Friday, May 1, 2020

Book Report (Believing in Magic)

Vyse defines numerous aspects of superstitious behavior and how this behavior implies in certain situations. Vyse incorporates research and insights on the study of superstition as well as new examples, and more cultural references. He also makes sure to address the difference between superstition and religion. This book is entertaining, makes one think, and keeps one attention to explore more rigorous scientific findings about superstition. This is a great and thorough examination of superstition. Vyse presents a way to find comfort in understanding what may seem unexplainable by terms of evaluating the evidence

While reading this book, I came across a few chapters that drew my attention the most which was the beginning (chapter 1, 2 and 3). Both chapters talked about various types of data taken from real life experiences that people have gone through. For example, Wade Boggs played for the New York Yankees, but little did you know that he had reported that most of his achievements and success derived from his habit to eat chicken before it was game time which had led Wade to do it for 20 years of his baseball career. Another superstition he developed is that he had to usually go over to the field at least five hours before the rest of his team members to show up so that he can complete a routine of warm ups on the field which had to be done or else he would have the feeling of not having a good batting turn.

While reading chapter 2, Vyse focuses his attention on an experiment by Daniel and Cheryl Ablas, this experiment included the testing on how many college students used a particular object that would be used on exam day to comfort the student while taking it. Twenty to thirty percent of students planned on using their particular object to bring with them on exam day because without this object the student would only have negative thoughts on how they were going to do on the exam. This also included any particular routine during this day that had to be followed and if not the student would think of scoring poorly on the exam. If this object or routine had been lost or out of place, a train of negative thoughts would be implied and the student would then have t\o search for this object or fix their routine back to the way they planned. I believe these superstitions still occur and that's why they are so relatable.

While reading this book, I came across a few chapters that drew my attention the most which was the beginning (chapter 1, 2 and 3). Both chapters talked about various types of data taken from real life experiences that people have gone through. For example, Wade Boggs played for the New York Yankees, but little did you know that he had reported that most of his achievements and success derived from his habit to eat chicken before it was game time which had led Wade to do it for 20 years of his baseball career. Another superstition he developed is that he had to usually go over to the field at least five hours before the rest of his team members to show up so that he can complete a routine of warm ups on the field which had to be done or else he would have the feeling of not having a good batting turn.

Post #3 (Graphology)

Graphology is when one uses handwriting to determine personality and character. This depends on the word and letter spacing, writing slant, pressure on the paper and letter size. When looking at one's trait, depending on the word and letter spacing, if it's written wide one is isolated or lonely. If it is crowded handwriting that means one is desperate for companionship. Writing in big letter size that implies one is confident and a big thinker. The history behind graphology of using handwriting to determine personality traits dates all the way back to the 17th century. Graphology did originate itself in 1868 and various systems of graphology do exist. Graphology is still growing worldwide Studies show graphology is one of the least effective predictors when compared to other personnel selection methods. Other studies have concluded that continued use of graphology as a means of personnel selection results in large financial losses to the organization.

Post #2 (Psychic Crime Detectives)

The Disappearance of Charles Capel case was a man who lived in Oxford, Ohio, who had wandered off in May 2014. He was a Retired Miami University Professor who had Alzheimer’s. Extensive searches were made by police and volunteers, while Charles Capel had been missing for months. In October, the police force had hired a woman named Noreen Renier, a self-proclaimed psychic detective who advertised a new technique for obtaining clues for unsolved crime. She has also written a book called “A Mind For Murder”. Noreen has worked on over 600 unsolved cases in 38 states and 6 foreign countries. When traditional methods had been exhausted for investigations, that's when Noreen was called in to take care of the case. Police sent Noreen things of Capels that had been found including toothbrushes and shoes. While in Virginia, Renier had seen visions of where Capel had been. Noreen had predicted Capel was approximately 8 miles from his home, a wooded area, creek, fence, and antenna tower. Sargent Jim Squance stated that the vision Noreen saw was accurate. Many Psychic Crime Detectives get lots of credit for helping with locations, appear amazingly accurate, and tend to fill in missing details. Capel was found less than a mile of his home, near a Stone Creek subdivision nearby. Capel was found two months later by a hunter. 

Post #1 (Learning Styles)

There are various types of learning styles, primarily we focus more on Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learners. A visual learner is often addressed towards someone who learns quickly when they see pictures, maps, illustrations and videos. As for auditory learners they tend to focus more they hear sound, lectures, read aloud, helps them comprehend faster. While those two are main learning styles , kinesthetic learners understand better when they touch, make things, hands on activities rather than seeing or hearing it. I find myself more of a visual learner, in class I tend to understand better when slideshows are up with different graphs and pictures that have to do with the content. Watching videos during our lectures in this course was a great component to me because it made me see and process what it's about. 

Book Report This Idea Must Die

The book that I chose for my book report was This Idea Must Die edited by John Brockman who collaborated with 175 different great minds. He asked many people from different disciplines what scientific ideas must be retired. The great minds that he asked gave a brief explanation of the scientific idea that they feel needs retirement and why it should be. There were many different topics throughout the book, some were easy to understand and some were not. There were many ideas that needed to die that interested me, I've chosen three that were my favorite.
The first idea I’ve chosen is The Big Bang was the First Moment of Time written by Lee Smolin, a physicist. In his section, he writes about how the idea that the first moment in time was the big bang theory. He does not believe that it was, he basically says that there is not enough evidence to support the theory. By supporting the theory you are saying that there was nothing before our universe and therefore leave many questions about our universe that can not be answered. Instead of believing this, there are a few other theories that have falsifiable hypotheses, like that the big bang was a transition from a different era. Thinking this way leads to investigations that will not leave as many questions unanswered. 
The next idea that I enjoyed reading about was Infinity written by Max Tegmark, a physicist, and cosmologist. Max Tegmark claims that “it’s an untested assumption”, he begs the question if it even exists. How can something that is not proven be real? He claims that physics can not answer questions about probability in the future because the answer will also be infinity. There is no evidence of infinity and it is not needed to do physics. He suggests that “infinity-free questions” need to be developed and used to determine the laws of physics, however the only way to do this is to forget about infinity. 
Finally, the third idea that I have chosen is Fully Random Mutations written by Kevin Kelly. He believes that there is no such thing as random mutations, nor is there evidence for it. In fact, there is evidence that mutations are not random and that they follow a pattern. He believes that by retiring the idea that mutations are random that it will lead to scientific breakthroughs like being able to cure the disease caused by mutations. 
I enjoyed reading the book and would definitely recommend it. Most of the concepts that I read about were easy to read and understand, however, there were a few that were more difficult and required a lot of thought. And there were some that I just did not comprehend, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and liked looking at certain ideas in a new way.

Why People Believe Weird Things - Book Report

Why People Believe Weird Things: Excerpt » Michael ShermerIn Michael Shermer's book, Why People Believe Weird Things, his goal is to debunk popular pseudoscientific beliefs. He does this by explaining his past weird experiences, providing scientific evidence to back up his opinions, and exploring the reasons why people gravitate towards these irrational ideas. Shermer doesn't insult the ones who don't agree with him, but he'd like to open people's eyes to see where they're going wrong, and make sure that others don't go down this slippery path.

In chapter three, Michael Shermer discussed many explanations for why people believe in things, when there's no true evidence to support them. For one example, subjects act differently if they know that researchers are examining what they do. This is why in psychology and other types of sciences, they'll perform tests where both the subject and the one testing them is clueless as to what drug the participant is taking. That eliminates the chances of the researcher treating the subject differently, and the chances that the results were wrong because the participant was reacting how they thought they were supposed to. In pseudoscience, this isn't taken into consideration. In pseudoscience, stories of people's experiences is a main form of "proof". But, you can't have proof without either physical evidence or supporting evidence from other researchers. Shermer doesn't think that people who believe in things like alien abductions and near- death experiences are intellectually challenged. He just goes on to say that their thinking is wrong in these situations and he's going to explain why.

While many people may just be faking it to fit in, this author believes that some people are actually good at letting themselves go into different states of consciousness. He goes on to write about the life changing events of out- of- body experiences and near- death experiences. Shermer explains that injured people wake up all the time, after having a dream where their body is completely healthy, thinking that it magically will be again. So, it isn't shocking that the same thing would happen during these near- death experiences. He gives an explanation that it could very well be a mixture of drugs and not enough oxygen before dying that causes streaks that looks like tunnels in the patients vision. When people see loved ones from heaven, it could simply be because people have this detailed fantasy that there's a life after this one. Humans have this fear of dying, so, many would probably love to see a life where they don't have to.
What is a Near Death Experience? | John Ankerberg Show - John ...

A likely explanation for alien abductions

Michael Shermer starts chapter six off with a little anecdote about the time that he was dragged into a vehicle by aliens. I was shocked to be hearing this from a skeptic, like himself. But from reading on, you quickly find out that his extreme sleep deprivation during this bicycle racing caused absurd hallucinations. He isn't saying that there's no chance that there's intelligent life living on planets other than ours. But he also goes on about how if a person has particularly odd mental experiences, and then reads and watches films about others experiencing the same situations which they have understood to be abductions, that person will then understand their experience to be one. People who have had altered states of consciousness are most likely creating alien abduction stories, because they feel like that is more culturally accepted.

 As someone who is incredibly interested in psychology, I thought it was interesting to hear some possible reasons for why people believe the irrational things that they do. I liked that Michael Shermer never seemed to be bashing the pseudoscience believers. He simply spoke his opinions on the topics and provided clear evidence. I would most definitely recommend this book. All the subjects were very intriguing and I never felt like the book was dragging.

Post 3 Projective Testing

There are two types of projective testing that we learned about in lecture 9. Projective testing uses drawings, opinions, and stories that are invented to determine a person's personality, mental state, and some other qualities. It is used because it is believed that a person projects their emotions, experiences, memories, and imagination into what they do. The two tests we covered were the DAP test, draw a person test, and the Rorschach inkblot test.

Post 1 Hypnosis

Hypnosis is not accurate in helping people recall memories, in fact, it can actually help make a false memory seem more real. Through experiments, it has been shown that therapists can create false memories through dream analysis. It is because therapists have a strong suggestive influence on their clients. It can be beneficial for therapists to have such a strong influence on their clients but it also could be a bad thing because they could influence people in a bad way.

Post 2 graphology

I’ve never really heard of graphology before and found the lecture about it to be quite interesting. Graphology is used to determine personality and character by looking at a person’s handwriting. It can be dated back to the 17th century. A graphologist looks at the spacing between words and letters, how slanted the writing is, the pressure exerted onto the paper, and the sizing of the letters. It is believed that a person whose writing is wider than they tend to be lonely or isolated compared to a person’s writing that is crowded, they tend to be desperate for companionship. Graphology is used in personnel decisions however it is not exactly accurate.
Letter " Y " it's Formation and Traits - Graphology - Handwriting ...

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

At the beginning of this semester, I chose to read the book Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. The book talks about Shermer questioning the ideas of others because he is a skeptic. He talks about the way he thinks compared to others and tries to use his thoughts to challenge the ways of science. He dives into research and his own experiences about pseudoscience to explain to the audience about how slow thinking is the right way to go about any decision you could make. Shermer uses all that he can to describe his ways of thinking to the reader and how to go about thinking that way in order to believe in the right ideas.

One of the chapters from Why People Believe Weird Things that interested me was chapter 3. In this chapter, Michael Shermer discusses 25 different ways that people think to lead them to believe in weird things. He labels the first 3 ways as the "Problems in Scientific Thinking". These ideas explain how there are different inputs that influence a person's way of thinking in order to make it seem right. The next set of ways is titled "Problems in Pseudoscientific Thinking". This section talks about how there are certain things said that do not make a claim true. These such things include scientific language, heresy, and rumors. The following set of ways is titled "Logical Problems in Thinking". This section discusses false dilemmas, redundancy, and absurdum. Lastly, Shermer ends off the chapter talking about "Psychological Problems in Thinking". This last section deals with problem-solving and effort inadequacies. It explains the way that people rely on fast thinking rather than slow thinking to solve problems. People need to slow down and really think about something before they come to a conclusion.

Another chapter that I enjoyed was chapter 6. This chapter talks about encounters with aliens and abductions. Shermer even talks about his own experience of being abducted. He claims that while he was riding his bike late at night in Nebraska, he was abducted by aliens who looked like his bike support crew. He talks about how tired and sleep-deprived he was from riding his bike all day with little rest. He completely believes that he had this experience because of the lack of sleep he was getting. He says that he had slipped into an altered state of consciousness. Shermer knows that this encounter was not because of real aliens, rather he was just overly sleep-deprived. Shermer says that there is a perfect explanation as to why people think they have been abducted by aliens. It always has to do with a person's mind and mental state at the time of the abduction and gives reasons as to how he can explain any occurrence.

Lastly, my other favorite chapter had to be chapter 10. Chapter 10 discusses the theories behind evolution and creationsim. Shermer provides 25 arguments from creationists along with answers from 25 evolutionists. This chapter can be very controversial to some, but Shermer does his best to explain both sides of each argument in a very understanding way. In these arguments, Shermer uses his knowledge of science to prove what is correct in any way. By doing so, he is opening up the ideas from himself to others. In order to successfully argue his point, he gives examples and provides great detail in his answers.

In conclusion, Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer was a very interesting book to me. I found it opened up my mind to many different ways of thinking in order to solve problems and answer questions. It taught me how being a skeptic can be a very good thing for your mind. The book can be confusing at times with how the chapters are structured, but overall it was a good read and something I will remember for a long time.

Post 3- Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is a South Jersey legend story that has been passed on from generation to generation. The story is a women by the last name Leeds. As we have a Jimmie leads rd in Galloway township. The women was having her 13th child and said this one was going to be the devil.  Legend has once the baby was born it started going crazy and grew wings and ended up flying up through the chimney. There have been multiple sightings of the jersey devil over last couple 100 years. Even though there is no hard evidence many south jerseyans believe the Jersey devil is roaming the pine lands.

Post 2- Graphology

Graphology is the study on how someones handwriting is able to determine the person personality and character. Wide spacing between words indicates that a person is isolated and lonely. Crowded means that a person is desperate for companionship. Many personnel decisions and ratings of supervisors has to do with graphology as employers think neater is smarter. A study showed that a graphology is one of the least likely ways to determine a persons personality.

Post 3- Mass Delusions and Hysterias

There are many occurrences throughout history that send people into a state of fear or confusion. An example of one of these occurrences is an event called "The War of the Worlds". In 1938, a man named Orson Welles had a radio show that could be listened to throughout the United States. On the show, he talked about a martian invasion that was happening in New Jersey. He claimed that they had begun to attack people with heat rays and poison gas. Sociologists studied the broadcast to see what people were actually thinking about the whole situation. They had concluded that people did not actually take this as a time to panic. The people seemed more angry than actually afraid of what was said to be happening at the time. Another example of a mass delusion is the Salem witch trials in the late 1600s. People in Salem, Massachusetts were being accused of being witches and were being killed or tortured because of these accusations. Young girls would have to be part of a trial in order to clear their names. This caused panic from the town and people were worried about who was a witch or not. The trials ended a few years after because people knew that this had to be fake and people were overplaying the idea of witches actually being around them.

UFO abductions

Extraterrestial life is something everyone in the world would like to know is true or not. Then there are the people who have been abducted by a UFO. The people who recall an UFO abduction are just have a confusion about past events and how they played out. Most of the time there is little to no accuracy on what they are saying. People construct these crazy past life fantasies getting away from what they have at the moment. A real past life event sometimes has an affect on the UFO fantasy abduction.

Book Report

Jason Horowitz
Professor Berg
Factfulness Book report


Factfulness really showed me that the way we view things and the way they actually are in the world are two totally different things. Factfulness goes into detail about ten 
misconceptions instincts we use that make us view the world the way we do. Each chapter gives a detailed example into how we use these instincts to view certain situations in the world. 

One of my favorite chapters of Factfulness was chapter 2 describing The Negativity Instinct. This misconception describes how everyone views that the world is getting worse each day. People usually notice the bad deed before they notice the good deed. Even though it might sound odd now since the coronavirus the world is the best it has ever been. In 1800, the life expectancy of an individual was 30 years. Today the life expectancy of  an individual is 72 years. This statistic shows the advances the world has made in medicine over the years. Technology is booming like never before basically having all the information in the world at the palm of your fingers at all times. The world is becoming better and better each year. The negativity effect just brings peoples thoughts about the world down only seeing the bad in everything. 

Another chapter that really caught my eye was chapter 5 The Size Instinct. This chapter goes into detail about some statistical numbers that seem astronomical but in the grand scheme of things with how many people there are in the world the number really isn’t that crazy. A prime example of this misconception is how the entire world has shut down for the coronavirus when so far it has only affected 3 millions people. 3 million people is a lot of people and the coronavirus is terrible and very contagious. There are 7 billion people in the world. The people affected by the coronavirus is only a slight fraction from how many people live on this earth. 

Chapter 6 describes how many people generalize groups of people or things to all be the same. Rosling describes in this chapter how people are tunnel visioned and make assumptions about people and things that they don’t know much about because put it in a category that might be a tad similar. Rosling says the best way to get out of the generalization instinct is to travel and meet people from other cultures. By doing this it will show how everyone is different in their own way you cannot clump a group together just because of one thing. 
After reading Factfulness it has given me the opportunity to look at the world differently. The book helps everyone who reads it fight our biases and look at the world through a different way. Factfulness also showed me how much the news just reports the bad things that are happening in the world. They do this because people are more drawn to the bad in the world than the good. Factfulness tries to show how the world can be good.

Post 2- UFO Abductions

The suspicion of aliens has been around for a long time and people do not know what to believe about them. People have claimed that they have had extraterrestrial encounters plenty of times, but how true can they be? When aliens and UFO documentaries started to become popular, the number of stories took off. The people who come up with these stories may have had encounters because of sleep deprivation or even during sleep paralysis. People usually recall these events by doing interviews and giving background information to set up the story. Then, the subject will be interviewed using guided imagery to try and get the full story. The subject may even have to be interviewed multiple times to try and pry out information that they are blocking from their memories.

Book Report - Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness by Hans Rosling has changed the way many people perceive the world. I was enlightened to learn this new outlook and see the positive changes that we continue to make every day. We see tragic events taking place in the news every day and everybody things that the world is traveling down this downward spiral. The truth is that things are better than they ever have been. The media is creating this negative misconception. We need to base our opinions off of the facts and see that we are in a very good place after all.

The first chapter that I am going to speak on is is Chapter six: The Generalization Instinct. When we generalize, we are creating stereotypes that we may not be meaning to make. Rather than viewing a group as a whole, it should be viewed as a system with multiple working parts that add to the whole thing. When looking at the world, we should not generalize other countries successes based on one geographical area. Many people view Africa as a place of poverty when in fact many of their countries are very well off. If we pay our attention to the details, we will see that a general statement does not apply to an entire population and can be very misleading.

The second chapter I will discuss is Chapter four: The Fear Instinct. This is caused by irrational fears and dramatic behavior. For example, some people may be afraid to swim in the ocean because they know that they can be attacked by a shark. Looking at the numbers we can see that shark attacks are extremely rare. We should not let these irrational fears stop us from exploring and pushing our boundaries. Many people become anxious to escape their comfort zone. If we look at things logically, there is nothing to be afraid of. We can learn from every new experience.

The last chapter that impacted me was Chapter eight: The Single Perspective Instinct. When we try to think of a solution to a problem, we should take all aspects of the issue into effect. This will create a targeted solution that will satisfy the entirety of the problem at hand. The analogy used in the book explained this very well. Hans Rosling said that somebody who has a hammer will view every problem as a nail. Not everybody may be lucky to have a hammer. We cannot base our solution implying that everybody knows or has the fix to the problem.

This book is very well written. Hans Rosling has a perspective that should be embodied by more people in the world today. He sees things the way that they are and bases all of his decisions on critical thinking and data. If more people were to live by the ideals in this book I don't think anyone could argue that this would make our world a better place. To anyone who may not see things this clearly, it is definitely a great read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some clarity and positive insight. You will definitely learn a lot about the world and how your own mind works in itself!

Post 1- Graphology

Graphology is the process of using handwriting to determine personality and character by looking at things like letter size, the pressure put onto a paper, word and letter spacing, and slanted writing. For example, there are ways to look at word and letter spacing by seeing if it is wide or crowded. If the spacing is wide, it could be determined that the person who wrote it is isolated or lonely. If the words are crowded together, it could mean that someone is desperate for someone to spend time with. Also, by looking at letter size, people can determine traits about someone's personality. If the letter size is bigger, it could mean that the person is a big thinker or they are confident. One of the most popular forms of graphology uses letter strokes to determine personality traits. some of the basic ones include seeing if letters are even, uneven, angular, or rounded. Some more advanced ways include looking to see if the letters are cramped, unconnected, or have an unequal height. Many personnel decisions are even made using graphology all over the world.

Factfulness Book Report

Factfullness by Hans Rosling is a book about how people portray the world incorrectly and reasons why it is not as bad as we think it is. He identifies ten instincts to make his argument and explain why we make the misconceptions we do. We often embrace an over-dramatic, stereotyped, inflexible, and pessimistic view of the world and that is why Rosling created this book. For each of the ten instincts Rosling talks about real world examples and stories that lead us to manifesting these beliefs. Not only does he give examples but he tells us how believing these things can be harmful and how we can apply factfullness to defeat these ideas. 
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why ...
In chapter three, Hans Rosling talks about the straight line instinct. The straight line instinct is when we wrongly believe that trends will continue at the same rate and in the same direction forever. For example, the average person will think of a graph as a straight line but in reality they can go up, down, have slopes and dips. Thinking this way causes needless panic among populations. For example, Rosling makes the point that we are so worried about these issues, which are not really as important as we think that it makes us less likely to help the poor communities because of our fear that we are contributing to the growth of the population and make the world more over populated then it already is. In reality there are many people in the world but it is not rising in the way of a straight line it does have curves in it. To be rid of this instinct we must widen our knowledge on things like this. 

In chapter five, this is where Hans talks about the size instinct and this is when people overestimate the actual size of things or how we can blow things out of proportion. This happens when we assume too much based on one single event or point of data. These small pieces of information that we are given are small and are poor representations of the full data set.  These faulty judgements make us think that things are bigger and smaller than they really are. The main reason for this is based on the small samples we look at instead of the larger ones with more data. To break this habit we must use a larger set of data so that we don’t make these false inferences and we must not just accept what we are given when there could be more information. Articulos.claves: 10 Reglas:La realidad :The Gap Instinct ...

In chapter nine, Rosling goes over the blame instinct. This is when we search for one reason or person to blame everything on. Often we end up putting the responsibility on someone else rather than actually looking into the root of all the world’s issues. An example of this is shown in the popularity of conspiracy theories. This is because conspiracy theories often pinpoint a person or company and this opens up an easy target for blame on the person or organization being mentioned in the theory. The factfulness of this is to look at the bigger picture and to be able to target when scapegoats are being used, so no focus is taken from the real problem occuring. 6 important ways to avoid playing the blame game

In conclusion, I enjoyed this book. I feel like it gave really in depth examples are real life situations and it really changed my perspective on things. I was guilty of some of the things Hans Rosling said in the book and now I have a better perspective. I would recommend this book again to someone else so they can learn and change their views if they are having these “instincts” as well. This novel really opened my eyes to the things that go on daily in the world and how there is more than one way to see something.

Why People Believe Wierd Things; Final Report

          For this class, I read Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. As explained at the beginning of the novel Shermer is a skeptic, he is the type of person to question all types of claims of supposed truth, whether it goes from tested methods to improve physical fitness or claims of the supernatural from psychics. throughout the books, he explains concepts from research as well as from his own experiences of pseudoscience to give a better understanding of why people seem to believe in essentially weird things, and how best to avoid them. I chose to read this book because I thought the concept of busting myths and legends would be cool and interesting, Shermer's mission for the book was to shed light on how skepticism is not as bad as people think and that by being reasonable and using what the class described as slow thinking would people be able to see past the veil of pseudoscience, which to me sounded very appealing

          As such one of my favorite chapters of the book was in chapter 5 the near-death experience section. You ever have those moments in life when you may or may not have been close to getting hit with a car, slipping off a ridge, or having your parents call you by your full name? and then afterward seeing your life flash before your eyes? think about those times if they did indeed happen and think to yourself if it did happen what comes after death because groups of people such as certain religions, believers of the paranormal, and self-appointed psychics believe and work towards finding out what comes after death. In this chapter Shermer talks about NDE's or near-death experience which as described earlier is when someone on the brink of death sees and hears visions and feels sensations of what comes after. examples include being in a bright white room, being a pitch-black room, seeing colors beyond human understanding, and seeing stars. Those are examples from an article detailing what 24 people felt on the brink of death, but are they real? According to Shermer, these experiences can be explained by past memories resurfacing, and the different chemicals in the brain. However, will we ever know?
    Another favorite of mine in the book was in chapter 6 which detailed about alien abductions. As a kid, I loved watching videos of supposed alien abductions. there are tons of youtube videos that show supposed alien apperaences but the videos are always of terrible quality. However, the biggest question that comes to mind about these alien abductions is, are they even real? As explained by Shermer in chapter 6 when he was competing for the ultra-marathon which brought a heavy physical toll on his body as he was doing things that were unhealthy that eventually caused him to collapse and bring him into an altered state of mind. In this state of mind, he imagined his crew during the marathon to be aliens from space. It's explained that alien abductions could be the construct of entering a different state of mind and a person recalling memories from the past that have been influenced by past traumas and media about aliens and space. But are aliens truly out there in space, we may never know.

          lastly, another favorite part of the book was in chapter 10 which was about evolution. Evolution, as described in the numerous science I have taken throughout my life, is when the population of a species goes through a change in order to better adapt to their environment to increase their chances of survival. Prime examples include the peppered moth of London during the industrial revolution, the Galapagos finches when they arrived there from the mainland and developed different traits to survive. All in all, evolution is considered a fact, however a long time ago in America, it was not considered truth, and when the idea that human being evolved from primates surfaced it stoked the anger of many religious leaders. In the bible, it is said that God created humans in his image. Shermer explains that science deals with answering questions of the physical world and how it really can't answer why some things happened in the past. Regardless I like this part of the book since I like the topic of religion vs science and how humanity may have found ways to prove aspects of the physical world and have come up with techniques s to avoid jumping to conclusions and falling for myths, and creating new technology, discovering species in both land and sea. However, there are still some mysteries that still need to be unraveled in both the earth and beyond it.

          In conclusion after reading the book during school and at home due to corona, this book was decent. What I liked about the book was the 1st hand experience given by Shermer, what I didn't like about the book was how complicated some of the chapters got, and how the ideas seemed to jump from one thing to another as the chapters went on. I personally would not recommend the book purely because this type of book is not the type of genre I would not read in my free time. sometimes part of the book would be pretty boring and confusing, but overall if anyone wished to read a book, about skepticism and find better ways to think smarter from an expert in the field then this is the book for you.

Book Report ~ Flim-Flam!

The mind is an interesting thing. It has the capability to hold an infinite amount of information and oversee the function of an uncountable number of complex processes yet can be fooled by the simplest of things. The reason why humans have a physical reaction to horror films or adrenaline-producing-death-defying videos is that the brain thinks that the video, we are watching is actually happening to us, even though we know it is just a video. The same logic can be applied to the “delusions” we encounter every day. For example, the “white’s illusion” is a brightness illusion where certain parts of black and white stripes are replaced by grey stripes of the same color and opacity. Even though we know the stripes are the same color, our brain tells us that the grey stripes are different colors. In James Randi’s Flim-Flam!: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and other Delusions, he discusses the more fantastical delusions such as Fairies, psychic surgeries, and spirits communicating from the beyond.

As a child growing up, I loved fairies and thought they were real. I would build fairy houses and leave them in my backyard in case a wayward fairy was lost and needed a place to stay. Tinkerbell, totally real! Unfortunately, as a twenty-year-old, I now know that fairies are not real, but it is still nice to think back to the innocence of childhood. But that is just it; a childhood fantasy, one that Randi more than disproves. In the case of the Cottingley Fairies, Randi looks at a photo taken in 1917 by a young girl named Elsie. She and Frances Griffiths posed with paper fairies the pair had taken from a children’s book, developed the photos, and used the photographs in an attempt to trick their families. Elsie’s mother believed the girls and showed the photographs to some of her friends. The photographic “evidence” was readily accepted as real without any further investigation. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle readily accepted the photographs as legitimate. I find this case interesting because it is amazing what a simple trick can turn into. I’m sure the girls didn't intend for this to explode and reach as many people as it did, but the repercussions of false information can be catastrophic, even after a redaction is published. In the age of photoshop and fast news, it is so important to question everything, use multiple sources for information, and never take anything at face value.

Another topic I thought was particularly interesting was psychic surgery. Randi stated that he received backlash from various countries when he pressed for answers and did not receive a comment from British nor American medical associations. The medical videos the Randi reviewed showed real patients with real medical issues (cysts); however, the vocabulary in the video was misleading and raised the stakes of the “operation” without any validity. Patients were told that they wouldn't feel any pain, yet many did. A “surgeon” named Arigo demonstrated parlor tricks to show what an amazing surgeon he was. He would stick a knife under the eyelid of a patient to the bewilderment of onlookers. This will not cause harm to the individual no matter who performs the stunt. You do not need to be a psychic surgeon to do it. Arigo also performed surgery on several people with the same dull, rusty knife with no proper personal protective equipment or sanitization of the field. He claimed to remove their “tumors” (which were actually superficial cysts and boils). Arigo was not medically trained and probably did not properly sterilize the knife before the sliced into his patients. Then who knows what happened afterward. Did he properly clean the incision, sutures the wound, and give the patient aftercare instructions? Probably not. This sets a precedent for the original patient’s family and community. They will see that patient zero was healed of his ailment so they will be too. This is dangerous especially if the patient has an aggressive or contagious disease. They can be lulled into a false sense of security that they will be healed, or unintentionally spread their disease to others.

As Randi mentioned in the book, religion can be a touchy subject to approach. Spiritualism was an interesting topic to read about because you always hear so much about it, especially around Halloween and Día de Los Muertos. People use those holidays to connect with those who have passed via alternate modes of communication between the realms. Many who practice Spiritualism believe that spirits of the dead exist and attempt communication with them. During their religious services, they collect a donation (like all other religious services as Randi sarcastically pointed out) and attempt to communicate with the spirits that are still on earth. An indication that a spirit is present in various knocking, or thumping sounds, objects seemingly moving on their own, and something if there is a big enough presence of energy, entire tables will tilt and move. Randi debunked these as nothing but human involvement; someone knocking on the table, air blowing out of the air vent, and putting pressure on the table with your hands at just the right point that it seemingly tips by itself. While some people may genuinely believe in spiritualism, those who are in it for the hoax ruin it. For example, an individual who just lost a loved one may be looking for answers, or to speak to that person one last time to say goodbye, and they fall upon someone only in it for the money. The fraud will do or say anything to make a quick buck. Plus, they may be messing around in something that they do not fully understand and get themselves into trouble. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't want to accidentally conjure up the devil.  

I was not the biggest fan of the book. Randi is very much a realist and tends to talk in absolutes and repeats the same idea every chapter; that nothing is real and those who say otherwise are trying to scam you or are wrong. His opinion is the only right one. It was, however, comedic in places due to the outlandish nature of the topic he was discussing. He is very thorough in his explanations and gives logical, scientific evidence to support his claims, which I appreciated. Overall, I would give the book a 6.5/10 with the caveat that the book would be more enjoyable if I was into the behind-the-scenes aspect of magic shows, deception, illusions and want to know how they work.

Discussion Post #3 ~ Learning Styles

On the first day of school, my teachers would hand out a worksheet with some questions asking about
our preferred learning styles. The athletic students were generally kinesthetic learners, the musical
students were generally auditory learners, and artsy students were generally visual learners. I usually
fell into the kinesthetic-auditory category. I was surprised to learn that identifying and matching a child to
their learning style has not been found to be effective and that after specific training on the subject, most
teachers abandon their practices after one year. We were shown different methods of studying in school
to cater to our supposed learning style, only to learn that they do not matter and we will learn no matter
what style the instructor uses. While I can see the validity in this statement, my only question is: how do
the studies mentioned in the lecture pertain to students who have either physical, mental, or learning
disabilities such as an auditory impairment, autism, or dyslexia? Surely the student’s learning style
differs from other students, but do they fall into the three learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), or
do they have their own category? Attached is a link to a teaching guide for diverse populations. The guide
seems to use the original three learning styles and modify them for each diverse group. It would be
interesting to see more studies conducted with special populations as the focus. 

Discussion Post #2 ~ Aromatherapy

A lot of these “studies” regarding aromatherapy are misleading. They were poorly formed and conducted,
leading to inconclusive data. While the oils do smell nice and may make you feel some type of way while
you are using them, there is little evidence to support that it is actually the oils doing the work, and not
the routine itself. For example, if you are taking a bath with a lavender-scented bath bomb after a
stressful day, you may feel happier and more relaxed. However, it is possible that you are feeling that
way for psychological reasons and not solely due to the oils. If you are enjoying the bath and are feeling
happy and relaxed, serotonin and dopamine will be released causing these emotions. It is hard to accept
this idea, especially when so many scented products are marketed for relaxation claiming that they can
ease anxiety and stress.