Here's my new blog site that starts December 2007.
Here's a link to my most recent entries.
May 29, 2007
I apologize once again for
the long gap in between entries. The reason, as always, was the amount of time
and energy I was putting into my studies, as well as the model United Nations group that I'm a member of.
Speaking of which, I was elected
one of the two 2007 heads of the on-campus model UN conference that our school hosts each fall for college level students. This year we're hoping to expand the conference so that it has two committees, and
we would also like to invite other colleges and universities to participate.
Part of the reason I haven't
posted in a while was the fact that I had to write 5 or so papers since the last time I posted something. Here are some previews of the papers I've written, and links that will allow you to read each paper in
its entirety, if you would like. The first paper is my final paper for my psychology
Research in Psychology: The Effects of Mental Illness Diagnosis and Symptoms on Social Ratings
purpose of our study is to test an idea about the cause for the social judgments made about people with mental illnesses,
specifically personality disorders. Research shows that knowing a person's diagnosis
or list of symptoms might also affect how someone with a personality disorder is judged.
We wished to test the findings of this research, and to explore both the source of criteria of mental illness and the
effects they have one how people are subsequently perceived by others when they are labeled with a mental illness. Subjects watched a short video and were asked to fill out a questionnaire about a person they saw in the
video. We found no significant main effects for prompt condition or knowing someone
with a mental illness. We did not find an interaction between prompt and knowing
someone with a mental illness. Our findings do not support the findings of previous
research studies. Our study may be improved by using larger, more random groups
as well as many different simulations of mental illnesses.
The Accuracy of the Film Awakenings
films that are based upon actual events take a great deal of liberty in changing the details of the events that they depict. "Awakenings" appears to be an exception to this trend.
Although the names of people involved are changed, and the methodology of treatment for a disease is different, the
movie seems to depict a particular disease and the drug used to treat it very accurately.
The film is based upon the book with the same name, which was written by Dr. Oliver Sacks. Dr. Sacks recommended that his name be changed, and so we follow a fictional Dr. Sayer through the summer
of 1969 in the Bronx, New York. Dr. Sayer uses a new drug to try
to treat some patients that appear to be catatonic, and for a time he is successful.
However, patients who are treated with the drug develop a tolerance for it, and soon his patients return to their former
state. The movie appears to give the audience a close approximation of the symptoms
of the disease, as well as the side affects of the drug that was used to treat it.
Personality: The Personality of Alfred Kinsey
Kinsey is known for conducting the largest interview based study of sexual behavior that the scientific community had ever
seen. His two books on human sexuality, collectively called The Kinsey Report,
shattered social myths and misconceptions about human sexuality. Sometimes, he
is credited with laying the foundation for what would become the Sexual Revolution: a period known for sexual exploration
and openness in American society. Kinsey is still regarded as one of the most
well respected sex researchers. The information he gathered on thousands of encrypted
cards is still used by scientists today to form hypotheses about sexuality. Kinsey
grew up in a relatively poor family in New Jersey, although over time they became more fortunate. Unfortunately, because his family could not afford the latest medical care when Kinsey was a child, he
suffered lasting effects from rickets, rheumatic fever, and typhoid fever. His
family was a conservative Christian one, and his father was a part time Methodist preacher.
Both heterosexual contact with girls and all other forms of sexual gratification were severely discouraged by Kinsey's
father, a fact that was to play an important role in Kinsey's line of research some years later (Gathorne, 1998).
Comparing Photosynthesis in Red Cabbage, Green Cabbage, and Spinach Through DPIP
The scientist Robert Hill demonstrated
in 1937 that chloroplasts in water were able to perform when light was present along with an electron receptor to release
oxygen. He gathered evidence that the oxygen given off had to come from water,
because carbon dioxide was not present. He also showed that there were both light
dependant and light independent reactions. Finally, his work indicated that oxidation-reduction
reactions are a key part of photosynthesis.
The Effects of Temperature and Chelating Agents on Catechol Oxidation
An enzyme is a catalytic molecule that speeds up the rates of specific reactions by as much as several
million times. Enzymes have the ability to chemically recognize, bind, and change
specific reactants. Enzymes usually remain unchanged, so the can mediate the
same reaction repeatedly. Most enzymes are a kind of protein. Activation energy is the minimum amount of internal energy that a molecule must have before a reaction
begins. Activation energy is also known as an energy barrier, as well as the
amount of energy needed in order to align chemical groups, destabilize electric charges, and break molecular bonds. Enzymes typically offer a stable microenvironment that is more favorable for a certain reaction than the
surrounding environment would normally be.
March 29, 2007
Career and Research Goals
Earlier today I made a list of career
and research goals to put on my Psychology Honors Program application. Although I'm having to rewrite some of it in
paragraph form, I thought some of you might be interested in it. So here it is.
- Pursue graduate degrees and research in:
- Psychology (social, evolutionary, bio)
- Economics (macro, international trade)
- Political science (international relations, negotiations)
- Biology (evolutionary, ecology, animal behavior)
- Linguistics (archaeological, patterns, universal translating guide)
- Immigration services business
- International negotiations consulting
- Clean energy company
- Small business and entrepreneur support company
- Mass transportation (esp. advanced trains)
- Real estate
- Fantasy and science fiction
- On above mentioned graduate degrees and research
- Film Screenplays
Psychology Research Interests:
- Social Psychology
- Effects of media on individuals and groups
- Esp by religious leaders
- Esp using story telling
- Acquisition of social influence
- Internet use and social isolation
- Trust and communication
- Abnormal behavior and social ratings
- In groups and out groups
- Social and biological causes of orthodoxy
- Research Methods
- Investigating ways to perform double blind studies in psychology
- Improvement of sampling methods
- Perhaps through a public sign up website (or promotion of an already existing one)
- Other Areas
- Investigating possible relationship between orthodoxy and dual processing theories
- Scientific orthodoxy
- Religious orthodoxy
- Investigating evolutionary source of spoken and written language
- Primate calls, gestures, other possible sources
March 22, 2007
I just finished what was the
most challenging piece of semi-scientific writing I've written yet last night. It's
still beginner level, of course, but hopefully I'm getting better at this. The
topic we studied was a theory on thinking called the dual processing theory. Studying
it actually gave me some ideas about how traditions and orthodoxies can be created, and often persist despite efforts by some
to stamp them out. I may write more about that sometime in the near future, although
the next couple of months will be brutal as far as my workload is concerned. Anyway,
I know it might be a bit much for some, but here's the text of my lab report for those who are interested.
Evidence on the Questions of Dual Process Theory
University of North Carolina at Chapel
One interpretation of dual
process theories proposes that the slower cognitive process is called the analytic system, and is more demanding to use because
it requires the conscious use of rules and strategies. If someone doesn't have
the motivation or resources to use the analytic system, he or she must rely on the more instinctive, belief driven system
called the heuristic system. I propose there will be an interaction between cognitive
load, working memory span, and conflict. Based upon working memory score,
subjects were divided into three groups after the experiment. The subjects then
evaluated the validity of logical syllogisms. Two Easy problems and two Difficult
problems were valid, and two of each problem were invalid. Each subject was randomly
assigned to one of three groups that varied in the cognitive load. There was
an interaction between cognitive load, working memory span, and conflict. The
fact that the different levels of working memory do not maintain position with regards to each other further demonstrates
that there may not be a causal relationship between working memory and logical analysis.
However, it appears as though there are in fact separate systems being used in logical reasoning. These findings are also consistent with those previously found. Several
possibilities exist for future exploration of research regarding dual processing theory, such as investigation of brain activity
during similar experiments, as well as the usefulness of dual processing theory in explanations of orthodoxy.
People appear to be limited to a certain degree when it comes to
logical puzzles, because they tend to make mistakes when they try to solve them (Gilovich et al., 2002) When someone is patient and deliberate with a problem, they tend to make fewer mistakes (De Neys, 2006). However, at times it seems as though solving a problem occurs so rapidly that it appears
to have been done through instinct (De Neys, 2006). In some instances, the rapid
response to puzzles can result in a high error rate, if the puzzles are of a certain nature (De Neys, 2006). Explanations for these kinds of errors are often called dual process theories (De Neys, 2006).
One interpretation of dual process theories proposes that the slower
cognitive process is called the analytic system, and is more demanding to use because it requires the conscious use of rules
and strategies. People must recognize how to apply those rules and strategies,
and they can only do so if they are sufficiently motivated and have the needed resources (De Neys, 2006). If someone doesn't have the motivation or resources to use the analytic system, he or she must rely on
the more instinctive, belief driven system called the heuristic system. Therefore,
a difference in working memory spans between individuals might result in different error rates in solving logic problems. If a conflict exists between the heuristic and analytic systems when one is thinking
about a logic problem, a higher working memory span will improve the likelihood that the person will reason the problem correctly. If the person's working memory is unable to handle the amount of information it must
process, he or she will be unable to use the analytic system, and will therefore be more likely to make a mistake (De Neys,
De Neys (2006) gathered evidence related to his version of dual
process theory by attempting to cause the working memory of subjects to be overloaded while they solved problems that required
logical analysis. The type of logic problem he used involved the evaluation of
hypothetical syllogisms. A hypothetical syllogism is valid when the third statement
presented follows logically from the previous two given statements. Subjects
were asked to asses the validity of syllogisms presented. Some of the statements
conflicted with common knowledge, while others did not. De Neys (2006) brought
about a load on the working memory of the subjects by having them remember a visual pattern while they worked to solve the
logic problems. Some subjects had no memory task, others had to remember simple
patterns, and the third group had to remember complex patterns. De Neys (2006)
believed that easy problems are solvable no matter the cognitive load because they are solved by using the heuristic system. He proposed that cognitive load would have an effect on the ability to solve difficult
problems, however, because they required the use of the analytic system. A measurement
of the working memory capacity of the subjects was obtained to allow him to assess the data he gathered (De Neys, 2006).
De Neys (2006) found that the storage task did not affect performance
when the heuristic system was all that was needed to determine the correct response to a problem. When the logical response conflicted with the instinctive response, the storage task was associated with
decreased performance. Evidence was that all individuals have both the analytic
and heuristic systems, because performance on the logic problems decreased even in the low capacity groups, but performance
when no conflict was present was unaffected (De Neys, 2006).
If the procedure used by De Neys (2006) is closely approximated,
a number of hypotheses can be tested. I propose that a main effect of working
memory (WM) will be observed, because individuals with the highest WM span will process the greatest amount of information
over time. Those with a high WM span will be followed by medium WM span, which
in turn will come after those with a low WM span. It is also hypothesized that
there will be a main effect of cognitive load, because cognitive load will on average decrease performance the most when it
is highest, followed by low cognitive load, followed by no cognitive load. I
propose there will be a main effect for conflict, because conflict will result in lower performance than no conflict. I hypothesize that a WM Span x Conflict interaction will be observed, since the effect
of WM Span on Throughput will be present only in the Conflict condition. I also
propose that a Cognitive Load x Conflict interaction will be present, because the effect of Cognitive Load on Throughput will
only occur in the Conflict condition. I hypothesize that there will be a Cognitive
Load x WM Span interaction, since the effect of WM on Throughput will depend on the Conflict condition. Lastly, I propose there will be a Cognitive Load x WM Span x Conflict interaction, because the interaction
between Cognitive Load and WM Span will be observed only in the Conflict condition.
The participants included
218 subjects. Students enrolled in the Laboratory Research in Psychology class
for the spring 2007 semester at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill were subjects.
The subjects reported to room 110 of Davie Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to participate in the study during
their regularly scheduled class time. The subjects followed prompts that appeared
on the computer screens that gave directions and asked specific questions.
The first part of the study
involved of a measure of working memory. Subjects evaluated arithmetic equations and were in the meantime asked to remember
a series of words. The number of words that the subject could remember was the
measure of working memory. Based upon working memory score, subjects were divided
into three groups after the experiment. The three groups were High, Medium, and
Low working memory score.
The second part of the study
was meant to generate data to evaluate the main research questions. The subjects
evaluated the validity of logical syllogisms. The subjects had to solve eight syllogisms.
Four syllogisms were Easy, and four were Difficult. The Easy syllogisms
were either believable and valid or unbelievable and invalid. For example, "Cats
have tails. Tigers are cats. Therefore,
tigers have tails." The Difficult syllogisms were either believable and invalid
or unbelievable and valid. An example of a Difficult syllogism is "Bears have
fur. Gummy bears are a type of bear. Therefore,
gummy bears have fur." Two Easy problems and two Difficult problems were valid,
and two of each problem were invalid. Each subject was randomly assigned to one
of three groups that varied in the cognitive load. For the High Load condition,
the subject was asked to remember a complex pattern of dots while evaluating the syllogism.
Subjects had to remember a simple pattern of dots while solving the syllogism in the Low Load condition. No secondary memory task was present in the No Load condition. De
Neys (2006) asked subjects to re-create the dot patterns in his experiment, but in this experiment the subjects chose the
pattern they remembered from a choice of six patterns.
No main effect of WM span
(p = NS) was observed. There was a main effect of Cognitive Load (F(1,210) =
5.1, p<.01), because the no Cognitive Load condition (x = .1229) showed higher Throughput than the low (x =.1065 ) and
high Cognitive Load conditions (x = .1083). (See Table 1) A main effect of Conflict
(F(1,210) = 362.9, p<.001) was present because the Conflict group (x =.0829) showed lower Throughput than the No Conflict
(x =.1406) (See Table 1). There was no WM Span x Conflict interaction (p = NS). However, there was a marginal Cognitive Load x Conflict interaction (F(2,210) = 2.97,
p = .05) (See Figure 1), and a significant WM span x Cognitive Load interaction (F(2,210) = 2.7, p < .05) (See Figure 2). There was also a Conflict x WM Span x Cognitive Load interaction (F(4,210) = 3.43,
p = .01) (See Figure 3).
The hypothesis that a main effect of working memory (WM) would
be observed was not supported because individuals with the highest WM span did not process the information differently than
those with medium or low WM span. The hypothesis that there will be a main effect
of cognitive load was supported, because the no Cognitive Load condition showed different Throughput than the high or low
Cognitive Load conditions. The hypothesis that there would be a main effect for
conflict was supported because the Conflict group showed different Throughput than the No Conflict. The hypothesis that a WM Span x Conflict interaction would be observed was not supported, since the effect
of WM Span on Throughput was present in both conditions. The hypothesis that
a Cognitive Load x Conflict interaction will be present was supported, because the effect of Cognitive Load on Throughput
will occurred differently between No Conflict and Conflict. The hypothesis that
there would be a Cognitive Load x WM Span interaction was supported, since the effect of WM on Throughput depended on the
Conflict condition. Lastly, the hypothesis that there will be a Cognitive Load
x WM Span x Conflict interaction was supported, because the interaction between Cognitive Load and WM Span was different than
the interaction between WM Span and Conflict.
The fact that there was no main effect of WM casts doubt on the
idea that those with high WM will have more resources to provide the analytic system to use.
However, this finding is consistent with what De Neys (2006) found. These
findings suggest that WM level does not necessarily predict how well someone uses the analytic system, or how well they might
do with logical analysis. Also, the fact that the different levels of working
memory do not maintain position with regards to each other further demonstrates that there may not be a causal relationship
between WM and logical analysis. However, since Throughput was in fact affected
by Cognitive Load and Conflict, it appears as though there are in fact separate systems being used in logical reasoning. These findings are also consistent with those found by De Neys (2006).
A number of improvements may help the study yield higher quality
data to be analyzed. A larger number of logic problems may result in more consistent
trends in the data, although subject fatigue might then become a risk. Also,
the study can be improved by using different sampling methods. For example, this
study used an ad hoc sample of psychology students at one particular school, and in order to be able to generalize to the
rest of the human population, either a more random sample should be obtained or it should be demonstrated that the ad hoc
sample does not differ from the general population with respect to cognitive functioning.
It may also be case that the study needs a larger sample in order to yield a normal distribution of data.
Several possibilities exist for future exploration of research
regarding dual processing theory. Perhaps if the brain activity and blood flow
are measured while the study is conducted, researchers may gain insight into what regions in the brain are used during the
cognitive processes under investigation. Such measurements might also provide
evidence that either supports or contradicts dual processing theory itself. It
is possible that dual processing theory may help explain the phenomena of orthodoxy, and the idea deserves further investigation. Perhaps culturally orthodoxical ideas can be used in the syllogisms and be compared
to non orthodoxical ideas as one way of investigating the possibility of dual processing and orthodoxy. Also, in a similar line of reasoning, perhaps ideas involving cultural norms could be tested against each
other in order to investigate the role of environment on what De Neys (2006) calls the belief based heuristic system.
De Neys, W. (2006). Dual processing in reasoning: two systems but one reasoner.
Psychological Science, 17, 428-433.
Gilovich, T., Griffin, D.,
& Kahneman, D. (Eds.) (2002). Heuristics and biases: The
intuitive judgment. New York: Cambridge
Appendix: Table 1
March 20, 2007
A Warning to
You might notice that lately I've begun to talk
about topics that are more controversial than ones I've covered in the past. I
should warn you now, I will write from time to time about religion, atheism, polyamory, and human sexuality. I may cover other controversial topics, but those are the ones I can think of at the moment. I often have positions on these topics that might not be considered mainstream, and you may in fact find
them offensive if they go against what you were taught and what you believe. If
you have questions about something I write about, or if you disagree, you are more than welcome to email me. That being said, if you do disagree or find something offensive, I believe that we can discuss the matter
like calm, rational adults. Let us talk about it in such a way.
Evolution in Mollusks
Evolution is a topic that I find very interesting,
and recently I had to write a short essay about it for my biology lab, so I thought I might share it with you. Enjoy!
Biological evolution is the name given to the process by which
genetic change occurs in a line of decent. Typically, it happens through a process
called microevolution. Microevolution happens as a result of genetic mutations,
natural selection (NS), genetic drift, and gene flow.
One way to explain evolution
is by demonstrating the evolutionary process. In particular, we can discuss evolution
in the context of a model that shows us how a hypothetical species can have variations that eventually cause the groups to
diverge into two groups unable to reproduce with each other in an event called speciation.
We will use a species called the Hypothetical Ancestral Mollusk in this model to show how evolution works.
The Hypothetical Ancestral
Mollusk is a species that has the basic genetic and physical components of all mollusks.
These components manifest themselves as a common body plan found in all species descended from the ancestral mollusk. The common body plan includes a mantle, radula, and ventral foot. The Hypothetical Ancestral Mollusk exists in a salt water environment that already includes at least plant
life. Random genetic mutations cause variability in the feeding behaviors and
anatomy related to feeding. Because of this variability, some of the ancestral
mollusks are better suited to eating algae and only survive in areas rich with algae.
Some of the variant mollusks are better suited to catching and eating other animals, and they are soon only found in
areas in or near the breeding grounds of aquatic animals, perhaps including themselves.
The two groups of ancestral mollusks stay in these separate habitats, and eventually accumulate genetic differences
until the groups can no longer mate with each other and become separate species.
The variant group that lives
in areas rich in algae eventually becomes known as the snail. Snails at first
live wherever algae is plentiful, and later radiate when further mutation allows them to have a more varied diet and move
onto land. The snail has a radula that results in competition with other snails
and mollusks for food. The competition is a result of the steady increase in
the snail population, or perhaps a climate change that decreases the amount of algae available. Genetic mutations cause variations in radula in snails, which allows some snails to scrape algae off of
rocks, and others to actually drill holes in the shells of other mollusks in order to eat them. Genetic variability also results in a foot that allows some snails to move faster and to move across more
surfaces. Eventually, these snails are able to go to different habitats, including
ones on land, to feed on untapped food supplies. The foot allows the snails to
reach food sources that other animals can not, including other snails. Variability
in genes that control the mantle causes snails to secrete a hard substance with the mantle.
Predation selects for the snails that create a hard shell with the mantle, because those without a shell are eaten
first. The characteristics associated with snails help them have more offspring
for several reasons. For example, snails with unique radula that allow them to
feed on organisms without competition will see their population steady increase because of the lack of competition. An advanced foot will allow snails to radiate and begin to populate new areas. A hard shell helps snails have more offspring because it reduces the number of snails eaten by predators.
The second group of variants
of the Hypothetical Ancestral Mollusk specializes in catching and eating other animals, and eventually accumulates genetic
variation until it is known as the squid. The hypothetical early squid lives
in and near the breeding grounds of their prey, which might be other mollusks or small fish.
The usefulness of movement in its predatory diet causes genes that improve physical attributes of movement to be selected
for. The variants in this group that are more successful in hunting are able
to spend more time, energy, and nutrients on having offspring, and are therefore able to have more and healthier offspring. Appendages that aid the squid in catching prey are selected for because the ability
for squid to eat a variety of animals, including mobile animals, increases the likelihood that the squid will survive changes
in prey populations and be able to pass on its genetic information. A mouth with
a beak also allows the squid to eat the most valuable parts of its prey and increases the efficiency of its digestive tract. The ability to maneuver is important to hunting as well as avoiding predators, and
so a mantle that has fins are selected for. A shell tends to be heavy and slow
the flow of water across the squid, so the genes for the production of a shell are selected against until it becomes vestigal. A foot that is aligned with the head will also improve water flow in a squid,
as well as allow for the development of a siphon, and so the alignment is selected for.
The development of a siphon and inksac are selected for by predation. The
better a squid can escape predators, the more likely it will survive to pass its genetic information on to offspring.
The proposed hypothetical model shows how squid and snails might have evolved from the Hypothetical Ancestral Mollusk. The unique changes in the radula, foot, mantle, and shell helped the snail and the
squid adapt to their new habitats. We have mentioned how the variations in the
Hypothetical Ancestral Mollusk were the result of genetic mutations. We have
also discussed how the food supply in different habitats might cause two variations of the ancestral mollusk to undergo speciation
into squid and snails. Environmental factors, such as the kind of food available
and presence of predators, were shown to select for particular traits in the variants of the ancestral mollusk. The fact that the squid and snail are descended from a common ancestor demonstrates how random mutations
might help an organism survive and reproduce more successfully when the surrounding environment changes.
March 14, 2007
Today, I wrote a description
of UNC and other psychology schools for someone who is decided on where to pursue his/her studies. Here's what I wrote. It might give you an idea of what the
best schools are in this area for psychology (as far as I can tell), as well as what it is like studying psychology at UNC.
Well, the schools I know have
all of your criteria except for the first. That being said, a big school isn't
necessarily a bad thing. True, if you end up taking biology 101 or chemistry
101 at UNC, you might end up with a class of 300 to 400. However, none of my
psych classes have been larger than 80, and most are about 25. I think the required
classes are the ones that are around 80. Even then, the instructors have been
very accessible and respond to emails quickly. They always encourage students
to visit them during office hours. Also, if you're able to find a branch of psychology
that is your favorite, there are usually not more than 5 to 10 professors in each category.
Of course, I can tell you more about UNC than the other schools I know of, but I may be able to point you in the right
direction. North Carolina also has Duke University
and North Carolina State. They combine with UNC for the best 3 schools in NC for psychology. The only school I would recommend in South Carolina for psychology is
the University of South Carolina,
but they do have an excellent program that is highly regarded. There is also
the University of South Florida in Tampa, which is committed to high standards in psych research. In Georgia, I think your best schools
will probably be near and in Atlanta. For the best foundation in scientific research, you might find that these larger schools are your best
bet. Also, I think you will find many more research opportunities with these
schools. I know someone who graduated from Clemson last year with a psych degree,
and she said she didn't do any research there. At UNC, we're required to take
a statistics class for psych majors, as well as a research methods class, which I'm taking this semester. For our final project, we're designing and running our own experiments in groups, and writing reports on
them in science journal format. Also, at UNC all full time professors conduct
research, and you can browse the department's website to find each person's research interests, and email them to volunteer
to help them with their research. It's best to do that the first week or two
of classes each semester. Also, undergraduates can participate in research for
credit. I'm planning on applying to the honors program for the psych department. I'll be expected to conduct my own studies and do a senior thesis on them for that. Anyway, that hopefully gives you a taste of what the better schools have to offer. Let me know if you have any questions. -Andrew
Lately, I've been writing
in a Myspace group, and I entered into a discussion about sexuality, and the fact that Myspace had started restricting the
group access to adults over 18. The group is based on polyamory, which I recommend
a google on polyamory to find out more about it. I'll write about it more at
some point. Anyway, here's something I wrote:
Well, I suppose there are
so-called sexual predators on the internet. I've always wondered about the term, however, since in biology a predator is an
organism that hunts/catches prey in order to eat it. I think our society goes too far in order to protect children, although
I think it is valid to protect children from unhealthy relationships with people much older than them. That being said, I
think we often go too far and decide to protect children from sexuality entirely. We prevent them from spending any time in
private with members of the opposite sex their own age, which is a mistake. I think that practice, along with promoting ignorance
regarding sexuality and sexual health, results in immature young adults who often have to then spend their first few years
away from their parents exploring their sexuality away from a responsible mentor.
The group talked a bit more
about sexual predators, and I wrote:
I think people under 18 should
be free to discuss sex openly. How better way for them to learn to protect themselves? If they don't feel like they have someone
to talk to about it, how can we expect them to report abuse if it occurs? Anyway, I think I do remember reading about how
sitles like google video and youtube were becoming stricter in order to have access to markets like China, and it may be the same for social net sites.
Someone then quoted that last
paragraph and asked me if I am the parent of the teenager. The person went on
to say that all parents of teenagers would feel strongly against random adults talking to their teenager(s). The person then said that it is unethical, that it won't help protect teenagers, and that it would make
the members of the group seem like sexual predators.
So I wrote in response:
I apologize in advance for
dissecting your post and relentlessly responding to each point. However, I think
I made valid points, and I feel strongly about the topic, so I believe I must defend my ideas when criticized.
I meant in society at large
rather than specifically on myspace and in this group, but I'll defend my point in both arenas.
I am not the parent of a teenager. However, I don't think one can make a blanket statement about parents with teenagers. A statistical survey of parents of teenagers may find that a majority are against
random adults speaking to the teenagers about sex, but I think it's unlikely that the percentage would be 100. Also, I think there are few to no actual random adults speaking to teenagers about sex. Sex educators in schools are chosen by schools and school boards for their training and experience. Adults seeking relationships with teenagers do so according so some kind of criteria. And, in the situation I was referring to, a teenager might select an online group
to ask questions about sex based on his or her own preferences.
Even if random adults speaking
to teenagers about sex were unethical, on what grounds do you base this statement? An
ethical system is a system of ideas and standards by which people make decisions and base behavior upon. Very few people are capable of unethical behavior. In fact,
only people with severe cognitive dysfunctions are capable of truly random and therefore unethical behavior. I suspect you mean that unethical refers to beliefs and practices that do not coincide with those of society
at large. However, society uses a blend of many ethical systems. Any one belief or behavior can go against any ethical system, depending on instance and interpretation. I personally tend to use rule-utilitarianism combined with virtue ethics.
Alas, I don't have scientific
evidence to offer you that will support my claim, but I might if it were not for society's Victorian/Puritan approach to sex
and sex research.
It may make us look like predators
(in the social sense rather than the biological) if we had adults propositioning underage teenagers here, but that (to my
knowledge) hasn't happened, and that was not the practice I was advocating. I
was proposing that teenagers could benefit from being able to discuss sex openly with whomever they choose, including adults
here in this group.
In another thread (string
of messages) in that same group, I posted a topic called "Polygamy/Polyandry and Marriage Lobbying." Here's my original post:
Does anyone know of a lobbyist
group asking Congress to overturn anti-polygamy/polyandry laws? It seems like Mormon fundamentalists, polyamorists, and pro-plural
marriage Muslims would be able to afford lawyers to challenge the laws. I guess the U.S.
isn't quite ready for that yet, but I did hear in a human sexuality class that similar laws were being challenged in Canada. Unfortunately, I don't know of any specific cases,
but I can try to look some info up. Are there thoughts from the group on the topic?
I did receive some responses. Most seemed to agree that current adultery laws should be the focus of the efforts
of the polyamory community. I wrote in response:
I can understand not wanting
to rock the boat too much and attracting discrimination and hatred. From what I can tell about U.S. history, though, minority groups have usually had to make alot of noise and
be in the public eye before major changes took place and more freedom granted. True, the gay marriage lobby has had some setbacks,
but I think the polls (for what they're worth) show that people under 40 tend to be strongly in favor of gay rights, so it's
only a matter of time. Plus, last fall's election results, gay marriage questions aside, seem to indicate that the country
has reached its limit on the conservative agenda overall.
The posts that followed addressed
the following topics:
Two articles that were suggested to the group
by a member
The definition of marriage itself and its necessity
The stereo type that Mormons still practice polygamy
The best way to seek to have laws changed or overturned
Here is my response:
I have read everyone's post,
and I also read the articles that Teufel posted links to. The Virginia
article was an interesting piece on the history and status of adultery laws, and I think the Michigan article may indicate a situation where state governments could indeed prosecute
polyamorous people. However, I think the public would probably quickly tire of
polyamorous people being investigated and jailed over violent offenders.
I have mixed thoughts and
feelings about the idea of marriage itself, but I started this thread to see what people knew about the status of polyamorous
groups/communities/organizations and relevant civil rights issues.
I was afraid that I would
be interpreted as using the Mormon fallacy, but I tried to take care to write Fundamentalist Mormon. Fundamentalist Mormons are a small minority group that practices polygamy a bit more openly than others.
Morality is indeed a basis
and the only basis I know of for writing laws. It just so happens that Democrats,
Republicans, conservatives, and liberals happen to disagree about which ethical system is to be used in each category of law
making, and which interpretation of the ethical system is valid. Note that a
group's position is not always based on rationality, science, or logic. Also,
one can often point out inconsistencies in a set of political ideals. This happens
because of human nature. Specifically, it happens because humans are social animals
and function as such.
Because of the Supremacy Clause
in the constitution, the federal government can indeed legislate on any issue. It
just so happens that there are few federal laws regarding this matter, so the states are able to address it on a case by case
A decision by the federal
Supreme Court may be a step forward for polyamorous people, but if I remember correctly, the passing of laws guaranteeing
rights tend to add the needed legitimacy and precedence for a rights seeking group.
Also, from what I know about the women's rights movement, civil rights movement, and gay rights movement, a minority
group tends to have to make a good bit of noise before society at large will pay attention and become aware of the issues
at hand. Now, legal decisions may be one way for people to become aware of a
minority's situation, but I propose that unless that minority gets the public's attention in an organized way, the general
public won't even be aware or fully aware of the minority group's existence.
March 6, 2007
As you may recall from my
blog (at socrates8181nc.tripod.com), last semester I became interested in how abnormal behavior is defined by both society
and the mental health community. At the beginning of this semester, our first
assignment in my research class was to propose a study, and I proposed one on ostracism and personality disorders (January
24, 2007 entry). My research partner and I have decided to pursue a similar study
for our final project in the class. For yesterday the 5th, we had to write a
summary of the literature we've reviewed. Later it can serve as the introduction
section of our final project, although mine will probably be modified. I was
about to tell you all about the study, but then I realized some of the subjects might be people I know that read this blog. Probably not more than one or two, but I guess I should wait until we've collected
our data to tell you all about it. Sigh.
Religion and Science
Instead I'll write about faith,
science, and religion for a bit….
A while back, someone told
me that you cannot have religion without science, and you cannot have science without religion. I may have misinterpreted what the person meant by that, but I'll try to respond to every possibility that
I can think of. I could write pages and pages, probably even books about this
one topic, but I'll try to stay concise.
I disagree with the assertion
that you can not have religion without science, for a number of reasons. If I
take the statement literally, it might mean that organized religion can not exist without scientists and scientific ideas. Christianity used little to no science from the time it was born until at least Thomas
Aquinas. For centuries, Christianity was derived from the traditions and myths
of many Middle Eastern cultures, and scientific ideas and methods were few and far between.
So what else could it mean
when someone says you cannot have religion without science? That you can't have
religion without rational thought? Organized ideas? Physical observations? While you can't have science without
these things, one or more of them does not equal science or the scientific method, if you distinguish between the two. The scientific method is a process of inquiry that involves both empirical observation
and rational thought in an attempt to explain what is observed. One of its key
tenants is that the hypotheses that scientists generate are tested systematically using standard measurements that can be
duplicated. Everything in science is tentative; new evidence can overturn old
findings and theories if the new evidence is sufficient. However, religion tends
to make assertions about the truth that are enshrined and rarely open to debate by the majority of the population of followers.
You can have science without
religion. Science uses empiricism and rationalism to seek truth. Religion may also use them to a degree, but to my knowledge religion always also uses intuition, tenacity,
and authority to dictate truth to its followers. Perhaps the person who told
me you cannot have science without religion meant that you cannot have science without faith.
This is an unfortunate point that I often see when science and religion are debated.
Faith, as in religious faith, is a belief in the supernatural or a religious idea despite a lack of evidence or rational
explanation. When someone uses the term faith in a conversation about science
and religion, they usually do not mean faith as in the trust we place in our senses, instruments, etc. If they do, they must specifically say so, and this seems to indicate to me that the definition of religious
faith is the default. Anyway, even if one were to say that you cannot have science
without some kind of trust in your senses, logic, or scientific instruments, the point does nothing to support the statement
that you cannot have science without religion, because you need these things to communicate anything coherently at all. Likewise, scientists and students of science are taught to be skeptics; we will always
say "show me the evidence." Religious faith implies that we either ignore evidence
against our religious ideas or we simply feel compelled to believe them despite the evidence we are provided to the contrary. Faith as religious faith is not a component of science. Religious faith and science are opposites.
February 21, 2007
Evolutionary Psychology, Personality, and Health
Well, I had my first all - nighter at UNC Sunday night. I was working on my latest major assignment
in my Lab Research for Psychology class. Believe me, I'd rather not have pulled an all-nighter. I thought it would
take me about 5 hours to finish the assignment, but five hours turned into 16. So, I figured I'd share the fruits of
my labor. Hopefully, it's a decent peice of work and it was worth it. I realize that my psychology papers are
getting more and more technical. If there's anything you don't understand, please feel free to ask me about it.
I don't usually get any feedback, except that they are interesting... I can write some less technical explanations if need
be. Anyway, here goes.
The study of personality and
its relationship with health has regained popularity lately, and the relatively new field of evolutionary psychology may offer
an explanation for the association between socially desirable personality traits and good health. Because primates tend to have a natural limit on the size of groups they can comprehend, personality may
act as a form of selection in the evolution of humans. I therefore propose that
socially desirable personality traits will lead to better health.
The human neocortex may impose
a limit on the number of people it allows us to consider part of our group (Dunbar, 1992). If this is true, when the number
of friends we have exceeds this limit, we will be forced to choose who we keep as members of our group, and who is rejected. Therefore, inclusion and ostracism are important selection factors on human evolution,
because being rejected by your group will increase the likelihood that you will not pass on your genes (Dawkins, 1989). It then follows that being included and even favored by your group will increase the
likelihood that you will have offspring (Starr, 2006). It has been shown that
people that score high in extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness tend to be more
socially successful, for various reasons (Larsen & Buss, 2008). Because high
scores on the aforementioned personality traits will lead to social success, I propose that they will be strongly associated
with overall health, and thus will demonstrate a negative association with the least healthy people. I also submit that high scores on the Five Factor personality model will accurately predict academic performance
as demonstrated by grade point average. Smith (2006) found evidence to support
these claims, although the measurement of reaction time appeared to explain the relationship between low IQ and death (Dreary
& Der, 2005).
The participants included
220 subjects and approximately 13 administrators. Students enrolled in the Laboratory
Research in Psychology class for the spring 2007 semester at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were subjects. The administrators were teaching assistants for each section of the class, plus the lecturer and coordinating
instructor. The subjects reported to room 110 of Davie Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill to participate in the study during their regularly scheduled class time.
Each subject sat in front of one of the standard computers for the room and turned on the monitor. Then each subject logged in to his or her computer according to the particular class section and password
for his or her section. Next, he or she double clicked the BCR icon on the desktop
display to activate the BCR program. Each subject then went into the available
studies listed in the software and selected the file for the personality and health study.
The subjects followed prompts that appeared on the computer screens that gave directions and asked specific questions.
The first 50 items of the
study were questions taken from the International Personality Item Pool. They
were used to measure the five personality factors. The names of the factors are
Intellect, Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness.
Each factor was evaluated according to the average response to ten questions about that factor.
The next 28 items of the study
were reaction time tasks, which were recorded as geometric mean reaction times. They
were followed by 28 items of the choice reaction time task. The data consist
of geometric mean reaction times and the geometric mean reaction times for correct responses.
The third data set evaluated health behaviors according to the
inventory proposed by Vickers, Conway, & Hervig (1990). The data consist
of the average response for the factors of Wellness Maintenance and Enhancement, Accident Control, Traffic Risk, and Substance
Risk. The last data set consisted of five questions about current health status
and one question about the subject's current GPA. The health status questions
evaluated Days Missed Due to Illness, Other Days of Illness, Susceptibility to Minor Illness, Susceptibility to Major Illness,
and Time to Recover. The final question requested the subject's current grade
The study results were saved on the psych 270 networked hard drive,
and later they were compiled by the coordinating instructor into one file for the SPSS statistics program. I combined the measurements of Days Missed Due to Illness and Other Days of Illness in order to determine
the total days unwell. I also combined Susceptibility to Minor Illness and Susceptibility
to Major Illness to find the susceptibility to any illness.
The average overall score on the Five Factor Personality Model
was positively correlated with Grade Point Average (r = .08, p = .26). Average
overall score on the Five Factor Personality Model and the total days unwell were negatively correlated (r = -.19, p <
.05). Average overall score on the Five Factor Personality Model and the susceptibility
to any illness were also negatively correlated (r = -.23, p < .05).
I hypothesized that the average overall score on the Five Factor Personality Model will be strongly associated with
overall health. I also proposed that the overall score on the Five
Factor Personality Model would be associated with Grade Point Average. The data
gathered from the study appears to support my hypothesis, although the association between overall score on the Five Factor
Personality Model and Grade Point Average is not very significant. It is possible
that social inclusiveness may play a part in the relationship between personality and health.
In order to evaluate the relationship between inclusiveness, personality, and health, an objective and measurable definition
of inclusiveness should be found in order to be included in the study. Also,
the study can be improved by using different sampling methods. For example, a
more random sample could be obtained by using an automatic dialing computer with data from a local phone book to ask individuals
to take part in the study. It may be the case that the study needs larger samples
in order to get normal sized distribution of data. Average number of hours of
sleep per night may help explain both higher average scores on reaction tests and long term health, and it therefore also
(1989) The Selfish Gene. 30th anniversary edition, Oxford University Press,
New York, NY, 1-45.
Deary, I. J.
& Der, G. (2005). Reaction time explains IQ's association with death. Psychological Science, 16, 64-69.
Dunbar, R.I.M. (1992) Neocortex size as a constraint on
group size in primates, Journal of Human Evolution 22: 469-493.
International Personality Item Pool: A Scientific
Collaboratory for the Development of Advanced Measures of Personality Traits and Other Individual Differences (http://ipip.ori.org/).
Internet Web Site.
Larsen, R & Buss, D. (2008) Personality Psychology. Third edition, McGraw Hill, New York, NY, 86-91, 275-276.
Smith, T. W. (2006). Personality as risk and resilience
in physical health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 227-231.
(2006) Biology: Concepts and Applications. Sixth Edition, Thomson Brooks/Cole,
Belmont, CA, 238-257, 780-794.
Vickers, R. R., Jr., Conway, T. L., & Hervig,
L. K. (1990). Demonstration of replicable dimensions of health behaviors. Preventive Medicine, 19, 377-401.
February 10, 2007
Language, Instinct, Evolution, and Gestures
In my research for psychology
class, we were recently given the assignment to do some observing of people and create a study on how gestures relate to language. I thought to myself, "Well that's not very interesting." However, when I went to read one of the two recommended articles for the assignment, I learned that the
article was actually by a scientist who was presenting evidence that language evolved in humans through gestures. Now, that is indeed interesting to me. The leading theory
as of right now is that language evolved from primate calls. Anyway, this was
a first time I wrote the basics in what could be a scientific research report. Of
course, our study wasn't done in a controlled environment, and our sampling methods were to basically record data until we
had as much as we wanted, so the actual data isn't worth much. But it did allow
me to get my feet wet and to experience doing a study from start to finish. Here's
my research report, without further ado. Please let me know if you find it interesting
or if you have any questions.
Oh, and by the way, you can
go to http://www.myspace.com/99210631
to see and hear music, pictures, and videos of me and people/things I enjoy on
Evidence of evolution in homo
sapiens is becoming more important to the field of psychology as both biologists and psychologists realize its potential. A particular point of contention is the evolutionary source of human spoken language. (Corballis, M. C, 2003) While the dominant
theory seems to be that the use of language derived from primate calls, some scientists believe the evidence supports the
evolution of language through gestures. (Corballis, M. C, 2003) No matter how the evidence is interpreted, it seems as though the ability and way humans use both language
and gestures is at least partly instinctive. (Pinker, 2002) If both language and gestures are instinctive, it stands to reason that people will continue to use gestures
at the same rate when they are talking to someone not physically present as when he or she is standing in front of him or
her. To demonstrate this point, we propose that the rate of gestures will be
nearly the same rate for people on cell phones compared to those who are talking to someone in front of them. The rate of gestures per minute of people without cell phones will have a correlation rate of at least
.8 at the .05 significance level with the rate of gestures per minute for people with cell phones.
We first conducted a test of our observation method to make sure we defined what we meant by gesture clearly. We decided to use the upper level of the Undergraduate Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The upper level has a hallway with several tall windows that give a good bird's eye view of the university courtyard. A view of the observation area from above allowed us to collect our data without having
to move around. It also prevented our subjects from seeing us and realizing that
we were watching them. We defined a gesture as a body movement that accompanied
talking and was not for handling objects or balance. One group of subjects was
observed while each was talking to someone in front of him or her, while another sample group consisted of people on cell
phones. After several successful test runs, the group met in the same area a
week later. Whenever a member of the group pointed out a possible subject, the
group would discuss whether or not to begin recording data. Some possible subjects
were rejected, because they were too distant, behind an object that obstructed a clear view, or because they stopped their
conversation before they could be recorded for at least 30 seconds. Once the
group agreed on a subject, we would begin counting the number of gestures made. We decided that 30 seconds was the minimum
amount of time someone would converse to be recorded, and 120 seconds was the maximum.
The number of gestures observed when either the conversation stopped or the 120 second maximum was reached was recorded
for each subject. We observed and recorded data for ten subjects who were talking
to someone in front of them, and ten who were talking on a cell phone. The Pit
became almost empty when we had data for just a few subjects, so we moved to the second floor of the Student Union building
and recorded most of our data there. The last few cell phone subjects were at
the bus stop near the back of the Student Union building.
A low correlation was found between subjects without cell phones and subjects with cell phones (r = .369, p > .05). Inter-rater reliability for measuring gestures was high (r = .766, p< .05)(r =
.838, p < .05)(r = .738, p < .05)(r = .676, p < .05)(r = .785, p < .05)(r = .852, p < .05).
We hypothesized the rate of gestures per minute of people without cell phones would have a correlation rate of at least
.8 at the .05 significance level with the rate of gestures per minute for people with cell phones. The data gathered in the study does not appear to support it. However,
because there were so few constraints on the study, a true test of the hypothesis was not able to be performed. The results may mean that gestures are not as instinctive as we thought, or that they need both audio and
visual stimulation in order to be triggered. Research shows that language abilities
and tendencies are strongly instinctive, but they also support the idea that they need to be triggered. (Pinel, 2007) The study can be improved by using different
sampling methods. For example, a more random sample could be obtained by using
an automatic dialing computer with data from a local phone book to ask individuals to take part in the study. It may be the case that the study needs larger samples in order to get normal sized distribution of data. The study might be much more generalizable if it were conducted in a controlled environment. Also, a future study might include a group of blind people and deaf people in order
to test the idea that visual and audio cues are needed to induce gestures. The
two groups could further be subdivided into those born with deafness or blindness, and those who are affected by it starting
in adulthood. Such a subdivision may reveal insight about the possible need for
vision and hearing in the development of gestures.
(2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. The Penguin Group, New York, NY,
220 - 221.
Pinel, J. (2007).
Basics of Biopsychology. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA, 444 - 477.
Corballis, M. C. (2003). From mouth to hand: Gesture,
speech, and the evolution of right-handedness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 199-260.
January 29, 2007
A few days ago I think I had an epiphany, of sorts. I realized that in a span of about two and a half years, I had become increasingly aware of the fact that
I will one day die, and it may be sooner than later. From September 11, 2001
to January 17, 2004, I received a reminder about my own mortality about once every few months.
September 11, 2001
I suppose I don't need to say a whole lot about this, except that I didn't react so much with anger as I did with concern
for the people that were affected by the attacks. I'm sure many people joined
with me in feeling just a little less safe, at least for a while.
Death of "Kitty" (circa March 2002)
While my parents were building their new house, they stayed at Spring Creek in Simpsonville, SC across
the parking lot from my brother's family. Apparently, Kitty, aka "Fat Boy" and
"Sable," wasn't happy there because when he escaped one day, maybe he tried to find his way back to house he lived in for
twelve years or so. At any rate, when he was found, he was taken to the vet's
office for my parents to pick him up. They did a routine check on him, and found
that he had one or more tumors on his jaw. The first time I saw him after that,
he was off to himself in my parent's apartment in their guest room closet. When
I called to him, he came out of the closet and I saw that his tail was matted because he was no longer cleaning himself. About half an hour later, when he tried to eat some hard food, blood, mucus, and saliva
were dripping down from his jaw. When I brought it to my mom's attention, she
gasped and said "What are we going to do?" I said, "We have to take him to the
vet." The next day, she called and told me she had gotten an appointment that
day. I was unemployed at the time, so I met her at the apartment and we took
him together. Later that day, after we had put him down, she told me "Pets can
die suddenly like that sometimes. So can people."
When someone close to you dies suddenly, you're taken on a rollercoaster of emotions.
But I get ahead of myself.
Chest Pain (circa 2002 - 2003)
Well, all the hours I spent hunched in my cheap chair at my computer started to take their toll. My chest began to have a dull pain. At first it was very occasional,
but eventually it happened on a regular basis. I started to become a bit worried,
so I went to the doctor and asked him about it. His nurse did an EEG just to
make sure, and it turned out perfect. Thank goodness for good news.
Devastating Virus (circa mid January 2003)
No one likes having a stomach/intestinal virus, but this was the worst illness I've ever had. For the first 2 or 3 days, I could only manage to get out of bed, in a daze, to go to the bathroom to vomit
or have diarrhea. I wasn't able to get out of bed or eat for a couple of more
days. I spent two weeks home from work, and during the second and third week
of my illness, another opportunistic virus affected my upper respiratory area. I
think I went from weighing about 160 pounds to 140. Now that I think about it,
I probably should have spent a few days in the hospital, but once the virus had hit me full force, all I could do was drink
water and sleep in bed. I really didn't think to call someone, because I thought
I'd be back on my feet in a day or two. I'm not sure why I didn't call anyone
after the first couple of days. Needless to say, I wouldn't wish that experience
Club Fire (February 20, 2003)
When I got home from work that night, I turned on my computer, as usual, and went to aol.com. The news portion of the site showed a story on the Rhode Island
fire that killed 96 people that night and 4 more later. I first learned about
the fire probably an hour after it happened. What was remarkable about it was
the fact that the fire had been recorded on video, at least the first nine minutes or so of it. It was probably on the 21st that I saw the video for the first time.
I didn't know then that it was possible to be traumatized by a video, but research has documented the fact that thousands
of people that didn't have any friends or family killed by the 9/11 attacks have been treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
possibly because they watched it on video. I have mixed feelings about the club
fire video. On the one hand, I want people to watch it so that they can experience
first hand why fire safety is so important. On the other, I still have nightmares
about it, and whenever I go to a club I find all of the alternate exits and make sure to point them out to everyone that is
with me. I suppose that could be a good thing.
You can find the first three minutes of the video on Youtube. I recommend
that you read some articles about the fire before you watch the video. It's probably
best not to watch the video more than once.
Invasion of Iraq
(March 20, 2003)
Once again, video provided us with a view of death from afar. I was very
interested in the politics and events surrounding the invasion, so I inevitably was confronted with images of both civilians
and soldiers that had been wounded or killed. I hope one day I'll be in a position
to help prevent violence from happening.
Death of Best Friend (January 17, 2004)
Around noon on Saturday January 18th I got a message on my answering machine.
I figured it was probably one of many messages left by telemarketers, so I waited until I took a shower to listen to
it. My nephew's birthday party was that day, and I was going to listen to the
message on my way out the door. It was a message from Nick's brother, asking
me to call him back. That of course made me nervous, but I told myself that it
probably had to do something with wedding pictures, since Nick had gotten married in October of the previous year. Instead, he told me that Nick had a stroke and that he was pretty much brain dead now. I was devastated and in shock for months. I think at that
point I had already turned my life around, and had been going to school part time, as well as gotten more restaurant management
experience. Nick's death was the final and biggest reminder of the fragility
of life, and how important it is for me to no longer waste time feeling sorry for myself because of my depression and missed
opportunities. It was now, more than ever, time to live a full life in a way
that would make Nick proud. I hope I'm doing a good job.
January 24, 2007
Inevitably, at the beginning of every semester
I end up having to adjust my sleep wake cycle, because during a vacation I tend to sleep from 2am to 10am. Now I have to get up at 6:30am, so my body is experiencing some lag. Yesterday,
I tried to study in the library after my class and wasn't able to stay awake. So
I went home, thinking I would sleep for a couple of hours and then be able to get some work done. Wrong. Some days I'll be able to work for hours on end, and
others only for a short time before I get restless. Luckily, when it comes to
doing assignments for grades and studying for tests I'm able to be more self disciplined.
Maybe I should stop rambling and show you some things I've been working on.
Research Methods Class
This semester, I'm taking a class on research
methods for psychology. I'm enjoying it so far, because it gives me a chance
to learn how to conduct scientific research. It also involves designing an experiment
with a partner and writing a research paper for the first time, which makes it a very important class indeed. Our first assignment was to come up with ideas for an experiment, and to specify things like method, variables,
and definitions. My instructor was impressed with the creativity of it, although
it needs some more development. We were told our limit was about one page, so
I wasn't able to go into great detail. Turns out she is flexible about the length
of assignments, so I won't have to worry about that next time. I thought I would
go ahead and share it with you. If it's not your cup of tea, feel free to skip
it and go to the next section.
The field of abnormal psychology
claims that people with personality disorders typically have more difficulty than normal in social situations, because their
behavior often causes those nearby to have a negative attitude towards them. Sometimes,
negative thinking towards a person with a personality disorder from a group is so strong that the group begins to ostracize
him or her. Since humans evolved as social animals, the practice of ostracism
may act as both punishment and a way to select against the genes of those with abnormal personalities.
I propose that a member of
a group that displays behaviors identified as characteristics of a personality disorder in the DSM IV - TR will be most likely
to become ostracized by the other members of the group. The amount of desire
of the other group members to ostracize the individual with a personality disorder will depend on the severity of the symptoms
in the individual.
The following experiment will
serve as a testing method for the hypothesis stated above. The subjects of the
experiment will be randomly placed into groups of 5. Each group will spend one
hour playing ice breaker games. Afterwards, they will be asked to fill out a
questionnaire to evaluate the other group members. The control groups in the
experiment will not be manipulated. However, in the experimental groups, a confederate
will simulate behaviors and traits associated with a personality disorder according to the DSM IV - TR. The confederate will show either mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of a personality disorder. The experimenter will measure the responses of the ostracism related questions on the questionnaire and
compare the control and experimental groups. The level of desire to ostracize
the confederates in the experimental groups compared to the control groups will be of particular interest. Accordingly, the independent variable is the presence of a confederate simulating a personality disorder,
while the dependent variable is the level of desire to ostracize the confederate in the other group members. In this study, ostracism is defined as banishing or excluding an individual from a group. A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of experience and behavior that differs greatly from the
expectations of the individual's culture. The experiment is based on current
research on ostracism, including Williams' model of ostracism. It is also based
on the descriptions and diagnosis guidelines for personality disorders in the DSM IV - TR.
A few things in my proposal
need to be further developed before it is ready to be the basis for an experiment. What
will the questionnaire ask? I was thinking, when I wrote the proposal, that it
would ask questions about the personality of the other members of the group, probably along the lines of the "Big 5" categories. If you're not familiar with the Big 5, they are 5 categories of personality traits
that people have found to be associated with each other. Perhaps I'll write more
about that later. Anyway, the questionnaire will also ask which member of the
group they would vote out, if they had to pick one. The idea is that the stronger
the symptoms of a personality disorder the confederate showed, the more likely the other members of the group would select
them to be voted out. I did talk with my instructor at the end of class when
we got our assignment back, and I came up with the idea that instead of having everyone fill out a questionnaire, the experimenter
could instead simply observe and record behavior that indicate ostracism. This
will entail a more detailed definition of ostracism, and will require more study of the topic on my part.
My Approach to Human Behavior
This proposed experiment ties
into some ideas that I developed last semester during my abnormal psychology class.
One idea is that human behavior, including personalities, can often be plotted as data points on a graph, and that
a distribution can be created that displays observed behavior. For our third
paper, one of our possible questions to address involved whether or not personality disorders actually exist, or if the behavior
associated with them are just extensions or exaggerations of normal behavior. I
tend to lean towards the latter idea. While brainstorming for the paper, I came
up with a possible way to empirically measure what people mean by "abnormal" in a particular culture. First, in the case of personality, you first measure the full range of a particular trait or category of
traits. Next, you conduct an observational study that involves asking people
what behavior they consider to be abnormal. I didn't include this next point
in my paper, but you can test your results by having a group spend time with a confederate in their midst, just like in my
research class proposal. So, in case you're interested in reading my abnormal
psych paper (which will give you some examples of the kind of approach I'm interested in taking with my psychology research),
here it is.
Abnormal Psychology Paper 3
Psych 245 Section
The field of abnormal psychology
often attempts to address the issue of abnormality, and where the line is that separates normal and abnormal. This distinction is especially controversial when it comes to the freedom of an individual to choose his
or her habits and what the surrounding society considers to be a mental disorder. At
times, this distinction can shift as a particular society changes. Homosexuality
used to be called a mental health disorder in the United States, but now it is more and
more often regarded as a neutral variation in behavior. Probability and statistics
may be used to help pinpoint where the line is drawn between normal and abnormal for each particular culture. If specific behaviors and traits are isolated and measured with proper forms of sampling, it is possible
that observers can plot a chart of the distribution of data points that are collected.
All human behaviors or traits can be measured and will form either a two tailed or one tailed distribution, and the
line between normal and abnormal is always designated by either the critical t value of the distribution or one of the two
critical values. In other words, the line that exists between normal and abnormal
behavior and functioning in a culture is designated by the alpha level of the distribution, and each culture may have a different
alpha level. (Sullivan 517)
Measurement of human traits
and actions can be done through observation, and perhaps to a less accurate degree, with self reporting. Probability and statistics shows us that in order for a sample to be random and therefore be generalizable
to the population we wish to study, each individual must have an equal change of being selected and measured. Therefore, a study of college students from eighteen to twenty two years of age will allow us to find the
distributions for that group, but in order for the findings to be applicable to the entire population, a random selection
of people from the entire population should be used. Next, a separate study can
be conducted to determine the average point at which a society no longer considers something normal. Once the findings are displayed in a distribution table, the body of the distribution will represent normality,
and the tail will contain data points that are believed to be abnormal and maladaptive.
Some studies will result in a two tailed distribution, while others will show only one.
The measurement of personality
traits is one example of the method of statistical sampling used to define abnormality.
First, the experimenters could identify key personality traits to measure. Social
responsiveness, the ability and tendency for a person to respond to and function well in a social group, might be one. If social responsiveness is evaluated in terms of adaptiveness, the resulting distribution
might be one tailed because very socially able people are considered healthy and perhaps even successful. However, if the social behavior a person exhibits reaches a certain point of non social responsiveness,
they will be beyond the limit that the culture they are a member of has placed on its members.
In a Western culture, such a person may be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. (Nolen-Hoeksema 435) Each culture may have different cutoff
points for different traits. For example, Western culture favors independence
and assertiveness more than many others might, so the critical value for an acceptable amount of assertiveness will be farther
to the right in the West than it is in Asia.
Another clear example of using
sample distributions to determine how abnormality is defined is when sexual behavior is ascertained and measured. As far as the context of society and what is considered abnormal is concerned, the distribution would be
one tailed. (Gravetter, Wallnau 250) While
sexual restraint is rarely seen as negative in the context of society, lack of control and unusualness are treated as abnormal
and maladaptive. Different cultures have unique levels of sexual permissiveness, which means that the alpha level is a function
of the group being studied. If the Puritan socio-religious sect still existed
today, it might be found to have one of the alpha levels farthest to the left of a right skewed distribution. On the other hand, some Pacific Island cultures are considered very sexually permissive, so they might have a critical
value the farthest to the right.
Cognitive functioning, when
measured and converted into a distribution chart, will arguably have two tails because individuals at either end of the spectrum
of the scale are set apart from others and labeled either gifted or challenged. To
measure cognitive ability, it is probably advisable to do several different studies to ascertain the ability to do many kinds
of problems and remember a variety of material in varying circumstances. If the
resulting distributions are two tailed, people who fall into the right tail are often called talented or gifted, whereas those
in the left tail have a learning disability or are below average. Some societies
might favor certain cognitive abilities over others. A tribal group that hunts
and gathers might favor hand-eye coordination and spatial abilities. On the other
hand, a city state society might favor the ability to use language in advanced ways.
The tribal group will therefore have lower critical values for hand-eye coordination and spatial ability, while having
higher alpha levels for linguistic ability. The city state culture will have
higher critical values for hand-eye coordination and spatial ability along with lower critical values for linguistic abilities.
The use of applied probability
and statistics is a breakthrough for the scientific method, because it allows scientists to perform experiments without having
to spend large amounts of resources. It has, in effect, made science more efficient
by discovering sampling methods that prevent an experimenter from having to collect thousands of samples. Probability and statistics, when applied in a simple way to various aspects of human behavior and functioning,
can give us the answer to where the line is drawn between abnormal and normal. When
actions and traits are sampled well and measured systematically, an accurate distribution graph can be generated for each. Likewise, if humans are observed and surveyed about favorable and acceptable conditions,
the critical value for each distribution can be found. If this method is used
in differing cultures, the variation in alpha levels for cultures can be found and analyzed.
Consequently, this concept will be able to be applied in three different ways.
First, it will allow someone to predict the probability that a randomly selected person will be considered abnormal
or normal for any given trait. Second, it will tell researchers the proportion
of the population that is likely to be suffering from a disorder, is abnormal, or otherwise falls in the critical region for
the trait being described. Third, it suggests a way that the diagnosis of a mental
disorder can be performed within a sliding scale of human behavior and ability, if the distributions are the basis for a hypothesis
test for a particular individual. In a hypothesis test, if the subject's results
fell in the body of the distribution, then they are normal, but if they fall in the critical region, they are abnormal. This method of diagnosis protects the integrity of both the DSM IV-TR and cultural
diversity throughout the world, because it provides researchers with a cutoff point for abnormality that can be calibrated
to different cultures. Furthermore, if a well selected sample is gotten from
individual humans throughout the world, it will provide average distributions and alpha levels for humankind and will be the
source of comparison for all humans.
Gravetter, Frederick J. and Wallnau, Larry B. Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences.
edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007.
Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan. Abnormal Psychology. 4th edition. New York: McGraw Hill,
Sullivan, III, Michael. Statistics: Informed Decisions Using Data. 2nd edition. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
December 28, 2006
High School Model UN at UNC
Building your own website is a challenging and rewarding activity. The main reason I enjoy doing it
is because it gives me a creative outlet. In the case of this site, I have the freedom to decide what goes in it and
what people read. You might remember that I mentioned a couple of months back that I'm doing work for the high school
Model UN conference here at UNC that will take place at the end of March 2007. I'm both director of a committee and
the webmaster for the entire conference. I'd like to invite you to take a look at our website and tell me what you think.
You can copy and paste the address, or click on the link below. The address is: http://www.unc.edu/~cjandrew.
My End of Semester Activities
I know that I have not added
much besides my Christmas list to this site in the last few months.
The reason for this lapse is simple: UNC. In my Biology
class, approximately 24 chapters were covered, and rumor has it that the course is based on Harvard's Biology 101. In
Abnormal Psychology, we covered all but one of the 18 dense chapters in our textbook, and were expected to learn almost all
of the basic information that is in the DSM IV - TR. The DSM IV - TR is the most recent diagnostics manual for mental
illness released by the American Psychiatric Association. You can find more information on it at http://www.dsmivtr.org/2-1faqs.cfm. In my Social Psychology class, we talked about most of the major areas of research in the field. My exam study
guide outlines would sometimes be around 20 pages per exam, and we had four exams and a final cumulative exam. My Statistical
Principles for Psychology class was easy at first, because the first half of the curriculum covered material I had already
been exposed to in my Honors Probability and Statistics class at Greenville Tech. However, the second half of the class
covered what would normally be in the intermediate probability and statistics class, and it became more time consuming and
challenging. Doing one problem involving a Scheffe test by hand was like doing a calculus problem by hand. I also
did a good bit of work with the High School Model UN website, as I mentioned earlier in today's post, as well as continued
work with my psychology research group. Apparently, Dr. Green and John were satisfied with my performance, because Dr.
Green mentioned the possibility of me designing my own experiment next semester. What an opportunity. She even
went so far as to say that I could propose an experiment that goes in a completely different direction. I took that
as a vote of confidence, which I deeply appreciate. We also talked a little about the honors program, and I told her
I was interested. If you would like to read about the UNC Psychology Department Honors Program, you can do so here:
http://psychology.unc.edu/ugrad/honors.htm. Next semester, I'll be signed up for a course called Psych 395, which is basically research work for class credit.
I'll be basically doing the same things I did this semester, plus write a ten page paper. Dr. Green doesn't require
students to write a research paper, but I'm hoping to do so to get the practice in for my honors senior thesis.
A Major Influx of Material to this Site
We'll see how much memory
this free site has, but hopefully it'll allow me to upload a good bit a material. I want to include my class notes,
papers, and figures, my psychology and psychology research ideas, my business ideas, and my fictional writing. This
will allow you to look around at them at your own leisure, as well as give me a place to back up my files. I'll try
to do a good job organizing it so that it is still easy to find your way around the site.
November 30, 2006
Here it is. I have everything ranked by how much I would like to have it. I tried to go down and pick one
thing from each category at a time, starting with PS2 games. I know it's quite a bit, but there have been alot of things
over the last few years that I have wanted but couldn't afford. Poor me. Anyway, enjoy. It's back to studying
and writing papers for me.
Andrew’s 2006 Christmas Wish List
Furniture (our cars are too small to haul furniture,
so we would need it to be delivered)
dark wooden bookcases
small dining room table and 4 chairs
tower/shelf (for over 200 cd’s)
tower/shelf (for over 100 dvd’s and PS2 games)
a blender food processor combo unit
player (my PS2 and Miranda’s player have been having problems lately)
(2nd in series directed by James Cameron)
in the Water
Wars Episode I
Wars Episode II
Wars Episode III
Wars Episode IV
Wars Episode V
Wars Episode VI
to the Future I
to the Future II
to the Future III
Gamecube System and memory card, one additional controller, RF adapter
Gamecube games (if I were to get a gamecube):
Leader: Rogue Squadron II (if I were to get a gamecube)
Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (if I were to get a gamecube)
Smash Bros. Melee (if I were to get a gamecube)
Fox: Assault (if I were to get a gamecube)
Prime (if I were to get a gamecube)
Prime II (if I were to get a gamecube)
Legend Of Zelda: Collector’s Edition (if I were to get a gamecube)
Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest (if I were to get a gamecube)
Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (if I were to get a gamecube)
Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess (if I were to get a gamecube)
Darkness (if I were to get a gamecube)
Playstation 2 Games
Fantasy X – 2
of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
Gear Solid 2: Substance
Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Mega Collection Plus
Wrath of Heaven
Men Legends 2
Wars: Battlefront II
by E.O. Wilson
Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
15. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life
on Earth by RA Fortey
21. Evolution by Mark Ridley
27. Evolving Brains by JM Allman
33. Carroll, R.L. 1988. Vertebrate Paleontology
and Evolution. WH Freeman and Company, New York ISBN 0-7167-1822-7
51. Krakatau: The Destruction
and Reassembly of an Island Ecosystem By Ian Thornton
Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach Eight Edition by John Alcock
Sexual Selection by MB Andersson
The Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest:
Behavioural Ecology and Evolution (Paperback)
by Christophe Boesch, Hedwige Boesch-Achermann
Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (Penguin Press Science)
by Matt Ridley
The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex.By David M. Buss
Evolutionary Psychology: The new science of the mind
by David M. Buss
72. A Natural History of Rape - by Randy Thornhill,
Craig T. Palmer
of Prey by Live
from Black Mountain
the Sun by REM
up and smell the coffee” by the Cranberries
Garbage by Garbage
Like Me by Garbage
Open Door by Evanescence
November 1, 2006
Why I Haven't Written Lately
Why haven’t I updated this site in the last
five weeks or so? Mainly because my school related activities take up most of
my waking hours on weekdays, and on the weekends I’m either doing some kind of extracurricular activity or trying to
allow my brain to recover while I watch football. Sometimes on the weekends I’ll
try to force myself to study, but I tend to be so burned out that I’m only able to do it for a few hours Sunday afternoons
Why This Is A Good Thing
Because of the extremely high academic standards
at UNC, I’m probably learning the material about twice as well and in more detail as at Greenville Tech, but I’m
also spending double the amount of time sitting quietly and studying. Although
I don’t have much fun right now and don’t have as much of a social life as I would like, I think my hard work
will pay off. Someday.
A Typical Wednesday
Today I got up at 6:40 am. I took a shower and got ready for school, and walked out to the bus stop outside our apartment at 7:30. I arrived at my Social Psychology class at 7:50, and class was from 8 to 8:50. Today we finished up the chapter on prejudice.
After my class, I went to Lenoir Dining Hall for a chicken biscuit. Next,
I read the chapter on Schizophrenia for my Abnormal Psychology class, which took me a while because I kept falling asleep
while I did it. I think I finished at around 1pm.
At this time I ate a light lunch and returned to Davis Library to study. I
surveyed several chapters for my Biology class. Now we’re about to begin
my Abnormal Psychology class to talk about Schizophrenia….. (it’s 3:30pm)… here’s my class notes:
The class viewed a 60 Minutes clip on Schizophrenia.
- People with schizophrenia
are not more likely to be randomly violent
- 1/3 people with schizophrenia
are chronic, 1/3 episodic, 1/3 will have one psychotic episode and no further symptoms
- There are a high percentage
of homeless people with a mental illness, and many have schizophrenia – bi-product of deinstitutionalization, mental
- Loss of severe impairment
of “reality” contact
- Not limited to schizophrenia
- Must take culture and
context into consideration
- Symptoms of schizophrenia
may be related to some religious beliefs
- Interference in functioning
Distinguishing between Diagnoses (2 or more symptoms required for diagnosis)
- Length of symptoms
- Schizophrenia: 1 month
acute symptoms with 6 months of some symptoms
- Schizophreniform: 1
month but < 6 months
- Brief Psychotic Disorder:
1 day but < 1 month
- Degree Impairment and
Type of Symptoms
- Delusional Disorder:
non bizarre delusions
- Schizoaffective Disorder:
Psychotic Symptoms and history of mood symptoms
- Psychotic and mood
disorder symptoms must be independent
- 1 – 2 % of general
- Cost: 19 billion a
- Make up about 50% of
- Cross-cultural differences
- The notion of schizophrenia
might not exist in a particular culture
- African-Americans receive
the diagnosis more, have been found to be over-diagnosed
- It can be healthy to
be a little paranoid where racism occurs
- Gender differences
Type 1 or Positive Symptoms
- Ingrained beliefs that
people have that are very difficult to disprove
- Delusions more specific
- Delusions may form
in response to hallucinations, but not necessarily
- Thought broadcasting
- Belief that people
can read my mind
- Thought insertion
- Belief that people
are putting thoughts in my mind
- Thought withdrawal
- Belief that people
can take thoughts away
- Disorganized Thought
and Speech (Disorganization)
- Loose Associations
- No apparent connections
in what people say
- When people are asked
a question, their answer doesn’t appear to be related to the question
- A lot of unnecessary
information included in a thought
- Repetitions of sounds
rather than meanings
- Word Salad
- When you talk to someone,
it is garbled language
- Repetition of sounds
and words, mimicking
- People won’t
talk at all or there is nothing communicative in their response
- Loose Associations
- The problem is insects. My brother used to collect insects. He’s
now a man 5 foot…
- Can be complete sentences
- Subject sees things
that other people can’t see
- Fisher King w/ Robin
- Somatic (tactile, olfactory)
- Skin sensations, bugs
crawling, the feeling of something in your body
- Disorganized or Catatonic
- Disorganized Behavior:
Problems in dressing, feeding, grooming self, unpredictable extreme agitation, highly inappropriate behavior.
- Catatonic behavior
- Stupor, rigidity, excitement
- The act of engaging
in purposeless behaviors repetitively over long periods of time
- Dr. Schwartz distracted
a student while he tried to complete problems on the screen
The Rest of Today
Tonight I have a meeting with the Model United Nations
Organization at 7pm, and I will probably practice (teach) parliamentary rules and procedure with some other on-campus conference
delegates. Afterwards I’ll probably unwind and relax for a couple of hours
before going to bed. What a day.
September 26, 2006
Why I Was Frustrated with Philosophy Club, or
Why I Switched from Philosophy to Psychology, or
Why I am an Independent and not Republican or Democrat
|The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. It's on the need for an update in theories about human nature.
Today I wrote an email to someone that explained some thoughts I had about the Philosophy Club at Greenville
Technical College. For those of you that don't know, I was a founding member of the club in October of 2003, club Secretary
during the 2004 - 2005 year, and club President during the 2005 - 2006 year. I still try to keep in touch with some
of the people involved with it. This quote also helps explain why I consider myself an indepedent rather than Democrat
or Republican, so I thought it would be of interest to visitors to my blog.
"I think my frustration with the group was an overall feeling that people didn't believe science and philosophy
are compatible, whereas I and perhaps a few others did. I think sometimes I also got frustrated when fallacies in arguments
would be pointed out, but an individual would continue to hold such arguements as true. All people are probably guilty
of it, but I like to think I usually will try to test my ideas with myself or a few other people before I get insistent on
their validity. At some point I also began to think that philosophy, while historically very important, is only so useful
if the ideas are tested just in a logical way. Shouldn't ideas be tested in every way possible? Is science not
just another way to test ideas? Many times, in philosophy one thing is proposed to cause another, when in fact
there exists a false correlation that is revealed by the scientific method. Take for example, the Blank Slate.
Without applied science, it seems a very logical and reasonable theory of human nature. However, recent research branching
off from the Humane Genome Project and Neuroscience, along with studies done comparing twins and siblings raised together
and apart, is begining to cause the nature vs nurture debate to change into a debate about exactly how much and how each is
influential on human nature. I also was taken aback at how other areas of intellectual life still cling to the Blank
Slate, Native Savage, and Ghost in the Machine theories in such a way that much debate on politics, ethics, and other areas
of human concern are in great need of updating. And so I decided to pursue studies in psychology rather than philosophy,
in order to have access to the most useful and up to date information I could to accomplish my goals with."
Alot to Learn in Psychology
|David Hume (1711 - 1776)
|Almost every time I thought I had an original idea in philosophy, I learned this guy already had it.
Now that I'm taking several more psychology classes here (at UNC), I'm learning that the ideas presented
in both of my recent papers are actually a combination and integration of several theories in psychology, especially social psychology,
motivation, behavior, and personality. As in philosophy, just when I think I've come up with something original,
I learn that people have already come up with very similar ideas. Oh well. At least, this time the ideas are only
decades old, instead of centuries. Is that a good thing? Anyhow, maybe I'll come up with original combinations
and extensions of ideas. I'll try to keep you posted as I develop them further. I'm thinking about including a
section on my blog on both my interpretations of new research on human nature and some ideas for experiments that I come up
The Smashing Pumpkins Are Back Together
|From the Tonight, Tonight video. Go to www.youtube.com and search for Billy Corgan to watch it.
Need I say more? According to www.SmashingPumpkins.com, The Smashing Pumpkins are currently in the recording studio with legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker
(Queen, The Cars, The Darkness), at work on their first new album since 1999. If you don't
know about the Smashing Pumpkins or don't know much, go to www.thepumpkins.net. This is the best site I've found so far about the band. It has various videos and documentaries that I'd never
seen before until recently. My brother Ed introduced them to me when Siamese Dream was released around 1993. I've
heard alot of music, especially rock and roll music (and spinoffs), and the Pumpkins are one of the most prolific and creative
bands that I've heard. So yes, I'm excited that they're back together, and hopefully I'll get to see them perform for
the first time (if they decide to tour).
September 15, 2006
My First Psychology Paper
Today I finished my first paper on psychology. I think it turned out well, but we'll see how Dr.
Schwartz and Alecia think. I figured I might as well put it here for those interested to read. Enjoy.
Although the idea of mental
illness may not exist solely to be a social control construct, Szsaz does introduce the possibility that the behaviors, thoughts,
and feelings associated with mental illness may not necessarily be an illness after all.
To say that what we consider mental illness is completely a social construct is a line of reasoning that reflects The
Blank Slate, which “has set the agenda for much of the social sciences and humanities” in the last century. (Pinker 6) Recent research shows that
mental illness is in fact at least partially genetically inherited. However,
the relationship between society and mental illness should be examined further, because people like Szasz have made the psychology
community at least consider that mental illness is in fact a myth, or perhaps at least that the term illness is a misnomer. For example, not only do social isolation and labels allow society to marginalize
or categorize people with perceived mental illness, but isolation on the individual level may in fact lead or contribute to
some symptoms of mental illness. Also, isolation may trigger mental illness in
a person who is genetically predispositioned toward the illness. Cultural norms
about human behavior may cause people to ignore a particular biological need or motivation, and the resulting behavior is
sometimes called abnormal or maladaptive. Labeling people as mentally ill helps
society develop schemas for perceived abnormal and unhealthy behavior, as well as mental health professionals create lists
of symptoms and test treatments. An understanding of evolution might lead to
the implication that abnormal behavior can actually be genetically adaptive in certain situations. An examination of social isolation, social pressure, labeling, and evolution will help us realize that
Szasz’s ideas compel us to reexamine the role of society with the idea of mental illness.
The idea of mental illness often allows society
to banish those that violate mores and taboos. Sometimes, they are forced to
live in institutions, and at other times they end up living on the streets. It
might be argued that mentally ill people choose such a lifestyle, such as Diogenes in ancient Greece,
who “In Athens famously took a tub, or a pithos, for an abode.” (Piering) However, some did not actively choose to do so, such as patients released from closed
hospitals. Also, it is possible that social isolation in fact causes the behavior
deemed abnormal. For example, if a person is being incarcerated in a solitary
confinement situation, the existence away from other people in a confined space can cause someone to exhibit symptoms of mental
illness, such as hearing voices or being in a depressed state. One doesn’t
have to necessarily be in an isolated state due to a conscious decision on the part of other people. An immigrant living alone or a single person that has recently moved to a new area for a new job might
also experience isolation and have their behavior affected as a result.
Social control does in fact deserve a serious
examination, although perhaps not in the way that Szasz postulated. Because of
social pressure, people will act in ways that are against their own interests in order to be an accepted member of a group. A person may adhere to a traditional practice or norm that causes him or her to ignore
basic physiological needs, resulting in psychological abnormalities. For example,
many cultures include temporary fasting as a part of a religious calendar. If
a persons fasting goes on long enough, an observer might notice a marked change in behavior.
The fasting person may experience fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation, and self destructive thoughts to a degree
that affects their normal every day living. These behaviors are listed in the
DSM IV-TR as symptoms of clinical depression, but in fact resulted from excessive fasting the person practiced in order to
follow a social norm. Another example is the inhibition of sexual behavior in
individuals within a society that values a total lack of sexual expression and gratification until marriage. An individual in a society that strictly prohibits the satiation of the sex drive may try to follow the
social norm, which results in a gradual increase in sex hormones and motivation. A
person with high levels of sex hormones may also have difficulty controlling emotions, as well as engage in risky and impulsive
behavior they would not normally do. Such behaviors run the risk of resulting
in a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, especially when the person continues to ignore their own sex drive and
constantly has an elevated hormone level.
As social animals, humans use labels to help
identify and categorize almost everything they encounter, including other humans. Social
categories are called schemas, which “are important because they help us process an enormous amount of information swiftly
and economically.” (Peplau, Sears, and Taylor 80) Schemas are used to identify both people who engage in abnormal behavior and those who have a mental illness,
and the two can overlap. Schemas also help us identify people who regularly defy
spoken and unspoken rules. It is interesting to note that while individuals who
exhibit unusual behavior are thought to be mentally ill, groups of people who do so are considered a counterculture or subculture. Men who like to walk around a downtown area naked are thought of as unstable or mentally
disturbed, but when men and women get together at a resort where nudity is the rule, they are viewed as part of a “nudist”
culture. Schemas have also allowed the psychology community to acknowledge that
some behaviors, at certain degrees, fall out of the range of a normally distributed population. Behaviorists will attempt to train or condition people to either no longer exhibit unusual behavior or
to act more similar to what the contextual society accepts as normal. Psychologists
and psychiatrists who strictly medicalize mental illness will often review research on new drugs to prescribe in order to
allow their patients to live normal lives. Humanistic, emotive, and psychoanalyst
psychologists will stress the importance of talking to their patient about their abnormal functioning and behavior and try
to have them realize how to engage in healthy behavior. While most treatments
are now comprised of two or more of the three described here, and most psychologists are now integrationists, the underlying
theme remains that the subjects they try to treat are functioning or behaving in ways that fall outside of what the particular
society considers normal, and they try to find a way to help the patient act and function normally again.
Although many claim that evolutionary psychology
can not be applied to specific situations and categories and is therefore not very useful, the consideration of humans as
social mammals that evolved in prehistoric conditions is vital to the understanding of the subcategories associated with the
human condition, including mental illness. The application of underlying ideas
of evolution and humankind’s place in a prehistoric ecology will help give us new areas to research in abnormal psychology. A prevailing theme in this application is that humans exist as social mammals, and
have a need to be near groups of humans in order to work together to survive. Therefore,
it follows that our genetic code includes genes associated with the desire to be near other humans, which makes social considerations
vital to any evaluation of abnormal behavior. This is done in the DSM IV-TR when
social and cultural background is considered, but the fact that humans have a wide range of possible behavior means that behavior
now considered abnormal may actually have been adaptive in a prehistoric context. For
example, if all but of a few of the males in a population were killed in a blizzard, hunting party, or raid on another group
of people, and the social norm of the group is for men to be monogamous and display a high level of sexual restraint, the
genetic code of the group would be in danger. However, if at least one of the
remaining males are what we would now call sociopaths, and ignore this important social rule, they may in fact cause the population
to recover. We know that famous individuals like Howard Hughes, da Vinci, and
Galileo all made important discoveries for humankind. Some also speculate, because
of historical records, that they may have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
It stands to reason that people in prehistoric times may have also displayed such symptoms, and that their behavior
resulted in a discovery that allowed them and those around them to better adapt to their environment.
Szasz forces us to examine whether or not mental
illness really exists, and if it is in fact an illness. Even though the idea
of mental illness may not strictly be a control device, questioning its validity as a concept will help us understand variables
we didn’t before know were in play. It makes us aware of how people are
stigmatized, banished, or ignored if they don’t adhere to social taboos and mores.
It shows how social pressure and cultural traditions can in fact cause behavior we consider unhealthy. We now realize the importance of social labels and their relationship with how we view mental illness. When we consider that humans evolved as social mammals, we may better understand why
abnormal behavior exists and why it may not be maladaptive after all. It is fortunate
that Szasz made his then outrageous claims about mental illness, because now our eyes are open.
Peplau, Ltitia A, Sears, David
O, & Taylor, Shelley E. Social Psychology. 12th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice
Piering, Julie. Diogenes of Sinope. Online. http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/diogsino.htm. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet. 15 Sept. 2006.
Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: The Penguin Group, 2002.
September 13, 2006
|Ashcroft expressed no remorse for his actions as Attorney General while he spoke at UNC.
Last night, former Attorney General (and U.S. Senator) John Ashcroft spoke
at Memorial Hall (the fine arts center) at UNC. His talk began at 6:30.... My Statistics for Psychology class got out
at about 6:00, and the Psychology Club was having its first meeting in the same room. I stayed for the meeting, and
it seems like the club has some very good activities planned. I'll say more about that later. Anyway, after the
meeting, I went to Franklin Street and had a sub from Firehouse Subs. Afterwards, I went across the street to the bus
station to see when the next D route was going to be there. It wasn't going to be along until 8:06, so I decided
to go to the Undergraduate Library to study until Miranda finished her class and could come pick me up.
On the way to the library, I heard a car honking and a crowd of people cheering
as if in response to it. I decided to investigate, and when I was at a point where I could see in between some buildings,
I saw a group of people with mostly white shirts holding up posters. It occurred to me that I had lost track of the
date I saw Ashcroft was going to be here on a flyer. I had wanted to investigate if a protest was going to occur, but
lost track of time.
I made the decision to go and see what the protest was like, and as it turns
out the UNC Young Democrats were the ones in the white shirts. They did so to distinguish themselves from anarchists
that might have been there as well. When cars would go by on Cameron Street, some of the protestors would yell "honk
for peace" or "honk for civil rights." If the car would honk, the group would erupt in cheers.
For a while I stood back and watched, but when students began to leave the
fine arts center, I joined the Young Democrats and picked up a poster that said "Respect My Rights" and yelled "Protect Our
Rights" with the group. I know, I know. Shocking for me to be doing something like that, huh? Actually,
I'd wanted to express my unhappiness with John Ashcroft for five years, ever since the mass arrests without warrants in the
weeks and months after 9/11. So that was the highlight of my night. Oh, and when Ashcroft walked out of the building,
some of the more vocal protestors with a bullhorn followed his group down the sidewalk and off campus. Y'all come back
now, you hear?
September 12, 2006
Last winter, I started working on a behavioral model that I hope to test one day. I thought I might
as well share what I have so far with the world. A great deal of what I mention may be unfamiliar to you, so please
don't hesitate to email me with questions.
Andrew Clapper's Psychology Ideas
I'm currently developing a behavioral model that is inspired partly by Maslow's
Hierarchy of Needs. My model is similar to Maslow's insofar as it attempts to
incorporate different motivations into one logical paradigm for human behavior. Whereas
Maslow created a pyramid scheme with biological needs on the bottom and the higher forms of human enlightenment and satisfaction
at the top, my model starts off with a person's biological, instinctive drives, and the drives send an impulse through a series
of filters. The filters include the environmental aspect of human behavior, such
as social conditioning and ethics, knowledge and data readily available, and personality.
I hypothesize that a detailed diagnosis of each factor will be able to predict actions and behavior with much more
accuracy than was previously possible.
I hypothesize that human behavior is the result
of biological drives interacting with conditioning to result in predictable actions.
I propose that human behavior is always traceable to the fulfillment of basic needs in what I call the Principle of
Biogenetic Necessity. I also propose, because humans are a type of social primate,
that humans will temporarily sacrifice the fulfillment of basic needs in order to be part of a group in what is called the
Principle of Social Necessity.
Each biogenetic drive section will be configured like a sliding scale that ranges to the highest level of satiation
and lowest level of deprivation to the point of lowest level of satiation and highest level of deprivation. The scale will include several benchmarks that contain a range of satiation and deprivation that will incur
a particular probability of the drive influencing behavior. Each individual person
hypothetically would have a slightly to greatly varying scale with benchmarks in different places. The scale will also have a bar indicating the particular person's level of satiation and deprivation, and
the rate of increase and decrease may be analyzed for each person and the environment that he or she is in.
An activated biological drive will send an impulse through
the behavior model, where it must travel through a series of filters created by conditioning.
Each filter will have an effect on the impulse, depending on its nature and strength.
If a certain type of conditioning is strong enough, it may prevent any action to be taken by the subject, or it may
significantly alter the subject's course of action from that which would have been taken if the conditioning were not present. For example, the subject's sex drive may be directing him or her towards seeking a
sex partner, but because of the social context that the subject lives in, seeking a sex partner is not considered a legitimate
course of action.
The action portion of the model predicts the subject's
behavior. The experimental data gathered will determine the drive and conditioning
factors. Once a researcher gathers a satisfactory amount of data, one can derive
a formula to use in the action portion of the model. Researchers can also analyze
the amount that each type of conditioning interacts with each biological drive and the rate of extinction for each kind of
conditioning over time. One simple idea for an action formula is simply to find
a standard unit for use in both the drive scales and the conditioning points in order to formulate an action scale. The action scale will have a results bar that will indicate a value based on the current drive factor plus
and minus the conditioning factors.
The proposed behavioral model must be tested experimentally
so that it can be developed and refined to the point that it is as realistic as possible.
Therefore, one must observe and conduct experiments in a controlled environment.
Asking people to live in a controlled environment must be done very carefully because of ethical concerns. Experimental data would be limited by the fact that only a small number of people would volunteer to live
there for a long period of time. The experiments I'm currently developing involve
temporary stays in a research facility for a period of just a few weeks. Rather
than have a small group of people participate in the experiments for long periods of time, the tests will be designed to accommodate
a larger number of subjects for shorter stays. At first, the facility will conduct
a series of observational studies that focus on biological drives and conditioning factors.
The biological drives will be analyzed through passive data collecting of behavior, while the conditioning factors
will be ascertained through interviews and research on the environment of the subjects.
The second phase of research will involve experiments in which behavior resulting from stimuli introduced or withdrawn
by the administrators is compared to control groups. The program will recruit
a variety of experts to design and implement the observational studies and experiments, including neurologists, endocrinologists,
sociologists, psychologists, and ecologists. Also, a mathematician will ensure
the highest quality collection and use of the data gathered there.
September 11, 2006
So, what is Model UN?
|UNC Charlotte is heavily involved in Model UN activities.
Model UN stands for Model United Nations. When I say Model UN, I could mean one of a great number
of different conferences ranging from one to seven days where college and/or high school students take the role as delegate
and represent a country in a simulation of United Nations proceedings. Typically, the conference will
be broken down into several committees that focus on particular topics of international concern. For example, at SRMUN
(Southern Region Model United Nations) last year, I represented Japan on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). One
of our main topics was Sustainable Development in Post Conflict Regions. Delegates tried to come up with actual United
Nations resolutions to address the problem of economic development in areas formerly wracked by armed conflict.
My Model UN Activities 2005-2007
In the spring of 2007, the Model UN student organization at UNC is going to host a Model UN conference for
high school students. This highly regarded conference draws students from all over the United States. I applied
to be a director of one of the committees. A committee director writes the background guide (a guide for research about
the committee topics) for the delegates, sets the topics for the committee, and judges the performance of the participants.
Since I'm new to this Model UN group, the head of committees for the conference asked me to submit an application. Here
MUN-Ch Application 2007
|The Security Council meeting room. Perhaps one day I'll be involved in what goes on in this room.
MUN-Ch 2007 Director Application
Name (First and
Last please): Andrew J. Clapper
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: 919-428-0707
Year: Junior (transfer)
(specialize in social and evolutionary psychology, and will pursue a masters in economics (macro) and a Ph.D. in political
science (international relations))
Committee that you would like to be assigned to (Security Council 2, Eco-Soc 1, Eco-Soc 2, General Assembly): Eco-Soc
Briefly tell us
why you think you would make a good committee director:
I think I will be a quality director because I will use my experience as a mentor and leader to raise the quality of
the experience the delegates in my committee receive. For example, during the
Southern Region Model United Nations (SRMUN) of 2005, I relentlessly campaigned for the goal of broad consensus and compromise
at the end of a fourteen hour day when negotiations had broken down. I also believe
I have the creativity necessary for the director position. At SRMUN, instead
of simply working with the other G8 as Japan to write a resolution that promoted the usual failed
approaches of foreign investment, loans, and aid, I worked with many least industrialized nations to write a resolution promoting
the practice of trade surplus. As a committee director, I will be in a good position
to mentor the delegates and the committee chairs. My extensive experience both
in the workplace and college student organizations as a trainer and mentor will be put to good use. In 2000 I trained an incoming assistant manager at the Budget Rent-A-Car location in Greenville, SC in
our one way truck accounting procedures. As Secretary and later President of
the Philosophy Club at Greenville Technical
College, I led the group in managing club business and discussions on
a weekly basis for two years. I also won the award of Distinguished Chapter on
an international level with the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society for two year colleges for my efforts as Vice
President of Communications during 2005. At all of the international relations
conferences that I have attended, I believe I have demonstrated a strong commitment to diplomacy through communication, compromise,
empathy, preparation, and the synthesis of ideas.
List your past Model United Nations experience(s)
(When, Where, and What committee): Last year I attended the Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) in Atlanta
with the delegation from Greenville Technical College (SC) and represented Japan in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
At the end of the conference, my partner and I were nominated by the committee chair as one of the outstanding delegations.
In the spring of 2006, I was selected by the head of the honors program at Greenville
Technical College to be an assistant
chair in one of two security councils at our first high school model UN event. A group of mostly the same Greenville
Tech students also attended the southeast region Model Arab League that spring, where I was nominated to be head delegate
by the other students. Although it was not a Model United Nations conference, the format, atmosphere, and rules of procedure
were very similar.
As a director you
would be required to interact with the chairs of your committee to determine the TWO topics for this year’s conference. Does your schedule allow for you to meet with your chairs outside of the general MUN-Ch
Absolutely. Mondays will most likely be the best day for me.
My schedule is as follows:
Name: Clapper, Andrew James
PRIN PSYC RES
I’m also planning to attend Biology study
sessions (at least at first) which are:
I’ll be volunteering to do some psychology
research as well. Our meetings are Fridays at 11am, and a bit later I’ll
be doing some research during the week.
I will work hard to give the committee chairs
opportunities every week to meet with me and discuss MUN.
What are your ideas
for possible topics for the conference (these are non-binding; I just want to have an idea):
· The Elimination of Coercive Migration Policies
· Using the Doha
Stalemate to Improve Intra-regional Trade
· Improving Future Collaboration Between the UN and Non-Un
Organizations for Sustainable Development
· The Reliance of the Least Developed Countries on Domestic
Factors to Promote Sustained Economic Growth
· Developing National Productive Capacities to Stem Poverty
· Boosting Research Capacity for Poverty Reduction
· Promoting Regional Capital Market Integration
· Prevention of the Undermining of the Environment While
Increasing Industrial Production
· Promoting the Integration of Energy Projects and Eliminating
Obstacles to their Implementation
· Ensuring Social protection,
Social Cohesion, and Citizens' Rights
· The Development of Mechanisms
for the Prevention of Poverty, Inequality, Discrimination and Social Vulnerability
· Eliminating Obstacles to
Social Cohesion Through Social Protection Reform and Public Financing
· The Development of the Statistical
Indicators to Measure and Advance Environmental Sustainability.
· Implementing the results
of the New Compendium of Best
Practices to Measure Poverty
As I mentioned before, in the fall of 2005 I participated in the Southern Region Model United Nations (SRMUN).
This conference was begun by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Clemson University. As part of the preparation
process, delegates were required to write a position paper. Here is the position paper I wrote along with
my partner, Sharan.
|Japan has had its share of tsunamis. After all, the Japanese invented the word.
for the United Nations Economic and Social Council
Development in Post-Conflict Areas
recognizes the continuing problem of armed conflict throughout the world, including both civil and international conflicts. Conflict can often interfere with the economic development of a country. Conflict can be international, but Japan understands that war is often internal as well. For centuries, armed conflict was a way of life in Japan as different nobles and warlords sought to control
territory and trade. Japan’s history provides its people with a sense of
understanding towards civil strife and conflict, and reinforces Japan’s resolve to eliminate it.
also recognizes that armed conflict can have profoundly detrimental effects on the natural environment. Few can argue against the fact that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two of the most extreme
cases of environmental degradation due to armed conflict. Not only did the bombings
result in massive casualties and the destruction of two cities, but the bombs themselves had lasting harmful effects on the
environment that required a monumental cleanup and recovery undertaking. The
areas in and around the two cities suffered from damage due to the force and heat of the blasts. The water, soil, and air in each area were polluted with extremely harmful radiation and radioactive dust. Only after years of cleanup was either area remotely habitable again.
supports the Rio Declaration, which provides for environmental protection during armed conflict. Japan also applauds the efforts of non governmental organizations that work to protect the environment
during times of conflict. Japan has about 350 NGOs working overseas. Many of them are dedicated to environmental conservation projects, such as reforestation, soil improvement,
and air and water quality improvement. Japan promotes the use of peaceful means
to settle conflicts, and has recently begun to use a portion of its self defense force in peace keeping activities overseas. It is possible that Japan may continue to provide troops to this end. Japan is willing to aid the international community by providing use of its technology to help protect
and rebuild the environment in post conflict areas.
Japan intends to continue to exercise an active role through the following efforts: bilateral
and multilateral cooperation to ensure regional stability; political and security dialogue and cooperation toward building
confidence with other countries; the strengthening of arms control, disarmament and the non-proliferation regime, efforts
to address regional conflicts by means of conflict prevention and participation in United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Operations
(PKO); the enhancement of regional stability through support and cooperation in the economic development of countries in the
region; and efforts to prevent and eradicate international terrorism.
a resolution for the creation of a committee to foster the formation of a United Nations policy of joint efforts of peace
keepers and development volunteers who work closely together in post conflict areas so that each area may move seamlessly
from a state of conflict and chaos to one of rebuilding and improvement. Peace
keepers and development volunteers and workers can coordinate their efforts so that development is both sustained and protected.
II. Transition from Disaster Relief
to Sustainable Development Following Natural Disasters
is located very near a major fault line between tectonic plates, which results in frequent earthquakes that have affected
Japanese way of life throughout its history. For centuries Japanese people were
at the mercy of nature’s wrath when the tectonic plates would shift suddenly, and the death and destruction associated
with earthquakes was inescapable. It is only recently that Japan has been able
to find effective ways to prevent extreme amounts of destruction and death during and after earthquakes. Modern scientific research and technology has led to a better understanding of earthquakes and ways to
construct buildings and structures to withstand them. Now, scientists in Japan
can monitor the vibrations of the earth and predict when an earthquake is imminent.
Construction in Japan has advanced to the point where buildings are made of material resistant to earthquakes and technologies
such as hydraulic supports for building foundations keep damage to a minimum.
an island nation in an area subject to earthquakes and tectonic shifts, Japan has also been forced to recognize and prepare
for the death and destruction that tsunamis can bring. Technology also allows
Japan to predict and prepare for tsunamis, and the threat that they represent has therefore been reduced.
the day that the earthquake occurred (October 8, 2005) in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
and Minister for Foreign Affairs Machimura Nobutaka sent messages of condolences to Pakistan and India. The Government of
Japan immediately decided to dispatch a Japan Disaster Relief Team to Pakistan. In kind, the Government of Japan promptly
decided to provide assistance worth 25 million yen to Pakistan, which consists of blankets, tents, water purifiers, generators,
etc. On top of that, the Government of Japan decided to provide grant aid of US$20 million to Pakistan for disaster relief.
Japanese Non‑governmental organizations (NGOs) are also participating in the rescue attempts.
will support a two step program that will eliminate a gap between disaster recovery efforts and the redevelopment of disaster
affected areas. Perhaps the two areas of concern can fall under one organization
that receives funding for both types of efforts and will have an evaluation mechanism in place to help ascertain how much
funding needs to go to each type of activity. Japan has often offered financial
backing and technical expertise to disaster recovery and redevelopment in the past, and will continue to do so.
local communities are the first response just after a natural disaster, Japan will support the improvement of local communications
systems with technological and financial means so that the needs of the community can quickly be learned of and addressed
in the event of a natural disaster. Also, Japan promotes the local, national,
and regional stockpiling of emergency supplies so that they can quickly be delivered to where they are needed in the case
of a disaster both within a nation and nearby in a region. Japan is also pleased
to assist in the training in emergency personnel overseas to help minimize the immediate humanitarian effects of natural disasters.
III. The Promotion of Economic Development
in Latin America and Caribbean Region
understands that the Latin American and Caribbean region is looking for ways to minimize and eventually eliminate international
debt and trade deficits, and to continue to improve the economic strength and capabilities of member nations. Japan has been a most appreciative trade partner with Latin America and the Caribbean since the mid twentieth
century, and would be pleased to assist the area in economic development and strengthening so that trade relationships can
continue to be prosperous.
In the past five years, as part of Japan's commitment to developing Latin American resources, Brazil has
received a total of approximately $5.8 billion of financial assistance through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation
to support development of the Campos Basin oil fields. In order to strengthen the foundation of democracy and develop a market
economy, the unremitting effort of each of these countries is indispensable. As a nation that shares those values, Japan would
like to continue to support the reform efforts of Latin American countries.
supports the HIPC Initiative, which is a step forward in sustainable development. However,
Japan proposes that two issues still need to be addressed. A way must be found
to guarantee the financing of the enhanced HIPC framework, as well as the framework of other Multilateral Development Banks. Also, the HIPC must be more strongly linked with poverty reduction. Japan is pleased to be working closely with the World Bank to make the PRSP a reality.
proposes investigating the possibility of freezing the accumulation of interest on foreign loans to Latin American and Caribbean
states, because the continued growth of foreign debt only serves to stifle the economies of effected states. Japan will also support a free trade agreement for all South American states and the admission of Latin
American states in Central America and the Caribbean into NAFTA that are not already members.
Japan also proposes a UN coordinated micro loan program that will place development funds
directly into the hands of the people that need them. Japan will provide volunteers
to meet with small micro loan groups to help individuals construct business strategies and to monitor the progress of individuals
in each group. Each micro loan group member with be held accountable by his or
her peers, and loans will only be issued on a small scale basis and when the loan candidate has provided a business strategy
and progress report satisfactory to the rest of the group.
SRMUN Practice Resolution
|I had big shoes to fill as a representative for Japan.
At Greenville Technical College, the advisor for the Model United Nations group is Dr. Beth Traxler.
She does an excellent job at having students prepare for the conferences that they attend. For example, she had us write
a practice UN resolution several weeks before we went to SRMUN. Here is the resolution that I wrote, which you can see
was derived from the main ideas in our position paper.
The Economic and Social Council,
Recognizing the continuing problem of armed conflict throughout the world, including both civil and international conflicts
that often interfere with the economic development of a country,
Observing that armed conflict can have profoundly detrimental effects on the natural environment, such as damage caused
by weapons of mass destruction that requires a monumental cleanup and recovery undertaking due to pollution in the water,
soil, and air before the affected area is remotely habitable again,
Expressing its appreciation for the Rio Declaration, which provides for environmental protection during armed conflict,
Emphasizing the use of peaceful means to settle conflicts,
Realizing that sometimes the use of a peace keeping force is necessary to prevent violence and conflict in troubled
regions of the world,
Alarmed that civilians often sustain more casualties in armed conflict situations than combatants and are often left
to rebuild an area after the end of hostilities,
Convinced that bilateral and multilateral cooperation are needed to ensure regional stability,
Bearing in mind that the strengthening of arms control, disarmament and the nonproliferation regime, and efforts to
address regional conflicts by means of conflict prevention and participation in United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Operations
(PKO) are vital to both regional and global economic and social prosperity,
Deeply convinced that the enhancement of regional stability through support and cooperation in the economic development
of countries in each region is vital to the future of civilization,
Calls upon the General Assembly of the United Nations to create a committee to oversee the formation of a task force
element to be attached to peace keeping forces that will coordinate the protection of the environment, defense of human rights,
and the sustainable rebuilding of the area affected by the conflict;
Further recommends that this task force element promote the policy of joint, coordinated efforts of peace keepers and
development volunteers to work closely together in post conflict areas so that each may move seamlessly from a state of conflict
and chaos to one of rebuilding and improvement;
Emphasizes that the purpose of this task force is to ensure that peace keepers and development volunteers and workers
coordinate their efforts so that development is both sustained and protected.
|It was challenging to try to think as though Mt. Fuji was in my backyard.
September 1, 2006
|Money does grow on trees!
Wow, what a good week I've had. I have three areas of good news.
I visited the financial aid office on Monday, and learned that I do in fact have more
financial aid coming. My account was flagged because I'm a new student and out of state. All I had to do was sign
a new promissory note and do my online counseling again. Hopefully sometime next week I'll be able to get the rest of
my refund. I'm extremely relieved because for a while there I thought I was going to have to ask people to co-borrow
an education loan from the bank. In fact, it appears I'm getting more money than I had budgeted for, so my financial
situation will be better than I hoped. I feel like a big burden has been lifted from my shoulders.
|Davie Hall: the HQ of the Psychology department at UNC.
I was getting a little bit nervous about finding
a psychology professor to do research with, because the first several I contacted told me that they didn't need any more
help. When I contacted Dr. Melanie Green, she told wrote me back on Monday and sent me a description of her current
research along with an application. I filled out the application as soon as I got it and emailed it back to her.
We met on Wednesday to go over what I would be doing, and hopefully we'll get started sometime next week. This semester,
I'm going to volunteer and do a little bit of everything. Everything means input on the experiment/study design(s),
help run the experiments, entering data into a computer, and analysis. It looks like my main focus will be on communication
and trust over the Internet. Next semester, if I do well this time around, I may be able to design my own experiments
and do a research paper for course credit. This is the first time I've been involved in scientific research, so I'm
excited and anxious to get started.
You can find Dr. Green's
webpage at: http://www.unc.edu/%7Emcgreen/
one of the authors of two major books and many articles. She has also lectured at UNC, Duke, Princeton, Yale, and many other
Here's an excerpt
from the description she gave me of her research:
There are two primary lines of research currently
being conducted in the lab.
Narrative persuasion and “transportation
into narrative worlds.”
|This guy is NOT my hero.
Model United Nations
Well, it turns out we had much
more participation at our first meeting on Wednesday (the thirtieth) than I expected. I think there were actually a
good twenty to twenty five people there, so they weren't quite in as dire straights as I thought. I think over half
of the people there have participated in a model UN event before, so that is also a positive. There are three sub groups
within the organization: The traveling group (it goes to Yale and UNC Charlotte in the fall and Chicago in the spring),
the on-campus group (runs the UNC Chapel Hill Model UN, which brings in students from other schools but unfortunately competes
with Duke I think), and the high school conference group (which runs a highly regarded high school model UN that brings in
students from all over the country). Apparently I was the only person there that night with web design experience, so
I was recruited to be in charge of the high school group's website, and possibly the sites for the whole organization.
I'll probably try to just build on the site that was used last year. You can take a look at: http://www.unc.edu/student/orgs/uno/mun.html. I mentioned SRMUN to the head of the traveling group, and she said our schedule is fairly
set for the fall. Maybe in 2007 we'll be able to expand and go to a couple of more conferences, using the same country(ies)
for the whole year, the way that UNC Charlotte and Greenville Tech are planning to do.
|Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is the perfect metaphor for Japan.
As you can see, I'm in for a very interesting
year. My interest in extracurricular activities probably shows through. Don't worry though; the fact that
I'm doing extra work will keep me more focused on school and class work, not less. I actually will try to take what
I'm learning in classes and apply it to the other things I'm doing, so the extra work will add to my learning experience,
not take away from it. This is how it worked at Greenville Tech. My work with the Philosophy Club, Phi Theta Kappa,
Psychology Club, Study Abroad, Model UN, and Arab League gave me places to test the knowledge I gained in classes such as
Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Sociology, English, History, Public Speaking, Government, Psychology, and International Relations.
It also helped me gain knowledge in classes as well. For example, the substantial amount of research I did on Japan
in the fall of 2005 for SRMUN was useful in the spring of 2006, when I read a book by a Japanese author in World Literature
and was able to write a decent paper explaining how the book was a perfect metaphor for Japanese culture and history.
I must have slept well last
night; I wrote this entry from about 9:15 to 10:10am on Friday morning. Hopefully my body is getting more used to waking
up around 7am every morning. Over the summer, I worked a great deal of night hours so I sometimes ended up staying
awake till 2am and getting up at 10am. Now I sleep closer to 11pm to 7am.
|Do not buy Miranda roses. She hates them.
Today is my one year anniversary
with Miranda. It's funny to call her that, because her family calls her Megan (her first name) and I usually call her
Zeggie or Honey or Sweetie. I usually only call her Miranda when I'm mad at her (which doesn't happen very often anymore).
I don't think we have solid plans for what to do tonight, so I need to brainstorm. We'll definitely go out to eat and
do something else. It's too bad our financial situation has been uncertain lately, otherwise I might have been able
to take her to a play or concert or something. Hmm, maybe I still can. Anyway, she and I have both grown a good
bit over the last year. I'm very glad she's a part of my life, and it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like
Ok well it only took me until 10:17 to
write all I wanted to today. I guess I'll find some more entertaining pictures and work on the other aspects of the
site until Miranda picks me up around noon for lunch. What's your good news? If so inclined, send me an email
and tell me how things are going with you.
August 28, 2006
Good news! You can now make a donation to yours truly through the "make a donation" link on this site.
You can use a credit or debit card, or a Paypal account if you have one. Remember, paying through Paypal is more secure
than at a local retailer or restaurant. I think you should be able to donate anonymously, but if not I can try to have
that arranged. Your help is always very much appreciated.
Wednesday is the first Model UN meeting here at UNC, and I'm excited about it. I'm also
a bit puzzled, because according to the head delegate, there are only four people that have expressed interest in the club
so far. Four people at UNC! They clearly need some work in the PR/marketing/recruiting department. Maybe
I can help. Last year they went to Chicago and Yale, I think. Check out their site at http://www.unc.edu/student/orgs/uno/mun.html. Remind me to tell you about my experience at SRMUN last year. Well, I'd better be off to get some
lunch and talk to the financial aid department. Wish me luck.
August 26, 2006
How did my classes go the first week, you ask?
They appear to be easier than the classes I took at Greenville Technical College. Especially the honors
classes I took there. For example, I was used to doing five to ten page papers at Greenville Tech, but here I think
my Abnormal Psychology class requires the most writing, which is four three and a half to five page papers. This semester,
I'm taking Social Psychology,
and Statistics for Psychology.
I'm trying to get into a Biology lab, but there are fewer seats for labs than for the lecture class.
Go figure. I'm having a bit of trouble finding a psychologist to volunteer with to do research. Everyone already
has more than enough people working with them. I refuse to get frustrated, though. If I have to, I'll convince
someone to let me just run errands for them so that they get a chance to know me. The purpose of volunteering is to
get some research experience and possibly find an advisor for the psychology Honors Program. Well, I hope everyone is
having a relaxing weekend. Miranda and I have to do some unpacking and cleaning around here.
August 24, 2006
I made it.
I'm sitting in the Undergraduate Library on my UNC issued laptop computer watching the crowd go by to get
into one of the dining halls on the other side of the Pit. I've been thinking about the last three years since I decided
I wanted to become a student here, not knowing if it would actually happen. I made it here. I'm broke. I
couldn't be happier, but I need help. The amount I received from financial aid wasn't enough to allow me to afford to
go here, even while working twenty to thirty hours a week. That's why I decided to create this website and blog.
It will allow people to monitor my progress here, and hopefully they will take pity on me and make a donation. Thanks
for helping keep the dream alive.