Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shameful Milestones in Research: When Psychological Experiments Go Terribly Wrong

                                   Good Day Humboldt County!

Psychology as we know it is a relatively young science, but since its inception it has helped us to gain a greater understanding of ourselves and our interactions with the world.

Many psychological experiments have been valid and ethical, allowing researchers to make new treatments and therapies available, and giving other insights into our motivations and actions. Sadly, others have ended up backfiring horribly — ruining lives and shaming the profession.

                         The Third Wave

Running along a similar theme similar to the Milgram experiment (see diagram above), The Third Wave, carried out in 1967, was an experiment that set out to explore the ways in which even democratic societies can become infiltrated by the appeal of fascism.

Using a class of high school students, the experimenter created a system whereby some students were considered members of a prestigious order. The students showed increased motivation to learn, yet, more worryingly, became eager to get on board with malevolent practices, such as excluding and ostracizing non-members from the class. Even more scarily, this behavior was gleefully continued outside of the classroom. After just four days, the experiment was considered to be slipping out of control and was ceased. (Read about more examples here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, July 20, 2012

Massacre at a Movie House – Gunman opens fire on audience at premier of ‘Dark Knight Rises’

Update below

It was a dark night for movie-goer’s at the Century 16 Movie Theater #8, in Aurora Town Center, Colorado.

  Twelve people were killed and at least 50 others were wounded early Friday when a gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire during a midnight premiere screening of the latest Batman movie near Denver, authorities and witnesses said.

  The question is, why would a former graduate student in the neuroscience program at University of Colorado medical school, want to murder all of those people? Is there some tie-in to the movie that’s not apparent yet? Did James Holmes relate to the villains Batman has faced?

  We may never really know why Holmes did what he did. You can bet in the coming days there’s going to be a lot of autobiographical information on him, and the progress of those who were wounded in the attack.

  Life is full of surprises, ironies, and mysteries. How could a person so wantonly murder innocent strangers? In the end, only one person knows why this happened; James Holmes. The rest of us will never fully understand his actions.   (Go here for the full story, and updates).

Related: Witnesses react online to 'Dark Knight' theater shooting

Update: Very deranged' gunman shoots 71, killing 12, at 'Dark Knight Rises' screening in Aurora, Colorado

                                  5:15 ET

James Holmes, sporting dyed red or orange hair told police he was the Joker after opening fire in a theater showing the premiere of the latest Batman movie.Twelve people have been confirmed dead and 59 others, many of them seriously, were in hospitals. 

2:30 p.m. PST 

It’s what I feared; the killer related to a Batman foe, the Joker. It’s one of the first thoughts that hit me this morning. His rampage just underscores the fact that no one is really safe anywhere in these violent times. You can NOT prepare for a lone crazy.

How to Fight Excessive Doubt: Should you really question everything?

Questioning yourself

           Good Day Humboldt County!

 I think we’ve all experienced self doubt at one time or other in our lives. It’s perfectly normal.

I ran across this essay on the subject and thought you might find it interesting, and perhaps even helpful:

A little critical, analytical thinking is a good thing. Without doubting ourselves sometimes we'd find it difficult to make good decisions.

Too much doubt, though, can stop us living our lives to the full. Some people can never make up their minds about their careers, their love lives or much else. Unfortunately that sense that you're not quite sure can leave you living in permanent limbo, never taking that final decisive step.

The problem is that we can we never really know what the outcome of our decisions will be, that's the nature of life. But the person who never takes a risk, however small, never gets anywhere. At some point, after a little looking, you've got to leap.

Psychologists have found that people who doubt themselves too much end up engaging in excessive information processing which leads to procrastination and self-handicapping. Self-doubters are also more likely to suffer from depression and social anxiety. Some soul-searching and self-analysis can be useful, but too much is a recipe for stagnation.

A recent study, though, points to a possible path for escaping the doubt habit. For their research Wichman et al. (2010) recruited people who were chronically uncertain. They were then given a test which unconsciously encouraged them to be uncertain about their uncertainty. This was done by getting them to unscramble sentences which were related to uncertainty, like: "her speaker doubt I explanations" (you're allowed to drop one word, in this case 'speaker').

Ironically it didn't increase their uncertainty further but reduced it. This suggests that doubting your doubt can be useful. Of course this wasn't a permanent solution, but it did momentarily reduce their levels of uncertainty.

Just the same effect could be seen when participants in a second study shook, rather than nodded their heads. The physical action of shaking their head while thinking about their uncertainty caused one to cancel out the other. Through this they temporarily reduced  their doubts.

This is a fascinating counter-intuitive case when lack of confidence in your own thoughts is beneficial. For some people having confidence in their doubts just leads to more procrastination, self-handicapping and worse.

Perhaps learning to doubt the doubt more will offer one way of helping to escape from some of the crippling effects of excessive self-doubt. While shaking your head can't be considered a miracle cure, it is interesting that doubting your doubt can work to dispel the original doubt.” (Source) Image credit: paurian

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can some techie help me? I have unwanted ads on my blog and can’t seem to get rid of them!

I’ve always resisted putting ads on my blog. I’ve had offers, but have turned them all down. So you might understand why I’m upset to find I have been suddenly invaded with AdSense ads (word links that lead to an advertiser). It can be any word with an underline beneath it. I have to admit it’s driving me crazy and I want to get rid of them! The ads are even in my header! Talk about being infected.

I’ve spent hours on the internet, attempting every combination of search words, and have not come up with an answer. If you’re the techie type, or just a sharp individual that could figure this out, I’d so appreciate your help!

I have one intriguing clue however: the ads don’t appear on my Internet Explorer browser, but they do on my FireFox browser!


TARGETTING AN AUDIENCE: Zimmerman interview on Fox was a fundraiser for the defense

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

FOX News puts on a fund raiser for George Zimmerman who has “no regrets.”

               Good Day Humboldt County!

 Once again FOX News has hit a new low with  Sean Hannity’s interview of George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin.

 Last night’s show was nothing more than a fundraiser for Zimmerman who has set up a website to collect money from crazies around the country.

 Hannity walked him through the interview like a circus master, prompting Zimmerman on what to say. His dull responses, “Yes, Sir,” and “No, sir,” were practice runs for his upcoming murder trial. Why didn’t they just let Zimmerman’s attorney conduct the “exclusive” interview? It amounted to the same thing with Hannity’s soft ball delivery of pre-planned questions.

  One thing did catch my interest; it was Zimmerman’s attitude. He said he has no regrets, nor does he regret his actions. Yet, he also said he told Travyon’s parents he was sorry for what he did afterwards. He couldn’t even keep his own story straight. The prosecution probably taped the interview to compare how many times he changed his story since being arrested.

The bottom line: Zimmerman’s attorney picked Fox News to talk with because of it’s core audience of racist gun nuts who would be more likely to send him financial help.

Time for me to walk on down the road…  


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

AS IT STANDS Presents the Dangers of Eating Fast Food – Part 1

fffffuLately, I’ve been increasingly wary of eating at fast food chains.

I think my concern about the subject was amplified by some research I did for a recent column:

Why I'm nice to people who serve me food

When I saw the following story, I realized this is an ongoing situation and it’s time to start posting a series of reports – about employees acting badly at Fast Food chains - based upon current news stories.

I know one thing; when you read enough of these reports you’re going to rethink about where you eat!

Feet-in-lettuce photo hits Internet, gets Burger King employees fired

Screen grab source


This News Just In: Iraq War Reconstruction: $6 billion to $8 billion wasted

        Good Day Humboldt County!

It seems like the numbers keep getting worse. Report after report, detailing the corruption in Iraq, is coming out.

The American taxpayer got screwed. I’m talking an epic rip-off. When are we going to hold investigations on all the dirty bastards who we know cheated?

What’s grim about these tales of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers monies, is that most of the culprits involved are still in business, and doing just fine…thank you. Moving on: 

The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse.

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR) for the past eight years, gave that estimate in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity on Monday, shortly after releasing a new summary of his office’s many grim discoveries since it began work in in 2004.


                    Related: As It Stands: How 3 big lies have crippled America's economy


In Friday’s report, Bowen said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

According to the report, auditors repeatedly found that the State Department and Defense Department failed to properly review invoices from government contractors, often approving billions of dollars in services without checking if costs were accurate or efficient. “I think the consistent theme throughout our eight years of oversight work has been the inconsistent availability of records and information on contracts and costs,” said Bowen, a former Texas lawyer. (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moon Maddness: 20 photos of people posing with the moon and having fun

 Moon Madness: 20 Photos of People Posing with The Moon and Having Fun Moon Madness: 20 Photos of People Posing with The Moon and Having Fun




       GO HERE


What’s It Going To Take? Officials admit the War On Drugs has failed but we’re still stuck with it

                Good Day Humboldt County!

Even as the Obama Administration pours more taxpayer money into the War On Drugs, there’s a candid admission among many officials in government that the so-called war was lost a long time ago.

Mexico’s new president is shifting his country’s focus in priorities. Since 2010, programs for building the rule of law and stronger communities have become the largest items in the State Department’s antidrug budget, with the bulk of the money assigned to Mexico.

I wrote the following column on the subject back in March - Growing global movement to legalize drugs faces uphill battle Nothing has changed since then. The only exception is that more people are speaking out against our current drug policies right now.

Meanwhile officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department say they now recognize that arresting kingpins and seizing large drug shipments have failed to make Mexico more stable, largely because of corruption and other flaws in the Mexican justice system.

The time to end this useless war on drugs is now.

“America’s drug problem is shifting from illicit substances like cocaine to abuse of prescription painkillers, a change that is forcing policy makers to re-examine the long and expensive strategy of trying to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States.

This rethinking extends beyond the United States, where policy makers are debating how to better reduce demand for painkillers. The effects would also be felt here and in Central America: With the drug wars in Mexico inflaming violence, some argue that the money now used for interdiction could be better spent building up the institutions — especially courts and prosecutors’ offices — that would lead to long-term stability in Mexico and elsewhere.” (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, July 16, 2012


           Good Day Humboldt County!

Are we an over-medicated society? It seems like there’s new disorders being diagnosed every day. Doctors are quick to pass out mood elevators at any sign of anxiety. Now, some experts want the rule book for pychiatrists updated and re-examined.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, is being called into question by some parties. Is it possible that what the manual says is anxiety, is more about enforcing social norms than medicine?

“In 1994, a study asking a random sample of thousands of Americans about their mental health reported that 15 percent had ever suffered from anxiety disorders. A 2009 study of people interviewed about their anxiety repeatedly for years raised that estimate to 49.5 percent - which would be 117 million U.S. adults.

Some psychiatrists say the increase in the prevalence of anxiety from about 4 percent to 50 percent is the result of psychiatrists and others "getting better at diagnosing anxiety," as Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz, a past president of the APA who is in private practice in Washington, D.C., put it. "People who criticize that are showing their bias," she said. "When we get better at diagnosing hypertension, we don't say that's terrible."

Critics, including other leading psychiatrists, disagree. They say the apparent explosion in anxiety shows there is something seriously and dangerously wrong with the DSM. Its next edition, due in May, would lower the threshold for identifying anxiety.

The criticism rests on three arguments. First, the DSM fails to recognize that anxiety is normal and even beneficial in many situations, so it conflates a properly functioning brain system with a pathology. Second, the DSM's description of anxiety is more about enforcing social norms than medicine.

Finally, they say, anxiety is adaptive. Its brain circuitry was honed by evolution for a purpose. Only when that mechanism misfires should a person be diagnosed as mentally ill.” (Source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, July 15, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Overheard: A conversation about climate/global warming

           By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
   Overheard at Mom & Pop’s Café USA:
   First diner - “Climate change catastrophes are becoming common nowadays.”
   Second diner: “Oh no! Here we go with the liberal global warming conspiracies.”
   Story on open newspaper (Associated Press June 8) between the two diners:
  “The first six months of 2012 accounted for the warmest January-through-June period on record for the contiguous U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on July 9th.” 
  First diner - “Who said global warming? I try not to use that term because your conservative hackles flare up every time I do. I’m just saying climate changes are obvious right now.” 
  Second diner - “Of course they are. The earth’s climate goes through continual changes. It has since the start. We‘re in a lousy phase right now, that’s all.”
Same story on open newspaper between the two diners:
   “Climate models indicate the hot temperatures are not expected to ease anytime soon. ‘It looks like it’s going to stay above normal, for much of the remainder of the summer,’ said Jon Gottschalck at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.”

  First diner - “Okay. What about the U.S. National Academy of Sciences claim that
Climate change is occurring, most likely increasing global average surface temperatures worldwide about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century?”  
Second diner - “Sounds like change at that rate won’t make a difference to mankind for at least another thousand years.”
   Same story on open newspaper between the two diners:
   “In 2011, the U.S National Academy of Sciences concluded in a final report on U.S. global warming effects that ‘Climate change is occurring, and very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks.’" 
  First diner - “Can we at least agree that the recent climate changes in our country have been devastating, and that manmade pollution contributed to it?”
  Second diner - “I have to admit that was something when that derecho (editor’s note: a pattern of thunderstorms racing in a straight line)  struck Washington on June 29th . I was hoping a few Democratic Congressmen might get swept up… no seriously, playing the Al Gore card isn’t going to get it.”
    Another open newspaper (AP article June 7th) between the two diners: “At least 30 deaths were blamed on the heat, including nine in Maryland and 10 in Chicago, mostly among the elderly. Three elderly people found dead in their houses in Ohio had heart disease, but died of high temperatures in homes lacking power because of recent outages, officials said. Heat was also cited as a factor in three deaths in Wisconsin, two in Tennessee and three in Pennsylvania.”
    First diner - “Had to get that partisan shot in didn’t ya George? This climate change business is no laughing matter. We should be looking at ways to prepare for what’s happening to our environment right now and in the future.” 
Second diner - “Are you aware that some climate scientists, such as Georgia Tech's Judith Curry, dismiss connections between global warming and U.S. heat waves? She says on her website, Climate Etc. ‘We saw these kinds of heat waves in the 1930s, and those were definitely not caused by greenhouse gases.’ I don't think what we are seeing this summer is outside the range of natural variability for the past century." 
Another open newspaper ( Associated Press June 9) between the diners: “June's derecho, that unleashed 80 mph winds that knocked out power for millions from Ohio to Virginia, has been seen as a consequence of global warming. ‘Derechos don't happen very often, but with heat waves more common under climate projections, they would most likely increase in frequency and severity,’ says forest ecologist Chris Peterson of the University of Georgia in Athens. He pointed to likely extreme-weather effects on forests in a 2000 study.”
   First diner - “Looks like we aren’t going to solve anything today George. I gotta go to work now. See ya tomorrow…”
  Second diner - I guess not Pete. We can take this conversation up again. Same time. Same place. It’s your turn to buy, though!”
   As It Stands, until the great partisan debate about the reason for rising world temperatures is set aside and actions taken, we might as well join George and Pete at Mom and Pop’s Café USA.  

Websites that have picked up this column:

1) Topics – Mendocino News -

2) Doing it Green -

3) Global Warming News Blog – Daily Global Warming News

4) Year 8888 – Climate Change

5) Event Earth -

6) The Basics of Global Warming -

7) Global Warming – Articles about Global warming

8) The Global Warming Diet

9) Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming

10) The History of the Movement to Stop Gobal warming

11) Taking It Global -

12) Environment News

13) Al Gore News

14) Citizens Climate Lobby -

15) Pros and Cons about Global Warming -

16) Energy Destiny -

17) Hub Pages -

18) Squidoo -

19) Citizens Climate Lobby -

20) Dream Catalyst

21) Ian McPherson blog -

22) Fast Company -

23) Understanding Climate Change -  Energy Education Foundation

24) Total Wealth Essentials Elite Group Inc.

25) Pepper Groups

26) Energy Federation -



Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...