Author Archives: Parker Jax Yochim

Cheating: An Epidemic

After Andrew’s lecture on plagiarism I found myself wondering why people cheat. At a world renowned university, filled with some of the greatest young minds the world has to offer, why would it be necessary to inform students about cheating? Well as it turns out, academic dishonestly is somewhat of an epidemic at schools across America.

According to David Jaffe of Stanford, 78% to 98% percent of high school and college aged students have admitted to cheating at some point throughout their academic career. Whether it be sneaking an answer off of your neighbor’s exam or something as blatant as plagiarism, cheating occurs everywhere. Even more shocking, Jaffe reported that in a poll of the best high school students in America, over 80% of participants admitted to cheating. Jaffe claims that the most likely to cheat are Business and Engineering students, Fraternity or Sorority members, and younger students. Given the composition of our class, I’d say that at least half of us are prone to cheat. But why do people cheat?

It turns out that Matthew Williams, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia decided to ask the same question. Williams conducted a three stage study, in which several factors were measured. In the first study Williams measure cheating susceptibility based off of the dark triad, being Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Machiavellianism is effectively the manipulation and use of others for one’s own gain. Narcissism is characterized by self obsession and entitlement. Psychopathy being antisocial behavior with little or no regard to others well-being. In his study of over 200 students, he found that over 73 percent had admitted to cheating at some point. In observation Williams found that those with possessing traits were the most likely to cheat, with those possessing Machiavellian traits to be the second most likely.,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/18ixicxdyt75ljpg.jpg–c89bpZxG–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/18ixicxdyt75ljpg.jpg

In his next study Williams measured plagiarism rates among paper submissions from students using an online plagiarism database called turn-it-in. Williams found that of the over 200 students surveyed fifteen percent had plagiarized. Williams then attempted to determine the cause of this. He looked at a lack of intelligence and again psychopathy. Again Williams found that psychopathy was a key factor in the cheating among the students.

The results of the study are quite revealing. Williams seems to have found a correlation between psychopathy and a student’s propensity to cheat. Just because certain students possessed traits of psychopathy did not necessarily indicate that they were going to cheat. Rather these results revealed that they were more likely to cheat. This is fitting as people who are psychopathic possess little to no remorse, signifying their lack of regret and regard for cheating.

Overall, cheating is something that should be rebuked and avoided entirely. As students at one of the nation’s top universities we should pride ourselves on getting a degree in the fairest, most true way possible. Integrity and honesty are values that a Penn Stater must possess, so before you copy and paste, or share answers with a friend think twice.

Beer: Foe or Friend?

To many outsiders, life at an American university or college seems to be about one thing: drinking. Movies like American Pie, Old School, and Animal House have help to paint a stereotype that the college experience is one filled with drunken debauchery and womanizing. After spending my summer at Penn State, I realized one of those stereotypes held true: College kids love their beer. Given Penn State’s propensity to consume copious amounts of beer, I took it upon myself to figure out if beer or other types of alcohol actually have any health benefits.!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/dartmouth10n-2-web.jpg!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/dartmouth10n-2-web.jpg

Binge drinking is a period of drinking in which one consumes enough alcohol to achieve a BAC of .08 or higher. This type of drinking has proven to be egregiously hazardous to one’s health. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one and six US adults binge drink over four times a month. Even more interesting, binge drinking is more common among people or house holds that make over $75000 a year (CDC). The CDC reports that binge drinking can cause liver disease, neurological issues, and various cardio vascular diseases. It is clear that drinking to the point of severe intoxication is harmful to one’s health. But what if one drinks in moderation?

Alcohol has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. Beer and wine in some places were often more safe to drink than the water itself, due to a lack of purification means. According to The Harvard School of Public Health, moderate alcohol consumption can carry with it some positive health benefits. In over 100 studies, moderate alcohol consumption, less than three drinks in a day, carried with it a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Aaron Carrol of The New York Times, wrote that in several long term studies of long term moderate drinkers juxtaposed against those who don’t drink, the former was less likely to die from heart disease than their counterparts.

Alcohol may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, but for some diseases like cancer it has been shown to be harmful (New York Times). Carol remarked that some studies found that alcohol can be linked to certain types of cancer, in other studies the same finding was reported but mostly in those who regularly binge drink. Carol wrote than in a study done in England, a correlation was found between those who drink casually and mental function later in life. Whether or not these connections are casual is unknown. Many of the studies done on alcohol are definite, but a large portion are not. Many lack an understanding of the mechanism, which may not be necessary but is important for further research. Whether or not confounding variables can explain some of these correlations is always a matter of the the way the study was conducted.

Are beer and other types of alcohol friend or foe? It appears that there are some benefits in the long run, with sustained consumption, but overall it seems to do more harm than good. The problem with alcohol is that it lowers your inhibitions, so once you’ve had a good amount, you always want more. While this may not be true for everyone, it is for many; so next game day weekend drink safe, and above all don’t drink and drive.

Body Language: More Than Meets the Eye

In our day to day lives we interact with hundreds of new people. Whether it be the cashier in The Hub, or the cute girl you talked to on the way home, these interactions are seemingly unavoidable. The fact is that communication is everywhere in today’s society especially considering the recent rise in social media and cell phone use. Much of this communication is non-verbal, but the communication that really matters is face to face.


Face to face interaction and communication is an art that few have mastered. Many believe that this type of communication merely consists of talking and engaging another. However, research shows that one of the most important factors in communication is body language. For those who don’t know, body language consists of the subconscious, or sometimes deliberate ways in which people position their body.  Body language has the ability to change the way in which people perceive others.

According to Amy Cuddy, a Harvard psychologist, the way one positions their body can go so far as to affect their attitude. Positive body language, i.e. poses that project confidence and power, can have an effect on testosterone levels. In a study done by Cuddy at Harvard University, Cuddy found that positive body language can increase testosterone levels by 20 percent. The study also found that positive body language can decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol is a chemical that the body naturally produces, that causes stress. Cuddy wrote, that when testosterone levels rise and cortisol levels fall, people become better a performing in stressful situations. This in turn leads to a happier being, more likely to take on risk and challenges.

Personally, I have found the science of body language to be utterly fascinating. After watching Cuddy’s TED Talk, I decided to attempt to put some of her ideas into effect. Furthermore, I became more adept at observing the body language of those around me. Unlike Cuddy, I myself did not experience a dramatic upturn in attitude or confidence. This however does not imply that she was wrong. Rather, I think that I am a naturally confident person, so perhaps body language is the reason for the latter.

The science behind body language goes far beyond personal application. According to Bjorn Carrey of the Stanford Report, body language can go as far as to tell us of a person’s creativity. The study used advanced cameras to record the specific movements of the participants bodies. The study went so far as to pay attention to the movements of hands, limbs and etc. Afterwards, this data was put into a system with an advanced algorithm designed to detect any available patterns. The results revealed that people are more likely to work well with those with whom they share common movement patterns. The results of the study also revealed that movements of an instructor during class may affect class performance.

A recent Princeton University study, revealed that body language may play a more important role in the judgment of emotions than facial expressions. The study showed participants numerous photos of people in emotional situations and asked participants to judge the emotion and then mark what they judged it upon. The study used a variety of experiments to attempt to gauge what the participants were actually judging. One of the experiments scrambled the faces of the photographs, in which case participants judged based off of body cues. Overall, the study revealed that body language can play quite a larger role than expected in the perception of emotion.

The science behind body language is a relatively new one, that seems to be quite powerful. The way in which we communicate is by far one of the most important aspects of our lives. I look forward to hearing more from researches of the subject.




Science Was Never My Forte

Hi, I’m Parker Yochim an incoming Freshman student from Erie, Pennsylvania. I chose to take this course mainly because it came highly recommended by my academic advisor. Upon further inquiry I was pleased to find out that this class takes a very unorthodox approach at teaching. In my opinion, classes should not be taught as just a matter of facts and figures, but rather as a matter of deep thought and reflection as the latter reveals true knowledge about a subject. I have never found Science to be very interesting to me, not because it bores me, but rather because the way it was taught to me was quite mundane. My primary school experience in Science was one plagued with petty memorization about topics that were uninteresting to me. However, this class seems as if it will be, for the first time, truly exciting and engaging. I look forward to the next semester and hope to learn all I can about the wonderful world of Science. Bill_Nye_the_Science_Guy_title_screen

An interesting article I saw on reddit today can be found HERE. This article talks about the development of a new app that is able to diagnose Autism by recognizing touch patterns. The app has been shown to be 93 percent effective in a survey of 37 people.