Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mis-Information in Psychology

In the course of reading about this course and relating pseudoscience and the psychology behind it. I started thinking about how these concepts can relate to each other even within the realm of peoples understanding of mental health in general. While considering some of the topics in the book it seems some of the blame lies with misinformation. Uncorroborated rumors and untrue factoids spread quite quickly in the information age. A quick perusal of the magazine rack at any store will give you an idea of how much makes it to print, magazines on the same subject will have wildly different takes on the same subject largely from unverified sources. With all that makes it to print, its hard to imagine the compendium of non-sense one might find on the internet.

Reigning this back into the subject matter of psychology at large and even the simple understanding of psychiatric disorders and diagnoses. Within the last 40 years, sciences knowledge about how the brain works and what goes on in mental disorders has greatly increased, unfortunately the general public has only received the same information in spurts and bursts and generally don't get the whole picture. A good example with this is autism spectrum disorders. While the number of the affected increasing it would seem that the disease itself was spreading but that is not the case. This single fact might lead someone without all the proper information to claim it was an epidemic of disease. This is just one case of the problems presented with unscientific thinking on scientific problems.

Another problem that seems to generally present itself is people will not take counsel with someone familiar with the psychiatric or psychological field when seeking help with associated problems. Many parents take their children to pediatricians instead of a mental health professional, when they seem to have problems with hyperactivity or attention. Many people will go themselves to standard practitioners to dole out anti-depressants instead of taking a hand in talk therapy or any other therapeutic actions. One of the many reasons this is bad is because many mental health disorders have overlapping symptoms, and what might seem like one issue could be another issue entirely. A diagnosis of ADHD first involves ruling out several other disorders including emotional disorders and autism, a professional would need to be familiar with this diseases as well to rule them out. To often people think pills will fix everything as this is generally presented in media.

Adult psychological disorders suffer from the same problems frequently as well. Several disorders can have overlapping symptoms. The rate of diagnoses has also increased in this field as more than simply the most severe cases are treated. It is a wonder there have not already been claims of epidemic with adult psychiatric disorders.

Sneezing Myths

“Bless You”
Throughout most of everyone’s lives we have learned to say some sort of saying after a person sneezes. “God bless you” or “Bless you” is the most common expression that I grew up using. We use this expression without knowing the true meaning behind it or the history that backs it up. This expression has many different meanings to it according to folklore and superstitions. While keeping your eyes open during a sneeze or holding your nose and mouth during a sneeze will not kill you, not blessing someone might kill them.
In Roman times people believed that a sneeze could release your soul to the world. To bless your sneeze was to offer a blessing to your soul to release your soul instead of holding it in in some sort of internal struggle. In another story, sneezing was used to bless the sneezer during the time of the Black Death Plague in 1348 AD. Sneezing during this time became a sign of the sick and infected and saying “God Bless You” became customary law to all. Blessing the sneeze would also be an attempt to stop the spread of the plague. This doesn’t seem that far-fetched since sneezing can send thousands of tiny particles into the air at up to 100 miles per hour.
There may be a couple of different superstitions and myths that people may hear about the reasons to bless someone after sneezing. We may not ever know the complete truth, but only the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation will keep us guessing as to where this saying has come from. Believe what you would like, but I am somewhat superstitious and will keep on saying “God Bless You” for as long as I live.

Is Dry Firing A Gun Actually Bad For It?

By: Gregory Elliott

If you’ve ever found your way onto a firing range or under some sort of firearms instruction you have more likely than not heard that firing a weapon without a round in the chamber is a huge no no. I personally come across people with this belief all over, from the military to firing ranges and even competition shooters. If you were to pick up a gun owned by one of the previously mentioned and dry fire it, well they wouldn’t be very happy and probably end up giving you a long talking to about the dangers of firing without a round in the chamber. I myself even believed that dry firing a weapon was bad for most of my life until I made friends that told me otherwise, and in the military where it was part of my training to dry fire weapons many times.

All right, we’ve established what dry firing is, firing a gun without a bullet in the chamber, but why would anyone ever want to do such a thing? Dry firing is the perfect way to practice shooting without expending ammunition or finding a place where you can safely fire. It allows you to practice pulling the trigger and aiming the weapon, which after enough attempts become muscle memory and the action of firing the fun becomes easier to do, especially under high stress situations. Many people don’t have the time or money to spend on going to a range with ammunition, but dry firing is a way to stay home and practice in a way that is still effective.

With the obvious benefit of dry firing, why would anyone not want to do it? If you ask around you get all sorts of answers, ranging from the myth being a carry over from the old days of percussion caps where dry firing could damage the nipple, or when older cartridge weapons had problems with the tips of firing pins crystallizing because of not having anything to transfer the energy of the hammer to and becoming shortened and ineffective over time. With no real “scholarly” explanation, I feel that the source is some guy trying to look smarter than someone else by telling them something they do is wrong and acting like they have some secret bit of hidden knowledge that the “smart” people know. Everyone loves to one up one another and somehow over time this dry fire aversion became the social “norm” in circles of gun enthusiasts. Even now, when there are dozens of books promoting dry firing and all the top competition and military shooters dry firing, if you went into a gun shop and handled a weapon and even attempted to dry fire it you would probably get yelled at.

Mechanically as you can see in the picture above, most firing pins in guns today are separate from the hammer and have springs attached to them. Most weapons are set up like the picture above (the picture being an M1911 specifically), though some are not. There are actually certain types of guns that shouldn’t be dry fired and these are generally shotguns and rim fire weapons (as opposed to center fire). These are the great minority when it comes to weapons though, most are center fire. Regardless of the type of weapon you have, they make a product generally referred to as dummy rounds or snap caps, which are like plastic place holders for bullets in your chamber. This way you can fire your weapon with a snap cap in the chamber and still be providing your firing pin with resistance.

Regardless of your situation, hopefully all that shoot take the time to dry fie. It’s a fun, cheap, safe (when done right) and effective way to practice with your fire arms. So remember, the next time some know it all at the range try’s to tell you that dry firing is bad for your gun, tell him his opinion goes against the training of every law enforcement officer, military member and competitive shooters training and be confident that you’re the correct one. -dry firing drills -saftey and opinion on dry firing (kinda long but informative)

The Theory of Time Travel

Time travel falls under the unique dual-classification of both a science and a pseudoscience. The reason it can be categorized as both is simple, it has yet to be proven possible or impossible. Most folks have a general understanding of what time travel is due to its popularity spanning decades of pop culture. However, grasping the theories behind time travel proves to be difficult or even impossible for the greater part of the human population.

Time travel is essentially moving through the stream of time and space in an attempt to arrive at a point in the past or future without being affected by normal aging. I happen to find that particular definition of time travel to be bland, but what I find fascinating is the multiple theories which support the possibilities within that definition.

According to those closest to the subject, being able to travel to the future is far more probable than being able to travel into the past. A big part of this reasoning is simple, the past has already happened. To further elaborate on this point, what if one were to travel into the past and change history? Logic would tell us it would alter present time. Until knowledge on the subject becomes more concrete, we will just have to rely on our imaginations for what effect time travel would have on our world.

Predictions or Premonitions

Nearly everyday we hear of someone making a prediction of what the weather will be like or whether the stock market will fall or rise, these are based upon the naturally occuring cycles which these two categories follow. But what about when someone predicts the end of the world, or has a premonition that the Jets will win the superbowl?

Are these merely made up or is there some way to determine what will happen in the future?

A prediction is a statement about the way things will happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge. While there is much overlap between prediction and forecast, a prediction may be a statement that some outcome is expected, while a forecast may cover a range of possible outcomes.

Although guaranteed information about the information is in many cases impossible, prediction is necessary to allow plans to be made about possible developments; Howard H. Stevenson writes that prediction in business "... is at least two things: Important and hard."
Prediction is closely related to uncertainty.

Premonition is a type of prophecy consisting of a warning of a future event. The phenomenon is characterized by such sensations as anxiety, uneasiness, a vague feeling of disquiet suggesting impending disaster to actual visual or auditory hallucinations. Premonition is sometimes referred to as a "gut-level" feeling. The sensation tends to occur prior to disasters, accidents, deaths and other traumatic and emotionally charged events.

The sensation of premonition may be considered precognition at times because there is no clear-cut line between them. However, generally premonitions are sense-oriented, dominated by a syndrome of physical uneasiness, depression, or distress that is without discernible source or reason. It is an unexplainable feeling that "something is going to happen." Precognition, on the other hand, is more precise, involving visions or dream of the event that is to occur in the future.

The functioning of premonitions is not exactly known, that is, why some people possess them while others do not. One theory is that some people are more open or prone to psychic suggestion. A cause for the diminishing of this psychic ability in people is that a larger portion of the population has become less intuitive. With the advancement of the scientific age people have began to rely less on their sensations; it is just in recent years that science is investigating the importance of human intuition and sensation.

Stevenson, Howard, ed. Do lunch or be lunch. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998

Do Toads really cause warts?

Growing up I was a very active child and I always remember my parents saying, "Keep playing with frogs and your going to get warts!" I wonder if they actually believed it, knew its was false or just said it because they grew up hearing that superstition as well. Growing up I always believed what my parents said so I was the kid on the play ground telling other kids not to play with frogs. The superstition is a very common one and I am sure most people have heard of it. Research I did on the topic shows that this superstition has been around for centuries but there has been no documented origin of its creation.

What is it about frogs and toads that made us believe they caused warts when there is no truth in the belief at all? It is actually the fact that toads have actual warts on them which made many believe that they can transfer to humans! According to Dr. Lee Grismer, a herpetologist from La Sierra University, the warts on toads are an accumulation of mucus glands and poison glands that are in the skin. The only harm the toad could actually ever do is poison you and that is even very unlikely. When a toad becomes alarmed or feels threatened it can release a milky secretion through its glands. If an human ingests these toxins then it can cause intense pain, seizers, cardiac collapse or even death. But besides that a toad physically can not cause you to develop a wart.

Colorpuncture:Is it pseudoscience?

Colorpuncture was developed by a German natropath and acupuncturist Peter Mandel in the 1980s. Using the principles of acupuncture, focused light is placed on points on the body to balance the internal energy of the individual to alleviate aliments. According to Mandel there are certain colors that resonate with adding energy to the body and other colors that correspond to removing energy from certain areas. The right combination and placement of the colors leads to the better well being of the individual that is seeking treatment.

Colorpuncture fits most if not all of the qualifications of a pseudoscience. The description of what colorpuncture is and how it works uses illogical terms that have no connection to reality such as “holistic healing” and “energy bodies”. Apart from the recent connections with Kirilan photography, colorpuncture has made little progress since it was first thought up and is based on the “ancient wisdom” of TCM. On the official colorpuncture website there are several example of personal experiences and several places where other factors could be the explanation for the improvement of the patients.

There is an assumption of a false authority of the founder of colorpuncture Peter Mandel. There is a quote on the webpage of a known biophysicist Dr. Fritz A. Popp "Peter Mandel is distinguished by an explosive mixture of imagination and realism. This is clearly revealed by his tireless investigation into the mysteries of therapy, by the development of models for understanding the organization of living structures and, last but not least, by his compassion for others and his strong commitment to helping those who are ill." Dr. Popp talks of Mandel’s determination and creativity but makes no mention of the actual success or effectiveness of his techniques.

The ideas and methods of colorpuncture also violate the key principles of science. The methods of colorpuncture are not verifiable by any means except by testimony and assumption. Additionally many of the cases are only referenced that correlate with the claims of the treatments and none that refute them. So before you consider going for the treatment, look into the details and question it for yourself. The main website for colorpuncture is and there is information about further references to colorpuncture including the translation of Peter Mandel’s book Colorpuncture Compendium volume 1.



Throughout my life I, like everyone else, have has thousands of dreams. Most I can't remember but some seem to stand out in my mind like I'll remember them forever. Dreams are so fascinating and have been the topic of many debates by psychologists and scientists alike. I used to think that dreams were just crazy things that you thought up when you fell asleep and let your mind wander. But there are so many more theories that seem to have equally likely concepts about dreams.

Sigmund Freud is the most popular dream analyst. He believes that everything happens for a reason, even your dreams. He thinks that dreams are your way of letting out your deepest desires and wants. He believes that during sleep, your superego that normally controls the id, your crazy primal desires, lets lose and that's why we dream about wild things.

Another theory is the
Activation- Synthesis Model of Dreaming. This was developed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley in 1977. According to this, certain circuits in the brain are activated during sleep which activates emotions, sensations, and memories to surface, which causes us to dream.

Other then these two theories, there are so many more simpler ones. One example that I can see as being true is our brain trying to register outside stimuli into a meaning. This is why our alarm clocks can become part of our dreams. Another theory is that with the emotions coming into the mind, it mixes with the events of the day and helps tie together loose ends. This explains how people can come up with an answer to a problem that they couldn't figure out before, because the brain kept working on it overnight without other interruptions putting the pieces together.
We might never know the real meaning of dreams, if there is any meaning at all. So it is up to each individual to determine their own meaning and believe in what they want. So what do you believe?


You can Eat Only One Piece of Halloween Candy!

As a child, my parents allowed me to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I used to eat ice cream for breakfast and chocolate all the time. Growing up, one would think I would be hyper in my childhood years because of the common belief that sugar causes hyperactivity in children. In my case, and in most with other children, this is not true at all. In fact, I was never a hyper child. So how can it be that sugar never made me hyper but “causes” other children to be? As stated, this is a myth and is actually proven to be false.
As with other myths, this one is continuously passed around by word of mouth. Parents believe that if they give their child sugar, their child will run wild. What the parents do not realize is that the environment that the child is in, or even how the child is raised, is what causes this hyperactivity, not the sugar. Many times when children become hyper it is when they are attending a party or something that will excite them, hence the reason for the hyperactivity. Another cause may be that if the parent is allowing the child to consume sugar and they appear hyper, the parent is lenient in other ways and allows their child to run wild, therefore there is no control over the child.
As stated in the YouTube video posted, there have been experiments performed to test this theory and the results have been that the placebo effect is actually what plays a role in this belief. Parents who were told that their child had consumed sugar, when the child actually had not, reported that their child was more hyper. This is evidence that parents are influenced by the belief of the correlation between sugar and hyperactivity, when in reality there is no correlation between the two.

Lawson, Timothy J. Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: Readings for General Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.
"YouTube - ‪Does Sugar Cause Hyperactivity in Children?‬‏." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 19 Apr. 2010. Web. 29 June 2011. .

Cow Tipping

A few months ago some friends and I were enjoying a peaceful night relaxing and just shooting the breeze. My one friend Sam was telling us tales of his years growing up in North Carolina and some of the things he and friends would do for fun. He lived in a rural area where there was a good amount of farms and he didn't have a lot of money. As Sam was talking about life in North Carolina, our friend Justin, who had put a lot of thought into the question he was about to ask, spoke up. "Uh, hey Sam," he said to get Sam's attention mid-story. As the room grew silent and all eyes were on him, Justin posed his question. "Umm, stop me here if this is stupid, but, uhh, did you and your friends ever go cow tipping down there?" Sam immediately went into full laugh mode. "I don't think that is actually possible, buddy. Sorry," Sam replied still chuckling a bit.

That is where the debate of the night began. Of the six people in the room, the sides were evenly split, three people each, as to who actually thought cow tipping was a myth and who thought cow tipping was in fact possible. Being the open minded individual that I am, I thought anything was possible, especially cow tipping. My belief was that with enough man power and strategic planning it would not be impossible for a group of individuals to sneak up on a cow at night and force it to tip over. Cows are very heavy animals, but no animal is so stable that it does not have the chance of being pushed over. It was a heated debate full of good reasoning and laughs, but in the end nobody would budge and we decided we would all have to agree to disagree.

Having recently looked into it more, I still believe that it is possible and could potentially happen. The only difference now is that I think the chances of it happening are not nearly as great as I had originally thought.. According to my web source, cows are built very low to the ground and have a low center of gravity. Also, even though cows have a reputation of being very slow, they are actually very aware of their surroundings and quite smart. To sneak up on a cow, especially at night, would be a difficult task all in its own. Adding to the level of difficulty here is the fact that cows do not sleep standing up, which is something I believed to be true most of my life.

Here is a video explaining more about the myth of cow tipping:

So what do you think? Is cow tipping possible? Or is it just a myth?


Don't Sneeze with Your Eyes Open!!

Ever since I was little I have been told by numerous people that if I sneezed with my eyes open, my eyes would pop right out of my head; people still tell me this to this day. I have always questioned the truth behind this statement (and have also tried several times to actually sneeze with my eyes open), however I have never actually done research on the old myth; that is, until now.
First, it is important to understand what exactly goes on when we sneeze. Sneezing is the body's way of protecting itself from dust, pollen, pet hair, and other allergens; it literally serves to expel these annoying particles from our body. It is also common to sneeze when coming in contact with cold air, and when you have a cold, because the inside of the nasal cavity becomes swollen and, therefore, much more sensitive than usual. Although sneezing is an involuntary action, it involves quite a systematic process. The process begins by an irritation to the nasal lining, which then makes the nerves in the area send a message to the medulla (the lower portion of the brain). The brain then triggers the rest of the process necessary for a sneeze to occur. The muscles in the chest expand, the diaphragm contracts, as well as the muscles that are in the back of the throat and the vocal cords, and the lungs fill with air. The stomach and chest muscles then begin to contract, as well. Finally, the sneeze occurs, and the "sneezer" feels that awesome feeling of relief. The spray from the sneeze is filled with saliva and mucus, and is in the form of about 2,000 to 5,000 droplets that leave your mouth at an amazing speed between 70 and 100 mph. The expulsion of this mucus clears the naval cavity and provides relief.
Oh, and one last, very important thing happens during a sneeze; the eyes squeeze shut. Why does this happen? And if you do, somehow, keep them from squeezing shut, will your eyes, in fact, pop out of your head? The answer to the latter question is: no, our eyes will not pop out of our heads if we keep them open during a sneeze; in fact, some people don't even close their eyes when they sneeze. Our eyes are much too securely attached to our heads by many different muscles for them to be able to pop out simply from a sneeze. So, why do people insist that our eyes will pop out? Well, because it seems impossible for most people not to close their eyes when they sneeze, they want a good reason as to why this occurs. Therefore, accepting this widespread belief provides closure for them. What is the real purpose of our eyes closing shut during a sneeze? Unfortunately, the answer is a pretty boring one; there appears to be no reason why this occurs. It seems to be just another involuntary action that happens to our body, just like when you kick your leg up when it is tapped on its reflex on the knee. In conclusion, we no longer need to stress about our eye balls expelling from our heads everytime we sneeze now; the bigger issue is the amount of germs and mucus we spray on people.


The Effect of Sugar in Kids

When I was a kid my parents used to hold back on the sugary drinks and the sugar filled candy because they said it would make me hyper. I believed this my entire life, up until I researched it for this blog post. It turns out, that there have been many studies performed that prove that this myth isn't true.
According to one study by Drs. Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll from the Indiana University School of Medicine the reason for this myth is all in the minds of the parents. When they are told that the child has been given sugar, they believe the child seems more hyperactive, however the child isn't given anything with sugar. This proves that its only in the mind of the parents.
Because the parents react differently to the children having sugar, the children start to believe it effects them. Like the many things parents pass onto their kids, this is one of them. This is known as a placebo effect, when because you believe something is happening, you act like it is. So because kids think the sugar they are eating is making them hyper, they act more hyper then they would have without the sugar. Although sugar may not cause kids to become hyperactive, it's still not good to have sugar often. High levels of bad sugar can cause obesity, tooth decay, and many more health problems. So it is still important to control the amount of sugar given to children.


Bloody Mary, shall I say her name three times?

From my childhood years, I remember being told a story about Bloody Mary. Legend has it that if you chant her name three or more times in front of a mirror in a dark room with a lit candle, then she will appear with a bloody face and try to scratch off yours or something close to it. Even up until today, I never tried to perform the chant to summon her, or anything, for fear of something actually appearing.

The story of Bloody Mary has different variations on who she was. The Tudors Website lists possible identities of Bloody Mary as Queen Mary Tudor or Elizabeth Bathory. Unless there was some way comic characters started a horrific story, Mary Worth would also be a contender for Bloody Mary. Queen Mary Tudor (1516-1588) was responsible for the murder of many English Protestants and obtained the name from that. Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) was rumored to have bathed in the blood of young girls, which possibly resulted in the creation of Bloody Mary. All in all, Bloody Mary could have originated from them, or possibly someone else.

Some television shows and movies that give a variation of this myth are Beetlejuice, Candyman, and Urban Legend.

The story of Bloody Mary is geared more toward children than it is adults. I believe that most children are willing to do most things that are within their abilities (as long as they're brave enough). Reciting chants in front of a mirror in a dark room with a lit candle is simple, and it's something that they could do. Even if someone performed it before me, I'd rather not chant Bloody Mary's name. Would you?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Déjà Vu: A Glitch in the Matrix

Déjà Vu, translated from French literally as "already seen," is a common experience that most people can relate to. It is a feeling of extreme familiarity; as if you are doing something that you have already done before in the exact same way. It often comes with great clarity and an eerie feeling, but leaves you unable to remember what it was that you experienced. You feel unexplainably strange about what just occured. Because of the way that it makes you feel and because it can't be easily explained, many contribute Déjà Vu to paranormal or superstitious beliefs. Some believe that the feeling comes from a link with a past life, or a sort of remnant of reincarnation. Others believe that Déjà Vu is a type of psychic behavior, where an individual dreams of an event and then that event happens, thus making the event feel very familiar. Some even believe that Déjà Vu is caused by particles called tachyons which can move backwards in time!

So what then is the truth? Déjà Vu is a glitch. Just like in the popular movie series, The Matrix, where Trinity describes Déjà Vu as being a glitch in the matrix, Déjà Vu is actually just a glitch in your brain. The brain functions very much like a computer does. It is based in electrical signals, has short and long term memory, and is prone to error. Déjà Vu occurs from three different "brain glitches." The first is from the brain taking a small part of a sensory input and matching it to a part of a sensory input of something from your memory, making the present sensory stimuli feel as if it is a memory. Another is from a mismatch between the long term and short term memory pathways in your brain; the current stimuli, instead of being stored in short term memory and then transferred to long term memory (if needed) gets dumped straight in to long term memory, immediately causing that stimuli to feel as if it is an experience that you are pulling from your past. The last is an experience dubbed by psychoanalysts as wish fulfillment. The Déjà Vu experience is made to seem like a past experience, but with a more positive outcome. So, Déjà Vu is actually all in your head (literally), and you are not in fact a psychic. Disappointing, I know.


Knock On Wood

One of the most common superstitions is when someone “knocks on wood” when they make a statement that seems to tempt fate. Such as when someone will tap or knock on wood two times to avoid a jinx when they say “it doesn’t look like it is going to rain today”. This superstition has become widespread and has become a reflex to a lot of people in which the person will knock on wood without even realizing they are doing it.

The origin of this common superstition dates back to a time when some cultures believed that gods lived in trees. When one would ask for a favor from these gods, he would lightly touch the bark of the tree. To say thank you after the favor had been granted, he would knock lightly one more time. This custom may have also originated with Christians who were offering thanks for good fortune with this gesture to Jesus Christ who died on a cross made from wood.

Even though the superstition of knocking on wood is an outlandish way of reversing bad luck, it is a harmless act that makes the person feel more fortunate about a future event. The typical rationale of the people who practice this superstition is “that it is better safe then sorry”. The old superstition is a little ridiculous however, if it gives the person a placebo effect of feeling confident and safe about an upcoming event, knocking on wood is not a completely useless practice.

Meet Dopel: An out of body experience

Mediation can be traced back for thousands of years, healing the mind and body. I do not deny that for some mediating can be a relaxing, stress relieving experience. However, some claim an out of body experience while under deep mediation. This subject was first brought to my attention when a close friend of mine told me about Doppel. Doppel is the man that appears to my friend while he is under a very deep state of mediation. Although this is not a complete out of body experience, my friend is breaking away from at least a part of him. Ever since I have been fascinated as to if this could actually happen or if it was simply his over active imagination getting the better of him.

Normal mediation is said to help relieve insomnia along with lowering blood pressure. It is broken down into two different types, concentrative and mindfulness. Concentrative focuses on breathing and pushing all thoughts out of one's head. Mindfulness is the exact opposite. Here a person lets any thought pass through there head without resistance. What about out of body experiences during mediation? This experience seems to be different depending on the person. Some claim they could float around their house and even move objects while in this state. Others say they saw a bright white light and felt peaceful. Fanatics even use OBE to create cults like Heaven Gate. My friend met his doppelganger. Truth is this type of thinking has been around for thousands of years so it is very difficult for people to accept anything else.

Science proves that it is possible to create new, false memories. These experiences even if they seem so real are in fact simply the brain being deceived. It is impossible to think, feel, or reason without the physical brain. Still others claim that there is a separation between the soul and the physical life. However, is it possible to disconnect oneself so far from reality that they in fact can have a full on conversation with another side of him or her? Or is this extension of his self or herself the doing of a mental illness? Ponder the thought and then ask yourself this...

Is Doppel real?

"Lightning Doesn't Strike the Same Place Twice..Does it?!"

Everybody's heard that lightning doesn't the same place twice, but is this really true? In actuality, lightning is more likely to strike the same object over and over again than several different objects in the same location. Why? Lightning, like many things that travel through the atmosphere, prefers to move along a path of least resistance. If during a storm lightning struck the big oak tree in your back yard, you better believe it will most likely strike there again!

Lighting itself, is just a reaction that occurs when the weather attempts to eliminate a charge difference, positive and negative, in the atmosphere; it is the resolution. Extremely tall objects, such as the Empire State Building have been struck up to 100 times a year! Taller buildings are more likely to be struck by lightning because they narrow the gap between the atmosphere above and the ground below, making it easier for the charge compensation to take place. So if it is proven that such a famous object such as the Empire State Building has been struck hundreds of times since its installment into the New York skyline, why do people continue to believe this outlandish rumor?!

I believe it is for their own comfort, however artificial it may be, that people continue to believe the myth that lighting does not strike the same area twice. Besides monuments such as the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, it is rather uncommon for one to witness lightning actually touching down on earth. Therefore, in an effort to ease the minds of the public with little chance of being disproven, the myth continues: Lightning doesn't strike twice..or does it? ;)


An Apple a Day

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a very well known proverb. It is one that I have heard throughout my life and one that is constantly referenced on TV. It is something I have been curious about, so given the opportunity I decided to reasearch it.
It is a phrase that is thought to have been developed in Wales and there are many different forms of the phrase. For example, "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." The idea that apples could keep you from having to see the doctor probably came from the fact that they are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. Studies have also shown that apples can lower cholesterol, reduce heart disease risk, and lower the risk of several different cancers. It is very surprising to me to learn all the benefits of eating apples. I never knew that they help prevent tooth decay, can protect you brain from brain diseases, and lower the risk of respitory problems.
A study was done where workers were given two apples a day for about ten days. The results showed that these participants' vitamin C levels increased by 35%. They also had better bowel movements and felt better physically.
Through all the articles I have read it seems that is proverb proves to be somewhat true. An apple a day may not keep the doctor away forever, but it will improve your health. I think after reading this post people will begin to eat more apples because I know I will.


Don't Sit Too Close to the TV Kids !

Ever since I can remember, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, have been telling me, "Don't sit too close to the tv. You'll ruin your eyesight!" Being the good kid that I was, I refrained from being too close afraid that one day I might actually lose my eyesight!

What i didn't know was that this claim is linked all the way to the 1960's when General Electric began selling new color televisions. These claims arose when viewers became aware that these televisions actually emitted excess amounts of radiation that after repeated exposure could have heightened the risk of eye problems for some people (scientific). Since "nearly half of all kids spend four or more hours a day using computers and electronic devices, according to a recent national survey," (mommy) we would hope that this radiation problem would be fixed by now, wouldn't we? Thankfully, modern televisions and electronic devices had the proper sheilding preventing radiation from being any type of issue. "The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that kids can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes" (health).

Although sitting very close to a television doesn't cause blindness, those children who do may be nearsighted and need glasses, which is something parents should stay alert for. Also, too much television in dim lighting may cause temporary eyestrain (health). Thus, it is always good to watch tv in moderation. While it is inevitable that kids will watch tv, sitting too close to will only cause parents to cringe; all in all, it will not damage your eyesight.

Dr. Alice Cash and the Mozart Effect

The "Mozart Effect" craze began in 1993 when Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky published an article stating that after listening to a Mozart sonata, 36 college students showed an increase on spatial reasoning scores compared to students who listened to a relaxation tape or sat in silence. Somehow, these very specific results have been morphed by teachers, parents, and entrepreneurs into the general idea that listening to classical music can make people smarter. Despite missing a testable explanation as to why Mozart music had this effect or a successful replication of this experiment, the Mozart Effect still lives on today.
Beside convincing parents that they need to make their kids listen to classical
music, Mozart Effect has also led to a market for music that claims to aid the sick.
Dr. Alice Cash is a motivational speaker and the owner of Healing Music Enterprises, a company that sells CDs which claim to help preserve the memory of patients with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. These products may appeal to a family distraught over the diagnosis of a loved one, but Dr. Cash's website lacks any real medical proof.
First, Dr. Alice Cash repeatedly refers to herself as "doctor" and even appears in various pictures wearing a lab coat and stethoscope. This offers the allusion that she is a medical doctor when in reality she holds a PhD in musicology. Musicology is the scholarly study of music and a degree in this area would not make her an expert in Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia. However, her overuse of the title "Doctor" leads people to believe that she is an expert in these mentally degenerative diseases.
Second, her website displays many positive reviews of her products and seminars without specific scientific proof that her methods are effective. These reviews praise her as a "wonderful woman" who is knowledgeable in "music and brain functioning". However, when Dr. Cash explains the reasoning behind these success stories, she simply says that doctors have known for years that patients with various dementias respond powerfully to familiar music. Her vague explanation without referencing any reputable sources leads one to believe that there is no scientific basis behind any of her claims.
Despite the faults with Dr. Alice Cash's website, I can understand why someone might try her therapy. Alternative therapies are attractive to patients who can no longer be helped my traditional medicine. Also, it is natural for people want to try any treatment that could possibly help a loved one when a devastating diagnosis such as dementia is made. Dr. Cash caters to this desire in people by falsely giving the image that she is a medical doctor and by offering vague, unsubstantiated evidence for her claims.

Bark at the Moon

The moon has been regarded with extreme superstition that predates written history. Myths about increased aggression, schizophrenia, and even lupine transformations have been associated with the moon's changing phases throughout the ages. While the origins of these superstitions are ambiguous at best, their consistency only adds to society's belief in them.

Aside from the more deeply-rooted (and furrier) science-fiction aspects of lunar influences, it is commonly believed that phases of the moon can trigger psychological changes in human beings. Aggression is chief among these changes, but other mood swings, including depression and even celebratory happiness, have been associated with the moon.

What validity do these claims have? There have been studies that both support and dismiss the possibility of lunar effect in humans. One such study suggested that schizophrenic patients showed signs of further mental deterioration during a full moon. In 2004, a study showed a higher frequency in hospital admissions due to gastrointestinal bleeding when the moon was full. Other studies, however, showed no distinct correlation between the moon and any type of abnormal activity. In fact, many researchers dismiss studies that support the theory, claiming any correlations to be happenstance and based on other circumstances.

As a criminal justice major, I'd be lying if I said this was the first time I've come across anything relating a full moon to unwieldy behavior. Many police departments, in fact, are more superstitious than you might think when it comes to this subject. Higher rates of violent crimes, arrests, and inmate restlessness during a full moon have been reported from within the criminal justice field. The belief has even led to some departments deploying more officers to patrol the streets on nights when the moon is full.

Far more often than not, research has shown that these claims are completely unfounded. Folklore and tradition, coupled with the modern myths of today, lead many to question the world around them, and the moon is at the forefront of that skepticism. Backed by popular media aspects, such as last year's remake of The Wolfman, myths about the effects of a full moon show no signs of stopping, regardless of what science tells us. For many, science-fiction is just more fun to believe than science fact.


The Evil Hours

Ever since I was young I would always get paranoid when I woke up during the early hours of the morning. I would dread waking up specifically from midnight through 3 A.M. I always thought I would wake up to a ghost standing over my bed or to my TV turning on by itself. I decided to find out where this topic came about. These evil hours have been referred to as early as Shakespeare, where he mentions ghosts and other supernatural phenomena taking place around midnight. It is also said that 3 A.M. is the devils hour, as Jesus was said to be crucified around 3 P.M. Hospital workers also claim this is the time that most deaths occur in their facilities. Numerous horror movies feature this time and are said to be based on 'real' events. This is the time the spirits are supposed to be the most active.
One reason 3 A.M. might be such an infamous time is because it is sometimes associated with REM sleep. The brain begins to process events somewhat differently during this time which can lead to a sensation of something odd taking place. During this stage of sleep, Sleep Paralysis can occur. Auditory hallucinations are apparent during this time and noises such as knocking, laughing, scratching, and footsteps may appear. It's easy to see how this brain activity can make us jump to the conclusion that a demon is right outside our door.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Superstition: Salt Over The Shoulder

Growing up in an Italian family I have heard many different superstitions, the most common was throwing salt over your shoulder. Until recently, I had no idea what the superstition was really about. The superstition states that if an individual spills salt, one should throw it over your left shoulder to erase the blunder. Throwing the salt over your shoulder will blind the devil and keep him from taking your soul. Salt was a very expensive and highly sought after product, preserving food and functioning as legal tender during ancient and biblical times. This reference came from the website (Daily Mail), which states that Leonardo da Vincis’ painting the Last Supper, may be inspiration for this scene. Since the scene illustrates Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles seated around a table, and Judas appears to have knocked over the salt, thus bringing forth the devil. According to (Angel Fire) another way the superstition may have come about is believed to have come from the Kabala. The Kabala says that there are three paths in life; the middle, which is the most common, the path to the right, which is the path of love and light, and the left side, is a path where one meets the devil and we learn our lessons. Whether the artist da Vinci, meant for art viewers to beware of the devil, by painting spilled salt near the man that would ultimately lead to the death of Christ, will always be unknown. Just like the Kabala’s belief about the three paths of life, will always be a part of their religious beliefs. The reason that this superstition has persisted may never be known, but I think it is safe to say that individuals get a sense of safety and security from this superstition. Dr. Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, believes that superstitions are an example of ‘magical thinking.’ The way a person feels about a superstition may be caused by a ‘placebo effect,’ if they want to feel good about a certain situation… they will.