Friday, June 29, 2012

Are photographic orbs which appear in some photographs, truly representations of an energy form defined as the spirit of the dead or a human sole after we die or does science and psychology reveal otherwise?

Spirit Orb Photograph Definitions:
Paranormal spirit orbs are believed to be photographic representations of the spirit of the dead or a human sole after a person dies. Sometimes they are also considered as other types of energy forms, thoughts, extraterrestrials, natural spirits, and portals to another dimension or another worldly life form. They are adamantly defined by some believers to be a yet confirmed scientific phenomenon. It is estimated by positive orb experts that from 50 – 90 percent of orbs that show on photographs are false positive and conform to the scientific explanations of a photographic orb (i.e., originating from a backscatter).

Photograph of Spirt Orb:


Written Instructions for Taking Orb Photographs:

The following list of instructions are taken directly from the website eHow – How to Photograph Orbs on June 26, 2012 as found at

1.      Meditate and focus on your intention to manifest orbs. The orbs will eventually hear your call because they possess consciousness and intelligence.
2.      Point your camera in a direction where a person or persons will be included in the frame. This is because orbs are attracted to people, especially large groups.
3.      Refrain from using flash if you can. Some people, especially skeptics, believe orbs are caused by reflections of condensation and dust particles which are further enhanced by using flash.
4.      Shoot photos letting your intuition guide you as to how and what to shoot. If you're using a digital camera, don't stop to examine the photos you take because the orbs probably won't be visible until after the photos have been downloaded to your computer. If you're not getting any results, stop taking photos. The energy may not be right and you should try again another day.
5.      Find a method that works for you. Repeat that method when you photograph orbs and it will become a ritual, attracting the orbs to you.
6.      Remember the circumstances and methods you used when you begin to see orbs in your photographs. There may be something you did that was a signal or energy call for the orbs to appear. Try using the same methods when you find something that works.

How to Take Photographs of Orbs and More:

Scientific Explanation Photography Orb:
Backscatter is light from a light source that is reflected back from deleterious substances on the lens surface or atmosphere that reflects back causing a speck of light to appear on the photograph sometimes referred to as an orb artifact. Substances suspended in air such as snowflakes, rain or dust can also cause an orb artifact. The miniature nature of modern digital cameras has increased the orb artifact effect since the distance between the lens and internal flash source is reduced. The reduction in distance decreases the angle of light reflection which increases the chance that light is reflected off of normally invisible particles. The increase in this photographic artifact has increased as a result of shrinking digital size. Please note that several hours of research did not reveal a vast amount of scientific information pertaining to the scientific explanation of photographic backscatter and the production of the orb artifact.

What Defines Paranormal Spirit Orbs as Paranormal Phenomenon?
The use of imprecise terminology and methods that are not scientifically proven are found throughout the definition and methods used to obtain paranormal orb photographs. For example, from the eHow list, Number 1: the photographer is told that meditation is required to obtain an orb photograph and no evidence is offered to prove that meditation can produce a photographic orb. Number 4: It is suggested here that the photographer use intuition as a guide in photographing an orb. There is a suggestion not to stop and look at photographs while taking them, wait until the photographic are downloaded since they probably won’t be observed while the pictures remain on the camera. These suggestions have no scientific basis and are very imprecise methods to obtain a good photograph.

When describing orbs, believers use of the words energy, portals to another dimension, extraterrestrials and natural spirits do not define precisely what they are intended to be nor are they scientifically defined. Science uses precise terms to illustrate a position. In the How to Photograph Orbs video we are told that orbs can hear our intentions and respond to them because they have intelligence and consciousness. I have found no scientific evidence that our intentions make sound. Nor has science proven that spirit orbs exist.

Believers sometimes use the photographic scientific evidence of the orb artifact to discredit or question the authenticity of an orb. There is an acknowledgement made by supporters that from 50-90 percent of orbs have real scientific explanations leaving the remainder to be unexplained by science and thus a prime example of pseudoscience. As illustrated in the video – orb photographs are not common during windy days or evenings but no explanation is given as to why windy conditions are poor for obtaining orb photographs. Perhaps the suspension of dust particles in the air during high winds is not conducive to orb photography.
There is a testimonial given by the woman in the video about taking paranormal orb photographs and the psychic investigators website which is a prime example of pseudoscience and the paranormal. There are repeated personal experiences or testimonials rather than scientific based studies.

On the ghost circle website, reverence is made to a series of facts one of which is substantiated by a Dr. Klaus Heinemann Ph.D. but no link or reference to the study is provided to the reader. This is a technique used by pseudoscientists by appealing to a false authority. The listing of fact after fact on this website is an example of making an extraordinary claim without scientific evidence.

Psychological Explanation:
According to D. Alan Bensley (p. 63, 2007), Can Minds Leave Bodies? A Cognitive Science Perspective, some humans have a dualistic cognitive belief that their mind and body are unique and separate entities and that a sole exists as a component of them. In modern Christian cultures, the root of this religious belief is that soles live on after death retaining powers of perception. 

The paranormal belief in orbs might reside in the belief that soles live after the physical body can no longer carry them. The photographic orbs are considered to be a living sole after a person dies which is very similar to an out-of body experience or the belief in ghosts, and reincarnation. The difference from a photographic orb and the out-of body experience is the person having a paranormal out-of body experience is alive to report the experience.

There appears to be insignificant amount scientific information published with respect to what exactly causes the orb artifact in a photograph. Surely there is no scientific evidence which substantiates that photographic orbs are the human soles or spirits. Perhaps, the scientific community is not concerned with such a trivial matter and there is no additional need for scientific investigation of this photographic phenomenon.

Bensley, D.A. (2003, July/August) Can minds leave bodies? A cognitive science perspective. Lawson, Timothy J. Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal Readings for General Psychology. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007, p. 63-72. Print.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brief Overview Of Dreams

The concept of dreaming has long perplexed and fascinated the human race, and still to this day despite scientific leaps are we any closer to finding the true meaning behind dreams. One reason for this could possibly be that the experience of a dream is so unique and different for each person that it is simply impossible to sum it up as one general experience for all. Although our dreams still keep us in the dark and thus fascinating us so, many psychologists have created bold and thorough theories behind the unique experience humans have when they close their eyes for sleep each night.
Clearly the most profound and well known theory of dreams was by psychoanalyist Sigmund Freud. In his theory, titled simply "Interpretation of Dreams," Freud discusses how he believed that dreams arose from the subconscious mind. What you dream about is said to be your manifest dream content, which is what you remember when you wake up in the morning. The latent dream content is what you were really dreaming about. A highly simplified example of this would be if a person had a dream that they were at their father's house. One must ask what that house represents, and in order to interpret this dream you must look at all of the values in the dream. It became apparent to Freud that childhood memories as well as the day's residue can affect dreams too. Freud believed that dreams represented the emergence of the subconscious's hidden desires, traumas, and fantasies, and that dreams influenced the way a person acts, how they make decisions, etc.
Another very popular theory of dreams is by psychologist Carl Jung. The Jungian interpretation of dreams is that your unconscious is trying to advise you with messages of encouragement, support, etc. Jung believed that when a person had a dream, they were to write it down immediately upon waking with four simple steps. Title- treat it like a story, theme, what the affect/emotion was, and question- what is it asking you? In a situation such as a recurring dream, Jung theorized that a person has either ignored the message being presented or has a Freudian issue pressing. In a scary dream in which you wake up in the middle of it, one approach would be to continue the dream once you're awake and see what would happen, thus taking the anxiety out of them.
A final concept on dreams that I would like to discuss is the theory of lucid dreaming, or awakening in your dreams. Lucid dreaming simply means dreaming while being FULLY aware that you are doing so. You realize that the entire dream world is your own creation- and with this awareness comes the freedom to explore not only your nightly slumbers, but your subconscious and conscious mind, ultimately gaining a deeper understanding of yourself as a whole. This unique state of consciousness can be utilized for creative inspiration, emotional healing, insight into your awakened reality, and overcoming fears and anxiety. There are three main steps in order to learn how to properly lucid dream: adequate motivation, correct practice of effective techniques, and excellent dream recall. Clearly, this may take time and practice for majority of people wishing to achieve this higher state of consciousness, but there will always be the select few who lucid dream without instruction. Whichever type you are, it is a truly rewarding and beneficial experience to give a try.
In the first two theories I discussed, I find Carl Jung's more relatable simply because he explains the meaning behind every TYPE of dream- whether it be a nightmare, a recurring dream, or perhaps even a lucid dream. Although I find Sigmund Freud's to be ingenius and I do agree that a lot of a person's subconscious comes into play, I feel that Freud simply blames everything in a person's life on the subconscious desires and traumas and lumps things together without giving any aspect of said life its own personality. When it comes to the topic of lucid dreaming, I absolutely believe it is possible and I truly do believe it can heal both emotional and mental wounds. If a person has the power to control their own dreams, this ultimately leads to them controlling their own nightmares and thus conquering their fears.
Although I believe science has come a long way in aiding the human race with knowledge on a plethora of subjects in life, I believe some things are simply meant to be a mystery. Dreams would definitely be one of those things. Perhaps it is up to each individual to decide for themselves what they truly believe their own dreams mean, while always keeping an open mind to the ideas of science and psychology as well.

Post 1 - Lemonade Diet

Our textbook Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal explains how to differentiate between real therapies and non-proven therapies. The example I found and will be discussing in the Lemonade Cleanse Diet. The Diet claims that all diseases are caused by a buildup of toxins in the body. By completing this diet, a total of 10days you will remove all the bad toxins from your body.

This is the Diet:
·         10 days of no solid food
·         Whenever you feel hungry or thirsty: Drink freshly squeezed lemon juice with maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water.
·         Drink one cup of herbal laxative tea at bedtime.
·         Drink a quart of warm salt water solution. (This releases all the toxin’s that the night time laxative loosened.)
·         Occasionally, drink a cup of mint tea. (This freshens your breath because toxins are released in your mouth.)

The website claims that the common side effects within the first two days are headaches and fatigue. The reason why these side effects occur are supposedly because of a “built up toxins hat are being circulated into your bloodstream as you finish the first stage of the cleanse.” Which if you are on an all liquid diet, of course these side effects from a medical view point would most likely be because you are not getting the proper amount of protein and nutrients.

Like the text predicted the testimonials were all extremely positive and describing why you should buy their kit instead of finding the ingredients yourself. Also they claimed nutrition gurus and celebrities have used this diet. This diet does not have any medical support nor has any health care professional claimed it as a healthy way to loose weight. No prior research has proven its effectiveness. It is all based on what the website is telling you and the testimonials on this website.

**Note the only other information I found in my Google search was from Wikipedia and various blogs, I found that interesting.    

Can Minds Leave Bodies?

William Wolfson
Chapter 3.2 Can Minds Leave Bodies?

After reading the section in this chapter about the origins of dualistic paranormal belief, I thought about the egyptians and mummification and the terra-cotta warriors. Both signify life after death, in almost the same way. The egyptians felt that mummifying the body and buying it with all of its belongings would bring the spirit back to the life it once had. The terra-cotta warriors deal with the creation of an army for the afterlife that will rise when the leader comes back from the dead. As soon as I read the part about Ms. Pope, it made me think of there two things. It is amazing to think that even before there was a record of dualistic paranormal belief many great nations had been practicing it for many years. Minds can leave bodies, as seen in the cultures of the egyptians and the chinese, but return in different forms than once thought to exist, dualistic paranormal belief makes this possible in the lives of many people of different cultures.

The Mozart Effect: A Possible Explanation

I have heard of the Mozart Effect previously - perhaps from hearing someone mention it in small talk or through a magazine article - and reading about it in this course solidified my theory on why this "effect" has become so prominent. I believe that listening to music, or any other pleasant background noise for that matter (ex: a TV show), that somewhat captures the attention of the subject while not being too distracting, can serve to stimulate the brain, allowing for better thought processes and longer attention spans. This premise is something very familiar to education, and is present in education running all the way back to preschool, where a teacher may use a puppet to help teach students the alphabet. It's not that this puppet is emitting some subconscious brain waves to the students to help them learn, just as Mozart is not doing the same, but by providing a positive, interesting stimulus muddled in with redundant learning, this stimulus creates a "spark" which can help education and development.

How these stimulus work, however, relies entirely on the subject. While most classical music serves as proper background noise to the general public due to its consistent exposure in our lives (especially in their prominence in areas where they are naturally drowned out, such as elevators and holding music on customer service calls), people still have varying opinions on how much they enjoy it. I think it would be safe to assume that most people who demonstrated a significant growth through The Mozart Effect did so because they either were a fan of Mozart or the type of student who works best with noise in the room, or both. If a student either disliked Mozart or was one of many students who can not study with too much noise present (yours truly for example), the "effect" would not work.

So how do simple observations such as "this student likes studying to Mozart" and "this student studies better with noise in the background" evolve into "listening to Mozart while studying will improve your child's test scores"? The same ways most assumptions form in pseudoscience - through one party's desperation for an easy answer and another party's desire for money. Pseudoscience is riddled with convenient answers for otherwise difficult problems - who would want to exercise and eat right to have more energy when they can just wear some "magic" bracelet? Who would want to spend countless time and money getting their children extra help in school when all they need to do is blow the dust off a Mozart CD they bought at a garage sale and press play? These misconceptions and assumptions are the root of pseudoscience's biggest cons, and it takes an inquisitive and difficult to persuade mind to evade losing money in these pitfalls.

In closing, I would love to see a more thorough lab study on The Mozart Effect where the key traits observed for the subjects is A. whether or not they enjoy Mozart and B. whether or not they work best with noise or in silence. I believe that any positive correlation found in past studies would revolve around these two traits, with very little overlap in success for those who either dislike Mozart or dislike studying to noise.

Duality of the Mind

The mind is such that being aware of the idea of its existence does not unmake the reality of the mind. To those coming in half way during this particular train of thought this post is on the out of body experience topic found within the text book. To continue before my unfortunate tangent, the out of body experiences we might believe come to pass ever so often might simply be several moment spent with a sudden and complete loss of cognitive thought and yet not a loss of consciousness as we soon realize we were doing something completely different mere moments ago or so our minds allow us to believe. 
These out of body experiences could very well be a misconstrued perception of our reality in the form of a day dream of sorts. Given the propensity of the amount of time and research the validity of the claims of the truth of these OBEs there is currently no definable evidence to prove they even happened in the first place.Though to out right say OBEs are a lie is also in itself a fallacy as there also no evidence to say these never happened at all. It is the same as if these were cases of phantom limbs, where the brain makes one perceive the existence of a limb, which either now gone or simply never was. 
As there yet to break through on proving OBEs or phantom limbs and the same going for disproving them, for to say something can't be proven is not the same as saying it has been dis proven. OBEs are simply a matter that can not be properly dealt with at this time, though it would not stop certain persons from using this as a means of furthering some bogus research simply to gather grant money for even more worthless reasoning.

Twin Telepathy

Telepathy, also known as mental telepathy, is defined as the (supposed) communication between minds through means aside from sensory perception.  This means that none of our five senses; taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing; are involved in processing the information received by our brains.  Telepathic communication is purely based, and dependent, on the mind and thought alone and nothing else.  Frederic William Henry Myers (1843-1901) was a scientist of sorts, but mainly a brilliant-minded theorist and intellectual who was obsessed with the human brain.  He coined the term "Telepathy" in 1882, and since then, the subject has always been of great interest to many people, including myself.  Twin telepathy is what intrigues me most.  Being that there is a physical bond between twins that no other siblings or relatives share,  it seems that if telepathy did exist, twins would be most likely to experience this strange phenomenon and be able to wield the ability.  I am also a twin, and may or may not have had an encounter or two of my own between my brother Taylor and I.  

A recent, and somewhat famous, example of a possible telepathic experience between twins occurred in March of 2009, involving sisters Gemma and Leanna Houghton.  Leanna is epileptic, meaning she has random fits of seizures which cause her to become unconscious at times.  If aid and care is not given to a person during an epileptic bout, the risk of stroke and brain damage is serious.  In this case, Leanna was taking a bath when her seizure attacked.  Both 15 years old at the time, Gemma had the strongest feeling that her sister was in grave danger. She claimed a voice was telling her, "Your sister needs you!"  Sure enough, Gemma walked into the bathroom to find Leanna submerged underwater in the tub, drowning.  Telepathy between these twins saved a life, supposedly.  

Some stories are voodoo-esque, such as when one twin is injured or afflicted in some way, and the other twin experiences the same symptoms and/or pain even though no physical damage had been done to both parties, the twins are separated by great distances, and no knowledge of the incident is confirmed by the twin experiencing the phenomenon.  Other instances of twin telepathy include that of physical skill, such as playing an instrument, or ballet dancing.  One twin would be trained in such a skill over a long period of time, sometimes decades.  Subsequently, the other twin would either know the skill very well without any previous training in that particular area, or learn in record time.

My experiences are not as remarkable as some of the examples listed above.  At a younger age, my brother and I noticed that we could sense each other's feelings to an extent.  Even if we hadn't talked or had any sort of contact throughout the day, I found myself getting these mysterious urges to contact my twin brother to see if something was troubling him.  More often than not, I learned that he was upset; either extremely angry or dismayed to a degree.  I could never explain how it felt, or why it happened.  To be honest, I figured it was sheer coincidence and never really thought anything of the occurrences. 

Below is a very informative and interesting video from an ABC News broadcast on the topic of telepathy between twin siblings: 

So, there you have it.  I'll let you be the judge.  The idea of telepathy has been glorified and explored through entertainment media, and the study of early psychologists and their work concerning the subject.  Great interest in this field still remains.  Scientists and theorists alike have tried to experiment and research telepathic abilities, however no conclusive evidence, other than extreme coincidence, has been collected and verified to give telepathy a legitimate place in the fields of neuroscience or communication.  It remains to be a paranormal phenomenon that can not yet be explained through scientific means.

Dream Interpretation and False Beliefs

Chapter 3.3: Dream Interpretation and False Beliefs

People are fascinated with dreams and their meanings. A popular theory about dreams was made famous by Sigmund Freud. He believed that dreams hold hidden messages, repressed memories, desires, and even past traumatic experiences. By interpreting dreams, one can tap into one’s unconscious mind and discover the truth.  For example, if one has a dream involving blood or torture, one would assume that there are repressed memories of ritualistic abuse. 

However, dream interpretation remains unclear. Many scientists today believe that dream interpretation is a pseudoscience that can produce incorrect information which can lead to harmful results. Despite this, many people still believe that dreams hold meanings. There are many books and websites available to guide individuals in interpreting their dreams. Additionally, some clinical psychologists use dream interpretation in their clinical work.
The question at issue is whether clinical dream interpretation is harmful. Does it actually lead to the recovery of a genuine traumatic past? Or does dream interpretation lead people to develop false beliefs or false memories about their past?

Through the Florence false interpretation study, participants had their dreams interpreted by a clinician who interpreted whether their dream can uncover any traumatic experience before 3 years old. It was discovered that participants can be influenced or manipulated to believe that a certain experience had occurred, even when they had originally denied such occurrences from happening. The implications and consequences of dream interpretation are unexpected side effects due to false beliefs about the past.

I believe that dreams do hold some meaning. It is more of a reflection of your thoughts than an interpretation of something far deeper in your life, such as repressed memories of abuse. For example, when I am stressed about school, I often have homework related dreams. This is just a mere reflection of what is troubling my conscious mind, not any hidden meaning of extreme abuse or inner turmoil.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The 10% Myth: Is it really that bad?

In chapter three of our text, it discussed the long existing idea that we only use 10% of our brains full potential. This apparent myth that we use a mere one tenth of our actual brain's potential has been linked to thoughts that being able to use the other nine tenths would allow one to harness some sort of super powers. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim that parts of our brain simply do not work throughout the day. Actually, there are large amounts of credible scientific evidence that goes against this ridiculous notion. So why, then, does this myth refuse to disappear and what has kept it around for so long?
            The origins of this idea that we only use 10% of or brains are virtually untraceable. Some early uses of this phrase sprang up in the early to mid 1900s, when the popular director and journalist Lowell Thomas used it in the foreword of a book he wrote saying, “Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average man develops only ten percent of his latent mental ability,” (p. 53). Then, and even now, it is often been used as a motivational technique to cater to our human need of self-betterment and is used as a means for those to “tap into their full potential.”
            The scientific evidence piles up fairly high against this claim though. By using any form of advanced brain imaging technology, like an EEG or CAT scan, one can see that there is no part of the brain that is dormant, unless that part of the brain has experienced trauma and is now damaged. Analyzing the myth from a basic evolutionary standpoint also allow one to look at this common phrase as a myth. The human brain is said to have developed over many millennia and is a very delicate mechanism. I find it hard to believe that over a period of millions, and possibly more, years, the human brain developed to only use literally ten percent of its true potential. According to the Triune Brain theory, the current human brain is actually a combination of three evolutionary brains. According to this theory, the current human brain consists of the Reptilian Complex, containing our most primal instincts; the limbic system, our emotional center; and the neocortex, which serves as the driver, controlling each of the other two brains. If the Triune Brain theory is correct, and the human brain is a compilation of three different brains all performing different tasks in different areas, it is certain to use more that 10% of its true potential. Below is a picture of the theoretical Triune Brain
            I think this myth has refused to die because humans have an internal sense of self-betterment in them. We engage in a constant attempt to better ourselves as a people. This is part of the reason that the self-help industry is such a successful enterprise for many people. People are always looking to get motivated about something, and believing that we have the potential to utilize more of our brains than most people normally do is a way for us to move towards bettering ourselves. I think most see it as a metaphor or a symbol that tells us that we have the potential to be better. So even though we don’t literally use only ten percent of our brain, the harm in believing this myth is minimal, and keeping it around may actually help people better themselves and be motivated to be a better person. Even though it is a myth, I think it would be smart to not kill it quite yet. 

Question: we all have heard at some point in our lives that if a black cat crosses our path its bad luck! But what makes this phenomenal bad luck?

Information: Black Cats crossing our paths weren’t always considered bad luck.  In fact, ancient Egyptians held cat’s as scared animals; to kill one was considered a capital crime.  It was around the middle-ages in Europe that the Black cat was associated to bad luck; the reason for this was because at this time the Catholic Church was attacking these so called witches believing to be associated with the devil anyone accused of witchery was usually killed.  Europe initially began to consider females as witches, these females were typically poor lonely and old; many of which held cats for companionship.  For this reason cats began to be associated to bad luck therefore the superstition began many centuries ago but is still wildly believed by many today. 

Inferences: Some people hold the belief that the back luck can be reversed by doing certain things such as, having a white cat cross your path.  Another way to reverse the curse of a black cat crossing your path is to first walk in a circle, and then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13. 

Point of View: I find it fascinating how a superstition created by our ancestor’s centuries ago still has an effect on society today.  There is clearly no reason to believe that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, this is a silly superstition. 

Lorena Castiglione

Palm Reading

Palm reading has been around for ages, it is a technique in which an individual claims to be able to read your past present and future, just from the lines that are located on your hands. Palms are typically unique to an individual so each person will in theory have a different reading then others. People seem to use Palmist and Psychics to help them grasp the things that are going around them, and give them more of a sense of control. It gives them hope that a love one is waiting for them and they are still love them, or even makes the feel that their bad luck that they have had is not their fault but it is luck and it will end very soon. Palm reading offers individuals with a scapegoat, by saying that because of this line of your palm you are not able to be in a long lasting relationship, even though there could be many other explanations why this individual is not in a meaningful relationship. Also they palm reading claims that changes in your hands line can be attributed to emotional factors in your life. There is no study of course to significantly substantiate these claims. According to Wikihow ( on how to read Palms, it explains that if your heart line is breaks at any time, it suggest that you have been through emotional trauma in your life.  This is tough to believe that if you go through an emotional hard patch that the lines on your palm will start to shift and change. I used the website to try to read my palm and some of the things ended up being correct but everyone that was correct there were two that were wrong. Much like the Q bracelet that was discussed in the book, if an individual wanted to focus or the correct and ignore the fact most of the information was incorrect or even vague, they could easily fall for such a pseudoscience.

In conclusion palm reading is probably one of the best examples of pseudoscience. The entire goal is to take advantage of peoples need to understand anything what is going on around them. It gives people a false confidence in their life that the things that are happening to them cannot be changed because there are greater forces at work. It is suggested that just by the shape and feel of your hand, you are a cold and stubborn person, if that happen to be a correct reading, would it really be that hard for that person to change a little and become more compassionate.

10% Myth

Maria Capelli
First Post
Chapter 3.1 10% Myth
Many times I have heard people say that most persons only use about 10 percent of their brains. If a person is able to use more than that percentage than they most likely have extraordinary talents or abilities that others do not have. If a person could somehow train themselves to access their brain's functions beyond the percent then they could develop extraordinary abilities that they have heard about, such as clairvoyance.

In our assigned reading, there is no clear history of how this myth was created. There is a line from a self improvement book that reads: "Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average man develops only 10 percent of his latent mental ability. Dale Carnegie, by helping business men and women to develop their latent possibilities, has created one of the most significant movements in adult education." Latent means that something is present, such as our brain, but not active, such as our inaccessible abilities. To me, this statement means that most people do not attempt to develop their latent possibilities, but with the motivation they find through education they will be able to develop more than they could have on their own. It is possible there are some people who will never bother to develop their latent abilities beyond 10 percent. However, I believe most people, especially those enrolled in higher education, have already surpassed that 10 percent threshold. Also, considering the fact that this quote was written in 1956 I believe that the 'average man' currently has a higher percentage of developed latent ability than was previously believed.

There are so many areas of the brain with different functions and even today they are all still being mapped out. Since 1956 we have discovered that some parts of the brain have more than one function and other parts work together to make functions. We know for a fact we use every single part of our brain, even if we don't yet know for which functions. For each function we perform we most likely use only up to 10 percent of our brain because that's all we need. If we were to use any more than what we need then it would be pointless because the area of the brain that is in use wouldn't assist in the function that is being performed. I believe we use all percentage of our brain, but possibly no more than just 10 percent at one time. This myth seems ridiculous once you look a map of a brain. It also seems absurd for any person to claim that their extraordinary abilities such as clairvoyance are due to being able to access more than 10 percent of their latent possibilities because there has been no research showing that they use any more percentage of their brain than does anyone else. Below is a picture labeling all the function areas of the brain we currently know. Everyone uses every function and 100 percent of their brain throughout their lifetime unless otherwise damaged.
The 10 percent myth remains unproven whether is is meant physically or as a development of oneself as Professor William James made it seem.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Unconscious Mind Takes Over

        What purpose do dreams serve? Do they play an “adaptive role" in the maintenance of our bodily or psychological health? Do they truly express our secret desires? After decades of research and recent develop, the question now is, do dreams serve any purpose at all, and if so, what do they mean? Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were full of hidden meanings. He theorized that dreams were insights into one’s unconscious mind; they were the revelation of past traumatic experiences and the exposure of one’s secret desires. Carl Jung, an early follower of Freud who broke away to develop a very different theory, claimed that the function of dreams is to compensate for those parts of the psyche (total personality) that are underdeveloped in waking life. However a study done by Calvin Hall's two-week dream series from students and longer dream journals from adults of all ages, strongly suggest that dream content is continuous with our waking thought and behavior. Some clinical psychologists interpret dreams to signal a repressed memory of abuse; For example, a dream consisting of water may mean that one was sexually abused in a bathing suit.
      Since the beginning of time people have been trying to “decode” their dreams. To do so, they seek advice and information from the findings and experiments of researchers and dream theorists, as wells as the information in “dream meaning” books and online websites. From research of my own and taking many psychology classes, I have learned that when REM sleep was first discovered, many theorists and scientists believed that dreams only occurred during that stage. However, we now know that dreams can occurs during any of the four stages of sleep, but the most vivid dreams occur in the last stage (REM). I have also learned that a person can have multiple dreams a night; the average sleep cycle consists of four stages and lasts about 90-120 minutes. Therefore, it is very common for a person to have several different dreams in one night.
      My point of view on dreams agrees with that of Freud’s. I believe that dreams are full of hidden meanings and that they are insights into a person’s unconscious mind. I think the meaning of each dream varies and that it is not fair to say that a dream about water represents a suppressed memory of being sexually abused in a bathing suit.  After reading about dreams, I would like to do some research on why people have reoccurring dreams and how is it possible to do so. Dreaming is fascinating; it’s a unique and creative side to every individual and is not the same in any two persons. I wonder if future research will continue to hypothesize and prove that dreams potentially have no meaning.
-Meghan Jirkovsky