaries, celebrities, or former players. Also the people who sponsor the team or who won the opportunity from a contest can be the pitchers to throw the first ball.

However, the original motive of throwing the first pitch has been deteriorated. Instead of those people listed above, people that have nothing to do with baseball games are welcome to the field as the first pitcher. Nowadays, most of the people who are asked to be the first pitcher tend to be those famous, sexy female celebrities especially in Korea and Japan. Watching the first ball being thrown by the hot female celebrities, both the baseball players and the fans, who are mostly men, get excited and believe that their team is going to win the game or so.

This is an example of classical conditioning applied in real life. In this case, the conditioned stimulus is the baseball game for the players playing on the field or for the fans watching it. On the other hand, the unconditioned stimulus can be the ceremony of the hot female celebrities' throwing the first ball, and the people's unconditioned response is arousal, encouragement, excitement, and/or pleasure.

Even when the unconditioned stimulus, the girls' throwing the first ball, is removed later on, the conditioned stimulus, the baseball game itself, will arouse the unconditioned response and change it into a conditioned response. As the conditioned response, people will get more excited about the game, which excitement was originally in response to the hot celebrities. Therefore, it is clear that having sexy girls or women throw the first ball at the beginning of the game has been such a strategy to get people more excited and crazy about the baseball under the classical conditioning.


[News] Japanese pro baseball player wants Soshi(famous Korean pop girl group singers) to throw first ball for Orix Buffaloes

That's why Japanese are crazy about baseball (youtube video)


Opening Ceremony Of A Baseball Game (by SNSD aka, Soshi, youtube video)

Gum.jpegDoes it take 7 years.jpeg

At some point, in nearly every person's life, they swallow some chewing gum and get barraged with the claim that the gum will be in their digestive system for 7 years. This claim is often times stated by adults, to try and prevent children from eating their gum rather than spitting it out. They scare the children, where the fear is the stimulus, so that they will swallow their gum less, this is a form of positive punishment. For some children this a scary thought, and many adults even wonder if they are actually carrying around some gum for 7 years after they mistakenly swallow it. So, does gum actually stick to your insides, or does it pass right through you like other foods?
Through some of the principles of critical thinking, this statement can be evaluated. The most important principle for this claim, principle #5, states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence. There is no outstanding evidence that suggests that this claim is factual, however people with confirmation bias sometimes unknowingly support their views by denying evidence, dismissing evidence, or even distorting it to fit their own theory. This plays a role in this claim because it is easily testable, and if someone is trying to test the experiment their conclusion may be inaccurate or not valid. Afterwards, the results may mislead people that have not done the experiment personally, and so, there is not enough evidence to prove the claim. Therefore, the principle that states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence is the most useful way to evaluate this claim.
Recent experiments have found that this claim is very replicable; however, the results refute the claim. This means that the claim can be tested, but the results are not replicated findings of the claim. It does not take 7 years to digest gum. In fact the experiments have shown that gum is digested at the same rate as other foods, but a large portion of the gum's composition is not digestible, so it becomes a simple waste product!

Learn more at http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/chewgum.asp and http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-chewing-gum-takes-seven-years-to-digest

Today, a person's schedule is more packed than ever. From one appointment to the next it's hard for anyone to catch a good night's sleep. But now sleep isn't just for sleeping anymore. As if we're not getting enough done while we're awake, "new studies" show we can learn while we sleep. Because in today's economy, time not spend engaged, is time wasted.
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One of the fads discussed in Chapter 6 was sleep-assisted learning. I wondered to myself, how could anyone believe that and how could anyone try to market something so ludicrous? So I went on Google and found this website: the "offical" sleep learning website. A person could learn a new language, build self-esteem, quit drinking, learn business success, work out their marriage problems and even be psychic all while asleep!! The site screamed pseudoscience left and right. The site reclaims over and over again the "latest research" and "scientific studies in labs and homes" have proven learning while you sleep is an effective way of learning but it never sites a single study or credits any institution for its "findings." The site also claims we only use 5% of our brain, which we learned in Chapter 3 is simply not correct. The site appeals more to pathos than ethos and logos. First it tries to persuade potential customers sleep learning will help you pass an exam or learn a new language with LESS effort, then it goes on to claim the Soviet Union was already way ahead of the United States in organized sleep learning to finally an outlandish claim of 250,000 already satifised customers. And to top it all off, there is a 100% guaranteed money back, risk-free seal at the bottom of the page which we can not trust because as we've learned, no psycholgical technique is 100% foolproof. So what do you say? "The key to unlocking your potential" is either $9.95, $19.95, or $29.95 away.

False Memory Implantation

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False memory implantation is the ability of a person to alter ones memory of an event or to implant a false memory in one's mind. I think this idea is fascinating because people are able to convince others that completely made up events have occurred. This idea is also important because it demonstrates that memories can be manipulated and altered by a third party.

One of the most famous cases on false memory implantation involves the imprisonment of Paul Ingram for molesting his daughters. At a religious retreat her camp leader convinced his daughter that she was sexually assaulted and when she returned home the investigation began. Paul originally claimed he was innocent but throughout the investigation he was detained, isolated, hypnotized and eventually convinced that he sexually assaulted his daughters. Although there was no evidence against him, he pleaded guilty to "six counts of third degree rape" and was imprisoned for 20 years. This case demonstrates to an extreme extent that memories can be created and altered.

This applies to my life because often times, it seems that present events effect past memories. For example, if I get in a terrible fight with a friend but than she apologizes and goes out of her way to be nice, the fight will not seem as bad as it originally was. It often seems like the mood and setting can effect how one views past memories. An alternate explanation for this could be that false memories can only be implanted in one person. This can be tested through repliciability to ensure that implantation is a legitimate effect.


phoebus.jpgI have no shame in admitting I'm definitely a cat person. When we were talking about clicker training in class, I had some skepticism if it would work on cats which are known to be very difficult to train, unlike dogs. I looked up on youtube clicker training for cats to see if there were any specific examples of the training. The youtube video I did find was an ad for clicker training which showed how the training worked. First, I was surprised that it worked on cats. Second, I noticed how they must have skipped multiple hours of training to show the final trick the cat had learned. At first, it went step by step to show how the cat was trained to touch its nose to the end of a stick, which is a natural response of a cat. Then it showed how the training could be used to teach your cat to sit, jump up or down, high five etc. It feels they compared the first part of training, which is relatively easy to do because it capitalizes on how cats already operate, to the second part of training which is very against the normal nature of how cats act. Operant conditioning, while effective, does take a fair amount of time to do. This elimination of information can be misleading to those viewers who wish to train their cats to do certain tricks which is an example of how science can we twisted to produce profits. Although clicker training is an interesting idea, it is always vital to take a step back and evaluate how science can be used in everyday life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6wgbCmaD8o&feature=related

Linguistic Determinism

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Linguistic determinism is a fascinating theory that derived from a study of Inuit people and the vast amount of words they have for snow. Linguistic determinism can be simplified as the view that our thinking is solely determined on the language we speak. This is an incredible claim because it makes the assumption that the way we think about the world is completely linguistically derived.
Although this theory is very popularly tested, there are some doubts that the studies involving the Inuit people created some loopholes. Some researchers have claimed that there aren't as many distinctions among the word snow as originally thought. There is also a claim that the English language has just as many terms that describes types of snow as the Inuit do. Finally there is a correlation vs. causation issue in which they are doubts that the greater number of terms caused the Inuit to make finer distinctions. It is likely that they found it useful to make distinctions between types of snow because of the environment they live in.
Coming from a family that is bilingual, the theory of linguistic determinism is a very interesting concept. I started to think about the distinctions between Arabic and English. There is a noticeable difference in the placing of words in sentences between the two languages. In English when one says, "That girl is beautiful", the Arabic translation comes out as "Beautiful is that girl", where the adjective comes before the noun. These differences could explain why Arabic speakers and English speakers emphasize different things. But is this difference a good thing?
Diversity among languages can be taken a multitude of ways. Some people appreciate differences among languages, but it is common for others to believe that these differences cause worldwide conflict and make it impossible for people from different linguistic backgrounds to resolve issues. Personally, I believe that these differences are essential for world unity. If everyone thought one way it would definitely be easier, but people having a diverse perception of the world is a big reason why earth is such a great place to live.

0_61_amnesia.jpgThis article is about Jeffrey Alan Ingram. He is an amnesia sufferer that found himself in a different state after four days, without knowing his past life. Ingram suffers from dissociative fugue. This type of amnesia "involves one or more episodes of sudden, unexpected, but purposeful travel from home during which people cannot remember some or all of their past life, including who they are (their identity)".

The article also discusses the possible cause of Ingram's amnesia. Ingram's amnesia could be the result of stress. Before his bout of amnesia, Ingram was reported going "on his way to Canada to visit a friend who was dying of cancer". I believe that Ingram's stress was too unbearable that his mind essentially reset itself--forgetting all the stress inducing memories. His brain was essentially adapting to the situation to prevent the damaging effects of stress.

In the textbook, the authors discuss the possibility of a drug that blocks the formation of traumatic memories. Like Ingram's mind ridding memories to prevent the damaging effects of stress, the drug propranolol blocks the formation of emotional memories, but is this living? Painful emotional memories are a part of the human condition, so if we were to take this aspect away then we would be no more than robots reacting to stimuli.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15373503/ns/us_news-life/t/man-amnesia-reunited-family-friends/#.TqS8xd4g9uQ

http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/mental_health_disorders/dissociative_disorders/dissociative_fugue.html

Hypnosis is Real!

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Last week when I was reading chapter 5 in our psychology text, I came upon the section talking about hypnosis. I was surprised to find this in our text book because I like many other people, thought hypnosis was just a pseudoscience, and didn't actually exist. Before reading the chapter I use to think that hypnosis was only used as entertainment and was all a bunch of actors and all fake. So after reading the 6 myths I was surprised to see that hypnosis is something completely different then I thought it to be.

Hypnosis is a set of techniques that provide people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Kirsch & Lynn, 1998). Hypnosis today is a treatment used all across the nation for many different types of things. Hypnosis is based on some ones suggestibility. If you have high suggestibility it is more likely for you to be hypnotized and if you have a low suggestibility you are less likely to be hypnotized. Most of the population fits in the medium suggestible.

After doing a little research on hypnosis I came across some cool things like women who give birth through hypnosis. The women are told to recall a time that she "felt good about herself" and relive it. The surprising thing is that the women are conscious throughout the whole birth and the hypnotist is talking to them through their subconscious.
Link

In discussion and lectures we have discussed sleeping disorders and the severity to which they affect us. A study done by professor Brian A. Sharpless, at Penn State University have discovered that sleep paralysis has had some sort of effect on 28% of students, with the frequency of occurrence ranging from once in a lifetime to every night. Sharpless found that people experience three types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis which is the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences, and levitation or out-of-body experiences. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. When it occurs upon falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep. When it occurs when one is waking it is due to the fact that the REM cycle had not completed its cycle. It can last from a few seconds to minutes and in extreme cases a few hours. Sharpless looked identified a large group of people for this study and even researched sleep paralysis in students in other countries and the relationship with stress.
This survey is very recognizable as it has studied over 36,000 people in the last 50 years. It it has constantly found the same percentages over and over. This relates to my life and with the constant pressure to succeed it can easily cause me to become stressed out. With me becoming stressed out I could fall into that 28% as well. It also makes me question do these students suffer in school? I would like to find out how it effects the daily lives of the people who suffer from the disorder, if any. This also makes me question can the individuals that suffer frequently escape the paralysis?
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http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&blog_id=14478

In discussion and lectures we have discussed sleeping disorders and the severity to which they affect us. A study done by professor Brian A. Sharpless, at Penn State University have discovered that sleep paralysis has had some sort of effect on 28% of students, with the frequency of occurrence ranging from once in a lifetime to every night. Sharpless found that people experience three types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis which is the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences, and levitation or out-of-body experiences. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. When it occurs upon falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep. When it occurs when one is waking it is due to the fact that the REM cycle had not completed its cycle. It can last from a few seconds to minutes and in extreme cases a few hours. Sharpless looked identified a large group of people for this study and even researched sleep paralysis in students in other countries and the relationship with stress.
This survey is very recognizable as it has studied over 36,000 people in the last 50 years. It it has constantly found the same percentages over and over. This relates to my life and with the constant pressure to succeed it can easily cause me to become stressed out. With me becoming stressed out I could fall into that 28% as well. It also makes me question do these students suffer in school? I would like to find out how it effects the daily lives of the people who suffer from the disorder, if any. This also makes me question can the individuals that suffer frequently escape the paralysis?
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http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&blog_id=14478

50 First Dates depicts a man who is a marine-life veterinarian living in Hawaii. Henry Roth has been with many different women throughout his life and doesn't see himself in a long-term relationship. Henry meets Lucy Whitmore one day and immediately likes her. The following day however, when the two meet up Lucy has no recollection of ever meeting Henry. We later learn that Lucy suffers from 'Goldfield Syndrome' where she can only remember things from the current day resulting from a car accident. In order to help Lucy remember him, Henry begins to create video tapes and has her write in a journal which summarizes her life and him so that they don't have to start over every day. Henry later goes to visit her. She says to him that she doesn't remember ever meeting him, yet she has dreamed of him and recognizes his face. The movie wraps up by following the typical ending of the guy getting the girl and the couple living happily ever after although they still have to document Lucy's life in order to work through the amnesia.

This movie, in my opinion shows anterograde amnesia in a fairly accurate light. Goldfield Syndrome causes the character, Lucy, to lose the ability to encode new memories after she received brain damage to her hippocampus. Anterograde amnesia is a common form of amnesia, in which memory recovery occurs gradually. Lucy begins to show some recovery of her memory when she is able to remember Henry's face, believes that she saw him in her dreams, and sings on the days when she sees/meets him. This was sort of sudden, but since her memory never progressed past this stage it is still somewhat believable. However, it is unlikely that someone would be able to live a normal life with a family whom he or she cannot remember without the aid of videos and documentation of that person's life without any conflict ensuing.

Here is the ending scene of the movie which shows Lucy being shown her life after waking up without memory of her family or where she is.

Learn While You Sleep!

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Tired of staying up until 3am cramming for that psychology test in the morning? Sick of reading and re-reading material because it just wont stick? Then sleep-learning is for you! Sleep learning, called "Sleep-Assisted Learning" is the learning of new material while sleeping. Sleep learning is easy to do, all you have to do is put on the cd, put in your headphones, and sleep away!

Sleep Learning makes many extraordinary claims like the average human only uses 5% of their brain, with the other 95% wasted away, a 100% money-back guarantee, and that, "Sleep Learning taps into the brain sub-concious while you sleep,allowing ANYONE to learn ANY subject with LESS EFFORT." They also give testimonials where a person who used their sleep learning cd's have won first prize in a contest after 6 weeks of sleep learning, and use the U.S. Library of Congress to promote the legitimacy of their product.
The website only claims that scientific research has proven this method of learning to be true, but doesn't provide any studies. The Lilienfeld Psychology book tells us to be weary of guarantees because no psychological method is foolproof. They looked at many of the studies that claimed sleep learning worked and most of those studies didn't test to make sure the subject was actually asleep.

While Sleep-Assisted learning would make college students' lives so much easier, it likely does not work.There is no extraordinary evidence to backup these claims. There is also no proof that shows the subject is asleep and that they actually learned the material. There are also too many warnings signs against the six scientific thinking principles for this method of learning to be believable.

Lilienfeld Psychology textbook
Sleep Learning

"Lost in Paradise"

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Memory and 50 First Dates.

50 First Dates

Memory is essential to our daily life. It becomes relevant in the recognition of people and their names, a simple phone number, and more substantial evidence such as information for a test or quiz. Without memory we would not be able to recall new information or go about our daily life, memory is more or less crucial to our survival. However, what if one day you could no longer remember the person you had just met a day earlier? You were living in the present, but could not remember a recent event. The movie 50 First Dates illustrates the idea of short-term memory loss and the struggles one must overcome because of this. The main character, Lucy, was in in a terrible car accident permitting her from remembering anyone she met or anthing she did proceeding the accident. Lucy's memory regarding her life before the accident was in perfect condition, however the head injury permitted her from remembering anyone she met the day after. In this case we see that the main character is suffering from anterograde amnesia, which inhibitis us from forming new memories. While Lucy's long term memory was still in tact, she was forced to live the exact same day over and over again. In a comic twist Lucy thought it was her father's birthday every morning, painted the same shed, and more importantly ate at the same diner. In this hilarious romantic-comedy we see the main male character, Henry, attempt to get Lucy to fall in love with him again each day. Incidentally, Henry does not realize that she has anterograde amnesia and becomes confused as to why she does not remember him. It appears that Lucy's character emotes various emotions of confusion and distress when she meets Henry on different occasions. This form of amnesia affects the mind in a way that the person is not fully aware that they have it. The idea that one is living each day over and over again without conscious recognition is a difficult concept to grasp, yet even the people experiencing it do not understand the nature of their situation. Aside from Lucy's situation though, we experience another case of short term memory loss. While the movie twists the case of "10 second Tom" in to a more comic situation, the fact of the matter is that memory truly is a precious thing and can cause drastic restrictions in one's daily life.
"10 Second Tom"
In the case of "10 Second Tom" it appears that he has lost all types of memory function. He too is suffering from anterograde amnesia. In comparison, Lucy still has some types of memory in tact. While her episodic memory for the day is secure, she is unable to remember that day soon after. Her implicit memory however is in fine condition as is her procedural memory. Lucy is perfectly capable of completing procedural task which leads us to believe that anterograde amnesia does not affect this type of memory. However, despite her episodic memory, while stable in regards to events previous to the accident is drastically affected. Memory is what keeps us going. Without memory people may suffer from things as simple as misplacing their phone, to more drastic events like forgetting the love of their life.

Is it really true that freezing, reusing, and heating plastic water bottles releases a dangerous dioxins? It has been said that you should not drink water bottles that have been left in a hot car because the heat causes the plastic to release a dangerous dioxin chemical that can cause cancer, and more specifically breast cancer. The first problem with this idea is that what type of plastic water bottle is not specified. It could be a Smart Water type of water bottle where the bottle comes already filled with water or it could be a reusable bottle, such as Nalgene bottles. The first type of bottles are made from polyethylene or terephthalate. These types of bottles are supposed to be disposable and used only once. One piece of evidence that is given to contradict the myth was given by a Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Rolf Halden. Dr. Halden said that this idea is just an urban legend. To back this up he states that the type of plastic that compose the bottle do not contain any dioxins. He also says that chemicals do not easily spread in freezing temperatures. This evidence is, at least, somewhat reliable. We know that Dr. Halden is a researcher at Johns Hopkins but we do not know what field he is a doctor in. Next, the scientific information he gives us is falsifiable so it is possible to check the validity of the evidence. The other type of water bottle is the reusable type. The problem with these is that many contain BPA which, when ingested, can cause cancer and reproductive damage. However, there is no evidence to back up this claim. In the end, this myth has the possibility to be legitimate but it also has room to be proven wrong. LINK
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Memory and Chunking

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In last week's discussion class, we had to re-write the list of words we have heard. We try to group the words together, which are similar in context so it will be easier to memorize. Many people have a good sense of memory, to memorize up to the "nine" digit magic number of memorization. The term "chunking" means organizing material into meaningful groupings.
To memorize a set of information, one must have to group the information into a set of information that is the same. This method is helpful to people because it gives many people a strategy of memorizing sets of information easily. Chunking expands our short term memory so we can remember sets of information for longer periods of time.
In the text book, (Lilienfield, page 249) the author uses the example of, "CIAUSAFBINBCJFK". The book assumes that we chunked these into 5 different sets, of 3 letters. The book assumes that we grouped it into, CIA,USA,FBI,NBC, and JFK. We tend to group these letters because they mean something to us.
In real life, many people use chunking for chess, and for blackjack. In blackjack, people count cards to get an upper advantage, instead of the casino having the edge. So card counters chunk the cards, into 3 categories.

50 First Dates

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Out of all the topics, I truthfully think I was so far the most intrigued with memory during these past few weeks in Psychology. It was crazy to read about the Ingram case and Loftus' studies and how people actually can force memories into other peoples minds. I was also definitely blown away by the memory activity that we did in the beginning of our discussion. It was so weird because I had sworn that I heard some of the words. The fact that our memory can come up with ideas of it's own is amazing.

In the movie 50 First Dates, One of the characters Lucy has a form of amnesia called Anterograde Amnesia. Anterograde Amnesia is basically is the loss of memory from the point of injury or illness forward. People with this kind of amnesia have trouble remembering anything new. They probably will still have good memory of their life before the injury occurred, but will start to learn little to nothing for the years afterwards. In Lucy's form, she forgets everything after a new day. She meets Henry and he encounters "50 First Dates" with her. This movie clearly shows the effects these kinds of memory losses have. Her family and friends went through so much to make sure she still lived a normal life. They rounded their lives around her to reenact the same day, October 13th, everyday.

In this movie, they also met a fellow named "10 Second Tom". He wasn't able to remember anything after 10 seconds so he needed to be watched under severe conditions, just try and imagine if you lost all your memory after 10 seconds.

As seen in the Ingram case we saw the implantation of false memories among the two daughters and the accusations towards their father even though the claims were ridiculous with no evidence to prove them. In fact, the case became so extreme that the father himself even caved in to his own daughters and believed himself that he had done the awful things they described. Understanding this modern day even of false memories perhaps we can look at a case, although fictional, in a book know as "The Crucible".
In summary the story is about the accusations from a group of girls who accuse their entire town of Purists of being a witch. Granted, the girls continued to convict those because they assumed they would get in trouble if they were caught but originally the idea of false memories came from one little girl. She believed that she "saw" after a ritual in the woods done by a witch doctor that she saw one of the old hags in the town with the devil. However, this is the only case we see where false memories occur in the Crucible because afterwards the main girl uses this idea to use at as a weapon against those who wronged her.
Even though the Crucible is not entirely wrapped around the idea of false memories it definitely played a role, however, the difference between these two cases is that back then no one truly understood the idea of false memories but during the Ingram case we did and yet no one ever questioned if the girls were telling lies but simply believed they were write just as they had done in the Crucible.why-did-arthur-miller-write-the-crucible1.gif

Erasing Memories

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PCWmice1.jpgThe class textbook mentions briefly the effects of propranolol on people memories. They mention that it had the effect of dampening traumatic memories but not erasing them completely. The studies showed that the participants that received the drug stopped having a physical response to their memories of the violent car accident they were involved in.

I have found a news article about a chemical that seems to actually completely erase memories, at least in rats and mice. They taught the animals to avoid an electric shock to their feet in a small box. The mice would remember how to avoid the shock for a long time after they learned how. The researchers then administered a chemical called ZIP to see how it interacted with the chemical they were studying called PKMzeta. The result was the mouse could not remember how to avoid the shock in the box and had to learn all over again.

The results of this research have some interesting implications for the future, such as many ethical questions about its use. I would hope that it could be used for good by enabling us to use it to treat mental diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. It might even allow us to help expand our memories.

Out of Body Experiences?

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Out of body experiences are surprisingly common. According to Lilienfeld 25% of college students and 10% of the general population claim to have had an out of body experience. So what causes these out of body experiences? And are people actually outside of their body?

According to Lilienfeld these experiences are senses of being outside of the body, although we are not actually separate from our body. One explanation is that our sensory information from our different senses get scrambled. If our visual system and touch input do not coincide then our brain may put the pieces together as though we are separate from our bodies even when we are not. But is this the only explanation? I did some research to find out and found the article "Out-of-Body Experience? Your Brain Is to Blame". http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/health/psychology/03shad.html

According to this New York Times article there may be another explanation. This article also describes that our sensory information may be the cause but new research may have pinpointed a specific brain region. When mild electric shocks are given to a part of the brain called the angular gyrus patients experience the sensation that they are above their body or there is someone right next to them trying to stop them from doing certain actions. These experiments show where in the brain these strange sensations come from.

I find this topic intriguing because this discovery pinpoints that the angular gyrus gives us our sense of unity as one person. With time, this could lead to a discovery on how to be in two places at once.


The plot of the film 50 First Dates is based on a young lady named Lucy Whitmore, played by Drew Barrymore, who suffers from long-term memory loss after she was involved in a car accident with her father. She now relives every day like it was the day before the car accident, with every night erasing her memory of the previous day. Henry Roth, played by Adam Sandler, is attracted to Lucy and receives a rude awakening from her father when Henry learns Lucy's story. Lucy's diagnosis is partially anterograde amnesia, which is defined by http://www.memorylossonline.com "Anterograde amnesia is a selective memory deficit, resulting from brain injury, in which the individual is severely impaired in learning new information."

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This accurately explains Lucy's situation in 50 First Dates. The other less accurate term that is used to describe Lucy is that she has lost her short-term memory. Examine the definition of short-term memory provided by http://psychology.about.com, "Short-term memory, also known as primary or active memory, is the information we are currently aware of or thinking about."We then realize that what Lucy is lacking is not short-term memory. This is because she is able to remember things that happened a minute, an hour, or even 12 hours ago. This is not a relative explanation of short-term memory loss. There are no recorded cases in which someone has fallen asleep night after night and suddenly no longer remembered the previous day. The movie is has a very great storyline, unfortunately it is not relavent to psychology. The terminology is incorrect and although very entertaining, it is not illustrating short-term memory loss.

Memento

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The movie Memento is about a man who develops anterograde amnesia, which means new memories cannot be made. He develops this after an attack on his family that leaves his wife dead. This movie portrays this form of amnesia fairly well, because the main character cannot remember anything after a certain amount of time, even though he has pictures and tattoos of things he has to remember. These tattoos and notes he makes only tell him what happened--he doesn't actually remember the event.
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Memento clearly portrays a very severe case of anterograde amnesia, given that he can't remember any of the things that happened since he developed the condition rather than being able to remember a portion of each event. People who suffer from anterograde amnesia always retain their memories prior to the event that triggered this ailment and only have memory problems after the event. According to many film critics and medical experts, as well, this film accurately represented the ailment and did a much better job than other movies that attempt to do the same thing. The way the film was made also helped to see how accurate the portrayal was. The film is broken into pieces that run both in chronological order and reverse chronological order. This creates confusion for the viewer that is very similar to the confusion of the character because of his lack of memories. Overall, I think that this movie represents the effects of anterograde amnesia as best a film can without seeming too over the top.

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The 2000 Christopher Nolan film, Memento, shows the story of a man suffering from anterograde amnesia. After a very serious head trauma, the main character, Leonard (played by Guy Pearce) can no longer form new memories. He remembers everything leading up to the accident, but has difficulty remembering things after.
The definition of anterograde amnesia is, inability to encode new memories from our experiences. In Leonard's case, the only way for him to "remember" things is to keep notes and tattoo important information on his body.
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The film starts with Leonard killing the man he believed attacked him and killed his wife. The rest of the film then continues to move backwards showing all the events leading up to that moment. The scenes are disjointed and told seem to really have any flow. It is how I would imagine Leonard feels every day of his life following the accident.
The book describes the movie as a "largely accurate portrayal" but says that notes like the ones that Leonard have usually don't help because they forget to look at them.

I found the section in chapter seven about erasing painful memories extremely interesting. The ethics behind the research are controversial. If we could erase every painful memory we ever had, would we still grow and learn from our mistakes? I have always thought the idea of erasing specific memories was intriguing, since it has been the basis for many different movies. This whole topic can be connected to the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The two main characters, who are polar opposites, are inexplicably drawn together at the beginning of the movie. Viewers find out later that the two are actually former lovers meeting for the second time, however the two are unaware that they ever had procedures done to erase each other from their memories. I feel as though this movie portrays memory in a less scientific, but more fictional way. The movie portrays memories as "things" that can be manipulated and changed, whereas memories are much more complicated than that. The movie also suggests that there are specific places in the brain that memories are stored, but research has proven that this isn't so.

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There is no specific place, or engram, that memories are stored in. The hippocampus plays a role in the recall of memories, while the amygdala plays a role in the recall of a memory's emotion aspects, but being able to pinpoint and erase specific memories like in the movie has not been proven possible. But does being able to erase painful memories mean we should? We would never learn from our mistakes, as was shown in this movie. Joel and Clementine (the two main characters) end up back together even after erasing their memories of each other. If painful memories could be erased, our lives might end up going in circles, by us making the same mistakes over and over.

Having an Eidetic memory is a sketchy concept for some. It is subjective and hard to disprove making it difficult for people to find it believable. An Eidetic memory (most often known as a photographic memory) when a particular person can see or read an object for any period of time and remember it in great detail.

One of the best examples of an Eidetic memory we have on this earth is a man named Kim Peek. Kim Peek was born with many severe developmental disabilities, but a memory that would shock the world. To some he was considered "The smartest man alive." His brain contained the content of over 12,000 books, 2000 years of calendar dates, all the highways systems in the USA, al the historic dates in the world, and every tune he has ever heard. Now, Eidetic memory is more commonly related to vision, such as things you read or hear, but still, you can't tell me thats not impressive! It has been tested and proven that Kim remembers 98% of things he sees - in detail. There was one test they gave him where he was given 8 pages - which he read in 53 seconds. Two hours later he had a 98.7% recall - including the page numbers!

Kim peek is just one example of people with this extraordinary talent of Eidetic memory. There are many other undiscovered people with this unique memory ability out there today. It is undetermined to whether or not one can train themselves to accomplish this level of memory. So as for now - we will wait and watch in envy at this marvelous gift.

A mnemonic device is defined in Lilienfeld as "". Mnemonic devices help people of all ages study and memorize important information. It is interesting that people use mnemonics in their every-day life usually without noticing it.

Many mnemonics are used by people to remember common things. A well-known mnemonic is that which helps people remember the musical notes in the scale which are ordered by: EGBDF. An easy way to remember this order is to memorize the phrase: "Every Good Boy Does Fine."

Another example of a mnemonic is that which helps people remember the order of the planets from the sun. The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The mnemonic is: "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles."

Bucks County Community College created a webpage to help students study more effectively. Instead of common mnemonics, Bucks Community College faculty created a table explaining all memory techniques. They explain to use acronyms, acrostics, rhyme-keys, loci methods, keyword methods, image-name technique, and chaining; (most of which are also explained in Lilienfeld).

In order to remember information for tests in classes, I use mnemonics to assist my memory. Recently, ABC news investigated the use of mnemonics. Samantha Towle (a student at Ithaca College) made her own mnemonic methods to earn an A in calculus. She would doodle comic strips "about equations that she didn't understand." Her creative method of learning served as a mnemonic for herself. This article suggests that doodling can help students not daydream in class, and they can even learn the class content from their pictures.

http://homeworktips.about.com/od/homeworkhelp/tp/mnemonics.htm
http://faculty.bucks.edu/specpop/mnemonics.htm
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mnemonic-devices-class/story?id=13161481

False Memories

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After doing a memory test in my Psychology Discussion class, I was so blown away by the results that I wanted to learn more. In the test, my teacher read off a list of words and we had to recall as many as we could. At the end of class, we got to see a list of all the words that were said, and on some lists, people (including myself) wrote down words that weren't included on the list, but were associated with the general theme. I could have sworn in one list she said a word, but turns out to my surprise, the word was never said. I created a false memory in my mind that she had said this word, and I was blown away to learn that in fact, the word was never said.

Looking at false memories more closely, I found a report from the University of Washington written by Elizabeth Loftus with stories of creating false memories, and some experiments that they did. One example was that of Nadean Cool, who went to therapy to help cope with a traumatic event dealing with her daughter. The psychiatrist convinced Cool that she had repressed memories of being in a satanic cult, eating babies, being raped, having sex with animals, and being forced to watch the murder of her eight year old friend. The psychiatrist also performed exorcisms on her, one of them which lasted for five hours. Cool finally realized that false memories were placed, and sued the psychiatrist for malpractice. Loftus first started researching memory back in the 1970's, when she began researching the "misinformation effect." This shows that peoples recollections become distorted when they witness an event and then are later exposed to misleading information about it. Her research goes to show just how easy it is to manipulate someone's mind, and to make them believe something that never actually happened. It's amazing how a few words can make the biggest difference.

George Franklin, who has spent the last 6 years in prison on a murder charge, was finally released due to the fact that false memories were planted in his daughters mind using hypnosis, and she accused him of the murder.

This video sums up the story of George Franklin, and is a good example of how creating false memories can often times lead to consequences, and it shows just how easy it is to plant a false memory into someone's mind.

For more about Elizabeth Loftus's research and about more stories of false memories:

http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm


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MEN GET MORE LAUGHS THAN WOMEN
A recent study done in the journal of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review proves that found that men are funnier than women. The margin between the humor of women and men is quite small, however. They also found that it was often times men who found other men funnier. Laura Mickes, a psychology professor in San Diego, says "The stereotype that males are funnier than females has always puzzled me, because in my experience, and my intuition was that, we are equally funny."

In order to perform the study, they had student participants fill out blank New Yorker cartoons and create several captions. They then had 34 men and 47 women grade the cartoons in a tournament-style rating system. They also found that men used vulgarity and sexual humor slightly more than the women in the study.

An interesting thing was what Mickes said later in the article. She says "I think the results do suggest that our thinking that men are much funnier makes us remember them as having been funnier." This to me is a clear example of the representative heuristic. When asked about funny people, I think most average people on the street would think of more men than women off the top of their head. People would probably name Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and other comedic men, but they would probably forget people like Tina Fey who may be equally as funny. This thought makes us think that men must be funnier, and may have had an impact on the study.

False Memories: Paul Shanley

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In our Psychology 1001 discussion this week we talked and learned more about false memories. False memory, also called memory illusion, is a memory that never actually occurred, but you believe that it did. We learned that we are vulnerable to receiving false memories. I know I've always believed that my memories were always correct, but after an experiment that we did in discussion I no longer believe that.

Online I found a video about a priest name Paul Shanley. He was sentenced to prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing a 6 year old boy. The boy had no memories of being sexually abused until he was an adult. He claimed he had saw Shanley's name in a newspaper and all the memories had flooded back to him. The big debate in this case is whether the boy had a repressed memory or was this a false memory. These two claims of memory, repressed and false memory, are known in psychology as the "Memory Wars." Some psychologist believe that repressed memories, especially after traumatic events, can't happen.

In Paul Shanley's case I have a hard time believing that the boy all of the sudden just remember everything that had happened. I believe that with traumatic events, like child abuse, you can try to forget it but it will always be with you. I think that this could be a case of false memory. In the video they showed a psychologist who works with patients who believe the were abducted by aliens. These people's memories are extremely vivid and it just show how influential false memories can be. I believe that memory is a hard thing to base your evidence off. Our memory can be manipulated by many external factors. We don't have very strong evidence yet to know how exactly everything works with our memory.

Food color and diet

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Someone has done the following experiment: take some of the watermelon juice dyed it bright red, and then got the result that all participants feel that the watermelon juice with stain colors is tastes sweet than the watermelon juice with original color. Why is it so? This is because the brain getting long-term accumulation of life experiences formed a conditioned response. As an unconditioned stimulus, colors always enforce people with discriminative stimulus. People always feel excited by seeing red color, red can also increase appetite and stimulate the nervous system stimulant; seeing yellow is most likely to think the taste of citric acid, then stimulating saliva production and thus improving the appetite. It seems like the food color stimulation largely determines people whether to eat it or not .
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Most people prefer the restaurant with the quiet and elegant environment when their have dinner, because eating in a comfortable environment will make people feel more comfortable while they are eating. Furthermore, yellow or orange color in the dining environment can effectively regulate people's mood, Thus stimulating the appetite. During the experiment, psychologists find that green is easy to give people the illusion of returning to nature, and feeling to ease of mind. In the dining environment with red color, people's emotional impulses can be excited easily , and thus increasing appetite, which is a important reason for a lot of restaurants using red color as main color in decoration. If a person is in the blue environment The blue color will help him or her relieve the psychological state of tension and slow down the heart rate. Therefore, the excitement will soon died down.
Although color itself has no emotion, the religious beliefs, life experiences, cultural enrichment, age under the influence of personality and other factors caused all kinds of associations, so that the food contains the corresponding psychological feelings, thus eliciting the conditioned response.

Picture References:
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Seldom in our lives do we enjoy being proven wrong however; Elizabeth Loftus, who has extensively studied memory using suggestive techniques, has uncovered startling evidence that we may be wrong more often than right. Loftus played a critical role in understanding memory as she used the misinformation act to implant false memories into the mind of others.

Loftus was able to do this by asking loaded questions. For example, she would ask "while the car was stopped at a stop sign, did a red Dutsun pass by?" where no stop sign existed. The participants then believed that the stop sign was in fact, there. Additionally, Loftus implanted memories by asking children of their experiences with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Although this is impossible as Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brother's character, the participants often told elaborate stories of meeting him. This prompts us to question: if memory is fallible, why do we rely on it for evidence?

Memory played a large role in the Troy Anthony Davis's case. Davis was an American man convicted and executed for the murder or a police officer. Although no substantial evidence was presented, as many as seven claimed to see Davis shoot the police officer among others that stated they had received a confession. Where did these memories come from? Years later, it was revealed that the police department had coerced the witnesses to hold Davis responsible however; Davis was not released. Were the eyewitnesses brainwashed to believe they had seen him shoot the police officer? Is it possible that the damage had been done? After the eyewitness testimonies were used as evidence, could it be that the notion of Davis's guilt had already been implanted into the minds of others? Despite the lack of evidence, the jurors had used the "memory" of the eyewitnesses to convict and execute Troy Davis.

The Troy Davis Story
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A View From the Moon

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A Picture: (This page kept freezing every time i tried uploading the picture. I had to redo it a couple of times, so I just put the link.)

The Great Wall is about 5, 500 miles that runs from the east to west of China. It has been there for about 2,000 years. It is one of the most appealing attractions with people coming from all over to see this remarkable, historically significant creation. It was built in the midst of a war to keep invasions out.

I think that pretty much everybody has heard that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space. It's said to be the only man made object that can be seen from the moon. Can it really be true? Well, for a long time people believed this even though there was no evidence to support that it was true. It's been a long held belief and even though it'd been proven wrong, people still hold this popular belief. It definitely is a great example of belief perseverance.

This is an extraordinary claim. Is there extraordinary evidence to back up this? A low earth orbit is 160-350 miles away. At this distance there are other man made objects visible on earth, and the Great Wall is barely visible. It has similar colors to its surroundings, so it blends in. If it's barely visible from this distance, there's no way it could be visible from the moon. The moon is about 237,000 miles away from earth.


Sources
-http://www.snopes.com/science/greatwall.asp
-http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/

George Franklin Case

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The article describes the case of George Franklin. George Franklin is a man who was falsely accused of raping and murdering his daughter's best friend, Susan Nason. Eileen Franklin, daughter of George, was in a therapy session when she had a flashback of a repressed memory. The memory was of twenty years earlier when her father supposedly raped and murdered her best friend.

Everything Eileen recalled in her memory about what happened that day was also printed in newspapers from around the time of the murder. Eileen failed to present any new evidence to the detectives; she simply reiterated old facts with a slight twist. In addition, some of the things she recalled didn't fit with what actually happened, like how the mattress that her father supposedly raped Susan wouldn't have fit in her father's van like she said it did, and in reality it was a box spring found at the crime scene, not a mattress. So why did George get convicted? There was no evidence tying him to the murder. Eileen's story changed so much that it shouldn't have even counted. It was the statement from Dr. Lenore Terr that stated that memories of abuse can be hidden away so that victims can attempt to lead a normal life without facing the awful truth. This is what Eileen claimed happened to her. But what was more probable was Eileen was just trying to make sense of a senseless childhood tragedy.

George Franklin was sentenced to a life in prison for first degree murder. The jury had to believe Eileen because her story, even with its inconsistencies, seemed so convincing. Her memories were so vivid that they couldn't prove them to be false. George was released six years later when it was revealed that Eileen had been hypnotized when she had the recollection and again before she testified. When people are under the influence of hypnoses, their memories are more likely to change, so her memory couldn't be proven to be true.

Click here to read the article:

Genie, In Depth

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After reading about Genie in Chapter 8 of the Lilienfeld text, I was very curious to learn more. I came across a video that NOVA had made on the study of her emotional development and development in the realm of language. The Lilienfeld text does not convey the result of the study, which the NOVA video does. NOVA explains that Genie was never fully able to understand how to properly use the English language. Her story ends up being heartbreaking, considering that once the government stopped funding the study, she was put into more abusive homes and due to this began to revert to silence. This video showed me how critical it is to be follow the scientific method, which seemed to be lacking in this case. The scientists and researchers were so focused on the excitement of the case, some of the rather important things that made Genie's case valid, were forgotten. Since the case was no longer valid, the funding stopped. Not only did the motives of the scientists distort and ruin the rare opportunity they had to study Genie, they resulted in forcing Genie into more abusive situations. I wonder whether there will be another chance to study a "wild child", and that researchers will follow a better procedure by learning through the mistakes made with Genie's case.

NOVA: Secret of The Wild Child
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Genie, In Depth

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After reading about Genie in Chapter 8 of the Lilienfeld text, I was very curious to learn more. I came across a video that NOVA had made on the study of her emotional development and development in the realm of language. The Lilienfeld text does not convey the result of the study, which the NOVA video does. NOVA explains that Genie was never fully able to understand how to properly use the English language. Her story ends up being heartbreaking, considering that once the government stopped funding the study, she was put into more abusive homes and due to this began to revert to silence. This video showed me how critical it is to be follow the scientific method, which seemed to be lacking in this case. The scientists and researchers were so focused on the excitement of the case, some of the rather important things that made Genie's case valid, were forgotten. Since the case was no longer valid, the funding stopped. Not only did the motives of the scientists distort and ruin the rare opportunity they had to study Genie, they resulted in forcing Genie into more abusive situations. I wonder whether there will be another chance to study a "wild child", and that researchers will follow a better procedure by learning through the mistakes made with Genie's case.

NOVA: Secret of The Wild Child
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Grouping and chunking

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When seeing a series of information for a short time, people always show divergent level of ability of memory. Except some superman of memory, why ordinary people have so large difference of ability of memorizing? How can some people manage to memorize larger amounts of information than others for just brief period of time? The answer is grouping and chunking.
Firstly, grouping is to divide information into groups and remember all the groups in ordinal position. If one wants to remember a series of numbers maybe more than 12 in a short time, it's hardly to memorize all numbers one by one because the span of short-term memory, according to George Miller, is seven plus or minus two pieces of information. But if we divide the 12 numbers by 4 and get 3 groups of numbers, it much easier for us to remember all of them in short time.
Secondly, chunking is another way to extend our span of short-term memory. Chunking is to make meaningful groupings from material. For example, look at the following words for a little time and recite them: tone, stuck, tuning, pure, retain, period, pitch. It's not easy to memorize all of them quickly. But if we organize these words to make a sentence, "When it is struck, a tuning fork produces an almost pure tone, retaining its pitch over a long period of time", it seems easier to remember these words when we memorize the sentence. Because the sentence is meaningful, we could remember that more quickly than a set of single words.
Anyway, grouping and chunking are two means for ordinary people to remember information more efficiently in short term. Someone exhibits phenomenal memory we can never beat them!

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Have you ever been asked a question that you knew the answer to, but had trouble thinking of the word for it? This is known as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. This is experienced when we know that we know something, but are unable to access the information. It is a universal problem that affects all of us weekly.

In order to get a better understanding of this phenomenon, Karin Humphreys and her colleagues as McMaster University performed a study on a study on a group of people. In their study, they showed the group questions that they would know, would not have known, or have had on the tip of their tongue. Half of the participants had 10 seconds to sit in the tip-of-the-tongue stage before being shown the answer, while the other half were in the stage for 30 seconds. Two days later, the researchers tested the same people.

What they found was that the people who were stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage for 30 seconds were more likely to get stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage on the second day. From this, Humphreys and her colleagues concluded that it is better to not get stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage for long and come back to it later on, or look up the answer.

Humphreys said this is important for us as college students who are studying because if we are studying and having troubles remembering the answer, we should look it up as this will prevent this phenomenon from happening again when it matters, like on a test. This study was an important one because it gives helps us understand how to avoid this very common, frustrating phenomenon.

Click here to learn more about the study


Reinforcement with Autism

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The little girl Lisa from the Autism video at https://www2.webvista.umn.edu:443/webct/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct?appforward=%2Fwebct%2FviewMyWebCT.dowebct is a great example of the concept of reinforcement and extinction from chapter 6 in our textbook. Lisa's teacher uses positive reinforcements to teach her to sit in a chair on command by rewarding her correct response after being told to sit with verbal praise and kisses. Autistic children respond well to physical hugging and kissing and so by pairing kissing with correctly sitting in a chair when told to, Lisa's teacher conditions her, using the command as the UCS, sitting in the chair as the UCR, and kissing as the CS, and sitting in the chair as the CR, so he is pairing the good feelings she gets from the kissing with being told to sit in a chair.
This also shows an example of extinction, because after the teacher does not follow up her sitting in the chair with kisses, she slowly begins not sitting down when being told to, and so the conditioned response is becoming extinct.
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False Memories

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This week in my psychology discussion class we did a short-term memory experiment that showed just how easily false memories can be implanted into our brain while we remain completely unaware of them. The activity consisted of listening to a sizable list of words and then recalling as many as we could afterwards. All the words in each list aimed at "activating" a certain word in our brains but not including that word. When it came to recall the words we had just heard, five times out of six I wrote down that I had heard the very word the list was intended to make me think I heard but in fact had not. False memories are more prevalent than many people think and can be created practically out of thin air. One researcher, Elizabeth Loftus, demonstrated this by doing an experiment where she asked participants if they had seen Bugs Bunny while visiting Disney Land. This experience is impossible, Bugs Bunny being a Warner Bros character would not be allowed in Disney Land. However, many participants recalled seeing him, even touching his tail and watching him carrots. The implications of this study are pretty frightening, especially when you take into account all of the "eye-witness" testimonies we rely on in the court room when deciding to lock someone up or not. Framing can also create false memories; framing is when a question is phrased in a suggestive manner. This is especially important in the courtroom when the opposing side is questioning witnesses. The jury and the judge should be well informed on how easily memories can be created or distorted when making final decisions on a case as to not lock up anyone innocent.

Amityville Horror

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Halloween is just around the corner and many of us have been watching scary movies in anticipation of the holiday. One well known movie, The Amityville Horror, is a favorite. Most people are familiar with the movie, book, or a telling of the events. What many aren't familiar with, is that it was all a hoax. The house was never haunted. Still, many believe the tale to be the truth, a classic haunted house story. This is despite the family who originally claimed the house was haunted, the Lutz's, eventually admitting they'd made it up.

Yet, even if one where to disregard the confession that the story was a fake, by use of the principles of critical thinking, one should be able to reach this conclusion on their own, allow me to demonstrate using a few of the principles.

The first principle, ruling out rival hypothesis, is perhaps the easiest one to use. If someone claims that there house is haunted, one should use this principle and ask themselves, what else could it be and has that explanation been ruled out? In the case of the Lutz's no one ever ruled out the possibility that the family was making the story up. Many tried to by inviting paranormal experts to validate the Lutz's claims, but no concrete evidence was ever established excluding the possibility that the Lutz's were lying.

The principle of extraordinary claims asks one to evaluate if the evidence is as strong as the claim. Again the answer is no. Besides the Lutz own first hand accounts, and the confirmations of supposed paranormal experts, there was no other evidence, certainly no concrete physical evidence.

Replicability, determining if the results can be replicated, is another principle that pokes a hole in the Amityville story. The haunted events that supposedly took place for the Lutz's were never replicated, and in fact, the families that have owned the house since have reported no sign of an otherworldly presence.

Although Halloween is a wonderful time to watch scary movies and get into the spirit of the holiday, it's important to keep in mind the principles of critical thinking. It's fun to be scared sometimes but, when the lights go off at night, its nice to know that that scary movie you just watched couldn't possibly be true. Right?

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Since the early 1900's, some people have made the claim that one could see the Great Wall of China all the way from the moon. This claim is believed to be originally made by Richard Halliburton in his 1938 book "Second Book of Marvels". Halliburton said that the "Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon". "However, when leaving the earth's orbit and acquiring an altitude of more than a few thousand miles, no man-made objects are visible at all" (Rosenburg). According to NASA, "The Great Wall can barely be seen from the Shuttle, so it would not be possible to see it from the Moon with the naked eye" (Rosenburg). Obviously, if NASA says you can't see the Great Wall of China from the Shuttle, then no way can you see it from further away.

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This claim is an extraordinary claim. There is not enough evidence, or actually, there's pretty much no evidence at all, that this claim is true, so the evidence is obviously not as extraordinary as the claim. This makes this claim false. Also, this claim is falsifiable. There is evidence that contradicts the claim, so it can be disproved. This makes the claim even more false.

The only explanation to this claim being made is due to availability heuristic. People automatically think the Great Wall of China is so large that it could actually be seen from space. People don't realize that the moon is "roughly 237,000 miles away" (Snopes) from earth. The moon in peoples' minds is really big, and closer to earth than they actually realize, so they think if on the moon, they could see the largest man-made structures like the Great Wall of China. However, even though these thoughts do pop up in our minds easily, that doesn't make them true. The Great Wall of China can not be seen from the moon. This claim is false.

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Article- http://www.snopes.com/science/greatwall.asp
Article- http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/greatwall.htm
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Magic Number 7

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To the majority of the public, when asked about the number seven, would say it is a lucky number; however, the number seven is not only lucky, but magic. The psychologist George Miller came up with the concept of the magic number in 1956 as he defined it in the following way: the amount of pieces of information, or chunks, that we can store in our short term memory without the practice of rehearsal. The magic number, according to Miller, is seven plus or minus two. Basically this means that given a series of information, the average human is able to retain anywhere from five to nine pieces of this information. There are some cases though that people are able to remember more than this magic range. Take for example the study of Sidney Smith in 1954, as Miller cited his study many times when publishing his works. Smith was able to successfully remember roughly 40 digits in a string of numbers. This should not be possible according to the theory of Miller's magic number--or is it? When Miller described the magic number, he used the word chunks. Chunking is organizing information into meaningful groupings; allowing us to extend our short term memory. Smith, as a result, was able to chunk his digits into groups of four. This allowed him to have every four digits count for only one of his pieces of information that could be stored in his short term memory. The revelation of chunking has allowed for massive memorization as seen by people reciting thousands of digits of the mathematical term pi.

The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Movie (1979).jpgThese are the words straight from a therapy patient's mouth, frightening and unsure of whether or not his memories are real. Strangely, false memories can be created fairly easily.

Often times these false memories are not remembered at first. Such as with Paul Ingram in the famous case in which his daughters claimed that he had sexually abused them along with committing many other satanist acts. Other claims of abuse are wild and crazy, anything from forced animal sex to eating babies. However, false memories aren't always so extraordinary and crazy.

For example, take something as innocent as the popular cartoon Bugs Bunny. Do you remember meeting him that time you went to Disney Land?

No, you don't. Bugs Bunny is actually a product of Warner's Brothers, not Disney.

So what should you look for when identifying false memories? One of the very first signs is not recognizing the memory at the beginning. When given more time to think, people begin to register the memory and believe that it has actually happened. This is what Dr. Oftshe believed happened to Paul Ingram in his case. Also, be skeptical if someone asks you to imagine yourself in the situation. This was also asked by Paul Ingram. This allows you to create scenarios and imagine your wildest dreams, eventually you may begin to believe them.

Always, always, always (Especially in legal cases) make sure that the details line up. In the Paul Ingram case, even though he pleaded guilty to the crimes, the details of his confession never lined up with the claims of his daughters.

Elizabeth Loftus is known for her extensive research on false memories. She herself was a victim of false memory after learning from her uncle that she was the one who discovered her mother's body after drowning. Even though her claims are controversial (After all, they brought all of these cases to light), she would never keep her research behind closed doors in a lab if she had the opportunity to re-do her past.

More on the Paul Ingram Case and Bugs Bunny

Having illusory memories is known to be bad and can possibly harm someone, But there has been said that it also has a good side to it. According to the Medical Xpress " memory is a flexible process of taking in new information and blending it with what is already there, selecting or forgetting portions of experience; it inevitably leads to errors small or large." ( Medical Xpress 1). This also leads to people creating their own memories that they believe is the truth. It is believed that creating false memories sometimes can be helpful and good for a person. The article says that, "remembering your childhood as happier than it was may help you have more satisfying intimate relationships in adulthood." (Medical Xpress 1). Also the article also states that false memories act like a placebo. Mark L. Howe did a study on children in which he made the believe a lumbar puncture as less painful as possible and then the next time they took the puncture they were able to tolerate it. According to Mark Howe, "Memories true or false can have a negative or positive effect, depending on the context. The key point is: Just because a memory is false doesn't make it bad." (Medical Xpress 1). I guess we can have false memories that can lead to positive effects and they aren't always negative like many thought them to be. We make memories all the time and many of them are most likely false and/or twisted from the first time we make the memory.


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Taste Aversion

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Have you ever eaten something and thrown up later that night, which then led to you never wanting to eat that again? Well, you probably experienced a conditioned taste aversion. Taste aversion refers to the fact that classical conditioning can lead us to develop avoidance reactions to the taste of food when it has been paired with feelings of nausea.

Don't be fooled, taste aversion differs from classical conditioning in three ways. First, conditioned taste aversions only require one pairing between the CS and UCS to develop. Second, the delay between the CS and UCS can be as long as six to eight hours. Lastly, taste aversions tend to be specific and display little evidence of stimulus generalization.

My cousin doesn't like plain cheese--it makes him feel nauseous. However, he likes to eat pizza (which has cheese on it) and macaroni and cheese. Obviously his conditioned taste aversion is specific only to plain cheese.

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Let's look at this example. After eating the sausage, sensations of disgust and food poisoning developed. It is likely that sausage would be avoided from being eaten in the future because it has been classically conditioned with nausea.

I remember when I went to the cheesecake factory for dinner with my family. I ordered the chicken parmesan and later that night I threw it all up. I can tell you I haven't eaten that since, and I won't ever in the future. Even thinking about that meal makes me feel sick to my stomach. I had developed a taste aversion. So the question is will this taste aversion ever go away?

Emotional Memory

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Emotional memory is the concept that people remember things better when emotions are linked to the event. This is because when a memory is being formed, the hippocampus (in charge of helping us recall events) interacts with the amygdala (in charge of helping us recall emotion). Here is an article with more information on the topic. Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory
There was a study done to prove people remember stories better when they are emotionally stimulating. In this study, participants were told a story about a boy in the hospital. There were two groups of participants and each group was told a slightly different story. One group heard an emotionally neutral story about a boy who visited his father at the hospital where he worked. The other group was told a horrifying story about the boy being in the hospital because he was injured and had to be operated on to reattach his severed legs.
The participants were brought back for a memory test 24 hours later and the group that heard the emotionally stimulating story remembered in great detail the part about the boy's traumatic experience but not as much detail about the rest of the story. The group that heard the emotionally neutral story remembered the same amount of detail for every part of the story.
This study shows that people remember things better when emotions are involved. You can read more about emotional memory in this article. This concept is important because it can explain why memories of traumatic experiences stick with people in vivid detail for their entire lives. This gives us insight to the possibilities of erasing painful memories or at least making them less prominent. We know things are remembered better when we are emotionally stimulated so if we can find a way to hinder that emotion, the traumatic memories might be less vivid. They have done tests on certain drugs that can weaken emotions but our society hasn't quite decided if this procedure is ethical or something we really want to do. If we can't remember negative experiences, we can't learn from them.

Extraordinary Memory

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Kim Peek is an individual with an IQ of 87 but is known today because of his unique abilities. Peek can memorize 12,000 books word for word, the zip codes, and the number of highways in the United States (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Namy, Woolf, Psychology from Inquiry to Understanding, page 243). He could also remember the correct day of the week to any problems you gave him. Another phenomenal individual who possess similar unique abilities is Ranjan Mahadevan who is able to memorize the number of pi which is 38,811 digits long and could recite it in three hours. In addition, many people who hear stories of these two individuals might assume they possess extraordinary powers but the truth is the alternative explanation is these two individuals are using a method called chunking. Chunking is a system that we can use to increase our short term memory by grouping meaningful information together. In this case Mahadevan and Peek were able to remember dates, area codes, and other information by grouping together words or numbers to minimize learning lots of information. Another example includes Solmon V. Shereshevskii who claims to possess photographic memory because he could remember a lot of words that he could recall years later. These claims are very interesting to study because they are hard to replicate in the lab and are also likely to be disproven by others. Another alternative explanation of Shereshevskii's abilities can be due to memory techniques he acquired. One technique used often are mnemonics which allow individuals to enhance their abilities to recall information often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something. Here is the Link.

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Rehearsal

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For me, rehearsal is important. If I do not rehearse at all, I will forget what I previously learned. I rehearse on the things I learn every day, so that I will remember what I learn the next coming up days. But, I do not rehearse my school work as often as I rehearse my musical notes for my qeej class. I play a traditional Hmong instrument call the qeej, which we use the qeej for weddings, funerals and entertainment. Rehearsing is really important for me because in order for me to play the qeej properly, I need to play the correct keys and notes. But, playing the correct keys and notes are the easy part, what is the hard part is memorizing the words. Each sounds that I produce from the instrument have its very own word or meaning in it. It is not like playing a flute that produce out meaningless sounds (sorry for those who I may have offended). So, basically if I remember all the words correctly, I can play the qeej no problem. That is only if I remember the words for that specific song only. By rehearsing, it helps me remember all the words for that song, so I can play the song having no problem and any time I want. Rehearsing is not the only way I use to memorize all the qeej songs in my head, I also use elaborative rehearsal. Which one can argue that elaborative rehearsal and rehearsing is technically the same.
Since the songs of the qeej are basically stories, I always imagine having to tell the story in my head to remember what the song is about. When I know what the story is, I can most of the time produce out the words that I need to play for the song. In other words, I picture the song as a storyline. This way of rehearsing helps me to remember songs well. I am really thankful for even having rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal in me. Without this, I would not have been as proud of a person I am today. I wonder how life would be without rehearsal being introduce or having it in oneself.

Conditioned Taste Aversions

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In discussing learning and classical conditioning in chapter six of the psychology textbook, conditioned taste aversions are one concept outlined. A conditioned taste aversion can be described as a negative view or dislike of a certain food due to previous classical conditioning in our lives. If something unfortunate occurs in our daily lives such as vomiting, diarrhea, or an upset stomach after eating a certain food, we may develop one of these conditioned taste aversions. We associate the food we ate prior to the unfortunate event with the unfortunate event that occurred and become unable to eat that food anymore from then on. This form of classical conditioning only needs one occurrence to be instilled into our minds and does not always occur immediately after we experience our unfortunate event. The idea of conditioned taste aversions is necessary in the world of psychology to demonstrate the different ways classical conditioning can affect our daily lives in both positive and negative ways. We may also be able to determine a reason for no longer enjoying the taste of a certain food we previously hadn't thought about. I have definitely experienced a conditioned taste aversion in my life. One morning a few years ago, I was pouring myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and milk for breakfast. Little did I know, the milk was rotten, and I proceeded to take a bite of my cereal. I have never been able to eat Honey Nut Cheerios after that horrible discovery. In conducting further research on conditioned taste aversions, I would be interested in learning more about where in the brain we develop these aversions and how our taste buds are affected in the long run and if it is possible to outgrow the taste aversions.
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Have you ever seen a movie where the main character loses his/her memory?
On the movie screen, it's usually an car accident or a nasty fall that causes memory loss. For me the thought of losing my memory is very scary. I feel like, as humans, memory is the most important thing that makes us who we are. We grow as individuals because of it. We cry, laugh and get mad all because of a memory. Memory is crucial to not only our every day lives but to our existence. So why not learn about why we lose our memory? What are the causes? I have to tell you it's not just dramatic car accidents and falls that we see on TV that cause memory loss. According to an Article titled "Why People Lose Memory" on LIVESTRONG.com, there are five main causes that result in memory loss. They are dementia, amnesia, stroke, tumors and head injuries. The article elobrated on each cause and why they result in memory loss. Dementia is a set of symptoms that show memory loss in a person. The symptoms can be due Alzeimers or Pakiston's desease. Amnesia, unlike the Hollywoods stereotype, is memory loss due to trauma or damage to the brain. I once have seen a movie called "memoirs of a teenage amnesiac". In my opinion, the movie portrayed the symtomps of amnesia pretty well. After seeing what amnesia can cause in one's life, I learned to be very careful about not injuring my head. Strokes are caused by the blood flow the brain and stroke also can damage the brain. In the article, it says the following: "The lack of oxygen reaching brain cells causes them to die quickly. Depending on where the damage to the brain is, memory loss can occur." Also besides stroke, if cancerous tumor grows in a brain area where memory is stored, it can cause memory loss as well. As for head injuries, depending on where the hit is, if it damages memory stroage parts in the brain, it can result brain damage and therefore loss of memory. As you can see memory loss can occur in multiple ways. It is up to you to prevent your most precious treasures (your memories). Wear your helmet if you are riding your motorcycle or bike, and prevent injuries to your head. You don't want to be the next lead of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesaic. Also ask from your doctor how you can prevent from having a stroke and growing cancer cells, not just in your brain, but in your body. If you see serious signs of memory loss, consult with your doctor, it might be sign of dementia. Dementia may include may include difficulties in speaking or thinking, or the inability to function in society because of an increase in judgment difficulties."

http://www.livestrong.com/article/30411-people-lose-memory/

Blame it on Sponge Bob

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In a study published September 12, 2011 in Pediatrics, psychologists at the University of Virginia Charlottesville conclude that watching just 9 minutes of a fast-paced cartoon has immediate negative effects on the attention span and learning of 4-year-olds. Sixty children, all age 4, were randomly assigned to three groups. One group watched "Sponge Bob," another watched a slower-paced cartoon, and a third control group colored. SpongeBob.jpgAfterwards, the children's performance was measured on some attention, memory, problem-solving, and delay-of-gratification tasks. They were asked to move disks from one peg to another following a set of rules, to touch their heads when the experimenter told them to touch their toes (and vice versa), to repeat numbers an experimenter told them but to say them backwards, and to wait for the experimenter to return and get 10 pieces of snack or ring a bell to get the experimenter to come back and get only 2 pieces. The results? Children who watched "Sponge Bob" scored worse than both other groups.

I have only a few issues with this study. First, the sample size was small. Second, the group of children wasn't very diverse. Most were white, middle- to upper-middle-class kids, so the results are difficult to generalize. Also, the children weren't tested before they watched television. Instead, the researchers relied on reports from the parents concerning the amount of television their child typically watched and whether their child had attention problems. It's also not clear what cartoon features might have caused the results, or how long the effects might persist. And only 4-year-olds were tested, so that makes you wonder what the effect would be on children of other ages. Another question might be what would happen if they watched the cartoon for more than 9 minutes?

Nickelodeon, the network that airs "Sponge Bob," responded that the program is intended for children over 6. That may be true, but many younger kids will likely watch the show with their older siblings. As always, parents can turn off the television and kids can do something else, or kids can watch a slower-paced program. In any case, it seems that young children should avoid watching fast-paced cartoons right before they go to school so learning and performance aren't impaired.

For those of you unfamiliar with "Sponge Bob," here is a video clip.

Kids Should Play!

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The nation's largest group of pediatricians at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition released the statement "children under age 2 should avoid watching TV as much as possible" this past week. Some evidentiary support of this claim comes from the fact that even though there are several educational children's shows on television, none of them have been proven to be beneficial to the learning in children this young. In fact, watching TV has lead to sleep problems, delayed use of speech in young kids, and prevent children from learning language from their parents.
However, the article then goes on to claim that TV watching is beneficial to children over 2 years old. They say it can improve their language and social skills. Conversely, the children under age 2 are supposed to be engaged in unstructured play, which promotes creative thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills.
Although this article introduces some thoughtful information, it is lacking evidence to support these claims. The article stated that television can draw children away from participating in other activities like playing with and talking to their parents, but there was no statistical data or evidence from research to support the claims that children under 2 years old should not watch television at all.
Also, the fact that the article says that TV is beneficial to children over age 2 is questionable. Why then? What makes television a positive influence for children over 2 as opposed to children under 2?
This article brings very interesting and important ideas to life. Today in America, televisions are everywhere and companies are paying a lot of money to produce shows that are "educational" for children in hopes of expanding the range of their viewers.
To improve the credibility of this article and the claims it made, research should be done with children watching television compared to children who do not watch television in order to give more support for the claims in this article.
To read more, visit MSN.

hypnosis and weight loss

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There's a section in chapter five that describes hypnosis because it's an altered state of consciousness. As Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist for the Mayo Clinic, says in a Q and A with an expert found at , "When you're under hypnosis, your attention is highly focused and you're more responsive to suggestions." Some suggestions that could be made are to lose some weight. Although there's no proof that hypnosis alone can cause any weight loss, probably the biggest obstacle for people who want to is just finding the motivation. That can be where hypnosis would be handy, because if you were in a kind of trace that made you more open to suggestions, subconsciously you could take the suggestion to become motivated to lose that weight that you wanted.
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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two top leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer ("Leading Cause of Death"). Lifestyle choices can greatly affect the causes of both diseases, including diet (Boyer 1). "An apple a day can keep the doctors away," is a common saying that everyone is familiar with. Can consuming something as cheap and ordinary as whole apples really keep the doctors away? Research findings show that the consumption of apples could reduce risk of chronic diseases such as various cancers and asthma, which can actually lead to a reduced chance of having to have to meet with doctors.

Based on various case studies, apples were found to have a positive effect on reducing asthma risks and improving lung conditions. In a recent study involving over 13,000 adults in the Netherlands shows that apples might positively affect lung function. Participants who consumed over 5 apples a week showed a much greater forced expiratory volume ("Asthma Facts and Figures"), which means healthier functioning lungs. The Australian and Netherland studies were able to show that apples can positively affect our lung function, as well as decrease asthma risks to help us keep the allergists at bay.

Apple peel in particular is the most beneficial part of an apple because it contains the greatest total antioxidant activity, which contributes to the prevention of cancer cell proliferation (Wolfe 609). Thus, it is most beneficial to consume whole apples where the skin is included. Increase in consumption of apples can lead to lower risk of chronic diseases, which leads to increase in chance of keeping the doctors away. So the phrase, "An apple a day can keep the doctors away." is not all myth after all.

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"Asthma Facts and Figures." Aafa.org. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
Boyer, Jeanelle, and Rui H. Liu. "Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits." Nitrition Journal 3.5 May 2004: 1-15. Print.
Wolfe, Kelly, Xianzhong Wu, and Rui H. Liu. "Antioxidant Activity of Apple Peels." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Killing Innocent People

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On occasion, my family will talk about vacations we have previously taken. My younger sister has very vivid accounts of the vacations that she enjoyed the most. The only problem is most of these accounts were from vacations that she did not attend. In fact, the memories were from before she was born. Even now, at 14 years old and being told continuously that she couldn't possibly have been present for these specific events, she repeatedly tells her stories of our vacations. She believes them to be true despite the unarguable evidence against her claims. Also, in the article we read for our discussion sections about Paul Ingram and his family, we can conclude that the memory of an average person can be altered and is not accurate enough to use in our legal system. This can be seen when it comes to the death penalty of Troy Anthony Davis! troy_davis.jpg
Many things can happen that result in error with accusations against suspects of a crime. Going as far as punishing them for a crime they did not commit. Despite the fact that there can be misconduct in the legal system, people make mistakes when identifying an offender. We can even be made to believe a false event occured. An event can be altered in our memories on basis of source monitoring confusion, when we are unsure if an event actually occurred. Elaboration is encouraged by suggestive memory techniques. In the end, we are left with the misinformation effect, where misleading information results in false memories. Because of this, innocent people are killed. With this knowledge, death penalty should be abolished. This would change our whole legal system from one based off of variable perspective to one of hard evidence. I know that this would definitely save lives of the wrongfully accused, but might also affect justice to true victims of crime. Will we ever find a win-win situation?
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sleeping-student.jpg So how much influence does sleep actually have on our performance?
As a college student, I am short on sleep almost all the time. With work, school, student activities, and other events taking most of my time, it's hardly a surprise to live my life mostly on caffiene.
According to an article "College students' performance suffers from lack of sleep" posted on USATODAY.com, poor performance has a lot to do with sleep. In the article it talks about how lack of sleep and pulling an all nighter can cut back on students' performance. Moreover, this article also does a great job providing the readers with scientific evidence. It says A study at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., indicated what may seem obvious to most: All-nighters are not an effective way to succeed in school."
Also the psychology professor who wrote the study says, "You can't do your best work when you're sleep-deprived" She studied the sleeping patterns of 111 students and then looked into see if there was any correlation with their GPA. To sum it up in a brief sentence, the result of this study showed that people who pull all nighter tend to have GPA that is slightly lower than average, and also the study indicated that short-term side effects of sleep deprivation include delayed reactions and tendencies to make mistakes.
I, as an college student, agree with the outcome of this study. When I pull an all nighter, my reaction definitely becomes slower. I once pulled an over nigh right before a midterm. I thought studying all night would help me review and remember a lot of the stuff we covered but it was no help at all. I ended up getting much lower score than I expected. It's the same with any physical challenge as well. At another instance, after pulling an all nighter, I went to play basketball with my friends. Normally, I am very attentive and can play with efficiency if I have gotten enough sleep. But because of my all nighter, my reaction was slow and at times I slipped the ball from my hands.
I understand it's hard to find time to sleep when you got things that are much better to do. But if more college students realized how important sleep is and how much it helps with their performance, I think a lot of people will be much happier with their grade and performance. So next time when you're about to pull an all nighter, think about how it'll affect your next day and your overall performance.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-09-16-sleep-deprivation_N.htm

Do twins have ESP?

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Unlike ordinary siblings, twins are sometimes known to share a majestic bond that no one else can understand. For example many twins report that they can finish each others sentences and even share their own language, referred to as cryptophasia. Some coincidentally buy the same outfit, order the same meal, or even call each other at the exact same time while apart. Referring back a few chapters to our textbook, it might describe these actions as just being an apophenia: perceiving meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. But to twins it's much more than that. Other than sharing similar experiences and finishing each others sentences, there are other cases that go far beyond that. Twins seem to share an inherent understanding of their co-twin's emotional state. Many report a sensation of "something being wrong" when their twin is in crisis. This video is a perfect example of such a phenomenon. When Cathy got abducted by the two guys, Karen was able to see what Cathy was seeing when tied up in the back of the car and feel when her sister got hit in the head. So what is this phenomenon? Can twins really read each others minds? Telepathy is the process of assessing thoughts or feelings without help from sensory input like sight, sound or touch. In the paranormal world, extrasensory perception (known as ESP) is an ability to acquire information without relying on physical senses or previous experience. Is a form of twin telepathy or ESP at work to cause these extraordinary experiences? There isn't any empirical proof that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists because it can't be authenticated in a scientific environment. But despite the lack of scientific proof, these personal experiences can't be denied.

Placebo: Curing our Mind

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In the article, a man had cancer and thought he could beat it with a cure for cancer drug. The drug called, Krebiozen was thought to cure cancer and the man believed that if he took it, he would be cured from cancer. According to the article after getting a dose of Krebiozen, "Mr. Wright's tumors had shrunk by half, and after 10 more days of treatment he was discharged from the hospital" (Niemi 1). But the downside was the drug that was supposed to cure the cancer didn't work on anyone else in the hospital diagnosed with cancer.
There are many places placebo's can be found. One is at a stoplight. When trying to cross at a stoplight you would hit the cross to walk button. It makes us think that if we press the button the walk man light will come on soon after and the red hand will go away. But in actual truth, the walk man goes away when the light changes due to car traffic. Another placebo is in medicine. There are pills that are placebo's but we believe are the real thing. There are many other places that placebo's can be found and through our mind we believe that they actually affect and or help us.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=placebo-effect-a-cure-in-the-mind

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Sleep Cycles

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Sleep is one of the basic necessities, yet something that many college students are lacking. Most adults require anywhere from 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night. I personally receive an average amount of 6 hours of sleep due to the daily consequences of a busy schedule. I have recently been researching how to get more out of my sleep, to see if there was anything in my control to feel more awake during the day without the use of caffeine. I came across this website, which allows users to enter in the time at which they need to wake up and it will calculate when they should go to sleep according to sleep cycles in order to get the most out of their sleep. Feeling skeptical of this site, I looked for other evidence of the sleep/wake cycle timing and came across this site . It explains that if people wake up between sleep cycles (which usually last approximately 90 minutes) compared to in the middle of one, they may wake up feeling more refreshed because their brain and body is closer to wakefulness when their alarm goes off in the morning at the end of the sleep cycle. Upon going to sleep at the website's recommended time last night, I noticed being more awake this morning and not feeling as groggy as I usually would. That being said, I also got more sleep last night than I would have on a weekday so the wakefulness could be due to another factor. I will be trying this again in hopes that it will make getting out of bed in the morning just a bit less painful.

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BBC Horizon: The Secret You

The experiment conducted in this video was measuring the difference of consciousness between sleeping and awake brains. Researchers hooked the subject up to monitors with a number of electrodes, and monitored their brain activity while they received a series of small electrical shocks. The shocks were administered during periods in which the subject was both awake and asleep. It was found that in the awake brain, activity could be seen throughout the brain, even in parts far away from the stimulated side, while in the sleeping brain, there was still some activity, but only in smaller, localized areas. It was as if certain parts of the brain were shut down during sleep. The experimenters believe that this is the key to consciousness, and therefore it can draw a lot of conclusions as to a person's sense of self. This relationship between consciousness and integrated thought is believed to play a major part in who a person is. This experiment offers the explanation of diversity and unity within the brain. These two aspects play a major role in consciousness and a person's thought process when they are working together. This is because the brain is a network that works together, and these connections are what help our brains to function properly. This experiment helped to answer a lot of questions regarding a person's level of consciousness as it compares to their self-awareness, and also made way for many more questions to be investigated in the future. This experiment has the potential to be modified in order to measure different things such as the degree of complexity within different species, or it may even be transformed to measure machines and whether or not they can overcome consciousness. Overall, this experiment helped researchers to learn a lot about consciousness, and it has paved the way for many studies in the future.

The Placebo Effect

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The placebo effect is a phenomenon in an experiment which occurs when the participant expects a treatment to result in improvement and therefore improvement occurs. To avoid the placebo effect researchers often use a sugar pill referred to as the placebo. Both groups then receive treatments of identical appearance and this then masks whether the participant is on the real or fake treatment. This is a crucial part of an experiment, without the placebo it would be questionable if the results where due to the actual treatment or just the expectations of the participants.

This relates to my life because on the college campus many people often consume alcohol. Without having a lot to drink people often tend to act differently. Shy and reserved people tend to be more outgoing. I often wonder whether this is the effect of alcohol or the placebo effect that acts upon these students. This Article states that 150 students thought they were drinking vodka and tonic with limes, and they showed signs of intoxication, however, there was no alcohol in their drinks. A principle of critical thinking that could be applied to this article is replicability. To ensure that this claim was just not a fluke with this group of people, another experiment could be conducted to further support this article.

http://www.damninteresting.com/social-drinking/


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Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep Deprivation
Jackie Yasgar

Sleep Deprivation is a condition that is caused by lack of sleep. It affects the cognitive functions of the brain and in turn results in body aches, headaches, irritability, depression, hallucinations, hand tremors and many more. WebMD outlines some short term and long term effects of getting lack of sleep. The short term effects listed are decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, stress relationships, poor quality of life, occupational injury and automobile injury. The long term affects include high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, psychiatric problems, attention deficit disorder, mental impairment, fetal and childhood growth retardation, injury from accidents, disruption of bed partner's sleep quality and poor quality of life. Another huge effect sleep deprivation causes is weight loss or gain. According to our Lilienfeld Psychology book, researchers believe sleep deprivation is the factor that has mainly caused obesity in the last few decades. This is such a significant problem, because sleeping patterns are a very important part in how the body functions. Writing about this topic is extremely interesting for me because, like most college students, I have definitely fallen victim to this problem. College and homework play an enormous role in why college students lose sleep. When we did the sleep inventory test in our psych discussion last week, every student's results that we recorded in our averages reflected a typical college student. They all proved that sleep deprivation was an issue in their lives. Another thing I found interesting was that sleep deprivation was more common in females. We hypothesized that this is because most females stress a lot more about school, relationships, and what people think about them. Also, females need to set a lot more time aside for getting ready in the morning, which might be a reason why they are getting less sleep. A vocab word that our book used when talking about sleep deprivation is insomnia. Insomnia is difficulty falling and staying asleep (Lilienfeld 171). I have really experienced this in my life, and more specifically, in my college career. When I end up staying up late doing homework and studying, I reach a point where when I lay down to go to sleep, I am so over tired that it is actually hard for me to fall asleep. Also, when I worry about school and upcoming tests, I often continue to wake up and fall back asleep throughout the night, which definitely effects how I feel the next day. I always feel fatigued and groggy during the day. The worst feeling is not being able to stay awake during class; I can definitely admit to letting sleep deprivation be a part of my life.

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It has been said that when people ingest turkey, usually on Thanksgiving Day, they get tired due to the chemical compound L- tryptophan. This has been an excuse for thousands of people to take naps and even go to bed early on days that turkey is eaten. The claim that turkey and L- tryptophan makes you tired has been a prevalent belief throughout the United States and Europe, but how truthful is this statement?
Through some of the principles of critical thinking, this statement can be evaluated. The most important principle for this claim is principle #2, which states that correlation does not equal causation. Even though there is a positive correlation between eating turkey and being tired, that does not mean that the consumption of turkey, and L-tryptophan, causes drowsiness. There is also the problem of the third variable. There could be an alternate variable that is causing the correlation between the consumption of turkey and tiredness. The alleged correlation could also come from people with confirmation bias that are unknowingly supporting their views by denying evidence, dismissing evidence, or even distorting it to fit their own theory. However, since this situation has a high replicability, it will be easy to test and uncover the truth. The principle of critical thinking that states that correlation does not equal causation is the most useful way to evaluate this claim.
Recent tests have come to find that L-tryptophan is not uncommon to most meats that are consumed. Turkey contains more than some of the other meats, however the amounts that are traceable are not high enough cause drowsiness. Even though turkey is most often consumed on Thanksgiving Day, where turkey is the main dish, it does not necessarily mean that it is the main cause for people being tired after the meal. The real cause for the correlation was a third variable. The consumption of large portions of food and alcohol is the true culprit for the correlation, and both of these things are common on Thanksgiving Day!

Learn more at http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/turkey.asp and http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97449569

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You know that feeling right after you eat a large meal, your stomach is about to explode and all you want to do is crash on the nearest piece of furniture possible? For many years now, people have believed that eating a large meal before bed would help them sleep through the night. Why? Because being full makes you tired - or so we think. After some intense studies in the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia, they have concluded that this myth, is indeed false.

Sleep technician Sarah Biggs hooked the participants up by wires so that they could read the signals from their brain activity. They split the participants into groups, some eating right before they sleep, and some up to three hours before. The results were obvious.

During sleep, there a five stages in which the body enters.

STAGE 1: drowsiness
STAGE 2: light sleep
STAGE 3&4: deep sleep
STAGE 5: REM


Turns out that the late eaters missed out big time on their "deep sleep." This is the stage in which your body rests and repairs itself. The problem the late eaters had lies in the digestive system. How can someone possibly get their whole body to relax when their digestive system is at full go? The result of this leaves you tossing and turning throughout the night. On the flip side, it is also just as disruptive to go to bed on an empty stomach.

You are probably curious as to what exactly is the right thing to do before going to bed? The answer: a light snack. This will control your appetite, and your digestive system just enough so that you are not being disrupted, and you can enjoy a beautiful night of your "deep sleep."

Marijuana: A Gateway Drug?

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Unknown.jpegIn the Lilienfeld text it says that many researchers argue that marijuana is a "gateway" drug that influences users to try harder drugs such as heroin. However, it is very hard to test and prove that it actually is a gateway drug. Researchers cannot prove that if someone tries marijuana that they will be more susceptible to trying harder drugs in the future. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that a person who smokes marijuana is more than 104 times more likely to use cocaine than a person who never tries the drug. An article from Time Magazine brings in an argument against this. The article states, "Hell's Angels motorcycle gang members are probably more than 104 times more likely to have ridden a bicycle as a kid than those who do not become Hell's Angles, but that doesn't mean that riding a two-wheeler is a "gateway" to joining a motorcycle gang." This means that people who never ride bikes probably would never join a motorcycle gang. The article is trying to prove the point that people who do not use marijuana will probably not use harder drugs, but just because they do try marijuana does not mean that it serves as a gateway to harder drugs. This is showing that correlation is not causation. The correlation that marijuana users will try harder drugs does not automatically imply that marijuana use was the cause of the use of the harder drugs. The debate still continues today between whether marijuana is a gateway drug or not.

Here is the link to the Time Magazine article:
Marijuana as a Gateway Drug: The Myth That Will Not Die

Racism Breeds Ignorance

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People who are the subjects of constant, negative stereotypes can be greatly hurt. And those who are subjects of negative stereotypes, typically adopt the negative traits that are attributed to them. This is something that is happening to a lot of minorities in today's world, which is not a good thing. This is sometimes the ruin of some minorities. It is very unfortunate that these victims truly do suffer from stereotypes and prejudice.

Richard Petty, Ph.D, and some of his colleagues did a study on what stereotypes and prejudice can actually do to one's cognitive performance. Petty had some students screened using the Modern Racism Scale to test for racist traits. He picked 86 students that scored the highest and lowest on the MRS. He then asked the students to complete an essay on a day in the life of fictitious student named either Tyrone or Erik. After completing those essays, the students were then asked to complete 30 math problems in the time span of 20 minutes. The results were significant! Those who associated Tyrone with being African-American and used stereotypes to describe him in their essay scored lower than those who did not use stereotypes to describe Tyrone.

This just goes to show how stereotypes and prejudice can truly effect one's cognitive performance. Another test was done where people scored lower on a general knowledge test when they had the stereotype of supermodel activated. But when the stereotype of professor was activated, they scored higher on the test. But researchers have found that people who scored low on the MRS performed just as poorly on the math section if they had identified Tyrone as African-American. This is very odd in my opinion. It just goes to show that correlation does not equal causation. It also shows that there isn't a big correlation either. People, have a good image of yourself, it will benefit you in the end.

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Conditioning and Free Will

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Does the principle of conditioning and how it affects our everyday behaviors disprove free will? Free will is the ability to make decisions without any outside influence and act solely through one's own discretion. Then if conditioning shapes how we act and the way our mind works, that would imply that we have no free will. B.F. Skinner argues this as seen in this video on operant conditioning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhvaSEJtOV8

Skinner argues that if free will is doing something in a voluntary way or having the will to act, then if you examine the history of these actions there are external influences. He implies that we can discover the cause of our behaviors, and therefore "dispose of the imagined internal cause" of our actions.

He also asserts that people only have the notion of free will since they know about their behaviors and not their causes. Behaviorism explores these causes and attributes actions to external influences which in turn takes away from the belief of free will. That is the power of conditioning: to act without being aware of the external influences on your behavior.

Overall, this does not disprove free will. It is an ongoing debate (as discussed in chapter 1) that has many schools of thought. After all, how much of our behavior can be attributed to conditioning? Some of it may be attributed to our genetics and our upbringing (which is mostly conditioning by our parents) as seen in the nature/nurture debate. The question that still needs to be answered is if all of our behavior can be accounted for by conditioning, genetics, and all of the external influences. If not, then free will must exist.

Sleep Boosts Our Memory?

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As college students, we tend to stay up late into the night studying for that big test we have the next day, no matter how tired we may be. Personally, I feel like I will never remember to finish anything in the morning or if I don't make sure I know everything now, I will never remember it. According to this article, when we sleep, we start to recall things that we may have forgotten during the day and even have a better retention rate of new information. In the study that was performed, college students were able to recognize more words in a distorted speech after they had slept through the night than they could understand the night before. This relates directly to our discussion of sleep and memory and how they affect each other.

If this is in fact true, that would mean that students shouldn't be staying up late going over the same 10 pages of their textbook over and over again, but going over it once or twice and then going to sleep. This would then have a better effect on our performance on those tests we may have the next day. While this method probably isn't the most effective study method, it appears that it would definitely help those of us that procrastinate for as long as we possibly can, however minimal that effect might be. In my experience, this seems to be true. Studying for a bit and then getting a full nights sleep, rather than cramming and pulling an all-nighter, would certainly give you a better result in recalling things the next day.

Deja Vu

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Have you ever had that strange feeling of I feel like I have "seen this" or "done this" before? Scientist would call this experience déjà vu, which is French for "already seen." Déjà vu is reliving an event that is new to you. It is believed by some other people that Déjà vu is a "flashback" from a previous life before. Which scientifically speaking is very difficult to find any evidence to back up that particular theory. There can be many reason for this phenomenon to occur and we can't correlate it to any specific reason.

In an article from the "Science Daily" a new theory has emerged, from the psychologist Anne M. Cleary, showing similarities between déjà vu and the humans recognition memory. We have not gone over memory much yet in Psychology 1001, but it applies to déjà vu. "Recognition memory is realizing that what we are currently experiencing has already been experienced before" (ScienceDaily). Of recognition memory déjà vu is believed to be an example of familiarity-based recognition memory. Which can be explained as recognizing the event or person, but not sure why your recognize the event or person.

Personally I believe that déjà vu does has a lot to do with our memory. I don't believe in the "paranormal" beliefs or when people say "Oh you must have remember it from a previous life." There is no scientific evidence to back that kind of theory up. You can't make an experiment out of those two theories. Much of that is religious based or just your own personal belief. Belief perseverance is a perfect definition to describe it. It's the tendency to stick to our initial beliefs even when evidence contradicts them. We also learned in psychology that our beliefs creates bias.

Déjà vu is an interesting phenomenon to occur. I cannot describe or begin to understand how it work. Our brain is a very complex organ and I know scientist will be discovering new things about it all the time.

Understanding sleep versus consciousness is a major part of Chapter 5. The stages of sleep are explained and in discussion sleep deprivation was explored. I was very interested in the theory of one gender being more likely than the other to be affected by sleep deprivation. In our small sample of twenty, females seemed more likely to be sleep deprived. But there are obvious aspects of our "study" that can be critiqued. For example, our sample. Not only was it very small, it was profoundly unvaried. All members were students in college--the same college. Another aspect that must be questioned is how the study distinguished an individual as sleep deprived. The criteria were determined exclusively by a self-answered quiz. So our slightly flawed study led me to wonder: is there a definitive answer as to which gender is more affected by sleep deprivation, from true scientific studies?
Brief research led me to the conclusion that even scientists will disagree about sleep deprivation effects on men versus women. In two recent studies, two opposite conclusions were made. Studies from 2002 and 2004, from associations such as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, found that women don't sleep as soundly as men, and are more likely to suffer from insomnia. This directly contradicts with the conclusions of The Endocrine Society's 2003 studies. They found that men were more affected by sleep deprivation and that women slept more deeply, with better resilience to disturbances. Both studies pointed to evolutionary adaptations to women's biology as causes. Pretty inconclusive conclusions, huh?
In my non-expert opinion, sleep deprivation cannot be generalized to genders. I feel that personality traits such as being uptight or laidback, and lifestyles like the ladder-climber and the eternal slacker, are much better predictors of sleeping habits than which chromosomes individuals have.

We've all heard of the show, Mythbusters, where two guys, Jamie and Adam take rumors, myths, movies scenes, news stories, etc and use seemingly scientific ways of testing out the validity of the claims. One episode focused on the long time myth that hypnosis can improve memory. There have been stories where crime witnesses recall important details of the scene of the crime under hypnosis that they didn't recall before. In this episode and clip I've attached three people from the show are put under hypnosis and asked questions about an encounter that happened earlier that afternoon.

The results were surprising, all three people claimed to have recalled specific results from the scene that they hadn't remembered earlier. Within 30 seconds of seeing the results the show stamped a confirmed sticker on the myth and moved on. So does this prove it? Does hypnosis really enhance your memory? I for one am not fully convinced. The show showed only one scenario where it actually worked. We don't know if the event could be replicated over and over again. If it worked this time, how many times does it not work? Perhaps this myth can be explained by a much simpler explanation (Occam's Razor). Maybe it worked this time because the three people just needed more time to recall some of the details from the earlier scene and they eventually would have recalled the same memories. And keep in mind, this IS a television show so the results of the experiment could easily have been manipulated to be more exciting for the viewing audience. I mean how much fun would it be if the show shot down myth after myth after myth.

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For this entry I watched the first segment of the BBC Horizon video. The big question was, when do we become aware of being our own individual? My question is, is it possible to remember the first moment when you knew you were of existence? Ever since I was younger, I thought I had known the moment when I knew I existed. I can remember feeling "alive" and like I knew what was going on. After watching the mirror self recognition test, I question if that moment was really the first thing I remember. I was three years old at the time, and according to the video, you knew of yourself by about two years of age. I wonder what types of animals have self recognition. For example, does my dog know she is a dog? Does she know that she is spoiled and does not have to do anything but sit around the house all day? It seems like she would know she is a dog and who she is because of other dogs that she is around, but this is one question the world may never know. I have always wondered if my dog notices my face, or if she gets excited to see any human being. Is there any way of testing if a dog has any self recognition? Lastly, I wonder if humans with Alzheimer's Disease have self-recognition. If death is really the price we pay for self-awareness, maybe Alzheimer's takes the away the anxiety of knowing our consciousness will be gone forever. Alzheimer's always seems scary to me, but maybe it isn't. Maybe Alzheimer's is more natural then we thought, and really isn't a disease. Our first few years of our life we have no self-awareness, and for a lot of people, your last few years you have no self-awareness. In the movie link, it shows how amazing self awareness is, even with apes.


Dogs are color blind?

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Sometimes scientists are really a bit like a magicians, always making startling discoveries, such as that dogs are colorblind. To determine whether a person is color blind, we only need to perform a few test with color pictures, but how can scientists know that the dog is color blind?

First, let us look at the view according to the dog world.
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Dogs have two retina cone cells, so they can identify the short wavelength and long wavelength light, which is blue and red, yellow. Due to a lack of retina cone cells, there are only a few monotonous colors in the world according to dogs, unlike human beings in the colorful world. Humans have three types of cones that allow us to see all the colors in the visible spectrum of light.
Do dogs see the same colors as people who are colorblind? Scientists have adopted the following experimental method to find the result. They used the reflection from an irradiation beam into the dog's eyes for their studies. They compared this image with the image by using the same kind of light reflected from the people's eyes. Scientists came to the conclusion that the view in dog's eyes is similar is similar to the view for someone with colorblindness.
dfield.gifFigure 2 show the field of view of a human and a dog. Due to the placement of the eyes, humans have an overlap of the field of each eye of 140; in dogs, it is about 100.

Another funny thing is that the seeing eye dog can recognize red and green lights by the level of brightness. The seeing eyes dog is sensitive to the difference in gray colors. Relying on this ability, they can distinguish objects based on the differences in brightness, resulting in a three-dimensional visual image they can use to help blind people.

Disney Movies As Pornos

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There might be no one who does not know of the Disney movies. Obviously the movies have young kids as their main viewers. Our children learn that "virtue triumphs over vice" and that "beauty comes from the inside" from the movies. Do the Disney movies teach our children only these ethical lessons?

No, actually most of them are discovered to be the opposite. In the movies there are scenes that possess subliminal messages that people usually do not recognize when watching them because those images only flash for a second or are too vague to be seen. The images are mostly related to sex, which attracts people's emotional attention when they are unconscious. There are also hidden vocal messages as well. Check out the video "Disney's Hidden Messages," which indicates these subliminal messages, on youtube.

There are also sexual messages that are not hidden but obviously shown throughout the movies. If you disagree with this idea, think of the fact that all the female protagonists have slim body and usually wear clothes that almost show their breasts. Also all the male protagonists are masculine and have bigger body size than the female protagonists do.

When children are asked to answer what they think the ideal figures of each female and male are, most of their answers will be the same: women with bigger eyes, bright skin color, slim body, and bigger breasts are more attractive, and men with tall height, muscles, and brave characteristic are more attractive. Where do they learn these preconceptions? Maybe it is not an overstatement to say that a quick flash with sexual image has a great influence on their unconscious mind.


"Learn how to use subliminal messages to influence people"
http://www.subconscious-mind.org/learn-how-to-use-subliminal-messages/

"Disney's Hidden Messages"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I2SJNdt0Xs

Marijuana

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Marijuana has been the main topic of drug debates for years. The conversation surrounding it on whether it should be completely legalized, completely restricted, or used for medicinal use has been a popular subject in the drug world and has sparked a variety of different people to debate on this subject, including pop culture icons.
The article I attached is a discussion between James Gray, a member for the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and David Evans, an author and advisor to the Drug Free America Foundation. Just by reading about the people in the discussion, I can tell that the two discussing are going to be biased against marijuana. In order for this to be a more credible source, there should be someone who is not opposed to marijuana in their conversation. This would create a debate that is more heated and therefore create a more balanced discussion with facts coming from both sides of the debate. It would also decrease the falsifiability of the article by having someone on the opposing side be able to disprove some of the claims that the two in the conversation have brought up.
In the discussion, the two bring up the problem with marijuana in children and adolescents. They say that marijuana decreases adolescent's grades in schools and is a gateway drug to other drugs. The accessibility that marijuana has to the school systems and teenagers is definitely an issue that should be looked at but it is not entirely fair to blame marijuana for student's grades and for them experimenting with other narcotics. There are other explanations for these findings. The students could possibly already be poor students and the people using marijuana could have neurological dependency issues that could be related to cigarettes or just genetics.
The best critical principle to use in this situation is correlation vs causation. It needs to be evaluated that marijuana is causing these problems or that it is some third variable that is causing both marijuana use and the "effects" of using marijuana. The answers to these questions will most likely not be answered in immediate years to come. But it sure is interesting to see the new findings that researchers are developing, especially since it is such a popular topic.

Lucid Dreaming

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A lucid dream is one where the person is aware of the fact that they are dreaming. The person often realizes they are dreaming when an event occurs that is much too unrealistic to occur in reality, basically too good to be true. Lucid dreams occur when the person is still partially sleeping but also somewhat awake, showing us that a mixture of both sleep and wakefulness are possible. Almost everyone experiences this type of dream, and some people dream lucidly often. In these lucid dreams, the person is also thought to be able to choose the path their dream takes, determining the plot and characters involved in the dream. The study of lucid dreams is beneficial in analyzing the different sleep stages as well as how accurately a person can actually manipulate what occurs in their dreams. I experience lucid dreams fairly often, usually when I have had enough sleep to wake up in the morning but continue to toss and turn for a couple of hours. I enjoy being able to control what happens in these dreams and usually wake up feeling happy as a result of my good dream. I would be interested to learn more about which stages of sleep lucid dreams occur in along with the ratio of sleep versus wakefulness needed for a lucid dream to occur. I am also curious as to why we are able to determine what happens in each of these dreams and if certain people are able to manipulate their dreams more efficiently than others based off of something within their genes.
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Nightmares!!

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All of us have experienced nightmares of some kind, but rarely can we uncover the meanings behind them or their causes. Most times we shrug it off as just a bad dream, ignoring what our nightmare could signify. Nightmares, as it turns out, can be useful insights into our psychological states. For example, someone who has frequent nightmares is almost 6 times more likely to suffer from depression or other mood-altering mental illnesses. Stress is also a prevalent cause of nightmares. People who have had traumatic experiences often have more frequent nightmares as well. Odd as it may sound, nightmares serve a very healthy purpose. No, they do not decrease stress levels or provide any other psychological relief as far as studies have shown, but they serve as a means for our brains to warn us to slow down, de-stress, and improve our mental state. Have you ever noticed that nightmares always seem to "feel SO real" whereas average dreams may not? This further supports the argument for the significance and purpose of nightmares. According to Diedre Barrett, PhD, "The more vivid a dream is, the more important it tends to be." Nightmares are the mental equivalent to physical pain, in a way; when you break your leg, the pain you feel is a warning telling you something is wrong and it needs to be fixed. If you have dreams about some scarring event in your life, this shows that it is still very much present in your subconscious and is still causing you stress. The dream is your mind's way of telling you to let go and lower your stress levels. So the next time you wake up in a cold sweat, think of what your mind could be trying to tell you instead of ignoring it.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51837

http://www.fightingdepression.co.uk/nightmares-linked-to-depression-and-anxiety

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Maybe it's Deja Vu?

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I watched the first 12:30 minutes of the BBC Horizon: The Secret You video, which had some interesting ideas about consciousness. It got me to think about when I first became aware of myself. According to the video we become aware of ourselves sometime between 18 to 24 months old. They say they know this by the Mirror self recognition test invented in 1970 by Gordon Gallup. I have no recollection of some big moment when I became aware of myself. I am curious if happened over time or if it is possibly still happening to me right now. I think it could be an ongoing process where we keep becoming more and more aware of ourselves overtime. As we get older do we get to know ourselves better?
Gordon Gallup mentioned in the video that chimpanzees, orangutans and humans are the only living things that had the most compelling evidence for being conscious. I have wondered since taking a philosophy class if computers can become conscious. I have looked around the internet a little bit to see what other people think and it sounds like people agree that there could be models of the human brain. It seems like there is still some debate if on what it means for a computer to be conscious and if they ever will be on the same level of awareness that humans are. This article http://science.howstuffworks.com/robot-computer-conscious.htm explains what people think about computers being conscious.

The Sense of Self

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It's an interesting to think that, at one point in time, every human was not aware of his or her own sense of self. Gaining the ability to become self-aware is a vital role in the study of our minds and our existence. In 1970, Professor Gordon Gallup developed the Mirror Self Recognition Test, a study in which orangutans were placed in front of a mirror and tested to see if they noticed themselves. Many animals have been studied using this strategy over the decades, but only a few are included in the exclusive club of self-awareness, whose members are great apes (including humans), elephants and bottlenose dolphins. Recently in the lab of Luis Populin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of anatomy, the first demonstration of the Rhesus macaque's sense of self-awareness took place. This made we wonder how the species was able to do so now, yet unable to do so in the past. In the BBC special Horizon: The Secret You, Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy joined in on a mirror test experiment of young infants to test when the sense of self becomes apparent in the mind of humans. Many subjects were tested, with the parents placing a small sticker on the cheek of their child prior to being placed in front of the mirror to see if a response to the mark is made. The age of awareness was found out to be between 18 to 24 months old. A 16 month old, Gavin, failed to notice the mark on his fact, yet 22 month old, Beth, found her sticker immediately. This is a pivotal discovery yet it still remains a mystery as to why we suddenly gain this ability to sense our self. Gordon Gallup believes that, "Death awareness is the price we pay for self awareness." Does this mean that once we gain the ability to recognize our selves as individuals, we also gain the awareness of our eventual deaths? All of us were unaware at some preliminary moment in our lives, but the exact moment that we became self-aware will not be known. All we know is that infants become aware early on in development and will continue to be until the consciousness seizes to exist. But where does the sudden sense of self come from and why? We may never know the true origins of the sense of self, but the study of how and why continues.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/oct/31/uknews
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100929171739.htm

Is it really true that there are more donkey related deaths than airplane related deaths? According to the principle of extraordinary claims, it does not appear so. The legend is just what the question implies; there are more deaths due to donkeys than airplanes. The claim has been traced back to a 1987 article in the London Times. The article said "one expert has estimated that more people in the world are kicked to death by donkeys than die in a plane crash." The first problem with this statement is that there is not one piece of concrete evidence. It says that "one expert has estimated" which does not tell you what he is an expert in. He could be completely unqualified to estimate the number of donkey related deaths compared to airplane deaths. Secondly, it says that he estimated instead of giving correct statistics. This supposed statistic has been reused multiple times in different places but it has never been verified in any way. These two pieces of information make the legend seem more unlikely than it already did. Another problem with the legend is that others who have gone to look for statistics about donkey related deaths said they could not find any. The last problem is that the article in the London Times, where this legend may have originated from, was an article on how to overcome a fear of flying. This legend is likely just a way for people to reassure themselves that flying a safe mode of transportations. This legend does not have enough evidence to support its claim. http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/donkey.asp
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In the BBC Horizon: The Secret You, Oxford mathematician Marcus De Sautoy delves into the realm of consciousness. He subjects himself to various tests in order to explore this matter thus posing the final question: who is in charge of your decisions- your conscious self or (your unconscious self?) After completing a series of tests, Sautoy discovers that before his decision to click the left or right button, his mind had already made the decision six seconds prior.

This is significant because it drives us to question the origin of our decisions. If the decision has been made six seconds prior to our conscious awareness, are we obliged to cooperate? This could be a revelation in the court of law because people are often looking for justifications for their actions. How can we be held accountable for our actions if we are not always consciously aware of the decisions we have made? This could become problematic because it could be used as an argument much like a plea of insanity. Although both techniques are difficult to prove, they are also difficult to disprove.

Additionally, this test was completed using left and right buttons however, how can we be sure that the concept applies to more complex circumstances that may not involve choosing left or right? Although Sautoy was worried that he was being held hostage to the neural activity in his grey matter, he was reassured that the unconscious decisions were in harmony with his beliefs and desires. However, similar to how chemical unbalances can alter the fitness of the brain as well as be the derivation of a mental illness, is it possible that the same unbalances could alter unconscious choices?

On the other hand, people often view lifestyles as a product of our choices; however is that always the case? Do we exhibit qualities that we have chosen to display or are these choices unconsciously made? For example, is sexuality a conscious choice we have made? Where do we draw the line?
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Sleep

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As a college student, there is so much homework that is needed to do in such short time, in result they stay up to do their homework. The next day would feel very tiring. The student will be so tired and will not be able to concentrate in class. Sleep is needed for these students to be able to go through the day without any trouble. Lack of sleep can trigger fatal accidents. With not having enough sleep, you may be at risk for obesity. From a research I done in high school, I found that sleep deprivation increases the hunger-arousing hormone and increase the stress hormones which makes the body create fats. Sleep is an important thing that all human being should do. We need to relax our body, so that our body can be fully charged with energy for the next day. Psychologists have discovered that sleep strengthens memory, increase concentration, boost moods, moderates hunger and obesity. Researchers commend eight hours of sleep to be able to do all these treatments. With the lack of sleep, it can lead to serious health issues that can affect the immune system, the brain, and the nervous system. A typical college student will not sleep until one or two in the morning doing homework, so what are some preventable ways to reduce the loss of sleep? To sum this up, sleep is important to our health and is needed to make it through the day and the following days. So, YOU be sure to get enough sleep to ace the next big psychology exam!

One of the more unusual and captivating topics that I gleaned from my reading of the chapter involved the phenomena of out of body and near death experiences. I had heard of such happenings in the past, but was never presented with a concrete explanation of their validity or implications. Essentially, out of body experiences consist of one believing that they have left their physical body and are viewing themselves from a higher perspective. NDE's, while similar, tend to occur in situations where the threat of death is imminent. This, at least to me, seems to contradict much of the decisiveness with which we are expected to refute psuedoscience. That's why I found the info in the textbook particularly useful: it provided a explanation that complied with the 6 laws of scientific thinking and exposed the significance of such occurrences.

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As it turns out, studies looking to justify the claims of those who experience OBE and NDE proved to lack the basic standards of replicability and falsifiability. This also leads to the obvious point that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which has thus far not been presented. It is the reality of the situation that is interesting, however. It refers back to what we learned regarding the brains ability to compile sensory information into a unified experience, and the fact that we can be tricked by discrepancies between different sensory impressions. This implies that such experiences are more similar to illusions than real paranormal activity, and allows this idea to be applied to other situations.

In Near Death Experiences, the situations are similar but they are employed to create a sense of relief and in some cases even interpreted as a religious experience. This harkens back to the idea that we all have a deeply engrained fear of death and that we struggle to compartmentalize and deal with such feelings so as to keep them at a manageable level. The implications that such experiences (such as following the light, or going to heaven through a tunnel) are most likely the result of chemical changes in a dying brain could hold a great level of significance in today's world. The fact that these Near Death and Out of Body experiences can be simulated using electrical currents or drugs cast doubt over the claims that such happenings provide evidence of an afterlife. Though I'm obviously in no position to refute any religious beliefs, I feel as though the results of this data should at least be viewed as a significant backing to the scientific explanation of death and further reinforcement that falsifiability of a claim is crucial.

Regardless of the debate between the scientific and psuedoscientific explanations of such events, one thing remains certain: the unusual nature of out of body experiences shows the complexity of the brain's operations and the delicate nature of our perception of the world.

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Subliminal Messages

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One controversy in psychology has been how much information can we perceive without being consciously aware? Can an image flash on a screen faster than we can detect as humans, but our brain still detect and store as information? And as a result can this affect our behavior? This video shows a subliminal message in a clip from the movie Beauty and the Beast. The clip is self explanatory but as Gaston is falling to his death, his pupils have skulls inside of them.

This flash of the skulls is too fast for us to be consciously aware of their appearance at the speed of the movie, but can our brain sense that information in a way to be aware of it and change our decisions without us knowing? This question, called subliminal persuasion, is controversial and very hard to falsify.

I doubt that subliminal persuasion, that is, subliminal messages changing our behavior, is unlikely. For example: Many, many people have seen the Beauty and the Beast and I am positive that the skulls in the pupils did not create a subliminal persuasion in kids to draw skulls or think dark thoughts. But subliminal perception, whether our brains process the information without our knowing is a much tougher question. For example, have you ever been to a movie and "zoned out" for a minute or two? After the movie your friend could ask you about a certain part and you could not remember. But your friend could then explain to you half of a conversation and suddenly you remember it even though you weren't paying attention. Is this because of subliminal perception? Or were we consciously aware the whole time? It makes you wonder.

I'm pretty happy with my sleeping habits. I can function perfectly on only a couple hours of sleep, and I wake up feeling great. It's quite useful during stressful times in college. Some of my friends, though, are not as fortunate. They spend a lot of time sleeping, and when they do wake up, it really takes them a long time to stop being so groggy. And they also have some trouble managing their anxiety. However, I also have some friends who can't sleep at all when they're under stress.

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This is why I was really interested in this study, which looks at the relationship between mental health and long sleepers versus short sleepers. This article says that people who spend shorter amounts of time asleep are more chipper in the morning and have less emotional issues than people who spend a lot of time sleeping. Dr. Hartmann suggests that people who spend less time asleep sort their emotional issues when they're awake, as opposed to long sleepers, who need the time to sort things through their subconscious.

Now, this sounds really interesting, but as we all know, correlation does not equal causation. Perhaps it's the long time in bed which gives people elevated amounts of anxiety. But according to much more recent studies, people with anxiety can develop sleep disorders, such as sleep anxiety. People with this disorder have trouble falling and staying asleep, opposite to the first study.

So which relationship between sleep and anxiety is right?

Near death experiences, or NDEs, are sensations experienced when an individual is facing danger or possibly after being pronounced clinically deceased. Popularity in studying this field has skyrocketed since the invention of cardiac resuscitation. NDEs are controversial because there is no way to falsify claims of seeing white lights, feelings warmth, or looking at your body from above. Certainly, the claims could be classified as extraordinary due to popular among spiritual mediums. Not all, if any, of reported NDEs occur even when death is not directly probable (Lilienfeld 180). Out of body experiences are also often associated with near death experiences.

As a child I had a variation of a near death experience that remains vivid in my memory. I could not have been older than seven when I traveled to a water park and selected the largest slide on the premises. The steep nature of the slide and improper timing lead to a situation where the last slider was still at the bottom of the slope when I began speeding toward her at what felt like a hundred miles per hour. As I approached her back time slowed to a "thud, thud, thud" pace and when I visualize the memory I see myself closing the gap between us rather than seeing the back of her head. In the end we did crash and I hit my head on the slide hard enough to need help exiting the water. Though the probability of my death was incredibly low, the fear prompted the near death experience, which coincided with my out of body sensation.

As medicinal studies continue to improve I am interested to see what scientific, rather than paranormal, studies of NDE will result in. I have been closer to death than this but didn't have a definitional NDE or out of body experience. Was this because I could not see the danger approaching me (or me approaching the danger)? Will we ever be able to quantify such extraordinary claims? Why are some NDEs peaceful and others terrifying? Does increased awareness of NDEs prompt individuals to be more prone to them? The questions are as endless as the answers.

Below Elizabeth Taylor recounts her own NDE, showing the growing popularity and varying degrees of this phenomenon.

Crickets & Weather ?

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If you were to go back to the 18th century and tell the people of that time that you could calculate the temperature simply by focusing on the amount of chirps a cricket makes they would look at you as a madman. Such preposterous claims seemed wild to me as well. Growing up I heard that this was true, but never really understood how such a phenomenon was possible ? I assumed it was just your everyday folktale.
Just before the beginning of that 20th century a physicist by the name of Amos Dolbear had proposed that you can find the amount of chirps cricket makes by knowing the temperature outside. Although he had the idea backwards, he still detected the correlation.
In 2007, Dr. Peggy LeMone found interest in the correlation between cricket chirps and temperature. She conducted an experiment where she counted the amount of cricket chirps in a 15 second interval then adding by 37 gave a rough approximation of the exact temperature. When she counted the amount of chirps in a 13 second interval and adding by 40 gave a much more accurate calculation of the actual temperature.
So it is true that you can find a close approximation of the temperature through the simple means of counting the number of chirps in a 13 second span then adding by 40. The extraordinary claim of knowing the temperature through a little insects mating call does have some extraordinary evidence, through the data. As they say the proof is in the pudding, and in this case the chirps.

Follow this Link to the source of the article.

"The Secret You" response

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What evidence is there that single neurons are involved in consciousness?

Within the video, "The Secret You," I decided to look at the question that centered around the Professor Christof Koch. He was a professor in Los Angeles, California and did research involving neurons. He did this research which involved showing pictures of celebrities (Jennifer Aniston and Haliey Bery) to test subjects. One particular neuron would respond when shown not only a picture of a celebrity, but their name in text as well. Professor Christof Koch's theory was that a single neuron isn't itself conscious, but consciousness emerges out of a bunch of neurons.
I found it most interesting that not only does a single neuron respond to a picture of an individual, but their name in texts as well. This neuron is so complex that is responds to not only visual appearances of an individual, but it can correspond to the name written as well. I think that the response of a neuron has to do with memory is some shape or form. When you see a name written down, you mentally get a picture or memory of them, as well as seeing their picture.
A few questions I had were are neurons like snowflakes in that each one is different and no two neurons are identical? For every single person that you know, is there a neuron that activates for each person? With everyone having different people in their lives, would someone who is socially introduced to people everyday have more neurons than someone who is not as social?

Are we conscious?

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For this week, I watched "The Secret You" as recommended by our professor. The portion which interested me most was how we know if we are conscious or not. Easily expressed by those who are completely conscious, we can say "Yes, I am conscious" and prove we are. However, the section dove deeper into how those who can not out rightly say they are conscious are able to function. As they demonstrated, when a researcher told a vegetative person to envision playing tennis, certain areas of their brain which are responsible for creating bodily movements lit up. Supporting this, in the experiment with the host, his brain actively showed a difference when he was supposed to rest and times when he was imagining tennis. I think this idea to test bodily mind activity is innovative and gives a chance for those who appear not to be conscious to prove they are. More research should to done on the topic to see if there is a firm way in which we can test consciousness.
However, I see a great dilemma if this was implemented in hospitals as a method to test vegetative patients. The choice for relatives to "pull the plug" would be much more difficult if they saw tests like these where patients were showing signs of response. It would become a very controversial and ethical dilemma.

Sleep Apnea

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Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea.jpgAfter reading chapter five in our book Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding, I learned about sleep apnea. According to the book sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects roughly 2-20% of the general population. Sleep apnea is caused by blockage of the airway during sleep. This can lead to weight gain and night sweats, also fatigue because a person with the disorder awakes many times during the night. Doctors recommended weight loss because many people who have sleep apnea are usually over weight. Another treatment to this disorder is the CPAP machine; curious to see what that is and exactly what it does i watched this video which explains the machine more in depth (video). I learned CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. I also learned that the CPAP is the most popular treatment to sleep apnea, although doctors recommend weight lost, patients believe it is a slow process so they prefer the CPAP. Then I became curious to see what the different types of sleep apnea were so I read an article on the American Sleep Apnea Association website, (Article) and found out that there are three different types of sleep apnea; obstructive, central and mixed. Obstructive is the most common form of sleep apnea. In addition I learned the serious consequences of leaving sleep apnea untreated it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, diabetes, depression, and other serious problems. So if you ever feel tired all the time and you know you have had a good amount of sleep the problem just might be sleep apnea.

The effects of cosmetics

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As cosmetics are becoming more and more apart of our everyday life, a study has showed that females that apply make up are thought higher of by our perception. Researchers studied the effects of makeup enhancing ones appearance. The study, researched by the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Procter & Gamble Cosmetics, Boston University, and HMS, studied, two groups, each with over one hundred participants. They were asked to rate photographs of female faces with varying levels of cosmetics applied. Participants in the first group only saw the photographs for 250 milliseconds, while those in the second group had an unlimited amount of time to examine them. The results showed that of the participants surveyed they very heavily favored women with cosmetics applied in not just only attractiveness but competence, likeability, and trustworthiness.

This applies to psychology in many ways one being are we unconscious or conscious about their findings? Are all people drawn to people that wear make up? Our perception dictates these findings, and if cosmetologists can keep enhancing the ability of make up it will greatly effect our perception. There could also be a third variable such as high cheek bones that could be causing the correlation due to the fact there was only around two hundred people studied. This effects everyone's live because due to the amount of makeup one is wearing it will deceive us not only on attractiveness but but competence, likeability, and trustworthiness. Sooner then later cosmetics will become so advanced that it will be harder to look at someone that is naked of makeup without looking away. It dictates the way we unconsciously view a person rather then who they really are and consciously thinking we need makeup. Which is unfair because our perception is judging a book by the cover rather then what is inside.
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http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/10/7/study-makeup-cosmetics-participants/

The Secret You

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In the BBC Horizon video "The Secret You", Professor Marcus du Sautoy demonstrates different self-awareness studies to find out when exactly in the time span of life we officially become aware of ourselves as unique individuals. This is a question I have never asked myself before, but found very intriguing. Self-awareness is not only very important, but very bewildering to think about because, like Sautoy stated in the video, "without me, I disappear". There is no equation that explains consciousness or any real, hard evidence to gauge. So, the question is, when do we first become aware of ourselves in life? Sautoy took part in the Mirror Self-Recognition Test to observe children at different ages and determine if the child knows who he is when he looks in the mirror. The parents of the child are to place a dot on the child's cheek, and then when the child looks in the mirror again and tries to remove the dot, or move his hand to touch it, we know he is aware of himself. This study determined that somewhere between 18-22 months is when awareness really happens. Humans are a part of an elite group, along with Chimpanzees and Orangutans, who experience this sense of self-awareness.
I agree with Sautoy when he says that we almost take our self-awareness for granted. It is hard to comprehend the time before 18-22 months when we were completely unaware of ourselves because we are so self-aware now. By being self-aware we can think of ourselves and things that happened in the past, present and even imagine what we can do in the future, which gives humans a huge advantage. For me, death awareness is the hardest thing to grasp and is the price we ultimately pay for being self-aware. Knowing that one day our consciousness will disappear forever is a hard concept to come to terms with and personally, I get jittery just trying to wrap my mind around it. It makes me wonder, are there parts of your brain you can damage to lose your self-awareness? Why isn't every living organism self-aware?

img_161141_ufo-2011-.jpgOn September 30, 2011, many people claimed to see lights that seemed to form a "perfect triangle" hovering near Phoenix, Arizona. In this article, the author argues--using the principles of scientific thinking--that these sightings were not of an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

First the author reviews eyewitness accounts and falsifies their claims that these lights were from a single spacecraft. He first discusses that relative distance of the lights to each other and to the eyewitnesses would mean that the size of the object would be "at least the size of a football field" and would have been picked up by radar at the Phoenix airport, but it didn't. Another eyewitness claims that these lights changed formation. The author argues that this couldn't be possible for a single object to do, and produces his own hypothesis.

After reviewing eyewitness accounts, the author determines a different hypothesis--one that rivals the original one of the lights being a single spacecraft. These lights were not in fact from a single ship, but from separate objects flying through the sky; it could be airplanes flying in formation.

With so many people claiming to see UFO's, it's easy to see why people fall victim to the bandwagon fallacy. These sightings could be nothing more than airplanes flying in formation, or balloons in the sky, and could be the result of the phenomenon of pareidolia--seeing meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli.

Link!

Night Terrors

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I became interested in night terrors a few years back when I woke up to my nephew screaming and crying at the top of his lungs from the guest room. I panicked when I realized there was nothing I could do to calm him down. I was even more surprised the next morning when he did not remember a thing.

Night terrors are random waking episodes in the middle of deep sleep. Night terrors are characterized by a person waking in the middle of the night, screaming, sweating, panicked, and confused. They are much more common in children than in adults, and the child has no recollection of the episodes at all. There are many misconceptions about night terrors, like night terrors happen when people act out their nightmares. However, nightmares occur during REM sleep, while night terrors happen during stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle.

I found night terrors to be interesting mainly because my family always picked out a much deeper meaning for why my nephew was having terrors. They used to say that her old house was haunted because as soon as my sister's family moved, my nephew quit having night terrors. However, the reason his night terrors probably stopped was because he grew out of them (which brings in the principle of Occam's razor!).

I found this clip from Spongebob, that I think is hilarious, showing Patrick Star having a night terror.
http://youtu.be/v2RRnk63ZO4?t=38s

In 1981 Steven Steinberg was accused of murdering his wife with a kitchen knife. Never denying it, he pleaded not guilty because he couldn't actually remember committing a crime. The final ruling in this case is innocent. However, Scott Falater was not so lucky.

Scott Falater managed to murder his wife, try to hide the evidence, and get rid of the body all the while asleep. The complexity of what he had managed to do while asleep was the major difference between the two cases. There was great evidence he could have been sleepwalking, everything from his posture to the nights leading up to the murder in which he'd only gotten about 2-3 hours of sleep per night, there was even a neighbor who witnessed the whole ordeal.

It's not very clear why he was convicted guilty, especially with a history of sleepwalking. Apparently, there was no evidence that Falater's wife had done anything to provoke the murder. In Falater's case, a sleep disorder expert admitted that the actions Falater committed could have very well been done while sleepwalking. When prosecuted he claimed that he couldn't remember murdering his wife either, which is plausible considering that many people don't remember sleep walking because it happens during non-REM sleep. Stages 3 and 4 of the stages of sleep is often times considered the 'sleep like a baby' sleep. It's the very deep sleep stage.

Unfortunately there isn't a way to determine whether or not Falater was actually sleeping while he committed the murder. However, there is a possible explanation for sleep murdering. According to this website, sometimes the brain can get stuck attempting to exit non-REM sleep and go straight into wakefulness. In plain language, you'd be stuck between being awake and asleep. This is a theory of what may have happened to other sleep murder suspects.

So here is one final question to any of those who feel like responding, if somebody committed murder in their sleep should they still go to jail for it?

Here is the original Scott Falater article link.

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Has your mother ever told you no more sugar or you'll be bouncing off the walls? Well, scientists have proven that sugar intake does not cause hyperactivity, which is a prime example that correlation does not equal causation. Just because the two things are positively correlated, does not mean one causes the other. There's usually a third factor that causes the outcome. The classic example is in the setting of a child's birthday party. In this case parents say sugar causes hyperactivity. Birthday parties have many treats, many of them containing large amounts of sugar, and a bunch of hyper children. This leads parents to the conclusion that it was the large quantities of sugary treats their child consumed caused the hyperactivity in their child. What they failed to take into account was that there are many other children there that could have caused their child to become excited and therefore express hyperactivity. The child could have also been told numerous times that by eating sugary foods that they will become hyper. This makes the child act hyper because they believe that that is what should happen when they eat sugar. This is an example of the placebo effect which is improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement.

The concerned parents never took these other variables into consideration when they told their child that they could not have another piece of candy or cake, they just assumed that it was the sugar that caused the hyperactivity in their child. Obviously these parents never took psych 1001 and don't know that correlation does not equal causation.

Here is an article that proves that sugar does not cause hyperactivity: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=52516

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Has your mother ever told you no more sugar or you'll be bouncing off the walls? Well, scientists have proven that sugar intake does not cause hyperactivity, which is a prime example that correlation does not equal causation. Just because the two things are positively correlated, does not mean one causes the other. There's usually a third factor that causes the outcome. The classic example is in the setting of a child's birthday party. In this case parents say sugar causes hyperactivity. Birthday parties have many treats, many of them containing large amounts of sugar, and a bunch of hyper children. This leads parents to the conclusion that it was the large quantities of sugary treats their child consumed caused the hyperactivity in their child. What they failed to take into account was that there are many other children there that could have caused their child to become excited and therefore express hyperactivity. The child could have also been told numerous times that by eating sugary foods that they will become hyper. This makes the child act hyper because they believe that that is what should happen when they eat sugar. This is an example of the placebo effect which is improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement.
The concerned parents never took these other variables into consideration when they told their child that they could not have another piece of candy or cake, they just assumed that it was the sugar that caused the hyperactivity in their child. Obviously these parents never took psych 1001 and don't know that correlation does not equal causation.
Here is an article that proves that sugar does not cause hyperactivity:

The Theory of E.S.P.

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Humans may sometimes feel like they have extra sensory perception when they had a hunch about something and it ended up being right. Naturally, when this happens we tend to pay more attention to the event because it has more significance to us. We also make a spot in our brains to remember this event. As time goes on we may have more and more occurrences such as the previous and these memories of "predicting" the future build up. After awhile we may start to feel that we have a special power commonly noted as E.S.P.
This misconception all has to do with one thing, the confirmation bias. As I noted earlier, humans tend to pay more attention to the situations that prove E.S.P. true, however we tend not to realize the amount of times when E.S.P. failed us. This number is almost always much greater, we just do not want to focus on it.

Also, we underestimate the probability of the event actually occurring. For example, in the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations there were multiple comparisons that at first glance seem to be incredible. When we look further into what the actual probability is we see things differently. So in conclusion, Extra Sensory Perception is simply a matter of people remembering what they want to happen and forgetting what they do not.

"People who can't handle scary movies are just wimps". This is usually the go to response when someone wants to feel high and mighty for being a horror film addict. Now even though this accusation is somewhat true the "wimps" have a lower health risk than the horror addicts; so even though those who watch scary movies are "braver" they are also being riskier as well. Studies have showed that those who watch scary movies see changes in body health such as drop in body temperatures, increased heart rates, and tension in the muscles. Also watching scary movies can affect the amygdala (the area of our brain that controls fear and emotion) and can leave a scar of fear in our minds. In fact, studies have also shown that children under the age of 14 should not watch scary movies to insure the prevention of this scarring.
These are some pretty interesting effects but there are some good things to take from scary movies. The scary movies might actually help you overcome a fear or maybe help you understand some epiphany about yourself or like most situations scary movies for us guys is just a way for our girls to cuddle up next to us and for us to protect them. Even so, scary movies on occasion are fun but for all those horror junkies out there they are putting themselves at risk.2594048_com_twilightzo.jpg

Have you ever seen people or animals suddenly fall asleep while in the middle of doing something such as eating? If so, then you've most likely witnessed somebody with the disorder narcolepsy. This disorder causes people to unexpectedly fall asleep, usually for a couple minutes or less, but sometimes up to an hour.

Some people who have narcolepsy can also experience cataplexy, a complete loss of muscle strength and function. When somebody has a cataplectic episode, they are temporarily paralyzed, but are fully conscious and alert. This usually happens if somebody experiences excitement, fear, anger, stress, or other strong emotional feelings. In people without the disorder, temporary loss of muscle strength is necessary during REM sleep; otherwise people would act their dreams out, potentially causing injury to themselves or others.

In the video, the dogs get excited when from playing, and then they have a cataplectic episode and as shown all muscle control is lost, but they are still conscious. This disorder can make living regularly a difficult task, being unable to control when your body will suddenly become paralyzed. The hormone Orexin has a big role in inducing bouts of sleepiness, and people with narcolepsy have a lower number of cells producing the hormone. Thankfully there are drugs which mimic the effects of Orexin in the brain which could eventually cure narcolepsy and the secondary effect of cataplexy.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/detail_narcolepsy.htm

Lilienfeld, Scott O. Psychology: from Inquiry to Understanding. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.

Daytime Stars?

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For hundreds and hundreds of years, humans have had the belief that they could see the stars during the day. How is this possible? Stars are known for being seen only at night when looking up at the sky. According to this old belief, a person could see the stars during the day if they were at the bottom of a well, shaft, or at the base of a tall chimney. It suggests that the chimney, shaft, or well helps block most of the sun's glare, causing a person to be able to see the stars. This can only be, because it's believed that the sun's rays causes the stars to be invisible during the day, and blocking the glare of the sun from your vision can help you see the stars.

However, this claim is easily falsifiable. A simple explanation said by Reverend W.F.A. Ellison in 1916 is that the shaft, chimney, or well would only block the glare a tiny bit, and the perception of stars is actually the glare of the atmosphere by the sun's rays. This simple explanation is known as Occam's Razor. The only reason someone probably thought they saw the stars in this instance was due to emotional reasoning fallacy. The person probably got carried away by the dazzling view of the sky, and then assumed this beautiful view was of the stars. They could've made a connection that the chimney, shaft, or well blocked most of the glare blocking the stars from being visible. The correlation between the glare of the sun's rays and the stars visibility from a shaft, chimney, or well is not a causal connection. Correlation does not equal causation, therefore this old claim is not valid, but false. The only time you can really see the stars is at night.

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Source- http://www.snopes.com/science/well.asp
Picture- http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_8uyoecejM_c/TKbcYCoH_NI/AAAAAAAAABQ/8qdcDO0gZUc/s400/Written_in_the_Stars.jpg

Operant Conditioning

"The Big Bang Theory"

E.L. Thorndike's idea of "law of effect" states that if a response, in the presence of a stimulus, is followed by a satisfying state of affairs, the bond between the stimuli and response will be strengthened. Based on his work another popular scientist in the field of psychology, B.F. Skinner, pioneered the idea of Operant Conditioning. In the show "The Big Bang Theory", one of the main characters Dr. Sheldon E. Cooper uses the idea of positive reinforcement to "correct" his roommates' girlfriend, Penny. Cooper calls this, "Building A Better Girlfriend." By feeding Penny chocolate in response to what Cooper considers proper behavior Penny begins to act in a way that is pleasing to Cooper. Slowly Penny begins to change, almost unaware of what is actually going on. The chocolate however is what grasps her attention, and the idea of positive reinforcement appears to become crucial to her behavior. Cooper's roommate chastises him and says, "You can't train my girlfriend like a lab rat," in which Cooper responds, "Actually, it turns out I can." The idea of positive reinforcement is simply administering a stimulus in response to a particular behavior. However, the positive reinforcement in the episode of "The Big Bang Theory" is subject to the participant's personal bias. If Penny did not like chocolate the experiment may have lacked in support and would have possibly needed some adjustment. The stimuli in any situation could be changed in response to what administers the most effective behavior. Towards the end of the clip Cooper notes that sexual behavior appears to be a very strong form of positive reinforcement leading one to believe that some things might have a higher affect on behavior than others.

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Matthew Walker, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley divided 39 young adults into two groups. At noon the participants took part in a memory exercises that required them to remember faces and link them with names. Then they took part in another memory exercise at 6 p.m., after 20 had napped for 100 minutes during the break. Their results show that those who remained awake performed about 10% worse on the tests than those who napped.
Additionally, previous research suggested that a person's ability to learn declines about 10% between noon and 6 p.m. normally, but the nappers did not show this decline.
In this Correlational study, the results supported the initial hypothesis that people who took an afternoon nap would keep their brains and minds "refreshed" as opposed to those who did not nap during the afternoon.
This could be reproduced as an experiment if the participants were told to sleep a certain number of minutes and the same memory tests would be taken. In that experiment, the independent variable would be the minutes of naptime and the dependent variable would be the results of the two memory tests.
Although napping and the results of the memory tests they took are correlated, the assumption of causation cannot be supported. More studies like this one would have to be performed and more research is needed in order to say that napping makes a person smarter.
For more information about the article, check out Everyday Health

The most common thing people drink in the morning is a cup of coffee...or two...or three. The normal amount of caffeine consumed a day is 250mg, or an equivalent of 3 cups of coffee. Throughout this article, they say the word "cause" a lot. But does consuming a lot of caffeine "cause" someone to sleep less?

In Psychology class, we have learned that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But in the case of caffeine consumption and sleep, does the more caffeine you consume cause you to sleep less? There are multiple things to consider; caffeine consumption (or drinking in general) causes frequent urination, which causes you to use the restroom. In this case, you either have a terrible bladder and just have to pee a lot, or because of the amount of caffeinated drinks you consume a day, you may actually find yourself waking up frequently in the middle of the night to use the restroom. In the case of caffeine causing insomnia, that's a different story. Yes, it's true, that caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours, but could there possibly be other reasons for your lack of sleep? Maybe stress? Excitement? There are many other possibilities for why someone stays awake at night; whether it is from caffeine, or some other factor, the amount of caffeine you consume definitely correlates with how much sleep you get at night, but is it the reason why you can't sleep?

To read the full article,

http://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/101/improve-sleep.aspx

Have you ever heard that people's fingernails and hair grow after his or her death?

Video: http://conditions.healthguru.com/video/do-hair-and-fingernails-grow-after-death

Source: http://conditions.healthguru.com/video/do-hair-and-fingernails-grow-after-death

A lot of people have heard that dead people's fingernails and hair grow. I even believed it at one point. Except last year in my human anatomy class we went over scientific myths like that, and found it to be untrue. There was a description in Death to Dust that was probably the reason that this myth was widely believed.

This situation is definitely an extraordinary claim. They would have to back this up with extraordinary evidence. Instead of looking at the reasons why nails and hair would be getting longer, they just made a claim about it that made people uneasy. Is it really possible for nails and hair to grow after death? That would be very creepy, but our bodies dehydrate after death. That causes the skin around the nails and hair to shrink back away from them giving the appearance that they grew. That's why at funeral homes they put tons of moisturizer on the bodies especially in those areas to fight the shrinking of the skin. When we look at this claim now with that knowledge that it looks ridiculous.

They didn't look deep enough into the process of death and decaying. Death and decaying is a weird process and appears to do strange things that people could conclude supernatural occurrences. In this case, they ruled out rival hypotheses and they need to be more careful. A lot of times people believe anything, especially if it's read in a book. Nails and hair do not grow after death.

What Do Dreams Mean?

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Most people have had dreams which act as a metaphor for what they are actually thinking or feeling. While not all have the same dreams, there are "dream themes" that are common. Dr. Deirder Barrett explains that "[m]ost modern clinicians who work with dreams use the dream to understand what may be metaphoric thought in that person's shorthand." Dream Decoder: The 10 Most Common Dream Themes, by Jordan Lite, dives into popular dream themes that people share and further explains them.
The first is taking a test for which the dreamer is unprepared. Lite estimates that these "usually begin in childhood" and continue throughout life. Barrett says it is a "symbol of someone judging." Later, the theme of falling is discussed. Lite says these dreams "may reflect negative feelings of losing control."
This is interesting because if each dream has a reason for being dreamt, does that mean these themes are one-hundred percent accurate? Since Deirdre Barrett is a psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, her findings are (relatively) valid. She is known for her research involving dreams. Barrett has also worked toward controlling dreams (with Robert Stickgold), showing that if we can consciously control our dreams, that they must reflect some element of our lives happening outside of sleep.
Dreams having hidden meanings comes from Freud's Dream Protection Theory (discussed in Lilienfeld). The dream itself (manifest content) is not always what the dreams means (latent content). However, most "scientists have rejected the dream protection." While they may have "rejected" it as a whole, most of the elements of Freud's theory live today, explaining the hidden meanings behind our metaphoric dreams.

http://www.ivillage.com/dream-decoder-10-most-common-dream-themes/4-b-122045#last
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2000/10/researchers-learn-to-control-dreams/

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Inattentional Blindness

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Our world is constantly full of stimuli. Messages about everything around us go to our brains all the time but we can't possible pay attention to all of those messages at once. The process of selecting one stimulus in our environment and ignoring others is selective attention. A more interesting aspect of attention is inattentinal blindness. Try this activity. Watch the video and pay attention to what they are saying in their conversation.

Did you notice the change? This is an example of inattentional blindness. We are so focused on one thing that we often fail to notice anything else. That was a pretty dramatic change to the scene but I bet most people didn't even see it.

I think this is an important concept of psychology because it can be potentially dangerous. I think of driving when talking about inattentional blindness. There are so many different things to pay attention to while driving it is almost impossible not to miss something. The problem is, that "something" could be another person. Have you ever heard someone talking about an accident and say the other car came out of nowhere? In reality, that car was there the whole time but the driver was focusing their attention elsewhere and had no idea that other car existed.

As you can see, this concept is very interesting but potentially dangerous. Knowing about inattentional blindness will hopefully make people pay more attention to their environments. Now that we know it happens, we can be more conscious while doing potentially dangerous activities.

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Many optical illusions, like The Necker Cube, allow us to perceive a picture or an object in more than one way. More specifically, The Necker Cube allows its audience to see a cube positioned in two ways. This is done by eliminating all binocular and monocular depth cues, creating an ambiguity about the three dimensional geometric shape that usually is easily recognized by most everyone. A monocular cue is a visual stimulus perceived by one eye. One important monocular cue that comes into play with The Necker Cube is interposition, also known as overlap. Interposition is when one object overlaps another object; the object that is partially obscured is seen as being farther away. With this monocular cue, we can see three-dimensional objects like cubes but also be fooled when there is more than one way an overlapped object can be perceived, like The Necker Cube. Binocular cues also have a part in how we perceive The Necker Cube. A binocular cue is a visual cue perceived by both eyes. Without the binocular cue of convergence, which has to do with how we perceive distance and depth, we don't make a distinct decision on whether the misleading corner in The Necker Cube is popping out or in. Even if it doesn't always seem like it, there is a lot going on with our eyes and our brain when we take in a visual stimulus, especially when that visual stimulus is not presented as a distinct object or picture.

~Lucidity in Dreamland~

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dreamflying.jpgFor some(I know myself included), the ability to become lucid in the midst of a dream could be one of the greatest experiences ever. Being able to break past the mundane rules of life and well.. Physics has been a, sorry for this, a Dream of mine for sometime now. Its hard to talk about lucid dreaming when you've most likely never experienced one, but I will be trying to present and explain some popular techniques for Lucid dreaming, and apply critical and scientific thinking to them to determine whether they're claims hold any substance.

novadreamer.jpegThis is the "Novadreamer". At first glance it does look pretty cheesy, Kinda like something from an 80's infomercial. But the idea behind it is rather clever. The device is worn like a blindfold, and will detect when the wearer is in REM sleep. Then, the device will flash LED lights or sound a tone that usually will not wake the sleeper, but hopefully is just enough to penetrate the dream and alert the dreamer. Ex. Some users of the device claim that patterns of bright colors fill their field of vision within the dream. This is a reasonable claim by the producers of the device, but is it truthful? I tried finding evidence from users on the internet and for all the searching I did, I could only find two anecdotes including the one above, there are also some tutorial videos on youtube that present the correct methods of using the Nova Dreamer made by someone that seems to know alot about the technology. I would need more substantial evidence to back up the substantial claims of the device before I invested any time in it.

Another set of techniques for avid dreamers to practice becoming lucid was developed by Stephan LaBerge, a man whose name seems to be almost synonymous with lucid Dreaming. I find his name repeated over and over in the articles that I read and countless links to Interviews of his, Books he has written on the subject, as well as links to The Lucidity Institute; an Organization he apparently founded. Some common Lucidity tips given by LaBerge include:

Dream Recall: Keeping a Dream Journal or spending ten minutes after waking concentrating on the night's dreams has been said to increase the efficiency of recalling dreams as well as make lucid dreaming more likely
Reality Checks: LaBerge recommends performing 10 or more "Reality Checks" during the course of you normal day. These include looking at the time or reading text and then looking again a few seconds later(Time and Texts are said to change during a dream), Rubbing your hands together in an effort to create friction to produce heat, and asking yourself if the laws of physics are still in effect. This technique aims to have the daily routine of reality checks cross over to your dream self, wherein, One will find that they are in the midst of a dream.
Napping: Lucidity is said to occur more frequently when one has quickly switched from a state of wakefulness to a sleep state. Thus, the institute recommends waking an hour early, spending 30 minutes or more reading or thinking about lucid dreaming, and then calmly going back to sleep while focusing on your intent to become lucid.

These all seem like fairly easy measures to take towards having a Lucid dream, but I wonder if they actually increase results as opposed to any other method(Meditation, Hypnosis, etc.) Ideally, an Experiment would be of great use to proving the effectiveness of the preceding techniques. All three methods could be tested along with a control group who would only think about lucid dreaming before bed each night, and hope for the best. Although results would be different from person to person, this might give us a little more info as to how effective these techniques may be.

calea.jpgOne of the Final aids in the pursuit of Lucid Dreaming I came across actually has a substantial History with the goal. The plant shown in the Picture is known as Calea Zacatechichi, or the Dream Herb. The plant has been used by the Chontal Indians of Mexico to receive divine messages within their dreams. A Psychopharmacologic study indeed found the plant to increase the number and/or recollection of Dreams as well as heighten reaction times compared to a Placebo and Diazepam. Now, the plant can actually be used in many ways. The traditional way for Indian divination was to drink a cup of tea made from the leave of the plant as well as smoke a cigarette before bed. I have also found references to chewing on raw leaf, making extract, as well as grinding the herb for use in a pill capsule. The general recommended dosage appears to be one gram per use.

zaca.jpgFrankly, This seems to be one of the most promising methods to induce lucid dreaming that I have come across tonight. The plant/extract/supplement can be bought over the internet relatively cheap and has the backing of a scientific study that confirms the results with traditions of an indigenous people. the Claims have been backed up with evidence and experiment, so it seems this technique has already gone through the process of critical and scientific thought. I believe the best way to find out if the plant has very real effects would be to go the practical route and try it out for myself. As I believe I stated earlier in the post, I very rarely have/recall dreams. I've come across the topic of Lucid Dreaming before and have pursued the goal with great interest for some time before flaking out, Although Lucidity is still a goal of mine. I may just use some of the techniques I've presented here myself and try again, I invite anyone reading this article(If you've gotten this far you must be pretty interested in the topic) to do the same.

Selective attention

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Have you ever experience a moment that you are concentrate on something such as homework in classroom. The surrounding is noisy but you feel like you can't hear the noise and go on thinking silently. What's more, maybe someone sees you and call your name, but you still notice nothing. And when someone beats you, you wake up with a start.
That's my own experience of selective attention, and many of my classmates also learn through this situation. In my own word, selective attention is when we focus on one specific thing, we will ignore other things surrounds us to some degree. Maybe we could not dismiss the irrelevant factor around ourselves, we could at least lighten the level of that.
The selective attention is controlled by reticular activating system and forebrain. The frontal cortex also involves this process. During this process, our brain can pay attention to important stimuli and ignore others.
In additional, selective attention also can influence people's behavior in potential. If one is hungry,
he or she will more likely to focus the message that are consistent with his or her need and go to the shop to buy something to eat than people who is full. When someone is hungry, he tends to pay attention to food and drink that satisfy their needs, so they seek restaurant or shop to get food. Selective attention allows them selective the seeking food channel and turn off other channels.
In my view, selective attention can make me focus on homework without influencing by others, it's a useful function of human beings.

Mirages and skepticism

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When you think of the desert you think of dry, arid weather without water. Driving along on a black road do you see water ahead of you? Do you think it is water? Or do you think of it as a mirage? It is actually a mirage that deceives our senses. The sun heats up the pavement, and then the pavement warms up the pavement directly above the pavement that is 5cm deep. The cooler air above it acts like a glass, and at a certain angle it refracts the light making the mirage of water off into the distance. Sometimes we have to be skeptical and think to ourselves if that is really water off into the distance or is it a mirage? If we critically think we can use our basic knowledge that water should not be in the middle of the road when the sun is beating down on the pavement. Skepticism plays a role into this mirage, if we were skeptical about how people tell us how there is water in the middle of road, we can make an assumption that it is not true. We often make an assumption because many other people believe it to be true too. We should evaluate what we hear and read, because many things we read and hear are not true. Being skeptical makes us critically evaluate claims. Every time we hear something like this, we should critically think about it. This will help many people not be so gullible and make them more skeptical about claims.

Hypnotizing Darko

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Thumbnail image for donnie-darko-directors-cut.jpgOne thing that stood out to me was hypnosis. Not too long ago, I ended up watching the movie Donnie Darko. In one scene of the film he gets hypnotized by his therapist. I think that the way the media has portrayed hypnotism is very much faulted, but without reading the Lilienfeld text I would have never known this. For example in the film Donnie Darko, a number of the myths that the Lilienfeld text mentions appear in the film. When Donnie is hypnotized he becomes unaware of his therapist and acts out in an inappropriate manner (Myth 4: People are Unaware of Their Surroundings), but when his therapist wakes him from his trance, he never has no recollection of what he said or did (Myth 5: Hypnotized People Forget What Happened during Hypnosis).
I feel that the research done in the field of hypnosis provides students such as myself, a way to combat the skewed version of hypnosis in the media - which no doubt we will continually be running into. When reflecting on the research topic that scientist have now provided me with for clarity on the subject of hypnosis, I developed a number of questions. Have the scientists that study hypnotism ever been hypnotized themselves? If they had would they be more likely to be biased in their research? What makes a person "highly suggestible"? How do we not know that the scientists are using people who are least suggestible to hypnosis during their research?

Out-of-Body Experiences

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Out-of-body experiences (also known as OBE) is the sensation of floating outside of one's body. Michael Shermer a historian of science and editor traveled to Laurentian University in Canada to learn more about out-of-body experiences. With the help of neuroscientist Michael Persinger, Shermer was strapped down to the "God Helmet" which enhances out-of-body experiences and other paranormal phenomena. Shermer sat in a dark room for an hour, soon he began to feel a presence in the room. Which is the result of magnitude influences being created in his temporal lobe. As a result, temporal lobe stimulation caused a sense presence and also an out-of-body experience. Shermer stated "It felt like the thing that went by me, I wasn't sure if it was me leaving or somebody or something went by me, it was very strange. In the second round I did have the feeling I was in waves and I wanted to come out of my body but I kept on coming back in." Other volunteers reported meeting the devil and encounters with extraterrestrial life.

Even though Shermer thought he experienced himself wanting to come out of his body, there's no good evidence that people are truly floating above their bodies during an out-of-body experience, although it seems like to them they are. These findings falsify the claim that people emerge from their bodies. Even though scientist like Michael Persinger were able to replicate the state of feeling an out-of-body experience, there is no true evidence to support out-of-body experiences.

Myth: Growth After Death

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fingernails.jpgEver since we were little, we have heard many different statements that sound factual from our peers, parents, and TV. It is safe to say that most of us have heard that our fingernails and hair continue to grow after we die. As disturbing as that is to think about there is no need to fear because this is false. It is actually an illusion.

When we die, our bodies begin to shrivel and dry out due to lack of hydration in our skin. This causes the dried skin to pull away from the nail beds and hair follicles, making the nails and hair appear to have grown. In actuality it is shrinkage, not growth, which occurs after we die.

It is important to be skeptical, when we hear claims such as this. To think clearly and logically, you must pause and evaluate what you are reading and hearing. We have talked about logical fallacies, and this is a perfect example of the band-wagon fallacy. With this example, it is true that most people have probably heard it from more than one source, so we mistakenly believe it to be true. We often assume that something is true because many others believe it to be.

Not only is it important to be skeptical, we also must think critically to evaluate claims. For this particular example, the rival hypothesis was the truth. Instead of immediately accepting the hypothesis that is given to us, we must make sure that there are no other explanations that could account for what happens. We must also make sure that we apply Occam's razor, and find a simple explanation. Instead of assuming our hair and nails grew because of some supernatural force, we can attribute it to a scientific fact that our skin shrinks, giving the illusion of growth.

Every time we hear claims such as this, we need to take a moment to evaluate it, and apply the critical thinking steps. This will prevent more people from being misinformed, and improve our own skills of evaluating what is fact and what is fiction.


Click to read more on this myth

Have you ever had things go completely wrong in your life? Where you would give anything to go back to change it? Well although there is nothing you can do for real life, in the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, one can actually control their dreams. Lucid dreaming is defined as the experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming. ">According to researches, there have been two identified levels of lucid dreaming. The first level of dreaming is called "high-level lucidity," while conversely the other is "low-level lucidity." In the high level scenario, the most desirable form, the dreamer is completely aware that they are in a dream while they are lying in bed. During this level, no physical pain can come to the dreamer. For the lower level of lucid dreaming, the dreamer is not fully aware that it is a dream; however they are still able to control events and the path taken in the dream. As a result, physical pain may still be perceived to the dreamer as they are not fully aware of the dream environment. Not only is lucid dreaming fairly common in the population, so too is what they dream off. The most frequent dreams that people have when controlling them is the sensation of flying followed by the perception of having sexual intercourse. Many people desire to have these controlled dreams as techniques have been known to be studied and trained for, for a number of years. However if one wants to try and pick this skill up, there are numerous easier and less time consuming techniques that can be learned.

I did WHAT last night?!

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night terror 1.jpgnight terror 2.jpgI've grown up with the fact that I talk in my sleep. People sometimes have bizarre conversations with me during the night that I do not remember the next morning. Though these events can be embarrassing, they do not affect my physical self. On a broader scope, we can all relate to the common nightmare. For me, nightmares are harmless. Sure I have woken up terrified or even crying, but I have never injured myself as a result of a nightmare. Because nightmares occur during the REM period of sleep we have much more control of waking up before anything becomes physical. I have even been aware I was dreaming during a nightmare do to lucid dreaming. Nightmares are simply bad dreams. However, night terrors are much different.
Night terrors are not typical dreams. They do not occur during REM and people that suffer from them do not remember the cause of their fright. For more information on night terrors, consult this link. So this seems great right? You get scared, just like in nightmares, but you don't remember. Besides the fact that you will wake up other people in your household, what is the harm? People are often physically injured during night terrors!
Because night terrors often include thrashing, injury is often a result. I've provided some personal stories of people who have been injured due to their night terrors. Injuries include cuts, bruises and even broken bones. Injuring others is often a worry of night terror sufferers. In one of the personal examples, you will read about a woman who hides the bat in her house; afraid of beating her husband or dogs to death.
Though, people cannot remember night terrors, it seems they have fear of injury to themselves or others to deal with every day. The cause of night terrors is unknown and the fact that they do not resemble dreams is extremely interesting. There are many things we do not understand about the subject thus far, but with researchers actively at work I'm sure we will have some answers soon.


Pseudoscience often capitalizes on human gullibility playing on people's readiness to believe a claim that is put forth by so called "experts." A young boy in Idaho took advantage of this and demonstrated it in a science fair after asking 50 people to ban dihydrogen monoxide. The majority of people agreed to ban it. The key to this trick was using one of the corner stones of pseudoscience: psychobabble. He took scientific sounding words and used them to disguise the truth behind his words, thus putting forth a jumble of claims that seemed highly scientific but weren't.

The point of his investigation was to test gullibility, not evaluate pseudoscience, however the prevalence of pseudoscience in our culture played a role in the success of his study. How often do we check our sources, evaluate claims, and question authority? The use of critical thinking skills is so important. Many of the claims he made were extraordinary claims. In this situation one should have asked for more evidence or more details, then perhaps they would have found out sooner that dihydrogen monoxide is simply water.

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iphone.jpgUntil recently, I was unaware that the feelings I have for my iPhone are the same emotions I feel for a loved one. At least that's what branding consultant Martin Lindstrom would have us believe in his September 30, 2011 New York Times op-ed piece.

Lindstrom conducted an "experiment" (his words) with 8 men and 8 women between the ages of 18 and 25. He exposed the subjects to audio and video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone and used functional MRI (fMRI) to map brain activity during these exposures. The results? Lindstrom claims that based on activation in the insular cortex, the brain responds to the iPhone the same way it reacts to the presence of a significant other or family member. In other words, we "love" our iPhone.

I believe it was irresponsible of the Times to publish this article, for many reasons. First, Lindstrom's claim is based on a single study with questionable methodology. He conducted a correlational study, not an "experiment." There was no random assignment of participants to conditions (in fact, there was no control group at all), and no manipulation of an independent variable. Second, 16 is a very small sample size. Additionally, the age range of the participants was not representative of the entire population in terms of generalizing. Furthermore, the brain is a complex system, and Lindstrom failed to consider that its regions are not associated with just one single emotion. Also, he failed to recognize that there might be other explanations for why the insular region showed activity. Moreover, most fMRI scans are produced by subtracting brain activity on a control task (absent from this study) from brain activity on an experimental task. Finally, some of Lindstrom's conclusions are based on inaccurate information (see below).

comicip.jpegNeuroscientists quickly refuted Lindstrom's claim. Russell Poldrack, a professor of psychology and neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin, blogged that some famous studies of love don't even associate it with activity in the insula. Poldrack also wrote the Times a letter noting that the insular cortex is active in roughly 1/3 of all brain imaging studies. In Psychology Today, Ben Hayden, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, points out that the insular cortex is actually most frequently associated with negative emotion, like disgust, rather than positive feelings.

The takeaway here? Even if an article publishes in a normally reputable source and has the appearance of being scientific, we should still be skeptical. We should be particularly careful in cases where brain images are involved, because according to our text, studies show that undergraduates are more susceptible to any claim that includes brain images, even if the claim is bogus.

Adderall Correlations

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One of the most commonly abused drugs is amphetamine. Its popularity comes from the drug called Adderall, in which amphetamine salts are present. It is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactive disorder, also known as ADHD. The drug works by increasing the amount of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and aceytlcholine in the brain. While this drug helps people by allowing improved performance throughout the day, it can also contribute to lack of sleep and hunger.

The four neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and aceytlcholine are effective in helping sustain concentration levels, but they also affect other parts of the brain that regulate appetite and sleep. Adderall users commonly report a significant loss of appetite, and also experience sleep disturbances. Dr. Ligia Peralta at the University of Maryland Medical Center states that the three most powerful neurotransmitters associated with anorexia are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. In addition, Dr. Joel Elmquist from the Center for Hypothalamic Research at the University of Texas found that serotonin works to curb appetite and at the same time, blocks neurons that stimulate appetite. Therefore, the effects that Adderall has on our lack of appetite can be translated as a negative correlation. The more Adderall you take the less of an appetite you have. From this can we draw a causality that people who take Adderall are at a higher risk for an eating disorder? The same can go for the effect that Adderall has on sleep. If people report not being able to go to sleep at night then can we assume that they are likely to develop insomnia? Theses are causations that we would have to prove. To prove these it would need to be done with a well-designed research experiment.

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As I walked outside i wonder why people put on sunscreen. Also, i wondered why hybrid cars were the new craze. In my head, i knew why people put sunscreen on and drove hybrid cars.... Not to get sunburn and to save gas money, right? But the other main reason is because the o-zone layer is getting destroyed by carbon dioxide. Also, people are starting to get Skin cancer because the UV rays are destroying people's skin and giving them harmful cancer cells. One principle of thinking is using the principle of causation vs.correlation. Many experts say that peoples excessive use of cars, and the excessive carbon dioxide in the air, is caused by people wanting to drive to places, because they are lazy. Many experts use the statement that carbon dioxide is destroying the o-zone layer. This statement could be true, but its still a hypothesis. Just because researches say that carbon dioxide say that the o-zone layer is being destroyed by the carbon dioxide does not mean that it is true. There are many other alternate explanations like how the world is deteriorating by its aging process. Correlation does not prove causation, carbon dioxide does not purely responsible for the global warming, many other things are responsible for the global warming.

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Narcolepsy

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Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by an excessive need to sleep. This urge can strike at any moment, and lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. When a narcoleptic falls asleep they generally experience the REM cycle of sleep immediately, whereas most people do not experience REM sleep for more than an hour after they've fallen asleep. Therefore, narcoleptics can have vivid dreams and hallucinations.

Another one of the many problems narcoleptics face is cataplexy. During cataplexy, people can fall because their muscles become limp. Cataplexy occurs in healthy people during REM sleep. But in narcolepsy, people experiencing cataplexy remain alert the whole time without being able to move.

Genetic abnormalities boost the risk of narcolepsy, and some people develop narcolepsy after an accident that causes brain damage. The hormone orexin plays a key role in triggering sudden attacks of sleepiness. However, people with narcolepsy produce less orexin. So is there a cure to narcolepsy? Well, medications that either replace orexin or mimic its effects in the brain may one day cure narcolepsy.

One of my friends in high school had narcolepsy. He would always fall asleep during class. At first he didn't really know what was wrong with him; he just thought he was extremely sleepy. But he finally went into a specialist, and found out he was narcoleptic. This diagnosis made sense because he always seemed to fall asleep when he was laughing, mad, or feeling any kind of emotional extreme-- a narcoleptic attack is sparked by emotional swings.

I found this video of a narcoleptic dog. As you can see, the dog has urges to sleep during moments of excitement, which can be very problematic.
Here is the LINK.

A new study done by Dawn R Hobbs, who is a psychology professor at the State University of New York, shows that many of the popular songs of 2009 contain some sort of sexual slurs in them. Researchers scanned the top country, pop, R&B, rap, and rock songs for "reproductive messages" and the results may surprise you. Hobbs explains that "Approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into the Billboard Top 10 in 2009 contained reproductive messages." The study searched, specifically, for 18 specially chosen, sexual references. The study found that, on average, the songs contained 10.49 phrases that relate to sex. Rihanna, Katy Perry, and LMFAO are highlighted as having the most phrases in their music. Even more specifically, the song S&M by Rihanna has the most phrases in it.

This data really surprised me, and if I were to relate this back to something we are doing in class right now, I would relate in to the idea of unconsciously thinking. I'm sure almost all Americans had no idea that there were this many references to sex in the music they listened to, but their unconscious minds must be drawn to it. I know this, because I, too, listen to a lot of the songs that were researched. I'm sure that when music artists see this data, they must think that they should keep making songs with inappropriate lyrics in them. It's sort of a vicious cycle, I suppose. Americans like songs that talk about sex, so the music becomes even more provocative, so Americans keep liking it, and so on and so forth. This is all due to the brains power to think unconsciously.

Or perhaps artists simply put these lyrics into their catchiest songs, in which case, you can't really blame Americans, and it wouldn't have a lot to do with unconscious thinking, but I'd like to think that this isn't the case.
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Informed Consent

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Researchers must inform the participants of what is involved in their study before asking the participants to partake in their experiment. When I read about the Tuskee study I was shocked that these researchers did not inform their participants that they had syphilis and that they did not treat them. Instead, the researchers watched more than a hundred men die with deaths related to syphilis. This case, although unfortunate clearly demonstrates why informed consent is necessary. Participants should be able to know the risks and information about the experiment.

Today, although researchers must tell subjects what they are getting into, it seems like informed consent should apply to other aspects of life as well. Numerous embarrassing photos and videos are uploaded to YouTube and Facebook daily. Through these devices people are often mocked and humiliated. Before this information is released to the public, shouldn't the permission of the subject of the work be required? Often these photos and videos can cause problems with friends; they can prevent one from getting into college or from getting a job offer.

An example of an embarrassing video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sd-j0rKeKw. More than three million people have watched this video, and it seems like it would be embarrassing to the sobbing girl that just wanted to make it snow. Before this video was made public, I believe that she should have had to give her consent.

An urban legend that relates to the subject of informed consent is when a couple was video taped during sexual intercourse during the night of their honeymoon by the hotel in which they spent the night. The couple was not informed that they were being video taped and the hotel did not ask for their consent, which violates their privacy. Although this would be hard to fake, an alternate explanation could be that the couple was lying. Replicability could be then applied to ensure that this was not just a hoax.

http://www.snopes.com/weddings/newlywed/video.asp

Wisconsin was expected to end its budget cycle for this year with a surplus of $120 million. Instead, Wisconsin plunged suddenly into an inordinate deficit of about $117.2 million (cited, Ezra Klien, Washington Post.) Governor Scott Walker proposed a solution in the spring of this year to disband labor unions throughout the state as a solution. Walker's proposal gained support from Republican senators, all claiming unions were the main cause of the deficit. This is "proven" by the fact that under the protection of labor unions, employees receive higher pay. The removal, therefore, of the unions would put more money into the state's budget. Logical solution, right? Perhaps not.... The information above leaves out a critical detail; shortly after his election, Gov. Walker called a special session of the legislature to sign two enormous tax cuts for large businesses. This move is predicted to have accounted for over half of the current deficit. In fact, according to Brian Buetler of TPM, "rolling back worker's bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own." He goes on to say that, "the current budget shortfall is a direct result of tax cut policies Walker enacted in his first days in office." This raises a potent psychological question: did the labor unions cause the current deficit, or could it have been a coincidental correlation, the real cause being another variable. In this case, it seems that the cause is provable to be mostly Governor Walker's tax cuts. The governor and his supporters seem to have under-evaluated the situation, or perhaps manipulated the data in their favor. Either way, correlation vs. causation is an essential aspect of psychological experimentation. Because it was not implemented in this situation, Governor Walker's conclusion and solution hold less relevance and should be questions.

In the attached video, the governor defends his "union busting" decision, under the oppositional interrogation of Representative Dennis Kuninich.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy9Hihtcrtg


TPM:
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/wisconsin-gov-walker-ginned-up-budget-shortfall-to-undercut-worker-rights.php

The Washington Post:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/unions_arent_to_blame_for_wisc.html

It was claimed, by professor Sunha Ji of Yonsei University, that the suicide probability of short, thin people with low level of cholesterol is relatively high. Professor Ji and her team with the National Health Insurance Corporation have found and researched 472 Korean people who had committed suicide from 1992 to 2009. It is interesting that three unrelated traits, height, level of cholesterol, and degree of obesity, are all claimed to be the possible cause of suicide.

The professor Ji has claimed that "the reason why the people with low level of cholesterol are more likely to commit suicide might be the factor of controlling emotions of the cholesterol." She has also claimed that "the decline in growth caused by mental stress during childhood might have an influence on suicide." It seems that her claims are somewhat reasonable, but clearly they are not in terms of critical or scientific thinking.

First of all, the criteria of whether tall or short in terms of height is ambiguous, and the study was also limited to Koreans whose number was too small to be used to define the causality. Secondly, the conditions of each group other than their height, degree of obesity, and the level of cholesterol were not controlled. That said, there might have been a 3rd variable that had influence on their relationships. Therefore, the study conducted by professor Sunha Ji and her team can be said that it has neglected one of the principles of scientific thinking: correlation isn't causation.


http://insurance-technology.tmcnet.com/news/2011/09/29/5815071.htm


Myth of the Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as Devil's Triangle, is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that is in between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico (Wise Geek). The abundant research that has been done regarding this topic applies the principles of belief perseverance and confirmation bias (Lilienfeld). Many scientists have become bias to one side of the subject area about the Bermuda Triangle, but they have not completely pulled out the lab coats to merely look at this problem from a scientific view. Scientists have critically evaluated the Bermuda Triangle by asking questions such as 'what else could be causing this?' Countless aircraft and watercraft have been said to have mysteriously disappeared in this area when attempting to pass through it. This mystery really came into action when an article was published in 1950. This article hardly began to explain how many ships and planes actually did disappear in this area of the world. One of the more famous disappearance cases involved in this mystery occurred in 1945. Five naval bombers unexpectedly vanished while flying over the Bermuda Triangle. Two planes were then sent on the dangerous mission to rescue them from the area. The cards did not get dealt too well for the rescue squads either; they also allegedly disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. A man named Donald Crowhurst was also an unlucky victim trying to sail around the world, and never made it past the Bermuda Triangle. This theory has been explored many times to attempt to come up with a reasonable explanation as to what happened to Crowhurst. Numerous scientists have tried to relate the mystery with scientific evidence, but it remains one of the most popular and confusing cases to this day. Much research has shown that the Bermuda Triangle is notorious for harsh storms and methane gas eruptions, which would make it very incapable to support the weight of a ship. This research was less than helpful when they discovered most of the ships and planes disappeared when there was no storm on record and the waters were calm. An official document from the US coastguard states that there have been countless search attempts, but no traces were ever found of missing planes or ships (Wise Geek). A librarian at Arizona State University piloted an intense investigation of the occurrences at the Bermuda Triangle. According to Kusche, it was discovered that more planes and ships disappear at this point in the world than anywhere else. He also discovered some important information, which completely contradicts the events that might have occurred at the Triangle. He found that David Crowhurst had a diary proving he was suicidal at the time of his journey. Also, Kusche discovered that the five naval bombers that vanished in the Bermuda Triangle had weather that was stormy the entire time, and it was actually a training exercise for new students. Also, the last thing heard from these bombers was that they were running low on fuel. How will we ever know if the disappearances at the Bermuda Triangle are just a coincidence due to the weather or other factors, or if there is something in the area actually making all of these ships and planes disappear? Some scientists who want to believe that the Bermuda Triangle disappearances aren't just a coincidence most likely use Confirmation Bias. Confirmation Bias is the tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypotheses and deny, dismiss or distort evidence that contradicts them. Also, Belief Perseverance is another big factor that comes into play when scientists are trying to prove that this is not just a coincidence. Belief Perseverance is the tendency to stick to your initial beliefs, even when evidence contradicts them (Lilienfeld). Since there is evidence from both sides of this theory, it is evident that Belief Perseverance and Confirmation Bias both have a big role in this mystery. Even though there is a lot of information that makes it seem like the Bermuda Triangle is just a coincidence, the big mystery that is left to think about is the fact that according to Kusche and many other sources of research, none of the crashed planes or sunken ships were ever recovered. Is this a myth or a real mystery?
http://www.crystalinks.com/bermudatriangle.jpg- Picture of Bermuda Triangle
http://psychoparo.posterous.com/what-i-think-about-bermuda-triangle-
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-bermuda-triangle.htm
-Learn more about the Bermuda Triangle

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The subject of research ethics in Psychology is a very thin line. In any science, research is necessary and so are subjects. Using our main three points of ethics (informed consent, deception only when necessary, and use of animals only when benefits outweigh costs), I wish to look at the subject's change over time and real world examples.
The Baby Albert study is an intriguing example dealing with ethics. Although much was learned about our human brains and how we can be trained to correlate an object with an action or emotion, the cost of the experiment was high. The mother had no knowledge of the experiment and they caused serious emotional distress to the child. Fast forward to the present day and the rules are much stricter. I took a sociology class through PSEO last year and because I was not yet 18, I was not able to complete a recommended assignment for class because you had to give consent. Even with the extra credit in this class, some opportunities are limited due to age. Although some may be frustrated with the rule, in the long run it is better for scientific experiments as a whole to keep the integrity of experimentation held to a high standard. To make sure no more Baby Albert studies occur, setting an age restriction is logical. But on the other hand, perhaps this rule keeps psychologists and scientists away from researching children due to all the logistics of experimentation. Perhaps it causes a lurking variable because those parents who would not allow their children to participate in a study could also be the exact children needed to change the data to a more accurate reflection. Although there are downsides to the stringent experimental ethics, overall the rules have made an improvement for the subjects.

The Placebo Effect

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The placebo effect refers to the phenomena of improvement in a trial subject simply due to the expectation of improvement. (Lilienfield 62) For example, a patient may improve following the introduction of a drug simply because they were aware that a treatment was being administered. This unusual hypothesis can be tested by administering a sugar pill, or placebo, to some members of the control group while keeping them blind to the condition that they've been assigned. (Lilienfield 63) In this way, researchers are able to ensure that members of the experimental and control groups are unaware whether they are taking a medication or a placebo. This is interesting and relevant to Psychology in that it shows the power of the brain's expectations over the wellbeing of our bodily functions. The simple presumption that we are being treated causes us to experience the effects of the assumed drugs, with the effect continuing to the point that we actually experience higher levels of relief with greater amounts of placebo.

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This occurrence, having been scientifically tested and repeated in a variety of environments so as to gather reputable data, leaves me with a multitude of questions regarding the power of our own bodies. I know in my personal experience that upon taking a pain reliever I immediately feel a sense of psychological relief in knowing that medication will soon be easing my discomfort. Would it be possible, in the future, to discover what mechanism in the brain causes such results and manipulate it to help patients?

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(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27342269/ns/health-health_care/t/half-us-doctors-often-prescribe-placebos/#.Tok4GWDbLsI)

With such results showing the increasing prominence of professional support for the placebo hypothesis, it is certainly something that should be considered and explored into the future.

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It has been said that a person on any given day would use fractions of their mind, and what was not used was considered to be part of the subconscious mind, that people generally did not use. Some people, psychics for the most part, harness this claim and use it to make a living, stating that they are able to tap into the "unconscious mind" and control some special powers that the average person could not use. Movies are even made that run off of this idea. The claim that you only use ten percent of your brain has been a prevalent thought throughout the world for many years, but how truthful is this statement?
Through some of the principles of critical thinking, this statement can be evaluated. The most important principle for this claim is principle #5, which states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence. There is no outstanding evidence that suggests that this claim is factual, however the incident of Phineas Gage has brought up arguments. Some say that the reason he survived was because the part of his brain that was damaged, was part of the 90 percent of the brain that was not used. This situation does not have a high replicability though, meaning that it would be hard to test. This claim could also just be a set of people with confirmation bias that are unknowingly supporting their views by denying evidence, dismissing evidence, or even distorting it to fit their own theory. The principle of critical thinking that states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence is the most useful way to evaluate the claim.
More recent tests however, have allowed us to look into the brain and see what parts are being used; this can be done with special PET scans and fMRI's. The results of these tests showed that you do not use all of your brain at one time, although around ten percent is usually used for many daily activities, and throughout a week almost 100 percent of your brain is used!

Find out more at http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp and http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-we-really-use-only-10

Psych You Out

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Psychics are everywhere in the media from Silvia Brown to Shawn Spencer on the USA show, Psych. America's fascination with their gifts only fuels their lies. What is believed to be a psychic reading is really only an observation. Many of these TV psychics are highly trained in observation and can easily read body language and facial expressions. Psychic's can make as obvious an observation as stating someone is married when they're wearing a wedding ring. As long as the person isn't any kind of a skeptic and really wants to believe they are speaking to a psychic, they won't even notice the obvious observation. All it takes to debunk a psychic is a little bit of skepticism. They're doing nothing but making guesses about you. It's always important to think of another reason the person may know certain things about you. If they guess that you're there to talk about your mother that just passed in a car accident, they may have read about it in the newspaper and recognized your last name. There is always another explanation.

The concept Nature Vs. Nurture was an important concept that I took a major interest. The argument has been ongoing for a hundred years, whether nature more affects the outcome of a person, or whether nurture does. When we look at the nature argument, genes and chromosomes are to play in affect. Genetics are the basics of our biological structure. They determine our physical appearance as well as our personal traits (agressiveness, depression, mood swings, etc.). Nurture is your enviornment you grow up in, the people, place, events that occur in your life that help shape an adalencent.
Being a twin, I have a hands on look at how nature and nurture can affect not only myself, but my twin sister as well. We are not identical, so our genetics varies a bit, although they are closer than most siblings. We are similar is almost everything. We enjoy the same topics in school, same sports, we even have the same humor. Their are a few things we differ on, but overall we are like one person split in two bodies. My personal opinion is that nurture has more of an affect than nature. Your mind obsorbs so much as a child, and the enviornment your placed in molds your brain to make you the person you are when you get older.

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The psychological idea of selective attention rings true in many aspects of life. People often focus on one important interest, while minimizing others surrounding it. I believe this is important because we often miss out on other equally important events or information throughout life because we are more focused on our stronger interest at the moment. My dad, for example, personifies selective attention perfectly. He has lived a life constantly surrounded by four women, which caused him to become incredibly selective in what he pays attention to. His selective attention is sometimes so extreme that we can have extensive conversations or perform several tasks and, if asked about them, he would have no clue, but would know exactly what was happening on the TV. Or, for instance, people often seek out news stations that correspond to their personal views, which cause them to remain blind to different or opposing views. This sort of selective attention can easily end up giving people a very narrow perspective resulting in extreme politics or a lack in knowledge regarding a wide range of subjects. Also, when we are driving, we concentrate on more important variables like cars and pedestrians and can switch our attention to things like signals, yet we are also able to ignore less important things while driving because of our selective attention. A couple questions still arise: Is the change in arousal/importance level automatic, or deliberate? Do we only consciously decide to avoid less arousing/interesting subjects, is it all subconsciously, or a little of both?

Parallel processing is defined as the ability to attend to many sense modalities simultaneously (Lilienfeld 127). Often times, examples that we see of this are images which can be perceived in multiple ways. We all know of the classic image (on the left) of the vase that can also be viewed as the profiles of two people. This is an example of parallel processing, because we can typically see both images within the one picture. In the picture on the left, the first image one may see is the vase. This would mean that the vase was his or her top-down expectation. Most people would not even look for the second image if they were not told that it existed. In order to view the other image, we must think more abstractly, which is not as easy for the average person. To view the second image, we must channel our bottom-up processing sense. This sensory processing changes according to the top-down expectation, so if a person viewed the face profiles first, the sensory-based bottom-up processing would change, allowing him or her to make out the vase. The image on the right is another, not so well-known example of parallel processing. For me, personally, I initially see a group of peace signs. The peace signs are my top-down expectation of the image. However, when my bottom-up processing kicks in and I refocus on the picture, I realize that this image is also depicting a cube, drawn in white, overlapping the black circles. The title of the image can also influence a person's perception. If the image on the left had the caption of "Vase," for example, it would be far more likely that the viewer's top-down processing would lead them to view the vase first rather than the faces, and vice versa.

Nature vs nurture is a long lasting debate in psychology that questions the development of a persons behavior as part of their genetic make up (nature), or their life experiences (nurture). In the debate of nature vs nurture, the average person will believe that these two explanations are mutually exclusive, that is, its either one explanation that describes the situation or the other. Is it completely irrational to believe that one, either nature or nurture, is more involved in the process of human development? Not entirely. Just like everything else in psychology, the issue of nature vs nurture needs to be inspected from multiple viewpoints.
In the case of the Bogle family, it is quite obvious that the family values instilled on the children at a young age played a huge role in the development of their questionable character. But, it is not fair to rule out that maybe there is some genetic, nature based explanation for the violent behavior of the Bogle family. For instance, are a genetically violent person and a person raised to be violent going to have similar violence levels? Situations like this are key to figuring out if a genetically compound person can be "cured" or changed by learning throughout childhood and adolescence to suppress bad behaviors and enhance good ones.
Because this issue of nature vs nurture is so complex, it is incredibly difficult to determine how much of ones behavior is nature or nurture. The only thing that psychologist have confirmed is that nature and nurture influence 100% of human behaviors. My analysis of this question is that it is different for every individual person. Coming form a family that has a wide variety of personalities and behaviors (the goody good, the smart one, the responsible one, the risk-taker "aka me", etc.) I am incredibly interested in how someone's personality is shaped. From my personal experience, there is no solid answer to how one's personality is shaped for the general population. It is completely unique to the person on what influences them more. If it weren't, there would be too many people who have similar personalities. I don't know about you, but I couldn't handle someone with the exact same personality as mine.

Human behavior in psychology is often multiply determined. As a result, it is difficult to distinguish between the causes of psychological behavior. More specifically, it is often difficult to differentiate between genetic and environmental causes. However, being able to tell them apart is essential to gaining insight to how the mind works and influences behavior.
Important ideas to psychology are behavioral designs. Adoption studies are of extreme significance because of its ability to differentiate between shared genes and that of the environment. In adoption studies, researchers examine families that are not intact. This makes it easier to distinguish between characteristics that are genetic in nature or qualities acquired by imitating the parents of the homes in which the children are placed. The idea is simple in that if the behavioral attribute resembles the biological parents, the characteristic is genetic. However, if the trait better resembles the adopting parents, the characteristic is environmental. This is especially important because few concepts that help us determine these differences are available. Exploring the factors that influence our behavioral patterns is essential to understanding the human psyche.
My family, for example, consists of six; a mother, a father and four daughters. Although we are each unique in our own ways, we are also very much alike. However, because our family is intact, it is extremely difficult to determine the source of our behavior. Could we all be similar due to the genes we share or could it be that we are all exposed to the same environment? In intact families, it is especially hard to tell the cause of certain behaviors.
Although adoption studies provide much insight to the cause of behavior, it appears that other factors have failed to be taken into account. If the behavior closely resembles that of the biological parents, the origin must be genetic however, what if the environment of the biological parents and the adopting parents are very much alike? Additionally, could it be possible that both families could share similar genes as well? How is this taken into account in adoption studies?

- Video Commercial: http://youtu.be/Y_O-djDJjIg

-The claim of weight loss: http://www.xenadrine.com/

This claim states that it's shown that 7 times more weight is lost when taking this diet pill compared to people just dieting alone. This is an extraordinary claim, and there isn't extraordinary evidence to prove this. It even says at the bottom that the Food and Drug Administration have not evaluated the statements. Also, they have success stories, but are they able to replicate these successes over and over again... most likely not. Does correlation mean causation? Different successes could have been due to the amount of exercise they did when taking the supplement, or the amount they ate. They have a celebrity as a success story. That just tricks people into buying the product, because a lot of people will think they will get muscles like that if they take the product, which in reality, muscle comes from working out.

People could believe it due to naïve realism. They see these skinny, muscular, fit people (sometimes famous) talking about how this supplement helped them get their dream body. This leads people to believing that it's all because of this pill. It causes them to draw incorrect conclusions. Also, people could believe it because of belief perseverance. Even though there are so many different types of evidence saying how diet pills really aren't very effective, people still buy them and choose to believe the commercials/media instead. The extraordinary principle is definitely the most useful for these claims.

Weight loss products do work sometimes for different reasons. They are more for obese individuals to help them. They work with a good amount of exercise and a proper reduced calorie diet. People are just so set on a dream body because of the impact of the media that they think the supplements are right for them.
- False weight loss claims: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/12/weightlossrpt.shtm

'Identical Strangers'

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http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=15629096&m=15636545

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

In Psychology 1001 we learned about one of the greatest debates in Psychology. That debate would be whether our genes or our environment makes us who we really are. This great debate is called Nature vs. Nurture, which is a very controversial debate (pg.34). Online I found an article about a secret research project they did in the 1960s and 1970s. Which they took identical twins and separated them as infants. They used the one of a kind experiment to assess the influence of nature vs. nature in their development. The name of these two twins were, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein. The scientist decided to do a study like this because they thought that twins, who usually were dressed and treated the same, would have to much influence on their characters. So separating them as infants would allow them to grow up as two totally different people. Another thing which was an important factor of the study is no one knew that the child had an identical twin. The adopted parents were only told that the child was apart of a child study nothing about a research project to see how identical twins differ growing up in different homes. Elyse and Paula were told when they were 35 years old that they had a identical twin sister. They were also told about the study that they were apart of. The faulty thing is the scientist realized that the public would most likely be against a study like this. So the results of the study have been sealed up until 2066 and given to an archive at Yale University. This study absolutely blew my mind and makes me very curious to see the results of the study. It could possibly be the evidence psychologist need to have better evidence of the Nature vs. Nurture debate! We only have to wait 55 more years to see what the scientists discovered about how our genes or our environment influence the person we are today.


I feel that the principle of Occam's razor is one of the most applicable principles of psychology. Occam's razor, simply put, is assuming that the simpler of equally logical explanations is correct. The applications of this principle are endless, and often not even realized. Excuses from children, for example, are often disregarded because of Occam's razor. Imagine, as a parent, entering a room to find your teenager holding a football, staring at a broken window. Would you be more likely to believe the enthusiastically told tale of a huge bird, probably rabid, flying through the window enraged, or the possibility of a miscalculated football pass? Occam's razor prevails.
Another more modern and entertaining example: the 2009 chick flick, He's Just Not That into You. The movie is based around the fact that a man's reason for not pursuing a relationship with a woman is probably linked to him not being interested in the woman, not one of the other possible, yet unlikely, explanations. As "Alex", so gently explains, "If a guy doesn't call you, he doesn't want to call you." While all of "Gigi's" explanations are possible, Alex's simple explanation is much more likely.
Certain questions do arise from this principle. The main critique, and the one that ultimately demised Occam's razor, is taking into account multiple causes. Obviously many more scientific situations may have more than one definitive cause. Also, while less frequently, some unlikely explanations are valid and true, and if we always rely on Occam's razor, we wouldn't even consider these explanations.
While there are exceptions to Occam's razor, in applicable psychology, this principle is very useful. Whether discerning where those presents on Christmas Day truly came from, or who stole that quarter from your jeans with the holey pockets--Occam's razor should always be considered.

So what is the end result of following all of the scientific methods, avoiding pseudoscience, and using the right research methods? I feel that the book has for the most part neglected what the ultimate goal of inquiring into all of the proper scientific research methods and procedures is. I am not implying that the book is incorrect, but just that it does not give the reader a context for the outcome of doing research and reporting the findings.

In the end, research must be applied to real world situations to expand the collective human knowledge. It has to have some form of application to make it useful and effective. Why else would research be done? No one cares about research projects such as these "Ig Nobel" award winners since they generally have no application that is useful to anyone: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6223831/Pointless-research-top-10-Ig-Nobel-award-winners-for-silly-science.html

The book touches briefly and why it is important for research to be reported correctly since pseudo-scientific claims have harmed people by, for example, influencing them to go on a harmful and unhealthy diet. So in addition to being useful, research must be done correctly so it isn't applied in harmful ways. Again, this goes back to the end result of research findings: application to real world situations for beneficial effects.

Overall, I just wanted to touch briefly on why research is done. It may seem obvious to most of you that it is done for its relevance to prevalent problems in the world, but I wanted to put into perspective what we have all learned in the book on proper scientific procedure and research methods and why it is useful. Hopefully you will all now consider what your goal is when doing research.

Through out our lives we all experience and witness certain acts that cannot be explained. Connections become apparent and relevant in areas where we would not expect them. In psychology, scientists label these experiences as apophenia, the tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. When the connections come through imagery, it is referred to as pareidolia. All my life I have found myself questioning if certain connections are coincidental or meaningful. However, there is no true way of studying these experiences, as they differ from human to human and there is not a scientific explanation for the occurrences. Many people find the connections important, while some others decide not to read into certain situations. For many sports fans, apophenia has become a vital role in the superstitions of the game, mainly for the fans that believe in the 'lucky socks' phenomenon. Michael Blastland of BBC News Magazine wrote about the connection between wins and fan support, but labeled it as an 'accidental association.' Blastland begins to explain the origins of his theory, dating back to 1947 and BF Skinner's experiment involving pigeons and a causal relation between its behavior and the presentation of food. The birds seemed to believe that the food presented to them was there from the actions they have done. For example, one bird pecked at the corner of the cage, time after time, because it was under the impression that if it repeated this act it would then get fed. This is great example of correlation vs. causation, due to the fact that when two things are associated with each other it does not mean that one causes the other. Blastland's responses of the 'lucky socks' theory and the outcome of the match can seem to be related, but the two are worlds apart in reality. Blastland writes that fans seem to associate chance with superstitious beliefs, "as if your socks can change the direction of causality." As there is no real explanation to give, it leaves us to continue to ponder the mysteries of life. In an article a few years ago in Scientific American called Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise, Michael Shermer wrote, "Sometimes A really is connected to B; sometimes it is not."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14917871
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGB8ZaOX3YQ

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Correlation vs. Causation

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The idea of correlation vs. causation can be deceiving to those who are unfamiliar with the six principles of critical thinking. The correlation of a graph is not always determined by the fact of two variables in a scatter plot. For example, the decrease in health is associated with the increase of number in homeless people in a given area. Now even though the facts are right since when do homeless people cause sickness? What we may have forgot to realize is that homeless people tend to live in areas with poor living conditions which in turn can cause health risks. So with this in mind can all correlations be relied on? The answer is yes, however, you can't use correlations on everything you please to do. Correlations should have a specific point and should be logical and reasonable. Yet with this idea on correlation and causation I wonder as to if some correlations today are false even if they seem valid. However, correlations that have reliable sources have proved to b valid so in which shows that as long as the correlation has a valid relationship between the variables the correlation should be correct.xkcd-correlation.jpg

We are all going to die. This simple statement causes millions, if not billions, of people to experience an underlying sense of terror. Why is it that acknowledging our destined demise causes so many of us to fear a dreaded sense of ending? Terror Management Theory recognizes that people are generally filled with a feeling of terror when confronted with their own mortality. Researchers that have studied this phenomenon have found that people who have a higher fear of death are more likely to believe in paranormal ideas like ghosts, reincarnation and astrology. I agree with this claim. I believe that if a person has a high fear of death, they are more likely to be in search of something that reassures them that there is some kind of continuance and that death isn't the end. A very big part of my life is religion and the core of my religion is to work, in terms of worship and good deeds, for the hereafter. Death is not the end, it is just the beginning to an eternity of bliss or, well, hell. Religion, as well as paranormal beliefs, allow people with a high fear of death to have some comfort in knowing that death is not the end.

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We are all going to die. This simple statement causes millions, if not billions, of people to experience an underlying sense of terror. Why is it that acknowledging our destined demise causes so many of us to fear a dreaded sense of ending? Terror Management Theory recognizes that people are generally filled with a feeling of terror when confronted with their own mortality. Researchers that have studied this phenomenon have found that people who have a higher fear of death are more likely to believe in paranormal ideas like ghosts, reincarnation and astrology. I agree with this claim. I believe that if a person has a high fear of death, they are more likely to be in search of something that reassures them that there is some kind of continuance and that death isn't the end. A very big part of my life is religion and the core of my religion is to work, in terms of worship and good deeds, for the hereafter. Death is not the end, it is just the beginning to an eternity of bliss or, well, hell. Religion, as well as paranormal beliefs, allow people with a high fear of death to have some comfort in knowing that death is not the end.2008-08-23.gif

The placebo effect is improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement. In simple terms, things happens simply because we believe in them and we want to see them happen. This applies to the quote from Ghandi saying that "Every journey begins with one step", we must put our mindset to something before we can accomplish it. This relates to the Placebo effect because by thinking we taking that "one step" that Ghandi refers before we go onto our journey. Our journey which is, whatever we want to see happen. By already thinking that something will happen, it will almost be likely to occur. This is why athletes are told to visualize winning before they even start a game. By having a positive mindset, it improves performances.

I believe this is important because the placebo effect can be used for a positive thing in this world. For example, by helping sick patients gain the mindset of healing or having the ability to heal, it will help their development from their sickness. A real life example i have is that when i begin to feel sick, or even a little cough, I would tell myself i'm not sick and that i'm able to do anything. By saying so, it makes me less tired and more active. I believe that as soon as one begins to think they are sick or give in to the idea of being sick they will start to feel weak or not wanting to move.

The placebo effect can easily be seen as a mere mindset idea. If we want something to happen, all we have to do is imagine it and then act upon it.

Selective Attention

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I believe selective attention may be one of the most useful features of the human brain. Selective attention is basically the automatic use of abstraction by our brains. We overlook minor details of what is happening to us at a certain time and focus on the more important ones. For example, I am using selective attention right now while writing this blog post. There is a TV on in front of me right now and the noises of the city outside. There are also all of the things affecting my body, such as the heat from my laptop and my sore back from sitting in a bad position. However, because of the way selective attention works, I am not focused on any of these external factors and instead am able to direct my attention to finishing this post. This ability seems vital for everyone to be able to get anything accomplished. I think it would cripple anyone that could not use it. I would assume that people would be overwhelmed trying to do everyday tasks. This is actually the case with my grandmother. She has some brain damage and cannot focus on anything long enough to finish it, such as tying a shoe or reading more than a sentence.

I have found an interesting research study about how video games affect peoples' selective visual attention. I am an avid gamer and was surprised to find out how much video games can actually improve a person's attention. This makes me wonder if there might be training programs in the future to improve simple brain functions by using programs similar to the games used in the study.

The video game study can be found at: http://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/alex/pub/articles/PougetDhttp://www.bcs.rochester.edu/people/daphne/VisionPDF/GreenandBavelier2003.pdf

Scientists at Oxford University have believe to discovered a way to make objects called muon-neutrinos travel faster then the speed of light-which has been known to man to be the fastest possible speed for years. This is considered to be breaking the light barrier. It has been tested at a mere 400mph faster then the speed of light, and many scientists consider it an extraordinary claim with not enough evidence to prove the test. It also claims that the particles were traveling so fast that they ended up in the past. How is it possible to proven that the particles ended up in the past? Will time traveling soon be an option? Also scientists are ruling out each others hypothesis because each believes there theory is either right or wrong. It doesn't disprove Einstein's theory however because light does travel at the speed he concluded it just disproved that the theory of there is nothing faster then light is wrong.

The claim is suggesting that because there has been a theory that has been replicated that is faster then light that everything we know about the universe is incorrect. But the one thing Einstein's theory has on the new proposed one is, Einstein's works every time while the new one has a small error percentage but in science efficiency is the most important task.

However Oxford scientists ruled out the extraordinary claim by presenting extraordinary evidence. Scientists in numerous countries are trying to replicate these findings, and if the do it will be considered one of the biggest scientific findings in our lifetime. They even convinced the challenging scientist to believe by presenting math equations so simple that "high school students could check it." The have not however released a explanation as they are allowing scientists world wide to check the fallibility of the claim before explaining.

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=350565

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/neutrinos.png


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On October 30, 1938, during the era of radio entertainment-- mass panic was induced. Famed broadcaster Orson Welles read from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, scripted to sound like a news report. With no visual or concept of context, listeners around the country were fooled into thinking that an alien invasion on New Jersey was imminent. The result? Mass hysteria.

Psychologically, this panic can be accounted for in a number of ways. First, one must consider the scientific principle of extraordinary claims needing extraordinary evidence. In 1938 the radio was considered a trusted and valid source of information. Like a newspaper, everyone who tuned in had to rely on a singular sense to trust. Rather than seeing the event, people assumed noises heard were also occurring visually.

In my opinion, this phenomenon can also have been propagated in part due to how we handle terror management. It is some scholars' belief that our awareness of our death leaves us with an underlying sense of terror (Lilienfeld 17). This predisposition to our own demise could only serve to escalate an imposing, if not unlikely, threat. Listeners had no reason to doubt that what they heard during this Halloween prank was reality because no evidence to the contrary was ever given.

Somewhat surprisingly, Welles himself was surprised that a story that had familiarized itself with the public through text and comic form could have been mistaken for truth by such a large number of the public, as demonstrated through the video below. The alien invasion on New Jersey is one of many examples of a media hoax (though unusually this one was, on some level, purposeful) and we, as scientific thinkers, must continue to practice scientific skepticism to avoid replicating such hysteria in the future.

Is the healing power of prayer a placebo effect?

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When discussing the placebo effect the first examples that comes to mind are instances in medicine when a patient is given a sugar pill or a placebo drug and believes himself to be recovering because if mere expectations. I came across an article that pointed out a placebo effect I had never thought about before. The placebo effect of prayer. Some studies have shown that people who pray for themselves or have others pray on their behalf can exhibit an improvement in their health. The results of each person's improvement are real, but was it really the healing power of an all knowing God or just a placebo effect? This topic is very interesting because it brings together two very important topics in psychology, a placebo effect and metaphysics. Many Christian groups have done "scientific" studies showing the effectivness of prayer; however these studies were often proven flawed because the people who recieved the prayers were not blinded from it and expected improvement, and even when the subjects were blinded, researchers themselves were called out on biases. So then a different study in a double blind fashion was conducted. However, it was still difficult to call this study legitimate. Variables such as age, gender, disease type, etc were not taken in account so it's hard to say the study is comparing the same circumstance. Also the studies didn't take into account mulitple comparisons which may lead to a case of correlation vs. causation. When an patien did get better was it the prayer or was it the medication attention they were seeking? Even if everything mentioned above was taken care of there is still a hole in the study. How can we as humans study the omniscient power of God? If God sees he is being tested then he has the power to reject or accept the prayer then it is impossible to blind every aspect of the experiment. And because of this, the question lays outside of the scope of science. The power of pray is indeed a metaphysical claim and therefore untestable. Perphaps prayer is only a placebo effect or perphaps there is a deity healing people. Either way as long as people seek the medical attention necessary while keeping a few good prayers by their side who really cares who's really doing the healing.


http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1849/have-studies-proven-that-prayer-can-help-heal-the-sick

Critical thinking as a way of strengthening the public sense of thinking, which obey reason, logic and truth. The scientific skepticism is the prerequisite of critical thinking. In this line of critical thinking, any ideas can be challenged or criticized, and any point of view can be demonstrated for their own defense. People who are good at using critical thinking are always prepared to face a variety of perspectives in order to develop new interpretations and make more effective decisions and selection in different areas.

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Critical thinking can be traced back to ancient Greece, Socrates invented a question and answer method, which has become known as the "Socrates method", which means use of the inspiration, metaphor and other technique by questioning and answering and ruling out rival hypotheses, this making it closer and closer to the correct knowledge. This method also includes other 2 of six principles of scientific thinking among correlation vs. Causation and falsifiability.

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As a university course, critical thinking resulting in the reform of the teaching of logic. As we all know, the father of logic, Aristotle, is firmly under the belief that the logic can explain everything. With the development of the scientific research, logic can indeed brings about many good results in many areas, but in teaching had a serious flaw. The main goal of students to learn the logic was to enhance their way of thinking, critical thinking has been gradually accepted by the public and applied to a normal life recently.

Picture: http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/aristotle-teaching/
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Most of us know about the big Nature vs. Nurture debate that has been of very high interest to many psychologists. But to get more in depth into this, how does Nature vs. Nurture affect how intelligent your baby will become? Parents obviously want the best for their children. So they will do many things to make sure that their child has an advantage in the world. Parents want their child to be social, intelligent, hard working, etc. How are parents able to make a difference though?

Parents make a huge difference in the intelligence of their child, according to an article by Craig and Sharon Ramey. There are numerous research studies that underscore the links between the involvement of parents and young children's intelligence. This is an amazing finding, and it shows just how much of a difference that parents can make. But, there is so much more to this. In the article, there is also the fact that by the time a child turns two, many of the intellectual foundations will have been laid to support a lifetime of learning. This information in itself is a huge breakthrough. It will change how parents will be involved in their children's life so that they can greatly influence their child's intelligence.

There are many parents whom have used those programs to try to make their children smarter. Data shows that there is no way that these programs can have a long lasting affect on a child's intelligence. People actually believe that these programs will work. They also believe that a baby listening to Mozart will make them more intelligent. A child's experiences are what shape and influence intelligence. But, nature and nurture play a huge role. It is not just the experiences, it is also the genetics that play a huge role in the intelligence of a child.

In the end, there is so much left to be discovered on what truly contributes to the intelligence of a human being. But people are working very hard to find out what truly makes people intelligent. In my opinion, it is a combination of nature and nurture, but I do not know what about nature, and what about nurture causes intelligence. One of us will figure it out someday, and that knowledge will change the world.

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=1044

The urban legend about the FAA lending the British a chicken gun to test windshields on planes has many holes in its validity. According to the principle of extraordinary claims, all extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence to back up the claim. In the case of the chicken gun there is little extraordinary evidence. First of all, there are many variations of the same story which creates doubt in the overall strength of the legend. These variations include instead of the British using the gun it was the Americans or the French, NASA or the Air Force were the organizations with the gun, and train windows and jet engines were used as an alternative to airplane windows. One of the only pieces of concrete evidence given was the fact that there was indeed an article written in November 1995 issue of Feathers but no one is sure where Feathers got its information. Another piece of evidence is that the chicken gun has been around since 1972. In America this chicken gun has been used for the "chicken ingestion test", one of the many tests required by the Federal Aviation Administration to test new aircrafts. This assessment of new planes requires a chicken to be shot into an engine working at full speed to make sure the engine is up to standards. This does not prove that this type of gun was used in British tests. Finally, this same story about using a chicken gun to test various vehicles has been published in many articles around the world including a book of urban legends published in Australia. Overall, there is little extraordinary evidence to back up this claim. http://www.snopes.com/science/cannon.asp


For many years parents have been saying," Don't crack your knuckles or you'll get arthritis!", and we believed our parents, although many of us still cracked our knuckles when they weren't looking. This is a classic case of correlation vs. causation. Just because you crack your knuckles doesn't mean you're going to get arthritis, there are other factors involved.
Dr Donald Unger was told numerous times in his life by relatives that cracking his knuckles would lead to him having arthritis. He decided to conduct a very long study over 50 years to prove them wrong. Dr Unger used himself as the subject of his experiment. Unger cracked his left hand twice or more each day. For the control in the experiment he didn't crack his right hand at all. At the end of the 50 year study the results go against what many mothers expected; neither his left nor his right hand had arthritis.
So the next time your mother tells you cracking your knuckles will cause you to have arthritis later on, just show her the studies that prove cracking your knuckles is not correlated to having arthritis, and there is another factor that leads to getting arthritis.

http://www.sciencealert.com.au/opinions/20111608-22506.html

boySneeze.jpg This article claims that the common cold virus--a strain known as the adenovirus 36 (AD36)--may cause childhood obesity. This claim is based on a new study from the University of California, San Diego, but it has a problem.

There is no significant amount of evidence that supports this extraordinary claim--a principle of scientific thinking. In this study, 124 children--from age 8 to 18--were tested for the presence of AD36 antibodies; 67 were obese and 57 were of normal weight. The results from the test were, "antibodies to AD36 were found in 15 of the obese children and 4 of those with normal weight"--so a little over 20% of the obese children had the virus while a little over 8% of the normal weight kids had the virus. With this insignificant data, we cannot determine if this virus causes obesity. Evaluating this claim further, this study shows a correlation rather than a cause. More obese kids happen to have this virus more than kids of normal weight; there is no concrete evidence to support the claim.

There is a possible explanation for this correlation. First, children who are obese--generally--make unhealthy food choices. They tend to eat fast food and junk food more than fruits and vegetables--depriving their body of nutrients that boost their immune system. Thus they become more susceptible to infections, such as the AD36 virus, rather than kids who eat balanced meals.

Finally, if this study continues, they must isolate theAD36 virus and test it extensively--making sure that other factors such as nutrition do not affect the results--to see if it indeed is one of the causes of obesity.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39235187/ns/health-childrens_health/t/nothing-sneeze-common-cold-virus-may-make-kids-fat/

"Trevor" The Human Sloth

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Nature vs. Nurture

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The popular nature vs. nurture debate is a controversial topic that has left many people confused. What is it about the environment people are raised in that affects them and is this the true cause of human behaviors? Is the way people act a direct result of how they were raised or were people born that way? As the humorous cartoon above jokes, "Trevor" is a child who was raised by wild sloths and therefore, as a direct cause of his environmental upbringing behaves like one. Despite living in a society that does not support such behavior "Trevor's" actions are ones that have been supported by his nurturing and thus seems right to him. It makes sense, if all Trevor knows is to behave like a sloth then how could he act any other way? Those who believe in the idea of nature, however, would usally disagree with this theory. If it was nature that had a large impact on Trevor's behavior then regardless of him being raised by sloths he would know that naturally humans do not behave in such a manor. Nature and nurture however can collaborate and work together. While some things are effected by nature, nurturing takes on a key role in the behavior of humans. If this were true, Trevor's actions may be reversed at some point. Although he appears to act like a wild sloth at a specific point in time in the cartoon, the morals and behavioral characteristics his current guardians enforce may make up for his previous ideas on how to act. Just as we saw in the story about the Bogle family, the children were a direct relation of how their parent's raised them. One of the children even stated, "Rooster raised us to behave like outlaws." Rooster, being the child's father gave his children the idea that being an outlaw was the only way for them to survive in society ultimately leading to a majority of the family's later jail time. As the nature vs. nurture debate continues we can never be quite sure as to what the actual cause of human behavior is. However, many different ideas lead us to believe that both weigh heavily into the lives of human today.

For many years, people all over the world have believed that humans only use about 10% of their brains. People have believed that if we were able to unlock the 90% of untapped potential in our brains, then people would have paranormal abilities, much like those people who claim themselves as "psychic". This is a case of bandwagon fallacy. People have made the error of assuming that this claim is correct because many other people believe it is true. "Psychics" have told audiences that their "psychic" powers are due to them being able to activate some of the other 90% of their unconscious minds. The fact of the matter is that humans only use different parts of the brain at a time. It's like how a person can't use every muscle they have all at once. Same goes for the brain. Throughout the day, humans activate different parts of the brain. By the end of the day, a person might have used up to all parts of the brain. Kind of makes sense now right? Just like we've learned in psychology class, sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one. This of course is known as Occam's Razor.

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Despite numerous PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and FMRI (Functional Magnetic Response Imaging) scans that pretty much prove that humans do use more than 10% of their brains, many people still believe the claim. Many people have fallen to the correlation versus causation fallacy. Due to people who claim to be "psychics", people are assuming that this must mean that the "psychics" are able to access the "unlocked" abilities of the brain. However, correlation does NOT equal causation. It also doesn't help when the "psychics" keep telling their audiences the claim is true just to keep them from being wrong, and to help prove that "psychic" abilities are real. "Psychics" continuously try to keep their claim alive despite evidence against it. This is known as confirmation bias. However, "psychic" abilities aren't real, and if they claim something true due to their fake abilities, then that's also false. That makes the 10% myth ultimately false.

Article- http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp
Picture- http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/images/stories/brain-generic-101221-02.jpg

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Does it say ABC or 12 13 14? Your perception of the '13' is different depending on the context in which you see it.

Why do we see it as both a B and number 13? It is due to the fact that our expectations influence our perceptions of things. When we read the letter A we expect a letter B to follow, not a number so we perceive it as a B. But when we read the number 12 first, we wouldn't expect a letter to follow so our brain interprets the shape to be a number, in this case 13.

In the second picture there are two possibilities you could see. Do you see the face? How about the word liar? It is easier to see the image that is stated because we expect to see that image. It is harder to see the word liar while focusing on the word face because we expect to see the face, not the word. Bottom-up and top-down processing also play a role in this one. Top-down processing is fueled by beliefs and expectations while bottom-up processing involves constructing a whole image based on different parts. By writing liar in the caption under this picture you are using top-down processing to convey the image you want the viewer to see. The same goes for writing the word face under the image. If you see a letter such as an a in the image you would use that to build the word liar, but if you perceive that a as a nose, you would see the face, therefore using different pieces to put together the whole picture (bottom-up processing).

Here is a link that explains more about bottom-up and top-down processing:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/hybridvision/talks/Serre-Columbia-04-10.pdf

images.jpegGrowing up, kids are exposed to movies such as "Tarzan" and "The Jungle Book" where children are raised by animals. This appears to be "the good life" and kids desire to be able to have the freedom the children in the movies have. However, there are children who are actually "raised" by animals. They are called feral or wild children. They are often neglected or abused by their parents. Some run away and live in the wild, while others are forced to live in terrible conditions with a major lack of human interactions. This is where the debate of whether nature or nurture plays the role in the child's development. These wild children lack social, emotional, and physical behaviors that normal children develop and learn from having human interaction. These children do not have the required nurture from humans that is necessary for their development. Many people say that it is human nature to learn how to interact as a normal human being, but without the help from other humans, this is impossible. These children cannot function normally and sometimes, even after being rescued from the wild or their abusive situation, they cannot develop basic social skills. When rescued and evaluated, most of these children have the brain of a very young infant since they were never educated and are usually mentally handicapped. This shows how important the environment surrounding people is. If we are raised in the wild, then we will act as the animals do that surround us, but if we are raised in normal conditions, then we will develop the normal behaviors that are expected from humans.

Here is a video about a girl from the Ukraine who was found living with dogs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljVd6XS-J0s&feature=player_embedded


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Remember hearing, don't read in the dark or you'll go blind? Well for generations this was actually believed to be true. Mothers would get mad if they ever caught their children reading under the covers with a flashlight, such things were believed to be damaging to your eyes. Researchers questioned does reading in dim light ruin your eyes? One principle researchers used is does correlation equal causation? A few kids that have bad eyesight have admitted they have read in the dark a few times, but there are even more kids who always read in the dark and no signs of eye problems. Doctors shared that reading in the dark, for long periods of times, can make you eye muscles work harder then they usually do. When eye muscles are working hard it can cause a person to have headaches and itchy dry eyes. These problems are common and go away on their own. They proved that reading in the dark will have no bad effect on you eyesight and that it is an old myth. They also proved there is no correlation between children who have bad eye sight and children who read in the dark. So next time someone tells you to stop reading in the dark, you can tell them it's an old myth and there nothing wrong with getting a little reading in low lights.


http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/health-myths/reading-in-dim-light.htm

When The Joke is on You...

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embarrassed.jpgThe article I came across discusses an experiment preformed at the University of California- Berkley that claims the more embarrassed you are in situations, the more generous and faithful you tend to be. I feel that I should be able to trust this experiment since Berkley is such a respected institution, so I decide to go through the scientific thinking principles helped me evaluate this claim.
The principle the stood out the most to me was the correlation vs. causation. When someone feels embarrassed normally they feel guilty for being less knowledgeable or insensitive to another person. This guilt that someone feels could be the real cause for why they would be more generous, as an outward act of redemption.
I also considered the other principles, but nothing stood out to me like the correlation vs. causation. The University had made sure it was random and a series of experiments had taken place over a few years, making it a fair and reasonable experiment. I don't feel like there were very many hypothesis to explain the findings of this experiment. The claim they make seems simple and logical enough and therefore Occam's razor or extraordinary claims does not apply. Many other institutions could easily replicate this, but they have yet to do so - but because of Berkley's reputation I do not consider replicability to be an issue. Falsifiability doesn't apply very well either because the claim is not all that extraordinary.
Overall, I feel that I can trust the findings of this experiment because the correlation vs. causation principle does not hold all that strong and none of the other principles do either.


www.thestar.com/iphone/news/article/1061786

The Five Second Rule?

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Through generations we have all heard the wisdom ushered down to us by our older siblings, peers, and acquaintances that you have a certain amount of time to pick up the food you've dropped on the ground. This wisdom can be found at different lengths of time as well ranging from "three seconds" to "ten seconds". It also depends on what type of food was dropped on the floor before bacteria in the proximity can swarm on the last piece of beef jerky. A Chicago High School student by the name of Jillian Clarke was intrigued by the Five Second Rule and conducted an experiment. She intentionally dropped gummy bears & fudge stripped cookies onto clean ceramic tiles & tiles that have been treated with E. Coli. After examining the dropped food through a microscope, the cookies showed signs of being infested by E. Coli within a split second.

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As we know extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence, and in this case there was not any significant evidence to prove the lacking of bacteria due to a certain duration of time. This experiment can also be replicated in the case of systematic errors or such. There is also a correalation between the amount of time on the ground and the amount of bacteria that comes in contact with the food, but not whether or not there will be not bacteria between the interval of 5 seconds.So with this information I suggest you stay away from the cupcake that landed on the ground and get some good clean food.

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Video:
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-five-second-rule-minimyth.html

Article:
http://snopes.com/food/tainted/dropped.asp

paula and elyse.jpgFor years, people have disagreed over whether nature or nurture has a larger impact on who we are and who we become. "Nature" supporters believe genetics play a greater role while "nurture" supporters believe that characteristics are largely influence by the environment the individual is raised in.

There are many ways that scientists studied and tried to solve the Nature vs. Nurture debate. One type of study used is a twin study. In twin studies, researchers examine identical and fraternal twins and look for similarities and differences between characteristics to determine which are inherited and which are environmental.

In the 1960s, researchers took the twin study to the next level. They took identical twins, separated them at birth, and gave them to different families. Both the families and the twins were unaware of the study. The twins would grow up separately, and be compared later for similarities and differences. Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were two of the thirteen children that were part of this study. The study ended in 1980 because new laws. It wasn't until 2004, 35 years after they had been separated that they found out about one another. Elyse had contacted the adoption agency to get information about her birth mother, but found out about Paula, instead. Both women were very excited to finally meet, but were upset that it hadn't been sooner.

This study pushed ethical limits. Was it right for the researchers to separate these twins without their consent? Most people who have heard of the case have said that the researchers had not done the right thing; however, it provided useful information. They found that the women were actually very similar, and had similar interests despite being raised separate. By looking at this case, we can find the differences that can be attributed to nurture. Thankfully, this study can never happen again.

Despite the fact that these women missed out on 35 years with each other, their case gave a deeper look on nature vs. nurture. It is now widely accepted that both nature and nurture play a role in our characteristics.


Click here to read Elyse and Paula's full story


Click to see an interview with Elyse and Paula


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