Digital Dualism [...]

Digital dualism allows Turkle to write as though she is championing humanity, conversation, and empathy when ultimately she is merely privileging geography. Again, this can feel intuitive, because this fetishization of contiguity has a long tradition and is echoed in our everyday language: Each time we say “IRL,” “face-to-face,” or “in person” to mean connection without screens, we frame what is “real” or who is a person in terms of their geographic proximity rather than other aspects of closeness — variables like attention, empathy, affect, erotics, all of which can be experienced at a distance. We should not conceptually preclude or discount all the ways intimacy, passion, love, joy, pleasure, closeness, pain, suffering, evil and all the visceral actualities of existence pass through the screen. “Face to face” should mean more than breathing the same air. (Source)

skype dual portrait

A significant difference being not distance but mediation. Face to face tends to set aside mediation. It’s still there in the interfaces of spoken words, touch, the semiotics of gesture and pose, but we set it aside for a sense of the real. Digital mediation means reading artifacts (blog post, image) created by the real interaction and working in a different semiotic frame than that of face to face.

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Mutual Teaching [...]

The English translation of a Danish watercolor (“Indbyrdes undervisning”) showing the Monitorial System. The watercolor was painted sometime before 1882 by P. C. Klæstrup (1820-1882). This copy comes to us via Danish Wikipedia.

Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (VPNS) [...]

VPNS is a catch-all name for pedagogies which involve students working at the edges of the classroom uses vertical non-permanent surfaces such as portable whiteboards. The idea is it improves visibility to the teacher, who can watch as work progresses, allows for transfer of knowledge around the room, reduces the stress of “permanent” writing, and encourage students to learn from the examples of others.


There is at least a nod here to the Monitorial System, at least in regards to room organization.

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Getting Credit Wrong [...]

People get credit wrong for many reasons. Here’s a few:

Cryptomnesia is when a person has a memory of an idea they doe not recognize and perceive it as their own.

Sometimes discovery is incremental and dispersed, and the people who go the last mile get the credit. See CRISPR Credit

Sometimes the marketing of the invention fails, and better marketed attempts that come later are identified as the prominent. See Kenbak-1

Sometimes the most prominent instance of an idea gets the credit, as in wiki/wikipedia or the Rio/iPod issue.

The Behavioral Perspective [...]

Behaviorism is an approach to psychology that emerged in the early 20th century as a reaction to the psychoanalytic theory of the time. Psychoanalytic theory often had difficulty making predictions that could be tested using rigorous experimental methods. The behaviorist school of thought maintains that behaviors can be described scientifically without recourse either to internal physiological events or to hypothetical constructs such as thoughts and beliefs. Rather than focusing on underlying conflicts, behaviorism focuses on observable, overt behaviors that are learned from the environment.

Its application to the treatment of mental problems is known as behavior modification. Learning is seen as behavior change molded by experience; it is accomplished largely through either classical or operant conditioning (described below).

The primary developments in behaviorism came from the work of Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, Edward Lee Thorndike, and B. F. Skinner.

Ivan Pavlov and Classical Conditioning

The Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was widely known for describing the phenomenon now known as classical conditioning. In his famous 1890s experiment, he trained his dogs to salivate on command by associating the ringing of a bell with the delivery of food. As Pavlov’s work became known in the West, particularly through the writings of John B. Watson, the idea of conditioning as an automatic form of learning became a key concept in the development of behaviorism.

Photograph of Ivan Pavlov. He is older with a full-white beard.

Watson’s “Little Albert” Experiment

John B. Watson was an American psychologist who is best known for his controversial “Little Albert” experiment. In this experiment, he used classical conditioning to teach a nine-month-old boy to be afraid of a white toy rat by associating the rat with a sudden loud noise. This study demonstrated how emotions could become conditioned responses.

Old photo of Little Albert during conditioning.

Thorndike’s Law of Effect

Edward Lee Thorndike was an American psychologist whose work on animal behavior and the learning process led to the “law of effect.” The law of effect states that responses that create a satisfying effect are more likely to occur again, while responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur.

Skinner’s Operant Conditioning

“Operant conditioning,” a term coined by psychologist B. F. Skinner, describes a form of learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened depending on its association with either positive or negative consequences. The strengthening of a response occurs through reinforcement. Skinner described two types of reinforcement: positive reinforcement, which is the introduction of a positive consequence such as food, pleasurable activities, or attention from others, and negative reinforcement, which is the removal of a negative consequence such as pain or a loud noise. Skinner saw human behavior as shaped by trial and error through reinforcement and punishment, without any reference to inner conflicts or perceptions. In his theory, mental disorders represented maladaptive behaviors that were learned and could be unlearned through behavior modification.

Behaviorism Today

In the second half of the 20th century, behaviorism was expanded through advances in cognitive theories. While behaviorism and cognitive schools of psychological thought may not agree theoretically, they have complemented each other in practical therapeutic applications like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been used widely in the treatment of many different mental disorders, such as phobias, PTSD, and addiction.

Some behavior therapies employ Skinner’s theories of operant conditioning: by not reinforcing certain behaviors, these behaviors can be extinguished. Skinner’s radical behaviorism advanced a “triple contingency” model, which explored the links between the environment, behavior, and the mind. This later gave rise to applied behavior analysis (ABA), in which operant conditioning techniques are used to reinforce positive behaviors and punish unwanted behaviors. This approach to treatment has been an effective tool to help children on the autism spectrum; however, it is considered controversial by many who see it as attempting to change or “normalize” autistic behaviors (Lovaas, 1987, 2003; Sallows & Graupner, 2005; Wolf & Risley, 1967).

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The Cognitive Perspective [...]

Cognitive psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. “Cognition” refers to thinking and memory processes, and “cognitive development” refers to long-term changes in these processes. Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines of psychological study, including social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, and behavioral economics.

Cognitive psychology is radically different from previous psychological approaches in that it is characterized by both of the following:

  1. It accepts the use of the scientific method and generally rejects introspection as a valid method of investigation, unlike phenomenological methods such as Freudian psychoanalysis.
  2. It explicitly acknowledges the existence of internal mental states (such as belief, desire, and motivation), unlike behaviorist psychology.

Cognitive theory contends that solutions to problems take the form of algorithms, heuristics, or insights. Major areas of research in cognitive psychology include perception, memory, categorization, knowledge representation, numerical cognition, language, and thinking.

History of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is one of the more recent additions to psychological research. Though there are examples of cognitive approaches from earlier researchers, cognitive psychology really developed as a subfield within psychology in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The development of the field was heavily influenced by contemporary advancements in technology and computer science.

Early Roots

In 1958, Donald Broadbent integrated concepts from human-performance research and the recently developed information theory in his book Perception and Communication, which paved the way for the information-processing model of cognition. Ulric Neisser is credited with formally having coined the term “cognitive psychology” in his book of the same name, published in 1967. The perspective had its foundations in the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka, and in the work of Jean Piaget, who studied intellectual development in children.

Although no one person is entirely responsible for starting the cognitive revolution, Noam Chomsky was very influential in the early days of this movement. Chomsky (1928–), an American linguist, was dissatisfied with the influence that behaviorism had had on psychology. He believed that psychology’s focus on behavior was short-sighted and that the field had to reincorporate mental functioning into its purview if it were to offer any meaningful contributions to understanding behavior (Miller, 2003).

Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Photograph of Jean Piaget

Instead of approaching development from a psychoanalytic or psychosocial perspective, Piaget focused on children’s cognitive growth. He is most widely known for his stage theory of cognitive development, which outlines how children become able to think logically and scientifically over time. As they progress to a new stage, there is a distinct shift in how they think and reason.

The Humanistic Perspective [...]

Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective that rose to prominence in the mid-20th century, drawing on the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology, as well as Eastern philosophy. It adopts a holistic approach to human existence through investigations of concepts such as meaning, values, freedom, tragedy, personal responsibility, human potential, spirituality, and self-actualization.

Basic Principles of the Humanistic Perspective

The humanistic perspective is a holistic psychological perspective that attributes human characteristics and actions to free will and an innate drive for self-actualization. This approach focuses on maximum human potential and achievement rather than psychoses and symptoms of disorder. It emphasizes that people are inherently good and pays special attention to personal experiences and creativity. This perspective has led to advances in positive, educational, and industrial psychology, and has been applauded for its successful application to psychotherapy and social issues. Despite its great influence, humanistic psychology has also been criticized for its subjectivity and lack of evidence.

Developments in Humanistic Psychology

In the late 1950s, a group of psychologists convened in Detroit, Michigan, to discuss their interest in a psychology that focused on uniquely human issues, such as the self, self-actualization, health, hope, love, creativity, nature, being, becoming, individuality, and meaning. These preliminary meetings eventually culminated in the description of humanistic psychology as a recognizable “third force” in psychology, along with behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Humanism’s major theorists were Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, and Clark Moustakas; it was also influenced by psychoanalytic theorists, including Wilhelm Reich, who discussed an essentially good, healthy core self, and Carl Gustav Jung, who emphasized the concept of archetypes.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) is considered the founder of humanistic psychology, and is noted for his conceptualization of a hierarchy of human needs. He believed that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential—or to reach what he called “self-actualization”. Unlike many of his predecessors, Maslow studied mentally healthy individuals instead of people with serious psychological issues. Through his research he coined the term “peak experiences,” which he defined as “high points” in which people feel at harmony with themselves and their surroundings. Self-actualized people, he believed, have more of these peak experiences throughout a given day than others.

To explain his theories, Maslow created a visual, which he termed the “hierarchy of needs.” This pyramid depicts various levels of physical and psychological needs that a person progresses through during their lifetime. At the bottom of the pyramid are the basic physiological needs of a human being, such as food and water. The next level is safety, which includes shelter and needs paramount to physical survival. The third level, love and belonging, is the psychological need to share oneself with others. The fourth level, esteem, focuses on success, status, and accomplishments. The top of the pyramid is self-actualization, in which a person is believed to have reached a state of harmony and understanding. Individuals progress from lower to higher stages throughout their lives, and cannot reach higher stages without first meeting the lower needs that come before them.

Pyramid showing the hierarchy of needs.

Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy

Carl Rogers (1902–1987) is best known for his person-centered approach, in which the relationship between therapist and client is used to help the patient reach a state of realization, so that they can then help themselves. His non-directive approach focuses more on the present than the past and centers on clients’ capacity for self-direction and understanding of their own development. The therapist encourages the patient to express their feelings and does not suggest how the person might wish to change. Instead, the therapist uses the skills of active listening and mirroring to help patients explore and understand their feelings for themselves.

Photograph of Carl Rogers.

Rogers is also known for practicing “unconditional positive regard,” which is defined as accepting a person in their entirety with no negative judgment of their essential worth. He believed that those raised in an environment of unconditional positive regard have the opportunity to fully actualize themselves, while those raised in an environment of conditional positive regard only feel worthy if they match conditions that have been laid down by others.

May’s Existentialism

Rollo May (1909–1994) was the best known American existential psychologist, and differed from other humanistic psychologists by showing a sharper awareness of the tragic dimensions of human existence. May was influenced by American humanism, and emphasized the importance of human choice.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Humanistic psychology is holistic in nature: it takes whole persons into account rather than their separate traits or processes. In this way, people are not reduced to one particular attribute or set of characteristics, but instead are appreciated for the complex beings that they are. Humanistic psychology allows for a personality concept that is dynamic and fluid and accounts for much of the change a person experiences over a lifetime. It stresses the importance of free will and personal responsibility for decision-making; this view gives the conscious human being some necessary autonomy and frees them from deterministic principles. Perhaps most importantly, the humanistic perspective emphasizes the need to strive for positive goals and explains human potential in a way that other theories cannot.

However, critics have taken issue with many of the early tenets of humanism, such as its lack of empirical evidence (as was the case with most early psychological approaches). Because of the inherent subjective nature of the humanistic approach, psychologists worry that this perspective does not identify enough constant variables in order to be researched with consistency and accuracy. Psychologists also worry that such an extreme focus on the subjective experience of the individual does little to explain or appreciate the impact of external societal factors on personality development. In addition, The major tenet of humanistic personality psychology — namely, that people are innately good and intuitively seek positive goals — does not account for the presence of deviance in the world within normal, functioning personalities.

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The Socio-Cultural Perspective [...]

Sociocultural factors are the larger-scale forces within cultures and societies that affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals. These include forces such as attitudes, child-rearing practices, discrimination and prejudice, ethnic and racial identity, gender roles and norms, family and kinship structures, power dynamics, regional differences, religious beliefs and practices, rituals, and taboos. Several subfields within psychology seek to examine these sociocultural factors that influence human mental states and behavior; among these are social psychology, cultural psychology, and cultural-historical psychology.

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Cultural Psychology [...]

Cultural psychology is the study of how psychological and behavioral tendencies are rooted and embedded within culture. The main tenet of cultural psychology is that mind and culture are inseparable and mutually constitutive, meaning that people are shaped by their culture and their culture is also shaped by them.

A major goal of cultural psychology is to expand the number and variation of cultures that contribute to basic psychological theories, so that these theories become more relevant to the predictions, descriptions, and explanations of _all _human behaviors—not just Western ones. Populations that are Western, educated, and industrialized tend to be overrepresented in psychological research, yet findings from this research tend to be labeled “universal” and inaccurately applied to other cultures. The evidence that social values, logical reasoning, and basic cognitive and motivational processes vary across populations has become increasingly difficult to ignore. By studying only a narrow range of culture within human populations, psychologists fail to account for a substantial amount of diversity.

Collage of white pop culture icons.

Cultural psychology is often confused with cross-cultural psychology_; _however, it is distinct in that cross-cultural psychologists generally use culture as a means of testing the universality of psychological processes, rather than determining how local cultural practices shape psychological processes. So while a cross-cultural psychologist might ask whether Jean Piaget’s stages of development are universal across a variety of cultures, a cultural psychologist would be interested in how the social practices of a particular set of cultures shape the development of cognitive processes in different ways.

Vygotsky and Cultural-Historical Psychology

Cultural-historical psychology is a psychological theory formed by Lev Vygotsky in the late 1920s and further developed by his students and followers in Eastern Europe and worldwide. This theory focuses on how aspects of culture, such as values, beliefs, customs, and skills, are transmitted from one generation to the next. According to Vygotsky, social interaction—especially involvement with knowledgeable community or family members—helps children to acquire the thought processes and behaviors specific to their culture and/or society. The growth that children experience as a result of these interactions differs greatly between cultures; this variance allows children to become competent in tasks that are considered important or necessary in their particular society.

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The Biological Perspective [...]

Biopsychology—also known as biological psychology or psychobiology—is the application of the principles of biology to the study of mental processes and behavior. The fields of behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology are all subfields of biological psychology.

Overview of Biopsychology

Biopsychologists are interested in measuring biological, physiological, and/or genetic variables and attempting to relate them to psychological or behavioral variables. Because all behavior is controlled by the central nervous system, biopsychologists seek to understand how the brain functions in order to understand behavior. Key areas of focus include sensation and perception, motivated behavior (such as hunger, thirst, and sex), control of movement, learning and memory, sleep and biological rhythms, and emotion. As technical sophistication leads to advancements in research methods, more advanced topics, such as language, reasoning, decision-making, and consciousness, are now being studied.

Brain scans

Behavioral neuroscience has a strong history of contributing to the understanding of medical disorders, including those that fall into the realm of clinical psychology. Neuropsychologists are often employed as scientists to advance scientific or medical knowledge, and neuropsychology is particularly concerned with understanding brain injuries in an attempt to learn about normal psychological functioning.

MRI of the brain

Neuroimaging tools, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, are often used to observe which areas of the brain are active during particular tasks in order to help psychologists understand the link between brain and behavior.

History

Biopsychology as a scientific discipline emerged from a variety of scientific and philosophical traditions in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Image of parts of the brain, showing the pineal gland

Philosophers like Rene Descartes proposed physical models to explain animal and human behavior. Descartes suggested, for example, that the pineal gland, a midline unpaired structure in the brain of many organisms, was the point of contact between mind and body. In The Principles of Psychology (1890), William James argued that the scientific study of psychology should be grounded in an understanding of biology. The emergence of both psychology and behavioral neuroscience as legitimate sciences can be traced to the emergence of physiology during the 18th and 19th centuries; however, it was not until 1914 that the term “psychobiology” was first used in its modern sense by Knight Dunlap in An Outline of Psychobiology.

 

The Psychodynamic Perspective [...]

Psychodynamic theory is an approach to psychology that studies the psychological forces underlying human behavior, feelings, and emotions, and how they may relate to early childhood experience. This theory is especially interested in the dynamic relations between conscious and unconscious motivation, and asserts that behavior is the product of underlying conflicts over which people often have little awareness.

Psychodynamic theory was born in 1874 with the works of German scientist Ernst von Brucke, who supposed that all living organisms are energy systems governed by the principle of the conservation of energy. During the same year, medical student Sigmund Freud adopted this new “dynamic” physiology and expanded it to create the original concept of “psychodynamics,” in which he suggested that psychological processes are flows of psychosexual energy (libido) in a complex brain. Freud also coined the term “psychoanalysis.” Later, these theories were developed further by Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Melanie Klein, and others. By the mid-1940s and into the 1950s, the general application of the “psychodynamic theory” had been well established.

Photograph of Freud

The Role of the Unconscious

Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis holds two major assumptions: (1) that much of mental life is unconscious (i.e., outside of awareness), and (2) that past experiences, especially in early childhood, shape how a person feels and behaves throughout life. The concept of the unconscious was central: Freud postulated a cycle in which ideas are repressed but continue to operate unconsciously in the mind, and then reappear in consciousness under certain circumstances. Much of Freud’s theory was based on his investigations of patients suffering from “hysteria” and neurosis. Hysteria was an ancient diagnosis that was primarily used for women with a wide variety of symptoms, including physical symptoms and emotional disturbances with no apparent physical cause. The history of the term can be traced to ancient Greece, where the idea emerged that a woman’s uterus could float around her body and cause a variety of disturbances. Freud theorized instead that many of his patients’ problems arose from the unconscious mind. In Freud’s view, the unconscious mind was a repository of feelings and urges of which we have no awareness.

The treatment of a patient referred to as Anna O. is regarded as marking the beginning of psychoanalysis. Freud worked together with Austrian physician Josef Breuer to treat Anna O.’s “hysteria,” which Freud implied was a result of the resentment she felt over her father’s real and physical illness that later led to his death. Today many researchers believe that her illness was not psychological, as Freud suggested, but either neurological or organic.

The Id, Ego, and Superego

Freud’s structural model of personality divides the personality into three parts—the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the unconscious part that is the cauldron of raw drives, such as for sex or aggression. The ego, which has conscious and unconscious elements, is the rational and reasonable part of personality. Its role is to maintain contact with the outside world to keep the individual in touch with society, and to do this it mediates between the conflicting tendencies of the id and the superego. The superego is a person’s conscience, which develops early in life and is learned from parents, teachers, and others. Like the ego, the superego has conscious and unconscious elements. When all three parts of the personality are in dynamic equilibrium, the individual is thought to be mentally healthy. However, if the ego is unable to mediate between the id and the superego, an imbalance is believed to occur in the form of psychological distress.

Image of a clip-art iceberg, with large portions of its superego and ego under the surface of the water, with the id at the bottom of the iceberg. The exposed portion is conscious experience.

Psychosexual Theory of Development

Freud’s theories also placed a great deal of emphasis on sexual development. Freud believed that each of us must pass through a series of stages during childhood, and that if we lack proper nurturing during a particular stage, we may become stuck or fixated in that stage. Freud’s psychosexual model of development includes five stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. According to Freud, children’s pleasure-seeking urges are focused on a different area of the body, called an erogenous zone, at each of these five stages. Psychologists today dispute that Freud’s psychosexual stages provide a legitimate explanation for how personality develops, but what we can take away from Freud’s theory is that personality is shaped, in some part, by experiences we have in childhood.

Jungian Psychodynamics

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychotherapist who expanded upon Freud’s theories at the turn of the 20th century. A central concept of Jung’s analytical psychology is individuation: the psychological process of integrating opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy. Jung focused less on infantile development and conflict between the id and superego and instead focused more on integration between different parts of the person. Jung created some of the best-known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and synchronicity.

Psychodynamics Today

At present, psychodynamics is an evolving multidisciplinary field that analyzes and studies human thought processes, response patterns, and influences. Research in this field focuses on areas such as:

  • understanding and anticipating the range of conscious and unconscious responses to specific sensory inputs, such as images, colors, textures, sounds, etc.;
  • utilizing the communicative nature of movement and primal physiological gestures to affect and study specific mind-body states; and
  • examining the capacity of the mind and senses to directly affect physiological response and biological change.

Psychodynamic therapy, in which patients become increasingly aware of dynamic conflicts and tensions that are manifesting as a symptom or challenge in their lives, is an approach to therapy that is still commonly used today.

 

 

Summary of History of Psychology [...]

Before the time of Wundt and James, questions about the mind were considered by philosophers. However, both Wundt and James helped create psychology as a distinct scientific discipline. Wundt was a structuralist, which meant he believed that our cognitive experience was best understood by breaking that experience into its component parts. He thought this was best accomplished by introspection.

William James was the first American psychologist, and he was a proponent of functionalism. This particular perspective focused on how mental activities served as adaptive responses to an organism’s environment. Like Wundt, James also relied on introspection; however, his research approach also incorporated more objective measures as well.

Sigmund Freud believed that understanding the unconscious mind was absolutely critical to understand conscious behavior. This was especially true for individuals that he saw who suffered from various hysterias and neuroses. Freud relied on dream analysis, slips of the tongue, and free association as means to access the unconscious. Psychoanalytic theory remained a dominant force in clinical psychology for several decades.

Gestalt psychology was very influential in Europe. Gestalt psychology takes a holistic view of an individual and his experiences. As the Nazis came to power in Germany, Wertheimer, Koffka, and Köhler immigrated to the United States. Although they left their laboratories and their research behind, they did introduce America to Gestalt ideas. Some of the principles of Gestalt psychology are still very influential in the study of sensation and perception.

One of the most influential schools of thought within psychology’s history was behaviorism. Behaviorism focused on making psychology an objective science by studying overt behavior and deemphasizing the importance of unobservable mental processes. John Watson is often considered the father of behaviorism, and B. F. Skinner’s contributions to our understanding of principles of operant conditioning cannot be underestimated.

As behaviorism and psychoanalytic theory took hold of so many aspects of psychology, some began to become dissatisfied with psychology’s picture of human nature. Thus, a humanistic movement within psychology began to take hold. Humanism focuses on the potential of all people for good. Both Maslow and Rogers were influential in shaping humanistic psychology.

During the 1950s, the landscape of psychology began to change. A science of behavior began to shift back to its roots of focus on mental processes. The emergence of neuroscience and computer science aided this transition. Ultimately, the cognitive revolution took hold, and people came to realize that cognition was crucial to a true appreciation and understanding of behavior.

 

https://oea.herokuapp.com/assessments/1331

Self Check Questions

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How did the object of study in psychology change over the history of the field since the 19th century?

  2. In part, what aspect of psychology was the behaviorist approach to psychology a reaction to?

Personal Application Question

  1. Freud is probably one of the most well-known historical figures in psychology. Where have you encountered references to Freud or his ideas about the role that the unconscious mind plays in determining conscious behavior?

 

Answers

  1. In its early days, psychology could be defined as the scientific study of mind or mental processes. Over time, psychology began to shift more towards the scientific study of behavior. However, as the cognitive revolution took hold, psychology once again began to focus on mental processes as necessary to the understanding of behavior.

  2. Behaviorists studied objectively observable behavior partly in reaction to the psychologists of the mind who were studying things that were not directly observable.

 

Glossary

behaviorism focus on observing and controlling behavior

functionalism focused on how mental activities helped an organism adapt to its environment

humanism perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans

introspection process by which someone examines their own conscious experience in an attempt to break it into its component parts

psychoanalytic theory focus on the role of the unconscious in affecting conscious behavior

structuralism understanding the conscious experience through introspection

 

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Multicultural Psychology [...]

Culture has important impacts on individuals and social psychology, yet the effects of culture on psychology are under-studied. There is a risk that psychological theories and data derived from white, American settings could be assumed to apply to individuals and social groups from other cultures and this is unlikely to be true (Betancourt & López, 1993). One weakness in the field of cross-cultural psychology is that in looking for differences in psychological attributes across cultures, there remains a need to go beyond simple descriptive statistics (Betancourt & López, 1993). In this sense, it has remained a descriptive science, rather than one seeking to determine cause and effect. For example, a study of characteristics of individuals seeking treatment for a binge eating disorder in Hispanic American, African American, and Caucasian American individuals found significant differences between groups (Franko et al., 2012). The study concluded that results from studying any one of the groups could not be extended to the other groups, and yet potential causes of the differences were not measured.

This history of multicultural psychology in the United States is a long one. The role of African American psychologists in researching the cultural differences between African American individual and social psychology is but one example. In 1920, Cecil Sumner was the first African American to receive a PhD in psychology in the United States. Sumner established a psychology degree program at Howard University, leading to the education of a new generation of African American psychologists (Black, Spence, and Omari, 2004). Much of the work of early African American psychologists (and a general focus of much work in first half of the 20th century in psychology in the United States) was dedicated to testing and intelligence testing in particular (Black et al., 2004). That emphasis has continued, particularly because of the importance of testing in determining opportunities for children, but other areas of exploration in African-American psychology research include learning style, sense of community and belonging, and spiritualism (Black et al., 2004).

The American Psychological Association has several ethnically based organizations for professional psychologists that facilitate interactions among members. Since psychologists belonging to specific ethnic groups or cultures have the most interest in studying the psychology of their communities, these organizations provide an opportunity for the growth of research on the impact of culture on individual and social psychology.

Link to Learning

Read a news story about the influence of an African American’s psychology research on the historic Brown v. Board of Education civil rights case.

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The Cognitive Revolution [...]

Behaviorism’s emphasis on objectivity and focus on external behavior had pulled psychologists’ attention away from the mind for a prolonged period of time. The early work of the humanistic psychologists redirected attention to the individual human as a whole, and as a conscious and self-aware being. By the 1950s, new disciplinary perspectives in linguistics, neuroscience, and computer science were emerging, and these areas revived interest in the mind as a focus of scientific inquiry. This particular perspective has come to be known as the cognitive revolution (Miller, 2003). By 1967, Ulric Neisser published the first textbook entitled Cognitive Psychology, which served as a core text in cognitive psychology courses around the country (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Although no one person is entirely responsible for starting the cognitive revolution, Noam Chomsky was very influential in the early days of this movement ([(link)]). Chomsky (1928–), an American linguist, was dissatisfied with the influence that behaviorism had had on psychology. He believed that psychology’s focus on behavior was short-sighted and that the field had to re-incorporate mental functioning into its purview if it were to offer any meaningful contributions to understanding behavior (Miller, 2003).

A photograph shows a mural on the side of a building. The mural includes Chomsky's face, along with some newspapers, televisions, and cleaning products.

European psychology had never really been as influenced by behaviorism as had American psychology; and thus, the cognitive revolution helped reestablish lines of communication between European psychologists and their American counterparts. Furthermore, psychologists began to cooperate with scientists in other fields, like anthropology, linguistics, computer science, and neuroscience, among others. This interdisciplinary approach often was referred to as the cognitive sciences, and the influence and prominence of this particular perspective resonates in modern-day psychology (Miller, 2003).

Dig Deeper: Feminist Psychology

The science of psychology has had an impact on human wellbeing, both positive and negative. The dominant influence of Western, white, and male academics in the early history of psychology meant that psychology developed with the biases inherent in those individuals, which often had negative consequences for members of society that were not white or male. Women, members of ethnic minorities in both the United States and other countries, and individuals with sexual orientations other than heterosexual had difficulties entering the field of psychology and therefore influencing its development. They also suffered from the attitudes of white, male psychologists, who were not immune to the nonscientific attitudes prevalent in the society in which they developed and worked. Until the 1960s, the science of psychology was largely a “womanless” psychology (Crawford & Marecek, 1989), meaning that few women were able to practice psychology, so they had little influence on what was studied. In addition, the experimental subjects of psychology were mostly men, which resulted from underlying assumptions that gender had no influence on psychology and that women were not of sufficient interest to study.

An article by Naomi Weisstein, first published in 1968 (Weisstein, 1993), stimulated a feminist revolution in psychology by presenting a critique of psychology as a science. She also specifically criticized male psychologists for constructing the psychology of women entirely out of their own cultural biases and without careful experimental tests to verify any of their characterizations of women. Weisstein used, as examples, statements by prominent psychologists in the 1960s, such as this quote by Bruno Bettleheim: “. . . we must start with the realization that, as much as women want to be good scientists or engineers, they want first and foremost to be womanly companions of men and to be mothers.” Weisstein’s critique formed the foundation for the subsequent development of a feminist psychology that attempted to be free of the influence of male cultural biases on our knowledge of the psychology of women and, indeed, of both genders.

Crawford & Marecek (1989) identify several feminist approaches to psychology that can be described as feminist psychology. These include re-evaluating and discovering the contributions of women to the history of psychology, studying psychological gender differences, and questioning the male bias present across the practice of the scientific approach to knowledge.

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Maslow, Rogers, and Humanism [...]

During the early 20th century, American psychology was dominated by behaviorism and psychoanalysis. However, some psychologists were uncomfortable with what they viewed as limited perspectives being so influential to the field. They objected to the pessimism and determinism (all actions driven by the unconscious) of Freud. They also disliked the reductionism, or simplifying nature, of behaviorism. Behaviorism is also deterministic at its core, because it sees human behavior as entirely determined by a combination of genetics and environment. Some psychologists began to form their own ideas that emphasized personal control, intentionality, and a true predisposition for “good” as important for our self-concept and our behavior. Thus, humanism emerged. Humanism is a perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans. Two of the most well-known proponents of humanistic psychology are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers (O’Hara, n.d.).

Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) was an American psychologist who is best known for proposing a hierarchy of human needs in motivating behavior ([(link)]). Although this concept will be discussed in more detail in a later chapter, a brief overview will be provided here. Maslow asserted that so long as basic needs necessary for survival were met (e.g., food, water, shelter), higher-level needs (e.g., social needs) would begin to motivate behavior. According to Maslow, the highest-level needs relate to self-actualization, a process by which we achieve our full potential. Obviously, the focus on the positive aspects of human nature that are characteristic of the humanistic perspective is evident (Thorne & Henley, 2005). Humanistic psychologists rejected, on principle, the research approach based on reductionist experimentation in the tradition of the physical and biological sciences, because it missed the “whole” human being. Beginning with Maslow and Rogers, there was an insistence on a humanistic research program. This program has been largely qualitative (not measurement-based), but there exist a number of quantitative research strains within humanistic psychology, including research on happiness, self-concept, meditation, and the outcomes of humanistic psychotherapy (Friedman, 2008).

A triangle is divided vertically into five sections with corresponding labels inside and outside of the triangle for each section. From top to bottom, the triangle's sections are labeled: self-actualization corresponds to

Carl Rogers (1902–1987) was also an American psychologist who, like Maslow, emphasized the potential for good that exists within all people ([(link)]). Rogers used a therapeutic technique known as client-centered therapy in helping his clients deal with problematic issues that resulted in their seeking psychotherapy. Unlike a psychoanalytic approach in which the therapist plays an important role in interpreting what conscious behavior reveals about the unconscious mind, client-centered therapy involves the patient taking a lead role in the therapy session. Rogers believed that a therapist needed to display three features to maximize the effectiveness of this particular approach: unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathy. Unconditional positive regard refers to the fact that the therapist accepts their client for who they are, no matter what he or she might say. Provided these factors, Rogers believed that people were more than capable of dealing with and working through their own issues (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Humanism has been influential to psychology as a whole. Both Maslow and Rogers are well-known names among students of psychology (you will read more about both men later in this text), and their ideas have influenced many scholars. Furthermore, Rogers’ client-centered approach to therapy is still commonly used in psychotherapeutic settings today (O’hara, n.d.)

Link to Learning

View a brief video of Carl Rogers describing his therapeutic approach.

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Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, and Behaviorism [...]

Early work in the field of behavior was conducted by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936). Pavlov studied a form of learning behavior called a conditioned reflex, in which an animal or human produced a reflex (unconscious) response to a stimulus and, over time, was conditioned to produce the response to a different stimulus that the experimenter associated with the original stimulus. The reflex Pavlov worked with was salivation in response to the presence of food. The salivation reflex could be elicited using a second stimulus, such as a specific sound, that was presented in association with the initial food stimulus several times. Once the response to the second stimulus was “learned,” the food stimulus could be omitted. Pavlov’s “classical conditioning” is only one form of learning behavior studied by behaviorists.

John B. Watson (1878–1958) was an influential American psychologist whose most famous work occurred during the early 20th century at Johns Hopkins University. While Wundt and James were concerned with understanding conscious experience, Watson thought that the study of consciousness was flawed. Because he believed that objective analysis of the mind was impossible, Watson preferred to focus directly on observable behavior and try to bring that behavior under control. Watson was a major proponent of shifting the focus of psychology from the mind to behavior, and this approach of observing and controlling behavior came to be known as behaviorism. A major object of study by behaviorists was learned behavior and its interaction with inborn qualities of the organism. Behaviorism commonly used animals in experiments under the assumption that what was learned using animal models could, to some degree, be applied to human behavior. Indeed, Tolman (1938) stated, “I believe that everything important in psychology (except … such matters as involve society and words) can be investigated in essence through the continued experimental and theoretical analysis of the determiners of rat behavior at a choice-point in a maze.”

A photograph shows John B. Watson.

Behaviorism dominated experimental psychology for several decades, and its influence can still be felt today (Thorne & Henley, 2005). Behaviorism is largely responsible for establishing psychology as a scientific discipline through its objective methods and especially experimentation. In addition, it is used in behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavior modification is commonly used in classroom settings. Behaviorism has also led to research on environmental influences on human behavior.

B. F. Skinner (1904–1990) was an American psychologist ([(link)]). Like Watson, Skinner was a behaviorist, and he concentrated on how behavior was affected by its consequences. Therefore, Skinner spoke of reinforcement and punishment as major factors in driving behavior. As a part of his research, Skinner developed a chamber that allowed the careful study of the principles of modifying behavior through reinforcement and punishment. This device, known as an operant conditioning chamber (or more familiarly, a Skinner box), has remained a crucial resource for researchers studying behavior (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Photograph A shows B.F. Skinner. Illustration B shows a rat in a Skinner box: a chamber with a speaker, lights, a lever, and a food dispenser.

The Skinner box is a chamber that isolates the subject from the external environment and has a behavior indicator such as a lever or a button. When the animal pushes the button or lever, the box is able to deliver a positive reinforcement of the behavior (such as food) or a punishment (such as a noise) or a token conditioner (such as a light) that is correlated with either the positive reinforcement or punishment.

Skinner’s focus on positive and negative reinforcement of learned behaviors had a lasting influence in psychology that has waned somewhat since the growth of research in cognitive psychology. Despite this, conditioned learning is still used in human behavioral modification. Skinner’s two widely read and controversial popular science books about the value of operant conditioning for creating happier lives remain as thought-provoking arguments for his approach (Greengrass, 2004).

Wertheimer, Koffka, Köhler, and Gestalt Psychology [...]

Max Wertheimer (1880–1943), Kurt Koffka (1886–1941), and Wolfgang Köhler (1887–1967) were three German psychologists who immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century to escape Nazi Germany. These men are credited with introducing psychologists in the United States to various Gestalt principles. The word Gestalt roughly translates to “whole;” a major emphasis of Gestalt psychology deals with the fact that although a sensory experience can be broken down into individual parts, how those parts relate to each other as a whole is often what the individual responds to in perception. For example, a song may be made up of individual notes played by different instruments, but the real nature of the song is perceived in the combinations of these notes as they form the melody, rhythm, and harmony. In many ways, this particular perspective would have directly contradicted Wundt’s ideas of structuralism (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Unfortunately, in moving to the United States, these men were forced to abandon much of their work and were unable to continue to conduct research on a large scale. These factors along with the rise of behaviorism (described next) in the United States prevented principles of Gestalt psychology from being as influential in the United States as they had been in their native Germany (Thorne & Henley, 2005). Despite these issues, several Gestalt principles are still very influential today. Considering the human individual as a whole rather than as a sum of individually measured parts became an important foundation in humanistic theory late in the century. The ideas of Gestalt have continued to influence research on sensation and perception.

Structuralism, Freud, and the Gestalt psychologists were all concerned in one way or another with describing and understanding inner experience. But other researchers had concerns that inner experience could be a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry and chose instead to exclusively study behavior, the objectively observable outcome of mental processes.

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Freud and Psychoanalytic Theory [...]

Perhaps one of the most influential and well-known figures in psychology’s history was Sigmund Freud ([(link)]). Freud (1856–1939) was an Austrian neurologist who was fascinated by patients suffering from “hysteria” and neurosis. Hysteria was an ancient diagnosis for disorders, primarily of women with a wide variety of symptoms, including physical symptoms and emotional disturbances, none of which had an apparent physical cause. Freud theorized that many of his patients’ problems arose from the unconscious mind. In Freud’s view, the unconscious mind was a repository of feelings and urges of which we have no awareness. Gaining access to the unconscious, then, was crucial to the successful resolution of the patient’s problems. According to Freud, the unconscious mind could be accessed through dream analysis, by examinations of the first words that came to people’s minds, and through seemingly innocent slips of the tongue. Psychoanalytic theory focuses on the role of a person’s unconscious, as well as early childhood experiences, and this particular perspective dominated clinical psychology for several decades (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Photograph A shows Sigmund Freud. Image B shows the title page of his book, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis.

Freud’s ideas were influential, and you will learn more about them when you study lifespan development, personality, and therapy. For instance, many therapists believe strongly in the unconscious and the impact of early childhood experiences on the rest of a person’s life. The method of psychoanalysis, which involves the patient talking about their experiences and selves, while not invented by Freud, was certainly popularized by him and is still used today. Many of Freud’s other ideas, however, are controversial. Drew Westen (1998) argues that many of the criticisms of Freud’s ideas are misplaced, in that they attack his older ideas without taking into account later writings. Westen also argues that critics fail to consider the success of the broad ideas that Freud introduced or developed, such as the importance of childhood experiences in adult motivations, the role of unconscious versus conscious motivations in driving our behavior, the fact that motivations can cause conflicts that affect behavior, the effects of mental representations of ourselves and others in guiding our interactions, and the development of personality over time. Westen identifies subsequent research support for all of these ideas.

More modern iterations of Freud’s clinical approach have been empirically demonstrated to be effective (Knekt et al., 2008; Shedler, 2010). Some current practices in psychotherapy involve examining unconscious aspects of the self and relationships, often through the relationship between the therapist and the client. Freud’s historical significance and contributions to clinical practice merit his inclusion in a discussion of the historical movements within psychology.

James and Functionalism [...]

William James (1842–1910) was the first American psychologist who espoused a different perspective on how psychology should operate ([(link)]). James was introduced to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and accepted it as an explanation of an organism’s characteristics. Key to that theory is the idea that natural selection leads to organisms that are adapted to their environment, including their behavior. Adaptation means that a trait of an organism has a function for the survival and reproduction of the individual, because it has been naturally selected.

A drawing depicts William James.

As James saw it, psychology’s purpose was to study the function of behavior in the world, and as such, his perspective was known as functionalism. Functionalism focused on how mental activities helped an organism fit into its environment. Functionalism has a second, more subtle meaning in that functionalists were more interested in the operation of the whole mind rather than of its individual parts, which were the focus of structuralism. Like Wundt, James believed that introspection could serve as one means by which someone might study mental activities, but James also relied on more objective measures, including the use of various recording devices, and examinations of concrete products of mental activities and of anatomy and physiology (Gordon, 1995).

Wundt and Structuralism [...]

Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) was a German scientist who was the first person to be referred to as a psychologist. His famous book entitled Principles of Physiological Psychology was published in 1873. Wundt viewed psychology as a scientific study of conscious experience, and he believed that the goal of psychology was to identify components of consciousness and how those components combined to result in our conscious experience. Wundt used introspection (he called it “internal perception”), a process by which someone examines their own conscious experience as objectively as possible, making the human mind like any other aspect of nature that a scientist observed. Wundt’s version of introspection used only very specific experimental conditions in which an external stimulus was designed to produce a scientifically observable (repeatable) experience of the mind (Danziger, 1980). The first stringent requirement was the use of “trained” or practiced observers, who could immediately observe and report a reaction. The second requirement was the use of repeatable stimuli that always produced the same experience in the subject and allowed the subject to expect and thus be fully attentive to the inner reaction. These experimental requirements were put in place to eliminate “interpretation” in the reporting of internal experiences and to counter the argument that there is no way to know that an individual is observing their mind or consciousness accurately, since it cannot be seen by any other person. This attempt to understand the structure or characteristics of the mind was known as structuralism. Wundt established his psychology laboratory at the University at Leipzig in 1879. In this laboratory, Wundt and his students conducted experiments on, for example, reaction times. A subject, sometimes in a room isolated from the scientist, would receive a stimulus such as a light, image, or sound. The subject’s reaction to the stimulus would be to push a button, and an apparatus would record the time to reaction. Wundt could measure reaction time to one-thousandth of a second (Nicolas & Ferrand, 1999).

Photograph A shows Wilhelm Wundt. Photograph B shows Wundt and five other people gathered around a desk with equipment on top of it.

However, despite his efforts to train individuals in the process of introspection, this process remained highly subjective, and there was very little agreement between individuals. As a result, structuralism fell out of favor with the passing of Wundt’s student, Edward Titchener, in 1927 (Gordon, 1995).

Summary of “Careers in Psychology” [...]

Generally, academic careers in psychology require doctoral degrees. However, there are a number of nonacademic career options for people who have master’s degrees in psychology. While people with bachelor’s degrees in psychology have more limited psychology-related career options, the skills acquired as a function of an undergraduate education in psychology are useful in a variety of work contexts.

https://oea.herokuapp.com/assessments/1360

Self Check Questions

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why is an undergraduate education in psychology so helpful in a number of different lines of work?

  2. Other than a potentially greater salary, what would be the reasons an individual would continue on to get a graduate degree in psychology?

Personal Application Question

  1. Which of the career options described in this section is most appealing to you?

Answers

  1. An undergraduate education in psychology hones critical thinking skills. These skills are useful in many different work settings.

  2. The graduate degree would be a stronger guarantee of working in a psychology-related field and one would have greater control over the specialty of that work. It would allow one to practice in a clinical setting. In general, it would allow someone to work in a more independent or supervisory capacity.

Glossary

dissertation  long research paper about research that was conducted as a part of the candidate’s doctoral training

PhD  (doctor of philosophy) doctoral degree conferred in many disciplinary perspectives housed in a traditional college of liberal arts and sciences

postdoctoral training program  allows young scientists to further develop their research programs and broaden their research skills under the supervision of other professionals in the field

PsyD  (doctor of psychology) doctoral degree that places less emphasis on research-oriented skills and focuses more on application of psychological principles in the clinical context

 

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Career Options Outside of Academic Settings [...]

CAREER OPTIONS OUTSIDE OF ACADEMIC SETTINGS

Individuals who wish to become practicing clinical psychologists have another option for earning a doctoral degree, which is known as a PsyD. A PsyD is a doctor of psychology degree that is increasingly popular among individuals interested in pursuing careers in clinical psychology. PsyD programs generally place less emphasis on research-oriented skills and focus more on application of psychological principles in the clinical context (Norcorss & Castle, 2002).

Regardless of whether earning a PhD or PsyD, in most states, an individual wishing to practice as a licensed clinical or counseling psychologist may complete postdoctoral work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Within the last few years, however, several states have begun to remove this requirement, which would allow someone to get an earlier start in his career (Munsey, 2009). After an individual has met the state requirements, his credentials are evaluated to determine whether he can sit for the licensure exam. Only individuals that pass this exam can call themselves licensed clinical or counseling psychologists (Norcross, n.d.). Licensed clinical or counseling psychologists can then work in a number of settings, ranging from private clinical practice to hospital settings. It should be noted that clinical psychologists and psychiatrists do different things and receive different types of education. While both can conduct therapy and counseling, clinical psychologists have a PhD or a PsyD, whereas psychiatrists have a doctor of medicine degree (MD). As such, licensed clinical psychologists can administer and interpret psychological tests, while psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Individuals earning a PhD can work in a variety of settings, depending on their areas of specialization. For example, someone trained as a biopsychologist might work in a pharmaceutical company to help test the efficacy of a new drug. Someone with a clinical background might become a forensic psychologist and work within the legal system to make recommendations during criminal trials and parole hearings, or serve as an expert in a court case.

While earning a doctoral degree in psychology is a lengthy process, usually taking between 5–6 years of graduate study (DeAngelis, 2010), there are a number of careers that can be attained with a master’s degree in psychology. People who wish to provide psychotherapy can become licensed to serve as various types of professional counselors (Hoffman, 2012). Relevant master’s degrees are also sufficient for individuals seeking careers as school psychologists (National Association of School Psychologists, n.d.), in some capacities related to sport psychology (American Psychological Association, 2014), or as consultants in various industrial settings (Landers, 2011, June 14). Undergraduate coursework in psychology may be applicable to other careers such as psychiatric social work or psychiatric nursing, where assessments and therapy may be a part of the job.

As mentioned in the opening section of this chapter, an undergraduate education in psychology is associated with a knowledge base and skill set that many employers find quite attractive. It should come as no surprise, then, that individuals earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology find themselves in a number of different careers, as shown in [(link)]. Examples of a few such careers can involve serving as case managers, working in sales, working in human resource departments, and teaching in high schools. The rapidly growing realm of healthcare professions is another field in which an education in psychology is helpful and sometimes required. For example, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) exam that people must take to be admitted to medical school now includes a section on the psychological foundations of behavior.

Top Occupations Employing Graduates with a BA in Psychology (Fogg, Harrington, Harrington, & Shatkin, 2012)

Ranking Occupation
1 Mid- and top-level management (executive, administrator)
2 Sales
3 Social work
4 Other management positions
5 Human resources (personnel, training)
6 Other administrative positions
7 Insurance, real estate, business
8 Marketing and sales
9 Healthcare (nurse, pharmacist, therapist)
10 Finance (accountant, auditor)

 Link to Learning

Watch a brief video describing some of the career options available to people earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology.

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Other Careers in Academic Settings [...]

Often times, schools offer more courses in psychology than their full-time faculty can teach. In these cases, it is not uncommon to bring in an adjunct faculty member or instructor. Adjunct faculty members and instructors usually have an advanced degree in psychology, but they often have primary careers outside of academia and serve in this role as a secondary job. Alternatively, they may not hold the doctoral degree required by most 4-year institutions and use these opportunities to gain experience in teaching. Furthermore, many 2-year colleges and schools need faculty to teach their courses in psychology. In general, many of the people who pursue careers at these institutions have master’s degrees in psychology, although some PhDs make careers at these institutions as well.

Some people earning PhDs may enjoy research in an academic setting. However, they may not be interested in teaching. These individuals might take on faculty positions that are exclusively devoted to conducting research. This type of position would be more likely an option at large, research-focused universities.

In some areas in psychology, it is common for individuals who have recently earned their PhD to seek out positions in postdoctoral training programs that are available before going on to serve as faculty. In most cases, young scientists will complete one or two postdoctoral programs before applying for a full-time faculty position. Postdoctoral training programs allow young scientists to further develop their research programs and broaden their research skills under the supervision of other professionals in the field.

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Summary of “What is Psychology?” [...]

Psychology derives from the roots psyche (meaning soul) and –ology (meaning scientific study of). Thus, psychology is defined as the scientific study of mind and behavior. Students of psychology develop critical thinking skills, become familiar with the scientific method, and recognize the complexity of behavior.

Self Check Questions

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why do you think psychology courses like this one are often requirements of so many different programs of study?

  2. Why do you think many people might be skeptical about psychology being a science?

Personal Application Question

  1. Why are you taking this course? What do you hope to learn about during this course?

 

Answers

  1. Psychology courses deal with a number of issues that are helpful in a variety of settings. The text made mention of the types of skills as well as the knowledge base with which students of psychology become familiar. As mentioned in the link to learning, psychology is often helpful/valued in fields in which interacting with others is a major part of the job.

  2. One goal of psychology is the study of the mind. Science cannot directly study the mind, because it is not a form of matter or energy. This might create some skepticism about the scientific nature of psychology.

Glossary

empirical method  method for acquiring knowledge based on observation, including experimentation, rather than a method based only on forms of logical argument or previous authorities
ology  suffix that denotes “scientific study of”
psyche Greek word for soul
psychology  scientific study of the mind and behavior

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Merits of an Education in Psychology [...]

Often, students take their first psychology course because they are interested in helping others and want to learn more about themselves and why they act the way they do. Sometimes, students take a psychology course because it either satisfies a general education requirement or is required for a program of study such as nursing or pre-med. Many of these students develop such an interest in the area that they go on to declare psychology as their major. As a result, psychology is one of the most popular majors on college campuses across the United States (Johnson & Lubin, 2011).

A number of well-known individuals were psychology majors. Just a few famous names on this list are Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg, television personality and political satirist Jon Stewart, actress Natalie Portman, and filmmaker Wes Craven (Halonen, 2011). About 6 percent of all bachelor degrees granted in the United States are in the discipline of psychology (U.S. Department of Education, 2013).

An education in psychology is valuable for a number of reasons. Psychology students hone critical thinking skills and are trained in the use of the scientific method. Critical thinking is the active application of a set of skills to information for the understanding and evaluation of that information. The evaluation of information—assessing its reliability and usefulness— is an important skill in a world full of competing “facts,” many of which are designed to be misleading.

For example, critical thinking involves maintaining an attitude of skepticism, recognizing internal biases, making use of logical thinking, asking appropriate questions, and making observations. Psychology students also can develop better communication skills during the course of their undergraduate coursework (American Psychological Association, 2011). Together, these factors increase students’ scientific literacy and prepare students to critically evaluate the various sources of information they encounter.

In addition to these broad-based skills, psychology students come to understand the complex factors that shape one’s behavior. They appreciate the interaction of our biology, our environment, and our experiences in determining who we are and how we will behave. They learn about basic principles that guide how we think and behave, and they come to recognize the tremendous diversity that exists across individuals and across cultural boundaries (American Psychological Association, 2011).

Link to Learning

Watch a brief video that describes some of the questions a student should consider before deciding to major in psychology.

https://oea.herokuapp.com/assessments/1335

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Overconfidence by Gender and Major [...]

Some people are overconfident about the the truth of what they think, some are underconfident. Unsurprisingly, this varies by gender and major.

(Source)

Philip Parker [...]

Philip Parker holds a patent on a method of generating computer generated books. Use a program called Eve he has developed a method of poetry creation he calls “graph theoretic”. (wikipedia)

He also holds a number of patents on computer produced books and media:

via wiki.matts.wiki

Hamilton’s Rule [...]

Rule to predict kin selection effects in evolution.

From Wikipedia:

Formally, genes should increase in frequency when

rB > C

where

r = the genetic relatedness of the recipient to the actor, often defined as the probability that a gene picked randomly from each at the same locus is identical by descent.

B = the additional reproductive benefit gained by the recipient of the altruistic act,

C = the reproductive cost to the individual performing the act.

This inequality is known as Hamilton’s rule after W. D. Hamilton who in 1964 published the first formal quantitative treatment of kin selection.

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Pentagonal Mart [...]

Meet the Pentagonal Mart, a gargantuan, $200 million shopping complex inspired by the US Pentagon, which has the dubious honor of being the largest vacant building in Shanghai. According to the People’s Daily News, the 70-acre mall was completed in 2009 and remains virtually empty to this day, “mainly because of its location and confusing inner structures.” Hmm, minor planning details. (Source)

picture of mart

First Post [...]

I haven’t done anything with this wikity site yet, and I’m feeling guilty about that. 🙁

I should maybe look at copying over some of my articles from Medium and Tumblr, such as this one on Moore’s Law.

At some point, I will try to look around at what other people are doing, and see how this federated wiki stuff plays out in practice.

Until then, this entry is just a way of confirming that I’m able to make posts here, and use the simple little built-in WYSIWYZ editor that it provides.

 

 

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Mincome [...]

Between 1974 and 1979, a rural town called Dauphin in the Canadian province of Manitoba took money as part of the “Mincome” program. University of Manitoba professor Evelyn Forget published a highly cited study of Dauphin in 2011 that’s considered the definitive look at the Mincome project. Using health administration data from the time period, she determined that “a Guaranteed Annual Income, implemented broadly in society, may improve health and social outcomes at the community level.” (Source) (Link)

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Path:: Introduction to Psychology [...]

Introduction to Psychology
What Is Psychology?
Merits of an Education in Psychology
Summary of “What is Psychology?”
History of Psychology
Wundt and Structuralism
James and Functionalism
Freud and Psychoanalytic Theory
Wertheimer, Koffka, Köhler, and Gestalt Psychology
Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, and Behaviorism
Maslow, Rogers, and Humanism
The Cognitive Revolution
Multicultural Psychology
Summary of History of Psychology
Tutorial: Psychology’s Timeline
Contemporary Psychology
Video: Intro to Psychology
Careers in Psychology
Other Careers in Academic Settings
Career Options Outside of Academic Settings
Summary of “Careers in Psychology”
Psychological Perspectives
The Behavioral Perspective
The Cognitive Perspective
The Psychodynamic Perspective
Social Psychology
The Humanistic Perspective
Cultural Psychology
The Socio-cultural Perspective

Same Sex Cryptomnesia [...]

From Contexts of Cryptomnesia: May the Source Be with You (some of the data has been removed for readability):

Whereas new-errors (i.e., intrusions) were not affected by the composition of the dyad, dyad composition did affect participants’ tendency to take credit for their partner’s responses, with higher rates of plagiarism emerging in the same-sex than the mixed-sex groups. In addition, partner plagiarisms were more abundant than intrusion errors in both groups. Closer inspection of the reproductive errors in the mixed-sex dyads revealed no difference in men and women’s tendency to steal items from a partner of the opposite sex. As expected, however, women in the same-sex dyads were more likely than women in the mixed-dyads to steal an item from their partner.

Cryptomnesia [...]

From Wikipedia:

Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.


Weirdly, Cryptomnesia is more likely to happen when the person is similar to you. See, for example, Same Sex Cryptomnesia

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Misinformation Effect [...]

The questions asked of a witness can alter the memory of the witness in surprising ways.

Following that lead, Loftus won funding in 1974 for a proposal to study witness accounts of accidents, and she soon published the first of several influential studies revealing the limitations of eyewitness testimony1. She showed people film clips of car accidents and asked them to estimate the speed of the cars. The wording of the questions, she found, had a profound effect on the estimates. People who were asked, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” gave higher estimates on average than those with whom the verb ‘hit’ was used. And those who were told that the cars had ‘contacted’ each other gave the lowest estimates.

Those asked about cars smashing into one another were more than twice as likely as others to report seeing broken glass when asked about the accident a week later, even though there was none in the video. “I realized that these questions were conveying information,” says Loftus. “I began to think of it as a process of memory contamination, and we eventually called it the misinformation effect.” (Source)

See also The Least Contaminated Memory, and False Memories are Common

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The Sounds Bob Ross Made [...]

Bob Ross’s painting is now seen as an early example of ASMR. While the team making that show was not aware of the phenomenon that would dominate YouTube decades later, they did create the audio soundscape of the show quite intentionally. It was a show, in many ways, as much about sound as painting:

The show had a peculiar audio setup. The sounds Ross makes with his painting — the scraping of palette knives and his signature brush cleanings — are picked up almost as well as his voice.

Kowalks says this was done on purpose. “We were aware and Bob was aware that from the very beginning it was about the sounds that he was making.”

The sounds and how they were recorded are crucial. ASMR is usually triggered aurally, particularly when the person causing them gives personal attention, as Ross did when he talked directly to the viewer.

Dmitri, who creates videos on the YouTube account MassageASMR, says the audio was almost too perfect. “Whoever was recording onto audio knew that these sounds were quite important. It’s almost like trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger.” (Source)

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Abandoned Orbiters [...]

Ralph Mirebs writes in Russian, Just yesterday, June 2, 2015, was 60 years old cradle of world space and the largest domestic space harbor – Baikonur Cosmodrome. Over the years, its territory has been tested many different spacecraft, the apex of which was the system of “Energy-Buran”. (Link)

But history has chosen its path and the project died in infancy. More than two decades ago, the last time to close heavy sliding doors MKS – installation and filling of the complex, cut off from the alluring star sky two orbiting spacecraft. There is an easy irony that the birthplace of those who had to surf the cosmic expanses, it was the burial place and a crypt.


See Mall Dystopia for a parallel decay of 1980s mall culture.

The Space Race — and the abandonment of it — is discussed in NASA’s 1966 Zenith

NASA’s 1966 Zenith [...]

Margaret Lazarus Dean talks about the anomaly that was the NASA of the 1960s.

“Some years, during the run-up to Apollo, Congress voted to allocate NASA a larger budget than NASA had requested. The effects of this kind of public support were unprecedented outside of war, and may never be seen again. As important as this financial support was for the early days of Apollo, it also created a tragically inaccurate impression within NASA that its projects would continue to be funded at this rate. In the mid-sixties, everyone thought the construction of the Kennedy Space Center was taking place at the start of an exciting new era. No one could have known that in fact 1966 was to represent the zenith of that unanimity. The public’s imagination for fulfilling President Kennedy’s challenge would prove more shortsighted than anyone at NASA had hoped.” [http://blog.longreads.com/2015/07/07/well-aimed-and-powerful/ post]


Lazarus connects this history to our radically different times, exemplified by moon landing hoax conspiracists. See Buzz Aldrin’s Punch

Abandoned Orbiters also show the sad decay of national space ambitions.

1966 was the year of Great Society backlash. Did this backlash kill NASA? See The Sanitized Lexicon of 1966

Buzz Aldrin’s Punch [...]

Buzz Aldrin is confronted and harassed by yet another moon landing conspiracist in 2009. He cracks.

The incident encapsulates so many things it’s hard to know where to start. But it does represent an almost perfect clash of cultures.


See also NASA’s 1966 Zenith, which references the event.

The moon conspiracy is almost mathematically impossible to maintain. See Failure Curves for Conspiracies

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Failure Curves for Conspiracies [...]

Failure of a conspiracy can be predicted by a model that assumes a certain level of uncertain loyalty spread out across the ranks of the conspirators. Conspiracies that would have to have a large number of conspirators, either initially or over time, would be more likely to fail over time than conspiracies involve a small number of individuals that do not need to recruit fresh conspirators.

Researchers created a model of conspiracy collapse and ran some of the more common conspiracies through it. The results? Large, global conspiracies involving thousands of players are almost impossible to maintain.

Charts

(Source)

Conspiracies above from upper left: Moon Landing, Global Warming, Vaccine Manufacturers, Suppressed Cancer Cure.

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High Resolution Maps of Victorian London [...]

Here’s a real treat. The National Library of Scotland’s Map Department, supported by David Rumsey, have taken some very high-resolution scans of the Ordnance Survey 1:1056 (that’s 60 inches to the mile!) set of 500+ maps of London issued between 1893 and 1896 and, crucially, reorientated and stitched them together, so that they can be presented seamlessly (using OpenLayers) on top of a “standard” Google web map or OpenStreetMap, with the base map acting as a modern context.

The detail in these maps is breathtaking. In the above extract (direct link) of the eastern end of Fleet Street, you can see each individual alleyway. Much of London has of course changed in the intervening 120 years. In the extract, the printing works have been replaced with banks and other offices, the pub and several of the alleyways (“courts” here) themselves have disappeared, as has the tiny fire station, and the urinals are long derelict and locked shut. (Source) (Link)

img

The Origin of the Calorie [...]

The origin of the calorie and metabolic measurement:

The work that Baer and colleagues do draws on centuries-old techniques. Nestle traces modern attempts to understand food and energy back to a French aristocrat and chemist named Antoine Lavoisier. In the early 1780s, Lavoisier developed a triple-walled metal canister large enough to house a guinea pig. Inside the walls was a layer of ice.
Lavoisier knew how much energy was required to melt ice, so he could estimate the heat the animal emitted by measuring the amount of water that dripped from the canister. What Lavoisier didn’t realize—and never had time to find out; he was put to the guillotine during the Revolution—was that measuring the heat emitted by his guinea pigs was a way to estimate the amount of energy they had extracted from the food they were digesting. (Source)

Dead Cat Strategy [...]

To understand what has happened in Europe in the last week, we must borrow from the rich and fruity vocabulary of Australian political analysis. Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as “throwing a dead cat on the table, mate”.

That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout “Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!”; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief. (Source)

Malheur’s Broken Window [...]

Despite the elegance and intuitiveness of the theory, a good deal of fairly rigorous analysis has shown over the last two decades that the so-called “broken windows” theory didn’t turn out to be valid, at least not in terms of reducing the most serious crimes by taking a more vigilant approach toward enforcing laws against petty crimes. (For keeping your dorm room livable, it’s probably fair to say the theory has been infinitely validated.) But the ‘stand off’ at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is turning out to be a validating case study: the reluctance of federal authorities to enforce the law has triggered a slow but measurable growth of law breaking which was likely latent in the white rural male culture of violence but held somewhat in check by law enforcement. (Source)


See also [Broken Windows Theory Broken]]

The Intimate Contest for Self-Command [...]

In some cases the self can be better modeled as competing agents.

Thomas Schelling, a Nobel prize-winning economist, was also for much of his life an inveterate smoker. Searching for ways to quit, Schelling applied game theory—a science concerned with strategic interactions—to his problem. Schelling identified his quest to quit smoking as being like a two-player game—in which he was both players. He was the smoker; and he was the person desperate to quit and lead a healthier life. pdf

The Drinking Age Might Work After All [...]

The answer, it seems, is that Europe is not doing fine. If you look at the data, there’s no evidence to support the idea that Europe, in general, has a safer drinking culture than the US.

According to international data from the World Health Organization, European teens ages 15 to 19 tend to report greater levels of binge drinking than American teens. (Source)

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Best of Jill Hives [...]

Whenever I go to the muffler or brake shop, I’m reminded of the story of how Bob Pollard of Guided By Voices came up with the idea for the song “The Best of Jill Hives.”

Pollard is always a bit expressionist with his lyrics, and saying what a song is about does a bit of violence to his style. But the song is presented as a character study of the fictitious person Jill Hives, a person who somehow manages in bouts of meanness to push away the people that mean something to her:

I don't know where you find your nerve
I don't know how you choose your words
Speak the ones that suit you worst
Keep you grounded, sad, and cursed
Circle the ones that come alive
Save them for the best of Jill Hives

The source? From a comment on the Pollard a Day blog:

I read an interview with Bob in which he said that the title comes from a time when he took his car to the muffler shop and was sitting in the waiting area with a barely audible TV on in the background showing the soap opera “The Days of our Lives”. Bob couldn’t quite make out what was being said and wrote down “The Best of Jill Hives”. He said he often comes up with song titles based on notes he makes of dimly overheard background noises and conversations. (Link)
Video below:


On Its Side tells a similar story about Kandinsky’s discovery of abstract art.

Being a bit tired can help creativity. See Creative Nights

Absence of Notation [...]

A story from the new media reader:

A friend of mine is an ethnomusicologist who spent several years studying the gamelan music of Central .lava He was trained in Western music in the States. and spent many years working on his own compositions and performing with other musicians. One of the most frustrating things about his studies in Java, he told me. was trying to work on specific parts of songs with the gamelan musicians. Once they were at a rehearsal, and after running through a piece. he asked them to play only a section from the middle so that he could make sure he got all the notes right. This proved to be an impossible request. After a lot of hemming and hawing, excuses. and several false starts, he realized that the group just could not do it. They insisted on playing the entire piece over again. from beginning to end In Java. the music was learned by rote. from many years of observation and imitation. not from written notation. The idea of taking a small part out of context or playing just a few bars. simply did not exist. The musk was learned and conceived as a whole in the minds of the musicians.

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Voyager Expanded Books [...]

Expanded books were a series of books produced in 1991, written in HyperCard, that extended existing books. Titles included Moby Dick, The Annotated Alice, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Jurassic Park.

Voyager had previously made a name for itself with Criterion Collection laserdiscs,[1] but the main impetus came out of their success with a hypertext version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The idea was to bring this success to literary texts.

Macbeth

A Voyager version of MacBeth

The books were heavily annotated in the margins with a variety of multimedia comments. Users were allowed to annotate them as well.

In 1992, a toolkit was produced (also in HyperCard) allowing users to make their own books.

These books have more of a claim to the “first electronic books” than Peter James’s Host, although technically the earliest ebooks were the open texts of the Gutenberg Project.

  1. Scotched“. The Magazine, December 19, 2013.

Bob Stein, the prime force behind the Voyage Books, is still evangelizing the ebook today. See Social Book.

Peter James’s Host is seen by some as the first ebook.

Conversational Gapping [...]

The typical gap between speech turns in conversation is just 200ms. The small gap is possible because we construct our response while the other person is speaking.

When we talk we take turns, where the “right” to speak flips back and forth between partners. This conversational pitter-patter is so familiar and seemingly unremarkable that we rarely remark on it. But consider the timing: On average, each turn lasts for around 2 seconds, and the typical gap between them is just 200 milliseconds—barely enough time to utter a syllable. That figure is nigh-universal. It exists across cultures, with only slight variations. It’s even there in sign-language conversations.

“It’s the minimum human response time to anything,“ says Stephen Levinson from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. It’s the time that runners take to respond to a starting pistol—and that’s just a simple signal. If you gave them a two-way choice—say, run on green but stay on red—they’d take longer to pick the right response. Conversations have a far greater number of possible responses, which ought to saddle us with lengthy gaps between turns. Those don’t exist because we build our responses during our partner’s turn. We listen to their words while simultaneously crafting our own, so that when our opportunity comes, we seize it as quickly as it’s physically possible to. (Source)


Implications here for interface design. Think about related issues — Calm Tech, etc.

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Social Book [...]

Bob Stein was an early ebook publisher, publishing titles such as the Annotated Alice and the digital version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lately he’s been working with a new platform he calls Social Book.

Stein imagines, for example, that future forms of books might be developed not by conventional publishers but by the gaming industry. He also envisions that the distinction between writer and reader will be blurred by a social reading experience in which authors and consumers can digitally interact with each other to discuss any passage, sentence or line. Indeed, his latest project, Social Book, allows members to insert comments directly into digital book texts and is already used by teachers at several high schools and universities to stimulate discussions. “For my grandchildren, the idea that reading is something you do by yourself will seem arcane,” he says. “Why would you want to read by yourself if you can have access to the ideas of others you know and trust, or to the insights of people from all over the world?” (Source)

Stein on SocialBook:

Bob Stein mentions in this presentation the MIT project Bicycle Repair Manual.

Peter James’s Host [...]

Peter James’s Host was an early electronic book.

From Penguin’s 1994 Announcement:

Penguin (UK), publisher, will launch its first electronic novel in November 1994. The novel is Host by Peter James and will cost GBP12.99 on floppy disk. The disk includes the novel, research material used by the author, an audio clip of the writer explaining the background to the novel and a video introduction. (Source)

Naturally, people were outraged:

When Peter James published his novel Host on two floppy disks in 1993, he was ill-prepared for the “venomous backlash” that would follow. Journalists and fellow writers berated and condemned him; one reporter even dragged a PC and a generator out to the beach to demonstrate the ridiculousness of this new form of reading. “I was front-page news of many newspapers around the world, accused of killing the novel,” James told pop.edit.lit. “[But] I pointed out that the novel was already dying at an alarming rate without my assistance.” (Link)

Matrix Torrent Survives 12 Years [...]

A fan-created ASCII version of the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix is the oldest known torrent that’s still active. Created more than 12 years ago, the file has outlived many blockbuster movies and is still downloaded a few times a week, even though the site from where it originated has disappeared. (Source)

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Escalator Traffic Patterns [...]

Some questions: why is this pattern different for cars, where keeping the “fast lane” clear is seen essential?

The idea had come about after Len Lau, Vauxhall area manager, had gone to Hong Kong on holiday. Lau noticed that passengers on that city’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) were standing calmly on both sides of the escalator and, it seemed, travelling more efficiently and safely as a result. His report prompted Harrison and her colleagues to wonder whether the same effect would apply at a station such as Holborn, and so they set about arranging a three-week trial.

The theory, if counterintuitive, is also pretty compelling. Think about it. It’s all very well keeping one side of the escalator clear for people in a rush, but in stations with long, steep walkways, only a small proportion are likely to be willing to climb. In lots of places, with short escalators or minimal congestion, this doesn’t much matter. But a 2002 study of escalator capacity on the Underground found that on machines such as those at Holborn, with a vertical height of 24 metres, only 40% would even contemplate it. By encouraging their preference, TfL effectively halves the capacity of the escalator in question, and creates significantly more crowding below, slowing everyone down. When you allow for the typical demands for a halo of personal space that persist in even the most disinhibited of commuters – a phenomenon described by crowd control guru Dr John J Fruin as “the human ellipse”, which means that they are largely unwilling to stand with someone directly adjacent to them or on the first step in front or behind – the theoretical capacity of the escalator halves again. Surely it was worth trying to haul back a bit of that wasted space. (Source)

Making Making a Murderer [...]

Does Making a Murderer fall prey to the very overconfidence it claims to critique?

“Making a Murderer” raises serious and credible allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct in the trials of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. It also implies that that misconduct was malicious. That could be true; vindictive prosecutions have happened in our justice system before and they will happen again. But the vast majority of misconduct by law enforcement is motivated not by spite but by the belief that the end justifies the means—that it is fine to play fast and loose with the facts if doing so will put a dangerous criminal behind bars.

That same reasoning, with the opposite aims, seems to govern “Making a Murderer.” But while people nearly always think that they are on the side of the angels, what finally matters is that they act that way. The point of being scrupulous about your means is to help insure accurate ends, whether you are trying to convict a man or exonerate him. Ricciardi and Demos instead stack the deck to support their case for Avery, and, as a result, wind up mirroring the entity that they are trying to discredit. (Source)


Conviction Integrity Units and Actual Innocence are two possible responses to issues raised by Making a Murderer.

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CRISPR Credit [...]

Less than four years after breaking onto the gene-editing scene, virtually all molecular biology labs are either using, or planning to use, CRISPR in their research. And amidst this explosion of interest, fights have erupted over who deserves the accolades that usually follow such scientific advances, and perhaps more importantly, who owns the intellectual property on the use of CRISPR in gene editing. (Link)

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Geomythology [...]

In 1966, the scientist Dorothy Vitaliano coined a name for the discipline: geomythology. It is, she said, the science of “seeking to find the real geological event underlying a myth or legend to which it has given rise”.

“Myths are largely event-based, in that they are triggered to a large part by an event, or combination of events, that catastrophically impact society,” says Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist, who co-edited a volume on the subject. “Then these myths provide a window upon those events that can be recovered, retrieved and even dated.” (Link)

Your Job Is Probably Non-Essential Too [...]

When storms hit or shutdowns happen, the U.S. Government sends “non-essential” employees home, and the pundits wonder “Why are we employing non-essential people?”

The best way to think of this is to think of your own job. Assume a parent died, or that you became ill for a week. Could your office find a way to limp along without you for a week? Could they make do without hiring someone else?

For the most part, that’s all non-essential means — the people who can be let go for a little bit where other people wouldn’t have to be hired to take their place.

Exceptions to this rule might include security guards, and people processing payments. In these jobs, if you called in sick, they would have to find someone to replace you for the day. They are “essential”. They are not more important — they just need to be executed on a daily basis.

On the other hand, if you’ve taken sick leave for more than a day or two and your office hasn’t had to hire someone to replace you, congratulations — you’re non-essential too!

 

Fore-edge Painting [...]

Some books have paintings which can only be seen when the pages are shifted slightly.

According to Carter, fore-edge painting can refer to any decoration found on the fore-edge of a book. Carter goes on to say “The term is most commonly used, however, for an English technique quite widely practiced in the second half of the 17th century in London and Edinburgh, and popularized in the 18th by John Brindley and (in particular) Edwards of Halifax, whereby the fore-edge of the book, very slightly fanned out and then held fast, is decorated with painted views or conversation pieces. The edges are then squared up and gilded in the ordinary way, so that the painting remains concealed (and protected) while the book is closed: fan out the edges and it reappears.” (Source)

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Fixing the WP REST API content_raw Problem [...]

I think I figured out how to fix the problem where the REST API in WordPress is applying filters to my content.

It seems to be on line 1089 of class-wp-rest-posts-controller in plugins/rest-api/lib/endpoints. The apply_filters line there executes it.

class-wp-rest-post-controllers (in endpoints)

I can’t change the authentication without making a whole big mess, but I think if I just set this from the apply_filters version to

‘raw’ => $post->post_content,
/** This filter is documented in wp-includes/post-template.php */
‘rendered’ => $post->post_content,

This will work. I don’t need any server rendering, so for my purposes this is fine.

It does make it hard to distribute this though — every update potentially overwrites this change. Plus asking people to change a line in the core distribution just seems wrong.

But maybe this is a workaround until WordPress makes aversion of content_raw available to unauthenticated users.

Help:: Making Bullet Points [...]

To make bullet points, start each bulleted item with an asterisk and a space, like this:


* This is the first item
* This is the second item

Help:: What Do I Write About? (#1) [...]

There are many ways to use Wikity, but this is the most common:

  • Research something you don’t know about.
  • Learn things
  • Write a short article on the subject, capturing what you learned.

Did you ever wonder where people got the idea to steam milk in coffee and call it a cappuccino? Research it. Summarize it in an article called Birth of Cappuccino.

Did someone mention an artist you never heard of? Find out who they are. Write something.

The biggest misconception of new Wikity users is that you should write on things you know about. NO! (is that forceful enough?). Be curious. Learn new things. Share your learning.

Become a person who wonders things on a daily basis. Move from wondering to thinking “I should write a Wikity article on that.” If there’s already an article in Wikipedia, write a better one, a shorter one, a longer one, a more opinionated one, a less opinionated one, a less biased one, a more appropriate one for a class.

When you are done, look for other things in Wikity your article connects to and link them.

The Wikity model is Wonder Things > Research Things > Share What You Found > Connect It To Other Things.

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Help:: Adding Images [...]

Wikity pulls images from online locations and makes a copy of the image for you. To pull an image into your site, just use the Markdown syntax for images:

![Picture of a boat](http://template.wikity.cc/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/myboat.jpg "This is a boat!")

If you leave the quotes empty, like this, Wikity will automatically create an image credit as the hover text.

Note that image syntax is identical to link syntax, but has an exclamation point in front of it.

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Help:: Creating Footnotes [...]

To create a footnote write the footnote at the bottom of the page, and add a "link target" with a unique name preceded by a hash ('#') and enclosed in square brackets, like this:

1.  See also Miller, Jane. *Thoughts on Leaving*, p. 23

Then link in text like this:

Miller also noted the discrepancy.[1](#millerp2)

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Help:: Making External Links [...]

To link to an external site, place your link word in brackets, followed by the link in parentheses like this:

Go to this [awesome site](http://example.com).

Important: Do not put a space in between the bracket and parentheses.

Creating a link(Link)

To create a hover text item, follow the link with the text in quotes, e.g. [awesome site](http://example.com "More info here.")

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Help:: Making External Links [...]

To link to an external site, place your link word in brackets, followed by the link in parentheses like this:

Go to this [awesome site](http://example.com).

Important: Do not put a space in between the bracket and parentheses.

To create a hover text item, follow the link with the text in quotes, e.g. [awesome site](http://example.com "More info here.")

Help:: Creating Blockquotes [...]

To blockquote text, start on a new line and put an angle bracket ('>') in front of your paragraph, like this:

> This is my blockquote

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Help:: Making Wiki Links [...]

Link to another page in your wiki (or someone else's Wikity wiki) by using double bracket syntax, like this.

Because you are linking to a page name, it often makes sense to link to the capitalized page name like this: The Empty Boat.

Page names and links are the same in wiki, so choose names wisely.

Help:: Making Text Italic [...]

You can italicize text by putting an underline on each side, like _this_.

It _works with phrases_ too.

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Help:: Making Text Bold [...]

You can bold text by putting two asterisks around the text, like **this**.

It **works with phrases** too.

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Ransomware Going Small [...]

As Ransomware gets more automated, the ability to make money by hitting many small targets increases. People must begin thinking about their own personal files as potential targets of unwanted encryption.

Less than a week ago, Webroot Threat Blog discovered CoinVault, a new breed of ransomware. “This is the first encrypting ransomware that I’ve seen which actually gives you a free decrypt,” Moffitt wrote.

Victims infected with CoinVault are asked to pay 0.5 bitcoins, which is currently equal to about $188, for the decryption key. Every 24 hours that pass without the victim paying, the cost increases. Victims can select any one file to be decrypted for free. (Source)

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Not Paying the Ransom [...]

Ransomware is a new trend where hackers encrypt a corporate or public database and demand money for the key to decrypt it. Detroit got hit, and decided to not pay.

At the North American International Cyber Summit, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan admitted that Detroit’s entire city database was encrypted and held for a ransom of 2,000 bitcoins worth about $800,000. No, Detroit didn’t pay back in April, as the database wasn’t needed by the city, but Duggan described the wake up to ransomware as a “good warning sign for us.” (Link)

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Robot Revolted [...]

A new WEF report claims that 5.1 million jobs in 15 major economies will be displaced by robots by 2020:

Over the next five years, automation and robots will cause 5.1 million job losses, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum. The findings are based on a survey of 15 economies that account for about 65 percent of the world’s total workforce. (Source)

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Narrative as Artifact, aka Why History is Narrative (& Messy) [...]

As an example of an artifact in a Cabinet of Curiosity, consider this narrative of Trevor Horn and Video Killed the Radio Star. Think of it for a moment as a slip of paper on a shelf in a cabinet that you take down and read, consider, make a note on, then replace – either in the same place in the cabinet, or elsewhere.

Why History is Narrative (& Messy)

On August 1, 1981, The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star became a staple of popular culture history when it was the first music video to be played on the MTV cable network.  The song had been a hit when released in 1979, but its status as the maiden voyage has elevated the song beyond the ebb and flow of popular music, allowing a narrative to be built around the song, the band and their importance on the history of popular music.

apollo-11-thumb
The public domain image from NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, modified (and copyrighted) by MTV for their August 1, 1981 launch.

In this narrative, two young musicians (Trevor Horn & Geoff Downes) form to create The Buggles, put out a synth-driven album, see the time-stamped success of a Top 40 album from 1979, and by the time the song adorns MTV the musicians have disbanded The Buggles, forever to be one-hit wonders.  MTV’s emergence allow The Buggles to live forever, their premonition of video killing the radio star ringing true for the cable media giant.

This concise history is not untrue, but it is told from the perspective of technological progression in media and popular culture.   It ignores several events and reorders timelines, which when put together cast a very different light on The Buggles and their supposed one claim to fame.

Video Killed the Radio Star was written by Horn and Downes, as well as a musician named Bruce Woolley.  The song was first recorded by these three, as well as famed music and technology pioneer Thomas Dolby.  Woolley was on lead vocals for this version, recoded under the band Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club.  This version is much more up-tempo and driven by the punk and social influences of British music at the time, rather than the more languid and synthetic pacing of the Buggles version.

Dolby and Woolley continued on with The Camera Club, and Horn & Downes, who had a 50% stake in the song, recorded their own version under The Buggles, which folded into the technological concept album looking at the virtues and obstacles of technology in society.  Both versions charted; Woolley’s won more critical acclaim while The Buggles had more commercial success both in Great Britain and internationally (oddly, the album The Age of Plastic was the #1 selling album in Australia for 27 years).  Then 1979 morphed into 1980, The Buggles had moved on to work with Yes (and would later split, with Horn joining Art of Noise while Downes joined Asia, a progressive rock supergroup). Thomas Dolby went on to have a significant impact on synthesizer music under his name (his album The Age of Wireless considered a touchstone in 1980s popular music), as well as a entrepreneurial career in computers and mobile technology.  Bruce Woolley has become a well-respected conductor and composer, and a world-renowned theremin player.

The cultural history of Video Killed the Radio Star might fit the narrative of musical progress as seen by MTV, but it misses the rich histories of those who created the song, which was for them but one of many successes. [(Source)] (rmoejo.wikity.cc)


Narrative is not only messy history, but also narrative-is-our-memory-storage

The dominant paradigm about Video Killed the Radio Star [html]

Three versions of the Bruce Woolley-led Video Killed the Radio Star [html]

How did The Age of Plastic become the #1 album in Australia for 27 years? [html]


 

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Warhol’s Pork Cast and David Bowie [...]

A lost chapter in Bowie’s 1971 transformation and the beginnings of “Freak Rock”, perhaps, although this is only Jayne’s side of the story. Then again, fellow cast member Cherry Vanilla became Bowie’s publicist after this…

What Bowie saw in Pork, and what he took from it, was a mad sexuality that simply had no precedent in British society, and certainly not on the British stage. It was only three years since the country’s theater had been freed from the hegemony of the Lord Chancellor’s office, which had instituted a system under which every stage show intended for public consumption needed first to be submitted for inspection, vetting, and censorship. Since then, theater had been slowly becoming more liberated, but local attitudes toward sexuality and nudity remained locked in the gray straitjacket of post-Victorian formality and decorum, which were either politely echoed or else loudly rejected.

Pork did neither of these things. Hatched within an environment where none of those early neuroses existed, it approached sex (and drugs and, yes, rock ’n’ roll) not as a reaction to past behavior but as a lifestyle in and of itself. It was not “liberated,” because it did not believe it had anything to be liberated from. It simply existed.

Likewise, there were no raincoated old men on the Pork stage (although there were plenty in the audience, particularly after the News of the World got its teeth into the play); there were no repressed housewives or frus-trated businessmen, or any of the other tried and trusted staples of British alternative theater. Pork was pure sex, pure exhilaration, pure magic. And that was what Bowie pounced upon.

Wayne County detailed the transformation. “We were all dressed up. You couldn’t get Crazy Color in those days so Leee had done his hair with Magic Marker. And David was just fascinated with us. We were freaks. We were doing things in 1971 [that] he was still doing four years later, like painting our fingernails different colors. We all had blue and multicolored hair; we were wearing big blonde wigs and huge platform boots and purple stockings. And he was wearing those floppy hats and the long, stringy hair, and he took one look at us and you could see that this was what he wanted to do. “Leee and Cherry looked at him and said, ‘You can’t keep on like you are. You’ve got to put on lots of makeup and freak yourself out a little.’ And then Angela and Defies chimed in.” At last, everything was in place. Plans for Bowie to play a handful of shows on the continent in August, the Paradiso in Amsterdam, a festival in Belgium, and four nights in the south of France were canceled. The operation was going to target one market at a time, starting with the home crowd.


See also Freak Rock for the New York Times use of the term.

Goldilocks Has a Temporal Dimension [...]

There are many Goldilocks planets, perfect for sustaining life, but yet no signs of intelligent life have been found. The Gaian Bottleneck hypothesis asserts that the temporal aspect of habitability is the bigger hurdle:

Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable.”

About four billion years ago, Earth, Venus, and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.

Early microbial life on Venus and Mars, if there was any, failed to stabilize the rapidly changing environment, said Charley Lineweaver from ANU.

“Life on Earth probably played a leading role in stabilizing the planet’s climate,” he said. (Link)

Pennsylvania Pink Floyd [...]

A random Wednesday in 1973, with a Pink Floyd concert on in prime time in Pennsylvania. What?

If that’s Live at Pompeii they are playing, network TV has gotten considerably less daring.

From  Pennsylvania » North Hills » News Record » 1973 » September » 5 Sep 1973, (Wednesday)

Freak Rock [...]

NY Times lumps together Bowie, Jagger, Cooper, and Iggy Pop into Freak Rock category. Also, oddly, compares Bowie to Bacall (I suppose the Man Who Sold the World UK cover?)

cover of man who sold the world

In related news, a 1973 TV show on new “freak rock” trend:

The show aired on December 31, 1972. We are told that Jayne County has referenced the Lustettes several times in her song, “Max’s Kansas City” during live performances. (Source)

Jayne County (formerly Wayne County) would become one of the first transgender rock acts. ° At this point she had already starred in Andy Warhol’s Pork.

See also Bowie and Warhol’s Pork

Thumb Release [...]

Crusader chronicles report the amazing archery skills of the Seljuks during these confrontations. They did not hesitate to appreciate the enemy’s unusual martial skills; long-lasting showers of well-aimed arrows shot from surprisingly long distances, together with flexible and mobile warfare tactics. The Seljuks were mounted warriors who preferred fast attack-and-retreat tactics rather than a face-to-face, impact-based combat. They were steppe people who had been toughened under the hard living conditions of the steppes. Bow was their main weapon and archery training was starting in early childhood, as early as 4 years of age. Being brilliant archers and riders they shot an exceptional bow; the recurved, reflex Asian composite bow. Undoubtedly, the bow played an important role in their performance on the battlefield but another important factor was that the bow was shot with thumb release.

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Vannevar Bush’s Turkish Bow Question [...]

Vannevar Bush wants (in his scenario) to understand why the Turkish short bow was better in the Crusades than the long bow:

Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him. (Source)

Lack of Longbow Adoption [...]

A theory of why the French never adopted the longbow, based on institutional constraints.

Our theory resolves the longbow puzzle by recognizing that military technol-
ogy adoption is often constrained by institutional context. We argue that, unlike
the crossbow, the longbow had three critical features that, in combination, con-
strained its widespread adoption. First, the longbow required large numbers of
archers to be effective, and the number of individuals privately willing to develop
longbow skills was never sufficient to meet this demand. Second, as a result, a
ruler who wanted to adopt the longbow had to create and enforce a culture of
archery through tournaments, financial incentives, and laws supporting longbow
use to ensure sufficient numbers of archers. Third, the longbow was cheap and
easy to make—in fact, many archers made their own bows—and because of this,
where there was a large number of citizens who had been trained in proficient
use of the bow, there was a potential army of archers.
5
A ruler who adopted the
longbow by creating a culture of archery thus effectively armed a large segment
of his population, which in turn created an opportunity that a usurping noble
with an eye on the Crown could exploit. Such a noble could organize effective re-
bellion against his ruler by utilizing the large number of citizens with the human
capital required for proficient use of the cheap and easy-to-produce weapon. (Source)

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Booming for Newspapers [...]

End of article on the NYT entry onto the Web on January 22, 1996. The NYT had previously offered services through America Online only.

With its entry on the Web, The Times is hoping to become a primary information provider in the computer age and to cut costs for newsprint, delivery and labor. Companies that have established Web-based information sites include television networks, computer companies, on-line information services, magazines and even individuals creating electronic newspapers of their own.

“The New York Times name will get people to look at the product once or maybe twice, and the fact that The New York Times has the kind of reach and credibility it does may persuade people to look three or four times,” said John F. Kelsey 3d, president of the Kelsey Group, a consultancy running a conference on interactive newspapers next month.

“The market is booming for newspapers on the World Wide Web,” Mr. Kelsey said.

Also of interest, a bit about copying:

Subscribers will have limited access to archives of Times articles and features dating to 1980, and will be able to copy articles to their own computers for $1.95 each, Mr. Nisenholtz said.

Footnotes in Wikity [...]

Wikity is designed for education, and we often need footnotes in educational settings. We’ve come up with a simple syntax that should support a number of footnote styles.

To footnote something, first make a Notes or Works Cited section:

1. [ #exampletarget] This is a footnote.

Note that the target looks like a link without a URL. There should be no space between the ‘[‘ and the ‘#’.

Then add a footnote in-text. For numeric footnotes, the footnote must match both the number of the footnote and the name of the target.

This is an example of a sentence with a footnote.[1](#exampletarget)

Here is how that looks in practice:

This is an example of a sentence with a footnote.[1]

  1. This is a footnote.

You can use this same technique to do other styles of reference:

This is an example of a sentence with a parenthetical reference. (Brewer, p. 38)

  1. Brewer, Don. This is a footnote. Routledge, 2008.

Test of footnotes [...]

This has a footnote.[1]

  1. What do you think?

This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.This has a footnote.

Once upon a Time, 1962 [...]

Once upon a Time, 1962. By Eduardo Vilches. Collection: MOMA.(Link)

Spanish page on his life.°

Born in Concepción on September 12, 1932, he worked primarily as an engraver, but began painting as well in 1984.°

He studied with Gregorio de la Fuente, and later entered the Taller 99, led by Nemesio Antúnez .°

He earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Engraving at the Catholic University and then traveled to the US, where he continued specialization courses in engraving and color, at Yale University.°

He has taught at the Catholic University, between 1962 and 1976, and until 1974 was in charge of woodcut workshop at the University of Chile.°

From 1982 to 1987 he taught at the School of Graphic Design Professional Institute of the Pacific.°

Later he became a professor at the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.°

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Once upon a Time, 1962 [...]

Once upon a Time, 1962. By Eduardo Vilches. Collection: MOMA.(Link)

Spanish page on his life.°

Born in Concepción on September 12, 1932, he worked primarily as an engraver, but began painting as well in 1984.°

He studied with Gregorio de la Fuente, and later entered the Taller 99, led by Nemesio Antúnez .°

He earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Engraving at the Catholic University and then traveled to the US, where he continued specialization courses in engraving and color, at Yale University.°

He has taught at the Catholic University, between 1962 and 1976, and until 1974 was in charge of woodcut workshop at the University of Chile.°

From 1982 to 1987 he taught at the School of Graphic Design Professional Institute of the Pacific.°

Later he became a professor at the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.°

One Day Exhibition of One Work [...]

Was this the original online painting a day project?

One year of photos.

The last and most impressive of Bakhchanyan’s time-based projects, “One Day Exhibition of One Work,” lasted from 1993 to 2008. Every morning the artist made a new 8 x 11 drawing and displayed it in his studio and online. The retrospective includes one annual cycle of the project: the 365 drawings made between July 28, 2007 and July 27th, 2008. This colorful mosaic of images is among the most appealing parts of the show. Some images are purely abstract compositions, others feature human figures and faces, and many include magazine and newspaper clippings, Russian product labels, and other small traces of daily life. Unlike most of Bakhchanyan’s works — marked by agonized self-reflexivity and somewhat forced drollery — these drawings appear both playful and confident, with an irresistible spontaneous humor. (Link)

From Notre Dame libraries:

Vagrich Akopovich Bakhchanyan was born in 1938 to an ethnic Armenian family in Kharkov, Ukraine. Bakhchanyan studied art in the studio of Vasilii Ermilov, a friend of Vladimir Tatlin and Velimir Khlebnikov, where he became interested in the Russian avant-garde movement. He attended classes at Kharkov Studio of Decorative and Applied Arts and together with Eduard Limonov became a leading member of non-official Kharkov artistic and literary circles. In the mid-1960s Bakhchanyan moved to Moscow where he continued to participate in the alternative art movement with such nonconformist artists as Ilya Kabakov and Ullo Sooster. His innovative collages and graphic works regularly appeared in the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta where he worked for a number of years before immigrating to the United States in 1974. After settling in New York, Bakhchanyan joined the vibrant artistic life in the city and collaborated with a wide-range of American and Russian émigré artists and writers on many projects pertaining to mail-art, performance art, graphic design, and conceptual art. He participated in many one-man and group shows, authored a dozen books, and invented new techniques and trends in art and literature. Bakhchanyan died in New York in 2009. (Link)

Cognitive Threshold [...]

cog threshold

(Link)

Worth thinking about as we think about engagement — high excitement / high strategy games don’t exist.

America’s Real Criminal Element [...]

Kevin Drum argues in Mother Jones that lead was responsible for the explosion of crime in the 1970s and 80s.

Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

A molecule? That sounds crazy. What molecule could be responsible for a steep and sudden decline in violent crime?

Well, here’s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4. [http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline source]


If lead really was the cause of the wave, broken windows Broken Windows Theory Broken.

For a taste of the time, see Bernhard Goetz Incident

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Per Capita School Age Population Is Shrinking in U.S. [...]

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 10.18.55 AM

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 10.14.35 AM

School Age population (ages 5-17) considered as a total bottomed out in the 1990s and recently recovered. But as a per capita measure, the school age population has been shrinking since at least 1970.

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Lead Blood Levels Against Unleaded Gasoline [...]

Lead Levels

Lead levels in the U.S. declined quickly after the banning of lead in gasoline.  The year 1976 represented a peak for lead, after which followed a steep decline. Children from 1979 onward grew up with a fraction of the exposure to lead that their older siblings would have had.

If the lead theory is correct, what we should see then is a decline starting about 1993 or so, as lead-free young males move into the 16-24 demographic associated with violent crime. (Source)

Screenshot 2015-12-23 at 7.36.35 PM

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Cai Lead Study [...]

A 2007 study of the effects of lead on behavior found significant increases in aggressiveness correlated with increases in lead levels in children. The study also suggested that blood lead levels might produce such an effect not only in the early years of life (on development) but on concurrent behavior of seven year olds.

For every increase of 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, children scored about five points worse on a 100-point scale that measures “externalizing” behavior problems, such as aggression and acting out.

Also, for every 10-microgram increase, the children were nearly 11/2 times more likely to exhibit these types of problems. (Source)

source
(Source)

The study was published in Pediatrics and is available through NIH public access. (Link)

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Flint vs. 1976 [...]

Flint, Michigan recently called a state of emergency because the use of water from the Flint river as a public water source had caused a dangerous spike in blood lead levels.° It’s anticipated that this public policy disaster will cause cognitive impairment and possible behavioral problems in the kids affected; lawsuits are underway. But how does the amount of lead in children’s blood in Flint compare to what Generation X was exposed as a result of tailpipe emissions?

The answer is a bit shocking. The Flint emergency has been declared because for a brief period of time (a few months) over 7 percent of Flint’s children had levels in excess of 5µg/dL. That’s three times the current national rate.

Blood Lead Levels in Flint Michigan.
Blood Lead Levels in Flint Michigan. (Source)

Children under the age of five tend to have higher blood lead levels than other groups, as their bodies absorb much more of it.° The damage can last a lifetime, which is why in 2012, based on a review of recent research, the CDC set 5µg/dL as the level at which children should be entered into case management to prevent further exposure. About 2.5% of children nationally had this level of exposure from 2007 to 2010, although this level has decreased a bit since then.°

How do these Flint emergency levels (7% of children above the 5µg/dL level) compare to historical levels? Well, in 1970 the average preschooler had blood lead levels of 23µg/dL, four to five times above the danger level:

Lead Levels and Crime
(Source)

Moreover, these were not levels that children were exposed to for a month or two: this would have been exposure to lead at levels 4 to 5 times the recommended maximum over the child’s entire childhood.

Comparison with average rates (vs. dangerous level rates) is perhaps even more striking. The average blood lead level in a 1970 preschooler was about 10 times the average blood lead level today.


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Flynn Effect [...]

The “Flynn effect” refers to the observed rise in IQ scores over time, resulting in norms obsolescence. In other words, as the 20th century progressed, IQ tests had to be recalibrated, because on average people did better on them.

And not just a little bit better. A lot better:

In the 1980s, social scientist James Flynn made a startling discovery: Real IQ scores had been going up, on average, three points every decade since the early 20th century. The existence of this increase had been masked by the fact that the test gets updated and renormed every generation or so, pushing the average score back to 100.

The implications of the eponymous “Flynn effect” are astonishing. A person of average intelligence today would have registered a full two standard deviations higher a century ago, giving him a “very superior” score of 130. We’re getting smarter. A lot smarter. (Source)

When looked at closely, the gains have not been in mathematics or vocabulary, but specifically on the portions of the test most dedicated to abstract reasoning.

Flynn discusses his findings in this TED Talk:


Flynn talks here about Taking the Hypothetical Seriously.

IQ Advanced Like Height and responded to environmental conditions.

Lead in Soil [...]

From Vox:

The main thing we know about non-catastrophic lead in the United States is that the biggest problem is inner-city soil contaminated by decades-old gasoline. Gas went unleaded in the mid-1970s, but all the old lead burned in the past was dumped into the air and then fell back to earth. The tiny lead particles don’t biodegrade. They mix in with the soil, get tracked into houses, and, most of all, end up on the hands and toys of little kids, who have a marked tendency to stick anything and everything into their mouths, leading to the ingestion of lead.

This lead is everywhere, but it’s most heavily concentrated in places that were close to a lot of vehicle traffic during the leaded gasoline days — in other words, the centers of big cities. (Link)

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