Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Report

In Robert L. Park’s book Superstition, he exposes religious beliefs, superstition, and pseudoscience as false and ridiculous because they cannot be proved by experimental scientific methods. Within each chapter it focuses on one theory and its popularity, such as the creation story, or the reasons for a tsunami or new age mysterianism, and offers scientific reasons for not believing in the abstract ideas. The book contains quite a bit of scientific, biological and chemical information which, at some times is difficult to comprehend, yet Park is able to show how all the proponents of non scientific based ideas are charlatans. 

Park cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God. He also cannot explain why so many people believe in a God or cling to superstitions, but so many people do. He feels that this way thinking, that there is a God, is the result of what children hear and see from their earliest ages. All the sensory input and repetition has made us who we are. But Park is a supreme skeptic when it comes to blind belief. He says, “Science is the only way of knowing - everything else is just superstition” (Park 215). 
My favorite part of the book was the discussion on “intelligent design (Park 43), because it dovetailed with Michael Shermer’s lecture given in 2010 where he describes patterns, agents, and intelligent design and he shows the power of suggestion can be full of deceit and counter the ideas of Phillip Johnson, recognized as father of the intel design movements” (Park 43), who attempts to “divert attention from the scientific emptiness of the intelligent design movement” (Park 45). 

I happened to see a piece of art in the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University. The title of the work is Hiperborian or Septentrional Man by Maria Yony Lopez Marulanda. This composition reminded me of the class and what we have been learning because I feel that it represents the idea of man running toward the future with ideas flowing from his brain in union nature, yet the hands below the world could represent God letting go of the world, but also still having His hand on the world, and nature. Science and its growth can help both mankind and the world in which it lives by focusing more on empirical evidence, rather than unfounded beliefs. 


Mediumship is the practice of certain people, referred to as mediums, mediating communication between living human beings and spirits. There are different ways of practicing mediumship, which include mental mediumship, trance mediumship, physical mediumship. direct voice, and channeling. Mental mediumship is communication of spirits with a medium by telepathy. Trance mediumship, often seen as a form of mental mediumship, is when a spirit uses the medium’s mind to communicate. Physical mediumship is defined as manipulation of energies and energy systems by spirits. In this case, the medium is used as a source of power for spirit manifestations such as loud noises, voices, materialized objects, materialized spirit bodies, or body parts. Direct voice communication is the claim that spirits speak independently of the medium, who facilitates the phenomenon rather than produces it. Channeling is when the channeler goes into a trance, or “leaves their body,” allowing a spiritual entity to borrow their body and talks through them. 

Today, there are many shows out there that have to do with mediums talking to people about family members or close friends. These shows include “Long Island Medium” and “Hollywood Medium.” Both shows include a medium having several readings with many different people. 


Tyler Henry, “Hollywood Medium” relaying a message to Jenna Dewan Tatum.

Theresa Caputo, “Long Island Medium” reading the daughter and mother of a past father.

Book Report: Superstition

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book Report

Why People Believe Weird Things
  Michael Shermer

In this the book called Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusion of Our time by Michael Shermer talks about how people things because they can, or they have the “intelligence” to. Shermer talks about the beliefs and hopes that most people share. “Most of us harbor a type of faith in science, and a confidence that somehow science will solve our major problems.” (Shermer, 7) We always rely on scientist to fix our problems. We also believe that if something is from science, it must be true. Which is no always true.
 He talks about how thinking can go wrong. Such as, rumors not being equal to reality. Which is true, rumors are untrue stories that have been told and get spread to person to person until someone believes them. Using harsh words such as “rape, cancer, evil, communist.” (Shermer, 55) It has an easier way of sticking into people’s mind if the story is used with these kinds of words. “Religious faith depends on social, psychological and emotional factors that have little or nothing to do with probabilities, evidence and logic.” Said Shermer. I believe that this quote is true because so many people base their religious believe on other people. Such as those who believe in the bible. They believe that there should be no color people in the world. There should not be any kind of LGBT action anywhere.   
My favorite part of the book that I found interesting was when he talked about the Holocaust. He talks about how there a people who deny that it had happened. Some people say that teaching the Holocaust is child abuse. I believe that they are wrong. In my opinion, all education communities should have a program for The Holocaust. This is important because we need to know what brainwashing is and not to repeat history when Donald Trump decides to take over the world. I see a lot of similarities when it comes to Hitler and Donald Trump. Even after Trump the Holocaust needs to be taught for many years. It also teaches kids that they can’t discriminate others, or harm another human being because of their religion, or even color. 

book report

Believeing in Magic, The Psychology of Superstition by Stuart A Vyse is a booked based on all aspects of superstition. In the beginning of the book it talks about what superstition is and how it relates in today’s society. It gives a little something for almost everyone to relate to, in order to draw one into the book. In this book Mr. Vyse mentions many different experiments. For example one is Skinners pigeon experiment and how the pigeon began performing rituals before receiving food.
            Nearing the end of the book Vyse talks about if one grows up being superstitious. He also goes on and talks about the relationships between being superstitious and having a mental disorder. Concluding the book is the topic of expanding ones knowledge on scientist and science as a whole, having more appreciation for them.

            When it comes to my favorite part of the book I could not pick just one topic because for me the two go together. The two topics are superstition in sports and growing up superstitious. When I was little up until now, when it comes to playing sports or watching the Mets or Jets play I would have to wear a certain attire. The Jets and Mets played a huge part of my childhood.

  My friends and I when we were little were always outside doing something. There were trails behind my house and we would ride through them to get to the other neighborhood to play football. When it got dark out we all rode in the same position in line through the trails and would all make sure we were calling out noises to scare whatever it was in the woods away. We were not afraid of the Jersey devil per say but definitely the unknown as a whole.

 (before a Jets game with my jersey on ..Jets and Mets posters in background)

(Another example of how big of a role they play .. my older brothers grave)

The End of the World

Many people truly believed that the world would end December 21, 2012. There were people who went to extremes on preparing for the world to end. There were people paying one thousand dollars to attend a two day party in a bunker used by the civil war. Also, people were preparing for safety from the world ending by supplying underground bunkers with food, medicine and necessities needed to survive past the end of the world. While many people took precautions for the end of the world, other people joked around about it.

Book Report

Book Report: Flim-Flam!

James Randi, a well known magician and escape artist, published the book Flim-Flam! in 1980. The pseudoscience skeptic poured all of his knowledge and past encounters into debunking and exposing widespread deceptions, commonly promoted by the media. A common theme Randi follows is confirmation bias; the tendency to search for and find confirming evidence for a belief while overlooking counter examples. Randi's efforts to bring to light the poor research done by scientists and their foolish rationalizations are well documented and compelling. Randi works to disprove astrology by explaining how vast the universe is. He states that many people are born at the same time but bear different personalities, giving rise to the suspicion of horoscopes. His efforts to uncover deceit include analysis of how two young girls who posed with faeries and gnomes tricked thousands with their camera, the mystery of the Bermuda triangle, an ex-hotel managers claims of aliens visiting earth and leaving artifacts, and how human beings will to believe does not stop at professionals.

James Randi Debunks an Astrologer

The most interesting part of this book, I found, was Randi's lengthy discussion of astrology and UFO's. He explains that there is an infinite amount of stars in the universe and the distance between us and them is so vast that they could not even be there anymore. So, the position of the sun in a set of stars that could possibly not even be there anymore means close to nothing. Of course I am talking about horoscopes. They describe how a group of people, born within a set of about 30 days, have the same personality. Randi begins to question the personality of twins saying that, according to astrologists, twins should have the exact same personality. However, instead of realizing their mistake, astrologists turn up an explanation for the discrepancy. I can say with first hand experience that I do not have the exact same or even a similar personality to my twin sister. This is another example of confirmation bias.

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Reports of UFO sightings are not uncommon to anyone living in the United States, but how do we know if they are real or not? James Randi performed a small experiment in which he went on a radio show and told of his recent experience of seeing a triangular shaped UFO in the sky. He gave no specific details and of course was lying. Within seconds the radio station was receiving dozens of calls of people seeing the exact same thing. By the end, the people had agreed on the exact number of triangular air crafts, along with the specific location, altitude, and direction the craft was traveling. Reading this, I realized how many of the thousands of reports of UFO's every year are more than likely fake. However, believers will still claim the definitely saw something in the air that night. Quite like every other chapter in his book, Randi does an excellent job of making the reader aware of peoples stubbornness towards their passion. For reasons unknown to me, communities continue to believe in unfounded concepts and theories, even more than 30 years after the publication of James Randi's book debunking their favorites stories.

Former NASA Engineer Debunks UFO Sightings

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Mass Delusions

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On Halloween in 1938 Orson Welles told a story over his broadcasting station of an alien invasion in NJ called the war of the worlds. Obviously, this man was clearly delusional or in another state of mind. His whole broadcast included him telling the world about how there are aliens that no one knew about. Over 1.2 million people were impacted by what Orson said. Apparently, they took a poll and these people that re frightened were just a mass delusion of what he thought that broadcast had done to the people.
Another Mass Delusion we have in our lecture is the Salem witch trials which was located in Massachusetts where people believed they could be cursed by a witch so they tortured and imprisoned many people in the area. Clearly very delusional situation unless you believe that these people were actually cursed which I do not believe.

Learning Styles

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There are three types of learning styles visual, kinesthetic and Auditory learning. When it comes to hands on learning I believe that it comes best to me. Being able to feel everything and the way it works seems easier. For example, I own my own business and everything is basically hands on but I could watch how to put a fence in but still not understand the real concept. The way to really feel and learn is to go out and experience it hands on. Your brain will learn what to do and what not to when it comes to learning.
That doesn’t always go for everyone though I believe that a lot of people especially students learn better with Auditory learning and actually watching how it’s done. In the classroom when the professor lectures maybe they get a better grasp on the way that they learn the certain material. For visual learners, basically explained in football where you have to study the playbook some of the players have trouble studying them because they can’t remember what they saw. I want to get some comments below on what kind of learner you guys are.

10% of Our Brains

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We all lived life believing that we were putting 100% effort towards everything we do our brain is only working a fraction of what it could be doing. 10% of our brain is all the normal human being uses but why is that a big deal. Would you believe that we can have telepathic abilities along with other specific abilities? Meaning if our brains were in 100% function could it be possible to hear something from someone without them saying it. Reading minds is basically what I’m getting at or otherwise known as quantum entanglement. 

Past Life Memories

Some children claim that they remember their past life. Even some adults are able to recall events and details from a familiar yet very distant past life of theirs. Researchers at the University of Virginia have been seeking evidence to prove reincarnation. However, there is much argument on whether or not the child is experiencing false memories due to over active imagination or trauma or brain tumors.

My parents told me that when I was a little girl I used to ask for "my other parents" and that I would say things like "my other dad didn't smoke" or something like that. I don't remember doing this and I have no memories of any other parents. But who knows? Maybe as a child I remembered a life I already had? Studies show that children are able to see things that adults cannot.

Book Report Why People Believe in Weird Things

Why People Believe in Weird Things is a book written by a known skeptic named Michael Shermer. This book gives readers a whole new perspective on what makes people believers and what makes people skeptics. This book is a series of stories written by believers and he proves them differently. His focus is why people believe in the existence of things that have no evidence of this existence or that there is evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

Shermer describes this as an error of thinking. He names two errors, Type 1 error which is believing in a falsehood and Type 2 error which is what leads to rejecting truths. Throughout the book he gives his theory on why intelligent people are more susceptible to “crazy” beliefs. He also gives examples as to why we should not believe but also why we believe and that it is normal for these “errors” to occur.

One of my favorite parts was a chapter towards the end of the book about why people believe that the Holocaust never happened. It’s my favorite part because it shocks me to learn that there are people out there who believe that the Holocaust never happened, that 6 million Jews did not die from torture, crucial labor, gas chambers and more. Shermer mentioned why people were deniers and one belief that stood out to me was they believed that the Holocaust was a myth invented by Allies. These deniers all ignore the hard evidence thrown their way because they have it in their heads that it never happened and they refuse to believe otherwise. A heuristic that this example fits well with is confirmation bias. People believe some kind of information given to them rather than collecting more to prove the case. If they collected more information than it would be easier for them to come to the realization of the truth rather than their own beliefs.

This example and this whole book relate to the heuristic of confirmation bias along with almost all of the elements of thought such as information, point of view, assumptions and interpretation. Overall, I enjoyed this book and loved the way he disproved common beliefs and beliefs that I had no idea people believed in such as the Holocaust never existing. Below is a video of why people deny the Holocaust and who the deniers are:

Book Report: Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow is a book explores the two halves of a persons mind and how they think. The book is a culmination of Kahneman's past work and experiences with his studies and work with his colleagues, a major one being his friend and partner Amos who worked with him on many experiments and is a huge part of the book. The book itself is divided into five sections and is very organized and interactive. The book is constantly making you think and has you do tasks and thinking games that relate to what is being taught in that chapter. I found myself pleasantly surprised when I would try to solve a puzzle and afterwards read how Kahneman would describe all the feelings I was going through while solving the puzzle, how my eyes dilated, my heart rate speeding up, how I made a bit of a face, and how I most likely got the question wrong due to the fast thinking part of my brain making a mistake. which brings us back to the two halves of our brain which is the main focus of the book.

Dubbed system 1 (thinking fast) and system 2 (thinking slow), these two systems dictate how we react to certain situations and problems and how we interact and live in our day to day life. System 1 is the passive system that we use naturally and without any effort, such as answering simple questions such as 2 + 2, walking and talking, naming the capital of France, reading facial expressions, and making assumptions. System 2 is the slow thinking part of your mind that requires effort, this system helps you with complicated situations such as answering what 17 X 24 is, driving in rough weather, and hard tasks such as the Add-1 and Add-3 challenges.

An example of system 2 in motion would be this video in which the watcher are given the task of counting how passes the white players make with the basketball. During the task, a person dressed as a Guerrilla will walk in the middle of the group for a few seconds and walk out. Chances are that you were so focused on the task that you never saw the Guerrilla. System 2 requires a lot of effort and will likely shut out everything that has nothing to do with the task, making you "blind". A problem with system 2 is that it is lazy and does not work passively and often goes off the assumptions made by system 1, such as the Ball and Bat test. A ball and bat cost $1.10 and the bat costs one dollar more than the ball, how much money is the ball? Most people make the mistake of saying 10 cents for the ball when the right answer is 5 cents. Your system 1 came up with an answer and instead of challenging it, your system 2 endorsed even though it should have picked up the mistake immediately. This book is constantly making your mind work while also discovering how it is working.
One of my favorite parts of the book involves conjunction fallacy, which is when a person believes a conjunction of two events is more likely than a single event. In chapter 15, Kahneman and Amos came up with an experiment in which they made up a women named Linda who they described as a bright women who is concerned for social justice and is an active feminist. The experiment gave a list of outcomes for Linda such as being a teacher, a social worker, an active feminist, a bank teller, and a bank teller who is a feminist. Most people picked the feminist bank teller as more likely outcome than bank teller or feminist. The truth is that bank teller or feminist are more probable than a feminist bank teller as they are only one event while the other is two events. Kahneman and Amos coined the phrase conjunction fallacy as a result of this experiment. People tried to represent their answer to the description of Linda even though it was less probable. This happens all the time in day to day life were people choose answers that make sense rather than answers that are mathematically right. I really liked this experiment as it is something that I am guilty of doing as well, I even initially made the same mistake in the Linda experiment when reading it. I find myself making this mistake a lot of times as I often choose answers or make assumptions base on what makes more sense rather than what is truly right, even when I know something is wrong I still consider it as it makes the most sense in my head. Experiments like this make me realize how simply the wording of a question or a description of a person can radically change the way we think and answer. This book is chalk full of great experiments like this and I'm really glad I chose this book to read as learning about how the mind works is also helping me understand how I work as well.