Sunday, July 31, 2022

Blog Post 3: Learning Styles

The slides with the learning styles are my favorites. I believe it is very important for people to know their learning styles so they can learn more efficiently. My learning style is visual. I believe that images are the simplest and the most effective way to make sure that the information gets stored as a long-term memory. Hearing someone talk in my ears can get me sleepy and bored. Captivating images, engaging videos, interesting infographic help me fight the boredom. Overall, the visual leaning style helps me understand and retain information because I can associate ideas, words, and concepts with images.

Blog post 2

 I still found the Mozart effect to be very interesting even though no research has ever demonstrated that it can have a lasting impact on general intelligence. Some people do believe in it, but I don't. I believe that everyone would perform better if they have a stimulus but I do not believe that it necessarily improves cognitive abilities as some people believe. I don't believe it is more than just a temporary stimulation to the brain.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Blog Post #3: The "Mozart Effect"

 I had no idea what this was until I read about it in class and did more research. This effect says that "listening to Mozart's compositions (and other classical music) will increase spatial intelligence." When I was younger and heard people listening to classical music I thought they were super smart people because that type of music is stereotyped with having a high IQ. Now I know that is not accurate. The lecture said the results were small, equivalent to 8-9 IQ points. Learning about this was something that I was intrigued in. Lecture 5 was definitely in my top 3 favorite lectures for the class.                                                                           

                                                        Popular Classical Music: The Big Names (Part I) | by APU | Medium

Blog Post #2: UFO Abductions & Projective Testing

 This lecture probably caught the eye of everyone! Who doesn't want to know about UFO's? This lecture started out by explaining how to recall past events. There was a picture of a string tied on a persons finger. My mother would always say to do that if you forgot what you wanted to say. UFO Aliens was one of the next slides and I personally believe there are other forms of life out there. There is no way humans are they only living things. UFO Abductions are something that I am still unsure about believing in but we learned that many people believe they were victims. There are shows on TV where victims speak out and tell there experience and it really gets me thinking. I wonder what is really out there and how advanced are "they". Videos get posted of UFO's to social media and everyone is convinced they are not human-made objects. This topic is extremely interesting because there is not a right or wrong answer because no one knows.

                                                Do Americans Believe in UFOs?

Blog Post #1: Psychic Crime Detectives

 This lecture caught my eye very fast. I do believe in psychics so this was something I wanted to learn so much about. I personally do believe they can help police in a missing person case. I have watched many videos and kid psychics helping police and I really do not think it was fake. Noreen Renier was someone I knew nothing about. Now I feel like I know a lot about her. This was one of my favorite topics in this class. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Report: The Scout Mindset

The Scout Mindset


The Scout Mindset is a book that tries to challenge your ways of thinking in an attempt to give the reader insight into their own thoughts. She breaks down two different mindsets that people have. The soldier mindset and then scouts mindset. The soldier's mindset is defensive and tries to protect preconceived ideas. There are biases that people naturally learn towards because of preconceived notions, and the author implements ideas that could help combat this. She gave an analogy of thinking about your mind like a map, and these “threats” to your thoughts can only help improve and build your map. The goal of this book is to give insight to the readers to achieve the scout mindset. With the scout mindset people will be able to realize when their beliefs are proved wrong and learn from it. The point that this book attempts to educate the reader on is that they could be wrong. There's nothing wrong with being wrong as long as you can recognize the mistake and learn from it. 

Favorite Part

I think my favorite part of the book is chapter 8. This chapter encompasses going about your life without these false illusions. The author wrote about gathering motivation without self deception. She explains that you should always try to have an accurate picture of the odds when you make a risky decision. This can also help someone adapt to their situation and make them more confident about it. Having a realistic point of view on things makes decisions happen in a more logical sense. I think this is a good idea to implement into my own life because it’ll help me make smarter decisions without fooling myself. 

Favorite Part Related to Class

I feel as though most of this book relates in a big way to our class and the lectures that have been provided. I think the biggest relation to the book would have to be in lecture 1. Lecture 1 talks about the different ways of thinking. There was mention of fast thinkers, often led by biases and assumptions, and slow thinkers. These slow thinkers take a more methodical approach and use critical thinking. This relates very well to the two ways of thinking that is described in the scout mindset. The soldier mindset is essentially fast thinking. They both fall into traps of bias and going off of preconceived ideas that are at the forefront of their minds. The scout mindset falls in line with slow thinking as they both try to reach the logical and correct decisions. 

Creative and Extension

The YouTube video linked below is an interview with the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, and they have a discussion on what this means and how it works. These two ways of thinking are broken down and explained for the listeners. I thought it was really interesting and it kept my attention throughout the video. There is a lot to learn from this video, and the goal should be to try to not use fast thinking wherever possible. It can lead to bias and error. It would be much better to use the slow thinking method at all times so decisions can be well thought out. This is something that should be implemented into all of our lives in order to avoid making mistakes. Adopting a slow way of thinking could be beneficial to all different areas in our lives whether that be occupation, investment decisions, and even decisions about our personal lives. 


Unidentified Objects by Frank Runza

 UFOs, (Unidentified flying objects), and abduction stories have been widespread for decades if not more. There are theories that surface and people who believe in not only aliens but that aliens are interfering with daily life on earth. Today there are shows out there such as Ancient Aliens, Men in Black, and Modern marvels that all promote alien conspiracies. Life beyond Earth is a fascinating topic, but the question stands, Are aliens actually living on/ visiting planet Earth? With numerous sightings every year, and alien sightings being dated back to ancient times many people believe so.   

Alien sightings, in my opinion, are typical ways of explaining the unexplainable. Am I saying that aliens one hundred percent do not exist? No, I am not, but I am saying that there are other explanations out there besides aliens. Many of the people who report being abducted, or having some kind of alien/UFO encounter are deprived of sleep, are prone to fantasy, and simply fixated on the idea of aliens. It is my personal educated belief that alien sightings are nothing more than a phenomenon that humans just can't explain yet. It could be something as simple as a meteor storm to a plane moving fast in the sky. While this may be my opinion, it is also true that not all UFO sightings have been solved, and the science behind some sightings has never been solved. Even government officials have admitted to not knowing what happened in certain circumstances.

UFOs and aliens have been recorded in history for centuries. In April of 1561 in Nuremberg Germany, there were historical writings in which multiple people witnessed what appeared to be a naval battle except it was in the sky. It was described as seeing hundred of UFOs conduct an aerial battle in the sky right over their heads. There are also many towns in not only the United States but right here in New Jersey that reports multiple UFO sightings every year. Most famously North Bergen is one of those towns, and comedian Joey Diaz also happens to be from that said town.,looking%20to%20the%20skies%20for%20little%20green%20men.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Book Report The Scout Mindset


The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't by Julia Galef discusses what it is like to have the mindset of a scout. With this mindset, you tend to know when you are wrong, look for those blind spots you have, and change the direction of such imperfections. In chapter 1, reasoning is brought to the attention that typically we find reasoning in everything we do, and we use different types of reasoning such as motivated reasoning, also called soldier mindset. Julia later says how we do not/should not have to choose between being happy and being realistic in life. There are ways in life to cope with the fears and insecurities we deal with every day. We are all wired with the soldier mindset, but we should come up with ways to move towards the scout mindset rather than stay stuck on the soldier mindset. Make some incremental steps geared towards shifting to the mindset. Such steps could be asking yourself how sure you are with a claim of certainty; when someone is being 'irrational'/'crazy' ask yourself why might they are acting that way and become curious about it. 

My Favorite Part:

My favorite part of the book definitely was chapter 10: How to be Wrong. This chapter talks about how being wrong can actually be beneficial by realizing that being wrong eventually makes you better at being right. For example, Julia talks about how "when a forecaster recognizes he was wrong, it helps him make better forecasts" and "when an investor recognized he was wrong, it helps him make better investments". Another solid point brought up is talking about how when you recognize being wrong does not indicate you did something wrong. 

Related Part:

In chapter 11 the author brings up a story of the homeopathic hospital. In the 1850s, there was a hospital out in London, called the London Homeopathic Hospital where the doctors there would use medicine diluted down to basically holy water in order to 'cure' patients and this would run doctors up the walls. This actually only had an 18% mortality rate, half of that in mainstream hospitals. This research reminds me of the OBEs that were discussed in class talking about anesthesia and how it affected patients.

Related content:

Here is a link to a TED talk by Julia Galed relating the solider and scout mindset

Why "scout mindset" is crucial to good judgment | Julia Galef | TEDxPSU - YouTube

Going Clear Book Report: Scientology Stuff

 Book Report: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, written by Lawrence Wright, opens the door to conversation, through research, about what exactly Tom Cruise and the other celebrity scientologists believe in and how abuse always tends to arise in these spiritual and/or religious communities. Throughout the storytelling of this book, Wright uncovered different scandals and secrets that Americans have been questioning for years about the belief system, and the founder himself, L. Ron Hubbard. The audience finds out about the strange and unusual practices this church has, especially how human beings are immortal, and how “auditing” is not what people think of. In addition to understanding the essential beliefs of scientology, Wright spends a large portion of the book exposing how Hubbard’s life was filled with lies, deception, and bullying, as one of the biggest claims was how he had been healed and cured of wounds and illnesses during his service in the military all because of his “enlightened mind”, while in real life, the medical records state that he only truly suffered from the common disease today: mild arthritis. While uncovering this web of lies, Hubbard went on to threaten suicide to bully his second wife into marrying him and kidnapping his own daughter and claiming he “hacked her into pieces” before returning a fully alive child. Hubbard, outside of his personal life, sent letters about his ideologies to the APA (American Psychological Association) claiming that “going clear” through his method of dianetics, would allow a truly separate brain with two halves, and to top it all off, there was a large section of the book dedicated to the church fighting the IRS, as many “cults” and other religions tend to have done over the course of history. 

My favorite part of this book was the tiny deep dive that was done by Wright to expose one of the most famous scientologists today, Tom Cruise. As many of us know, he has been a scientologist for a long time, but only came into the religion from his first wife, Mimi Rogers. Cruise’s second marriage with Nicole Kidman was very public, but so was their divorce. After many years of being asked what happened, Kidman has stated that his beliefs in Scientology was one of the reasons why she had divorced him, as she did not want to become a devoted member of the church. In the book, Wright explains how the leaders of the organization, such as Miscavige, infamously known for creating prison camps for Sea Org members, were concerned about Kidman having enough influence on Cruise to leave the church as her father was a psychologist. She was eventually filed as a “potential trouble source” and was seen a true threat to what the church saw as one of the biggest and essential stars in their organization. With such high concerns about her, Cruise continued to have his annual “auditing meetings”, where scientologist would connect with someone directly from the higher authority in the church, where daily reports were made on how the couple was doing with their lives, children, and intimacy, but this unfortunately led to Cruise overseeing her phone being tapped by authorities and starting to have their children turn against her. This was one of my favorite parts of this book since with him being such an iconic American actor, especially recently with the sequel of Top Gun coming out and making millions in the box office, it shed more light on how scandalous he is, especially where his church is concerned since it makes many people uncomfortable, since he has stood by his church, scandal after expose for years. 

This book relates to this class as it has been about studying and understanding the connections of pseudoscience and the paranormal to what we see in everyday life. In this specific instance, Wright showed that through the many investigations that were able to do about this church consider scientology to be a pseudoscience itself since its absolute and meta-empirical goals that are present through all core beliefs and the followers themselves. It truly is a pseudoscience since it can be seen, to those who are not in it, as a scam that is designed to drain believers financially, emotionally, mentally, physically, and especially spiritually; scientology, especially looking through a modern lens with the slow thinking process, shows that where science is perceived as having more authority than what a religion has can appear attractive than just standalone religion, which Hubbard claimed from the beginning.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Mythical Creatures and Urban Legends, Post 1 By Frank Runza

  Mythical creatures such as the Jersey Devil, Bigfoot, and the chupacabra have been fascinating mankind for decades now. The thought of something paranormal in the world thrills people and adds excitement to their lives, especially anyone who has been brave enough to go to a weird New Jersey site. Before this class, I had heard about all three of the creatures I mentioned, but there are still hundreds more urban legends in "existence" today. Although I have heard of all these legends before, to this date the closest thing I have seen to the Jersey Devil is the Jersey Devil t-shirt that is sold in a restaurant called Lucille's in Warren Grove New Jersey. Nonetheless, these stories do persist, and today stories such as the Jersey Devil are known as urban legends.      

The Jersey Devil is said to be a winged horse hybrid creature that terrorizes the pine barrens. Bigfoot is declared to be numerous things from an alien, all the way to an ancient species that is near extinct. The chupacabra is said to be a vampire-like creature that sucks the blood from its prey and leaves chunks from its bite marks. There have been many "sightings" of all of these creatures, but there has never been real photo evidence. There hasn't been any form of solid evidence for that matter, but the tales of these creatures live on.

While I don't personally believe that they are real, urban legends such as the Jersey Devil play an important role in our society. These legends allow for entertainment, excitement, and most importantly they teach a lesson. Urban legends teach us about the fears and values of our society. Urban legends that stick around for a few decades teach us about relatable fears that all of society shares with one another. In legends such as the Jersey Devil, it teaches us that people are afraid of the pine barrens, and the deeply wooded area that it is. At the same time, the legend of the Jersey Devil stands as a testament to the rugged nature of those who inhabit the pine barrens. Urban legends can be a lot of fun as well. Think of times when you went camping, and someone told you a horror story in order to poke fun at you. In my opinion, mythical creatures are simply a way for people to explain the unexplained, in the same way, that ancient societies used religion to explain natural phenomena.

watch this video to get background on how urban legends originated and stuck around.

Blog 3: The End of the World

 Prior to this class, I only ever heard of two times the world was supposed to end, and those were in 2000 and 2012. I had no idea about all of the other predictions for when the world would end. I also heard that maybe there was a mistranslation and that the 2012 Mayan prediction was actually 2021. People even wondered if 2020 was the start to the end of the world with predictions of apocalypses when the virus spread around the world. This was spurred on by the Doomsday clock being moved forward and the closest it has ever been to the end of humanity. 

There are hundreds of predictions of the end of the world ranging from the first millennium CE to the 21st century. The truth is that none of them have come true, and many of the predictions were not based on science. Many of them were (as are future predictions) based on religious and spiritual beliefs. Many scientists believe that the Sun will be the reason that the Earth is destroyed. The Sun is getting hotter and will eventually evaporate all of the water on Earth. However, scientists predict that it won't happen for another billion years. Climate change is another predictions for the end of the world, but those predictions are 500 million years in the future. Almost every single future scientific prediction for the end of the world is thousands to billions of years away.

However, the end of humanity might be a different story. It is possible that the Earth will outlive humans. Super-volcanoes, wars, climate change, a plague, nuclear weapons, evolution, and overpopulation are just some ways that humans can be wiped out before the Earth is wiped out. The truth is that no one will ever really know for sure when the Earth will end or humanity will go extinct. 


2020 (Doomsday):

Science Predictions:

Human Extinction:

Blog 2: Psychics

 I knew immediately after seeing psychic abilities was being covered that I wanted to do a blog on it. A couple of weeks before this class started, me and my friend were approached by a psychic while shopping. She told us that she wanted to do readings on us because of our energies. My friend is really into things like that and loves spiritual stuff, so we went. I originally was not going to get a reading because I was skeptical, but I ended up giving in and getting a palm reading. Honestly, there were accurate things in the reading, but definitely things that were not true at all. After doing the reading I felt a little silly that I paid to have it done. However, after reading about the tricks they use in this class, I really felt dumb. I can verify that what she said was very ambiguous and could have been said to almost anyone. I have definitely learned my lesson not to spend money on that kind of stuff. 

Things like crystals, astrology, and psychic readings have always made me skeptical. I have never believed that crystals do anything or that astrology can predict your personality. However, I am surrounded by people who love crystals and who believe in astrology so it is very easy for me to get caught up in it. I will admit that I have bought crystals and read a lot about zodiac signs. The crystals have not done anything noticeable to me, but they are very pretty to look at. They are still fun to look at and read up on, but I know they are not something that will change my life. 



While I don't think I truly believe in psychic powers or what the zodiac signs are said to predict, I still have fun reading about them. I've linked a website where you can learn all about your zodiac signs and take a free compatibility quiz. I've also linked a youtube video where you can take a quick intuitive quiz to see how intuitive you are. I didn't do very well, but maybe you're more intuitive than me!

Blog Post #3

 In lecture 7, we go over the topic of recalling past events. I find it very interesting that people can misremember past events and think something different happened. This happens to everyone due to the fact that people recall memories with intent and tries to make sense of them. The Florence False Interpretation Study found that people can be manipulated into having false memories. These people really believe that they have had this remembered experience, but its through suggestive thoughts that this can occur. Therapists can do this through dream therapy to give the client suggestions and interpretations of their dreams. The idea of recalling past events in  a false matter happens to tons of people on a daily basis. These people see nothing wrong since they just think that their own memories are reality. I have definitely experienced this in my own life and have falsely recalled past events. It'd difficult to discern having a false memory because it is your own. 

Blog 1 Psychic Crime Detectivess

  Kaitlyn LeVance

In lecture 6, the topic of whether or not psychics are essentially "real" and if they can be used to accurately help solve detective cases. In the slide show the examples that were given showed that in both cases the psychic give very vague answers and descriptions about details in the case. The lecture also provides an example of psychics versus collage students and testing their ability to describe details in a mock case that was set up for them, and it was concluded that although the physics made more clams than the students, both were too vague and not accurate enough to be deemed useful for solving the case. 

In my personal opinion, I don't believe physics are a reliable resource to be using in police activity.  I think that most of the information they provide to the police is too vague. With all the information that they provide it can almost be more misleading and distracting from the actual cold hard evidence that could be used to solve the case. Below is a link to a more recent case of how police tries to use mediums to help find a missing girl, but unfortunately their attempt was unsuccessful.

Subliminal Self-Help Videos on TickTock

 Subliminal Self-Help 

Subliminal self-help tapes play hidden messages to listeners through the forms of subliminal music channels, sleep hypnosis meditations, and ‘mind training’ sessions with the intention of triggering certain thoughts and actions that will help an individual reach their desired goal faster (Beabout, 2021). Subliminal self-help tapes rose to popularity in America around 1987; creating an industry that earned 50 million in just one year on tapes claiming everything from boosting one’s self esteem to speeding up one’s weight loss (Recer, 1991). Since the industry’s rise in 1987, many research studies have analyzed the authenticity of subliminal tapes; finding no real proof that subliminal self-help tapes influence one’s behavior. In 1992, a committee for the National Research Council, found no real proof of subliminal self-help tapes helping a person reach their goal (Recer, 1991). Additionally, other research studies have found no evidence of a placebo effect in regular use of subliminal audiotapes. Instead, the results suggest that regular use of subliminal audiotapes geared toward one specific goal simply causes the individual to be more aware of their desired goal (Merikle & Skanes, 1992). 

    Despite decades of research concluding that subliminal self-help tapes have no proven influence on behavior, the subliminal tape industry is still making profit today. While subliminal self-help videos have previously flourished on YouTube, subliminal self-help audios are now becoming a trend on another social media platform, TickTock (Fenwick, 2022). In these videos, ‘hidden affirmations’ of desired lifestyles and appearance traits are listed with imagery matching the goal. Subliminal self-help videos on TickTock include more claims of manifestation properties than previous trend cycles of subliminal videos. Many of the accounts posting such videos claim to see amazing results from the subliminal videos (Fenwick, 2022). 

    Most of the subliminal TickTock videos I have seen focus on obtaining beauty standards. In my opinion, these videos illustrate the control that beauty standards have on one’s mentality. It’s sad to see so many (probably young) users so desperate to change themselves to be prettier. 


Beabout, L. (2021). Mind over matter: Do subliminal messages work for weight loss? Greatist. 

Fenwick, J. (2022). The blind faith of subliminal TickTock videos. Vice.

Merikle, P. & Skanes, H. (1992). Subliminal self-help audiotapes: A search for placebo effects. J Appl Psychol, 77(5). Doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.77.5.772  

Recer, M. (1991). Study says subliminal self-help tapes of no scientifically proven value. AP News. 

The End of the World

 The End of the World 

On October 7th of 2015, the leader of the “eBible Fellowship,” Chris McCann, claimed it was the day the world would end. McCann based this prediction on Harold Camping’s previous prediction that the world would end on May 21st, 2011. While Harold Camping’s predictions were proven false, McCann believed that the date Harold Camping believed to be the end was actually the beginning of the end. The eBible Fellowship believed that the world would be destroyed by fire on October 7th (Gabatt, 2015). 

    As I was reading this lecture, I was reminded of the “End of the World” episode of the show Parks and Recreation. In this episode, a social group predicts the end of the world which causes the Pawnee residents and Parks and Recreation staff to reflect on their lives and throw an “End of the World” party. When the world doesn’t end on the predicted date, the leader of the social group returns to Leslie Knope to say that he got the date wrong, and that the ‘real’ end of the world date would be May 20th. 

Parks and Recreation "End of the World" Clip


Gabbatt, A. (2015). Christian group predicts the world will be ‘annihilated’ on

Wednesday. The Guardian.

The Jersey Devil

 The Jersey Devil 

    The tale of the Jersey Devil is an important piece of New Jersey folklore that gives the Pines Barrens even more personality. As the legend goes, in 1735 Mrs. Leeds gave birth to her thirteenth child while living in unfortunate circumstances. In her frustration, she screamed “Let this one be the devil,” and the Jersey Devil was born. The story says that the baby metamorphosed into a devil-like creature right before the Leed family’s eyes. Mrs. Leeds, the midwife, and several others were killed by the Jersey Devil after its transformation was complete. The survivors then spread the news of what had happened; writing the infamous folklore of the New Jersey Devil (Weird NJ). 

    Throughout the 18th and 19th century, several sightings of the New Jersey Devil have been reported. Fear of the Jersey Devil was so influential in Southern New Jersey that some schools in areas near reported sightings suffered low attendance rates (Weird NJ). An interesting fact about Jersey Devil sightings is that it’s likely many of the individuals reporting seeing the Jersey Devil actually saw a deer standing on its back two legs. While it’s uncommon for deer to do this, when bucks don’t have antlers to fight with they stand on their hind legs to defend themselves with their hooves or show dominance in their herd (Kliff, 2013). This rare deer sighting ironically matches the infamous description of the Jersey Devil.  


The Jersey Devil. Weird NJ. 

Kliff, S. (2013). Deer are shockingly good at fighting on two legs. The Washington


Book Report on "Viral BS" by Dr. Seema Yasmin


    The book Viral BS by Dr. Seema Yasmin was an interesting read in which medical myths and the public’s attraction to them are analyzed and discussed. Throughout Viral BS, Yasmin evaluates 46 medical myths that are still widely believed today. For each of the medical myths, Yasmin discusses the studies, biases, and heuristics that contribute to the acceptance of misinformation. Additionally, any faults or misleading factors involved in the research design are exposed by Yasmin. Therefore, revealing any influencing assumptions that led to the acceptance of the myth, while also teaching the reader how to analyze their own thinking. Throughout the book's discussion of the biases, heuristics, and fallacies that result in accurate beliefs, Yasmin encourages readers to be aware of their “fast thinking” tendencies when receiving and processing information. Additionally, Yasmin encourages readers to beware of claims and practices that are incompatible with the scientific method.

  As the integrity of the studies are discussed, Yasmin evaluates how accurately the researchers followed the scientific method. In many instances, Yasmin found that no control groups, or a poor selection of a control group, was used. Additionally, many of the studies supporting medical myths did not study comparisons to rule out other explanations. Therefore, despite having scientific-sounding language and cited ‘authorities,’ the extraordinary claims are not supported by evidence that is verifiable. Through questioning the validity of research, Yasmin illustrates to readers how to take caution against beliefs rooted in pseudoscience. Additionally, Yasmin provides readers with a concluding chapter entitled “Dr. Yasmin’s Bullshit Detection Kit,” in which 12 guidelines describing how to avoid scientific lies are given. Within this detection kit, Yasmin reminds readers to avoid fast thinking biases and heuristics through guidelines such as “don’t get overly attached to one hypothesis” and “are personal beliefs driving the claim” (Yasmin, 248). Additionally, guidelines questioning “can the findings be duplicated” and “has the claim been verified by people who are not affiliated with the source” remind readers to beware of pseudoscience and unscientific claims (Yasmin, 248). As pseudoscience relies on fast thinking tendencies, “Dr. Yasmin’s Bullshit Detection Kit” supplies readers with useful tips in avoiding medical myths and scientific lies. 

Favorite Part

    My favorite medical myth discussed in Viral BS is “can your cat’s poop make you better at business” because of how shocking I found the chapter’s title. Toxoplasma gondii, a brain parasite, can reproduce inside a cat’s gut (Yasmin, 194). An infected cat’s excreta sheds millions of parasites for up to three weeks. Usually from cleaning the cat’s litter box, many Americans are infected with Toxoplasma gondii every day. While some may be asymptomatic, others may experience flu-like symptoms, brain damage, or eye complications (Yasmin, 195). Additionally, “A growing number of studies are linking Toxoplasma gondii to mental disorders in humans”(Yasmin, 195). “In 2006, researchers found that people infected with the parasite were more likely to be neurotic”(Yasmin, 195). Additionally, it was found that people with psychiatric disorders who experience explosive anger are twice as likely to have been exposed to the pariste (Yasmin, 195). Researchers also found a link to exposure to the parasite and suicide, even in individuals with no history of mental illness (Yasmin, 196). In 2018, biologists at the University of Colorado studied if Toxoplasma gondii exposure could benefit people starting businesses due to the riskier behavior the pariste causes. “They found that students with antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in their bodies were 1.4 times more likely to major in business studies and 1.7 times more likely to specialize in entrepreneurship” (Yasmin, 196). While it’s still poorly understood how the pariste impacts behavior, this hypothesis has become a medical myth with a surprisingly large following. 

Favorite Part Related

    Chapter 35’s discussion was my favorite part of Viral BS because of how unexpected the biologist’s business hypothesis is within this topic’s growing body of research. Despite little research being available on the impact of Toxoplasma gondii on behavior, this specific study has gained attention and favor. Due to this, I was reminded of the confirmation bias when reading this chapter. The confirmation bias describes how people tend to search and favor information that confirms one’s beliefs (Cherry, 2021). Due to this single study gaining so much attention and support despite the little research on how the pariste impacts behavior in general, the confirmation bias is at work within this medical myth. 

Additional Related Content

    Over the span of two decades, more than 300 studies have looked into the “July effect,” the belief that one’s chance of dying in a hospital increases in July due to the new incoming doctors and staff fresh out of their schooling (Yasmin, 216). The results of these studies are mixed, some supporting this claim, some finding no supporting evidence, and some claiming other factors contribute to the increase. Despite the research on this medical myth only offering conflicting results, the repetition of this myth has caused many people to regard the July effect as fact. The July effect is a factoid; an assumed statement presented as a fact despite not being statistically proven (Memmott, 2016). Despite the July effect not being supported by statistical evidence consistently, the medical myth is still widely believed. Fast thinking tendencies such as biases and heuristics contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to factoids and misinformation, such as the July effect. The availability heuristic describes the tendency to overestimate or underestimate the occurrence of something due to the ease in which information is retrieved, rather than statistical calculation (Gleason, 2021). The influence of emotional personal experiences and frequent exposure to information supporting a bias claim can contribute to one’s subconscious use of the availability heuristic (Gleason, 2021). For example, if an individual’s loved one died in a hospital in July, the availability heuristic may lead them to believe in the July effect. Additionally, news stories covering the July effect are more likely to address the number of July hospital deaths rather than the number of successfully treated patients in July. 

Extension & Creative Link 

    One of the discussions within Viral BS that I found interesting was chapter 16, in which Yasmin addresses a study claiming that hormonal contraceptives cause depression. In chapter 16 of Viral BS, Yasmin discussed a study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry  which caused panic among women that oral contraceptives cause depression. The study stated that each year, 2.2% of women using hormonal birth control were likely to begin using antidepressants, compared to 1.7% of women not using hormonal contraceptives (Yasmin, 2021). Additionally, the study found that 0.3% of women using hormonal contraceptives were diagnosed with depression, compared to 0.28% of women not using hormonal birth control (Yasmin, 2021). Yasmin states that the methodology of comparing women who use hormonal contraceptives to those who don’t introduces issues such as differences in the group’s willingness to take medication and medical care access: “What epidemiologists worry about is that any variation in the rate of depression between the two groups could be explained by differences like these as opposed to hormonal contraceptives”(Yasmin, 88). Yasmin described this issue as a poor choice for a control group, stating that it would be more accurate and useful to compare hormonal contraceptive users to non-hormonal contraceptive users. Yasmin also mentioned that “about half of all people taking antidepressants are taking it for something other than depression”(Yasmin, 89). Therefore, assuming a subject’s use of antidepressants is for depression could skew results. Additionally, Yasmin found that women were excluded from the study during pregnancy and for six months after having a baby with the intent of avoiding the influence of postpartum depression. However, as women who are not using hormonal contraceptives are more likely to become pregnant and experience postpartum depression, this exclusion could skew the study’s results (Yasmin, 90).

    Despite the specific study addressed in the reading being deemed inaccurate, the notion that hormonal contraceptives cause depression isn’t entirely debunked. The mixed findings of existing contraceptive research, which results in widespread panic and confusion, are a result of sexism in the medical field (Pattillo, 2019). Yasmin’s discussion of the American Medical Association’s contraceptive study addresses the ongoing issue of medical sexism in contraceptive research. Medical sexism refers to the discriminatory treatment of women in the medical field (Rogen, 2019). In the area of contraceptives, medical sexism exists in the lack of responsible and reliable clinical research; making women’s reproductive health a guessing game full of misinformation. “The missing research makes it difficult for women to make confident health decisions- especially around their sexual and reproductive health”(Pattillo, 2019). Despite millions of women using birth control medications every day in America,  little is known about how and why birth control causes such side effects, and the psychological long-term effects it may cause. “The ‘pill’ is one of the most rigorously studied drugs women take for birth control, but still, the subtle ways hormonal contraception influences individual women’s quality of life are poorly understood”(Pattillo, 2019). Existing research on hormonal contraceptives' mental health effects is scarce and only offers mixed results (Pattillo, 2019). Additionally, the unknowns increase in certain populations such as women taking both hormonal contraceptives and antidepressants, pregnant women, and the elderly (Pattillo, 2019). For example, women were excluded during pregnancy and for six months after giving labor in the study discussed by Yasmin in chapter 16 (Yasmin, 89). After breaking down the faults in the study’s structure, Yasmin was not shy in expressing her disappointment in the lack of reliable research in this area; calling it a “disservice to the public”(Yasmin, 91). Additionally, as Yasmin provided improvements that should be made in future contraceptive research, she advocated for more inclusive and reliable research. Yasmin closed chapter 16’s discussion with the advocacy statement: “We all deserve accurate reporting on scientific studies so we can make fact-based decisions about our bodies and the pills we take”(Yasmin, 91). 

Below, please find a link to Dr. Natasha Bhuyan discussing common questions regarding birth control and addressing birth control myths.


    Viral BS was an interesting read that opened my eyes to how easy it is to fall for pseudoscience claims and factoids if you don’t slow down to critically evaluate the information you’re receiving and why you feel inclined to agree or disagree with it. Throughout the book, I was able to connect Yasmin's explanations to the biases and heuristics covered within class content. Learning about fast thinking and slow thinking through the course and this book provided me with understanding of the importance of critically thinking using the elements of thought. 


Cherry, K. (2021). How confirmation bias works. Very Well Mind.  

Gleason, C. (2021). Availability heuristic and decision making. Simply Psychology.  

Memmott, M. (2016). ‘Factoid’ doesn’t mean what you think it does. NPR.

Pattillo, A. (2019). Sexist science makes women’s reproductive health a guessing game. Inverse.  

Rogen, J. (2019). Ask an expert: Jill Delston examines sexism in contraceptive access, medicine.

 UMSL Daily.  

Yasmin, S. (2021). Viral BS: Medical myths and why we fall for them. John Hopkins University


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Blog 1: Cryptozoology

 After reading the slides about cryptozoology, I wanted to do more research on it. I love hearing stories about them, as I think they are so interesting. While I do not believe in these creatures, it is fun to read about them. Some of the creatures I had heard of before, like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and chupacabras. I decided to search for some others and came across the giwoggle. I chose to research this cryptid because it is from Pennsylvania, where I am also from.

Stories of the giwoggle started in the 1800s, describing the creature as a 6-foot tall wolf that stood on its hind legs, with claws and hooves instead of front and hind paws. The mix of traits is to confuse trackers so they would not know if the creature they were following was a bird, horse, or giwoggle. It is said that they are summoned by irritated witches in order to annoy those who angered them. The giwoggle is also said to not be violent, just a nuisance. In 2011, the government of Clinton County, Pennsylvania named the giwoggle as the county's official monster.

Here are some links to do more research on cryptozoology and giwoggles, in particular.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Blog Post #2

In lecture 4, I found the idea of Y2K or 2012 to be really interesting. I was only alive for 2012, and I remember hearing lots of things about it. I would hear mostly about it at school from my class mates, but no one I knew took it seriously. However, there were people out there that really thought the world was going to end because the Mayan calendar was ending that year. It was a prophecy by the Mayans and some people were taking this as a truth for their reality. This was not the first time that groups or people were predicting the end of the world. This is something that has been taking place throughout history in many different cultures or religions. The lecture provides us with good examples, one of them being that a pastor predicting that the rapture would happen in 2021. This is something that that will continue to take place in the future because people will look for information that feeds into their confirmation bias rather than searching for beliefs that prove them to be wrong. 

Book Report: Thinking, Fast and Slow


    Thinking, Fast and Slow was an endless realm of topics that came down to judgment, reasoning, and how our brains operate when it comes to thinking. Written by Daniel Kahneman, it is broken into five parts, beginning with explaining System I and System II of the brain (a.k.a. not-so-complex versus complex). It is further revealed through studies and examples that each one of us is guilty of using heuristics, or rules-of-thumb, to help guide our judgment even though this may not be the ideal way to come up with solutions. Khaneman explains through a story of his researcher life, alongside his colleague Amos. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, he reveals that we as humans consistently use these heuristics, risk ourselves of errors, and evidently shy away from thinking “too hard”. 

Daniel Kahneman uses support from fellow researchers and psychologists with hints of mind-games for you to try yourself throughout the book to gain a clearer understanding of the topic introduced. He produces general findings as to how we come to conclusions of all sorts and how to avoid errors through overconfidence or illusions of validity. Thinking, Fast and Slow acknowledges how we got to the situation we are currently in and how counter systems conduct such events. Daniel Kahneman introduces gambles we play safe on, statistics we tend to avoid, and assumptions we make in order to validate our choices. 

Favorite Part

Personally, my favorite part of the book was chapter twenty-one, “Intuition vs. Formula”. For years growing up, we are all told to always trust our judgements and to never let anyone else tell you otherwise. However, Kahneman is going against this rule-of-thumb, telling us to not let it all rely on our intuitive judgment. He explains to not dismiss it either. I enjoyed how Kahneman in depth explained the contradicting side of what we are always told. While weighing your options, keep that initial thought in the back of your mind and decide whether or not that judgment is rational. This part of the book truly resonated with me due to the fact that there is no lack of truth behind it. It caused me to think. For example, when someone says "trust your gut" (intution) and your do without thinking about it, what if the outcome is negative? Or what you were thinking was negative causing a missed opportunity? What I had gathered from Kahneman with this statement was this: without reasoning and weighing in details and possibilities, you can simply leave yourself with either a missed chance or an avoidable mistake. With reference to Meehl’s “little book”, Kahneman conducted his own combat study that reduces the halo-effect on the initial judgment of recruits. I favored how Kahneman created a study based on questions of the individual’s life that related to favorable recruit characteristics without objectifying the physicality of the recruit. After revealing the study results months later, I was pleased to see that the method favoring logic and formula had greatly overcome previous methods that risked human error. This is similar to graphology, as discussed in class. These said “graphologists” can see a person before their handwriting and use their initial judgment to produce vague connotations about the individual, convincing them that they are these traits. Rather than using reasoning, individual’s trust the validity of a “professional” to tell them what they are. Graphology was known to be used to find the “ideal” employee based on their handwriting alone! This chapter and study has shown me that as humans we are very quick to judge because we believe to have it all figured out when that is not the case. When we apply formulas and statistics, we get shocking results. This is simply because life itself is not surface level, it goes beyond.

Try it yourself!

Click the link for a: How To: Conduct an “Interview”

Task: Imagine you are interviewing a potential employee for a construction company. Randomly pick a person after the questions are made. Now: (1) Look at these five traits: mathematical, dedicated, motivated, experienced with architectural designs/woodworking, and cautious. (2) Write down whether or not the person you chose is a good fit for a construction company; score them 1-50 (3) Come up with a question relating to each trait that has to do with potential employees background (4) Score each answer 1-10 and total it 

Was the random person a good fit before the questions?

Was the random person a good fit after the questions?

Was the scored number higher or lower than the before?

Did you make a human error before you used the formula? 


A strong, evident take away from the book that really pulled me in was initial human judgment and how easily susceptible we are to trusting “experts”. Throughout the class we have discussed psychics, mediums, and quick judgements we make without much thought. Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein introduce a question to readers of the book along with a conclusion to their findings. “When can you trust an experienced professional who claims to have an intuition?” (Kahneman 242). It all comes down to our systems and how quick System I is to judge, especially when stimulated in the correct environment. Rather than questioning how much experience the psychic must have or how does this “finding” they’re stating really apply to only me, we essentially “create coherence when there is none” (Kahneman 243). This is the same idea when we recall past things that have happened to us. What makes sense and supports our current environment or situation, we tend to accept those details of what is being recalled, whether it is altered or not. This coherence is special thanks to System I. It is quick, intuitive, and grasps onto things that just make sense to us without much thought. After all, if it makes sense then it must be right, right? Wrong! Psychics are known for mind games and are completely professional in making generalizable assumptions seem like they are tailored to us. Let’s take Noreen Renier for example. She used psychic abilities to find a missing man and described the scene exactly. Pretty amazing and she sure did gain a lot of eyes on her. However, if we use our logic (System II), we see it for what it is. The town was along a river, filled with stones. Yes, he was less than eight miles from the house like she had predicted. In fact, he was less than a mile…and found by a hunter a month later after her “correct” prediction of where he was. Like Gary Klein and Daneil Kahneman explain in the book, Renier had expert confidence, creating a convincing story of her so-called abilities. “This is why subjective confidence is not a good diagnostic of accuracy” (Kahneman 243). Our brains are wired to accept the easy answer and to say “I knew it!” when the conclusion is revealed. Kahneman mentions in the book that you never truly know. You can make predictions and when something happens state that you knew it would. Anyone can. The truth is, whether it is ourselves, a fortune-teller or a psychic, we never truly know the correct judgment in a situation until the final conclusion is reached.


It is clear that the findings of Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, are applicable to how we view and interact with the world around us. We are constantly creating assumptions of those in a work-place, school, or even just driving along the road. It is hard to realize that sometimes we do need to stop and think and to not let our available judgements get the better of us. No one truly has it all figured out. Next time we are faced with a challenge, rather than jumping to the temporary fix, we begin to rationalize and weigh options that can be more beneficial for the long run of things. Kahneman dedicated a chapter to gambles we come across and how it is human nature to take what seems to be the easy way out. In reality, with slower thinking and statistical reasoning, it can be revealed that greater chances and opportunities are available. We are so prone to loss aversion that we rarely see the gains that could come from a time of loss. Kahneman made it clear that failure creates character and a lesson to be learned and that not everything will be perfectly placed into your path of life.

This link refers to Daniel Kahneman discussing the flaws of human judgment and reasoning.


Thinking, Fast and Slow allowed me to gain a better understanding of judgment and reasoning. It also allowed me to catch myself when creating human thought errors when I am at work or with friends. Each chapter of the book brought its own lesson to be learned and understood. It is not to be said that after reading this book you will never make a mistake or error judgment again, it is that you become more aware of why choices in your life are being made. Don't get me wrong, heuristics can be very resourceful for in-the-moment situations, but should not be used as an easy way out. The book by Daniel Kahneman is full of insightful claims supported through test examples you can try yourself and engaging studies he and colleagues have done over many years. Our thoughts are separated and sorted by two systems: System I and System II. The systems allow us to create reasoning to our judgments and provide support when going through situations that life may throw at us. It is all about your perspective and what you wish to do with the information handed to you. 

This is a bad case of duration neglect. You are giving the good and the bad part of your experience equal weight, although the good part lasted ten times as long as the other”(Kahneman 385).