Thursday, December 1, 2011

Soundtrack to my Life

LeAnn Womack- "I Hope You Dance"
My neighbor gave me a book/cd with the lyrics to this song as a birthday present when I was in middle school and i've always loved the lyrics and thought they were so inspirational! It's basically about living your life to the fullest and not taking anything for granted. I think this song represents my life because I hope I always remember to live my life the way they talk about it in this song!

Backstreet boys- "I Want It That Way"
First of all, I felt obligated to represent BSB in my soundtrack considering they are the most amazing boy band in the world (at least better than NSTINK as far as i'm concerned). The reason that I chose this song is because as much as I hate to admit it, I can be very stubborn and tend to like to have things done my way most of the time. My way or the highway.
And I love the backstreet boys. BSB4LIFE

Sheryl Crow- "Soak Up The Sun"
Who doesn't love this song? This song always puts me in a good mood and I love it because it talks about always keeping your chin up and having fun and being happy with what you have. I can't listen to this song and not be in a good mood.

Last but not least, Mariah Carey- "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Ousky classic. Stop by the Ousky household at any point in December and I promise you, without fail, the best christmas album of all time- Mariah's christmas album (the original one obviously, not the ghetto hip hop one she came out with last year) will be playing. My family and I have listened to this album for as long as I can remember and there's nothing better than jamming out to this song... seriously. Nothing better. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Research Question Sources

“We find that moving from an environment in which a person was never allowed to drink legally to one in which a person could always drink legally was associated with a 20 to 30 percent increase in alcohol consumption and a ten percent increase in fatal accidents for adult males. There were no statistically significant or practically important associations between the legal drinking environment when young and adult female alcohol consumption and driving fatalities” (Kaestner & Yarnoff, 2009, p. 2)

Kaestner, R., & Yarnoff, B. (2009). Long term effects of minimum legal drinking age laws on adult alcohol use and driving fatalities. National Bureau of Economic Research.

I think that this is a very reliable source because it was published recently by an institution that does economic research. The information seems pretty reliable. I might use this new information as evidence that lowering the legal drinking age would have negative effects on society because, according to the article, it would result in men drinking more often and an increase in fatal accidents.

“The passage of Minimum Legal Drinking Age 21 (MLDA 21) laws has been one of the most successful traffic safety countermeasures implemented over the past 30 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 900 lives are saved every year due to these laws, with a total of more than 25,000 lives since 1975” (Fell, 1980, p. 5).
Fell, J. C. (2008). An examination of the criticisms of the minimum legal drinking age 21 laws in the united states from a traffic safety perspective. National highway traffic safety administration

This is a very reliable source however I think I would have to find the original sources to use a lot of the facts that this article compiled because it wasn’t their own research. The information from this article would be useful because it would provide more evidence that raising the legal drinking age saved lives. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter 10

In chapter 10, Ronson goes to a Scientology banquet and sparks an interest in discovering how mental disorders came to be and what the implications are for the future. At the scientology banquet, the speaker, Lady Margaret, was mocking the list of ridiculous "mental disorders" that people think belong in the DSM. Ronson wanted to find out who created the DSM so he met up with Robert Spitzer, the author of the DSM-III. Spitzer conducted an experiment where he sent people to five different mental hospitals across the country and told them to pretend like they were hearing voices and see what happened. They were all locked up for about 20 days in a mental hospital and Spitzer ultimately ended up exploiting psychiatry. He wanted to remove human judgement from psychiatry by making a list of characteristics of mental disorders in the DSM. He admits to Ronson the unruly way the mental disorders were established for the book and said that there are probably a lot of mistakes. Ronson starts to wonder what would happen if people over-diagnose mental disorders and meets with a woman who had her children diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on medication when they were under the age of 7. Ronson believes that this is ridiculous because it is not uncommon for children to act in irrational ways because they are children. Finally, at the end, Ronson mentions the case of Rebecca Riley, a four year old girl who was given cold medicine and bipolar medication by her parents and died of an overdose. Her parents were convicted of murder.

I was really confused in the end when Ronson brought up the "being and nothingness" book again. I still have absolutely no idea how it is relevant or why it was created. I also thought it was really interesting when Ronson explored the problems that could arise from people over diagnosing people with mental disorders and I wonder what kinds of things people are doing now to prevent the over diagnosing of drugs. It is unbelievable that any psychiatrist would think it's okay to diagnose a 4 year old with bipolar. I agree that most of psychology/psychiatry is guesswork because the characteristics that are given in the DSM for mental disorders are so vague that anyone could find an example from their lives that suits one of the characteristics. There is no scale established for, for example, to what extent "inflated self-esteem and grandiosity" actually accounts for a symptom of a manic episode. How does a psychiatrist know if their patient has an inflated self-esteem or grandiosity? Couldn't an inflated self-esteem be due to something else happening in their lives? I could say that Kim Kardashian shows one of the symptoms of having a manic episode just because she's super rich and famous and thinks she's the shit-- aka she has an "inflated self-esteem and grandiosity", in MY opinion. But then again she probably acts the way she does because she's super rich and famous and has every guy in america drooling over her, not because she's suffering from a manic episode. What i'm trying to say is that the items on checklists for mental disorders are completely subject to people's opinions and can be easily twisted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chapter 9

In chapter 8, Ronson investigates the story of Rachel North and the 7/7 subway bomb, and speaks with the conspiracy theorists, specifically David Shaylor, that have actively been campaigning their belief that it didn't happen. Rachel North narrowly escaped death when she was in a subway carriage with a suicide bomber in 7/7/7 in London. She started to blog about her experience to help deal with her grief, however, she had to deal with the masses of conspiracy theorists harassing her and commenting on her blog trying to contradict her story. Ronson was intrigued by the conspiracy theorists and wanted to talk to them about their beliefs and hear what type of evidence they have to back up their position. He meets up with David Shaylor, a conspiracy theorist that has many different interesting perspectives, including that it wasn't planes that hit the world trade center on 9/11, but missiles that looked like planes because they had holograms. David Shaylor seems to be a very crazy man. He even goes to the extent to claim that he is the Messiah.

I am really intrigued by conspiracy theorists now they sound absolutely insane and very stubborn. How do people come to believe those types of things? I find it hard to imagine that people like that exist in real life. I was kind of confused by the point of this chapter because Ronson didn't really tie it in with the whole psychopath testing stuff he has been doing in previous chapters. Obviously David Shaylor is insane but Ronson didn't really talk about the psychopath test much in this chapter. I liked at the end of the chapter how Ronson speculates that people like watching reality TV shows because the people on them are "the right kind of mad" because I think that's totally true and that people enjoy watching crazy people on TV because it makes them feel better about their lives.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed

In 'Something Borrowed', Gladwell explores the idea of plagiarism and wonders to what extent words and stories can be considered intellectual property. Gladwell investigates the case of Bryony Lavery, who was accused of plagiarizing material from several people for her Broadway play "Frozen", including work from Gladwell himself. Lavery's play is about three people: Ralph, a serial killer who murders a girl, the murdered girls' mother Nancy, and a psychiatrist Agnus. Lavery based the character off a lot of the work that Dorothy Lewis and Gladwell had done regarding serial killers. Eventually, Lavery was accused of plagiarism for using other peoples ideas in her play. However, Lavery did not think that what she was doing was wrong because she claims that she was taking old work and creating a new story by twisting the stories together and developing a new plot and theme for the playwright. She argues that what she did was not plagiarism. Gladwell investigates other cases of people being caught for plagiarism, including cases in the music industry. He ponders what can truly be considered intellectual property and believes that all work is kind of based off of past work.

I thought this was an interesting essay. It gave a new perspective on how I thought about plagiarism. The idea of intellectual property really bothers me. I understand why plagiarizing an entire paper or big chunks of the paper and basically stealing the idea from someone else should be considered plagiarism because that is not original at all. I think that in many cases, if someone combines ideas from several different resources into an essay and comes up with a different conclusion, it should not be considered plagiarism. On the other hand, in Lavery's case, where she essentially uses someone else's life story and then adds little bits and pieces to it to the point where others would question if that actually happened to her, I can understand why Lewis would be upset about that. The debate about intellectual property and plagiarism is a confusing one because there is no way to really set strict guidelines for what is an appropriate summary of someone else's work or to what extent using someone else's ideas would be considered plagiarizing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ronson Chapter 6

In Chapter 6, Ronson investigates the Sunbeam plant in Shubata, Mississippi and is curious to see if former CEO Al Dunlap is a psychopath. Ronson talks to several people who knew him about his history with the company and hears that he is known for firing hundreds of people at the plant and seeming to enjoy it, eventually shutting the company down, and buying his way out of a lawsuit with a massive settlement. Ronson travels to Dunlap's mansion to interview him and find out if he passes the psychopath test. After revealing to Dunlap that he was questioning whether or not he is a psychopath, he proceeds to ask him other characteristics from Hare's checklist and Dunlap argues that the traits he embodies are simply characteristics necessary to being a successful businessman. Ronson is disappointed that Dunlap didn't exhibit some of the main psychopath characteristics such as juvenile delinquency, many marriages, and feeling no empathy because Dunlap claimed he cried when his dog died. Ronson meets up with Hare to discuss his findings and Hare reassures him that the characteristics that Dunlap is missing could still very well mean that he is a psychopath.

This chapter is interesting because Ronson is starting to seem very obsessed with finding psychopaths and a little too involved. I began to question the credibility of Hare's checklist because when Ronson and Hare discussed Ronson's interview with Dunlap, Hare seemed to have an excuse for every characteristic that Dunlap didn't have for how he might still be a psychopath. There seem to be a lot of loopholes in the checklist and it seems like anything someone does could somehow be considered a characteristic of psychopathy if you twist it one way or another, according to Hare and Ronson. They might be looking too far into what people are telling them. I am curious to see what happens later on in the book and if he ends up proving that the psychopath test works or if this is a point in the book where readers are supposed to feel like it doesn't seem completely credible.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Research Question

What long-term effects would lowering the drinking age to 18 have on American society?

I chose this question because it is something that I have always been curious about. I have heard that in Europe they have less incidence of binge drinking and drinking and driving and I have always wondered if this is a direct cause of their lenient views on the drinking age, and if it was, if it would ever be possible to make this change happen in America. I realize that I have only heard things from other people and it would be interesting to do research on it and see if it is true that it would have positive effects like I imagine it would. I would probably look at statistics for the incidence of these issues in countries where the drinking age is less than 21 and compare it to statistics in America and see if there are any studies that prove that it would make a significant impact. 

I'm not sure if there are any studies that show any link to a lower drinking age having any positive impacts of if there are only theories about what might happen. I am also not sure if it's possible to conclude that a lower drinking age is the direct cause of these issues.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Psychopath Test- Chapters 4 and 5

In chapter 5, Ronson attempts to put his psychopath detecting skills to the test and visits a mass murderer, Toto, that had been locked up for mortgage fraud for 37 years in a high security prison. After learning about Bob Hare's psychopath test, Ronson started to wonder if Tony is a psychopath and wanted to test out the list of characteristics to see if he would be able to pick one out. He had encountered the mass murderer Toto years before, when he interviewed him in Queens after he was let off the hook for being the leader of a death squad in Haiti because he blamed it on other people. When he went to visit him at prison, Toto convinced him that he was not a psychopath off the bat because he talked about having so many emotions. Ronson almost fell for his ploy. He learned that if he addressed questions by framing them to imply that Toto was showing signs of weakness, Toto would start to exhibit very clear characteristics that matched those on Bob Hare's list, such as showing no remorse. Ronson left the prison after his conversation with Toto very confident that he was able to identify a psychopath.

One of the main things I keep wondering while reading this text has been, that if psychopaths are so good at imitating people's emotions and being manipulative and deceiving, and making people believe they are someone other than who they truly are, are they aware of the psychopath test and how to avoid sounding like one? Is it because they refuse to believe that anything is wrong with them or do they actually have no idea that they are one, or that people might perceive them to be one? For example if they were to read off of Bob Hare's list "lack of remorse", would they be able to identify with any situation where they felt a lack of remorse and wonder if they are exhibiting signs of a psychopath? Or for pathological lying, would they be aware of how much they lie to get out of situations?  At any rate I love reading this book because it is full of concepts that i've never even thought of before. I thought it was interesting when he was talking to the psychologist Martha Stout and she addressed the reader by saying, "if you're reading this and wondering if you are a psychopath, you aren't one."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Psychopath Test- Chapter 3

In this chapter, Jon Ronson explores the Canadian psychiatrist Elliot Barker and learns about his unique ideas and experiments in treating psychopaths. Elliot had witnessed a nude psychotherapy session and thought that it would be an effective way to help psychopaths rid themselves of their madness and free them from he institution. He was allowed to test out his experiments at an asylum called Oak Ridge. Elliot would make the consenting patients take off all their clothes, give them hallucinogens and lock them in a room for days on end, allowing the psychopaths to essentially be each others' psychiatrists. Ronson later discovered that these psychopaths had a much higher rate of re-offending than the regular criminals who hadn't been through Elliot's strange program.

I thought this chapter was very interesting and I find that I have to constantly remind myself that this is a non-fiction book. This chapter was packed with very messed up information about psychopaths and it feels like this kind of stuff can't possibly actually happen. It seems hard to believe that an asylum would allow the kind of experiments that Elliot Barker was doing. It made me wonder why the institution wasn't concerned with the drug use and why they weren't more concerned with safety when they are locking all these dangerous, drugged up people in a room together. Where did Elliot receive his credentials to practice that kind of experiment? How did the psychopaths change after Elliot's program where they were able to get out of the institution? Also, for me, Ronson's writing style became a bit hard to follow this chapter. It seems choppy and doesn't flow as well, and I had to go back several times and reread to try and find a connection between things he was saying and having trouble piecing together the information. Overall, this is a very interesting book and I am excited to find out where it's heading!