Recently in Writing #1 Category

Corpous callosum - epilepsy

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Corpos callosum is a fascinating part of the brain. It is the main highway that connects the two brain hemispheres together. It contains 200-250 million contralateral axonal projections, making it the largest white matter structure in the central nervous system. Besides serving as connection for the two hemispeheres it is involved in eye movement. Information about eye muscles and the retinas is collected by this structure, and sent to the respective areas of the brain where it is processed (Source). The location of the corpos callosum is in the middle of the brain and is fairly well-protected. However, it is fragile tissue and if it suffers damage on its left side, it can distort left brain functions. The same analogy goes for the right side the corpos callosum. The real mystery comes in treatment of seizures caused by epilepsy. When drugs aren't strong enough to control them, a surgery is performed called corpos callosotomy. In this procedure, the corpos callosum is severed to stop the spread of seizures from hemisphere to hemisphere. After such a surgery, it takes 6-8 weeks for the person to get back into normal life with some negative effects. Because the two sides of the brain cannot communicate the person has trouble remembering things, finding words, lack of awareness of one side of the body, loss of coordination and others. It does seem a bit drastic to stop the connection between the two hemispheres but in this way a person can have lead a more normal life than the one haunted by sporadic seizures.

Links: http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/corpus-callosotomy?page=2
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/corpus-callosum-function.html

Hypnosis

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Hypnosis is an interesting state of mind. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It is compared to daydreaming, yet it still remains a mystery for the most part. The hypnosis we are most familiar with is what we've seen from stage performers hypnotizing people from the audience. Under hypnosis, the subjects become highly suggestible and this state makes them follow every order the hypnotist tells them to. All kinds of reservations and embarrassments are eliminated which contribute to an interesting show on stage. Some Hypnotists say that "subjects under hypnosis are a lot like little kids: playful and imaginative, fully embracing bizarre suggestions." That's all good and well, but we often don't realize that we hypnotize ourselves daily without noticing it. Reading, driving, mowing the lawn, and watching movies are all forms of hypnosis. We are fully conscious but we tune out most of the external stimuli around us. We are completely focused on the book, movie, or the task we're performing, sometimes so intently that we nearly exclude other thoughts. This makes us very susceptible to suggestions that only our subconscious state of mind can pick up. Advertisers who understand the influence of hypnosis during movies have integrated subliminal advertising. By inserting a single frame advertisement, because it's such a quick flash only our subconscious mind knows we've seen it and we are influenced to buy the product that's been flashed. This is similar to how subliminal messages on self-help tapes work, though our book clearly stated that scientific testing has disproved its effectiveness.

http://www.sykronix.com/researching/tscope.htm
http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/extrasensory-perceptions/hypnosis.htm

Dissolving Dust Cloud

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http://www.snopes.com/science/dustcloud.asp

Attached is the link to an article that I found that claims that a 10 million-mile-wide planet dissolving dust cloud will completely destroy the solar system by 2014. This finding also claimed that the cloud was discovered on April 6, and is currently moving at the speed of light straight for our solar system. It has been called a "chaos cloud" wiping out everything in its path. Using a couple of the Scientific thinking principles I was able to determine this claim was completely false, and then read later in the article that indeed it was incorrect. The first most obvious principle that I could use to prove this theory wrong would be that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The definition of this principle is that the more a claim contradicts what we already know, the more persuasive the evidence for this claim must be before we accept it. In this instance, the claim that a dust cloud would wipe us all out in a matter of 3 years was extremely odd and extraordinary. With that being said, we would need more facts and persuasive evidence to be sure what these researchers are telling us is true. Another principle of the scientific method that we could use in this case would be ruling out the rival hypothesis. Thinking to our selves while reading the article, "Is this the only good explanation for this finding? Have we ruled out other important competing explanations?". The answers to those questions would be no. There could be a thousand other explanations for this dust cloud finding other than it's going to be the end of mankind as we know it. In conclusion, the principles of scientific thinking helped me to come up with my own opinion about this topic and decipher that the claim was false.

Naive Realism

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Concept: Naïve Realism

Naïve Realism is the belief that humans see the world just as it is or that "seeing is believing". We tend to trust our perceptions of the world for what they are.
Chapter 1, page 5
This concept is important because it points out that we are not always right when we use, what we think to be, our common sense. The following youtube video does a good job of explaining that what we see isn't always the right answer. If "seeing is believing" was how we lived life, there would be a lot of problems and science would lose significance.
Often times we, as humans, rely on our common sense, and we can't live by our common sense alone. Sometimes we can get by on just common sense, but we need facts to back up our decisions and ideas other times. Humans rely on common sense because they are prone to naive realism. The use of common sense or Naïve Realism, tends to make humans write things off such as "psychology being easier than physics, chemistry, biology, or most other sciences" (Lilienfeld 5) because we think that is the most logical conclusion based on other common knowledge we have accumulated over time.
Real Life Example:
An example of this would be when one fills a glass with water half way. There would appear to be a glass that is partially filled with water and we are commonly asked whether the glass is half empty or half full. People tend to pick one answer or the other based on the sight of the glass being half filled. The real answer to this question is that the glass is completely full. Based on knowledge from chemistry, one should know that there is air that occupies the space that is not occupied by water. Naïve realism comes into play in this situation because we used our common sense to come up with an answer that made sense based on what we saw. Science and facts should back our answers to make more accurate conclusions.

Limited Perception
This youtube video explains that our common sense or naïve realism tells us that there is a half a glass of water, but science or the facts tell us that the glass is completely full with both water and air. The guy in this video is trying to make a point saying that we believe what is seen or what makes sense to us, but seeing isn't always believing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqpHbIry4I8

Free Will/Determinism

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Free Will/Determinism is a debate that involves determining whether our behaviors are chosen freely or whether they are cause by outside factors that are not in our control. Most everybody would like to think that their behaviors are freely chosen by themselves, and that they are able to do whatever they want. But some psychologists believe that free will is just an illusion that we cannot see. We believe that we are free because we don't realize all the influences acting on our behavior. Few even think that most or all of our behaviors are automatically generated without even being aware of it. As if someone or something else is generating the behaviors that we exhibit.

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As for my own life, everyday situations could raise the question of whether free will or determinism affects my behavior. Take for example this blog post, most people decided it was a good idea to submit there entries before the deadline to receive full credit. But me, on the other hand, somehow came to the conclusion that I would post it past the deadline and get points taken off. Now this decision could have been due to my own free will. I could have realized that without one of my lectures, I could take Monday off and instead of staying home and doing homework Sunday night, I could go out and do something fun. Or the decision could have had to do with some outside factor that I'm not in control of (I'd like to believe this one). I could realize that my mom is lazy as well, and my dad is also a procrastinator and that I simply have some gene or some other thing that forces me to do things at last minute.

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The subject of Free Will/Determinism is important to everyday life because if we can understand what causes our behaviors, then we can better understand those behaviors, and we can discover why some people act they way they act. And whether this post was late because of my own free will or because of determinism, there's still two points off.

Inattentional Blindness

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http://www.npr.org/2011/06/20/137086464/why-seeing-the-unexpected-is-often-not-believing

This story is about inattentional blindness with police. I'll summarize the story quickly: Four men shot a police officer and many cops were called to chase the men. Some cops mistook another officer as one of the men and started beating him very badly. Another officer was chasing one of the actual culprits and passed right by the men beating the other cop. There was a trial later, and the man claimed he did not see them beating anyone even though he was running right by them. He was sentenced to 34 months in prison because they thought he was lying to protect the other officers. Then there was a study done by Chris Chabris that proved he was not lying. He had been chasing the suspect and was so concentrated on him that he did not see the beating happening next to him.
Now the question is, should inattentional blindness be an acceptable excuse in court? I would argue that in this case it is legitamate. He was not giving information because he hadn't seen it, not because he was protecting the other officers. But what if someone used it as an excuse for something else like driving? "I didn't see the stop sign because I was so focused on the road ahead of me" something like that. It could be an easy excuse to use for things. On the other hand it is a legitimate issue, but how do you prove that inattentional blindness was at work?

Nature vs. Nurture

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I believe the concept of Nature vs. Nurture is one of the most important to be learned in Psychology. Learning the basics of this concept can help us better understand the actions and behaviors of others around us, and interpret whether they are an unavoidable result of nature, or if they occurred as a product of someone's environment. This concept can be applied to many areas, but the one I immediately associated it with was homosexuality. This issue has been the source of heated debate and much tension for many years. On one side you have people screaming that it is unnatural and that its practice is an abomination, while on the other side you have people shouting back just as loudly that people were 'born this way' and that its an unavoidable course for some.

I personally believe that when it comes to homosexuality, individuals are born the way they are. Yes, I do believe that how a child is raised can factor into the situation, but overall, I think that being homosexuality is not a choice. Some of my reasons are purely emotional rather than biological. For example, a good friend of mine is a lesbian. She has told me many times that she did not choose to be attracted to girls, it's something that just happened and in a way, she wished she wasn't. She told me that it would be so much easier to be heterosexual, but it just isn't possible. When you get down to it, she did not wake up one day and say, "I think I'm going to date girls." It is something that has been a part of her since she was born. The video I have embedded supports the fact that homosexuality is not a choice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Osw05HGe5I


Sneezing is Orgasmic? (Extraordinary claims)

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There is a common belief that sneezing x amount of times (somewhere between 7 and 10) is the equivalent to having an orgasm/will cause an orgasm. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim, it is more of a "he said/she said/have you heard" sort of deal. According to Snopes.com, the belief is most likely stemmed from a misquotation of a sex therapist's words, mistaking "An orgasm is just a reflex, like a sneeze" for "An orgasm is just like a sneeze."

Basically, it's an urban legend of sorts, kind of like the whole "If you make that face too much, you might be stuck looking like that forever," so I guess the scientific thinking principle that fits best with this is "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Sneezing feels awesome. Sneezing multiple times feels AMAZING. But there is absolutely no scientific proof that sneezing seven times in a row will cause an orgasm, just as there is no proof that sneezing seven times is the same as having an orgasm. As far as anyone knows, it is simply a reflex; a reflex that feels amazing, but a lot of things feel amazing. Just because a sneeze feels awesome doesn't mean that you're having a mini orgasm out of your nose.

http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/sneeze.asp

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

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"The Immortal Life of Henrieta Lacks" is a novel written by Rebeccka Skloot that tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a mother of five children who was a poor Southern tobacco planter in Baltimore. By early 1951, Lacks had suffered for some time, as she describes as a painful "knot on my womb." She sought medical attention at Johns Hopkins in January, a charity hospital and the only hospital that treated black patients. Lacks found out that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Before giving her first radium treatment, the doctor cut out two tiny samples, one cancerous and one healthy from the tissues in Lack's cervix. She was never asked permission or even informed that her tissues were cut out. The doctor gave the tissues to George Grey, a scientist who had been trying to establish a continuously reproducing human cell line for use in cancer research. Her cells her labeled the "HeLa" (hee-la) cells. Lacks passed away from the effects of cervical cancer in October 1951.

The HeLa cells have made a huge impact in the medicine world. Her cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Her cells have been bought and sold by the billions. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons which is as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.

Today many people do not know about Henrietta Lacks and the significance that her cells have made. She was buried in an unmarked grave and her family did not know about the "immortality" of her cells until twenty years after her death. Even though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits.

Lack's story had good outcome unlike the Tuskegee Study that we read in our Psychology book but I think that it was wrong for the doctor to take what was her cells without informed consent. Her cells have made a significant impact in the world of medicine but I want to ask was it justifiable to take her cells without her permission?

Research Design Matters

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Research Design Matters
Without good research design even the smartest people on earth can be fooled. Generally speaking, human beings are notorious for relying heavily on inaccurate measures of the probability of events. However, by using good research designs, thinking errors like cognitive biases and overconfidence can be avoided. Take for instance the controversy around facilitated communication. Facilitated communication is a process in which a "facilitator" supports the hand or arm of a severely handicapped person who spells out a message using some device that contains a list of letters, numbers, or words. This new process that began in 1991, was geared towards making improvements in the treatment of infantile autism. For a while facilitated communication claimed it could cure the broken bond between silent world of autism and the adult world of social interaction, but the evidence of these claims were found to be equally extraordinary. Further studies on this method found that facilitators were unknowingly guiding the fingers of children toward the keyboard, and the resulting words were coming from the their minds, not the children's. Advocates of this denounced process also refused to consider those hypotheses that rivaled their own. I found this research finding to be particularly important because it shows how important it is to evaluate claims by using the scientific method.
http://youtu.be/CzYIidZvfjA

If the method of facilitated communication has been denounced, then how can those who have been lost in silence be heard? Is there a way for a facilitator to help autistic patients express themselves without having communication being determined by the facilitator? Will/ does future procedures permit us to help nonverbal individuals communicate?

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