Why is the battle of the bulge so hard to win? One answer to this question maybe a person's set point. A set point is a person's range of body fat and muscle mass they tend to maintain. So when people try to eat less the set point increases a person's appetite and decreases their metabolism not allowing them to lose weight. An obese person has a set point that is much higher than a thin person. Another reason the battle of the bulge may seem impossible for some people is their genetic makeup. In some cases of obesity a mutation in the melanocortin-4 receptor gene occurs. This causes a person to never feel full regardless of how much they have eaten. The Restaurant Industry also has played a role in the increasing obesity rates in the United States. Portion sizes served in restaurants are over 25% larger now than they were in 1977. A heuristic known as the Unit Bias causes people to eat more food when more food is given to them. With all of these causes of obesity is it still possible to stay fit these days? The answer is yes, and here are some helpful tips. First eat food on a smaller plate, this will make the portions look larger and help you eat less. Also when looking for a diet or weight loss plan avoid the ones that guarantee extraordinary weight loss in a short period of time. These plans are usually not very effective. Find a plan that helps you change your everyday habits and makes exercise a part of your daily routine. I am interested to hear what other people think of this topic. Do you think genetics carries the majority of the blame for obesity, or is it a person's habits? Also what do you think is the most effective way to become fit?
Writing 3: March 2012 Archives
Parents all around the U.S. are spending their money on baby videos that help their children learn at a younger age while some parents won't allow their children to have any type of screen time. Video's such as Alphabet Beats and Barney are stereotyped to accelerate knowledge development.
According to Psyc Central and Science Time tests have been done that show these movies are not developing knowledge at faster rate then those children that do not watch them. The two main reasons they are said to be ineffective is because the movies are over stimulating to the brain and no social interaction. The studies showed that children who watched them scored lower on their language tests then the children who were never exposed to them. If this research has been posted then why are people still buying them? After reading these articles and looking more into these topic I agree with what the researchers have found. Not just with these videos but all videos are not benefiting humans by any means. Screen time only entertains our brains not strengthen it. I feel that everyone in today's world has become to dependent on screen time for learning and just helping out with every part of our daily lives.
There are many people who claim to believe in the human "soul", which is supposedly an entity that is our deeper self, something of us that survives after death somehow, even after our brains stop working all together. But with our increasing understanding of how the mind works and what consciousness is, can such a notion survive (and be taken seriously)? There seems to be a trend of referring to some ethereal, "nonmaterial" entity that is supposed to be the soul, but that trend can only be restricted as our knowledge grows deeper and deeper into the human mind. We used to consider mental phenomenon as its own thing, and so the notion of a soul was not in danger. But now we know that the mind is basically the activity of the brain, which is purely physical. Anybody trying to refer to "soul" as anything more than poetic license must now differentiate that from what is usually called mind, since we know we can alter the mind by altering the brain. Even personality is not totally stable, as can be seen from extreme cases of brain damage. What then is the soul, if anything? The notion gets pushed back and back, made less and less connected to the actual human being. Perhaps the soul is simply "consciousness". But what is that? If it is not mind, which changes as a person changes, and not personality, which also can change, then is it anything at all?
What do you believe about the idea of a "soul"? Does it exist? What is it? If you believe in it, how does it interact with the mind and with physical reality, and how do you reconcile that with the modern understanding of brain-based consciousness?
The New York Time's best selling book Heaven Is For Real is about a four year old boy named Colton, who went to heaven while he was in surgery after a burst appendix. Skeptical? So was I.
His parents say that they at first didn't want to entertain the little boy's stories, but three things convinced them that they were true.
1.He know where his father was and what he was doing while he was being operated on.
2.He came back with knowledge of meeting his miscarried sibling, who he had no prior knowledge of.
3.He claimed to have met his great-grandfather, and could identify pictures of him when he was a young man.
His parents claim that there is no way he could have known any of these things, so therefore his story must be true. As a skeptical person, I would have still said this story isn't true, but some of the things I learned in psychology are going to help me say that. First: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I do not consider the testimony of a four year old extraordinary evidence, especially after learning about the shortcomings of memory in chapter 7. As we learned, children very susceptible to suggestions, as shown with the example of "Sam Stone." Children also have a hard time telling which memories are real, and which are false. Besides that, everyone's memory is susceptible to false memories!
Here is where the story gets fishy. Colton's father, who was the one who wrote the book, is a preacher. Colton was raised in a very religious household, with Bible stories being told to him every night before bed. Colton claims to have seen the Holy Spirit "shoot down" power to his dad preaching to their congregation while sitting in Jesus's lap. First thing, his father didn't preach at all while Colton was in the hospital. Second, Christian doctrine says that the Holy Spirit resides within a person, not in heaven.
Here are some more inconsistencies:
Colton describes details of what Jesus looked like, including the nail marks in his hands and feet. It is well known that Romans drove nails through the wrists during crucifixion, not the hands, which wouldn't have held up the weight of a body. When shown pictures of Jesus and asked which one looked most like him, he identified Akiane Kramarik's portrait of Jesus with blue eyes called "Prince of Peace". He chose a popular image of Jesus, not a more accurate one of a man with more middle-eastern looking descent. He story also fell to popular conceptions of heaven, like the pearly gate. He described a golden gate, with many pearls on it. The only description the Bible has of pearly gates is seven gates made of a single pearl, no gold.
I could pick on more things, I am only going to keep it to two more. First, Colton never died while he was in the hospital, he claims to have gone to heaven while he was in surgery. If he had died we could explain his story as a near-death experience, the result of endorphins overwhelming the brain. Next, his stories came about over the next few years, not right after his "experience." Occam's Razor: Is it simpler to believe that Colton went to heaven, or that he is experiencing false memories created by phenomenas like the misinformation effect?
My parents raised me to be a great person with a mix of different formulas. Sometimes I would get praise for doing something good and other times I would get punished for, say not returning home before curfew. But what is the best way of raising your child? Diana Baumrind's work has led us to establish three main classes of parenting styles: Permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. Permissive parents are the softies. Their children have a great deal of freedom, hardly and punishment, and a great deal of affection. Authoritarian parents are the "mean" ones. They are very strict and tend to show little affection. Authoritative parents are the best! They set a happy median between the two styles and usually lead their children through a very happy and stable life.
Another category of parenting is uninvolved where parents tend to totally neglect their children's positive or negative behaviors. None the less parenting is a very difficult concept and can be a very hard challenge. Many generations have shaped these styles but it is up to the individual in what to do. So how do you think parents should raise their children? Should it be different in different circumstances or just universal for everyone? There are many parenting books out there today but only real-life experience enlightens the best parenting.
In full disclosure, I am a staunch advocate of learning a foreign language. The topic of foreign language learning, immersion teaching in particular, has long been very fascinating to me. As someone who has studied and worked abroad, I greatly understand the practical benefits of knowing a second language but what has escaped my radar until recently are the cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Ch. 8 in the Lilienfeld text dabbled into these cognitive benefits. For a more robust understanding, check out this NYT article.
For sake of brevity, here are a few reasons from Lilienfeld and the NYT article why exposure to a second language before & after the critical period for language acquisition is so dang important:
1. Heightened metalinguistic insight -- this insight will be a friend that keeps on giving. You may think you know English now but it's amazing how much we don't know about the structure of our own language. Learning a second language has actually helped me better understand the finer details of my own native language.
2. Improvement of executive functions in the brain -- this includes planning, problem solving, and performing other mentally demanding tasks.
3. Brain efficiency -- executing demanding tasks uses less activity in the associated parts of the brain for bilinguals.
4. Increased resistance to dementia and Alzheimer's Disease -- a study found that the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the onset of symptoms.
So here's my question: Why on Earth do American schools, with the exception of immersion, start incorporating foreign language education AFTER the critical period of language acquisition? It's clear that American students are having a harder time competing on a global scale with others. Wouldn't this be a step in the right direction?
Critical period of language acquisition aside, it never hurts to learn a new language. Do these proven practical and cognitive benefits motivate you to pursue learning a foreign language? Can you think of other benefits, besides the ones listed above, to learn a new language?
Last week, we debated the effect of violent video games on behavior. The discussions were centered on if prolonged exposure to such games negatively impact one's behavior causing the user to become more aggressive and prone to hostile crime. This is clearly a current hot topic, but like computational analyst Joshua Lewis remarks, "There has been a lot of attention wasted in figuring out whether these things turn us into killing machines." Lewis, of the University of California, San Diego who has studied 2,000 computer game players, further states, "Not enough attention has been paid to the unique and interesting features that videogames have outside of the
So what features is Lewis referring to? Well, multiple research studies referenced in the article "When Gaming is Good for You" of the Wall Street Journal, indicate that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. One specific study researched 491 middle school students over a three year period found that "the more children played computer games the higher their scores on a standardized test of creativity."
A world featuring the juxtaposition of trained killing machines and creative geniuses develops in my mind. I ask you to imagine that both sets of research are found completely conclusive. That is, it is completely proven that violent video games cause at least some migration to aggressive behavior in the user. However the activity also trains one to make "decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy" and "act on them up to six times a second--four times faster than most people." Does this change your outlook on the effects of gaming? Why or why not?
I got interested on Diana Baumrind's research on parenting styles. Her classification was based on two important aspects: parental responsiveness, which refers to the degree the parent responds to the child's needs and parental demandingness, which is the extent to which the parent expects more mature and responsible behavior from the child. Using these two dimensions, she identified three different parenting styles: Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative. A fourth style of parenting was added by Maccoby and Martin: Uninvolved or Neglectful parenting. The picture below should give you a better understanding of the different parenting styles.
It is said that Baumrind favored the authoritative parenting style and found the authoritarian parenting style as too strict and permissive parenting style as too soft. Authoritraian parents are more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children. Did you know that procrastination is also associated with parenting? Children with demanding parents might learn to avoid tasks, rather than risking failure. I, personally, would support authoritative parenting style. I could be be biased because my parents followed that style. I am pretty sure they weren't aware of this research then. But I would say that that style of parenting has put me in the right track of discipline giving me the freedom to choose or do what I want and at the same time to be well within my limits.
Cultural effects play a major role in parenting. For example, while permissive parenting has made adolescents to engage in self-destructive activities in America; in Spain, the same parenting style is associated with strong academic performance. Uninvolved parenting has a whole different level of impact on the children.
It would be interesting to see how the different parenting styles have influenced each of us this this class. What parenting style did you grow up in? Do you think that your character matches with the parenting style you grew up under? If you are already a parent, what parenting style do you follow? Or when you become a parent what parenting style would you likely follow, now that you know the different parenting styles?
This week in lecture we learned that 7 plus or minus 2 chunks is the "magic" number our short term memory would be able to store. Although what we consider chunks changes from person to person because of how people remember things. Some may remember certain strings of numbers as possible dates while others only remember the individual numbers themselves making their chunks considerably less than the other persons. How we initially end up making our chunks is unique to the person themselves because how we group or remember things is often really personal because of life experiences and upbringing. Chunking only increases the amount of time you are able to remember in the short term but anything longer than that and it won't help. An example of this from the reading is a string of 15 letters and trying to remember as many as possible.
The average amount of letters people would get would be from 5-9 but by using chunks most Americans could remember easily because the first three are FBI which is an agency, the next chunk would be US which is United States, the third chunk could be CIA because its another agency, the fourth chunk is NBC a popular news channel and finally JFK one of our presidents. This is an easy example of memory chunks but again each person is of their own personal style.