Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Review- This Idea Must Die: Scientific Ideas That Are Blocking Progress


Science today is not merely about discovering new ways of thinking. Advancement in the field is much about offering new perspectives to solving problems as much as it is rebuking and better yet abandoning redundant ideas and concepts. This is precisely John Brockman’s message in his publication This Idea Must Die: Scientific Ideas That Are Blocking Progress. Scientific progress, according to Max Planck, was a state in which authentic and plausible scientific concepts do not triumph over redundant and questionable ones by simply exposing their weaknesses but by simply being. This is to say that “lame” scientific arguments will eventually wither out and be forgotten- paving the way for more meaningful ones that contribute to the advancement of the discipline. Planck’s theory was plausible, but the reality was and is still very different. For this reason, Brockman engages over 175 influential personalities in the field of science in an attempt to weed out scientific ideas and concepts that have outlived their usefulness. This group of contributors includes scientists (such as Eric J. Topol, Andrei Linde, Robert Sapolsky, and Sherry Turkle), thinkers and philosophers (such as Sam Harris, Martin Rees and Steven Pinker), economists (such as Hans Ulrich Obrist and Eric R. Weinstein), media personalities (such as Douglas Rushkoff), and psychologists (such as Nicholas Humprey, Susan Blackmore, Adam Waytz, Gary Klein, Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ernst Poppel amongst others). Each of these personalities has a unique stand on specific areas of science; for instance, Rushkoff in his “The Atheism Prerequisite” talks about godlessness while Susan Blackmore questions what we know about the brain and consciousness.  

Going through this book, every reader is bound to have a favorite part in the sense that it peaks interest and challenges one to be a more diverse and liberal thinker. For me, that part- just like my colleague Carrie Alpin was Lee Smolin’s “The Big Bang Was the First Moment of Time”. I have always been intrigued by our background-the origin of humanity and its external surrounding. Naturally, I have enjoyed studying related concepts as argued by renowned scientists and philosophers such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (through his theory of the transmutation of species) and Charles Darwin (through his theory of common descent). Here, however, the focus is on the origin of our world and universe. Smolin is transparent in acknowledging that the arguments of the Big Bang Theory is plausible on one part, the part that argues that what we see today is a result of a 13.8 billion-year expansion of the hot and dense primordial state. It is not merely a theory but one with the empirical backing to substantiate it. On the other part, Smolin is categorical in stating that the consequential explanation of the 13.8 billion-year evolution theory is not convincing enough-at least not from a scientific perspective. His main concern is that the explanation implies that the Big bang was the very first moment of time; that absolutely nothing existed before then-not even time. To him, this is far-fetched. Stating that the Bing Bang was the first moment of time discredits the theory’s arguments because in Smolin’s own words, “there was no “before” on which to base an explanation.” It is this flaw that sees the introduction of religious explanations that require nothing but faith to hold “true”. If Big bang was the first moment in time, then we have been relying on laws of nature we know nothing of. In terms of application to the modern context, this “weakness” of Big bang offers a plausible chance of linking general relativity and quantum physics.


Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition (Book Report)

        According to history, superstitions have been practiced for over 5,000 years. Many people today still believe in superstitious rituals. They believe that superstitious rituals ultimately increase their chances for success. For instance, some college students use lucky pens or pencils during exams. Students believe that using their lucky pen or pencil will allow them to achieve a higher score on their exams. In Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, Stuart Vyse discusses pseudoscientific ideas that many people believe to be real. Vyse explains the behavior behind one’s pseudoscientific actions and how it impacts a person. Many of Vyse’s explanations are supported by data and psychological evidence. In addition to pseudoscientific ideas, Vyse distinguishes between religion and pseudoscience. Specifically, he discusses how religion is not the same as superstition. He creates an understanding between superstition and religion by defining it in his own terms. Overall, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition is an interesting book that goes over the reasoning behind some of the irrational and superstitious rituals that humans do.

         While reading Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, chapter 2 piqued my interest. In chapter 2, Vyse discusses superstitious rituals and ‘good luck’ charms that supposedly increases the success rate of a desired outcome. For instance, many college students use lucky pens or pencils during an exam in order to increase their scores. While reading about superstitious rituals and ‘good luck’ charms, I felt that I could personally relate to this topic. Personally, I use a lucky pen and pencil whenever I take exams. However, I do not believe that using the ‘lucky’ pen and pencil increases my score through luck. In fact, I believe that using a ‘lucky’ pen or pencil reduces my anxiety while taking an exam. The pen and pencil comforts me during the exam since I have been using it for a long time. The ‘lucky’ pen and pencil reduces my anxiety allowing me to think clearly which ultimately leads to a higher exam score. Another superstitious ritual that some college students’ practice is going to the testing site prior to the testing date. Visiting the testing site allows the student to relieve any exam related stress or anxiety. By using this pseudoscientific method, I believe that it reduces my anxiety which ultimately leads to a better score.

         Many people around the world practice superstitious rituals because they believe that it will increase the chances of their desired outcome. People who practice superstitious rituals blindly follow and accept it without slow thinking (critical thinking). Slow thinking is “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do” (Robert Ennis). Slow thinking is harder to do daily since it is not the natural states of affairs. On the other hand, fast thinking relies on cognitive heuristics, rules of thumb, presuppositions, biases, assumptions, and intuitive flaws. Most people that practice superstitious rituals rely on fast thinking because they use biases and baseless assumptions to justify their actions. If the people that practice superstitious rituals observe any increase in success rate, then they will continue to practice their superstitious rituals without critically analyzing the data. Although their ritual is not scientifically proven to work, many still practice irrational rituals without question. Fast thinking is not always used for the worse; it can be used for good too. Specifically, some students struggle with exam anxiety which negatively impacts their testing performance by obtaining a lower score. Students can lower college anxiety levels by using pseudoscience. A real-world use for superstitious rituals and ‘lucky’ charms could be to reduce anxiety levels. Like a placebo pill, students can practice superstitious rituals or keep a ‘lucky’ charm to lower anxiety levels. My personal ‘lucky’ pen and pencil comfort me during exams which ultimately leads to lower anxiety levels. The lower anxiety levels allow me to think clearly which leads to better performance on the exam. This pseudoscientific method could be applied to help people with anxiety disorder. Aforementioned, fast thinking can be used to help people with anxiety. On the other hand, fast thinking can be used to trick other people such as talking with the afterlife from Derren Brown's video. Overall, fast thinking has its benefits and downsides.

 

  Here are my ‘lucky’ pen and pencil:

 

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

While reading the book "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, there seemed to be one main reoccurring theme throughout the book. Real science is backed up and proven with facts while pseudoscience is completely based on belief. One thing important thing you learn while reading the book is that you need to be able to determine the difference between something scientifically proven true and a pseudoscience. Without knowing the difference you might believe a pseudoscientific belief, as they use imprecise, scientific-sounding language. They also use terms that are illogical and incorrect as a way to seem credible to an average person. Science uses laws and theories, theories can be unproven and then are expanded upon. This allows for growth and improvement over time as our technology continues to get better. However, pseudoscience does not involve any laws or theories. Pseudoscience is based completely on belief and since you can't technically disprove someone's subjective belief it is hard to make new findings. In addition, pseudosciences don't progress due to the fact that they can never be proven wrong or right. 
Another big theme covered in the book was that divination was not real. Psychics can seem pretty accurate at first, but in reality they are just using tricks to fool their audience. One particular trick they use is a cold reading, where they try to guess details about someone's life. This may seem difficult, but by using really vague guesses and reading body language is actually fairly easy. A hot reading is where a psychic researches a client's life ahead of time, usually done during a show to try to impress the audience. 

The general overview of the book is trying to explain why even today people still hold beliefs that are outdated, weird, or just make no sense. My favorite part about the book is debunking the psychics because since I was a kid I've known that it was not really the person's ability. I always knew there was a trick, but actually reading and learning about how they do it was interesting. This relates to a class because it is basically a pseudoscience as the psychics are using language and tricks to deceive you. Overall, this book was filled with interesting knowledge and an enjoyable read. 

Misbehaving by Richard Thaler

 

Richard Thaler talks about the history of behavioral economics, and mainstream economics. Out of all the social sciences, Economics is the most influential, with how it has impacts on people’s lives. What happened was, from the 70s to the modern era, there was this classical economic model that humans were rational. Everyone made these basic, classical rational economic decisions, based on the utility of the products we had. In today's society, everyone is so economically different, not everyone is living the same. This is the culmination as Thaler describes as misbehaving and the study of misbehaving of others.

The way people misbehave is completely opposite as the way people in economists think how people misbehave, or how the way people in economic models misbehave. The people he (Thaler) studies are human beings, just ordinary people doing the most they can for their personal lives. Thaler talks about how we as humans do not always choose the right things. Sometimes we do not exercise properly, or we overeat. Some of us do not save the money we should be saving so we can retire at a very honest age.

My favorite part of this book and it really opened my eyes was more towards the end of the book. Richard Thaler dropped a lot of knowledge about how the standard economic models do not explain real-world behaviors. Behavioral economics has been accepted by the mid-2000s, and even Thaler harps on real-world problems, and the discipline we must have to tackle them. Whether it be paying your taxes on time or saving money for retirement, these go into what we talk about as a class with how science relies on Slow Thinking and Critical Thinking. A lot of people do not understand how the economy works. I even learned about what mainstream economics are and different traits of economics. You have to be think very thoroughly on the type of income you are bringing to the table, and make a decision whether it is enough to get by in life or if you want to make even more money. We discuss Slow Thinking in the lecture slides and how to have good habits of mind and what a selfish critical thinker is.

With being the person who is good at thinking but unfair to others, which is what a selfish critical thinker is, I think that is key in economics. It is always good to think of others in any point in time, but to focus on your own economic values and have your own set plan, that is more important. Knowing more about Economics and how it can affect yourself in the real world, I think people should pay more attention to economics, and get a better understanding in life a little bit more. Richard Thaler talks about in his text, that the textbooks for courses of economics are about 10 years behind. Kids today need to learn how to handle their own money and think for themselves in the long run.

Flim-Flam Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Dilutions By James Randi

 

Book Report

Flim-Flam Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Dilutions By James Randi

In the text, James has discovered and exposed what he considers to be disgraceful dishonesty that has been endorsed extensively in the media (Randi, 1982). Therefore, the author is fearless and calls researchers to analysis concerning their disappointments and impostures. On the other hand, he has explained how scientists have wrongly served their readers by failing to follow the necessary processes obligatory by their exercise and custom (Randi, 1982). At this point, James expresses what he considers to be chaotic research, which is followed by justifications of evident catastrophes, and the book reveals such errors and caricatures (Randi, 1982). Therefore, the book has provided the reader with a persuasive and substantial document that disconcerts and enlightens the readers.

In the text, James expresses his paramount investigations regarding the mystical, occult, and uncanny entitlements that have impressed the intelligence of the modern public and generation (Randi, 1982). The author has concentrated on mental investigators, hovering, dowsing fortunetelling, and psychokinesis, among other areas (Randi, 1982). Therefore, he has solved issues regarding individuals who are always unable to distinguish between sincere scientific research and the pseudoscientific nonsense that results in unconventional theories.

One of the most attractive sections to me in the text is where he has discussed how researchers have been misleading their readers in their researches. According to the book, most researchers have not been following the correct procedures and skills acquired in their training when doing their researchers (Randi, 1982). They have been recording anything for their benefit and apply skills that make it difficult for many readers to distinguish. Hence, it becomes difficult to evaluate legit researchers and vague ones, and many of them are left confused. We have discussed researchers who would do their study and encounter situations based on their field of interest rather than what is found in the research.

In our course lectures, we have identified biased research that may seem real, but in reality, they are not. On this note, the text has discussed researchers who conduct such studies in detail. Some are so skillful in a manner that it is not easy for a reader to distinguish where biasness is applied. On the other hand, some researchers have been concentrating on issues that attract them and leave other content uncovered (Randi, 1982). Therefore, a field that was supposed to be two way argued is left with some issues not discussed or wrongly discussed.

When researchers do this, they outwardly mislead readers. A reader can be interested in investigating a particular issue and decide to use secondary data for references. Therefore, if such a person consumes a wrongly done study, the wrong information is established and recorded, which may mislead so many people if the later research is to be used by various people. On this note, the entire line to use studies did wrongly first, or the study did refereeing to this researches will have the wrong information.

In conclusion, the text is a perfect demonstration of all wrong styles applied by biased researchers in their study. Hence, it can be used as a reference to todays world and the events of the pandemic. The current issues regarding the pandemic and the skewed numbers and data relayed to individuals is purely biased. Thus the public needs to open their own personal investigation concerning said data and should apply knowledge entailed in the book to respond and create their own conclusions. I myself have been in several situations where I am investigating some issues and find contradicting solutions; hence, it is necessary for me to examine more to get the correct information concerning the matter, because it is difficult evaluating the wrongly done researches.



Book Report: A Demon Haunted World- Science as a Candle in the Dark

 For my book report, I made a Google Slideshow and recorded myself presenting it. Enjoy! :)

*if the link doesn't work, let me know via email, but it's published under my YouTube account with my full name. You should be able to find it there.


https://youtu.be/3rkHQB2437o

Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Chupacabra " (Post #3)

The Chupacabra has been a BIG part of my childhood. I lived in Mexico with my parents and grandparents for over a year. My grandparents own a farm so the Chupacabra will always be brought up. My Grandmother would use the Chupacabra to always make us fall into line ad not disobey. The story was always great to tell at night with the family. I wouldn't go outside of the house or even bother to go to the bathroom because I'd believe the Chupacabra would come and take me. 

"Aliens" (Post #2)

Aliens have always been my conversation starter. I am such a strong believer that there is life out there in space even if it just means bacteria. I think Aliens is something that will catch everyone's attention. I personally believe that Aliens do not look like the way that Hollywood makes them out to look. I know we all remember when they "confirmed" the existence of UFO"s earlier this summer. This really made me think about what else is true. And if any Aliens are held captive out there. The reason why I believe Aliens is such a popular topic is because of the movie that Hollywood produces and also social media. Space is so vast so why wouldn't there be any life out there? 

"Jersey Devil" (post #1)

     I was excited when I saw this was one of our lectures. Folklore was always something that made me excited. Especially the story about the Jersey Devil. A few years back when I was 15, my father took me to the place where the Jersey Devil has been spotted. We went after the sun had set to make the experience a little more fascinating. A part of me knew that I was not going to see anything that night but another part of me had her fingers crossed. Sadly I didn't encounter anything. The whole idea of a woman giving birth to a creature that has a head of a horse and wings like a bat is absurd to me. I feel as if people have mistaken objects or animals to be the Jersey Devil. It is so easy for the human eye to get tricked. 

Book Report on “Why People Believe Weird Things” By Michael Shermer

I suppose I should begin with an admission of guilt. I am guilty of giving my hard-earned dollars to psychics and tarot card readers in the past. I find myself, now, realizing that I could have been considered a “believer”. I wanted to believe the great things I was being told. Looking back, I am trying to remember the psychics using what has been described in this book as “tells” or subconscious indicators used to obtain information from me. The book’s section where psychics, or mentalists, were debunked caused a sense of embarrassment for me.

The most relatable section of the book for me, which was my favorite part, was chapter 3 because it was an opener for me. I am, without a doubt, a skeptic in relation to the Roswell NM alien incident. I find it astonishing that there were/are so many believers in this “discovery”. The number of things that disprove this alien landing far outweigh any supporting information. I see the same level of belief in false or incredible stories on social media on nearly a daily basis. People are so easily led to believe claims of miracle weight loss scams or political hoaxes. Social media seems to have no standard of factual information to adhere to. It is evident to me that people choose to believe what makes them hopeful or agrees with their personal beliefs. For example, a person committed to a political party will be more likely to think slanderous statements of “fact” by the opposing party.

People tend to believe what they see online as fact. This can relate to the lecture about the Jersey Devil and the people who believe the folk tale from the newspapers and the “witness”. I wish that the masses would look at information with a more analytical mind. It would be easier to change a skeptic’s mind on a topic than a believer’s mind. This relates to the “witnesses” of the Jersey Devil and the difference between the people who do not believe in it. It is easier to convince someone. A skeptic will look at the facts and probability of truths, but a believer seems to accept simply. I am, after years of education and disappointments in my personal life, a skeptic.


By - Victoria Wolford

Post #3 - Graphology (Lecture 8)

From this lecture, I understood that graphology is a type of analysis that studies different physical characteristics or the study of different patterns of handwriting. Graphology explains that everyone's script has a character of its own. This theory is due to the uniqueness of the writer's personality. Therefore, people believe that graphology can identify personality traits in humans. In my opinion, this is a fascinating lecture! 

I have seen in movies, and TV shows detectives studying someone's handwriting but never really understood it until reading this lecture. I thought it was amazing how someone could figure out who the actual author was by how someone writes. However, I found myself thinking about my handwriting. I feel like depending on the situations, my script is either very sloppy or neat. I see it change all the time. I then thought about graphology being compared to someone's signature. My question would be, how do the forensic graphologists determine who is the authentic writer if the scripts change often? I believe it would be challenging to figure out sometimes. But that is why they are the experts and not me! 


By - Victoria Wolford

Post #2 - The Jersey Devil (Lecture 2)

    The story of the Jersey Devil has always interested me ever since I was a child. This New Jersey folklore, which developed from around the 1700s, has developed roughly over 200 witnesses that have claimed to see this creature living in the Pine Barrens woods. Our lecture discusses a story about a woman named Mrs. Leeds, who became pregnant with her 13th child and wanted that child to become the devil. I was told this as a child and how I was told with the story ending with the woman getting her wish and has been lurking around the southern part of New Jersey ever since. Fun fact, the New Jersey's hockey team was named the New Jersey Devils after the famed creature.

    I have just recently watched an X-Files episode where it was all about the Jersey Devil. From what I have learned and what I have watched, I believe that it is fascinating to see the difference in theories and stories. In the episode, detectives Mulder and Scully investigate the murder of a homeless man in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Mulder believes there is a connection to a 1947 case where a "half-human creature ate a person." Along the way, Mulder meets some people that believe a man was killed by the Jersey Devil, such as the ranger and a homeless man. Mulder waits out in a dark alley and finally sees "a"  creature, but it escapes. After this find, Mulder visits a professor who validates Mulder's theory on a human reverting to connivers neanderthal. After another body is found in the wood, Mulder locates a female creature but is killed by the police. Ending the episode, it showed a wild child searching the woods for food.


By - Victoria Wolford

Post #1 - Ways of Thinking (Lecture 1)

During this lecture, it explained the different types of thinkers. We learned about the three different kinds of thinkers and the traits that make them different. These different ways of thinking are labeled the native thinker, the selfish critical thinker, and the fair-minded thinker. In my opinion, I suggest we should all strive to be fair-minded thinkers regarding the world today and the amount of fighting and disagreeing that goes on. People becoming more like fair-minded thinkers would lead this world to have a lot less hate and fight if we all understood and respected one another for the way they think or feel. Respectfully explaining our views and ideas without telling someone they are wrong could be the start of everyone becoming more critical in the way they observe and understand the world today. 

One article I have read over the years gives good examples of the different characteristics of critical thinkers. The report states that critical thinkers think "clearly and rationally." (Patel, 2018). These types of people make logical connections between ideas, and they are crucial to exploring and understanding the world we live in. The article teaches the read that critical thinkers can stay as objective as possible when looking at any information. (Patel, 2018). 

Another interesting point was that the best analytical thinkers are also critical thinkers. It explained that critical thinkers need to assess the information and draw conclusions based on raw data. This characteristic leads them to be called "creative thinkers." (Patel, 2018). Looking deeper into the data, the most significant difference between critical thinkers and creative thinkers is that creativity is associated with generating ideas. In contrast, critical thinking is associated with analyzing and appraising those ideas. (Patel, 2018).


Patel, Deep. 16 Characteristics of Critical Thinkers. 24 Oct. 2018, www.entrepreneur.com/article/321660.


By - Victoria Wolford

Flim-Flam! Book Report

For the book report, I decided to read Why People Believe Weird Things: Psudo Science, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer. Michael Shermer is the President of The Skeptics Society and editor in chief of a magazine entitled Skeptic, which focuses on psudoscientific claims. Shermers book is divided into five sections, each of which focus on tackling the main question tackled in the title of the book. In the first section, he primarily talks about the importance of skeptisicm, and why it plays out in understanding what psudoscience is. This comes into play with analyzing the scientific method as well. The second section of the book touches on paranormal instances and many psudoscientific concepts associated with it. He points out that many of these occasions are linked wih cultural connections. The third section talks about creationalism and its impact on the United States. More specifically, he tackles how it has becomer so prominent and a primary counter argument to Darwinsism. In the fourth section Shermer goes in depth and writes about Holocoust deniers, and how their view of this is mainly incorrect. Finally in the fifth section, Shermer ties it all together by saying that even the smartest individuals can be fooled by psuedoscience and false claims. 
Personally, my favorite part of the book was the second section of the book, more specifically when he discussed the out of body experiences. He discusses how trauma, environment, and predisposed ideas can influence how an “out of body experience” can become something that immediately seen as fact or truth. Additionally, many of the things that were talked about in the second section can be viewed in correlation to cultural impacts and beliefs. Based on my own family culture and traditions, I dont believe that out of body experiences would be something that is immediately believed, but I can understand how other cultures could openly adopt this. For example, astral projection is an out of body experience that many religions and cultures identify with, and has recently seen a surge in interest on various platforms of social media. Astral projection involves an individuals “soul” leaving its physical body and entering an astral plain where the soul can temporarily roam freely in search of enlightenment. Since it was trending so heavily on social media at the time when I was reading this book, I found it even more immersing to read page by page. 
The concept of astral projection closely ties with dualism, which is a topic that we discussed in class. Dualism is the belief that the physical body and the spiritual being, or soul, are two different ideas and can be separated. Many believed this ideology and even to this day religions and certain individuals freely believe this idea to be true to its fullest extent. Part of believing in OBE is also believing in dualism, which I found to be very intriguing because I know some people who don’t particularly believe in the concept of dualism but do believe in OBE. 
I think about OBE and what Shermer talked about in his book and I apply it to my personal viewpoints and experiences. I personally have experienced one “OBE” that I firmly believed was one, but upon further thinking knew that it was not. It involved playing this strange game called red door, yellow door. In this game you’re supposed to visualize yourself going specified doors in order to open “the doors of your mind.” When I was young I played it with a friend, and got spooked when I “saw” something scary. The more I think about it though the more I realize it was more than likely me projecting my thoughts into a visualization in my head, rather than a OBE in itself, which at the time I thought it was. 
Below I found a video of Shermer himself attempting a “God Helmet” experiment in Canada. At the time of the video, it was believed that this simulated an OBE, but it was ultimately debunked in 2008.

What many perceive OBE to look like.

Aromatherapy (Post 3)

As someone who uses essential oils and diffusers often, I found it really interesting to read about aromatherapy in our class. I primarily use eucalyptus for any times where my allergies get the best of me, and I use my lavender scent for relaxation and also because I enjoy the smell. I found it a little shocking that individuals use essential oils for things such as wrinkles, depression, and serious illnesses. To me, the eucalyptus provides me relief in my nasal passages that I can genuinely feel, and the lavender is because I associate the scent with relaxing areas like a garden. It makes a lot of sense though, how the benefits of aromatherapy can be generalized so broadly and then individuals find “remedies” with it.

OBE (Post 2)

During the lectures, the concept of out of body experiences were discussed in the slide shows. I found it interesting that many individuals found it similar or confused it with lucid dreaming. Whats even more interesting is that anesthesia was seen to have an impact on it, which was not the same for me. I recently had a surgery and have had many other instances when I was under anesthesia and each time I did not dream once. For me, the medicine goes into effect and then I immediately wake up, with no dreams or any understanding of what occurred. I have also read that many individuals face an “out of body” experience when faced with immediate trauma or distraction. 

Topic 3: Y2K

Y2K was believed to be the technological doomsday that was allegedly suppose to occur once the analog systems on computers switched over from the year ‘99 to ‘00. Apparently this change in format upon the new year was supposedly to cause mass malfunctions within computer systems across the world causing mass chaos ranging from mass downed airlines to accidental nuclear missile launches which would effectively grind human society to a halt. As a result of this widespread hysteria, doomsday preppers sprang to action by hoarding necessities and building underground bunkers to provide refuge for their families. Unfortunately for these dutifully workers, their efforts were never necessary as the strike of midnight fell that New Year’s Eve twenty years ago. However, there are plenty of other occasions coming up that might warrant the habitation of these doomsday bunkers such as the end of the world concisely predicted to end by famed astrologer Jeane Dixon anywhere from the year 2020 to 2037.

Hypnotism (Post 1)

Hypnosis is a topic that has always been of interest to me throughout my life. The idea of being able to connect with past lives has always been one of interest to me. In order to do so, the goal of the hypnotist is to get the individual into a state of mind that is easily guidable and malleable. During this, the hypnotist will push the individual towards recalling certain events that may have happened to them in a past life, and ultimately confront those traumas that may have passed over into their present. At first I used to see hypnotist as 100% fact, since I could not find any immediate answer to it, and my lack of exposure to hypnotism enforced this. As I have seen more and more examples of hypnotism, and even seen hypnotist “shows”, I have come to the understanding that the hypnotist does this guiding to pull an answer, especially in the shows. Every year, Stockton has a hypnotism show for freshman students, and I have become more and more aware of it. Interestingly enough, the hypnotist also refers to himself as a comedian too!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16gaF1kprEc

Out of body Experiences 3rd Post

While viewing the lecture slides I was reading about out of body experiences and how most of them take place in the operating room. This was very interesting to me as I have had two major surgeries within the past year with heavy anesthesia. Although, I did not personally have an out of body experience I believe I had something very similar to or a variation of one . It was after my second brain surgery at Sloane Kettering and I was knocked out for ten hours. When I woke up I had brief memory of being awake during the surgery. This is obviously not possible, but I remember feeling as if I had been awake for some of it. It felt as if some part of my brain stayed awake for a couple seconds and I was creeped out when I first awoke. The surgeons assured me that there was no way I could have been awake during it as I underwent very heavy anesthesia. However, this did not put my mind to ease and to this day I am convinced that I had some type of out of body experience. It's not as if I saw my own body during this experience, but I remember feeling as if I had witnessed some parts of my surgery. To this day, I have not found a clear explanation for this and it still creeps me out sometimes. 

Topic 2: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is purported to utilize science and art to promote harmonious well being to anyone who partakes in the olfactory overload of scents that waft around you. Proponents of this all natural scent scenario believe that the sense smell is the quickest route to the brain and therefore indulging in the fragrances they have purposed helps soothes a problem is linked to the daily application of essential oils throughout a users day. However, while these calming lavenders and soothing sage aromas might be pleasant; there are no proven scientific studies that link the usage of essential oils/aromatherapy to the relief of pain or discomfort associated with the prescribed function of these practices. Surely it is nice to smell nice things and enjoy the comfort they bring; but to sell these products under the guise that they will soothe actual physical ailments is ethically and morally negligible. I work at a Whole Foods where they fully “drink the koolaid” in regards to the manly nuanced uses of essential oils and I believe it’s a total scam on lackadaisical millennials who buy into their scheme. After all, some of these essential oils they are selling cost approximately $15-25 a small bottle and claim to bring about clarity, resilience, or any other vague adjective that sounds desirable. I’m all for a nice candle to heighten the atmosphere of a room when company is over, but to claim such broad statements without anything to show is silly.

Topic 1: Chupacabra

The origin of the tale of the Chupacabra is one which illustrated a grizzly monster who maimed livestock and pets alike in Puerto Rico. However, since the dawn of this tale there have been mysterious attacks on livestock and pets in the Southwestern United States. Farmers and pet owners would report that these infamously elusive creatures had attacked and drained the blood of their victims for sustenance despite objective proof of the actual assailant. Believers of the existence of the Chupacabra believe it’s elusiveness is related to its apparent physical composition. It is reported to have the wily appearance of menacing blood thirsty rodent with the hind legs of a kangaroo which allegedly explains why so few have been caught. It is believed that the continued popularity of this fabled creature is correlated to the dissemination of disinformation on the internet in 1996 when information could be widely spread via the broadening increase in accessibility to the internet. I don’t believe that the Chupacabra is real at all, but I can certainly understand how difficult it is to dispel such deep rooted myths such as this one when the origination began well before people thought these rumors out thoroughly. It could have been much easier for simple townsfolk to believe that some fearsome sulfur scented beast is ravaging their farms than possibly a wild dog. As a result, this irrefutable use of fast thinking during those days gone by in Puerto Rico resulted in the menacing myth of the Chupacabra.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

(Book Report) Factfulness - Hans Rosling

        Factfulness is a unique book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book doesn't force the reader to read its entirety to understand its content. This method of writing enhanced my knowledge intake of each chapter and all 11 chapters discussed something different. However, as Hans Rosling would go in depth on a detailed argument, sometimes he would start to get repetitive. Hans would repeatedly use the same arguments for a couple of different topics and that stands out to the reader. Overall, the majority of the book was excellent. Hans's three topics that I enjoyed the most was generalization, fear, and negativity.
        In chapter six, Hans went into deep detail about the generalization instinct. He noted how people generally try to compare things that favor the persons own opinion. For example, if I liked lemons better than limes and wanted my friend to agree with me, I would instinctively compare a lime to something bad like an artificial piece of candy. This comparison would put the thought of limes being bad into my friends head, when limes are truthfully not that bad. Another great point in this chapter is the stretching of words that one can use when in an argument or discussion. Words and phrases like "for the most part" and "majority" are commonly used in opinionated debates. This happens because even if the person is wrong, they still want to fight for what they like based on their own experience or opinion.
        Chapter four talked about the fear instinct. Fear effects us in a couple of different ways. For example, there are two twin brothers that live in Wyoming and both of them have never seen or have been near an ocean. Both brothers look at the same article about oceans, but they each interpret that article in completely different ways. One brother focused on all of the negative circumstances of the ocean, such as sharks and rip-curls. The other brother focused more on the positives about the ocean, such as a fun time at the beach or surfing. The brother that focused on the negatives just developed a great fear of oceans, while the that focused on the positives did not. This development of fear can happen with almost anything. Some fears weigh more on a person than other fears do, but that's dependent on the amount of exposure that fear has on the person.
        My third favorite chapter was chapter two, which was on the negativity instinct. Hans explained how it is more instinctive for people to see things in a negative light, rather than positive. What happened to my girlfriend over the past weekend is a perfect example of this. Her car broke down and the engine light in her car turned on. Automatically, she assumes that she's going to have to pay a lot of money for an engine repair or replacement. As it turned out it was a very cheap fix, due to a antifreeze leak. People would rather focus on the worst case scenario, so they don't get disappointed in the future.
        To conclude, I'm glad that I've gotten the chance to read Factfulness. This book allows me to see things that are happening constantly, more clearly. It also taught me a few things along the way, such as knowing why people think the way they do and why fears aren't easy to overcome. If future pseudoscience and the paranormal students are reading this, I highly recommend this book. It will not disappoint!


The Jersey Devil

Before this class I had of heard of the Jersey Devil but never really knew exactly what it was supposed to be. My cousin had taken me to a spot in North Jersey where the Jersey devil had reportedly frequented. Although, the spot was eerie we ended up not seeing anything just how I predicted. But now after learning more in this class I feel like less of a skeptic about the jersey devil. To me, the background story seems far fetched even though it is entertaining. The odds of a woman giving birth to a creature with a horse like head and wings like a bat that allowed it to fly out of the chimney seemed unlikely. However, recreated "images" of the jersey devil sparked my attention. Although, the make up of the jersey devil seems like a mystical creature it really intrigued me. Tons of people in my home state really believed in the Jersey Devil which made me think about it in a different way. Perhaps the Jersey devil in itself wasn't real but the energy behind it was. I did some of my own research and some of the accounts of the jersey devil were very farfetched. To me this proved the creature did not exist but the fear behind it did. Perhaps there was an explanation for what the people had been really seeing. This made me think of the Chupacabras we read about that people feared in Puerto Rico. For years people swore that this mysterious creature was responsible for the killing of farm animals. Scientists later discovered that they were not actually chupacabras but abused Xolo dogs. That is what I think of the Jersey Devil, it is not actually the mystical creature, but another animal in disguise that is tricking people.

Alien Abduction

While viewing the lecture slides, I came across a video that really stuck with me. It was about a group of workers in the desert that saw an unrecognizable object and wanted to investigate. Before this class, I was not a huge believer in the alien theory and am still not. However, this particular instance made me second guess my beliefs. The man who went to explore the unknown object seemed really trustworthy to me. It seemed as if he wholeheartedly believed he was abducted by aliens. When he went to check out the supposed "aircraft" his friends and co workers abandoned him. He went missing for days and was found at a completely different location than where the sighting had taken place. But to the man it felt as if it had all happened within the same night. When he reached out to his family from a payphone they told him he had been missing for days. Of course afterwards, skeptics called him a liar and that he hallucinated the whole thing because of drug use. To me this seemed unlikely because the workers he was with had the same exact story he did leading up to the "abduction". In addition, the Sheriff from the town where it took place recalled how shocked and scared the other men were while they were being interviewed. Overall, this video changed the way I look at alien encounters and stopped me from being a complete skeptic. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Aliens (Post #3)

The question, "Do you believe in aliens?" has been said to everyone at least once in their lifetime. According to New York Post, around half of the humans on Earth believe that aliens exist, while the other half does not. Personally, I believe they do exist. Assuming that space is constantly expanding, there is and will be an infinite amount of space, meaning that a replica of this world we call Earth isn't too far-fetched. In my opinion, space is way to gigantic for Earth to be the anomaly for life. Another huge misconception among humans is what an alien would look like. I feel as though most people would expect to see a gray or green alien if we ever came into contact. Also, most people really don't think about how an alien could be just any living organism that doesn't come from Earth. Aliens don't have to resemble the shape or form of a human. An alien can look as small as an ant or as big as a whale. This article linked below, describes how some aliens would look depending on their ecosystem and geography!



Hypnosis (Post #2)

The action of hypnosis seems to be feared by the general public, simply because most people don't actually know what it is or how it works. Hypnosis is when a person is in a state of consciousness and then lose their power of voluntary action. Making them highly receptive towards outside direction and suggestion. The motive of hypnosis is to find and recover suppressed memories, to heal them. Although, sometimes this directive does not always get achieved. Sometimes therapists can create memories that never happened, due to how overpowering their influence is on their hypnotized client. Therefore, the general public may have the right idea to be frightened by hypnosis.


UFO's / Abductions (Post #1)

Their have been hundreds of alleged reports regarding the sightings or experiences of UFO's and abductions. When people read these reports and articles, they are instantly finding themselves looking for reasons why this can't be and I am one of those people. From what I've seen, the most substantial motive for these extraterrestrial reports and articles is television ratings. News channels will take these reports and forward them for the world to see. Obviously, everyone is going to be at least a little bit interested in a news headline that contains the words aliens, UFO, or abduction. Nevertheless, these reported UFO and alien abductions all cannot be proven, as they are mostly from alleged eyewitnesses that tell the tale.





Post #2: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, is a holistic treatment method that uses natural plant extract to help improve one's physical health as well as emotional health. I am familiar with the term aromatherapy and have heard about people using scents such as lavender to help them destress or to help them sleep. I personally have never tried using essential oils to get these benefits but I was given a candle for Christmas from Bath&BodyWorks and it has a label that claims it is scented with black chamomile and natural essential oils to help you relax. I’ve used it multiple times however, I wasn’t noticing any changes and I didn’t think I was feeling any more relaxed than I typically do. I never really believed that essential oils could be effective in helping with things like memory or pain but I always thought that they could at least be used to help boost one’s mood or to help someone relax. After looking at the lecture for the class, I realize that there is no evidence to support the broad claims made by aromatherapists and that essential oils don’t seem to have any benefits at all. I don’t see any harm in someone using them if they really believe it helps them with their insomnia or stress however, I don’t think anyone should rely on them or use them for serious injuries instead of receiving care from a doctor. 


This is the candle I have that claims that it has natural essential oils to help promote relaxation. There are also several other kinds that claim to provide different benefits such as stress relief and energy.

Black Chamomile Single Wick Candle - Aromatherapy | Bath & Body WorksOrange Ginger 3-Wick Candle - Aromatherapy | Bath & Body WorksEucalyptus Spearmint Single Wick Candle - Aromatherapy | Bath ...