Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Book Report

                                      Book Report

General Overview

  This book discusses the mind's amazing capacity for bias through its ability to withhold many items concurrently or multiple times. As a result, people tend to make justifiable decisions based on certain circumstances while their thoughts are still able to operate. However, there is a general propensity to run into a few bumps that throw off how one's mind processes thoughts and emotions.  

Favorite Part

Daniel's explanation of the two systems that essentially run our entire cognitive process and, in turn, run our life was my favorite portion of the book. The fact that the first system functions somewhat automatically definitely caught my attention. Our brains are intentionally created to keep us alive and healthy, but they also prevent us from thinking clearly about any situation and force us to respond with the first emotion we experience. This was intriguing to me because our brains tend to make reasonable decisions on a regular basis as opposed to making bad ones, which causes us to respond more differently. 


One of our lesson slides, "Ways Of Thinking," is related to the book "Thinking Fast And Slow."  We discovered how slow thinking equates to critical thinking from our teaching slides. For instance, if someone is considering something critically, they are actually considering it, as in rationally considering it. Daniel talked about slow thinking and our systems in the book when he talked about what is known as sluggish thinking. We also studied how to think with fairness, which is the ability to think clearly while still being kind to others.  


I thought this book was very good . It provided a wealth of information regarding quick and slow thinking methods. It demonstrated to me the value of critical thinking and explained why it is a common practice. A YouTube video titled "Why We Make Mistakes and Bad Decisions" is attached. Thinking quickly and slowly. The difference between thinking automatically and thinking deliberately (critical thinking) is discussed in this video.



After finishing this book, I became aware of how my present-day decisions may have an impact on my future. After finishing this book, I came to the conclusion that we should always improve the way we make decisions. I've learned from the book that in order to improve the world, we need to be more aware of the judgments we make on a daily basis. I learned how to make wise selections and to consider my choices carefully thanks to this book. It also helped me understand the significance of our body' two various systems.

Book Report- Flim-Flam Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions

 General Overview

"Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions" is a book in which famed magician James Randi takes a skeptical look paranormal phenomena and unusual claims. This novel takes you through a journey that exposes claims of mythical creatures and tricks used to deceive people. In great detail he explains the fraudulent nature of psychics and Extrasensory Perception(ESP). This is a great look by a magician in the mysteries of pseudoscience.

Favorite Part

My favorite part of this book was definitely the parts where he went over how psychics were fake and just used different techniques to manipulate whoever they were speaking to. Also, the million-dollar challenge really intrigues me. It is interesting to see how offering a million dollars for someone to prove paranormal activities, still failed to yield any results.


This is related to what we have learned in class in the relation to the studies that were done with psychic testing which resulted in non-conclusive results. The book went over many details in which showed inconclusive results about psychics.



This novel holds a relevance beyond learning in the classroom. With a world full of misinformation, it is important to look at the details and really think about what is real and not. The author's critical look at various pseudoscience phenomena can relate to how a reader can you use reasoning to determine the truth.

 Book Report

Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

General Overview

The main focus of "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman is on these two competing neural networks in your brain competing for control of your behavior and actions. Then it discusses how this may influence our memory, judgment, and conclusions and result in possible mistakes in our decision making.These two systems are your conscious and automatic systems. The automatic system is our fight-or-flight response that is triggered at this point. This system refers to our instincts, according to which we should move out of the path if anything dangerous is approaching. Your conscious mind is the other system. You are conscious of and in control of this. Instead of using our natural instincts, this uses our own attention. These two systems constantly battle with one another for authority in our brains. 

Favorite Part

Chapter 14, which discusses preconceptions and judgment, is arguably my favorite section and chapter. In this chapter, Daniel Kahneman provides readers with an example of a fictional character he identified as Tom W. In his illustration, he asks which subject Tom is most likely to continue studying and then provides a number of possibilities. However, opinions are bound to change if Daniel indicates that Tom enjoys science fiction and is intelligent but isn't the most imaginative or compassionate. Now, engineering or computer science might be your new response. He continues by saying that many people frequently rely more on similarity than chance when assessing scenarios. You will get substantially different results from comparisons based on similarity and probability. He concludes by adding that although the book does not focus on mathematical intricacies, we should establish the likelihood on a reasonable basis and consider how the amount of evidence that is provided to us may influence our conclusion.


This pertains to our lesson on "Ways of Thinking," which discusses fast thinking, slow thinking, the three different types of thinkers, and how these relate to pseudoscience. Daniel Kahneman outlines the various techniques and procedures that humans utilize when they think, as was previously stated in the overview. This goes into their automatic thoughts and the ones that they take time to think through, this being the same thing discussed in our lecture "Ways of Thinking". 



I found this youtube video that is actually a video summary with pictures that gives a summary of the book read. I think this is good because it gives a good in depth explanation of everything Daniel wrote about in his book.


I am the type of person that will sit there and think about things until I can come up with a way to make it make sense in my mind. These thoughts include death, religion, movies, and other things of that nature. Today at work, I work as a lifeguard, I was talking to this one lady who came out to the pool. The funny thing is that she started the conversation by asking if I liked horror movies, which of course I do. From there the conversation led to talking about psychics, mediums, aliens, life on other planets, and what the future of the earth is going to be. We talked for about an hour and I would say it had us using slower and more critical thinking. And what I liked best about this conversation was that the more we talked, the more we would think, and the deeper the conversation would get. The one topic we discussed that I strongly relate to this course is religion. Specifically this set of questions. 

Do you believe in God?


You ask someone the first question, they are very quick to answer. They almost immediately say yes or no. Then, when you ask the follow up you can see them working harder to formulate their answer. Some people don’t think further into it than that’s how they were raised or because they’re parents do. But rather I ask to know why you personally believe in what you believe in and your personal reason for why. Using your slow and critical thoughts to give me an honest answer that represents you. 

ChiChi Wokocha

UFO Abductions

I have always believed there is life somewhere else in the universe. It's so big and unexplored, how could there not be? I've never been sure about stories from people saying they've come in contact with aliens. though. It seems like they are always the same stereotypical story, with a beam coming out of a ship and then the person waking up on an operating table surrounded by what most people would immediately recognize as an alien. It validates these people's experience at fist, with so many others going through the same thing, but I always thought it was weird. People are experiencing it in the same way media and most people would imagine it would happen. Learning how many recollections of being abducted by an alien are false memories made sense. People may go through something unexplainable, and with the belief of aliens already on their mind, their memory fills in the gaps in a way that makes sense to them. In the video with the woman who believes she saw a UFO, the person guiding her hypnotism leads her on and encourages her to try to remember more. She is suggesting there is more to be uncovered, so the woman's mind fills in those details. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Blog #3- The Jersey Devil

 The Jersey devil is something that really interests me because it is a mysterious tale that comes from so close to home. But it is never something that I really knew anything about. It is just so interesting that we can have such group delusions that are similar to other people. Bigfoot is an example of a mythical creature that everyone has heard about. It is interesting to see people over the years and as technology progresses to determine if pictures or videos are actually real. In a day and age with deepfakes and AI it becomes easier to edit videos and create these illusions of mythical creatures. If people were able to believe about all these creatures back then, how will all this new technology affect how people believe it in the future. Information is much more readily available but it also a lot easier to manipulate than it was historically. 

Book Report: Viral BS Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them

 General Overview

"Viral BS: Medical  Myths and Why We Fall for Them" is a book written by Dr. Seema Yasmin, a physician, journalist, and medical communicator. This book explores the phenomenon of medical myths and their misinformation that spreads in society, particularly in the context of the internet and social media. Dr. Yasmin explains the reasons as to why people are more likely to believe and share these myths despite being scientifically inaccurate or wrong. 

The book examines a large range of medical myths, conspiracy theories, and false health claims that have gained traction online. Dr. Yasmin has a medical and journalism background that she uses to dissect these myths and provides readers with a critical understanding of why they are misleading and can be harmful. 

Favorite Part

My favorite part about this book was that Dr. Yasmin was not afraid to touch on topics that are overlooked in today's media. Dr. Yasmin had several chapters about suicide, discrimination in queer communities, ethnic minority groups, and also women in today's working class. I feel that there is not enough media coverage that discusses the discrimination of many groups, especially in the medical field. Dr. Yasmin however, explains that immigrants and minorities have to endure so much more to live and survive in the United States than white American-born citizens. I also appreciate that she debunks certain conspiracy theories and also explains why people are likely to believe in these myths. For example, in chapter 2 she explains that many social media influencers, like Kim Kardashian, have said that eating her baby's placenta helped her heal faster from her pregnancy and avoid postpartum depression. She states that eating your baby's placenta is actually harmful since it can carry bacteria and feces inside of it from being in a woman's body for 9 months. 


This whole book is about debunking myths and conspiracy theories similar to how James Randi would debunk paranormal and pseudoscience claims. People still believe in these medical myths and conspiracy theories despite scientific facts that indicate misinformation being spread. For example, chapter 1 "Do the Flat Tummy Detox Teas Touted by Instagram Celebrities Actually Work?" talks about the detox teas social media influencers advertise. Dr. Yasmin discusses that these detox teas can actually be harmful to your body especially if you are taking certain supplements and liquids paired with these herbs. She also explains that the detox tea companies choose heavier social media influencers as opposed to thinner influencers since it will be more believable that their product works. She also finds surprising data that indicated that these companies do not list all of the ingredients and herbs that are made in their tea. This can be related to how fortune-tellers give cold readings by using vagueness and generalizing statements. By hiding certain facts and not being specific, this can lead to consumers to believe that a harmful product can work just like how people believe in fortune-tellers.


Below I am linking the website of the popular Flat Tummy Detox Tea that many social media influencers preach have helped them reduce stomach fat. Dr. Yasmin explains in her book that these detox teas can cause dependance on the body, muscle damage, and liver damage if taken too much for over two weeks. I think comparing the website that is advertising the product and the website that goes into depth the risks and dangers of this product is an interesting way to see how even harmful products can look promising if they are advertised a certain way.

Flat Tummy Detox Tea:


The Dangers of Flat Tummy Detox Tea:



I found this whole book interesting and informative. I am not very educated on medical knowledge especially when it comes to certain products. This book made me realize I should be more aware on what I put in my body even if it is as simple as birth control. As someone who is actively on tiktok and instagram, I am constantly seeing products like skin care and healthy food products being advertised by my favorite influencers. Dr. Yasmin has taught me to have a more critical way of thinking especially when it comes to viral myths I see on my social media.

Blog #2- Subliminal Advertisement

 Subliminal messages are a very interesting on how it used in advertising. But, it was even more interesting to go from the prenotion that it was an very effective way of advertising that it actually has a low influence on behavior. It was so believed that people spent over 50 million dollars on these tapes even though they were studied to not have any practical effect on the people that used them. If there was more truth to subliminal messages it would be interesting to how the CIA and other governments agencies used it.

Blog #1- The End of the World

 I have always found it interesting how people end up believing in a major event such as the world ending. What is the line that makes something unbelievable to people that fall for these crazy events. Also how are people able to cope with life after believing their life is going to end. I believe Camping was very interesting when predicting, and how after he failed the first time and he went on to predict it again.  The fact that he was able to have so much influence on on so many people by using his radio station to convey messages.

Book Report: Going Clear

General Overview 

The book "Going Clear" written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, was published in 2013 and dives into the secretive and controversial world of Scientology, a religious movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. The book provides an in-depth history of Scientology, focusing on its origins, beliefs, and practices. It explores the life of L. Ron Hubbard,  the person behind the movement, and also the transformation of Scientology into a global organization with the influence it has on its members' lives. The book reveals its aggressive tactics, stories of abuse, exploitation, and manipulation of members through auditing records, and the intimidation members felt about speaking out. The author also investigates the celebrities that were involved in Scientology, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. 

Favorite Part/ Relation to Class

The most interesting portion of the book to me was on a topic called “The Bridge to Total Freedom,” which is Scientology’s primary journey to achieve spiritual freedom. In the book, it is described:  “[a] journey that goes on and (although confoundingly, in the Scientology metaphor, one moves ‘higher and higher’ - up the Bridge rather than across it” (page 19). This part of the book was the most intriguing to me because it introduced the idea of group thinking in Scientology in order to climb the ladder to spiritual freedom. Group thinking is a phenomenon in psychology in which one’s desire to conform to a group can lead to irritation or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. In the context of Scientology, this plays a major factor in the decisions that members may make to advance their journey. The book highlights how Scientology’s tight-knit community even encourages this, promoting the idea that unconditionally accepting the teachings leads to achieving spiritual enlightenment, downplaying dissent, or any critical examination. Fear of rejection and isolation often comes with drawbacks, such as the lack of critical decision-making, believing outcomes are due to external factors, and being disconnected from reality. The illusion of spiritual freedom that offers a major incentive for these members, leading to group thinking, made the part about “The Bridge to Total Freedom” stick out to me.


These ideas directly correlate to social media platforms, which can amplify group thinking within a community. Like Scientolhy, social media is home to many individual communities where one can echo their beliefs and validate their experiences/thoughts. When validation occurs, it can further strengthen one’s commitment or weight on the teachings or beliefs within the group. To align themselves with these groups in seeking acceptance, one may alter their mindset or challenge their own beliefs. To top this off, the platform that social media offers people the chance to spread these ideologies to the masses.


Overall, “Going Clear” serves as a book that describes the interplay between beliefs, conformity, and manipulation in Scientology. In revealing the effects of group thinking on its members, the book offers a reminder to readers to be mindful of the consequences of putting critical thinking and individualism to the side for inclusion.

Scientology Pacific Area Command Base in Los Angeles

The Scientology logo

If you have an HBO MAX subscription, you can watch the Documentary on Going Clear!




Wright, L. (2013). Going clear. scientology, Hollywood, and the prison of belief. Vintage; Illustrated edition.

Book Report: Factfulness by Hans and Anna Rosling

General Overview: 

Factfulness is a book written by Anna and Hans Rosling. This book dives into how the majority of people look at the world and how the way they look at it is oftentimes incorrect or overestimated. It discusses how people tend to think about certain things such as fear, looking at the negative aspects of the world, generalizing groups, and misjudgment. After each concept that the authors discussed, they would give tips or ideas of how people can deal with these instincts. It seems as though the media is much to blame for these instincts that occur with many people. 

Favorite Part:

I found the chapter about the negativity instinct to be the most interesting and my personal favorite part. I feel as though this is something that is very common today with the media. When watching news networks it seems as though more and more bad things just continue to happen. The book mentions how bad news tends to stick with us more also. The book also mentions how people have a bad habit of overestimating. For example, if one were to look at the news and see that a plane had crashed, they’d likely start to believe that flying isn’t safe and that it might happen to them. But the news isn’t covering the 10s of thousands of flights that had actually made it to their destination safely. The bad news reaches the people easier and their negativity instinct kicks in and they look at something a lot worse than it actually is. 


    The content that we’ve learned throughout this course that I’d relate this book to the most is fast thinking. In the lecture Ways of Thinking, we learned about fast thinking and how “we think like this automatically and effortlessly. The biases and fallacies relating to fast thinking such as The Halo Effect, In Group Bias, The Gambler's Fallacy, and Black and White all relate a lot to the content of the book. The book talks about the different types of instincts that we have as humans and how they often happen automatically. 


    For Factfulness, it seemed to me as though a lot of these instincts come from the news networks constantly providing people with information about violent acts which triggers the Fear and Negativity instincts, or things a certain group of people are doing which triggers the Generalization or Size instincts, or even when listening to how biased most news networks are with politics whether it’s Fox or CNN which might trigger the Single Perspective or Blame instincts. I found a video that I thought was interesting where a man, Rolf Dobelli, completely cut out paying attention to the news and how it affected his life. 



    There are a couple real life problems that this book's information could possibly help with solving. The negativity instinct and fear instinct chapters can bring awareness to the sort of hysteria that occurs in the United States through the media outlets. It can also maybe, help the public with dealing with the information that they are provided with. The negativity chapter tells us how there is always good and bad in the world simultaneously and how we should always keep that in mind. The negativity in the world seems to spread like wildfire and reach us more often than the positivity leaving us with the idea that only bad things are happening. The same thing applies to the fear instinct. The authors stated that the image of a dangerous world has never been broadcast more effectively while the world is less violent and more safe than ever. I do believe that many people see all of these violent acts happening in the world and believe that the chances that it happens to them is a lot higher than it really is. It is a sad thing and can be scary if you are looking at it like that but in reality, the percentage of people that actually go through those things in America is very very low compared to the whole population. The authors recommend that to control the fear instinct, calculate the risks of what is triggering the fear. Meaning actually look into the percentage of people who, for example, get stabbed every year in the United States.

Blog Post #2- Cold Reading

    One of my favorite people we learned about in this class was Darren Brown. I thought it was amazing how he doesn’t believe in psychics or anything related but could trick people into thinking he was one based off his knowledge on the subject. My favorite video was the one where he went to convince a psychic that he had psychic abilities by reading a room of skeptics. He started by making a vague statement about someone he was communicating with. He waited until someone reacted then went with that person and continued to make vague suggestions, leading the person on. The one I found the most interesting was when he was mentioned hats and the elevator, both which are vague objects people commonly come in contact with, but they seemed so specific to the person. The subject confirmed the person she lost loved hats, and she had a dream that she had died in an elevator. Psychics want to help people have closure with loved ones who have passed, but I feel like it can be harmful because it is just cold reading. It consists of leading the person with vague suggestions, who then draws connections between the statements the psychic is making. It might help them heal but it is also deceiving them (and probably costing them a good amount of money) while they are in an emotional, vulnerable state. 

Blog Post #1- False Memories

    I’ve always been skeptical of hypnotism and learning that a lot of it has to do with the person guiding the hypnotism asking leading questions and being suggestive made sense. The power of suggestion can lead you to believe in things that aren’t real, whether its ghosts or your own memories. I liked how Loftus brought up how promoting things like hypnotism to recover “memories” can be dangerous and harmful. It makes people live through trauma such as abuse they may have never actually experienced and it can destroy families, like in one case she talks about. The claim was that a mother abused a daughter, and Loftus believes it never happened. False memories have even gone as far as getting someone wrongly convicted due to a victim remembering wrong. Learning that memory isn’t like a video camera where it captures the moment exactly how it happened, but that its influenced by expectations and what is happening in current time was very interesting. Two people could be certain they are right, and in their memory they are, but that doesn’t mean that’s how the events actually happened. There is also the lack of connection between the confidence that their story is accurate and the actual accuracy of the event. It doesn’t matter how sure someone is and how clearly they can remember it, since research shows there is little correlation between the two. 

Book report: Factfulness (nazma mostofa)

"Factfulness," written by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, is an informative yet intriguing book that challenges overall human misinterpretation of the world through a more positive and factual view using statistics. The author highlights our perception of the world can be highly negative and that the world is better than we think. Humans are essentially programmed toward binary thinking; we have this innate sense of negativity and all-around appeal to dramatic notions. We are constantly exposed to negativity through media and single-perspective thinking. He explains that many individuals, including our world leaders, must be made aware of the positive changes in our world since the 1800s. Poverty is decreasing, more individuals are getting an education, and the mortality rate is also decreasing, leading to an overall increase in life expectancy. The author uses ten instincts to explain further that the world is changing, and life can be viewed in a more positive direction. Change must occur at the individual level before affecting the majority. In short, Factfulness allows the reader to focus on a more optimistic perspective on life yet increases awareness of outdated information, negativity from other sources, and the overall progress of the world.

Favorite part
It's hard to choose just one aspect of the book. But it was nice to read the references to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has grown significantly. As my father would say, it's not the "third-world country" it once was. My parents were born and raised there. As described in the book, they underwent level 1 and 2 income levels in the 70s and 80s, walking on foot to get clean water and consuming the same meals daily. My father was bright for his age then, so he became a teacher and taught the children in the village. He was able to monetize his intellect and overall skill and was soon able to bring my siblings and mother to America, starting a level 4 lifestyle. I have to disagree with the author on page 109 when he says Bangladesh is now a level 2 country. My father grew up in the village, and his very home, which he has built brick by brick, still stands. I remember, in 2016, walking past the many individuals sleeping on the footpaths or in their tin-roofed huts, but it was only a small group of individuals. Those who have always lived in the village have grown significantly, building homes where their tin houses used to be or giving rise to an entirely educated family. The village is different from what it used to be.

This book relates to this class and its foundation entirely. The author concisely explains to be skeptical and approach each claim with clear thought. He explains, similarly to our class lectures, to constantly question assumptions and that no one thing can be approached with 100 percent certainty. The author also describes how it is ok to fall outside the "norm," he tells his readers that to make progress, one must fall out of single-perspective thinking. Our class lectures constantly reiterate how science relies on slow and critical thinking. "Practice critical thinking for a better life…Slow down…Be skeptical…Science is never 100% certain of anything…Science is based on consensus…Science changes and makes progress…Always question assumptions….Get outside your echo chamber" (Mark Berg. Lecture 10). Statistics can be falsified, and everything can be dramatized; it's up to us as a society to seek the truth and unveil the facts behind the narrative. Humans have adapted to negativity and fear so much that we unconsciously crave it and cannot find the positive or the absolute truth behind the story. "Nobody can predict the future with 100% certainty." (Rosling. 172). This book doesn't just highlight human error; it shows us the foundation for bettering the world. "Factfulness is recognizing that a single perspective can limit your imagination and remembering that it is better to look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions." (Rosling. 202).

Creative/ Overall thoughts:
This book was terrific. It makes you appreciate that you are much more fortunate than others who fight for their daily lives. Wealth is so much more than just money. Wealth is shoes, clothes, transportation, and food. It reminds me of how hard my parents have had to work for my family. Knowing how humans are essentially programmed toward binary thinking is also interesting. We either look at left or right and at right or wrong. This makes sense and is likely related to our flight or fight responses; our brains are built to work this way to communicate and fight when necessary. This has allowed us to apply it to our daily lives and society, whether good or bad. It is also interesting to see how the author explains how society censors history. We live in a world where history is constantly repeated in front of our very own eyes, yet we're utterly blind to it. For example, certain countries have allowed genocide to continue, but the world fails to fight and ignores it.

After reading this book, my perspective has changed, and I see how the world is changing significantly, but there's still much more to be done. I have attached a link to a TED talk featuring Steve Pink, "Is the world getting better." This video, I feel, helps capture the message of this book for those who have not read it


This book speaks the truth about the world changing, and we are so much better off now. Poverty has decreased significantly, with only a small percentage of the world living in a level 1 or 2 scenario. But what's amusing is it's not our world that is changing, but the people that are not. Each chapter discusses an issue needed to be resolved by the human race. It could be generalizability, where we address each issue the same way. In other words, "This is how it is, and this is how it always will be." It could even be negativity because humans harp on the bad rather than the good. Our world may be changing for the better, but we, as a human race, cannot move forward with our mindset. This book should be applied to all aspects of daily living, especially for our world leaders and journalists who report on everything but the good. Using each chapter, whether it's the gap instinct or the single perspective instinct (looking at the majority or the entire picture instead of one aspect), or even the negativity and blame instinct, can alter a person's perspective on life. Humans seem to have this innate sense of negativity and appeal to dramatic notions. We must be open to all possibilities; we cannot just stick to a single perspective. In a way, we all must become scientists.

Blog 3#: False Memories

The Ted Talk with psychologist Elizabeth Loftus was my favorite video I have watched for this class. The art of suggestion and insinuation is so strong it can change how you remember your own memories. It made me question my own memories since I already have a bad memory to begin with. What surprised me the most is that in a traumatic event you would think that someone would remember the every detail of their situation. The art of suggestion and insinuation can still plant false memories and details in someone's memory. Steven Titus was wrongfully convicted of the SA of a hitchhiker. Even though he was eventually found not guilty, even after serving time, it still ruined his life and he eventually died from a stress induced heart attack. This leads me to question how many other people were wrongfully convicted due to false memories of an accuser. 

Blog #2: Learning Styles

I found the learning styles lecture very interesting to me since I can relate it to my own personal learning experiences. I always considered myself as a visual learner since I always found it easier to learn with pictures, maps, or videos. Even during math problems I would have to draw a diagram or map out the problem because I found it difficult to imagine it in my head. I found that I am more concentrated on lectures that have videos with examples of the course material. In the lecture video, Daniel T. Willingham explains that the learning styles theory does not exist. He explains that although it is true that some people have a better visual or auditory memory than others, this does not support the learning styles theory. He further explains that what a teacher wants a student to learn is based usually on meaning not based on its visual, auditory, or kinesthetic material. This was a surprise to me since I always believed in this theory. Actually, I didn't even know it was a theory I thought it was a fact. Despite this theory being debunked, teachers can still apply the fact that some students have a better visual, auditory, or kinesthetic memory than others. By still including visuals, videos, and hands on practice to course materials it can still be helpful for students to understand the meaning of the material.

Blog Post #1: Aliens and UFOs

Growing up I always believed in aliens and unidentified objects. It never made sense to me that Earth would be the only planet that inhabits advanced living organisms. Our universe is so vast that it's impossible to think that there isn't other living life forms. While reading and watching the lecture slides and videos, there were a lot of evidence that indicated that past UFO abductions could have been fake or a false memory. According to the lecture, "Those who typically believe in aliens have other esoteric beliefs, more instances of sleep paralysis, and have a higher rating of fantasy". What's interesting is that recently the government has confirmed not only the existence of UFOs but also the existence of aliens. Because of this, skeptics are now questioning their own beliefs in aliens. This also makes me question if those who were abducted will now be taken more seriously or if this confirmation will cause an increase in false abductions stories. 

Blog post# 3- Wendigo

A Wendigo is a supernatural being that originates from Native American tales, it is said that humans transform into Windigos because of insatiable greed or hunger. It was a curse that fell upon murderers and cannibals, they become soulless creatures with a body resembling a tree, acquiring superhuman strength and speed. They live only to hunt and consume humans. These creatures can imitate human voices and screams in order to trick and lure its prey. What's more the only way to kill a Wendigo is with fire, this is a difficult task as they can move rapidly to avoid traps and direct attacks. 

Blog Post #2- Sleep Paralysis

     Waking up not being able to move, pressure in your chest as if someone is sitting on you, figures appearing in the corner of your eye. Sleep paralysis may seem like something paranormal but in reality is something that has a simple explanation. It occurs when you are in REM sleep, your brain releases Atonia which paralyses your body, so you don't act out your dreams. When you are in transition of wakefulness and sleep you may suddenly wake up before your muscles regain movement and this is where you experience sleep paralysis. 

    You can hallucinate and it can be a very scary experience especially if you don't know what is happening. Sleep paralysis can occur to anyone and at any age but it is more common among those with other conditions such a Narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. There are certain tricks that are said to help with avoiding experiencing this such as not eating right before going to sleep or not sleeping flat on your back, there even other medical treatments. Still nothing can truly prevent it as it is like a glitch that occurs in your sleep cycle, and it really doesn't pose any danger.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Blog post # 3: Learning Styles

 It is truly amazing how, in recent decades, the educational landscape has evolved and become more diverse, and catering to a variety of learning styles has become increasingly important. When presented with visual aids such as pictures, maps, illustrations, and videos, visual learners can grasp concepts more easily. On the other hand, auditory learners perform better when they are exposed to sound-based learning experiences such as lecture recordings and reading aloud. Kinesthetic learners find their groove through hands-on activities where they can touch and create, fostering a deeper understanding. It is disappointing to see that the current educational system frequently fails to take into account these specific learning preferences, unintentionally harming some students. When educators favor one learning style over another, they run the risk of alienating students who do not fit the mold, which will reduce their ability to effectively learn and retain information. Embracing a more inclusive approach that incorporates all learning styles can lead to a more engaging and enriching educational experience, empowering students to unleash their full potential and encouraging a lifelong love for learning.

Blog post # 2: End of the world

 This lecture brought up the notion of the end of the world, and even though the notion that the world is ending is frequently unfounded, it still inspires a lot of fear. Imagination creates stories of imminent doom, inviting this terrifying idea. Apocalyptic concepts, from ancient predictions to modern forecasts, captivate, hinting at the profound impact of such stories. Even as we explore these narratives through history, like the Mayan Prophecy of 2012 or fears of nuclear destruction, they manage to seep into the public mind. Cinematic depictions of the apocalypse, such as in "The Day After Tomorrow" or "Mad Max: Fury Road," reflect our intricate relationship with this idea, stirring our inner fears. Whether or not many people want to, we are forced to acknowledge our part in determining the future of these stories.

Joseph Wozniak-Book Report

 General Overview

 "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan is a thought provoking work of literature that explores the role of science and critical thinking play in combating the gradual acceptance of pseudoscience, irrational and illogical thoughts as well as anti-intellectual forces such as superstition into public discourse. Sagan, an astrophysicist by training emphasized the the necessity of of scientific literacy and a healthy dose of skepticism in confronting misinformation. Moving Forward, he highlights the danger of casually accepting unsubstainated claims as fact. Thoroughout the book, Sagan hones back to the point of how the scientific method is the most reliable way to uncovering the truths in the universe, as well as inoculating ourselves against the forces of quackery. 

   Sagan is able to elegantly make his case by providing real world examples of historical and modern pseudoscientific beliefs. He also tells us the hard truth of how it's easy for people to be tricked by charlatans. To combat this, he emphasizes that critical thinking, examination of evidence and peer review comprise a tool-box of sorts that ordinary people can use to prevent themselves from being swindled. In Summary, "The Demon-Haunted World"ultimately serves as a clarion call to embrace the scientific method, remaining open-minded while utilizing a healthy dose of skeptcism and ensuring the superiority of reason and logic within public discourse. 

Favorite Part 

  My favorite part of the book is when Sagan tells an ancedote of a "Dragon in My Garage" when the need arises for him to give an example of skeptical thinking. As the story goes, Sagan invites a rational critical thinker into his home. He asks the visitor if he wants to see the "fire-breathing dragon" that lives in his garage. The visitor than states he cannot see the dragon which Sagan replies that he failed the mention that it's invisible. The visitor suggests that he pours flour on the floor so that one can see the Dragon's footprint, to which Sagan responds that the Dragon nary walks but flies. The flustered visitor goes on to say that they should use an infrared camera to see the Dragon's fire to which Sagan points out that the dragon's fire is heatless. 

   Noting that Sagan has an answer that seems rational at face value that explains why we can't verify the dragon's existence, Sagan concludes his conversation with the visitor by stating "Now what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits out heatless fire and no dragon a t all? If there is no way to disprove my contention, what does it mean to say the dragon exists? Your inability to disprove my hypothesis does not mean it's true". 

  There are two reasons as to why I am enamored with this specific narrative. Firstly, it highlights how pseudoscience is able to gain a foothold within society because often at time's it drapes itself in scientific wears. Notice how Sagan uses the term "hypothesis" in arguing over the Dragon's exisitence. Moreover, the Dragon in the Garage is a prime example of the relationship between pseudoscience and deductive standards such as falsifiability. In Essence, It points out how pseudoscience remains enduring because one cannot technical refute it's claims using empirical evidence. In a way, pseudoscience unjustly approriates the legitimacy of science while wielding the scientific method against those who point out it's logical defeciencies. 

  This brings me to my second reason why I liked this part of the book. Namely, that Sagan was able to walk his open-minded visitor through a process that though may have made them feel dumb, in the end was able to make lucid as to why belief in the Dragon is nonsensical. I feel it's also important to say that making people feel dumb might be the point because it could compel people to realize the error of their thinking and encourages them to engage new ideas through a lens of reasonsing as opposed to taking things at face-value. As it relates, Sagan shows to us that the best way to combat pseudoscientific thought is not through emotion but via critical thinking and logic. 


    Sagan presents a list of skills that people could use in developing skeptical thinking tools that he refers to the as the "baloney detection kit". Broadly speaking, "skeptical thinking" can be defined as differanting between reasoned arguments and fraudelent ones. In one section of his kit, Sagan lists 20 logical fallacies to avoid when offering up a new claim. This relates to one of the first slides in Lecture 1 which mentions how beliefs in fallacies are an example of "Fast Thinking". Moreover, there is an overlap between the fallacies that Sagan laid out and those that were incorporated into the Lecture 1 slide such as the "law of small numbers", "slippery slope" and the "strawman" argument. Finally, similar to the lectures, Sagan points out how pseudoscience relies on fallacies that grant these beliefs the legitimacy of actual science such as "the argument from authority" and "special pleading" i.e. "You Don't understand how this works" 


Here is a Slide I made that compares the "Dragon in my Garage" fallacy to Graphology 



 I believe that the insights discussed in "Demon-Haunted World" can help solve a pressing issue that has affected our culture and politics, namely the rise of misinformation on social media. I believe that Sagan's  emphasis on critical thinking, healthy skepticism and reliance on evidence-based reasoning can be applied to social media users and platform developers as it relates to addressing this epidemic that threatens the core of our democracy.

  Firstly, we should heed Sagan's work and empasize the importance of critical thinking. Encouraging social media users to think for themselves in a logically matter as opposed to a herd mentality can be a powerful defense against misinformation on the web. Teaching people, especially students how to ask proper questions, evaluate sources and cross-examine resources can do wonders in stopping the flow of misleading content 

   Moving Forward, States should incorporate Media Literacy into educational curriculums. Here in New Jersey we are already ahead of the curve thanks to the legislation that makes us the first in the nation to incorporate this important skill into official pedagogy. Media Literacy courses often are focused on building up skills that Sagan mentioned such as critical thinking and rationality.

  Finally, Social Media Platforms can play a role in combatting misinformation by implementing robust fact-checking apparatus to their platform. Sagan mentions that peer-review is critical to combatting pseudoscience and I believe that implementing fact-checkers is just that at a larger scale. While addressing misinformation on social media is no small potatoes, I believe that the sage wisdom offered by Sagan can serve as a guiding light for thus wishing to stem the rise of misinformation on social media. 

Blog post #1: Graphology

 It is fascinating that, through the use of graphology, the study of handwriting, offers a window into the depths of human personality and character. Through the analysis of subtle nuances like word and letter spacing, writing slant, pressure on the paper, and letter size, graphologists claim to uncover hidden traits and tendencies. It's an interesting notion, one that suggests that our inner selves may be imprinted on the page. In spite of this, graphology's claims seem very flawed, and there is little consensus among scientists regarding the validity of graphology. Undoubtedly intriguing, the concept of reading a person's essence through their writing still raises the question of whether it actually works or if it merely teeters on the edge of pseudoscience. I do think at this point there must be a balance between curiosity and skepticism as we consider the potential of handwriting analysis in order to gain a deeper understanding of the human psyche while maintaining a realist-based perspective.

Jordyn Neff- Book Report

                                                                             Jordyn Neff

                                                    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

                                                                             Book Report 

General Overview

Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow" provides excellent insight into the functioning of the brain. He discusses two distinct systems that run our minds in this book.The first one, known as system one, is quick, automatic, and intuitive. The second, known as system two, is slow and analytical. He discusses cognitive biases and the processes that guide our decision-making in this book. In order to help the reader understand the material he is discussing, he includes real-life examples throughout the book. From reading this book, we can better understand how our thinking is flawed and it can therefore lead us to better decisions. 

 Favorite Part

My favorite chapter, chapter 8, outlines which system is used for what and focuses on how each system can make decisions. In this chapter, Kahneman indicates that because system 1 is an automatic process, it is quicker at making decisions. He says that system 1 “continuously monitors what is going on outside and inside the mind, and continuously generates assessments of various aspects of the situation without specific intention and with little to no effort” (Kahneman 2011). In this chapter, he describes how this is the “ essential idea of heuristics and biases approach” (Kahneman 2011). I've been learning about different heuristics and biases in this class for the last few weeks. Heuristics are shortcuts that speed up our decision-making, but they are not a perfect system. In this method, there still have a large number of errors. He also discusses how system two is utilized for more complicated questions in this chapter, and how it uses a more thorough thought process to respond to these types of questions. The use of examples and pictures in this chapter helped me to fully understand the information he was providing. My favorite part of this chapter was when he discussed how we judge others by their physical features, such as their jawline or facial structure. I found his explanation of how we determine whether it is safe to interact with a stranger based on our initial impressions of them to be quite interesting. 


In this class, we have covered biases and fallacies by viewing both posters. Prior to this class, I was not aware that biases and fallacies were a thing. In the first lecture, we learned about the different ways of thinking. This included fast thinking and slow thinking which are both discussed in this book. Both of these can impact our thinking in different ways but both many times lead to the wrong conclusions. Although they are comparable, biases and fallacies differ significantly in some important ways. Fallacies are more of a flaw, whereas biases are more predictable. Learning about fallacies and biases in this class and then in the book has helped me gain a better understanding of these ideas. 


I decided to create a brief video to summarize the two systems I have learned about in this book. In addition, I have included a YouTube video that provides a comprehensive summary of the book. 




This book made it clear to me that I need to be more mindful of the choices I make every day. After reading this book, I think there are methods we should use to improve our ability to decision-making. I believe there would be less inaccuracy in the world if everyone was aware of the various systems, fallacies, and biases that shape our decisions. Real-world difficulties like insufficient healthcare, financial issues, and even political challenges, could be resolved if we learned to be more mindful of the decisions we are making and the cognitive biases we have. We must realize that decisions should be thoroughly considered and evaluated rather than immediately made when dealing with more complicated topics. This book assisted me in realizing that, and I can now use this knowledge in my day-to-day activities and start being the change that the world needs.

Book Report Post- Viral BS

 General Overview

In "Viral BS," Dr. Seema Yasmin explores the world of medical myths and misinformation that spread through various media channels and especially the internet and social media. The book delves into the reasons behind why people fall for false medical information and the consequences of doing so. This book provides insight as to why the misinformation is delivered to people and how this information is not always true. 

Dr. Yasmin, drawing from her expertise in medicine and her background as a journalist, critically examines various medical myths, conspiracy theories, and urban legends that have gone viral. She debunks the factors that contribute to their spread and influence over the public, despite lacking scientific evidence or credibility. Each chapter debunks common misconceptions.

Dr. Yasmin demonstrates her knowledge of medical misconceptions through each chapter of the book. Each chapter evaluates a medical myth and dives into the scientific evidence of that topic. Chapter’s include “Do vitamin D supplements protect against obesity and cancer”, “Can gay and bisexual men donate blood”, “Are e-cigarettes helpful or harmful”.

Favorite Part

My favorite part of this book was chapter 26, “Why do immigrants in America live longer than American-born people?”. I found this specifically interesting because I have extensive knowledge in health disparities in the United States and minorities have a great disadvantage with their health. According to the book, “Immigrants live at least 2.5 years longer than white people born in the United States.”(Yasmin,413). The phenomenon is called the Hispanic paradox. Hispanics statistically have poor or no health insurance, less likely to be employed, and less access to healthcare. According to the book, hispanics survive and recover from disease more quickly than non-hispanic whites. Dr. Ruiz conducted research and concluded that the hispanic paradox really does exist and 17.5 percent lower risk of death among the hispanic population. 

There is no hard evidence of hispanic paradox but there are many indicators showing that the paradox is a thing. After 33 years and hundreds of studies the paradox is still unsolved. Now, as for the connection between the Hispanic paradox and pseudoscience, it's crucial to understand that pseudoscience is characterized by claims, beliefs, or practices that are presented as scientific but lack evidence, validity, or reliability. In the context of the Hispanic paradox, there might be instances where pseudoscientific claims or misinformation emerge to explain the phenomenon. 


I connected this book to lecture slide 10. Medical myths thrive in an environment of misinformation and uncertainty. When there is a lack of clear and accurate information from trusted sources, people may turn to rumors and myths for answers. This uncertainty can fuel paranoia and lead individuals to believe in false claims or conspiracy theories in which most of the world is conditioned to believe. For example, in Viral BS, Dr. Yasmin explored the connection between autism and vaccines. This connection was proved false and then retracted from the Lancet. The false study was published and later found to be false, fraudulent, and invalid when the parameters of the study were investigated. The original study was conducted with children at a birthday party who already showed symptoms of autism before the vaccines but that wasn’t accounted for in the study. Later the same doctor who conducted the study got a patent on a vaccine and was looking to profit off of his study. 

This study created mass paranoia and delusion. The fear that we instill in ourselves without the proper research and strictly listening to what we are told by the media creates this sense of panic. A fallacy is a mistaken or deceptive argument or reasoning that appears valid but is not logically sound. They often exploit flaws in logic, emotional manipulation, or the use of irrelevant information to persuade or deceive others. Fallacies can be intentional or unintentional, but they undermine the credibility of an argument and lead to incorrect conclusions. This was demonstrated by the original doctor who conducted the study. 


Click the link to my powerpoint presentation on my favorite medical myths explored in the book.



Working in the medical field this book was very insightful and eye opening and educated me on things that I even believed to be true. I believe that anyone who works in the medical field should read this book to educate themselves and their patients. Throughout reading this book I would find myself talking to my coworkers about it and even they were educated on certain topics. If people read this book I believe it would prevent mass paranoia and delusions. Take covid for example, there was huge mass paranoia simply from the media. Parents who do not vaccinate their children would benefit from reading this book as well. Overall I have enjoyed this book more than anything else I have read, I found all the chapters fascinating and insightful and I have already recommended this book to my coworkers in the medical field.

Book Report- Factfulness by Hans Rosling

General Overview

"Factfulness", written by Anna Rosling and Hans Rosling, challenges the misconceptions about the realities of the world with an exciting take to engage readers. The authors shed light on widespread misconceptions and unfavorable biases that shape our impression of development by highlighting eleven cognitive tendencies that impede our understanding. Using data and real-life examples, they dispel myths about population growth, poverty, and health, showcasing humanity's incredible progress (Rosling and Rosling 42). The book urges readers to take a more nuanced and positive approach, providing those with the tools to assess information and make better-informed decisions critically. The authors argue that by adopting a factual perspective, people can better understand the intricacies of the world and make meaningful contributions to resolving global concerns.

For those trying to get above the pessimism and distortions surrounding today's media and popular discourse, "Factfulness" offers a welcome and crucial perspective. The authors' engaging tale, supported by convincing statistics and personal experiences, conveys hope and development. By debunking myths, the show "Factfulness" helps viewers get a more nuanced understanding of humanity's achievements and the many gaps that remain.

Favorite Part

The chapter titled "The Gap Instinct" is one of my favorite parts. The chapter explores the wide-ranging misconceptions surrounding the globe. It negates the idea that the global village is divided into two groups: developed West and the developing East (Rosling and Rosling 29). The concept itself has vast implications for development economics and the global politics of ownership of resources. The author further debunked the myths of the developmental world by showing the disparities in health, education, living standards and overall economic condition in different regions of the world. It was essential to discuss this to get the attention of future policymakers to examine global issues from a more critical perspective. This idea is consistent with modernization and dependence theories, which talk about historical and economic disparities between industrialized and developing countries. The authors demonstrate how conventional binary thinking needs to capture the complexities and advancements in many places of the world by examining statistical data and case studies.

Another favorite part of the book is a later chapter “The Fear Instinct” which explores the psychological tendency of rational beings to overestimate fears of irrational events which leads to a complicated idea of safety. The author gave the example of media which can instill irrational fears and anxiety by highlighting and sensationalizing alarming news (Rosling and Rosling 96). The idea suggests that people can have distorted perceptions as a consequence of actions taken in fear and anxiety. Readers get valuable insights on how media can influence the way people think and process dramatic events.


The author underlines how important it is to be open-minded and avoid making broad statements, which are both important parts of academic writing and critical thinking. The writers employ a variety of statistics and real-world examples to dispel myths and question readers' established beliefs about international progress. They do this to inspire readers to examine the validity of their long-held views and develop a more fact-based worldview. Before forming arguments, it is essential to maintain an open mind and contemplate various points of view. Also, "Factfulness" cautions against the "us versus them" mindset that classifies the world into "developed" and "underdeveloped" countries. Instead, the book promotes a more sophisticated appreciation of the intricacies of the world.


In "Factfulness," the authors stress the significance of considering many perspectives, looking at numerous data points, and making connections to develop a more fact-based worldview. The book invites readers to combine various pieces of knowledge and dispel widespread myths. By making educated decisions and taking appropriate action, readers can develop a more sophisticated knowledge of the world.


"Factfulness" gives readers a concept to explore global issues to resolve global conflicts. It points towards multiple social issues that policymakers should take action on. The book gives people, decision-makers, and leaders the tools to make more educated choices by encouraging a fact-based worldview and critical thinking. Whether it's making public policies, coming up with aid plans, or starting sustainable development projects, choices that are based on accurate data are more likely to help solve problems in the real world. "Factfulness" provides a framework for sifting through the clutter and determining which sources can be trusted in this age of information overload and polarized perspectives. The book can counteract the spread of disinformation and encourage a more constructive and fact-based discourse on urgent problems by training readers to challenge their instincts and biases (Rosling and Rosling 106). Understanding the book's focus on global health data and progress can help solve health problems. For instance, during pandemics, a more effective response and lessened impact on populations might result from a factually based understanding of transmission rates, vaccination efficacy, and public health measures. "Factfulness" challenges the idea that development is a hopeless cause by shedding light on areas in which significant progress has been made. The book motivates readers to support and invest in sustainable development projects by showcasing success stories and proof of positive change. The writers' emphasis on ongoing progress can also encourage optimism and the will to persevere in facing challenges.

Anti-vaccine sentiment is an obvious global problem that "Factfulness" may assist in addressing. Many reasons contribute to this complicated issue, such as misunderstandings, skepticism of government health officials, and worries about potential negative outcomes. The concept of "Factfulness" can help combat vaccine hesitancy by presenting an evidence-based strategy for comprehending vaccines' role in maintaining public health. The book encourages people to differentiate between factual and biased information and to look for authentic sources when looking for information.