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Child Geniuses

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One common misconception about smart children is that they will grow up to be socially isolated, ridiculed, or develop mental disorders. However, this thought process ignores the facts because according to Terman's studies, 92 out of the 1500 of those students scoring in the top 1% went on to earn doctoral degrees and many others became equally successful (Lilienfeld 336).

When does genius start? Below is a video of a two year old that was recently accepted into MENSA, the organization for individuals with IQ's higher than 140.

In this video we don't learn the IQ of her parents, which Lilienfeld speculates contributes to the average IQ score (Lilienfeld 336). Also, since she was 2 in 2009 there hasn't been longitudinal studies on whether or not her intelligence has been retained or negatively affected her socially. Perhaps not because she is smart but because her intelligence has been widely publicized, the effects will be different than other MENSA children. Beyond that, is a three year old who can play a piano concerto less of a genius than one who can name all the world capitols? How can varying degrees of intelligence be compared at such a young age?

These are questions that I hope science continues to explore as the idea of "genius" is studied. Parents will certainly continue to look as stumped as these:

Sexual Dimorphism

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similar-dimorphism-cock-hen.jpegSexual Dimorphism is a physical difference between males of females of the same species. These differences can range in coloration, size, and morphology and behavior.

Sexual Dimophism is exhibited in many vastly different species and some examples include the most notable Peacock and peahen, the Gorilla, some species of angler fish, and insects such as beetles and butterflies. Even Humans exhibit multiple instances of sexual dimorphism.

Some easily noticeable examples are the regions of the upper chest and areas between the waist and the knees. Internally, Males convert more food into muscle while females convert more into fat, Males lose body heat faster through sweat glands and females retain more heat, Males have a higher oxygen-carrying capacity within their blood and interestingly females seem to have a more adept immune system than the males.

I found this very interesting as it almost seems as though our species has evolved specifically so that the male is better suited to perform the role of leaving the habitat to search for food and necessities and also be better able to heal in case of a potential injury while gathering(with more suited clotting factors and higher peripheral pain tolerance. While Females are more adept to stay within the dwelling and fight off infectious agents while caring for offspring or maintaining a pregnancy.

Much of my information came from This article or Wikipedia to fill in the cracks a
and lead to my own original hypothesis about the human evolution of sexual dimorphism(as far as I know)

IQ Testing-Why or Why not?

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The IQ test was designed to help determine the level of a person's intelligence by using Stern's Formula. To figure out the IQ of someone they would divide mental age by chronological age and multiply the resulting number by 100. After using this method for awhile, they came to find out that this formula only worked well with children. It's estimated that by the age 16 we start averaging the same score on the IQ test, which results in low IQ scores the older we get. Because of this, they've come up with using the statistic deviation IQ. This is what helps us calculate a more precise score, by instead of basing you're IQ on your mental age in comparison to you're real age, they just use the statistics that are the norms for you're age group. When we did the debate in our discussion groups, I was on the side where we were supposed to give supporting details as to why we shouldn't use IQ scores while hiring someone. Because the IQ tests over a huge range of material, I believe it can be a deceiving test. Just like the ACT, if I were to be judged only by my ACT to get into the U, I probably wouldn't be here. There are so many areas that can qualify you for a job that no IQ test can show. Therefore, I would have to say that the IQ isn't at all a useful tool and that i'm glad that I don't ever have to deal with it.

Is it really possible that a doctor would let an organ donor die so they can harvest his organs? According to extraordinary claims it isn't likely. This myth originated by e-mail. In these e-mails the senders say things like "I heard..." and "my wife told me that..." which is hardly concrete evidence. One major problem is the lack of non-anecdotal evidence. As we have learned, anecdotal evidence should not be taken very seriously or taken over concrete evidence. Another problem with this myth is that if the doctors do not provide their best medical care to the patients the family of the patient can sue. In addition to being sued, these doctors could be charged with homicide according to the law. The third problem with this myth is that, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing, organ donation can only be considered once the patient has been declared brain dead. While the myth implies that this has been a recurring problem there is only one documented case and that is the case of Ruben Navarro. What the myth also fails to mention is that the doctor who let Navarro die had criminal charges brought up against him that would have resulted in him going to jail for a maximum of four years. According to extraordinary claims there needs to be extraordinary evidence to support extraordinary claims. In the case of doctors letting patients die in order to harvest their organs there is a substantial lack of extraordinary evidence. Therefore, this myth is most likely untrue.


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When perceiving emotions, we rely on the universally recognized facial expressions of happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, fear, and contempt. When shows a picture displaying one of these emotions, almost everyone can easily label it. We rely similarly on polygraph/lie-detector tests to determine the truth of a person's statement based on heart rate, sweat, etc. Between these two methods, it seems that people would be completely transparent. However, it is not quite so. The templates for basic emotions are hardly accurate in everyday life; these facial expressions can mix and are subject to variations depending on the exact emotion or the biology of the person. This can make faces difficult to read, often obscuring a person's true feelings. Also, not everyone will portray a "classic" facial expression because they are liable to cultural variations. As for the polygraph tests, all these really measure is the level of anxiety the person is experiencing. Anxiety or signs of nervousness do not necessarily denote guilt in an individual. According to chapter 11 of the text and journalist Steve Elias, polygraphs have a reputation for yielding false positives. After all, if an innocent person took a polygraph test knowing that the result could be a catastrophe for them, wouldn't they rightfully feel stressed?
Thus we can conclude that, due to inconsistency and error in physiological signs of emotion, lying is easier than you may have believed. Don't always believe what you see.

SAT Cheating

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Standardized testing has been apart of our society for quite sometime. There are many different types of these exams, and they are mainly used to test intelligence. Aptitude tests, such as the SAT, can act as transitional exams for high school to college students. The SAT is intended to assess a student's readiness and comprehension for college level studies. It was first introduced in 1926, and its name and scoring have changed several times. It was once called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test, but now SAT does not stand for anything.

The SAT is a very challenging exam and with a great score on one, the test taker would propel to greater opportunities. The test remains as something many high school students fear and loathe. It is the gatekeeper to your college dreams, and sometimes people will go to drastic measures to ensure themselves a solid score on a standardized test as importance as the SAT.

Recently Sam Eshaghoff, a former senior of Great Neck North High School in Long Island, had started a scam that involved surrogate students taking the exam for others. The price would change depending on the student, but the amount has reached near $3500 for a surrogate student to cheat and take the exam for someone else. His scam has expanded to three different high schools and a total of two dozen students.

After reading this article about Sam Eshaghoff, I couldn't believe someone had actually pulled that off. While in high school, my friends and I would joke about having someone else take the ACT or SAT for us. We would have a better life if we did and our scores would help out in the future, right? I guess instead of actually trying, like my friends and I ended up doing, these idiots, I mean students, in Great Neck North seem to ignore the actually significance of these exams in the first place. The SAT is a standardized aptitude test. It is designed to measure intelligence, and everyone's intelligence is different. However lazy one can get, if you don't want to take the test to see if you are ready for college, then why would you want to go to college?

Food, Sex, and Danger

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Food, Sex, and Danger

Susan Weinschenk talks about the brain in her book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? She argues that as humans, we have three brains: the new brain, the mid brain, and the old brain. While the "new brain" is the part that controls consciousness and reasoning, the "mid brain" is the part that process emotions. Lastly, the "old brain" is the part that looks over one's survival. Weinschenk propose that our old brain constantly scans the environment and answers the following three questions:
-Can I eat it?
-Can I have sex with it?
-Can it kill me?

All three of these questions are crucial to our specie's survival. Without food we will die. Without sex we will go extinct. Lastly, if we die, well, we are dead. Since the old brain is always on the lookout for our survival through these three questions, we cannot resist noticing food, sex, or danger.

We see this idea play out not only within ourselves, but also the advertising world as well. The business people have long since notice our attention to the three categories. Here are some examples that fully supports Weinschenk's idea:


Book: Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?
By Susan M. Weinschenk

In examining the psychological aspects of personality, some of the most controversial studies stem from the psychoanalytic views of projective testing. In such tests, examinees are asked to interpret otherwise ambiguous pictures in an application of the projective hypothesis that individuals will project aspects of their personality onto such a stimulus. This freudian idea then allows interpreters to work backwards from such interpretations to examine particular personality traits.

Proponents advocate for such testing on the basis that it allows psychologists to examine mainly unconscious (and hence uncontrollable) responses to stimuli, allowing them an otherwise impossible view into a subjects innermost personality. However, the reason such tests remain controversial is due to their refuted reliability in terms of the scientific method.

The best known of these projective measures is the Rorschach Inkblot test, in which subjects interpret 10 symmetrical inkblots. The results are then scored based on numerous characteristics supposedly associated with personality traits. The interesting part of such a test is that despite its criticism and doubts, it is on of the most commonly used of all personality measures. (Lilenfield p. 570) In addition, excluding extreme psychological cases (such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), the test has little reliable validity in terms of predicting behavior. This raises the question, why would it still be used on a widespread basis? Especially due to the fact that respondents could potentially fake such disorders on tests quite easily.

Rorschach test cartoon.jpg

Based on my reading and analysis of the Rorschach test, my main question is why? Why would psychologists still use it? Though I understand that it's prominence is receding, it still makes me question the overall studies of personality. If we are still employing a method that has almost certainly been proven ineffective, how can we ever truly understand the inner workings of the mind?

In lecture, I was incredibly interested with the Projective tests and how they are able to tell so much about the character of a person. Although I was interested, I didn't know how to make a blog post about it. Going to faithful Wikipedia, I saw one of the headings was uses in marketing which is exactly what I plan on majoring in. Match made in heaven. I looked up scholastic articles about projective tests used in marketing and found the perfect one (linked below). It first summarizes what we were taught: some information can not be gained simply by asking. Because we are intelligent humans, there is always a bias in our answers because it comes from us. The article talked about how sometimes questionnaires about products do not truly measure the market but instead measure how people want to be seen. The subjects, being human, respond in a way in which they are viewed favorably. Saying you drink diet, exercise more than you do, or, in the case of this article, drink light beer is a natural "white lie" that many tell but that screws up the data.

The article used an example of the projective test used by researchers of Nescafe. When subjects said they didn't like the product, the main response was, "I don't like how it tastes." Puzzled by these vague responses, they switched to a projective test. They made two grocery lists, one with Nescafe and the other with regular coffee then asked subjects to write a little about the woman buying everything on that list. The findings show that the woman who bought Nescafe was lazy, stingy, and a bad wife. They concluded it was not the product itself, but rather what the product did to the social custom of coffee. It's the complete act of making a pot of coffee which is seen as womanly, a good wife, and active in the kitchen. Obviously, no subject could pull that information out when asked why they didn't like the product. It wasn't that the taste was bad, it was that instant coffee meant the woman was abandoning the traditions of caring for the family, guests, or neighbors. Women would not buy the coffee because they did not want to be seen as a negligent wife.

The article concludes with the reminder that products affect the private circle and customs of everyday life where traditions and social norms are incredibly important. I found this research not only interesting, but also insightful about the everyday life of an average human and the bias we all carry. The same techniques and general rules used in Psychology can be used in the business world to know and understand the customer. Although these tests can be pricy to implement, the knowledge gained shows the hidden bias of the customer base which can make or break a product on the market. I would like to see other cases where projective tests were used in marketing to see if it always has the same type of response. Where do projective tests fail? Is there a line where people won't express their feelings, even in a projective test?

Knuckles 2.jpg Arthritis.jpg

Many people, at some point in their life, have been told that they will develop arthritis as they age because knuckle cracking causes arthritis. Children who have stumbled upon knuckle cracking oftentimes turn it into a habit, just to be told that they will have joint pain and suffering because of it. Arthritis is one concept that is generally scary for children, who oftentimes have a hard time stopping their new habit, which causes even more fear for the child. The claim that knuckle cracking causes arthritis has been prevalent 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. Since this claim does not have a high replicability, meaning that it would be hard to test and get results that can be duplicated, there have not been many experiments testing it. Due to the lack of evidence suggesting that this claim is factual, the positive correlation between knuckle crackers and arthritis victims has brought up arguments and provided some backing to the claim, however the second principle of critical thinking states that correlation doesn't equal causation, so we can not say that the positive correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis victims is enough to prove this extraordinary claim true. People with confirmation bias often times will even use this correlation as a guideline to deny, dismiss, or even distort evidence to fit their theory, that knuckle cracking causes arthritis. Due to the lack of extraordinary evidence backing the extraordinary claim, the fifth principle of critical thinking is the most useful way to evaluate the claim.
Recent studies on the cause of arthritis has given doctors reason to believe that knuckle cracking plays no role in the development of arthritis, however it can lead to ligament and tendon damage over time! Some people still stand by the extraordinary claim though; these people have belief perseverance, the tendency to stick to their idea even when evidence contradicts them.

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