Friday, August 12, 2022

Hypnosis

When I read Going Clear I had to learn about hypnosis to understand how Scientology was so successful. Hypnosis was the topic I had the most interest in in this course, so here is a solid explanation encapsulating what I have learned. Human hypnosis is characterized by concentrated attention (the selective attention/selective inattention hypothesis, SASI), decreased peripheral awareness, and improved responsiveness to suggestion.  There are different explanations for hypnosis and associated phenomena. Theories of altered states view hypnosis as an altered state of mind or trance, characterized by a different level of awareness than the average state of consciousness.  In contrast, non-state theories view hypnosis as, among other things, a sort of placebo effect[ a redefining of a connection with a therapist, and a type of creative role enactment. 


During hypnosis, a person is stated to have improved attention and focus, as well as a heightened receptivity to ideas. In most cases, hypnosis begins with an induction consisting of a series of preparatory instructions and suggestions. Hypnotherapy refers to the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, whereas stage hypnosis, a kind of mentalism, refers to the use of hypnosis for entertainment purposes.


Evidence supports hypnosis-based therapy for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and menopause.  The use of hypnosis to treat various disorders, such as smoking cessation, has had inconsistent results.  Within the scientific mainstream, the use of hypnosis as a kind of treatment to recover and integrate early trauma is disputed. Research reveals that hypnotizing a person may facilitate the production of false memories and that hypnosis "does not assist people in recalling events more accurately." .


Eschatology and Religion

 Several global religions (both Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic) anticipate the end of the world or end times, teaching that negative world events will reach a culmination. The belief that the end of the world is approaching is known as apocalypticism, and throughout history, adherents of both mainstream faiths and doomsday cults have held this view. In the realm of mysticism, the phrase figuratively refers to the end of mundane existence and reunification with the divine. Diverse faiths view eschatology as a foretold future occurrence in religious books or folklore.


The Abrahamic religions maintain a linear cosmology, with end-time scenarios revolving around themes of redemption and change. In later Judaism, "end of days" refers to the Messianic Age and encompasses the return of the exiled Jewish diaspora, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the righteous, and the eschatological world. Some types of Christianity view the end times as a period of suffering preceding the second coming of Christ, who will confront the rising of the Antichrist and his power structure, as well as false prophets, and usher in the Kingdom of God. In Islam, the Day of Judgment is preceded by the appearance of the Mas ad-Dajjl and followed by the descent of s (Jesus), who will triumph over the false Messiah or Antichrist; his defeat will set in motion a series of events that will conclude with the sun rising from the west and the beginning of the Qiymah (Judgment Day).


Dharmic religions tend to hold more cyclical worldviews, with end-of-time eschatologies defined by degeneration, redemption, and rebirth (though some believe transitions between cycles are relatively uneventful). In Hinduism, the end of the world happens when Kalki, the ultimate incarnation of Vishnu, descends on a white horse and finishes the present Kali Yuga, completing a cycle that begins again with the regeneration of the globe. Buddha foretold that his teachings will be lost after 5,000 years, followed by chaos. It is stated that a bodhisattva named Maitreya will arise and rediscover the teachings of the Buddha Dharma, and that seven suns would subsequently bring about the final annihilation of the planet.


Since the 18th century creation of the idea of deep time and the estimation of the age of the Earth, scientific debate about the end of the world has examined the ultimate fate of the cosmos. There have been Big Rip, Big Crunch, Big Bounce, and Big Freeze theories (heat death). Social and scientific critics are also concerned about global catastrophic dangers and potential extinction scenarios.


Radio host terrifies public with NJ alien story

 In 1938 a California radio station had a program  with a false emergency interruption to warn listeners about an alien attack in New Jersey. The episode begins with an introductory monologue based closely on the opening of the original novel, after which the program takes on the format of an evening of typical radio programming being periodically interrupted by news bulletins. The first few bulletins interrupt a program of live music and are relatively calm reports of unusual explosions on Mars followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unknown object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. The crisis escalates dramatically when a correspondent reporting live from Grover's Mill describes creatures emerging from what is evidently an alien spacecraft. When local officials approach the aliens waving a flag of truce, the "monsters" respond by incinerating them and others nearby with a heat ray which the on-scene reporter describes in a panic until the audio feed abruptly goes dead. This is followed by a rapid series of news updates detailing the beginning of a devastating alien invasion and the military's futile efforts to stop it. The first portion of the episode climaxes with another live report from the rooftop of a Manhattan radio station. The correspondent describes crowds fleeing clouds of poison smoke released by giant Martian "war machines" and "dropping like flies" as the gas approaches his location. Eventually he coughs and falls silent, and a lone ham radio operator asks, "Is there anyone on the air? Isn't there... anyone?" with no response. The program takes its first break thirty minutes after Welles's introduction.


In the days following the adaptation, the media expressed widespread outrage. Some newspapers and public figures described the program's news-bulletin format as deceptive, resulting in an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for FCC regulation. Welles issued an apology at a hastily called news conference the following morning, but no disciplinary action was taken. The broadcast and subsequent publicity brought Welles, then 23 years old, to the attention of the general public and established his reputation as an innovative storyteller. This is a good instance of mass misinformation and aliens at the same time. I also found this interesting because the broadcaster set the alien invasion in New Jersey.


Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Report: Factfulness

 Overview: 

Factfulness by Hans Rosling is a book that goes into detail about what people tend to worry about. Rosling describes situations, such as poverty, population growth, and other world-related problems. Everything that people think they know of these situations is wrong. Rosling explains that the way people see the world is exaggerated and not actually what it seems. In a way, it gives off a comforting feeling to know that some situations are not as bad as the normal person makes them out to be. He uses charts, diagrams, and photos to statistically prove his points to explain how things are not what they seem. 

            The book is split up into common ‘fears’ that the human population has. Each chapter is named after an instinct. Rosling then goes into his stories, data, and charts to explain his claims. He also uses different levels (one, two, three, and four) to explain whether or not something really is as bad as it is. For example, he goes into detail about what makes a person a level one. A level one may consist of someone of low wealth. The levels then work their way up to four. Four is the highest rank (in terms of money, a level four would be seen as rich). 

 

Favorite Part:

            My favorite part of Factfulness was the chapter called “The Generalization Instinct”. I think that this chapter talks a lot about something that is really common in everyday life. Rosling mentions that we (people) make generalizations about groups of people based on only a few instances (Rosling 146). These generalizations then turn into stereotyping, which automatically groups a certain group of people into one category. A lot of stereotyping involves race and religion. With the way the United States has been recently, I think stereotyping is causing a lot of problems. People are blaming other people for things that they had nothing to with. 

            We categorize things because it makes us more comfortable and makes it easier for us to make decisions. The problem withing categorizing and generalizing things is that they become misleading. For example, the terms “developed” and “developing” can be very misleading when placing different nations into these categories (Rosling 150). We hae to look at the different levels (as mentioned before), and the only way to properly place nations in certain categories is to physically go there. I liked this concept because I think it is so relevant to today. People judge without doing any real research, and it can cause real problems. 

Related:

            I think that the first lecture “ways of thinking” really compliments the ideas that Factfulness talks about. The whole book is about why we think certain things. The lecture describes different thinkers and the way that they think. I specifically think that Na├»ve thinkers play a big part with the way we think. A lot of people will read something, whether it be true or not, and immediately believe it. They will use that to then make an opinion of different topics. They believe what they see and that’s that. 

Creative:

This is a quick YouTube video that explains why we stereotype. I really liked this part of the book, so I really wanted to focus on why we stereotype people and how it becomes a problem. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sBqCL9FoQs

Extension:

            I think that Factfulness cab absolutely help the world in some way. I think that people live on fear, and they use fear to determine how they live life. This book really opened my eyes a bit more about the world. Some things that I was worried about, like population growth, I understand better now that I have thought about the actual facts. I am still worried about it, but not to the amount that I was before. I think if others read this book, they would take a step back from their lives and readjust themselves based on some of the things that Rosling mentions in this book. It is eye opening, and I really think that humanity all together would benefit from this book. The lessons that it teaches would make people think differently about the world. 

Viral BS: Book Report

Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall For Them, by Dr. Seema Yasmin

Book Report by Crisandra Civatte

The book Viral BS by Dr. Seema Yasmin is a collection of medical myths most commonly heard and talked about around the world.  There are multiple topics discussed, including those about vaccines, certain medications and drugs, and much more into the health and science world.  A lot of these are common misinformation that many people have been subjected to believe is true, despite there being a surplus of scientific, fact-based evidence to debunk these rumors.  Dr. Yasmin provides the origin of these myths, and then dives into the research and science to prove why they are labeled as myths.  Dr. Yasmin is a CDC- trained disease detective, journalist, doctor and professor and she makes the chapters easy to read and simplifies the topics covered, but still providing necessary information.  While studying contagious diseases around the US, she learned how quickly false information can be spread, and by writing her book she is determined to hopefully convince readers to put an end to the misinformation and shine some light on truths.

My favorite part of this book is actually at the very end of the read.  Dr. Yasmin provides a "Bullshit Detection Kit" that lists twelve questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if something you read or hear about is true, or in fact, "bullshit".  I believe these questions are very helpful, especially in today's time with social media and rumors being able to be spread like wildfire.  Some of the questions and thoughts to consider when wondering if something is true include who is making the claim, who is supporting and funding the person making the claim, if the claim can be backed up by organizations not affiliated with the source, if personal beliefs drive the claim, and much more.  I believe this section relates a lot to our critical thinking part of class.

I believe this entire book relates to the concept that was consistently emphasized throughout the course that "pseudoscience relies on fast-thinking and heuristics; science relies on slow and critical thinking."  Certain myths in this book are created to give people a fast, easy way out of a topic they do not want to believe is true.  As Dr. Seema says, it is easier to sometimes believe lies than it is to believe the truth.  For example, the very first chapter debunks why the common "flat tummy tea" we commonly see supported by celebrities is completely untrue, and even dangerous.  The majority of this book is about pseudoscience, and actual relevant real-world scientific myths.  I have realized that a lot of the myths that were discussed in class are a lot like the myths we see today.  Back when we all thought the world would end in 2012, it seemed very believable to some, but today in 2022 that information was clearly false.  As for today, many people may actually believe that some vaccines can cause autism, but hopefully in years to follow this idea will be a thing of the past.  

When I first read Viral BS, I realized this had just been published last year.  During last year, the covid vaccine was working its way through the globe, and the push to be vaccinated caused a lot of controversy and arguments.  This vaccine once again sparked the antivaxers and vaxers disagreements, and the concepts of vaccines were at the foremost conversations.  I was interested in how Dr. Yasmin was able to debunk a lot of these covid vaccine myths, and was able to find a video of her explaining just that, down below.  Furthermore, the new monkeypox epidemic is another great topic to consider.  It is no secret that there are rumors about this disease that are clearly arbitrary, yet this misinformation is still being strewn across the internet.  It is important, especially now, to really understand where certain opinions or facts are coming from, and how to interpret them for your own sake.  Before reposting information, really do the research on if this is a true and reliable source before sharing it for others to also see.  This is where mass hysteria arise from, and being able to credit information responsibly can save everyone unnecessary stress.


https://www.wired.com/video/watch/dr-seema-yasmin-debunks-coronavirus-myths Dr. Yasmin's report on Covid myths.


https://seemayasmin.com/about/ Here is Dr. Yasmin's official website, where her other books, important information, and a little about her can be explored as well.

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright Book Report

General Overview
    Going Clear by Lawrence Wright is about Scientology and how it came to rise in the late nineteenth century. At the beginning of the book, Wright mentions L. Ron Hubbard's life and how he created Scientology and the different organizations within the religion. Wright also talks about the timeline of Scientology and the purpose of each organization under the religion. Furthermore, Wright also gives an inside look at the past Scientologists' lives and what they endured mentally and physically. Wright mentions on page xii why he was drawn to writing a book about Scientology to answer questions that society has about Scientology. Those three questions are, "what is it that makes the religion alluring? What do its adherents get out of it? How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible? Why do popular personalities associate themselves with a faith likely to create a kind of public relations martyrdom?"

Favorite Part
    My favorite part about Going Clear was learning about the different OT levels and what each level is supposed to accomplish. OT stands for Operating Thetan, and there are different levels, with OT VIII being the highest. When someone joins Scientology, there is a "bridge to total freedom," which is a metaphor for "one moves 'higher and higher up the bridge rather than across it" (Wright, 2016, p. 16). Each OT level stands for something different, and Scientologists have to do different things to climb higher and higher up the bridge. For example, OT 1 is called Operating Thetan One and "lists thirteen mental exercises that attune practitioners to their relationships with others" (Wright, 2016, p. 16). OT level 2 was interesting because those in Level 2 attempt to delete anything that gets in the way of their current existence. In order to be able to do this requires a lot of "exercises and visualizations that explore operational forces" (Wright, 2016, p. 16). I was so fascinated with learning about the different levels that I could not comprehend how a Scientologist can advance through the different levels.

Related
    Going Clear reminds me of lecture three, "10% of our brains and out-of-body experiences," because Scientologists believe they can use 10% of their brains to achieve the different OT levels. They also believe they can use 10% of their brains to achieve the auditing process, which is a form of "psychotherapy that involves the use of an E-meter" and is supposed to "locate and discharge mental masses that are blocking the free flow of energy" (Wright, 2016, p. 12-13). This relates to the 10% myth because they believe they can make a person clear and their IQ will go up. We do not use more than 10% of our brain.

Creative
Scientology Beliefs: The Eight Dynamics Of Life This youtube video was uploaded by Scientology and talked about the eight different Dynamics of Life.

Michelle Leclair Shares Her Story Of Leaving Scientology | Megyn Kelly TODAY This youtube video was uploaded by TODAY and is about a former Scientology member.

Extension
    Scientology is very confusing to me. I did not know Scientology existed till I watched a youtube video uploaded by Jasko. In the video, he played Randonautica, an app on your phone that generates different points based on your intent. When the app generates a point, the person is supposed to go to the point, and they are supposed to find something that relates to their intent. When Jasko generated his point, it took him to a Scientology location in Tampa, Florida. His intent was "behind closed doors," and the video starts at 41:21 and should watch until 47:30. RANDONAUTICA IS CREEPY - CHASED BY MYSTERIOUS GROUP OF PEOPLE. His intent lines up with Scientology because they do sketchy stuff.

Another instance was when Jasko was playing in Clearwater, Florida, and his friend, whom he was playing with, called him and said there were many cameras around and people were watching him. The video starts at 42:24 and should watch until 55:03. RANDONAUTICA IS CREEPY - THEY ARE WATCHING MY EVERY MOVE. Even though an intent was not used, I wanted to show this video because Scientology has a lot of money, and the building reflects the money of money they have.

    I do not believe it can solve a real-world problem. However, it can solve a current situation if someone is struggling and wants to turn to a religion that they think will help them. I want to clarify that not everyone who plays Randonautica will be brought to a Scientology building. However, it was interesting to rewatch the videos after reading Going Clear.

References

ChurchofScientology. (2008, April 3). Scientology beliefs: The Eight Dynamics of Life. YouTube. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swRZKtiktfQ

Randonautica is creepy - they are watching my every move. YouTube. (2021, January 13). Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://youtu.be/8m8qVOWS2N4?t=2544

TODAYNBC. (2018, September 10). Michelle Leclair shares her story of leaving scientology | megyn Kelly Today. YouTube. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tIB_mqR1uw

Wright, L. (2016). Going clear. Silvertail Books. 

YouTube. (2021, January 6). Randonautica is creepy - chased by mysterious group of people. YouTube. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://youtu.be/m7XjvZuTtD4?t=2481

Thinking Fast and Slow Book Report

    General Overview:

     For our classes book report, I decided to read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I chose this book because after reading the excerpt I learned it was all about the different shortcuts that our brain takes to help us through everyday situations. I think heuristics are super interesting because a majority of the time, these quick solutions we find to problems turn out to be drastically wrong. That is the main concept of this novel, the author divides the different parts of our brain into two distinct characters, System 1 and System 2. System 1 represents the fast thinking that we often use to solve every day easy problems (even if the answers that it provides are wrong). System 2 is the character that represents the slower more accurate approach to thinking that we are only able to use when System 1 is incapable of coming up with a response. Each section goes into how these characters react in so many different situations from how we approach math problems to how we think when asked to find similarities between different words in a series. 

Favorite Part

    My favorite part in the book cannot be confined to just one specific section. Throughout the novel there are several little mental challenges. One of the specific little challenges was "If a ball and a bat cost $1.10 and the bat costs one dollar more than the ball, how much does the bat cost?" instinctively most people would answer that the bat must cost $1 because that is how our System 1 uses its quick thinking, however, the answer is actually that the bat costs $1.05 and the ball costs 5 cents. There are many different little challenges like this and it was actually super interesting to me to be fooled by the problem at first and then get to read a little explanation about why I was fooled and what the correct answer to the problem actually is. 

Related

    This book is a great way to capture the main point of this course (just without all of the very fun topics we discussed). The whole point of the book is obviously about fast thinking versus slow thinking which is the basis for this course. It teaches us how our fast thinking System 1 is quick to make judgements and come to incorrect conclusions about things because we fail to use our slow thinking System 2 to look at the actual facts and we just blindly accept the information presented to us. In situations like having a psychic try to connect you to your relatives who have passed on, we are inclined to believe that they really are communicating with the dead because we WANT to be able to speak to our loved ones who have passed, because we already want to believe it we ignore mistakes they make and only listen to the correct information that they tell us. If we were able to approach this from a System 2 slow thinking perspective we would be thinking critically and not letting our emotions effect our thought process, we would be more inclined to point out mistakes made and would not be swayed as easily.

Creative

    I decided to include these two videos because I think they help show the main concepts of the novel in a more in depth, yet interesting way. The first one is full of tips that can help you to think more critically about the decisions you make. A lot of the decisions we make are driven by our System 1's fast thinking mind and can often be careless, when we think critically our System 2 takes over and we able to weigh the costs and benefits of things and really get a better idea of the decision we are about to make. 

    The second video goes into a deeper look at a paper that Daniel Kahneman had published with a colleague before writing this novel. A lot of what was discussed in the paper had been reiterated in the book. This video also features some of the questions that were throughout the novel that get you to think quickly and often times end up wrong about your answer. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dItUGF8GdTw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IjIVD-KYF4

Extension

    While I find this book very interesting and I think that it is helpful to have this information to not be so easily persuaded by things that are very obviously untrue when you take a little bit of time to really examine them, but I do not think that this book would really solve any real world problems. Our brains are just programmed to run the way that they do, even if they make us seem really stupid sometimes. I also think that a lot of people wouldn't be inclined to accept this information because a lot of the book did kind of make me feel a little bit dumb. Most people do not want to feel like they are incorrect about the world around them and a book that basically comes out and says "hey you are wrong about a lot of things in your life" is kind of off putting. Personally, after reading this I am going to try to implement some of the things I have learned. For example, I think I will be taking the extra time needed to really examine any problems I am facing rather than just blindly accepting the first thing that comes to mind. It is a little bit upsetting that even though we know that we have these tendencies to make incorrect assumptions and just run with the incorrect answer that we really cannot do anything to fix it because it is just how our brain works. 

Blog#3 Mass Delusions and Hysteria

 

The mass delusions and hysteria that started in Salem also spread to New York. The people of Salem were panicked over hearsay and baseless accusations. Back on those days the role that words of the mouth gossip played is similar to social media frenzies that we witness nowadays. It is not surprising that mass hysteria is common even in 21st century, although it is ironic. We can send men to the moon yet we are still prone to mass paranoia like the citizens of Salem. The best way to combat biases and fallacies that result in mass hysteria and delusions, is to challenge people’s ignorance. It is important for people to be skeptical about unsupported claims, like for example, the claims made by aromatherapists. It is especially essential for people to be vigilant about unproven claims made by people and companies, because it is easier now to fall prey to marketing via social media.

Blog#2 Subliminal messaging

 

The impact of the Mozart effect is evident in music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. These apps offer playlists for studying with Mozart’s songs and it is a common belief that classical music helps students to focus. However, as evidenced by the studies that tried to replicate the Mozart effect, the music barely have any correlation with enhanced spatial-temporal performance.  The implication of The Mozart Effect bred a whole industry similar to the boom of self-help tapes in the 1980s. Ultimately, corporations are the singular beneficiaries of such pseudoscience theories and the common man pays the price for it. A classic example of pseudoscience targeted towards the common man is drugs being marketed by pharmaceutical companies went through minimal testing for maximum profits. Companies bribe and cajole doctors to push their drugs, which ignorant patients have take unwittingly.

 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Blog #1 UFO's

 

In the town of Snowflake, Arizona, a man is abducted by aliens because he got out of the loggers truck and got too close because he was interested in seeing what the big light was hovering above the forest. He said he was abducted and on a space craft and then left some 30 miles from his house. There have been may reports around the world throughout the years of flying objects. This reports for years have been hidden away from the people and the government has been covering up unexplained activity. Until, recently with the use of the Freedom of Information Act, regular people can now request information about things that were one considered classified. Many documents have since been released. It appears in recent years that the world is recognizing there is a world out there besides our own.

 

I have always believed that there is life out there that is more advanced then our own. The solar system is massive and there is no way we can be the only life out there. From what we have learned throughout the history of alien encounters is that they project radioactivity from themselves and the way they fly around so it would be dangerous for us to coexist on the same planet.

Flim-Flam! Book Report by Audrey Reppert


    For our class’ book report assignment, I chose to select Flim-Flam! written by James Randi. The reason behind my selection is that I found it very interesting that Randi is a popular magician who also was greatly known for debunking various ESP claims. What an oxymoron! This entire book was filled with witty sarcastic comments that engaged the audience. He began his book stating “As a professional magician who has performed in every part of the world for more than thirty years, I have endured long sessions with persons who claim to have psychic or magical abilities. There are only two kinds: those who really believe they have these powers, and those who think I am so dense that I will not detect their trickery. Both groups are wrong.” Randi shows the reader how to think critically, and how to look out for trickery.

The section on the Bermuda Triangle was very interesting, and I won’t lie, part of me is slightly disappointed that Randi was able to debunk it so well based on how intriguing the mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle is. A man named Charles Berlitz, author of The Bermuda Triangle, Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds, and Without a Trace really struck a nerve for Randi. Berlitz profited off of others’ claims of disappearances around the Bermuda Triangle, and wrote his own false claims. To demonstrate how people can use false claims to manipulate others and expose it for others to see, Randi included how an author named Larry Kusche challenged Berlitz by offering him $10,000 as long as he provided proof of his claim of a giant pyramid on the seafloor, to which Berlitz declined. It’s interesting to see how people like Berlitz backtrack when they’re called out for their false claims for personal benefits. This is just one example of how Randi exposed somebody’s lies, and he does a great job at it. In this book, Randi also discusses fairy sightings, UFOs, psychic surgeries, and many more.

My favorite section of Flim-Flam! was the section on astrology. Randi states “(Astrology) certainly serves to release man from having to take the blame for his own stupidities. A bad conjunction of planets can always be blamed for unfortunate circumstances.” Reading this made me laugh because he is right. The amount of times I’ve heard people blame negative occurrences on how “mercury is in retrograde” is absurd. Since I was young I’ve always enjoyed reading about astrology and examining my birth chart. I frequently make jokes such as “Sorry I’m so indecisive, it’s the libra in me.” Do I actually believe that a birthday has anything to do with one’s personality, decision making, and logic? Absolutely not. I know people who swear by astrology and use their astrological sign as an excuse for poor decisions they make or beliefs that they hold. When you think about it, it really doesn’t make much sense. Another funny quote made by Randi is, “It has become almost impossible to attend a social gathering without being asked for your astrological sign.” So true! There have been countless times where I meet someone for the first time and the first question that they ask is for me to reveal my sign, or if I can guess theirs. I know pretty much nothing about signs other than mine other than the stereotypes of cancers being crybabies and leos loving a spotlight, so I just throw random guesses out there and hope for the best.

Similar to the section regarding psychics and fortune tellers that was covered in class lecture and how psychics will use manipulative tactics by stating general information that could apply to anyone, Randi decided to perform psychic readings acting as an anonymous fortune teller over the phone. He asked participants to rate the accuracy of the readings on a scale from 1-10 after completion. Randi told the first listener, a laborer, that he disliked hard work to which the laborer stated he’d become accustomed to it. Randi replied, “I said that you disliked hard work.” The listener told him he was right and rated him a 10. When Randi announced who he really was and that he wasn’t a real psychic, all three listeners immediately hung up the phone. It’s crazy how susceptible people can become to a psychic art of manipulation.      



I chose to create a drawing for the creative aspect of this assignment. Here we are looking at the human mind, but the areas of the brain are taken up by different areas of ESP. Each little picture inside the brain are topics covered by James Randi in Flim-Flam!



Book report: Factfulness

Mariah Schley

BOOK OVERVIEW 

The book "Factfulness" is about the way that we perceive the world around us. One of the many ways that we do this is by putting things into categories this is done by the assumptions that we make. However, this system/ way of thinking is quite flawed because it only uses certain information to come to quick conclusions. By doing this we can miss out on very crucial information often leading to misinterpretation. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important that we view the information provided to us as a whole.

Many of us know that people use certain information to prove their own point but it's up to us to seek out both sides. By doing this we can avoid being misled by information that we see via the news, social media, television, etc. One of the many reasons why these forms of media use certain statistics is to catch the attention of the viewer. This allows them to obtain greater popularity. However, these statistics often make the world appear much worse than it is. This means that facts can often be used to distort and manipulate the viewer.

FAVORITE PART

I really enjoyed all the many ways that the authors encourage the reader to think outside of the box. The authors did this easily by suggesting that we reexamine the way that we think. We learned about this in lecture one. Here we discussed fast and slow ways of thinking. I really enjoyed how one of the first things that the authors in this book did was include the reader in the book. They were able to do this by having a small questionnaire included in the first chapter of the text. These questions got my brain working.

I also really enjoyed the visual charts and graphs that were depicted all throughout the book. I found that this added a nice touch in showing the importance of viewing information as a whole. I also found that these visual aspects of the book made it much easier to comprehend the text and the overall message.

REAL WORLD EXTENSION/ CREATIVE

I strongly believe that this concept can change the way we handle mental illnesses. Maybe one day instead of prescribing someone medications we could use effective strategies to improve patients’ way of thinking. By doing this many patients could live happier and healthier lives without the burden of expensive meds. This also provides patients with multiple different treatments which is often crucial for the success of the treatment in patients. Quite possibly changing the way we think can alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

CONCLUSION

This book really challenged me to think outside of the box. It led me to question everything that I thought I had known prior and reevaluate the world around me. The overall message of this book is to show people that things are not always what they may seem. This strongly relates to some of the information that we have learned in class. For example, in lecture 6 we learned about the many ways that our brains can mislead us into thinking certain ways. 

One of the many ways that we can overcome jumping to conclusions is by looking at all the facts. This book provided me with a better understanding of the world. I would highly recommend this book to everyone especially those interested in investing and marketing.

Book Report: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

    General Overview

        Lawrence Wright has spent most of his career examining how religion plays a significant role in people's lives. In Going Clear, Wright attempts to answer questions most people have regarding Scientology. In addition, he also tries to comprehend Scientology as a whole. The questions posed by outsiders are: why is this religion so appealing to others? what kind of benefits does the head of the organization reap? why do people abide by the beliefs of this religion that seem beyond one's grasp, and why do famed individuals associate themselves with this organization? He also writes about former Scientologists' experience with the organization, specifically what made them attracted to Scientology and what caused them to disassociate themselves from the religion later on. Throughout the book, it's clear that this religion had some everlasting effects on those who experienced what went on behind closed doors.

    Wright also dissects the Scientology hierarchy. For instance, a catholic church contains a leader that is Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio. However, no one is really aware of who represents Scientology and who orchestrates the direction and decisions of the organization. Wright goes even further to discuss the organization's questionable financial status. According to Going Clear, they have acquired 1 billion dollars in liquid assets throughout the years. As Wright interviews endless people and does research, he learns the beliefs of Scientology, their defense tactics when they are criticized by the public, the responsibilities members have, and the necessary steps for them to achieve their full potential. 

Favorite Part

    Although the celebrity section of the book was interesting, my favorite part by far was the biography of L. Rob Hubbard. He founded Scientology and created the doctrine that Scientologists abide by today. I found this part very important since he is the face of the billion-dollar organization and everything traces back to him. While reading his biography by Wright, I was surprised by what I learned. Hubbard claimed that applying Scientology to your life boosted your IQ for every hour of auditing. Auditing consists of a process of using an E-Meter that detects the mass of your thoughts and spiritual distress. I had to pause for a moment because there is no scientific evidence that thoughts and spiritual distress have mass. I continued reading and learned that he was not an honest man as he seemed to be. Hubbard has lied about his military records stating he was honorably discharged. It's different to lie about something as simple as saying the sky is green, but to claim to be someone that you were not is bringing it to a different level. 

    Despite his discrepancies, I can understand why they perceived him to be the most intelligent man that has walked this earth. He was a great writer, he knew how to lead others, and he spoke with conviction. I also read that he wasn't fair to his followers and constantly made them work nonstop. When I think of him, I resort back to lecture 1: Ways of Thinking. There are three ways of thinking, and out of the three, I align Hubbard with The Selfish Critical Thinker. He is a smart man there is no doubt about that, but I believe he had selfish tendencies. I don't believe he was fair with some people that he has crossed paths with nor those that considered him their leader. 

Related

    From what I've read, Scientology is really geared towards oneself. It's about constantly improving yourself in the hopes of unlocking any hidden potential. The auditing session made me think of Lecture 5: Subliminal Messaging and The Mozart Effect. The end goal of an auditing session is to be "clear" clear of what's weighing a person down. Wright explains that once an auditing session was complete, people felt better, their IQ would raise and Scientologists would tell people they will feel better once they get through it. However, I feel the session is a placebo. I don't believe E-Meters can measure the thoughts or traumatic events that a person has in mind. In a way, it seems therapeutic since you unleash what's bothering you. Being connected to a device that supposedly measures your thoughts can send a subliminal message to your mind that it can actually catch whatever you're thinking about. Venting and speaking out loud is what makes someone feel better but there is no empirical evidence that attending auditing sessions would increase your IQ, at all.

Creative

    https://youtu.be/gFx4NvShB6k

    This video uploaded on YouTube gives an easy explanation of the origin of Scientology as well as some information regarding L. Ron Hubbard. It's 1 minute and 41 seconds and very easy to understand.

Extension

    It takes a lot for someone like Lawrence Wright to provide people with no prior knowledge of Scientology to interview former members and conduct a plethora of research on it. I think this religion is very interesting, however, I don't agree with certain principles that they have. Despite having my own opinion, I respect Scientology like I respect any religion that is not my own. I think we have to put ourselves in their position and try to understand why they believe in the things they believe in. I am not sure if Scientology or any religion can solve a world problem. I do believe it is a journey for those trying to look for themselves and try to understand who they are. 


Frank Runza Book Report: The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef

General Overview

The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef is a book that deals with how individuals see the truth, and why it is hard to overcome our biases. The book breaks apart the common mindsets of human beings, and how they relate to life. The book deals with the idea that individuals who are good decision-makers decide to see things for the way they are, and that most people would rather believe in a lie than be hurt by the truth. The author blames modern culture as the reason that people don't face reality. The book aims to help people understand that the world isn't always going to be a happy-go-lucky place, and humans don't do themselves a favor when they choose to ignore the reality of the real world. The author seeks to point out that we as humans need to learn from our mistakes instead of making up excuses for ourselves. The author wrote this book after she quit graduate school, and decided to help people who needed assistance in making tough decisions. This book is written for people who need help facing hard decisions in life.        

The book describes two mindsets that humans take on in life. The first mindset is the soldier mindset. The soldier mindset is a mindset in which an individual sees things as they desire to see them. People who embrace the soldier mindset don't necessarily always see things for the way they truly are. The second mindset the book describes is the scout mindset. The scout mindset is a way of thinking for individuals who see things as they really are in simple terms. People of a scout mindset tend to think things out more rationally, and often confront the hard decisions that life brings. In turn, people of the soldier mindset will simply keep putting off conflict or hard decisions. The book is a constant battle of the soldier mindset versus the scout mindset. Overall the book gives the reader advice on how individuals should go about their lives from the author's point of view. The author writes this book as an attempt to enlighten people on how they can live happier, more realistic, and successful lives.

Based on the information below, Which mindset are you? 


Soldier Mindset
Reasoning with yourself is a defense
Your beliefs depend on your ambitions 
Being wrong is often painful
You defend your beliefs past reason 
Denial and wishful thinking are common personality traits 

Scout Mindset
Reasoning is truthful 
Beliefs depend on facts and evidence 
you will correct yourself when wrong 
Constantly accept new information 
Learning and honesty are common personality traits 

Favorite part of the book and how it relates to class

My favorite part of the book is the chapter which is titled "Noticing Bias". This chapter relates directly to the class because a large part of our class has been about identifying bias, fallacies, and effects such as the sunk cost fallacy, the halo effect, and the anchoring bias. This section of the book describes a series of tests, fallacies, and double standards. It highlights on the point that people only like to believe in things that fit their personal agenda. One of my favorite concepts that is pointed out in this chapter is how people bend the truth to fit their desired effects. An example that was used in this section is that if a democrat was voting and a democratic politician cheated on his wife he would say "A mans business is private and not of my concern" but if that same politician was republican the democratic voter would say "He is a bad character because he cheats on his wife" in order to justify voting for the democratic candidate. This oddly enough also relates to the idea discussed in class that people will recall events based on their current expectations that was discussed in lecture 9 that dealt with UFOs. The book points out that people will recall politicians in the voting booth in a way that they want to see them. 

The next thing that makes this my favorite part of the book is the multiple tests that are discussed in the book. I will be describing these tests in a power point in which you can find the link to below.

Google Slides Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1mk7JXyk6zq7uge6IMxJCMc-xggNoZNB7U578r1OB-EI/edit?usp=sharing 

Please reach out to me if you cant open the link, but you should be able to

Extension

The purpose of this book was to make people aware of a different style of thinking in life that will allow you to live a successful, happy life, that isn't clouded by trying to justify your mistakes to make you feel better. This book has helped me, and can also help people become strong self minded individuals that seek the truth rather than seek excuses to live their daily lives in a way that makes them unhappy. Persoanlly, I am a firm believer that you need to be mentally tough and have discipline to get the things you want in life, and this book highlights that quality as the key to success. I think that this book points out an important fact, and that fact is if people stopped paying attention celebrities, others, and politicians lifestyles, they would be better off. Insted of looking at life with one eye closed people need to start looking at the world for what it really is, and by doing so we will be better off. This book can serve as self help for people who are down on themselves, and are having a difficult time getting through hard decisions in life. The way that I have applied this book to my life is by using the Status Quo Bias test on myself. I often find myself comfortable with my situation in life, but I have ambitions to become more. I wouldn't want to move or travel far away to get my dream job, but after reading this book I also realized, I wouldn't leave my dream job to move back home. This book has helped me make a difficult decision in my life, and it can help you too! 







Here is a TEDTalk on why the scout mindset is important with the author
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MYEtQ5Zdn8

An interview with Michael Shermer from our lectures and the author
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJb_cGpoR6c



  





    







    

Book Report: Viral BS by Seema Yasmin



General Overview

Viral BS is a book written by Dr. Seema Yasmin that covers a variety of myths, misinformation, disinformation, and generally controversial topics in the media. Most of the chapters cover medical questions or health-related myths and mysteries. There is a range of topics from questions regarding pregnancy, food myths, vaccines, psychological mysteries, vitamins and supplements, drugs, environmental controversies, and more. Each chapter covers a different question where Yasmin lays out research done on the topic. Some chapters end in a clear cut yes or no on whether the myth is true or false. Other chapters cover a question that does not have a definitive answer yet. Yasmin makes sure to describe studies that back up and refute the topic in question and the reader can decide their opinion on the topic based on that research. 


Dr. Yasmin first heard of pseudoscience as a young girl surrounded by conspiracy theorists in her family. She participated in creating theories about the Illuminati, the Moon landing, subliminal messages in pop songs and famous movies, and more. She had dealt with patients refusing medical prescriptions during her work as a medical doctor due to medical myths in the media. Dr. Yasmin had also worked for the CDC, tracking contagions around the United States. During that time, she had seen and studied many myths, misinformation, and disinformation about viruses and diseases that were being spread around the US. She had seen this misinformation and disinformation cause hysteria. She wrote the book to examine the facts and question them and the experiments done to determine the facts. She wanted to know why some beliefs are firmly held in people’s minds, even when there is information that defies those beliefs. Sometimes facts are not enough for people to believe in science. 

Favorite Part & How it Relates to Our Class

My favorite part of the book was how Dr. Yasmin went about researching and explaining the evidence behind each topic. She did not use her opinions to form the answer to the questions, and the answer was not always a straightforward one because science is always changing and some topics have not been researched enough yet. She made sure to bring up evidence that backed up the question and evidence that refuted the question. Most science topics that have multiple studies done have mixed outcomes. The more studies done, the more firmly the question can be answered, but there will always be outcomes that support and do not support the topic. 


Because Dr. Yasmin was researching many pseudoscience topics and analyzing them in a scientific way, she had to make sure she was using slow thinking to research and answer each question. Throughout the book, she used the elements of thought to explore the topics. She used point of view to see whether the study could have bias if it was funded by a company who had a personal stake in the outcome. She studied the purpose of the studies to see whether the study was looking to see if there was a correlation between two factors or to see if there was a causal relationship between two factors. This greatly matters because some journals will report on the study as if there was a causal relationship when the study only found a correlation between two factors. This spreads wrong information to the public, which will have a big influence on personal decision making. Question at issue, information, interpretation and inferences, and concepts were all studied as the key way to attempt to answer the question each chapter asked. Assumptions made by the public were also taken into account in some chapters if those assumptions had a big influence on decision making regarding the topic. Finally, implications and consequences of the studies, the journals written about those studies, and the way the public responded to those were analyzed, as well. Dr. Yasmin also talked about heuristics in some of the chapters. She mentioned the availability heuristic in chapter 9, which explores if MSG, a food additive, is addictive or not, and chapter 46, which questions if debunking a myth actually helps it spread. The availability heuristic is important to pseudoscience because it happens when we make conclusions based on information that is easy to find. We do not look further into the question to discover other explanations. 

Extension

The whole purpose of the book was not only to show the truth behind certain myths, misinformation, and disinformation in the media, but also to show why people might believe in something that hasn’t been proven, or even has been proven to be false, and how we can detect false information in the media ourselves. At the end of the book, Dr. Yasmin describes techniques we can use to determine if studies, journals, and other information sources are credible enough to listen to and trust. It is important that people know how to detect false information in the media because it can be so important that it can save lives. For example, one chapter analyzes a well-known myth that vaccines cause autism. It has been proven and supported that they do not, but many parents still refuse to vaccinate their children for this exact reason. If these parents knew how to look for credible sources and how to differentiate between false information and trustworthy information, it could protect their children against preventable diseases. This knowledge can save people a lot of trouble because they would know exactly who to trust and what to believe when it comes to science. Knowing who to trust and what science to believe in could save lives and make quality of life much better.





Here is a link to the Viral BS book's trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3YVGjYYHak


Dr. Seema Yasmin has done many interviews speaking about her book and answering more medical myths:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgqKNi670Zk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh8tzLnMXh4


Here is a really good article on false information all over the place. It talks about the difference between misinformation and disinformation, how much information on the internet is fake, where false information comes from, why false information is spread, how to detect false information, and how to stop it from spreading:

https://www.tidio.com/blog/how-to-spot-fake-news/?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=16694699880&utm_content=589981782688&utm_term=&a_bucket=sem&a_type=new&a_source=google.com&a_v=2&a_g_campaignid=16694699880&a_g_keyword=&a_g_adgroupid=135895462718&a_g_creative=589981782688&gclid=Cj0KCQjwxb2XBhDBARIsAOjDZ35mjCFAKKVRVWqfXf8G1r9RZJXSslfdI-f3h9wygUaBmlJJSQr1WeIaAnnJEALw_wcB





Blog #3: Mystical creatures

Mariah Schley

Lecture 2 reviews information on a few of the many mythical creatures such as the Jersey devil and bigfoot. Bigfoot is a well-known mystical creature. Based on recent tv shows this creature has been known to hide from other forms of life. This is very unlike the Jersey Devil who has been known to torment people. The Jersey Devil has also been known to prey on the livestock of farmers. Each time that I think of Bigfoot, I think of people running around the woods at night aimlessly with a camera in an attempt to find him. This being said I'm not saying that either Bigfoot or the Jersey devil is real or not. I know that we have not yet discovered all of Earth's creatures. Till this day we constantly discover new species. Therefore, we are not able to make assumptions until all possibilities have been evaluated. 

https://cdn.centerforinquiry.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/1989/04/22165241/p50.pdf

The Jersey Devil - James F. McCloy, Ray Miller - Google Books

Blog Post #3: Psychic Crime Detectives

    Psychics are blessed with an amazing ability that can mend broken hearts, help those grieving, and be a messenger for individuals wanting to reach out to their loved ones that have passed on. Being that they interact with things we can't see daily,  I think it's amazing that they attempt to help criminal investigations such as Noreen Reiner. I enjoyed her story and how she was able to provide useful information about the disappearance of Charles Chapel. Despite her information not being completely accurate, the police department was shocked according to lecture 6. I took it upon myself to research Noreen Reiner to learn more about her experience as a psychic detective and I was impressed. She has many accolades and I almost got carried away by watching so many youtube videos on cases she has worked on. 

    Despite her information not being completely accurate, they were able to solve the case of Charles Chapel and close it. I notice when it comes to psychic abilities, it sparks skepticism, and most nonbelievers think it's all nonsense. In my opinion, psychics aren't the all-knowing being walking among us, we aren't either, so of course, they're not going to provide every detail accurately. If anything, she did an amazing job, and the other cases that she has solved that consist of murders was also closed. The link below is a psychic interacting with a skeptic, and it was pretty interesting!

https://www.eonline.com/news/1157842/a-psychic-meets-a-skeptic-a-firsthand-encounter-with-the-thomas-john-experience

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Blog post #2. UFO: Abductions & Projective Testing

    UFOs are the most interesting subject when discussing the paranormal and even government entities. I have seen the case of Travis Walton's abduction on television and didn't know what to think of it. Despite having his coworkers as witnesses, it's hard to prove he was abducted by something otherworldly. However, he seemed very convinced. Lecture 8 also discusses recalling events and I was most surprised to learn that hypnosis does not enhance accurate recall. Many people who have trouble remembering certain events often resort to hypnosis, especially in criminal investigations. 

    One person, in particular, used hypnosis to try to recall specific details and to prove his naysayers wrong, physicist Bob Lazar. Lazar has made allegations regarding UFOs as well as the government that make us question what is real and why should we trust Uncle Sam since they hinder so many details from us. In Bob Lazar's documentary: Area 51 & Flying Saucers, he admitted to going to a hypnotist to recall everything he could while trying to make himself seem credible. Lazar said he recalled technical things but after learning that hypnosis can increase a false recollection, I'm not so sure if I or anyone else can really believe Lazar's allegations going forward. Despite learning this, I enjoyed his documentary and appreciate his side of the story. 




Blog Post #3 Salem Witch Trials

 This was the post I was most excited for because Witch Trials in general are so interesting to me. Although Salem is the place where witch trials were most popular, these sort of trials were happening all throughout the country. Very recently I took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and they have an interactive show where they simulate what a witch trial would have looked like and they use the actual court documents to shape their show. The whole audience is jury members so anyone is free to speak and honestly, I think if I was allowed to be a part of a jury when these trials were taking place I may have sentenced innocent people to death for witch craft because it is a lot easier to convince you someone is a witch than you may think. The jury at our trial voted that the accused was in fact guilty of witch craft and they told us that is the case almost every time they do this performance. I always like to think about the ways that people would test to see if someone was a witch, like if they were able to float in water or not, because if they don't float then they probably drowned and died and if they did float then it was assumed they were a witch and they would be hung. I also think the stories of the trials were interesting because they were often just coincidences which people just felt the need to explain with witch craft. Besides all of these ways that people could "prove" someone was a witch, sometimes people would just enter the courtroom with insane testimonies such as "I saw her with the devil and then she turned into a black cat" and for some reason this was believed. Witch burnings actually were still taking place in America as recently as the 1800s. I still cannot believe that people actually believed in witch craft and all of these strange reasons that prove someone is a witch. I guess because these elements of proof were set out by leaders that everyone else just assumed them to be true and fell prey to the mass paranoia and ended up killing many innocent people because of it.  

Blog Post #2 Learning Styles/False Memories

 This is another topic I was excited to see because I remember learning about them and I could never find one that way best for me so I always just thought I was stupid because I couldn't find a method for me. I'm actually pretty happy about the fact that learning styles do not exist because it makes me feel better about my inability to figure out what my style is. I think that one of the biggest flaws of this idea is that teachers trying to adapt this into the classroom is nearly impossible to get each of the styles or to personalize each assignment to each student. I do find it interesting that the whole learning style theory very much seems like it would hold it's weight but it just does not translate to the things we want students to actually learn. It's very interesting that because so many people believe the theory, it makes the theory more believable. One good outcome I can think of coming from trying to uphold this theory in the classroom is that a teacher may use several different methods to get the same point across and that maybe the repetition of the information being presented could help students learn it better. 

As a forensic psychology student, I've always been very interested in the way that memories can be shifted and even small suggestions can change a persons whole perspective. I loved the video of Derren paying with plain paper at stores and actually getting away with it. It almost makes me wonder how many times at work I've accepted something that wasn't cash because I was distracted by someone trying to engage in conversation. I think it is interesting that suggestion during an interview can make someone's memory of an event completely change, this is really scary because it can have real life effects during eye witness testimonies and so many innocent people have been put in prison because of damaging eye witness testimonies. I had been aware of the past studies where participants were asked about the speed of the cars hitting each other. I had never heard about these stressful interrogation studies and how even being under so much stress cannot change the way that they remember things.