Thursday, April 30, 2020

This Idea Must Die Book Report

   This Idea Must Die, edited by John Brockman brings together 175 of the world's most brilliant minds. These brilliant minds believe that some scientific theories are blocking progress and need to be retired. For example everyone knows gravity is a real thing, but this book will make you really think that there is a .0001% chance that gravity is not real. Overall this book makes you think or reconsider everything you know.
   My favorite section in this book was "Altruism." The definition of altruism is that you do something for other people, not just for yourself. I really liked this topic because I believe our society is starting to become more selfish. My favorite quote in this entire book is "Everyone feels better when you're well, and you feel better when everyone is well." This gives me hope that if everyone can work together and be kind that this world can be a better place. I feel that the violence rate has gone up and that we need to come together before it gets any worse.

   The second passage I really enjoyed was "Beware of Arrogance! Retire Nothing!" This entire book is about retiring scientific theories that need to be updated, but in this passage wrote by Ian McEwan, he goes against the entire book. He states that we shouldn't retire anything, as wrong scientific theories can help us learn and develop a better scientific theory. I agree that we shouldn't just throw aways theories because they are wrong. We can use these theories to see how we got there and build upon it to better understand the topic.

   "Science and Technology" written by Geroge Dyson was one of the short, but interesting passage in the book. This section is about half a page and it talks about how there can be science without technology and that technology can go on without science. Before reading this I didn't think that technology can really advance or thrive without science and vice versa with science. Some examples of science thriving without technology is the Pythagoreans to Japanese temple geometry. This shows that we shouldn't heavily depend on one or the other to thrive.

   In conclusion, if you like to make your brain work and question theories this is the perfect book for you! I really liked the book because it gave me a lot of knowledge in theories that I've never heard of before. Also liked that the book was challenging in terms of the scientific vocabulary used in the book so that I had to search it online to find out the definition which allowed me to learn new vocabulary. What I didn't like about the book was that it wasn't really organized. Sections could be half a page or 5 pages, but the constant skipping between topics made me lose interest very easily in certain topics, but overall a very educating book!

Factfulness Book Report

The book I chose to read was Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It was a fascinating read about how the world is not really the way we view it; most people’s worldview is severely outdated even though they have access to newer information. Rosling put together lectures and TED talks and tried to show the people who attended how much better off the world is than people think it is. He discovered the ten instincts that people have when it comes to how we view the world and he details them all in his book.
Rosling talks about the Generalization Instinct and how it causes people to make generalizations that can distort our worldview and causes people to divide the world into “us” and “them”. Generalizations are important because they allow us to categorize things, recognize them as being similar, and help us structure our thoughts but the problem with generalizing is that it causes people to overlook certain groups. The best ways to avoid incorrect generalizations is to look for differences within and across groups because you want to split them into more specific categories but also realize that what works for one won’t necessarily work for another, look for similarities across groups because people are more similar than we realize, always beware of the majority because it could just mean 51% which causes you to miss out on the other 49% of people, beware of vivid examples because they aren’t necessarily the standard, and never assume people are idiots just because they don’t come to the same conclusion as you.
In the Gap Instinct, Rosling details the four income levels that he came up with to replace the terms “developed” and “developing” countries. Level one is the lowest income level, they make $1 a day and live in extreme poverty, they can’t afford medicine or to eat food they didn’t grow themselves. Level 2 makes $4 a day, they can afford to buy food they didn’t have to grow and they can save money to buy things like sandals and mattresses. Level 3 makes $16 a day and they can buy a fridge that allows them to store food, their savings are enough to cover medical expenses and not risk falling a level. And level 4 is the highest level, and they make $64 a day, they are the rich consumer, have several years of education and can afford vacations.
The Destiny Instinct is in my opinion the most dangerous one. To believe that one’s lot in life is fated to never change and always be the same is dangerous because you’ll allow yourself to get stuck somewhere in your life that you do not want to be. And culture is not unchanging or unchangeable, cultures move, and they adapt to new things, but they aren’t always so easy to see. People assume that Africa is destined to remain poor and lag behind the rest of the world, as a continent Africa is far behind the rest of the world currently but looking at the individual countries, you see that many of them are not doing too badly. In the whole of Africa, the average lifespan of a newborn is 65 while in Western Europe the average is 82, but averages can be misleading and there are many African countries that have life expectancies above the world average of 72. They are changing and will continue to change, no one is destined to be stuck anywhere.
Reading Factfulness changed my worldview entirely. I always thought of the world as either “developed” countries and “developing” countries, because that’s how it is portrayed in the news. And improvements and new developments in poorer countries are rarely reported in the news, usually only the worst news is reported. It’s great to know that the world is not in the terrible state we all think it’s in.

Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition - Book Report

       Superstition seems to have never left us.  No matter where you look there are athletes who rely on rituals to win or actors telling each other to "break a leg" right before they go on stage, but why?  We live in a time where almost every phenomenon can be explained by science or a new form of technology.  As much as people rely on their phones to live they also will look to their beliefs for comfort or to understand predicaments that are unexplainable.  One such notion is that we have our own psychological processes that natural create rituals to fill our time during the day, give us our need for control, our desire to see more than just coincidences, and give us strength to cope with what may seem as unbearable.  Within the novel "Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition", author Stuart Vyse dives deep into why we rely on superstitions and the never ending appeal they seem to have over our complex human behavior.  

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        The first chapter "Believing in Magic" gives us a taste at what Vyse believes drives superstitious behavior and lays out what the book will discuss.  First and foremost, to truly understand why someone truly believes in a ritual or belief you have to assess their social environment they consistently partake in along with the cultural contexts.  It is interesting why he would examine people individually instead of in a large group because only then will they be able to achieve a clear reason as to what drives the persons individual behavior as their views could be swayed within a group setting.  It is also important to take into account that the book primarily focuses on the basic day-to-day superstitions the individual has instead of looking for the obscure.  With combination of a value system the individual lives by and an understanding of what superstition is, only then will they begin to create a structure that people live and breathe by. 

       The second chapter "The Superstitious Person" dives into the profile of a superstitious person and the group they are closely affiliated with.  These said groups include gamblers, college students, athletes, and their demographics.  As a college student myself it is was almost unfathomable to realize how many of my own beliefs I have to prepare for an exam or upcoming paper.  When it comes to our grades we all have a fear of failure and not being good enough, Vyse discusses how students prepare and how the stress of the situation may make them rely on magic or rituals that will somehow help them while taking their exam.  This is just one example that debunks the theory that superstitions are "going out of style", but certain beliefs come and go and when they leave they are replaced with new ones that have changed to an individual's new situation.

       Within the chapter five "Growing Up Superstitious", Vyse discusses the power social influence has on superstition, the magical lore of schoolchildren, magical thinking during childhood, and the socialization of superstition.  The first is touched upon at the end of the chapter as Vyse mentions how the need to conform to societal beliefs, the use of superstition among adults to make children learn to have obedience to authority and how the role of imagination allows our minds to wander into the "realm of what is possible".  Children and forms of superstition have been well documented and is still seen today.  One such example are oaths, the ritual declarations they state as a way to keep their word.  Another is the childhood superstitions everyone has had and many continue on to adulthood, such as if you step on a crack then you surely will break your mother's back.  These superstitions can go further with the magical thinking and beliefs that can dominate and child's mind.  Many of our greatest dreams come from what isn't real and when your a child you are simply playing with the idea of realism and what is actually plausible.  

        Overall Vyse has demonstrated a thorough understand of how complex human behavior can be and how interesting simple daily tasks are, especially if they can be considered a form of superstition. 

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UFO Lecture Response

Aliens have been a popular subject in science fiction and there have been hundreds of fictional stories based on them. However, there are also people who take these stories too seriously and make up stories of encountering star-ships flying in the night sky, abductions, and even claiming that aliens run our government. However adamant these people are about their belief in UFOs and extraterrestrials, they are unlikely to be true and more likely to be episodes of sleep paralysis (a condition where one suddenly wakes from sleep and feels as if they cannot move and feel like they are not alone), if not outright fabrications.

Post 3 - Graphology

Graphology is using handwriting to try and determine the personality and/or emotions of someone. They mainly are looking at the way that your strokes are. They may be erratic and sharp, or smooth and flowing. The erratic writing symbolizes stress or anger, while smooth represents being calm and happy. I can see a few discrepancies in this theory. I tend to write differently depending on where I am. The way my writing looks sitting at a desk in class is very different from me doing work in my bed with my laptop resting on my chest. I also get very sloppy when rushed taking notes, but write a lot neater on exams and quizzes. I could possibly be stressed in both of these situations, but the fact that I have more time to sit and control my thinking on an exam will probably make me write a lot neater. You may also forcibly write very legibly for a project that you put on public display. You will write neatly so everyone can read your work without confusion, but it would not signify your emotional status.

Graphology Response

     Graphology is the idea that your handwriting can tell people things about your personality. For example, if your letters are sloppy, that could be interpreted as you being a unorganized person or if you write your letters big that could be seen as you having a big ego. Despite being debunked by researchers, graphology is still being used at a professional level. Some corporations will use it as a part of the hiring process. It’s a rather scary thought to think that someone’s job application was denied just because the way they spaced their letters was interpreted as them being lazy.

Post 2 - Mass Delusions

In 1692, the Salem Witch Trials sent everybody into a complete panic. It led to innocent people all over Massachusetts to be thrown in jail and tortured. Nobody trusted anyone, not even close friends or family. It was all blown out of proportion and should not have been so devastating. In high school my english class read The Crucible. This is how I first learned about the issue. I find the issue to be similar to what is going on now with COVID-19. I am a delivery driver and have had people refuse to open the door to me and tell me to leave their food on the ground outside. I am cleaning my hands as much as possible and wearing a mask, but the whole world is so freaked out by the issue right now that we have to deal with things like this. Mass delusions like this happen often and usually affect large population of people in an awful way.

this idea must die book report

This Idea Must Die, written by John Brockman, brings together over 100 extraordinary scientists, artists, psychologists, economists, and philosophers to ask an overall question of "what scientific idea is ready for retirement?". This book is interesting and attention-grabbing in its own way by not being your typical, storyline book. Each page interests the reader in a new topic to keep the mind flowing. As one reads the book, they'll find topics such as String Theory, Associationism, Behavior, Natural Selection, Nature Versus Nurture and so much more. This book is an easy read for anyone who has trouble paying attention, like myself.
One topic in the book that struck my interest is the idea of "things are either true or false" submitted by Alan Alda. The passage goes into detail that not everything is entirely true, as well as not everything is entirely false. Alan Alda states in the passage that the first rule of logic was that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. He gave examples such as death is not "definite". He means this by explaining that the body actually goes into a transitional phase while it gradually decomposes, thus the body is capable of living in another way. This topic really opened my eyes by comprehending that there's a possibility of another aspect to truth and falseness.
"Altruism" by Tor Norretranders, is another passage that I found most interesting. The author of this article explains that we should retire the idea of altruism. Altruism is the concept of doing something for someone else, not just for yourself. He is not saying that doing kind for other people should go away, just the idea that helping others is selfish. He goes on to explain that helping others is innate and we're influenced by the well-being of others. "It's not altruistic to be an altruist, just wise. We don't need a concept to explain our behavior".
David M Buss submitted a passage titled, "Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Beholder" was attention gabbing because we have all heard that phrase at least once in our lives, maybe even more than once. We were always told this when the attraction to a person isn't seen by others. He goes on to explain that many people still hold onto the concept of beauty being superficial or arbitrary. However, if beauty is based on personal whims, then they can easily be changed. So, it really should be that beauty is "the adaptions of the beholder".
Overall, This Idea Must Die brings together various discussion topics that truly get the mind going. Each page or a few pages being a different topic is also what attracts its appeal. At first glance, the book may seem lengthy, however, once you start reading, you'll want to keep reading to know what topic is next. Since i have already reccommended this book to my brother, I would definitely suggest it to someone who enjoys reading, or anyone who has an interest in learning new information. My only disclaimer about the book would be stopping every few sentences to look up the definition of a word, considering the book was comprised of passages written by some of the smartest people. Other than that, there are so many different appeals to this book that make it unique, intriguing, and worth the 500 pages.
$12.00 on amazon

Flim-Flam! Book Report

      The human mind, although a very complex organ, can also be very frail and easily prone to being tricked into believing things that go against common sense and fall under the category of supernatural. This has been the case ever since our ancestors were nomadic hunters and gatherers. During these times, our ancestors had to be careful, you could never know when a rustling bush could just be a strong gust of wind or a hungry bear waiting in ambush. A more paranoid mind would be extremely helpful in order to survive the harsh environments and dangerous predators ancient humans coexisted with. This train of thought has followed us all the way to more civilized times, and although it can still pay to be cautious, this paranoid part of our brain lead us into believing much more absurd threats, such as UFO’s or lizardmen. In James Randi’s Flim-Flam!, Randi, a world famous magician who knows a bit about how to trick the mind, takes a look of some of the more ridiculous paranormal claims during his time, ranging from psychics to even the Bermuda Triangle, and looks at the facts behind these claims and explains why these people might believe in these things.

            One of the first topics Randi covers was the case of the Cottingley “fairies”. Although this incident occurred well before some of the other topics mentioned in this book and even before Randi’s own time, he uses it as a great, timeless example of some of the things we can trick ourselves to believe if someone we trust also believes it to be true. Randi starts the chapter by giving a brief history lesson: Two young girls during the 1920’s in England claimed to have encountered fairies in their backyard and taken photographic evidence. These pictures eventual made it to the desk of Sherlock Holmes author Conan Doyle who, like many, took these photos as serious and impossible to fake. He even went out of his way to consult experts experienced in photography to see if these were fakes, and found, much to his liking, that the photos were indeed real and that it would be impossible for two girls fake anything of this sort. Or so he thought. As Randi reveals in his book, the photos themselves are full of errors, some of which can be easily seen even by an amateur. He also reveals that some of the “fairies” bare an uncanny resemblance to illustrations from popular books for children at the time. He also points out that Doyle and his supporters completely overlook the girls background: one of them actually worked in a photographer’s shop where they could easily pick up the skills required to fake these pictures.  It would seem that in an effort to please the popular author, these experts either overlooked the evidence or flat out ignored it in order to push Doyle’s theory.

            Another Topic Randi covers well is the concept of the Bermuda Triangle and the lost city of Atlantis. The chapter starts with Randi discussing the book The Bermuda Triangle, Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds written by Charles Berlitz. In this book, Berlitz makes various claims about the triangle, including the “mysterious” disappearance of several US pilots training in the region. In reality, most of these “disappearances” are not mysterious in the slightest, nor do most them even occur anywhere near Berlitz’s triangle. In another book, simply titled The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved by Larry Kusche, which Randi cites as an argument against Berlitz’s absurd claims, Kusche finds that some of the crashes and disappearances that Berlitz references actually occurred as far north as Maine, while only two actually occurred within the triangle. Kusche also found that some of the naval flights that supposedly disappeared in the triangle were actually well documented by the navy, as evident by the 400 page report Kusche read about the incident, and found that there was nothing mysterious or magical about the disappearance and that there was merely an issue with the lead pilots compass. One of the other absurd beliefs Berlitz holds is the idea of the lost under sea city of Atlantis. He was so adamant about it’s existence he hired fifteen archaeologists to explore the Bermuda Triangle and find evidence of it’s existence. Although these archaeologists failed to find anything, Berlitz himself claims to have found evidence for pyramids and even roads. Randi, however, shows that this not the case and that the pyramid was merely a sonar error and that the “roads” were actually concrete dumped into the ocean.

        Another topic Randi covers really well, as well as one of my personal favorite chapters in the book, is the belief in “ancient aliens”. In this chapter, titled “The Paper Chariots in Flame”, Randi digs into the beliefs of a Swiss author named Erich von Daniken and his series of books on ancient aliens, which argue that it was not men, but extraterrestrials that built the both the pyramids of both Egypt and South America. This chapter is interesting, because Randi has actually been to the some of the same places von Daniken claims to have found evidence for his space men as well as other treasures. For example, Randi has actually been to one of the caves where von Daniken said to have found piles of gold. However, in Randi’s experience he found only vampire bats and oversized bugs. Randi also makes a great point in  this chapter that von Daniken’s claim that the men of Egypt and South America could not have possibly build the pyramids comes off as rather racist, as if because of the color of their skin or the gods they believed in would make a difference in whether they could build these wonders or not.

            Overall, I would highly recommend Randi’s Flim-Flam! It’s an excellent book that does a great job at both being engaging to the reader and debunking some of the ridiculous claims that gained traction during Randi’s time. I especially liked how Randi would actually go out of his way to interview those who took part in promoted pseudoscientific claims or even act out and emulate some of these claims, such as when he was able to interview one of Uri Geller’s companions.

Post 1 - Learning Styles

Everybody thinks in their own unique way. Due to us all having differently working brains, we all retain information differently. Some things make it easier to remember information, but other tactics may not make it so easy. In my psychology class last year, we took an online assessment that told us our learning type based on a series of specific questions. It asked us about what helped us in the classroom and what instructional methods we didn't like to eliminate those options. I think the complexity of the human brain is fascinating. It is amazing how we all learn and see things differently. I recommend everyone takes one of these tests to learn a little about themselves! Here is the learning style assessment I took last year if anyone wants to give that a try.

Factfulness Book Report

Gianna Besser

Factfulness by Hans Rosling is made up of ten instincts that he believes distorts our perspective of the world and changes the way we should actually see things. Rosling thinks people don't see enough beauty in the world, and their opinions are more frightening, violent, and hopeless than what it actually is. In each chapter he explains how each instinct changes our point of view and helps us understand the truth of what is happening in the world today. 

One of my favorite chapters was Chapter Two: The Negativity Instinct 
In this chapter Hans explained that people see more of the bad rather than the good. We can relate to this chapter during the quarantine. The news is mostly portraying the bad that is happening and all the new cases that are popping up, but they don't show us enough of the cases that have been cured. 
 2. The Negativity Instinct

Another one of my favorite chapters was Chapter 4: The Fear Instinct
Hans says that we pay more attention to frightening things. To grab someone's attention, especially over the media, people emphasize what others think are frightening. Hans says if something is frightening to you, or something you think is putting you at risk. It is always beneficial to think before you make any actions and wait until the panic has subsided. 
4. The Fear Instinct
The last chapter I enjoyed was Chapter 8: The Blame Instinct
In this chapter Hans explains to us that when something bad goes wrong we usually find a scapegoat to blame it on. Whether it be a person, or a an object people tend to put the blame on something rather than using energy to think of the cause of the problem and accepting the fact something bad happened
9. The Blame Instinct

In conclusion, Factfulness opened my eyes to see how the media is affecting how we see the world and how we act. There are a lot of great things to realize and not everything is as bad as it seems. The book started off slow, and during some chapters it described stuff that I wasn't interested about, but overall it helped me understand the truth, and to not always believe what I hear. 

Post 3- Aromatherapy

Smelling pleasant scents may relax you, but it won't heal you. I saw a video of a mom rubbing peppermint oil on the feet and chest of her child who caught the coronavirus. The mother said she won't give the baby medicine because she is an "anti-vacc" mom and doesn't believe in medication. I found this to be ridiculous and also sad that the child wasn't getting the true care it needed. 
Accredited Aromatherapy Diploma 1 - Aromatherapy for All | Udemy

DC Book Report: Flim Flam!

Flim-Flam! Is a book written by James Randi or otherwise known as “The Amazing Randi”. He is known for being a magician and escapes artist who spent most of his life investigating the paranormal and disproving many of the claims made in pseudoscience. In this book, Randi explores many topics such as ESP, levitation, UFOs, astrology, and many more topics.

My favorite chapter of the entire book was The Giggling Guru: A Matter of Levity. This chapter was all about levitation. I’m not sure if this book was meant to be a comedy but it certainly had me laughing. When they recreated the photograph of a TM student “levitating” I couldn’t hold in my laughter. It was such an easy image to recreate and helped prove that levitation isn’t a real thing, just people who can really jump.

My second favorite topic comes from the following chapter The parer Chariots in Flames. He opens it by talking about a famous Swiss author by the name of Erich von Daniken. Daniken claimed that “beings from outer space visited earth” and that they have “mated with primitive people here”. His main piece of evidence for this was a carving on a sarcophagus found in Mexico. He must have been quite the writer with his creativity. Randi quickly dismisses all his claims by giving actual facts and evidence of how the carving does not depict an astronaut, but a typical Mayan nobleman wearing a costume that was ordinary at that time.

The last chapter I found interesting is The Great Fliess Fleece. Here Randi talks about the creation of biorhythm, which is an attempt to predict various aspects of a person's life through simple mathematical cycles. I found this really interesting cause I have never heard of it before. It’s amazing to think that people actually believed you could predict a person’s life buy just a few simple math problems. It almost reminded me of astrology where people predict how one’s personality will be depending on the date and time of there birth.

In conclusion I found this book to be really interesting. The way that "The Amazing Randi" debunked some of these could be hilarious. It really opened my eyes to the importance of critical thinking because otherwise all of society would believe in this stuff and we wouldn't advance in the world (we also wouldn't spend tax money trying to learn how to levitate). I'm glad to have read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in pseudoscience and the paranormal.

Post 2- UFO Abductions

Although I do not believe earth holds the only living beings in the universe, I do not think alien abductions are real. In the powerpoint it states that the people who claim to have been abducted were sleeping, sleep deprived, or have had sleep paralysis. If aliens did come to earth they probably wouldn't want to abduct us crazy people anyway.
How You Might Come to Believe You've Been Abducted by an Alien ...

Post 1- Graphology

In the powerpoint posted, it stated that graphology is used to identify people's personalities by the way they write. Personally, I do not believe that is possible. Instead, it might be more helpful in knowing how the person is feeling at the time they are writing. For instance, someone who is writing sloppily with little to no spaces in between their words could be tired or lazy. If at a different time that same person's handwriting is sharp and legible they could be in a good mood.
 Handwriting Analysis - Alphabets a to z | Udemy

Factfulness book report!!!!!!!!!!

If you are stuck at home during a time of fear and confusion, Hans Rosling's masterpiece, Factfulness, may be the remedy to healing your anxieties. Written by Swedish public speaker, Hans Rosling, with his son and daughter-in-law, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling, the book discusses ten instincts that many of us unknowingly follow that creates misconceptions about the world. Especially now during the coronavirus, many of us are at home watching the news, reading statistics, and watching supermarket shelves become dry. The proud news anchors and high numbers are all a fa├žade to instill fear among the masses. The best way to overcome this state of panic is to conduct research and observe facts.  By understanding who is susceptible to the virus and following safety methods, we can instill understanding among people instead of fear and panic. Here are some Instincts that we follow that which distort our truth of the world.

The Negativity Instinct, which makes us take more notice of the bad than the good. Sometimes we may even do this without thinking. We get so stuck on the negative factors in our lives that we forget to look at the good ones. When we watch the news, we may be filled with negative ideas such as people dying, hunger, climate change, annoying politicians. We may begin to feel that things are getting worse when things are getting better. Rosling states “To control the negativity instinct, expect bad news.” We must look at the good and the bad and find balance.

Just like the negativity instinct, The Fear Instinct makes the world appear more frightening than it is. “There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear,” Rosling states. This is caused by what the media shows us or what may hear from other people. It’s important to make sure to keep your calm before making any decisions and not make decisions out of fear. As humans, we tend to pay more attention to things that scare us which can lead to worrying or anxiety. When you feel triggered it is important to step away from the situation to calm down review your feelings from a distance before proceeding. Rosling quotes in this chapter “Of all our dramatic instincts, it seems to be the fear instinct that most strongly influences what information gets selected by news producers and presented to us consumers.” 

Finally, another instinct I found quite fascinating was the generalization instinct. We tend to create relationships between people, places, or things that may not correlate at all. The best way to avoid grouping things incorrectly it by questioning your categories.  It is important to look at the bigger picture by finding differences and similarities within and across groups. Rosling also insists to avoid the majority. It Is important to get specific when speaking about the “Majority”. Rosling quotes “Categories are necessary for us to function. They give structure to our thoughts. Imagine if we saw every item and every scenario as truly unique—we would not even have a language to describe the world around us. The necessary and useful instinct to generalize, like all the other instincts in this book, can also distort our worldview.”

In conclusion, it may be hard to see the truth of the world behind rose-tinted glasses. Every day we are bombarded by bad news, crime, chaos throughout our social media, and news outlets. It is important to take a step back and think slowly and critically about everything we see and hear. Hopefully, after this read, you too will find out that the world isn’t such a bad place after all. 

Post #3 UFO

Theories and conspiracy about aliens and UFO abductions have been going around for decades, but I believe it's gotten more popular these days with lot of shows and movies coming out based on these topics. I do believe that there is something out there and that we aren't the only ones in this universe. People are quick to make up stories with no physical proof. Soon as people see something unusual in the sky, they will jump to the conclusion that they have spotted a UFO. Overall, I just wished these stories would have physical proof instead of just believing people's words. 
A “UFO sighting” briefly freaked out the West Coast. There was an ...

Post #2 Graphology

I've never heard about graphology. When I read someone's hand writing the last thing I'm thinking about is the meaning behind the way they write. I just assumed that it was the way people felt comfortable writing. It does make sense how you can assume someones characteristics and personality by the way they write. Personally I don't think you can conclude that someones handwriting is based on their characteristics or personality. 
Graphology For Effective Parenting |

Post #1 Learning styles

Everyone learns differently, there are visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. It was shocking to find out that cognitive psychologists 'know' that learning styles don't exist. It's hard for me to believe this because I am a visual learner and learn the best by seeing visuals. I do understand how people can view it as not learning it via visual, auditory, and kinesthetic but by learning the meaning.

Believing in magic

For the course Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, the book I chose to focus on was Believing In Magic, by Stuart A. Vyse. Vyse is known for being an American Psychologist, teacher, and speaker who focuses on superstitions and critical thinking. Superstition is anything that comes from an unreliable source that is a belief in categories of luck, and unscientific forces. Superstitions are often prominent from misunderstandings, magic, and fear. The author has created this book to discuss superstitions throughout time. The range of the categories recognized is wide, including superstitions within diverse cultures, different genders, and religions. He also discusses superstitions based on animals, sports, money, and people. Vyse goes through these different superstitions from a psychological perspective and talks about what they are, why people believe in certain practices. 
I really enjoyed the superstitions and learning about different kinds because it was fascinating to see some of the effects. Although some of the chapters stuck out to me more than others. The first chapter that comes to mind when thinking about this book for me was particularly chapter 5. Chapter 5 focused on childhood superstition. This chapter caught my attention quickly because the things we heard growing up were honestly something I have never thought of but after reading this chapter it had me reflecting on a lot of things. As children we were basically trained to be superstitious due to hearing and believing things such as “black cat means bad luck” or “step on a crack you break your mother's back”. These sayings are superstitious because they are not anyhow true but somehow they were once believable and common.
Another topic I enjoyed was the study done on college students in the very first chapter. I think this topic was interesting because it was done on people our age and was very intriguing to see the causes and effects. In this study it shows a psychological effect where one does not act upon something due to a label even when it is factual. The students were presented with real sugar put in a container. Although it was sugar in the container, the label stated “sodium cyanide”. The students all were reluctant and refused to taste the sugar even though they knew what it was. The label had a negative impression that affected them in the grand scheme. To further my knowledge, I decided to browse some other childhood superstitions that are funny to look back on.
The last chapter that I was very drawn to more than the rest was chapter 3. This is one of my favorite superstitions because it is something I can say I have thought of and experienced as well as many others. This topic was the psychological perspective of contiguity and perception. This is the belief of deeper meaning to something. He explained how as humans we have a soft spot for the coincidences in life no matter how big or small and we literally dig to find a deeper meaning even if we know it does not really mean anything. He discusses how these types of superstitions are based on the art of convincing yourself and others through operant conditions.

Overall, I enjoyed the reasoning and education this book has provided throughout it’s read. Vyse could have made this book a dragged out, overheard version of superstition, but he made it about how important our minds and critical thinking are so essential on a daily basis, and how powerful superstition can be. He made this book entertaining as well as beneficial and really got me thinking and reflecting. This book deals with everything you can think of and is informative behind every fact. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has even a slight interest in superstition. 

Book Report

9780879751982 - Flim-Flam! by James Randi

Our group decided to read the book “Flim-Flam!” by James Randi.  The cover of the book itself was enough to catch our eye, along with the title mentioning psychics, ESP, unicorns, and delusions.  James Randi is known as a magician and escape artist, but for the majority of his professional career, he would investigate paranormal and supernatural claims that have been widely spread and believed.  Topics included ESP, psychokinesis, psychic detectives, UFOs, levitation, and many more.  For those who are unable to decide what to believe, Randi explores and exposes ideas that were encouraged by the media and public.  Randi provides us with raw information that would inform and interest anyone who reads it, as well as expose and prove others who claim these supernatural and paranormal thoughts.

The first chapter that I found interesting was the case about the two young girls back in the 1920s who claimed to have played with and taken photos of fairies.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one to believe in the supernatural and came across these photographs and immediately wrote to his friend Edward Gardener to investigate.  Gardener then went on to vouch for the young girls who he claimed to be honest and “came from a family of people who were incapable of guile”.  The photographs that were taken of these fairies were claimed to be real because the thought of these little girls being capable of creating an illusion like this were unlikely.  The girls were asked to take more pictures of the fairies for the photographs to be examined.  After presenting all the real facts to the reader, Randi makes it clear that although it may seem real when presented in the way it was in the 1920s, the photographs were faked with cut-outs from magazines.

Cottingley Fairies - Wikipedia

Another chapter I enjoyed reading was the third titled “All at Sea…”. This chapter introduced the myth of the Bermuda Triangle, which is located in the middle of Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami. The myth started in 1945 when five Navy Avenger aircraft flew into the area and reportedly vanished.   A sixth rescue plane then flew into that area and vanished abruptly as well. This tale and every claim to come within the next few years were talked about by an author named Charles Berlitz in his books titled "The Bermuda Triangle", "Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds", and "Without a Trace".  Randi then goes on to give scientific based explanations as to what happened to the 5 navy avengers and the rescue aircrafts that disappeared. “The pilots were understandably lost, flew around in confusion until out of fuel, ditched, and sank in rough seas. The search plane, known to be dangerous because of the frequent presence of gas fumes in the crew area, could easily have exploded and gone down in a perfectly explainable accident…in fact it was seen to explode by personnel on a ship in the area…”  This shows how James Randi would debunk false claims and introduce very possible explanations of what could have happened.

Bermuda Triangle - Wikipedia

There were many topics that were covered in the book which related to the topics that we discussed in our lectures. For example, in the book, the topic of UFOs was covered and Randi talked about how there wasn’t any physical evidence of UFOs and discussed all of his findings that contradicted this theory. This relates to the UFO Abductions topic that was discussed in the lecture where it talked about people who typically believed in UFOs and aliens had other beliefs as well as having a higher rate of fantasy proneness and sleep paralysis.  Another topic that was discussed in the book as well as a lecture was about Uri Gellar and his psychokinesis abilities which Randi disproved. Gellar had claimed that his abilities of paranormal powers were given to him by extraterrestrials, however Randi showed how Gellar’s tricks were staged and easily debunked to stop the spread of his lies of this supernatural ability to the public and media.

James Randi - Home | Facebook

What I enjoyed about this book is that Randi was not afraid to call researchers out about their false claims and research. Randi tells us that we have been misled by scientists who have failed to follow their procedures and requirements. Randi clearly points out sloppy research and evidence for the benefit of the media and our people. All in all I enjoyed the read and would recommend this book to anyone who would find widely believed claims be proven untrue enlightening. 

Post 3- Aromatherapy

Interview with JoDee Anderson - How Aromatherapy Can Enhance Your ...Aromatherapy involves using natural scents to better the body physically and mentally. It has been claimed that it can do anything from diminish wrinkles, rid the user of depression, and end insomnia. But is it really those scents that are doing the trick? Is it chamomile that's ending insomnia, or would the warm late night bath that people are using it in help put anybody to sleep? It's wrong for sales people to be pushing these scents. But with very little research, customers could figure out that by buying these products,all they're doing is wasting their time and money.                                                                                                         

Post #3 UFOs

Many people claim to have either seen UFOs or been actually abducted. The process of storytelling relies on a reconstructive process of memory. A process that can very easily be corrupted and distorted. Most people when remembering a past event actually remember it less accurately every-time they tell the story because they tell the story in a way that makes sense with what they believe, and their beliefs could be distorted. Many people also just have a hyper active imagination or simply like to lie or even want their story to be true so bad that they lie to themselves. Also a lot of alien sightings claim to happen while the people are in sleepy states. Not to mention there is never any actual credible physical evidence of the event, only 1 persons story.
If someone came to me with physical proof of aliens, I probably wouldn't question it ... but when it's just one half asleep man's story, I'm sorry but there's no reason for anyone to believe that.


So first, I want to say, It is hard for me to believe that we are the only living specimen in this petri-dish that is the universe. I am sure on planets thousands and millions light years away there are living  organisms that have adapted to their own surroundings and perhaps build their own form of "society". What is false about our idea or concept of aliens is that we think aliens are these short-limbed, slime balls with big eyes. I doubt that's what an alien looks like. We cannot grasp the idea of an alien or an other worldly being because we have never seen one before. Through out the years many people have come out as hoax which only makes it harder to believe what we see. Many people have came out admitting that their "evidence" was a hoax. Crop circles, edited photos and videos and eye witnesses can not act as solid evidence. We also forget that UFO's stands for "Unidentified Flying Objects" and not aliens! Our concept of "Aliens" birth from science fiction. In Donald Prothero's Ted Talk
UFOs and Aliens – What Science Says  he explains how his father worked at Area 51 where they tested top secret air craft. He worked on every aircraft until he retired in the mid 70s. Later one night while watching cable TV with his father documentary about Area 51 came on. His father bursted out laughing because he was there, and there were no such things such as aliens or spacecrafts. What many people may have seen from Area 51 are the non-conventional looking airplanes. All evidence we have so far can be traced back to other similar or explainable solutions. We would need hard solid evidence to prove the existence of "aliens" but for now it will remain explainable.

Will We Find Aliens in the Next Decade? It's Not as Crazy as You ...

DC Post #3: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a pseudoscience based on the usage of aromatic materials, like essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. I never believed in aromatherapy. For one it's just like any other product such as the Q-Ray Ionized bracelet that claim to help better someone as a person. How can certain scents be a cure-all for very serious ailments? Secondly, as someone who suffers from migraines I can say, at least for me, it has the opposite effect. I'm very sensitive to strong smells and most can even trigger a migraine for me. I'd rather spend my money on medicine and other treatments that actually work.

Factfulness Book Report

Factfulness is a unique and interesting read. Hans Rosling doesn't just throw in big facts and statistics in his book to prove a point, but he actually analyzes the changes in those statistics to reveal the truth about certain topics. I really enjoyed this book because Hans uses a lot of slow thinking and critical thinking to explain his reasoning and prove a point rather than using fast thinking and just giving readers scary looking statistics to make them assume something. Hans uses this slow thinking technique to break down many of the issues that most people don't truly understand because of fast thinking. The author helps readers understand the topic and how to view it in slow thinking rather than fast thinking and it makes the reader realize how close minded fast thinking, stereotyping, assuming, etc.. could be.

One part of this book that really stuck with me was in chapter 2 when Hans was explaining the negativity instinct. The negativity instinct is recognizing the bad more than the good. Hans explains how things have gotten a lot better in this world over the past 100 years. For example, more females being educated, less people with less food, higher life expectancy, etc... but he explains how people notice dips in the incline a lot more than overall increase. Even with bad things going on, it is important to recognize the progress being made. This is so true and can be seen very easily today. With everything going on with the Corona virus, all I keep seeing on the news and on social media is about how people are dying and how they can't see their loved ones, but almost nowhere do you see the news reporting about how the spread has decreased, they are opening places back up, and they are nearing a vaccine. The author suggests that to control this negativity instinct and to realize that things aren't as bad as our fast thinking mind makes them out to be, we should always be prepared for bad news.

Another concept Hans covered that I enjoyed was the fear instinct. Hans explains that how sometimes things that aren't even necessarily that risky to us still frighten us more than it should. Our natural fears of physical danger, captivity and contamination causes us to panic and overestimate the danger/risks in certain things. I know this to be true because I see it in society all the time and I even see it even in myself. In society people are overly afraid of a terrorist attack or school shooting, which is so unlikely to happen, but people are willing to surrender their freedom to bear arms because of fear. I also see it in myself when I panic for a quiz I know i'm going to get 100 on. Fear is a natural feeling meant to protect us. When it stops protecting us and starts only causing stress is when it becomes counterproductive. We overestimate how bad things are and we do not think clearly when we are scared. To control this fear, truly calculate the risks. The world seems scarier than it really is.

One of the most important concepts that Hans covers is about the density instinct and realizing that slow change is still change. He explains how many people see "third world countries" to be "stuck" where they are and that their poverty and quality of living will never improve. That is both negative and simply not true. Yes, these countries may not be developing as quickly as other well off countries in the past, but the difference in certain countries like Afghanistan in the past 10 years has been monumental, with more women slowly gaining more rights and the overall quality of life improving. To control the density instinct, update your knowledge and realize that slow improvement could amount to a lot.

There are many great lessons to be learnt from this book and thinking slowly. Humans are so controlled by and used to their patterned, generalized and stereotypical fast thinking that it can be really hard to rewire your brain to think without "blinders. "Blinders" being all the assumptions, stereotypes and fast thinking that your brain is used to doing that narrows  thinking. People need to stop generalizing everything and just see things for how they are without a negative pre-existing filter. If people stopped and thought critically when they saw new information instead of just thinking fast and going straight to their stereotypes and generalizing, we would have a much more productive and peaceful world.

Aromatherapy and essential Oils Post #2

Around the world, people believe that the Essential Oils have the magical powers to heal pain and even illnesses. Although, with proper use essential oils can help you relax or even, help get rid of a zit, There is no proper evidence that essential oils can cure any disease and cannot replace medical treatment. Many people may think that essential oils may be harmless. In fact, essential oils can cause even more harm if not used in the proper manner. It is important to mix the oil with a proper base, other wise it can cause a burning sensation. Some oils may be harmful to people with sensitive skill, children, and pregnant women. My experience with essential oils left me surprise. It was the first day of the spring semester and I realized that a small cold sore began to form on my lip. I had to move fast before the bump became an erupting volcano.  The last time I had a cold sore it lasted almost two weeks. A few weeks before, I had gotten an essential oils kit from my cousin for Christmas. I did some research before applying it to my skin. Oils such as tea Tree can be found in many people's skin care routines and skin care products. I even found an academic article that proved that the use of tea tree oil can reduce the duration of a cold sore for up to nine days. I gave it a shot and mixed it with a chapstick base. my cold sore was gone in three days. I was astonished, this was the first time I've ever even used essential oils and I suddenly became the "Anti-vax mom" preaching about how this tiny bottle saved my life and can save yours too! In reality, that is not the truth. With proper research, knowledge, and use essential oils can be used to treat acne or a coldsore. It can not be used as a replacement for vaccines, medical treatment, sicknesses, diseases, cancer, depression or clinical anxiety. Especially not through the use of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy can help boost your mood! the sweet smell of sandalwood may remind you a warm memory. Lighting a candle before you study can help you focus. Taking a warm bath with lavender can feel tranquil. Always remember to do your research before use.

10 best essential oils and how to use them | Well+Good

Why People Believe Weird Things Book report

Why People Believe Weird Things

In the novel, Why People Believe Weird Things, author Michael Shermer takes a psychologist's view on why we are so susceptible to accepting strange ideas, and writes about his own personal experiences. It's quite interesting how so many intelligent people find such appeal in superstition and extraordinary claims, and this book debunks and explains the lure. Three chapters I found especially intriguing were “Through the Invisible, Near Death Experiences and the Quest for your Immortality”, “The Unluckiest Colt, Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the Cult of Personality”, and “In the Beginning, An Evening with Duane T. Gish.”

The author of this book states that a near death experience, or NDE, is “One of the most compelling phenomena in psychology” so of course this chapter intrigued me. As a psychology major myself, I'm always interested in other people‘s viewpoints, and death is a common discussion where viewpoints clash. Shermer explains that the effects of an NDE can be explained through DMT, a drug that is naturally produced when under intense trauma like dying or being born. There are theories out there that say DMT is a window into the next life, and I’m somewhat surprised he doesn’t address these ideas. In addition, he explains we search for immortality as though it doesn’t exist, but yet we can find the concept of everlasting life in our own history books. He talks about how something very small in your life can be perceived as something larger in the future… I find it hard to agree, and see our lives as nothing but future dust. Nonetheless, this author's insight on death and the meaning of life makes this chapter my favorite.

The chapter of the unlikeliest cult is about a particular cult that thrives on objectivism, the philosophy of unadulterated individualism, but yet a cult innately thrives on group thinking. The main flaw of Rand’s philosophy stems from the concept that if you do not believe in her ideas on objectivism you are considered a heretic. It is ironic that later another double standard would be the downfall of the cult. When two separated lovers found love elsewhere, even though it was an affair to begin with, the cult crumbled. The author points out that once a group has decided their standards of what was right and wrong, they separate themselves from reason, and thereby, that is where they no longer tolerate others beliefs. It’s interesting that these courts are so relatable to religion. Ironically, one of the reasons why this cult was so unlikely was because it was based on the fact that people should all be tolerant, and have individual thoughts. Since a cult is dependent on their followers thinking the same and following a leader, this made them an anomaly, making this a chapter well worth reading. However, the true gem of this chapter is at the end when Shermer writes, “In science, knowledge is fluid and certainly fleeting. That is at the heart of its limitations. It is also its greatest strength.” (Pg: 124) Not only is this quote meaningful, but also in exemplifying his ideas, the author ties this book together.

Intrigued by death, of course I was definitely drawn to the chapter about the beginning of life. That being said, chapter nine is all about creationists, and the debate held between Michael Shermer and Duane T. Gish. While the book’s author, Shermer, made many points, and so did his opponent Gish, unfortunately the debate was lost, for no knowledge was truly gained. Besides the debate, there are many points made in this chapter that are important to acknowledge. One thing Mr. Shermer states multiple times is that he believes science and religion can coexist, and shouldn’t war with one another. It’s hard for him to get this point across however, for people mislabel him as an atheist, and dismiss his thoughts as that of a heretic.

Truly, I enjoyed reading all of the interesting and important topics in this book, but especially the chapters I’ve written about. I think it’s extremely important to discuss the concepts of life and death, therefore creationism and near death experiences are quintessential topics as well. I also picked the Unlikeliest Cult because not only am I fascinated by cults and groupthink, I also enjoy the sheer irony of it. This novel puts rational thought into why people think irrationally, and it’s very respectable how Shermer deals with differing opinions. Every chapter really compels you to think, and consider different information, making this well worth the read.