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Everyday Pareidolia

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A tendency to find patterns, also known as pareidolia, allows you to make something out of nothing for the most part. Pareidolia is a part of our everyday life. The most common example is when you take a moment out of your day and take a look in the sky. You see clouds in the sky and all of a sudden you think you see something or what you perceive to be something. A bundle of clouds suddenly look like an animal of some sort or, depending on your mood, something that makes sense in your life.

Take a second and look around at something in the room. Stare at the object for a while, you should have made a generalization in your head on what it looks like. I took a look at a pile of clothes and the more I stared at it, the more it took shape. It took the form of a cat but to somebody else it might have just looked like a pile of clothes. Pareidolia has a lot to do with perception and how people view things a part from others. I do not think Pareidolia just happens every once in a while. If you think about it, you make something out of nothing more than you think and if you pay more attention to it then you will see.

Nature vs. Nuture

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In nature and nurture part, I want to know more about adoption studies. Here, what I want to know about is that are adoptee changed their traits by environments where they are in, or biological parents because of the genes inherit from.
So, I searched about it and found a research article on the internet, and it gave us some experimental examples to determine what factors have the most effect to them. The first example was that if the biological parent has shyness genetic, then the adoptee would be also shy. This strengthens the possibility of a genetic link overshadowing family environment (Daniels & Plomin, 1985). Another example is Steve Jobs who was CEO of Apple Inc. The reason that I mention him is he was adopted by the family of Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs. At this point, if Steve Jobs was be brought by his biological parent, would he have a successful life? So, I think this example gave us that environmental factor had more influence than biological factor. So, which factors do you think have more impact to adoptee between biological and environmental, or, even both factors?

Enter the useful innocent.  That's Peter King, another well-meaning and hopelessly befuddled Republican who can't help assuming good faith on the other side of the aisle.  His song this year: due process is no longer useful to society, and we should therefore dispose of it by legislating that persons included in the government's so-called "Terrorist Watch List" be stripped of civil rights.  This is business as usual for his Democrat counterpart, but I've never understood how anyone can entertain Frank Lautenberg's jazz.  Cliff May, however, applauds their effort, and writing for ScrippsNews asks why can't we keep guns from terrorists?

In his article he exasperatedly explains that denying property to citizens whom the government dislikes--but against whom it cannot find evidence of criminal activity, or even conspiracy--will save the American people from terroristic violence like the attack in Mumbai in 2008.  He posits that such reasonable regulation in India would have prevented those events from occurring.  Additionally, he expertly anticipates the public outcry concerning human rights and due process, and calms it, writing: "if someone gets on a terrorist watch list by mistake, his right to bear arms will only be delayed, not denied."  Poor little Pollyanna.

The whole of his claims hang on the premise that the lack of regulation initiated the events in Mumbai, yet does not allow for consideration of other hypotheses.  Furthermore, he has observed the correlation between the possession of weapons by the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008 and the murder of Indians in that attack; but he's mistaken it as evidence of causality, and has as well confused himself with his reification of the prophesied Mumbai: Part Deux (coming soon to an American place near you).  Both Mr. May and the politicians whose reasoning he champions in his article clearly suffer multiple cognitive biases, too to many deal with entirely in this article.  I'll list those most debilitating to their argument, which include: irrational escalation; unfortunate wishful thinking; availability heuristic; illusory correlation; embarrassing entrapment by the just-world fallacy; and an overall premise supported by an appeal to (hypothetical) consequences.

Although it is the most egregious error in reasoning, the lattermost can be most easily summated: the author's assertion that because the imaginary outcome of its dismissal is emotionally moving, the proposed legislation is therefor not illegal.  Interestingly, this also invokes Liefschultz's 1st Principle of Conservative Logic--ignore public policy suggestions historically imposed upon population groups that were shortly thereafter the victims of genocide--but that is a discussion for another post. Onward.

If a U.S. citizen is suspected of a crime, then that's interesting (and nothing more).  If he's been indicted and arraigned, then some birthrights he might see reasonably suspended.  However, the current bid to change history doesn't withstand reason (nor case law), but before rejoicing in the obvious, consider the facts in evidence, if only for fun, and as if the proposal had the potential its sponsors imagine.

There are more than one million entries on the "Terrorist Watch List" according to FBI. There is no judicial review, no appeal for removal from the list.  There is no judicial process by which one's identity is added to the list.  In fact there is no official avenue for data either on or off; names are added and removed at the whims of unknown bureaucrats within the Department of Justice. Even if there was an official map, a codified appeals process would be of little use because the contents of the list are classified variously from Confidential to Top Secret, and therefore blacklisted persons are statutorily disallowed to understand their predicament.  The only reason why the Constitution hasn't already kicked Frank Lautenberg's teeth out, and bent the rest of the government over a table, is that presently inclusion on the blacklist doesn't officially limit any person's rights--humans aren't entitled at birth to travel by commercial airlines--and so the matter hasn't received the attention of the courts.

As far as "Mumbai in 2008" is concerned, does the fact that there has never been a documented use of licensed, legally possessed firearms in a terror attack in India (not ever) support Lautenberg's adorable reasoning, or does it make us scratch our heads and ask, "then why, Frank?"

Is it of interest that the weapons used in the attack in Mumbai are imports, unavailable to the small market of Indian civilians able to finesse their way into receipt of firearms licenses? I'm talking about late model AK-47 rifles, short-barreled automatic military production weapons, and not the semi-automatic Balkan playthings that you and I own.

Does it lend weight to the argument that the U.S. and Indian governments determined that the attacks were too sophisticated to have been executed without the assistance of a foreign government (both fingered Pakistan)? See: "Gunman in Mumbai Siege a Pakistani, Official Says". The New York Times 1/7/2009 by Masood, Oppel

So, in the midst of only-for-special-people gun laws, by which every firearm purchase/license/fond dream is subject to governmental approval on a case-by-case basis, guess who suffered anyway--the folks in Mumbai.

Guess who was served by the reasonable, failsafe firearm prohibitions in India--ten terrorists from Pakistan.

Guess who was slaughtered in a Mumbai-style terror attack despite Lautenberg-style weapon prohibitions--the folks in Mumbai.

Having analyzed the facts in evidence, I do not understand--nor am I willing to entertain any dreamy arguments otherwise--what the 2008 attack in Mumbai has to do with the civil rights of people in the United States.  I do recall two incidents in 2009, in which mentally ill jihadists attacked domestic Army installations with personally owned weapons, at the instruction of foreign terrorist organizations.  It was too bad for the shot-to-death meat (victims), and lucky for the terrorists that U.S. Government-controlled properties, particularly domestic military installations, are the least likely places to find loaded weapons.

Other places well-advertised as free of firearms include K-12 schools and the majority of post-secondary institutions.  Apart from domestic terrorism All-Stars Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad and Nidal Malik Hasan, many people suffering mental illness without help from Islam have noted the allure of statutorily disarmed populations, the raw appeal and guarantee of encountering absolutely no resistance from their targets.  I'm reminiscing about the many school shootings that ended quickly when the perpetrators were put down by their intended victims, but can't bring to mind a single incident.  I only recall a list of violent episodes in which the attackers had their way without interruption for at least twenty minutes.  What's curious is that, just in the last month, I've read four accounts of home- and business owners defeating armed assailants, and what seems a tremendous bonus: the home- and business owners were not savagely murdered.  This of course cultures a startling question, i.e. "how can it be?"

After some fact rechecking via Google, I ascertained from the original news coverage that in each incident the intended victims used weapons to rescue themselves from certain peril, and now I'm conflicted.  The wishful, utopic side of my brain wants to draw upon my abundant emotion and recognize that the news articles are false, and that it's impossible that those armed people fared better than the massacred students, because schools are frequented by smart people who vote the right way, and what the articles suggest would be unfair, improper karma, and cosmically incorrect.

Contrarily, the rational, empirically grounded, conservative side of my brain deduces that attacks in homes and workplaces are frequently recounted by armed survivors, whereas those in schools consistently produce unarmed victims (meat).  How very curious.  While it's good to let the long-estranged halves of my brain bandy data once in a while, it doesn't address the primary fallacy of King and Lautenberg's amusing but ultimately useless rain dance.

The small yet stalwart population still clinging to literacy will notice that, according to the Constitution, the federal government has no rights.  As the Nation's dwindling class of readers knows, this is an immovable fact, and the Constitution only codifies the obvious.  It also describes non-negotiable limits to the government's authority--which may be appropriately amended, but not otherwise weakened by Congress.  It does not stipulate that the United States are prohibited from violating persons' rights unless an executive agency publishes a regulation suspending them.  Nor does it stipulate that Congress may create a governmental agency and insist upon it being empowered to nullify the Constitution.  Nowhere in the Bill of Rights appears the language "except in such times that the President or his designee prefers otherwise".

The gentlemen from New York and New Jersey imagine themselves to be taller than they actually measure.  According to the Constitution and the rulings of the Supreme Court--and assuming that either is of concern--Congress is not empowered so far as their scheme requires. Also of certain moment is the fact that reality does not lend itself to their cause.  Despite numerous federal laws criminalizing acts of terror, it's obvious that by some strange voodoo people have committed and continue to pursue terrorism in the United States.

This is especially curious, considering the attractive typeface and quality ink in which the laws are manifested in the United States Code.  It is not known definitively how this phenomenon works, but it is suggested that it relates to the same mysterious forces which enable persons to rob banks despite numerous protective spells registered by Congress, as well as individual states' legislatures.  How very curious.  It reminds me of an incident last year in which Minneapolis police officer Timothy Edward Carson somehow robbed a bank by threatening the staff with a firearm, even though there was an enchantment posted at the entrance which stated, "Bans Guns in These Premises".

As is tradition, Frank Lautenberg is insisting that Congress double down on the make-believe of its magic, and another imbecile with a heart of gold Republican has followed candy into a stranger's van. According to King, it's "common sense".

Beware of good ideas.


© 2011 Liefschultz

The Numinous and the mundane

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Okay, so I am a return to collage student. This is obvious by how readily I raise my hand and unabashedly give my opinion in discussion class. One of my undergraduate majors, oh so many years ago now, was religious studies. In that field you quickly become acquainted with the numen. It's the feeling you may get in a European Gothic cathedral, observing the Hajj, listening to ancient rites chanted before you, or, for me, staring up at a cloudless dark sky, the milky way arcing overhead and understanding that you are a speck of dust in that vast creation. Ah, who are we kidding, Monte Python explained it best:

Anyway, the point is that humanities scholars have been debating this feeling of the mysterium tremendum for centuries and humans have been experiencing it likely since Homo Erectus first walked out of Africa. But what does science say about the numen?

Studies seem to support several observations ripe for transmutation into hypothesis and then further study. These are:

1) There is no single god spot in the brain. Epileptic patients that suffer seizures centered in their temporal lobes (get it, centered in the tempor, uh, forget it) report religious experiences but meditative Buddhists that are able to reach "a higher plane" exhibit more activity in their parietal lobes at those times.

2) The feeling of the numen can be induced through this lovely contraption... (skip to 1:20).

3) The apparent processing of certain (still unknown) stimuli that may lead to a reliable numinous feeling is not about a religion or even religiosity. Nothing about numinous spots in our brains has been shown to either influence what religion you'll be or how religious you'll be.

4) That this area of study is fraught with danger in the form of inferential conclusions that are not based on evidence. Case in point are the evolutionary psychologists' explanations for the adaptation of this perception that seem to me to skirt very close to a just so story.

If it turns out that science one day exposes the root of this perception and the sensations, external and internal, that reliably produce it, would you be more likely to question the powerful, palpable feeling that sweeps over you and leads you to believe that you are just one small part of the immense machine of existence? Or is believing seeing...

Brain Preferences

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I recently was asked to take the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) for work. This is an assessment tool used to identify your learning and thinking preferences. The idea is that a person's brain is divided into four quadrants and each quadrant specializes in certain skills and characteristics. Ideally we use our whole brain to work, communicate and learn but the reality is that some areas are stronger than others and therefore we develop preferences. The HBDI helps to identify these preferences which can then be used in a number of different ways to aid self-development and interpersonal relationships.
Whole Brain Model.jpg
I think the nature vs. nurture debate comes into play when thinking about how these preferences form. The environment clearly plays a large part since individuals can work to change their preferences. However, the following cartoon depicts the profiles of an actual family. How does one child develop such an opposing profile? One argument is that there are several influencers outside of family but is it in part because of their innate qualities?

Family profile.jpg

Throughout many years, the debate between nature and nurture has been a prevalent force. On one side of the argument, well known philosophers such as John Locke have claimed that our brain is a "blank slate" and that all of our behavioral traits are attributed to our environment. On the other side, experts claim that our traits are inherently due to our genetic makeup. But is it really possible that our traits are attributed solely to our environment or our genetic makeup? Or is it much more plausible that it is a combination of both, not one or the other, that make us who we are?

Clearly, there are strong arguments for both.


The figure above shows a strong correlation between the IQ's of identical twins reared together as well as identical twins reared apart, while the unrelated persons reared together did not have a strong correlation of IQ's. This strongly supports the argument that personality traits, intelligence in this case, are genetically influenced.

However, there are also studies that argue that environment plays a much bigger role than expected.intelligenceFlynnEffect.jpg

This figure represents a study performed by James Flynn. It shows that IQ levels have been rising in all countries since WW2. His reasoning for this? Environment. Flynn found 21 environmental factors that influence intelligence such as parental ambition, book reading, criminality, and a plethora of other factors. This supports the argument that environmental factors do indeed influence mental ability.

So from the figures above, it is noted that nature and nurture both play roles in our behavioral traits. Its obvious that some traits, such as height, weight and eye color are highly heritable, but other traits are highly malleable and can be easily influenced by environment, or "nurture". So while looking at the grand scheme of things, it is important that neither nurture nor nature is the sole determinate of our traits. Instead, nature and nurture are intertwined in one web that makes up our complex being.


Nature vs. Nuture

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The Nature vs. Nurture debate is a very interesting topic. On one hand there is a belief that our behaviors are mostly guided by our genetic makeup (Nature side). On the other hand, there is a belief that our behaviors are mostly guided by our upbringing and developmental environment. Today however, most agree that both play a pivotal role in our behavior.

Interestingly enough, I feel as if sometimes that there is a third factor that is actually tied into this debate, and that is the notion of free will. Because I am somewhat crazy, ever since I heard of the debate, I have attempted to analyze myself and see where do my traits come from. Its relatively easy to see how my traits come from my upbringing and environment, so really what does not fit with nurture, I throw it in the Nature(genetic) bin. However i think the third factor, free will, has a relatively influential role too.And if anyone does not believe in free will, watch this video:
I think that even despite of genetics and nurture, some traits are actually chosen. What do you guys think, Is it possible that we can somehow choose our own characteristics, and is this choice(whether conscious or otherwise) based on nature and/or nurture?

The nature vs. nurture has been a popular topic that has been debated for years. However, I think the debate needs to stop. Evidence has been provided that shows both nature and nurture help to determine a person's personality traits and characteristics. The best way I can show this to the world is through the example of me and my sister.

Photo on 2011-07-17 at 16.38 #2.jpg

Throughout the years my sister and I have fought because we were different in so many ways. I was more girl-like, and she dressed like a boy. Literally, she shopped in the boys department of stores. She had a ton of guy friends, and I thought boys had cooties. I grew up to develop a strong interest in fashion and had plenty of boyfriends throughout those days we call puberty. She just got her first boyfriend in her first year in college and has slowly started wearing dresses and more "bling". Clearly, since day 1, she and I were destined to be different people. My automatic sense of girl-like tendencies and her love for acting like a "dude" could not be explained, because in our whole lives we grew up in the same home with the same parents. This difference could only be due to our genetic makeup and the differences in it that makes us unique and different from each other.

Through these years of yelling at each other and pushing one another against walls (again, that is no exaggeration), she and I have grown to be loving sisters that finally realized we shared some things in common. The one trait that stands out to me (and our friends) the most would be our huge sense of sarcasm. Others don't understand our humor, but we sure do! This sense of humor was not born within us, but growing up together and living with a mother who we loved to make of together, enabled us to develop the same sarcasm that we now share. It's one of the qualities that we have that other relatives do not because they did not grow up with me and my sister. This trait must have been developed through our experiences growing up while influencing each other. In other words, it was a nurture-influenced characteristic.

I refuse to take a stance of whether nature dominates over nurture or vise versa. And, I believe years worth of evidence from my own family has made me realize it is not an either/or situation. Our genes and our environments have influenced me to be who I am today and my sister to be her lovable self as well.

I am curious to know, if there are any situations where it is obvious that nature is the root cause for a behavior or if nurture is, and are there any examples out there?

After reading the Biological Psychology chapter in the textbook, I was intrigued when the authors began to discuss the myth that humans only use 10 percent of their brain. This immediately had me thinking of a movie that recently came out called "Limitless" starring Bradley Cooper.
The following link brings you to the trailer in case you have not heard about it or seen it:

This movie plays of off this myth that more of our brain can be accessed and used to further our brain activity. In the movie it is stated that humans only use 10 percent of our brains; however just by reading our textbook, we know this is not true.

The pill (NZT) that the main character in the movie takes allows him to access the "other 90 percent of his brain), and while this makes for a good plot, we know this is not true. Humans use every part of their brain and as stated in the text, damage to even the smallest part of the brain can take a toll on its overall function.

So we know that humans use every section of our brain but not simultaneously. The real question that I pose, and which I think would make for a more realistic plot, is what if a pill or drug was created that allowed us to access and use every part of our brain simultaneously?

If this was biologically possible, what would be the result?
What if we were able to turn our subconscious in to conscious thought and action? What if we could consciously control the bodily functions that are currently controlled by our subconscious?

Despite the fact that this is far from achievable, with regard to where scientists currently stand in understanding the brain and the possibilities that come with it, it is still a intriguing idea to toss around in our mind.

Ps: I highly recommend watching this movie. It's pretty mind-blowing despite the fact that it is based on an urban legend.

Before I start let me explain exactly what the 9/11 generation is. The 9/11 generation is a reference to those in the population who were 15 years or younger when the September 11th attacks occurred. I am a part of the 9/11 generation as I was in 5th grade when this tragedy occurred. At this age me and a lot of my peers couldn't really grasp the magnitude of this single event and how it could possibly shape our views of the world as we know it.

Psychologist have come to know humans to seek out comfort, unity and patterns when we feel a loss of control over our surroundings. The terror management theory is an example of this, it states our awareness of our own inevitable death leaves us to adapt comforting views; individuals also heighten the liking of similar others and accentuate their dislike of dissimilar others. In the article it stated that "the terror management theory would predict individuals to respond to the tragedy with fear, racism and increased patriotism". Following the attacks Islam, the Middle East and terrorism was brought to headlines and given full attention from the news media and citizens alike across the US. However it is not all negative as many citizens also became sensitive of the Islamic faith and stereotypes and a sense of unity/patriotism was created by Americans.

The terror management theory also predicted individuals would react with fear. Following the attacks the USA was driven into a justified mass hysteria at the thought of another terrorist attack. Terrorism became a real life threat and the sense of security was lowered for citizens. The article states the 9/11 generation would grow up fearing others and the world itself, basically adopting the "scary world syndrome". However it also states that people would respond with enthusiasm, embracing others and stressing a need for change. These are both pretty valid arguments and I therefore ask what do you believe has happened following the September 11th attacks?


Recently, someone very close to me suffered what is called a hemorrhagic stroke. It's similar to an ischemic stroke, which is what most of us are familiar with, the main difference between the two being that a hemorrhagic stroke involves the leakage of blood from a vein or artery, while an ischemic stroke involves the blockage inside an vein or an artery. This is a very general analysis of the two, if you want more information about strokes, you can go here. In this case, she suffered the stroke during brain surgery to replace a shunt. I visited almost every day after the stroke, and I had the chance to witness the amazing elasticity of the brain, first hand.

The first day I visited, her speech was very garbled, and she had lost the use of her entire right side. After reading Chapter 3, I realized that these symptoms were a sign that her frontal lobe had been affected, especially her motor cortex. The fact that her speech was incoherent at first, as well as a noticeable decrease in short term memory led me to believe that it was the frontal lobe that had been affected. The loss of motion in her right side was quite obviously due to the motor cortex, a part of the frontal lobe. Because the doctors were not aware when the stroke occurred, these symptoms helped them to realize what had happened. Once it was identified that it was in fact a stroke (this was done by a CT scan), they were able to stop the bleed.

The brains' ability to recover from such an incident is incredible. Improvements were literally seen by the hour, as the swelling in her brain went down. Her brain had repaired itself so quickly that she was close to normal a week after she suffered the stroke. The speed at which the brain repaired itself in this situation makes me wonder what, if any, role stem cells played in making repairs. It seems to me that the loss of motion in her right side was due more to the pressure caused by a portion of her brain swelling than any sort of actual damage to the nerves. One can still see the effects of the stroke on her, she walks with a slight limp and she still has a bit of trouble with short term memory. Could this be because of actual damage that is being repaired by stem cells at a slower rate? Or does she still have some residual swelling (she only left the hospital last Tuesday, September 27th) that is still decreasing?

For a long time, psychologists have been involved in a debate known as Nature vs. Nurture. This debate looks at how a person develops in relation to their genetics and how they were raised. Many psychologists believe that the way we end up has to be a result of one of the two, either nature or nurture. I, however, believe that it is based on a combination of our genetics and our influences as we are maturing.

On the Nature side of this debate, it is believed that our personality and how we go about our lives is entirely based on our genetic code. Some people believe that sexual orientation is due to genetics, and they point the the Nature side of the debate. Some of the best support for nature are Identical Twin Studies, in which separated twins are reconnected and scientists often find similarities between how their lives have turned out.

On the Nurture side, it is believed that genetics have very little affect on how we turn out, and it is all due to our influences as we grow up. Examples of the Nurture theory include the behavioral experiments of B.F. Skinner. He was able to train pigeons to dance, and play tennis, which should not be possible according to the Nature theory. Another example of the Nurture theory is how an individuals sense of humor is formed by the environment around them, and not their genes.

Conformity in Groups

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Recently I was with one of my friends that always seemed to follow popular fads, and I began to wonder why other people followed these as well. I found the Solomon Asch experiment.
This experiment examines how people react in groups. In this study there was one participant and a group of subjects that would blatantly lie about an easily known fact. One example is this picture.
This study found that many people would agree with a false fact if the rest of the group went that way too!

All Things Considered 'Identical Strangers' Explore Nature vs. Nurture

The debate over the role of nature vs. nurture has raged between scientists of all fields for close to a century. It was with Gregory Mendel's earliest work in 1866 that first changed the debate, introducing new ideas about what would become genetics. With Mendel's observation of certain "factors," later known as genes, being passed on from parent to offspring in his studies on the heredity of pea plants. With this work the debate over how much of our development should be attributed to our genetics and how much should be attributed to our external environment really began. NPR did a story in 2007 on a set of identical twins that were separated at birth, reuniting 35 years later when they finally found out they had a twin. These twins had been separated at birth as part of an identical twins study in the 1960s and 70s, something that would be looked at as highly unethical now. twinstogether_200.jpgWith the developments in ethical standards in scientific studies, psychology experiments especially, it is now not allowed to separate siblings of any kind. This study, performed by Peter Neubauer, a child psychiatrist, was in his words, "Beautiful. It's practically the perfect study." In many ways it was just that, a study where two individuals with identical genetic code would be raised with different environment factors influencing them would allow us to learn so much about our genetic code. But because of the new ethical developments in the field studies like this can no longer happen and the results of this study are to be held confidential until 2066. Neubauer's lack of remorse, demonstrated by his responses and he still has not apologized, shows just how powerful he thinks an experiment like this can be in developing knowledge around genetics. The important question has to be raised, just how far should scientists be allowed to go? There will always be those looking to advance the field and sometimes the best way to do that is by doing experiments that are unquestionably unethical, this is why it is important to have these codes in place, even though it may slow our research efforts.

Here is a slide show documenting the story of identical twins separated at birth, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein finally reunited at age 35.

The "Paranormal" Industry

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After reading about the extraordinary claims Scientific thinking principle, I realize that even this theory proven false takes people by storm. Movies like; The 4th Kind, Paranormal Activity, and Signs have made big sales for their movies and helped create the belief that they are based off true stories. Even the facts that state for example that the crop circles were made by college students doesn't push people away from the theaters. I believe that this scientific principle connects with the term confirmation bias because we are sticking to the belief that extra terrestrials exist. Give credit to the movie industry though for making a catchy trailer that catches your eye and ignites your brain.... The movie must trigger something in our sympathetic nervous system that makes us scared and start to sweat. Then the rest of the night we rely on the parasympathetic nervous system to calm us down.

Even though these extraordinary claims do not have the extraordinary evidence to go with, people are not budging on their own views. The psychologists must just be frustrated at watching the paranormal theory make money at the box office..

The Adrenaline Effect

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I was just reading about the adrenal glands, which are the areas in our kidneys that produce adrenaline and cortisol, and I have found claims of people performing extraordinary feats of strength do to the presence of adrenaline. Adrenaline increases strength and focus in the body and it's release typically comes to us when we are in an emergency. One example of this is in a video I came across ( in which this guy rolls a helicopter of his friend who is stuck underneath. As you can see when you watch the video, it makes sense that the release of adrenaline can be very important to us. For instance, it allows us to make quick and focused decisions when we are under a lot of stress.

Although adrenaline clearly makes people stronger, i'm still not convinced that it will increase strength do the degree claimed by the news. I was also wondering how much strength is increased when adrenaline hits the body. Is it like 110% of what a person can normally lift? And does the environment play the most important factor in the amount of adrenaline you receive? For instance, it would seem to me someone who is in the middle of an intense basketball game wouldn't get as much as someone who is trapped under a car. Share your thoughts below, I think this is an important phenomenon.

Prefrontal Lobotomy

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Prefrontal lobotomy is a surgical procedure in which the fibers that connect the thalamus to the frontal lobes of the brain are removed. Lobotomy procedures were used for those who had mental disorders, obsessive-compulsive states, and schizophrenia. Prefrontal lobotomy was also used to control pain and reduce the emotional tension associated with hallucinations. The USSR officially banned prefrontal lobotomy in 1950. Doctors in the Soviet Union stated that it was "contrary to the principles of humanity" and it made "an insane person into an idiot."

I saw this one movie with my friend called "Sucker Punch". It was actually a very odd movie but there was one part that caught my attention. At the end of the movie they performed a prefrontal lobotomy on one of the characters. I was wondering what they were doing to her and my friend who knows so much about psychology explained to me what it was. It was actually very interesting and I never really thought that people would even think of doing such a thing. I thought it wasn't the right way to do it because what I thought was that they basically killed her because to me its call brain damage. Until now I still wouldn't say it isn't the right way to try "helping" a person relieve their pain and suffering.

you can find the clip here:

So now, would you agree that it is not the way to perform such procedure? I'm sure everyone would say "better to have a bottle in front than a frontal lobotomy," would they?


More information on prefrontal lobotomy on these sites:

I began my search for a blog topic by browsing through some current psychology articles, where I stumbled upon an interesting article about the X chromosome. The article explains how each person has 46 chromosomes, 23 from each of the parents. All of the chromosomes are matched pairs except one, which determines sex.

Females get two X chromosomes, one from each parent, while males get an X chromosome from the mother, and a Y chromosome from the father.

The article also explained how most of the time women are more x-related to their paternal grandmother than their paternal grandfather. Refer to this article containing related information along with a helpful chart to clarify this concept.

After pondering this concept for a while, I began to wonder what other kind of information is contained on this X chromosome, or even the Y chromosome absent in females? What kind of diseases are related to the X chromosome?

My curiosity then led me to an article referring to a study conducted at UCLA suggesting the sexual orientation of a male may be influenced by his mother's inherited X chromosome. Is our sexual orientation possibly inherited from our mother? Or maybe the bigger question the article points out is whether advances in genetics may lead to "baby shopping", where parents can chose their children's sex, physical appearance, and even sexual orientation?


Nature&Nurture and Twin studies

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Nature vs. Nurture

Although some people have declared that Nature-Nurture debate has been over since most people agree that both genes and environments affect the development of human behaviors and characteristics. However, the real nature-nurture issue is far more complicated, and the debate is far from over. The nature-nurture concept is very important, because it tells us how effective environment changes can alter the development of human behaviors and skills. For example, it would be interesting to known whether educational or intervention program can change later criminal behaviors of children in impoverished neighborhoods where crime rates are high. Some research suggests that early education programs can indeed change aggression and later criminal behavior. See the following article:

On the other hand, this topic is of great interest to me because I have a genetically identical twin sister myself. We had lived together for 19 years since we were born. Yet, there are still many things different between us. See below a photo between my twin sister and me:
blog jpg

One can easily identify me from this picture if he/she knows that I am very active and my sister is generally very quiet. I am more talkative than my sister as well, and my curiosity is much stronger than hers. For example, I am interested know how things work, and why people behave in certain ways, which is precisely the reason that drew me to study psychology. In contrast, my sister would prefer knowing the results rather than the process.

Of course, we share a lot of common things. We can easily pick the same clothes, the gift, and may even fall in love with the same guy. Indeed, we were wearing the same clothes in the above picture. We are always sure that if we pick a gift for each other, the other person would like it. I guess this is a good thing

We share the same genes and had shared the same environment for many years. Yet, we are similar and we are different! Should that be the results or nature or nurture?

complicated nurture-nature

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After reading articles of nature or nurture,I become interested about this complicated issue. This issue is about scientists had done research that show both nature genes from parents and environmental factor could effect a person's characteristic and heritability . The three techniques of doing research on this issue are family study, twin study and adoption study.Which one is more dominant?

The most impressive example in my mind is cartoon Lion King. It is amazing that Mufasa is so strong and kind while the other guy is illlook, evil that he murder his brother.Due to what I have learn in this chapter,What cause the big difference between this twins is probably gene or nuture environment.They may have experienced different issue during their childhood thus form different personality. In this example,Environmental factor affect a lot more than the Genes do.But, are there any techniques to figure out how to control these two variables? Will one day we be able to select the best way for children to grow up and help them form a appropriate personality?Can we find a Balance between them?

After reading the two articles about the amygdala, I find it very interesting how important this part of our brain is and how much can be learned about the evolution of human beings by learning more about the functions of the amygdala. The first article explained how important the amygdala is for fear response, and when one is missing the amygdala, they can behave fearlessly and unknowingly put themselves into very dangerous situations. The second article touched on the importance of the amygdala's role in responding to animals, which has not only kept our ancestors safe from predators but continues to keep us safe in precarious situations.

I found the second article particularly interesting because of the fact that human beings actually pay as much attention to animals as they do humans. There are so many associations with the importance of animals in human being's lives; people can be referred to as "animal lovers" and a dog is often called "man's best friend". In pop culture today people there are websites devoted to pictures of cute and cuddly animals. I have never thought about why this is before, but this article helped to explain the importance of the amygdala in the response of humans to animals. Personally, I feel a very deep connection to animals and I am wondering, if one would call themselves an "animal lover" and feels a deep connection to animals, could this be seen in increased activity of the amygdala?

How do Brains Work?

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Well that is a huge question that I don't expect you to answer here but check out this video where Steven Colbert challenges Steven Pinker to explain how the brain works in 5 words or less.

For this blog entry you might want to comment on a very key part of your brain that influences a great deal of your behavior: the amygdala.


Notice how it is directly connected to the hippocampus who's main function deals with memory. In addition researchers have mapped some of the connections the amygdala has with other parts of the brain. Amygdala connections.jpg

From this image you can clearly see that the amygdala is well positioned to widely influence brain function. Much like the hub of a bicycle wheel.

For this writing assignment check out these two articles for ideas about the function of the amygdala. Summarize what you learned from these readings and then describe how this new knowledge might apply to your own life.hs-amygdala.jpg

Humans, Like Animals, Behave Fearlessly Without the Amygdala.docx

Human Brain Responds To Animals, Cute Or Creepy - NPR".pdf

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