Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How do movies impact our thought process?

How do movies Impact the way we think?

I'm just curious to see what people think about movies that inspires us or scare us and how this could impact our behavior in the real world. Referring to Pseudoscience, exactly like the Mozart Effect, when we think listening to something like a piece of music will make us more intelligent is the same concept as being inspired by a movie. Considering the Mozart Effect was proven to be flawed maybe it's placebo? We just think that we're getting points towards our IQ but we actually aren't. Just tricking our minds. 

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

"Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer is a book for anyone who wishes to understand more about, as the title says, why people believe weird things. He used science and critical thinking to debunk pseudoscience throughout the book. One chapter I found most interesting was chapter 14, How We Know the Holocaust Happened. He explains that holocaust deniers have methodology for their reasons. Even though there were written letters, eyewitness testimony, photographs, and physical evidence from the Holocaust, holocaust deniers ignore it. They will cherry-pick anything that could be used in their explanations. Here we go back to fast thinking. It is like mental gymnastics. This chapter is full of dialogue from an interview with Michael Shermer and holocaust denier, David Irving, along with text from other books regarding the denial of the holocaust. What I like about the chapter is how despite clear evidence, and just when you think the denier is backed into a corner, he pushes onward. That chapter among others give an idea of how to be ignorant in general if you want to annoy people.

Those who want to develop better slow thinking skills would benefit from this book. I this book ties in a number of topics we discussed as part of this course. Alien abductions, out of body experiences, psychics, supernatural powers and miracle products are all discussed and he debunks all of them. Obviously, this book could be used to explain other phenomena not discussed since it is over twenty years old, like the flat earth conspiracy. Whether it is flat earth or holocaust denial, those who defend it will still use the same conceptual arguments like "he was coerced" or "if that's true, then why...". If this book were to be published tomorrow, it would still be relevant as it were in 1997. With the internet becoming more solid in society, weird ideas have emerged. The topics have changed, but the concepts of why people believe in the paranormal or the unexplained have not changed. (Couldn't figure out how to embed a video on blogger)

Image result for ignorance is bliss then

Book Report

Factfulness is a book about just that, the facts. Armed with a colossal amount of statistics about the world, Anna Rosling, Hans Rosling and Ola Rosling fight the world of fast thinkers and try to make a more thoughtful, better assuming, world of critical thinkers. They use their knowledge of the world to try to convey the bigger idea that progress is happening in the world. It’s a slow progress. Things are not as bad as you may think. In fact, and I do mean facts, they are markedly better than any years we’ve seen in the past.
The first chapter and ninth chapter so resiliently call out the main use of statistics in today's society. Very few jump on the internet and research a statistic to gain a better understanding of their world. Instead they cling to the two instincts discussed in these chapters. The first instinct discussed in the first chapter is that there is a them and us. A definitive gap between two populations. The second instinct is discussed in the ninth chapter. The instinct of a single minded perspective. How can anyone be wrong if the variables are always labeled “right” and “wrong” with the statistics pilfered for being the ones that lean towards “right,” or the arguers side? This is so stimulating to thing about, because the statistical analysis constantly made about a 99% and a 1%. When the reality is that all statistics have a 99% and a 1%. Some are evenly distributed. Some are exponentially grown.
Thinking on the very first ideas of what breaks down logical progress of critical analysis, we arrive at fast thinking. Heuristics are defined examples of fast thinking. One of the hardest heuristics to overcome is the heuristic of Intuitive Predictions. This is because it also coincides with what, in Thoughtfulness, is defined as the destiny instinct. When someone feels that something is a certain way, and likely wont change. When a statistic is right, but doesn’t feel right. Maybe one is not used to the idea that most citizens in Africa live in solid homes, have shoes, are vaccinated, and have fresh water. This goes against the information they had grown up on. Even though since they were you, phones went from Nokia’s to Iphones and concept electric cars to hybrids that can drive themselves. People don’t like to fight the feeling of something, because they’ve grown comfortable with that feeling.
Included in this post is a fun interactive video, that has some statistics that I thought some people may have some varying insight on. Personally, my view on the world has changed so much based on this book, and if any blog readers out there see the video and are interested, Factfulness even comes in an audio-book you can listen to in your car!

Post #3 Aromatherapy

I didn't even know that aromatherapy was fake up until that lecture. My mom always sends me essential oils for an essential oil diffuser and to rub under my nose for relaxing and less anxiety and its annoying to find out it doesn't actually do that. Essential oils are just another kind of placebo to make people feel things without it actually doing anything.

Post #2 Graphology

Graphology is incredibly interesting to me, as I like to focus on smaller things and notice people's handwritings a lot. I have very loopy handwriting and adopted that from someone during freshman year and its big lettering and loopy, and I am curious as to what loopy means as far as personality wise. I'm also left handed and want to know if there is anything to go along with left handedness in graphology, as left handed people often times have less good or different hand writing. This is incredible that people were able to come up with this connection, and it would be really interesting if graphology was accurate and not a pseudoscience. Also, it is really stupid that a hiring place would stop someone from getting a job due to their handwritings. This is a terrible thing to base someone's work ethic off of.

Post #1 Subliminal Messaging

In my rhetoric and composition class, we learned a lot about subliminal messaging and my professor got carried away and excited about it so we watched video examples for 3 classes about it and talked about it. It was really interesting hearing someone who firmly still believes in it and their viewpoints on it versus the actual truth about it. Dr. Siebert also showed us songs played backwards with "demonic" messages that apparently made teens rebelious and moms stopped their kids from listening to it because of that. It was really interesting that it is used in advertisements and currently still is.

book report

Factfulness, written by Hans Rosling, discussed the ways someone thinks about the world. Rosling tells his own personal stories from his life. The book starts by talking about the different classes in the world, the rich/poor and the developed/undeveloped countries. The main goal of this book is to get people to think more about the topic instead of believing everything exactly how it is. Throughout the book, the readers are told cold hard facts of the world and I think this is important because there are some people do not want to believe then even though they are true.
One thing that I liked about this book is that there are real facts that most people forget about. There are many people that focus only on the bad that is happening in the world and forget that there are good things happening at the same time. Sometimes there are more bad things happening than good or more good than bad. I also like how Hans Rosling gave tips on how to think differently. Many people including myself believe exactly what we see and do not look more into a story. For example, we read the title of an article and make assumptions before we even know the story or what actually happened.
This book relates to our lecture about “Ways of Thinking.” Throughout the book, we learn about different ways to broaden our thinking and look at things from a different view. In the lecture, we learn about the different types of thinking and the elements of thinking.

Book Report- “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer

I read “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer. The book was just that: Shermer’s explanations of why people believe pseudoscience concepts. For a good portion of the book, he listed and explained the fallacies that morph people’s thinking allowing them to believe pseudoscientific concepts. Shermer is a self-proclaimed skeptic but has slightly controversial skeptic views; he somewhat believes in varied states of consciousness. He believes that different states of consciousness allow people to be more susceptible to altered thinking. He gives the example of how he was a marathon cyclist, claiming that in an extreme state of sleeplessness, he thought his crew were aliens that abducted him. He knows, of course, that that is not true, yet he said it felt real. He believes that in certain conditions people are more likely to believe hallucinations. Shermer also focused a lot on Holocaust deniers, explaining talk shows he’s been on and debating such nonbelievers. That was kind of an uncomfortable part of the book for me. Having always been interested in that type of history, going to the Holocaust museum and survivor seminars, listening to reasons why people would deny those horrid things done to those people is, in my opinion, absurd and insensitive.

I have a few parts of the book that I really enjoyed. Because I read the book via audiobook, read by Shermer himself, there was a bit of sass that he added, which was kind of funny at parts. I also liked when he spoke on his experiences trying “health crazes” as a cyclist. It seems like he went extremely far for his research of these performance-improving suggestions. He took excessive vitamins, drank smoothie concoctions, had massages, etc., all testing fads and “tricks” of the health community.

Shermer focused a bit on out of body experiences and near-death experiences, and how trauma is an important factor in understanding why people have these “experiences”. When I was younger, I believe in the 1st grade, a traumatic event struck on of the people I love the most, my father. He was a road worker and was drawing lines on the ground to mark where to pave for a person driving a machine. The person driving the machine didn’t see my father, and accidentally ran him over, causing the loss of my dad’s leg. I never asked him what went on in his head at that moment, so for the sake of this paper I decided to interview him. His experience isn’t exactly like descriptions of a NDEs discussed by Shermer and in class. He didn’t see anyone deceased calling to him or a white light, but he did hallucinate in his time of extreme trauma. He told me that he remembers staring at one of his coworkers trying to ask him for a gun, so he could kill himself. Then my dad said that he seen my mother and I looking down at him asking him not to give up. We have a family member, Lisa, that has a prosthetic leg. So, my father said to himself, “If Lisa can do it, so can I”, referencing his unfortunate new lifestyle. He is aware that all of this happened in his head, he knows my mother and I weren’t actually there, but he said it feels as real to him as talking to me now.

Shermer said that he was on numerous television programs as a skeptic, so I wanted to include the one that sounded the most interesting to me. He was on the “Bill Nye The Science Guy” show, which who doesn’t love that show? He was there debunking fire walking. I don’t know if I found the exact clip, but this is a video of Shermer explaining the “phenomenon” and participating in it. He proves that the coals are not hot enough to burn your feet whilst moving quickly on them.

Carl Sagn Book Report

Carl Sagan is an author/scientist who is really dedicated to science and the effect science has on our world. When it comes to pseudoscience, he is very passionate about it and the way science is crucial in its understanding. He says, "The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success" (page 27). This quote relates to the imaginative thought of fallacies and proving them either to be real or fake. In order to figure that out you have to be imaginative. In the novel, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, he explains how scientific thinking is crucial in this technological intergrated world with pseudoscience. Sagan goes through the many fallacies such as UFO sightings, extraterrestrial life, eyc. and how they cannot be real without scientific evidence. Carl's intentions of writing this book is to inform people about the importance science has on these fallacies. 

My favorite part of Carl Sagan's novel is when he talks about the relationship between demons and humans on earth. He talks about this in chapter 7. The logic behind demons is that they were created by God to overule the humans. Sagan says that demons are really similar to humans as they partake in human activies. Similar to aliens, they lived I liked this part of the book because it reminded me of The Jersey Devil story. The Jersey Devil was born through a human and killed the parents. The demon was born through a human and ended up ruling them like Sagan has stated. It was interesting to read the book and relate it to many lectures in the class, like the story of The Jersey Devil. Similar to what Carl Sagan was saying, there has to be science to back up the claims of these creatures. The Jersey Devil was spread through old folk gossip and had been passed along. Sagan goes in depth to figure out the purpose of the existence of these creatures on Earth.

Furthermore, I have a better understanding of the effects science has on pseudoscience. Science is a major necessity when it comes to claims of UFO sightings, demons, and other fallocies that are said to be true. People like to believe these things are true because they want to believe something that is out of the ordinary. The best way to understand how these fallacies came about and their existence, is to use science to find evidence supporting it.

Pictured below is a diagram that explains the difference between pseudoscience and science. This also supports Sagan's claim because it shows how science is more about testing rather than believing something someone heard.  
Image result for pseudoscience

Book Report Post:The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle Light in the Dark

Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, astrobiologst, and author among other things. Sagan was most well known for his work as a scientist during the 1970’s and 1980’s as well as his studies of the extraterrestrial. Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle Light in the Dark (1995), is one of his most well known.  The Demon Haunted World is Sagan’s 457-page masterpiece in which he explains the scientific way to the average man, as well as his push to encourage people to learn how to use critical and skeptical thinking. Sagan pushes the importance of skepticism in all aspects of life, not just science. He finds a way to tie skepticism into the ever-pressing need for support of the scientific community. He does so by encouraging the reader to have an open mind when it comes to science. This book covers everything from aliens to demons to witches and wonder. This is also why I admired this piece so much; Sagan touches upon many of my favorite subjects pertaining to the pseudoscience and the paranormal.
            My favorite part of The Demon Haunted World was chapter six, Hallucinations. Chapter six is a deep dive into alien abductions and whether or not they are merely hallucinations. I favored this chapter in particular because Sagan wrote about the Betty and Barney Hill abductions. In short, the Hills were a New Hampshire couple who in 1961, claim to have been abducted by aliens who came down to them in a UFO Spacecraft. Their memories of the event had a two-hour window missing. So, through hypnosis with a hypnotherapist they were able to fill in the blanks. They recalled little gray men who probed them in their navels and subjected them to medical examinations. I learned about this case on my favorite podcast, The Last Podcast on the Left: episodes 169 and 170, so I was super excited to see it mentioned in Sagan’s book. I’m going to link the episodes below so you guys can check it out!
            Moreover, chapter six also discusses how hallucinations can be elicited by multiple reasons and factors. These include everything from drugs to alcohol to high fevers. Sagan that a 1894 census published by the international Census of Waking Hallucinations states that ten to twenty-five percent of people have experienced vivid hallucinations.  With that being said, could these alien abductions merely be hallucinations? This is where critical and skeptical thinking come into question. You could credit these abductions to aliens and UFO’s, or you could look at it from a scientific aspect. In which these abductions are due to hallucinations.
In class we discuss UFO Abductions and Projective Testing in lecture nine. This section goes over the use of hypnosis in recalling past events. The Hill’s Psychiatrist Sent them to a hypnotherapist in order to help them recall what happened during the missing two hours of the night they claimed to have been abducted. The lecture mentions suggestive interviewing and leading questions, which makes you wonder whether or not Betty and Barney Hill actually recalled the events or the thoughts were planted through the hypnosis.
In conclusion, when it comes to use in the real world, I believe that The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle Light in the Dark (1995) is the perfect handbook for anyone trying to understand how science ties into the world of the paranormal. Sagan encourages his readers to use critical thinking and to welcome scientific thought into their lives.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness by Hans Roslin talks about the experiences Hans himself has gone through as times have changed from his childhood up to 2018. Through that time, he has learned to look at things in a more rational way instead of becoming paranoid when bad news pop up. What he teaches his readers to do is to have introspection so they can realize the 10 instincts, or I should call them 10 flaws, that we all have and how to properly work our way around them to notice that the world, in reality, is getting better, not worse.
The 10 instincts, or flaws are: The Gap Instinct, The Negativity Instinct, The Straight Line Instinct, The Fear Instinct, The Size Instinct, The Generalization Instinct, The Destiny Instinct, The Single Perspective Instinct, The Blame Instinct, The Urgency Instinct. The overall idea of these instincts is that humans should learn to remain objective and not paranoid upon hearing news in the media as it is often more bombarded in bad news than good news (Roslin explains why it makes sense and it's profitable for the news channels to broadcast bad news more often than good ones). One of the interesting things of the book is how he approaches us. He first explains how things were back in the 19th century and mid 20th century, mostly citing Sweden as an example of how progress is a slow process and that most countries today are going through that transition of better life quality for humanity across all four levels of income.
My favorite chapter of the book is Chapter 8: The Single Perspective Instinct, because in one of the stories he tells he's explaining how people were not willing to give up information about their income level when taking a test for sexually transmitted diseases. People reacted evasively saying "Why are you asking us this? That is an extremely private question."  However, a few years later Roslin asked a team at the World Bank to organize a global income survey for random people to fill out. These surveys included the questions about sexual activity of the participants. Not surprisingly, people were happy to talk about their income, but they wouldn't answer anything about their sexual activity. I love the reasoning he used behind this saying "It's strange where people end up drawing their lines and how well behaved they feel if they stay inside their boxes." I believe this story most closely resembles Heuristic #40: Ignoring Frames because "how a problem is framed determines our choices
more than purely rational considerations would imply" in other words, if we approach people in a way that makes them feel more exposed based on how unrelated the question is to the main question, they'll feel wary about answering it or if they feel it has a negative connotation within that context. As a whole, the book is mostly related to the topic of Heuristics and Mass Delusions because the human emotions are triggered with all the negative news often portrayed in TV or internet thus making it easier for people to really believe that the world is becoming more dangerous and worse. Fact is that the world is really getting better.
People just need to do the math; the statistics speak for themselves. and most importantly not forget "what life was really like in the past so that they do not mistakenly think that no progress has been made." If people read this book, they will learn to see the world in a way they never thought about. They'll learn to look at things more objectively and remain calm while also acknowledging that bad things are happening, but that many things are also getting better. In chapter 10, Roslin teaches us that The Urgency Instinct triggers a cascading effect that makes us more prone to react with our 9 other Instincts wrongfully. In reality, most of our everyday decisions are rarely urgent. So take small steps, breathe and think critically.
Hans Roslin points out that we should only carry strong opinion on things that are based on fact. Thinking this way is a very relaxing and easier way of living since you won't run across bad surprises. Watch this clip to learn to think in the Factfulness Mindset:

Book Report, Factfulness

Factfulness, written by Hans Rosling is an eye opening book that will revolutionize the way an individual thinks about the world. The author opens the book with stating the main misconceptions in our society which is ultimately dividing humans into two groups- rich or poor/developed and developing countries. There are general assumptions that “developing nations” to this day are worse off or equal to what they were decades ago, and that simply isn’t the case. Some of the common generalizations for developing nations is that they are lacking significant access to healthcare, fresh water, sanitation, transportation, education, and electricity. Yes, some countries are better off than others, but the reality in fact is that conditions are improving worldwide. Educators, journalists, investors, and medical researchers are even misleading the general public with outdated statistics. It appears as though people are incapable of thinking for themselves and critically in general. 
One of the most interesting topics I came across was The Fear Instinct. This is the idea that humans have attention filters, and the most dramatic instincts receive the most attention. For example, Rosling makes the comparison that media chooses to capture moments that are more intense and dramatic such as racism, violence, terrorist attacks, and earthquakes (Rosling, 2018). The author placed every topic on a level system of 1-4 where 4 indicates the highest average amount of dollar income per day, and can be used and interpreted globally. The highest earners on level four which make at least $32/day contribute to paying for natural disaster relief through their tax dollars. Astonishingly, 90% of individuals are unaware of their contribution because the media does not find it interesting enough for the main headlines on news networks worldwide. Instead of showing positive segments, the news editors are focused on negativity. It is phenomenal to hear that currently no country suffers from increased child mortality which means conditions are improving worldwide for future generations, but what good is this if hardly anyone knows? With so much focus on hatred and scare tactics, how will we ever be able to better our societies if we can’t feel the appreciation of our accomplishments?
Prior to reading this book, I have always been taught relatively the same ideas/concepts as an environmental science student. This book was inspirational as I felt it connected more dots pertaining specifically to my major. My father said that I should have been a lawyer as I meticulously analyze everything, and this book honestly leaves me with more questions than answers. The majority of people aren’t able to recognize these accomplishments worldwide because we lack a certain leadership and level of honesty with the general public. Politics certainly contribute to this confusion, but who is really at fault here? This is a culmination of many factors that has more depth and dimension than what our society is willing to admit. We the people- follow our leaders as they contradict themselves and receive glory for it. What’s written in our school books is what the government wants children to be raised to believe. It is important in this media-crazed society to be able to think critically about the information that is being fed to us on a daily basis, rather than blindly accepting ideas as truth or false thinking. The only way to change this negative mindset is for people to start believing in themselves, rather than the people they idolize or stereotypical fears. As human conditions worldwide are improving, there is still more work to do, such as fighting for equal rights and fair-trade. I have found an interesting Ted Talk by psychologist Steven Pinker who expresses similar views of Rosling's, as well as a video on a newspaper that only has good news to spread, hope you enjoy.


Rosling, H. With Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund. 2018. Factfulness: Ten Reasons      
We're Wrong About the World- And Why Things are Better Than You Think.

How We Know What Isn't So

How We Know What Isn't So

     Thomas Gilovich's book: How We Know What Isn't So (The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life) is a psychology novice’s dream. I am far from adequately versed in the world of psych, but the focus on example-based learning felt optimized for this. It not only details psychological phenomena and their causes but applies them to the every-day setting. Gilovich focuses the first half of the book on establishing various fallacies for the reader, so that they have the proper foundation moving forward when the fallacies are used as explanations for erroneous beliefs later. Gilovich uses all of this to dissect modern myths and encourage the reader to think more critically to avoid the same misjudgments and delusions, rather than fall victim to the universal flaws of human reasoning.

     I found part three: “Examples of Questionable and Erroneous Beliefs” to be the most interesting, particularly the chapter on “alternative” health practices. Gilovich makes the claim that no area has been more dangerous in application of these beliefs than health and medicine. He critiques “quack” medical services and procedures which are physiologically ineffective and sometimes mentally damaging. Regarding ineffective, a massive culprit today is the essential oil industry. The essential oil miracle product can be rubbed directly on skin or vaporized and inhaled in the practice of aromatherapy. Some of aromatherapy’s alleged therapeutic values include improved psychological and physical wellbeing. Purveyors of the essential oils used for aromatherapy vow that they treat depression and anxiety, as well as acne, arthritis pain, and even cerebral palsy. The essential oils global market is set to be worth 27 billion dollars by 2022. All with only circumstantial evidence to support its assertions.

     Holistic health products like essential oils have become a millennial staple because of the post hoc (ergo propter hoc) fallacy, the reasoning of which can be explained most succinctly as "If event B followed event A, event B must have been caused by event A". So, if you have a toothache and apply peppermint oil to the affected area and the ache goes away 20 minutes later, it must be because of the oil! To circle back around to the potential mental damage “quack” practices can have, I’d like to use the example of “faith healers” such as Kathryn Kuhlman and Prophet Johnson. A person with cancer can request a healing session, and if they enter remission (perhaps due to actual treatment), you will hear them make pious claims like “I don’t heal; the Holy Spirit heals through me”. But if the afflicted’s condition worsens, you are more likely to hear them say “If I can’t heal them, there’s something wrong with their souls”. Yes, someone actually said such a horrible thing.

     Ironically, with the above being the writing I enjoyed most from Thomas Gilovich, it is also the topic I take the most issue with. Gilovich provides only a brief qualifier at the beginning of this Holistic Health subsection, recognizing how broad the term is and that there are reputable scientists with based practices in this field. But while this is a book about dis-proving concepts, I still feel it focused too heavily on sham treatments, when there are many “New Age” ideas which are credible and have the proper evidence to support their continued use. But overall, the way in which Gilovich levelly approached his criticism of widely accepted beliefs was a lesson in itself. He doesn’t lambast believers of these methods as idiots, instead he references the likes of Francis Bacon and George Washington who respectively believed that rubbing pork rinds on the skin could cure warts and that bloodletting could cure “various bodily ills”. The addition of these respected figures -having the same misunderstandings as so many people today- helps to soften Gilovich’s overall tone and make a reader with a contrasting view more receptive of his critiques.

I grew up in a family adverse to use of traditional medicine for common ailments. When I was little, I never used anything but these exact homeopathic pellets for headaches, back pain, nausea, you name it. I still use them occasionally when I'm home from school. Do they work? I have no idea. But if anything really hurts I can always take some ibuprofen.