Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Last Connection

I am so sorry; I am not about to talk about psychology. I honestly don't know how to tie any psych concepts to this zany novel...

I suppose I'll talk about the Big Bang Theory. Being an Atheist, I do believe this theory, sort of. There are lots of places in the theory where opinions begin to split. For me, it begins to split at the causation of the Big Bang. Some people believe that before the Big Bang nothing existed; that we can't even fathom what was before the Big Bang because there was quite literally nothing. I believe that the universe is linear in its birth, progression, and death. I believe that black holes are the key to the Big Bang. Since black holes are such a mystery to the top astrophysicists, they hold great potential in their significance to the universe. Since black holes just continually suck up matter into an incredibly dense oblivion, this matter has to go somewhere. That's just a basic law of physics. I think that once a super-massive black hole becomes so immense and so dense that even it can't support itself anymore, all of that matter simply implodes. The implosion of a black hole is thus the explosion of an entirely new universe. This theory gives rise to ideas like alternate or multiple universes since countless black holes exist. This would explain how something can come from nothing because it wasn't nothing, it was a super-massive black hole. Now obviously we can't prove this theory yet. Our understanding of black holes is still too rudimentary, the math behind it is inconceivably convoluted, and not enough time has elapsed for a black hole to implode (assuming they can/do in fact implode). This theory is easier to comprehend since it suggests that there is a linear history before our specific universe. Though, it does still beg the question as to the Original cause. Assuming this theory is true, what originally sparked this cycle of universe re-creation? This is where things become too unknown and incomprehensible for our current knowledge. I believe that one day, which may take hundreds if not thousands of years, we will eventually be able to fully grasp these pain-staking questions.

Image result for black hole

The Last Reflection Post

Mr. Wickersham... As this trimester progresses, you never cease to amaze me with your random obscurity in what we watch or read. On that note, what on earth are the final chapters of Sophie's World? It has to be the most convoluted and anti-climatic ending that I've read in recent history. I won't even touch the topic of the garden party since it doesn't really matter as it was all an illusion produced by the Major. The completely backwards series of events- from the kids throwing chicken bones into the house gutters, to Joanna and Jeremy having intercourse in the middle of a currant bush while people watched, to the airplane with the banner flying overhead, to Helene being so nonchalant about never seeing her daughter again- I just don't know what to say (or if there's anything to say). 

The next thing to address is the "Invisible people". First of all, what exactly is this world that Sophie and Alberto find themselves in? Is it a different dimension of space? Is this an allusion to the belief in metaphysical beings when Alberto discusses "spirits"? How exactly did they, along with the other fable characters, wind up there? And lastly, what are Alberto and Sophie's ultimate fates? Is this new world like a purgatory, where they hopelessly drift for eternity, having practically no impact on the real world? This book leaves a lot of questions unresolved.  

Lastly, what on earth is wrong with the Major? He shows signs of Anti-Social Personality Disorder. I think that he is aware that Sophie and Alberto exist, to some degree, yet he finds pleasure in screwing up their lives. If he truly does acknowledge their odd form of existence, then he has absolutely no regard for the well-being of them as he flips their world upside-down and sabotages them. He's like a cat, playing with its prey before going in for the kill; he finds pleasure in watching them squirm. He also has extreme control issues. When Hilde pulls her little prank on her father, he goes crazy. He realizes that he is receiving a dose of his own medicine, yet continues to be paranoid and show odd behaviors like his maniacal laughter on the plane ride.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Don't be "A-Freud" of Psychology

YES! We finally get to talk about psychology in class! Today's lesson will be a more in-depth lecture about Freud, his ideas about development, and subconscious defense mechanisms.

First of all, Freud believed in the Psychosexual stages of child development, asserting that children were unconsciously sexual with various kinds of stimulation. Freud believed that if a child received too much or too little stimulation in an area of the psychosexual stages, they could become fixated, permanently trying to satisfy their urge for stimulation.
The Psychosexual Stages:
Oral (0-18 months)
Pleasure centers of the mouth such as biting, nursing, or sucking.
Pleasure seeking activities involving the mouth such as smoking, binge-eating, or chewing gum obsessively. 
Anal (18-36 months)
Pleasure focuses on bowel and bladder elimination; coping with demands for control.
Anal Retentive- Child becomes controlled and organized.
Anal Expulsive- Child becomes disorderly and hoarded.
Phallic (3-6 years)
Pleasure zone is the genitals; coping with incestuous sexual feelings. When girls and boys first realize that they have different genitals and that arousal creates pleasure.
Fixation causes the child to seek a partner that reminds them of their mother or father (Reminiscent Oedipus/Electra Complex)
Latency (6 to puberty)
Dormant sexual feelings. Girls and boys self-segregate by gender. Cooties!
Fixation causes homosexuality.
Genital (Puberty into adulthood)
Maturation of sexual interests
Fixation can cause sex addiction-like tendencies, or lack thereof.

Freud also believed in Defense Mechanisms, unconscious behaviors that our brain does to protect us from something that we don't want to face or don't know how to handle. While the psychosexual stages are really debatable to their validity/accuracy, I definitely see these defense mechanisms in my everyday life. I frequently see these with myself and others around me. It's quite fascinating. 

Defense Mechanisms:

Banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.
Avoiding anxiety-arousing queues that provoke a traumatic memory.
Individuals retreat, when faced with anxiety, to a more infantile stage
Looking for something that provides comfort, like a parent, sibling, or something that reminds that person of childhood.
Reaction Formation
Ego switches and expresses unacceptable, anxiety-arousing impulses as its opposite.
Being a homophobe or being overtly sexual towards the opposite sex to cope with their homosexual urges.
People disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others. Hypocritical reasoning.
A criminal and pervert criticizes and accuses an entire ethnicity of being rapists and murderers.
Self-justifying explanations in place of real, more threatening, unconscious reasons for one’s actions.
An alcoholic claiming that they only drink to be social.
Person shifts aggressive or sexual impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person
A husband beating his wife or kids because he can't take out his anger at work with his boss or co-workers.
Person channels their unacceptable impulses into socially approved activities
Smoking to calm down instead of becoming hostile.

Reflection Post #6

I don't really have much to say in this post. Since what we've been discussing- Marxism, Darwinism, Psychoanalysis- we've largely talked about in other classes and this was information that was already known. I knew about evolution coming into this class, and I already knew about Ken Ham and his "interesting" ideas about creationism (I type this trying to be as polite as possible); talk about ignorance being bliss: who spends over 100 million dollars to re-create a giant wooden boat in the middle of Kentucky? 64 million of those dollars were paid for by Grant County in taxes (Because that's a secular use of tax dollars). His logic simply profounds me with his arguments such as, "Were you there?" I don't even know what to say to that. His dogma is the epitome of the psychological principle of Belief Perseverance. The best example of this is global warming: It's when someone has a claim, and even when their argument has been disproved, that person with the false claim still holds onto it as being the truth (Such as when Senator Jim Inhofe brought a snowball onto the congressional floor as a testimony against climate change).
I already knew about Marxism because I've witnessed the re-emergence of some of its ideas in modern political discussion; socialist ideas like income equality and government intervention in various parts of society and our economy. There's really not much to talk about because these topics which we've been discussing, this truly is living philosophy. We're still actively having debates over these controversial ideas.
Anyways, it's sort of difficult to really analyze these ideas because they're still hot topic claims today. It's like trying to rate a president when they're still in office. Only time will tell what the ultimate verdict will be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Psychology "Marx" the Spot

Soon enough you'll be your own psych wizard!

First of all, on page 393, Alberto talks about Marx's ideas about the value of work; that without work we feel an emptiness. He's absolutely right! According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, employment of some sort is needed to feel self-actualization. It fits under the categories of self-perception and environmental approval. We seek for some sort of appraisal or recognition from our peers. One way to do that is to build up a repertoire within our occupation; establish something that we can hang our hats on. Having an occupation where you're valued and respected by your colleagues is crucial. Also, having something significant, such as a job with purpose, helps fulfill our need for self-esteem. This goes along with Erik Erikson's stages of development, more specifically the middle-age crisis of Generativity vs. Stagnation. In this stage of life, around the age of 35-60, people begin to question whether or not they have a purpose in life. It's this seek to be a part of something greater than ourselves that many middle-aged adults have midlife crises. In short, having a meaningful job helps fulfill approval from our environment and approval from ourselves. 

Secondly, on page 391, Alberto claims that the ruling class sets the norms. This is also true! As it was found in Asch's experiment in conformity, people tend to conform based off of social norms of those they perceive to be in a position of authority [refer to Milgram's study of obedience]. Thus, people like the political elites have more influence over public views on public policy, or why celebrities have influence over social trends and culture; they're in positions of authority. In the case that Marx refers to specifically, this has to do with what is called "Normative Social Influence". This is a type of conformity that occurs when someone submits to the majority opinion. It's a logical fallacy as it's a bandwagon tactic, but people do it nonetheless to prevent social conflict among their peers. "Why cause a dispute when you can just blend in?" This is not to be confused with "Informative Social Influence" where the person in the minority can't form an opinion on something, and thus believes that the majority must be right if they all concur. "If they all believe it's right, then there must be some validity in their thoughts, right?"

Here's a cool video explaining Asch's discovery, narrated by Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, the mastermind behind the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Analysis #5

First of all, I guess I'm slightly confused about Kierkegaard. We talked about how he was raised on a strict policy by his father who believed wielded the "Wrath of God"; does this mean Soren was abused growing up? I mean, I know it was a different time period and attitudes were different but abuse is abuse. I suppose, just from my personal perspective, I don't understand how someone could be tormented as a child, yet still uphold such a devout faith in Christianity. Unless of course he was so loyal out of fear. Also, his idea of existentialism has strengths and weaknesses, as we discussed in class. For instance, it is good to understand the nitty-gritty details of stuff. I should know, being anal retentive with my need for control on every little thing. However, I do also see where Hegel comes from with his more panoramic view of the world. It's important that we remind ourselves to still be able to see the forest through the trees.
And then there's Marx... The dude is pretty interesting. He is really the first philosopher that we've discussed that had a radical emphasis on political and economic structure. Sure, there was Plato with the Ideal Society (not to be confused with LBJ's Great Society) and there was Locke with natural rights, but Marx really proposes a major change in the way we talk about economics and politics. Obviously raw Communism and Marxist ideals don't work, but I do think some socialist tendencies are fine and even good for a society. For example, consider the issue of healthcare. As it currently stands, it is a largely privatized business, that will become exponentially more privatized if Trump"care" passes. This, I believe, is not good for society. By promoting an open market with health insurance, it'll derail the regulations on coverage and the pharmaceutical industry. More despicable acts like Martin Shkreli's price hike on AIDs medication or the hyperinflation of Epi-pens would occur. It's better to have government involvement in large businesses like the financial sector, so as to prevent another global meltdown like what was witnessed in 2008. While a complete command economy doesn't work, a mixed economy where the government controls or at least influences some aspects of the economy is crucial in providing a fair balance (at least in a perfect world, that is. Then again, there's lobbying- basically a legal form of bribery- but that's a completely different matter).

Friday, May 5, 2017

I "Kant" Wait to Talk About Psychology

Imagine that: another psychology lesson because #PsychIsEverywhere

Kant is essentially the precursor to what we now know about sensation and perception. When Kant talks about the material of knowledge and the form of knowledge, he is basically talking about the two forms of sensory processing. The material of knowledge is what is known as "Bottom-up" processing. Bottom-up processing is the basic form of sensory analysis that relies strictly on the senses. This uses various sensory cues.
For instance, consider visual cues while looking at this painting below:

At first, the cones in your retinas may notice the different colors like the greens and browns and white. The feature detectors of your fovea discern the lines and shapes of objects. You may pick up on monocular cues such as linear perspective and interposition, allowing you to gauge a sense of depth perception. This basic processing allows your brain to easily recognize that there is a forest with what looks like a rancher and some horses passing through. All of this information was picked up from basic sensory information or the material of knowledge.

However, your brain may not have noticed a crucial aspect of this unique painting. The title of this painting is called "The Forest has Eyes". Look through the painting again and see how many faces you can find with this new information. For most people, they don't immediately notice the faces hidden in the scenery. This is because they're not expecting to see such things in the painting. This is called "Inattentive Blindness" (For a fun example, watch the video below). It's a sometimes fatal mistake that our brain can't effectively mutli-task, so if we're not expecting something to happen, we might not notice some stimuli. This is where reason or the form of knowledge comes into play. This type of analysis is called "Top-down" processing and it utilizes the complex cognition and reasoning areas of the brain to interpret and ultimately decide our perceptions. This is like the example that Alberto gave to Sophie with the glasses. Though she may have seen the world with a tint of red, she knows that logically her senses are being deceived and it is only the result of those glasses. When our brain reaches stimuli that don't logically make sense, our brain tries to decipher and fill in the gaps in order to make sense.

Awareness Tests:
Who Dunnit?-