Monthly Archives: September 2016

Cold medicine: relief or placebo?

We’re one month into college and the plague has already hit. In every lecture hall coughs echo off the walls and I find myself cringing at the symphony of sickness that surrounds me. Although I may not live in East, the plague has still hit my room. The other day I walked down to McLanahan’s for some vitamin C and came face to face with empty shelves where cold relief should have been. Keyword there: relief. I’m a person who would prefer to ride out a cold instead of pumping myself full of drugs that really do little to no good for me. But other people, my dad for example, love to purchase every cold and flu remedy found in a local pharmacy. While I feel as if cold medicine is just a placebo, my dad swears by it. Which leads me to ask my question: Is over-the-counter cold medicine effective or just a head game?

In this situation, I am treating over the counter cold medicine as the putative causal variable and a noticeable improvement in health as the putative response variable. Since an improvement in health could not really cause a person to take more cold medicine, we can rule out reverse causality. However, the placebo effect is a possible third variable in this question. In my opinion, we have two possibilities:

  • Taking over the counter cold medicine improves a sick person’s health.
  • Taking over the counter cold medicine improves a sick person’s health if they are convinced by the placebo effect.


Image found here

Luckily, back in 2011 a group of researchers at the NIH were just as interested in cold medicine and its possible placebo effect as me. For their randomized controlled trial, the scientists picked 714 study participants who were currently fighting some form of a cold. These 714 infected people were split into four categories that I have creatively named below in order to keep them all straight (for my own sake).

  • The Sufferers: These people were given no relief for their symptoms, simply waiting for their illness to pass.
  • The Blind Sheep: This group was blinded to Echinacea, not knowing what kind of over the counter medicine they were receiving, or if it was effective.
  • The Extra Blind Sheep: These participants were blinded to placebo, which should not improve their health any more than not ingesting medicine would.
  • The Holy Grail: The luckiest group was given open-label Echinacea, meaning they were fully aware of their over the counter medicine consumption.

At the end of the study, researchers recorded the statistics for each sub-category, the most interesting being the average span of the illness for each group. While the group of Sufferers endured their illnesses for a mean of 7.03 days, the Blind Sheep (6.34 days,) the Extra Blind Sheep (6.87 days,) and the Holy Grail (6.76 days) all overcame illness in a relatively similar time-frame. The most notable observation from this data is that the Blind Sheep (those blinded to Echinacea) had the quickest recovery time. Does this mean that patients blinded to actual cold remedies always recover faster than those who know exactly what’s going on? From this study, I honestly think it’s hard to tell. Only 714 people were involved, and although the numbers for participants who took pills (placebo or Echinacea) are in fact lower than those who simply endured, the numbers really didn’t seem substantial enough to prove either of my scenarios more than the other. In fact, the lower numbers for both placebo and Echinacea point to the possibility that both scenarios could be plausible.

A little confused, I turned back to Google and stumbled across this Washington Post article written by Carolyn Y. Johnson that condemns the use of over the counter cold drugs, citing three different case studies as part of her evidence. Two of these studies focused on the decongestant drug phenylephrine, which is an ingredient found in many cold and allergy medicines sold in drugstores. The most recent of the two was completed in 2015 and tested the effectiveness of Phenylephrine hydrochloride versus a placebo. This trial was completely open-label, and 539 participants were randomized into two separate sub-groups. One took increasing dosages of 10, 20, 30, 40mg over the experimental period and the other ingested placebo over the seven days. The biggest data measured was the average change from baseline (the first day) over the whole treatment period, calculated from a daily “score” of nasal congestion.

This trial, much like the first I looked at, saw no startling differences between the placebo treatment and the over the counter treatment. In fact, placebo seems frighteningly similar to over the counter drugs in its effectiveness. If this is the case, why are ineffective decongestants still available to purchase on shelves? Johnson believes this is due to the revenue brought in from upper respiratory medicines. In 2015 alone, sales of these ailments to the population came out to be around 1.1 billion dollars (Consumer Healthcare Products Association.)

Circling back to my original question, I feel as if the second scenario is the plausible answer. While others could argue that the over the counter medicine used in both studies I’ve cited did in fact alleviate and improve the cold symptoms of sick people, I can assert that those who took placebo improved at almost the same rate as those who had actual drugs. Neither of the studies analyzed whether its participants that were given actual medicine believed in the placebo effect, so how can we be sure that they didn’t just improve because they have faith in the power of medicine?

So, SC200, my question to you is this: Are you one to take over the counter cold medicine? Do you find it to be effective? If so, have your feelings changed after reading this? In all honesty, mine haven’t. I still won’t be wasting my money on medicine that doesn’t help, but then again, I’ve always gotten by as one of The Sufferers.

Alcosynth: the future of drinking?

Everyone knows that alcohol isn’t a new thing. It has defined our history, our religions and our way of life. Be it wine in France, beer in Germany, vodka in Russia or sake in Japan, many peoples have adopted alcohol as a part of their culture, their identity. Alcohol and humans go back a long way, but most people don’t know quite how long: we have been consuming alcoholic beverages since Sumerian times, i.e. the beginning of civilisation as we know it. Beer in Sumeria was as important for socialisation and bringing people together as it is today, which shows that our relationship with it is even closer than one might imagine. Throughout our long history together, we have come to know that it has both positive and negative sides: it makes us dozy, happy and tipsy, but it also causes damage to our organs and causes headaches and nausea. We all know that alcohol is a double edged sword, and that we must enjoy it carefully. But now, Imperial College professor David Nutt aims to put an end to the negative aspect of alcohol and finally turn it into the nectar of the gods men have always made it to be.

The compound developed by professor Nutt has been branded “alcosynth”, with almost a hundred different compounds synthesised and patented. Two of these are currently undergoing extensive tests for their validation for public use. Nutt and his team believe the substance will revolutionise the alcoholic beverage industry, even estimating their compounds may completely replace ordinary alcohol by 2050. If true, this would also remove the problems of drunk driving (if humans are even allowed to drive anymore by 2050), alcohol related diseases, inebriate domestic violence and productivity issues related to hangovers, among others, benefiting not only the consumer, but also society in general.


This apparently miraculous substance is but a clever manipulation of alcohol’s chemistry, according to professor Nutt. He says that, due to our extensive knowledge of the effect of alcohol on brain chemistry coming from over 30 years of observation and analysis, it is possible to isolate what causes good effects on our organisms and what doesn’t; with that in mind, it’s only a matter of devising a substance that only has the good effects. While alcosynth is admittedly still early in its process of being released onto the populace, Nutt has high hopes for his compounds, saying he knows the beverages industry knows alcohol will be gone by the end of the first half of the century. However, understandably so, investors are still sceptic about the validity of the substance to put too much capital into it. While alcosynth presumably is less inebriating than traditional alcohol and inoffensive to the brain and liver, the research costs are high and the promise has not been widely legitimised yet.

Some within the industry say alcosynth is unnecessary since low strength drinks already exist, and that the public conscience of moderation is increasingly responsible for less infirmities related to excessive alcohol consumption. Since the substance is still early in its development, only time may tell if it will revolutionise public health or fade into obscurity along many other so-called “visionary” projects that simply failed to be relevant enough to catch society’s attention. Meanwhile, moderation, sensibility and caution will have to do, as it has since the dawn of humanity.

success means money?

Success is a beautiful word. Many people contributes their whole life to success, because success for them just means high social status, money, and spiritual accomplishment. Nevertheless, for my perspective, the interpretation of success not only just means substantial enjoyment, but also dedicates yourself to others. Relationships around success are inevitable, but three of them like what I mention above are core meanings. Specifically, the relationships between success, dedication, and money ought to be discussed in direct, reverse, and confounding.


Talking a well-known sentence: let others be happy with you, I want to pursue the meaning this quotes. Success means what? For example, your family or your friend are in trouble, and you are the first one they want to depend. Because in their brains, you have ability to help them out, and you are willing to help someone who need help. In my family, my father always teach me that the success person never focus on how much money you have, and concentrate on how much you dedicate for other people around you. When I was young, I totally don’t know the meaning of this sentence, but from now on, I realize that what my father told me is absolutely correct. In this way, success is let others respect you, and everybody thinks your are the perfect model to mimic on the way to success.


In addition, as we all know John D. Rockefeller,(reference one)  the most rich man in nineteen century. There is no doubt that he is a successful man, because he is emperor in crude oil field of America. Anthropologist not only just use unbelievable bank deposit to describe him, but also dedication, clever, and generous. Many people block him when he create his business career. But since Rockefeller became successful and got accomplishment, he didn’t want to eliminate his business enemies, because in his philosophical dictionary, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger. His parents actually didn’t support him to be a business man initially, because he was born in a not rich family. Never give up, ignore the negative force, and don’t pay attention to your background, success will available for everyone. The quotes given by Rockefeller. The success prerequisites are be attribute to spiritual field, but not related money. In my thought, success is master of money, rather than the slaver of money.


What’s more, success is comparable. (reference two)One thing ought to be noticed that success is not absolute. If we just compare with the best-known people, it’s impossible for us to get satisfaction feeling. Six billion people in the whole world, you don’t need to compare to everybody. I mean success is also equal to self- satisfaction. (reference five) When we face difficult problems, we should know how avoid it, and try another way to walk for success. It’s ridiculous that only use one thought to accomplish your goal. Talking about success, realization of your own success is also important. How much money you earn means success? No result for this obvious question. For normal worker, have a good family may be means success, but for business man, have one hundred million may be equal to success, etc. Some people pursue the absolute success in whole life, until they died. They don’t think they get success even thought others think so. In this way, whatever how much money they make, they are not successful, because they don’t know self-satisfaction. Comparing to the people just hard working, I prefer success with satisfaction. Happy is he who is contented with what he has. That’s why sage is always happy. I holds my view that the success is variable, not monotony forever.


Success is magical, and anthropologists try to summarize the perfect definition of this word, because success is the core of people’s evolution since people have thoughts.(reference four)  When people don’t live like animals, success is always available to people. Since people start to explore the attractive success, the real definite meanings of success becomes variable, money to dedication, high status to low key, and virtual greasiness to current life. In conclusion, personal success equals to what you contribute for this incomplete society and fragile hearts of human rather than how much money you earned in your life.

pictures link


Why Success Is So Important in Life




Does Going to the Doctor Make You Sick?

In the beginning of the semester, sicknesses were spreading through campus like wildfire. You still can’t sit through a lecture for 10 straight seconds without hearing at least one cough (seriously, try it). You probably know all of this, because you were probably a victim of one of these sicknesses.

I surprisingly was not…until I went to the doctor.

On week two of college, my friend told me she had mono. I absolutely panicked when I remembered that we had shared a plate of pasta, drank each other’s drinks, and hung out monopractically every day. In an effort to be extra cautious, I scheduled an appointment with University Health Services that same day. They asked me, “What are your symptoms?”. I responded, “My best friend has mono”.

Once I got to the doctor, they said I had the best throat they had seen all day. They said I had absolutely no symptoms of any sicknesses. They wouldn’t even test me for mono. So, I left.

Over the following week, I noticed myself starting to get symptoms of a sickness. I was coughing, sneezing, aching, and most importantly, still worrying that I had mono.

This whole situation had me retracing my steps in the doctor’s office. My healthy-self opened the door to University Health, checked-in at the touch-screen station, hit an elevator button, signed a paper, took about 200 breaths of air at this point, and sat in a chair before I got into my actual appointment. Could my friend have nothing to do with my sickness? Could it have been one of these steps that potentially made me sick?

Let’s look at some possibilities:

  1. The commonly held belief: Going to the doctor (putative causal) makes you better (putative response).
  2. Reverse causation: Feeling better (putative causal) makes you go to the doctor (putative response). Note: this probably doesn’t happen much unless you are me and you try to get rid of a sickness that you don’t have.
  3. Confounding variable: Going to the doctor and getting medicine and/or proper care (confounding variable) makes you better. Once you think about this one, you realize that #1 probably isn’t true unless you’re already getting better without medicine and don’t catch any nasty germs in the doctor’s office. Even in that case, the doctor’s office still wouldn’t be causing you to get better.

The actual act of going to a doctor’s office (#1 in the above list), in my opinion, does more harm than anything else. Owen Hendley, MD, did a study in which he gathered thirty adults who had symptoms of a cold. Out of the thirty, sixteen tested positive for rhinovirus, the virus responsible for the common cold. Hendley then took six of these remaining participants’ mucus and placed it onto commonly-touched surfaces. He and his team found that, after one hour, the virus was still infectious in 22% of the cases. After a full day, the virus was only found infectious in 3% of cases.

In most doctor’s officers (and especially in University Health on the second week of school), it’s basically unheard of that the office wouldn’t have patients coming in and out every hour. In fact, I got the absolute last appointment available until a week and a half later. Of these people coming in and out, it would be logical to expect a good majority of them to be there for a sickness; therefore, the germs that they are leaving on different surfaces are the germs that you went to the doctor to get rid of in the first place. The irony! waitingroom_533

My take-away from this is that maybe we should all go to the doctor on Monday because most offices are closed on Sunday’s, leaving 24 hours for bad germs to be practically gone. But even in that case, the people who get there before you on Monday will inevitably leave their germs on surfaces, and, according to this study, you’d have about a 1 out of 5 chance of being exposed to such germs.

So, I learned my lesson; unless I’m absolutely sure that I’m sick, I will not be scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Even then, I will be taking precautionary measures such as wearing a mask in the office and using hand sanitizer after I touch surfaces. A study done by University of Michigan during flu season showed that out of 1,000 students, the groups that were directed to wear masks and use hand sanitizer were 10-50% less likely to catch the flu. Even if there might only be a 10% chance of protection in some cases, it can’t hurt to take easy, effortless preventative measures.


Web MD studies

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The Science Behind Heartbreak

Given that most of us are between the ages of 18-21 I will assume that we’ve all had our hearts broken at least once or twice. Heart break can be caused by many different things, and that’s what makes this mind-numbing emotion easily recognizable by nearly every person in the world.  Such as the physical/emotional loss of a loved one, or pet. It can even be caused by the feelings of betrayal, disappointment, and the realization that the love of a significant other is drifting far apart from where it originally was. Feelings of anxiety and panic -“Are we breaking up” -usually precede this heartbreaking emotion.

For those of you reading that statement and going “I can’t relate,” well you my friend, are very lucky. Getting your heart broken absolutely sucks. When your heart is broken it can feel like the end of the world. The type of heart break I’m unfortunately most familiar with is the heart break that follows a failed relationship. The heartbreak that has led me to binge eating, binge crying, and most noteworthy, Netflix binge-watching.

Side Note: after getting my heart broken the summer following my senior year, I watched the entire series of Naruto Shippuden (anime lovers unite). Yes, from the beginning. Yes, I was in a very dark place.

Lets Talk About The Physical Pain

Anyone who has ever gone through a heart break can attest to experiencing some type of physical pain, “My heart hurts!” This is due to the fact that emotions affect the physical health of an individual far more than we often realize. But I was curious as to how exactly do our body’s feel this emotional loss; in other words, what is it that brings the physical pain to our heart breaks? What is the Science behind it?

Can Heart Beaks Occur -Literally?

There have been several studies on heartbreaks and how it affects people. Most of which find a connection between emotional pain and the literal form of heart break -heart attack. The emotional stress of heartbreaks is harmful and it’s said to be a possible cause of what is called Broken Heart Syndrome (Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy), laid out in the image below.

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, something similar to a heart attack. occurs as a result of the body becoming overwhelmed with severe emotional/physical stress. These stressors can range from losing someone you love to fatal accidents. The exact cause of this is still up for debate but many experts believe that the surge of hormones (ex. adrenaline) brought on by emotional or physical stress essentially ‘stun’ the heart, triggering the heart muscle cells in it’s main chamber, the left ventricle, to change, This inevitably effects the way the heart contracts. Although it doesn’t completely kill the heart muscle, like a real heart attack, it sort of renders it useless.

The Science Behind Heartbreak

In 2010, at The University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, a team of researchers, under the leadership of psychologist C. DeWall, Published a study examining the possible connection and overlap between physical pain and emotional (social) pain.

The first experiment contained a group of 62 healthy individuals who agreed to take 1,000 mg daily of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) or a placebo. Each night, the subjects then reported to researchers, using a  version of the  “Hurt Feelings Scale,”  how much they experienced social pain. The Hurt Feelings scale is a valid tool widely accepted by psychologist to measure one’s reported social pain. What researchers discovered was that ‘Hurt Feelings’ and overall social pain decreased over time in participants taking the daily acetaminophen, while the placebo subjects didn’t show any signs of change. There was no significant change in the levels of positive emotions observed in either group, that remained rather stable. The results of this study thus indicate that by impacting emotions linked to ‘hurt feelings’ using acetaminophen may decrease social pain over time.

Although DeWall was very excited about the findings, he knew the next step was to identify the neural mechanisms that lay beneath the results. This led to a second experiment.

In this second experiment, unlike the first, 25 healthy individuals were told to take 2,000 mg daily (twice the dose of the first experiment) of either acetaminophen or a placebo. After about three weeks of being on the pills, these participants in a computer game designed to create feelings of social rejection. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (f MRI) was used during the game and the findings were that in the brain regions associated with social pain as well as ones with the component of physical pain, acetaminophen decreased subjects neural responses to social rejection. In these regions, also known as the the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula, the parts of the brain that are associated with physical pain lit up in the subjects taking the placebo, where as the subjects taking acetaminophen pills displayed significantly less brain activity in these areas as they responded to rejection.

The research results showed that the areas of the brain that resonate with emotional discomfort is also where physical pain is experienced. Which then offers and explanation for the subject that were taking the acetaminophen pill reported not having any physical pain yet were experiencing less feelings of hurt and rejection than that of the participants that were only taking the placebo substance.

Someone who is considered an expert in romantic relationships and co-authored the Kentucky study, Geoff MacDonald, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto stated that the centers of our brain that feel pain can not really differentiate between what we consider to be physical vs. emotional pain. He also reminded us that physical pain, is just as serious as emotional pain and we shouldn’t dismiss the ‘touchy-feely’ aspect of it for the sake of it being superficial.

So there you have it. Next time, you are heart broken and someone tells you to “get over it” or “it’s not that deep” or something else insensitive along those lines, tell them that your heart is physically hurt . Then, show them this as proof that it’s not just you being whiny, you are scientifically justified to be sad.

Cheating experiments

The article “Cheating Lessons” was divided into three parts and talks about the many experiments that were conducted to find out people’s incentive to cheat on multiple situations. The article itself was written based on Dan Ariely’s (The duke economist and behavioral theorist) trade book called “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves”.

Cheating lessons part 1

The first part of “Cheating lessons” starts by talking about how the experiments have to create environment where there are ways, stimuli or even incentive for people to cheat.  The control condition was to design an assignment that would allow the research to perceive the average level of dishonesty in adults. The experimental condition was that the researchers would alter the assignment in various ways to see whether the level of cheating would increase or decrease based on the factors.

Ariely had concluded from his experiments that most people would be willing to cheat when given the chance to. He called this “Fudge Factor” and it helps him to explain most cheating real life situation. The paragraph 3 and 4 on this link provide more details about the usefulness of “fudge factor”.

The article then continue by explaining how many researchers have tried to change the behaviors of the cheaters; especially students in higher education. However, Ariely believed that we should focus on the structure of the environment instead of the many individual possible cheating inducement factors of the students. This is mainly because he believes that they are too many dishonesty in our daily life and changing it would be a very difficult task to do. The paragraph 9 and so on this same link would provide more details about what could have been changed to reduce the willingness to cheat.

The article then gave the example of the “Princess Alice” experiment to demonstrate a situation where they videotaped a group of children of age 5-9 who were told that if they succeed in throwing a Velcro ball at a target and sticking it, they would be given a reward. This task was seen considered almost impossible for the participants to ensure that the children would have more incentive in cheating.

The group of children were divided into 3 groups under 3 different conditions:

  • The first one was put in a room with the presence of a friendly female observer.
  • The second one was put in a room without any supervision.
  • The last one was put in a room where the children were told that an invisible figure called “Princess Alice” watching over them.

The results were that children are less willing to cheat when there is the presence of an adult and higher when they are left alone in the room or in the room with “Princess Alice”. However, we should also noted that some children did not believed that “Princess Alice” existed. Only one children who were uncertain about the existence of “Princess Alice” was still willing to cheat despite the uncertainty. The first part of the article concluded that these conditions are similar to certain circumstances within our college level classroom and that we should avoid allowing students to be in these conditions to minimize the cheating. The paragraph 11 and so on would describe on this same link the full details of this experiment.

Cheating lesson part 2

The part 2 of this article focuses on the stimuli that would induce cheating. Whether higher stakes would induce people to cheat. They looked into the psychologist George M.Diekhoff’s researches, who targeted American and Japanese students and look at their cheating behavior. He used the basic strategy of gathering data by listing varieties of academic cheating behavior and asked the students whether they used to commit any of those behavior during their time in college.

He found out that 29% of the American students acknowledge that they cheated at least in one exam while the Japanese students rate was at 55%. The difference in the percentages was due to the greater pressure to succeed in an exam for the Japanese. This was believed to be caused by their learning environment where Japanese students had only one big major final exams which will determines their grade. On the other hand, Americans students are usually given many short exams and quizzes more frequently over the year, allowing them to progress over their past mistakes. This means that Japanese students are more pressured to succeed because one exam can determine whether they pass or fail their year. Thus, the article concluded that rare and high-risk exams causes people to be more willing to cheat. To read more about this experiment, please refer to the paragraph 1-10 on this link.

The article also gave another example about the Chinese civil service exams where it would reward the well-achiever of high income and stable place within the Chinese government. This means that even peasant would be given the chance to get a better sustaining life. These exams were held rarely and also were very high-stakes exams because failing would be consider as a shameful position and make the person questioned themselves if they should study again for two to three years before the next exam. The punishment for cheating in this exams were extremely severe because it could lead to death sentences. Despite these severe punishments, all kind of cheating still occurs due to the high-stake factors and demonstrate that preventive measure does not stop cheating. To read more about this experiment, please refer to the paragraph 14-19 on this same link.

The conclusion of part 2 was that we should provide a learning environment with frequent and many low-stake assignment when possible. However, they still would be certain cases where high-stakes exams are still required. The article suggested that we should prepare the students to be ready by giving them frequent assignment of similar format where high-stakes exams skills would need to be put to use so that the students can practice it more often.

Cheating lesson part 3

Part 3 of the article starts by talking about the cheat rate over the past 50 years. He starts by telling us about the first survey of cheating in higher education conducted by a Columbia students named William J.Bowers during 1963. The results were that 75% of the students admitted that they cheated at least once during their time in college. The author then compared this results to the 2002 to 2010 results by looking into “Cheating n College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It”, a book that includes results from many surveys over the past years. The results were that 60-70% of the students admitted that they cheated before. The author of the article questioned the reliability of these results because the researches in the book used Web to gather information while Bowers used paper survey. Nonetheless, the rate of cheating is still very high because it exceed the average of the students meaning that even in a small class of 10 students, at least 6 of them would cheat.

The article still concluded similarly to part 1 and 2 where high-stakes exams induce cheating and the frequency of being able to put those skills into practice. The article further explains how low-stakes exams is beneficial because it helps student to learn better. They also stated that the best prevention against cheating would be to provide students enough tools and interest for them to learn it in a morally way. The article also highlighted that learning through low-stakes evaluations such as quizzes helps student learn better than the usual traditional way through text-book, notes or highlighted text.

The article then talked about Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke’s experiment. They divided their participants into 4 groups and ask them to learn and memorize 40 English-Swahili word pairs for 4 study sessions. Afterward the experimenter gave them a week before coming back to recall their words. The study finds out that repetition in testing helps the students to learn faster as repetition also allowed them to have better retention of the words. You can read further details of the study on this link.

Therefore, the article concludes that repetitive learning, rehearsals, frequent testing allow the student to learn better and reduce their incentive to cheat because their memory are consistently being used, helping the students to gain confidence.

By Dhaam Sakuntabhai



The Science Behind Cheating

Cheating has been a problem for as long as I can remember, and rather than wondering why I’ve been wondering how. If it has been an issue for as long as it has, I would think there would be more research going into it and how to prevent it. A few experiments have been done explaining both why and how people cheat.

A first-year math student at the University of Waterloo has been charged with uttering forged documents and personation at an exam after allegedly paying someone $900 to write the test for her.

There are many reasons people decide to cheat and one is in high stress environments. In a study George M. Diekhoff led he surveyed a group of American students and then later a group of Japaese students and the results determined that 26% of American students admitted to cheating as opposed to 55% of Japanese students. The researchers concluded that this was because Japanese students have less tests throughout the year therefore their final is a large percentage of their grade. This causes a higher stress environment than in American schools causing them to cheat more often than the American students.

In conclusion, what teachers should do to further prevent cheating is change their curriculum. By adding more exams, assessments, and assignments students are less pressured to cheat because it has less of an effect on their grade as it would if there were only one exam. Studies have shown that frequent tests and quizzes help learning, so it would be beneficial for both the teacher and the student.



Info pt.1

Info pt.2

Info pt.3

How to Fix a Cheating Enviroment

From the first test I can remember taking, I can remember people cheating. Since elementary school, big tests have caused nervousness, uncertainty, and self-doubt for myself and for many other students. The pressure that comes with big tests can sometimes be unbearable, and often drives students to do the one thing they’re taught not to do the most: cheat.

James W. Lang, author of Cheating Lessons, offers his insight over three articles on the matter of cheating both historically and in present time. He covers all the bases; initially speaking on why, how, and when people cheat before moving to ways to help prevent and limit cheating.

In his first article, Lang refers to a researcher names Dan Ariely. Ariely created environments that made cheating easier and environments that made it harder for his subjects when he conducted his tests. To mine nor your surprise, the individuals with less at stake, for whatever reason, cheated more often. Whether it was an incentive like money or simply how close they felt they were being monitored, the people with less to lose consistently cheated more often than the others. Ariely referred to this as “The Fudge Factor”, concluding that individuals are more likely to cheat in the right situation. Lang uses another example, the “Princess Alice” test, to illustrate that cheating can be controlled, but there are very specific methods that need to be taken.

Lang then switches gears in his second article and references a 1994 study led by the United States and Japanese researchers. This study, led by George Diekhoff, intended to uncover the difference in cheating rates in different demographics. The group interviewed thousands of students in Texas and Japan. The average age of the Texan students was younger than the Japanese, so the researchers, like myself, assumed the Texans would have a much higher cheating rate. However, what they found was quite the opposite. A mere 26% of United States student admitted to cheating while a whopping 55% of Japanese students did! Puzzled by the results, the team took a step back. They looked deeper into what must be causing the massive cheating. Japanese students, as opposed to the Americans, took one final exam at the end of each class. Talk about a make or break! I mean no home works, no quizzes, no participation, none of it. It all boils down to one final exam for them and that’s whats driven so many of them to cheat. What Lang took away from all this is of great significance- students do better in an environment that provides frequent, low pressure opportunities (i.e more home works, quizzes, participation) rather than one were everything is riding on one or two exams. I find this to be extremely accurate for myself as well as my peers. The less pressure that comes with each class, the less stress that comes with each class. Lowering students’ stress levels and our need to feel like we NEED an A+ every time we click submit will directly help cheating rates decline.


In his third piece, Lang opens with stats from a 1963 research study held by William J. Bowers. Mr. Bowers went to over one hundred schools and identified the thirteen different types of acts that he considered cheating. The results he got were staggering: roughly 75% of college students admitted to have had cheated before. Fifty years later, Donald McCabe picked up where Bowers left off and essentially ran the same study. His results? Roughly the exact same, he discovered a %60-70 cheating rate. Overall, Lang concluded that the students are not going to be the one’s to change the system, it must be the faculty.

Cheating is so punishable yet so common. How do we make it end? All of the above information suggests the best way to stop cheating is to increase learning. The best way to increase learning is to keep your students engaged. Lang made an excellent point at the end of his third article regarding how to keep students engaged. He stated “With five minutes left in class, ask students to close their notebooks, take out half a sheet of paper, and write down the most important concept (or two, or three) that they learned in class that day.” Its the little things like these that will a) keep kids more engaged and with the big picture and b) make them feel more confident and comfortable with the everyday material they are taught. They should be taking frequent, low stake exams that they feel comfortable with on rather than being handed an extensive exam with over a months’ worth of work. If students are interested and don’t feel such extreme pressure, the cheating rate is almost guaranteed to go down. The best defense against cheating is simply to take the pressure off. Students’ wouldn’t feel the same urgency and desperation that often leads to cheating if they didn’t feel the hot pressure beating down on them.

These articles helped me recognize that while cheating is a huge problem, it is solvable to some extent. The more we can prevent cheating, the more student’s will actually learn. Student and faculty alike need to do their part in facilitating the collective effort to stop cheating.

Has your horoscope been lying to you??

Recently in the news, there had been claims made that the zodiac signs were being changed. Naturally when hearing this, I freaked out. Was I no longer an Aries?? Had my zodiac readings been lies for the past 18 years?? How is it that they had always been so strangely accurate???? I began to question everything I knew about myself. Okay maybe I was being a little dramatic—like usual—but I was just so baffled at the fact that this idea I had always thought to be true was suddenly not true at all.


It turns out that there are actually 13 zodiac signs, as oppose to the 12 that we are all used to. The new sign was now Ophiucus. This lands between November 29 and December 17th, ultimately moving around all of the other signs. To my surprise, I was now finding out that I am a Pisces. According to the article, “YOUR ASTROLOGICAL SIGN HAS SHIFTED: NASA UPDATED THE ZODIAC SIGNS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2,000 YEARS”, only about 14% of people have had the right zodiac sign all along. This obviously shows the reasoning behind the giant wave of confusion over this issue, being that it is now affecting such an immense amount of people…but should we really be worried?

After looking more into this topic, I discovered a more recent article clearing up this entire debacle. The article, “NASA Clears Up Zodiac Sign Controversy, Space Agency Denies Changing Star Signs”, includes how NASA points out the difference between Astrology and Astronomy, essentially putting an end to this entire dilemma. The 13 constellations have always been known, however they do not fit into our 12-month period properly. All in all, no one’s signs are actually going to change. Everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief and go back to carrying on with their normal lives—again I might be the only person that really took the time to freak out over this but that’s beside the point. So for now I can re-download my horoscope app that I had deleted in a moment of panic, and continue to read my readings in peace.



Sources: <>




Can we defeat the Superbugs?

Not this kind of superbug.

According to the Center for Disease Control, antibiotic resistance is when bacteria mutate and become less effected by drugs and chemicals us humans use to fight infections. It is a major public health problem. After years of exposure to antibiotics, due to their prominence in everything from hand soap to cow food, antibiotic resistance is on the rise leading the media to call attention to the threat of superbugs.

Now this is all obviously extremely terrifying. Antibiotics are our biggest line of defense against a wide variety of bacterial infections. With a growing number of strains of bacteria slowly becoming resistant to antibiotics, once easily treated diseases can become far more difficult to deal with.

This is what E coli looks like. Lovely.

For example, as recently as this year the Washington Post reports that an antibiotic resistant strain of E coli has entered the United States. A 49 year old woman in Pennsylvania was found to have a strain of E coli that the Department of Defense determined was resistant to colistin- an antibiotic of last resort. Essentially, colistin is one of the most powerful antibiotics we have left and if an infection becomes immune to it, we have nothing left to fight it. This is a problem.

Antibiotics, obviously.

What is the solution? The CDC’s website lays out several guidelines to prevent further antibiotic resistance. Among them, use your antibiotics for the prescribed time instead of quitting as soon as you feel better, ask your healthcare professional if antibiotics are necessary for fighting your infection and providing symptom relief, and never save antibiotics for when you get sick again. Medical professionals are also encouraged to use antibiotics more sparingly, farmers are encouraged to remove them from their feed as it is unnecessary and overkill, and finally the FDA recently decided that some antibacterial agents have to be removed from hand soap. All in all, it is not a disaster yet, but in the next few years it’ll be interesting to see if we can develop other weapons and become less reliant on antibiotics- the fossil fuels of healthcare.

The Loch Ness Monster!?

Here we are again folks, another sighting of the infamous Loch Ness Monster.

According to The Scotsman, warehouse worker and amateur photographer Ian Bremner has taken a photograph of what could be the most clear, convincing picture of the Loch Ness Monster, “Nessie”. A long serpent-like creature, Nessie is believed to have been seen as far back as 1933 and the image below is believed to resemble some of the most clearest,notable images of the creature.


Loch Ness is a large freshwater lake located in the Scottish Highlands extending approximately 23 miles with an average depth of 433 feet.

In addition to Ian’s latest claim of the Loch Ness Monster, there have been five other reported sightings of the monster this year which is the highest reported sightings since 2002. Others refute that this picture realistically shows three seals playing in the water and nothing more.

According to the article, there have been 1081 recorded sightings of the Loch Ness Monster lurking in the water with this picture being the most recent and convincing evidence.




Is Faster-Than-Light Travel Possible?

According to NASA’s official website, faster than light travel is not yet possible. While they credit many theories in science fiction as credible, they cannot yet test their viability. As we discussed in class, even with infinite money, which NASA certainly does not have, and infinite resources, certain experiments are not possible. This holds true for interstellar travel because the advanced level of technology needed to achieve it- and that’s assuming it is possible- simply has not been developed yet. That being said, scientists do no the challenges we face currently, and why it is currently impossible, and why it eventually may become possible.

Concept Art for a potential Faster-Than-Light ship based on a prototype designed by a NASA scientist.

First, back in 1904, a man named Albert Einstein developed the theories of relativity. According to an article from the Guardian, Einstein’s special theory of relativity was based on two postulates. One, the speed of light is a constant variable. Two, the laws of physics apply everywhere and are not merely applicable to Earth. The first can be difficult to wrap your head around.

How can light be constant? What does that mean? In physics class in 10th Grade, my Prof. Mr. Cherry (the guy who read the book I talked about in my first post) explained this concept in a way I could understand, and in a way not dissimilar from that of the Guardian’s article. Imagine you are standing in a field watching a car go by on a dirt road. Relative to you the car is travelling 60 miles an hour, so the car speeds by you, appearing to travel quite quickly. Now imagine the same field, only you are on a train traveling 60 miles an hour, going the same direction as the car. Relative to you, the car is not moving because it is also going 60 mph. Now, some of that might be wrong I’m obviously not a science major. The point is, speed is relative. The Earth is rotating quickly to have 24 hour days, but we don’t notice it. Anyways, when you do the same concept, but replace the car with light. Whether you are travelling 60 miles an hour or standing still, light travels at the same speed.

The speed of light is measurable. A quick Google search tells us that the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s. Because of Einstein’s special theory of relativity, we know that energy is mass times acceleration squared. In simple terms, this means that in the process of increasing the speed of an object, we also increase its mass. So, when we increase the speed of a spaceship, we also make it heavier. Objects that are heavier, in turn need more thrust to push them forward. This problem multiplies upon itself and is why lightspeed is so difficult, and currently impossible to reach. All credit for this explanation is again thanks to the same Guardian article.

Concept Art for the new Star Trek Discovery TV series.

In conclusion, the main issue is the obscenely large amount of energy needed to achieve lightspeed. Warp Drive, the reason ships in Star Trek can travel faster than light, is in theory a possible means of achieving lightspeed in real life. Several articles, including this one from Tech Times, discuss NASA’s mock-up of a spaceship that can bend space time around it, by using a loophole in the Theory of Relativity, and is thus capable of traveling faster than light. No tests or experiments of any kind have confirmed this theory and so the concept is just that- a concept. NASA is encouraging people with bright minds and bright ideas to pursue their dreams and attempt to answer this question once and for all. So, while we may not know now if faster than light travel is possible, we will know eventually. The true question is, when will we find out?

effects of music on children

Ever since I was little I loved to dance. I danced to anything and everything, I still do. My favorite past time was when my parents would play music and I could dance around the house. I have been exposed to so many different types of music since a very young age. As I have grown up my love for music never wavered, and this really got me thinking: has my subjection to music since the womb affected me as a person?

During my research I discovered just what I thought, music is very beneficial in child development. Music is what brings our world together and I believe children at every age should experience the joy of music. Music is apparent in every aspect of life and there is a definite reason for that. Music has many benefits for people of all ages but specifically children. Bright Horizons states, “Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. For children and adults, music helps strengthen memory skills.” Music can bring joy to a child’s life and could possibly help pose as memories for when they are older. When we are younger most of our preschool classes revolve around music and that is due to it’s ability to help as learn and develop. I truly believe that music is our language before we even learn how to speak. Music can even enhance children’s motor skills and coordination. It could even lower stress levels, which even children have too. Studies show that playing music while pregnant can benefit your even before they are born. It may seem ineffective but it really does pay off in the long run. I can attest from personal experience that there is a song I have always randomly loved and I later found out my mom used to always play it when she was pregnant with me, crazy how the brain works huh? Music is all around us and while it majorly serves as a form of entertainment it could alter a human’s lifestyle and the way they live. Children exposed to music could possibly end up more happy and healthy than the rest of us.



Link to photo

Pokemon Go: The addiction is real

It’s a gorgeous day outside, and you’re riding your bike through the neighborhood. You see an abnormally large number of people out, and you think to yourself, “How nice! Americans are getting outside finally and staying active, enjoying the weather.” However, it’s then that you notice that nearly every single person has their face buried in their phone, nervously pacing around. You also realize they’re all standing in the same general areas, clumped in similar spots. Finally, the eerie realization dawns on you: they’re simply playing the notorious Pokémon Go.

Image result for pokemon goPersonally, I never succumbed to downloading the game, and participating in the craze that surrounds collecting virtual figures that exist in real areas of the world for points. However, I have friends, and I have siblings, and I know the addiction is real. But what is the science behind this addiction? Why, all of a sudden, are video game connoisseurs and everyday kids alike leaving their houses simply to have a higher number of Pokeballs than their friend to brag about?

Image result for pokemonAccording to an article by US News, the game’s popularity stems from it’s addicting, user-friendly interface, new locations value, and more than that, it’s competitive nature. Who wouldn’t want to compare with friends their collections, and continuously compete in a game that’s neverendingly fun? Personally, I wouldn’t, nor will I ever be a fan of this type of game. However, for many, it’s an addiction.

(n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2016, from

You’re five-years-old, the sun is beating down on your skin while you’re sitting outside on the warm summer grass, and your mom hands you a piece of watermelon.

She tells you not to eat the seeds. Being the disobedient little stinker that you are, you swallow one anyway. Your big sister leans over and tells you that a watermelon is going to grow in your stomach, and you instantly begin to cry.

Little blond girl and boy with a piece of watermelon in hands

It’s 15 years down the road since then, did that watermelon ever show up? (Hopefully not.)

Where exactly did this myth come from that if you eat watermelon seeds, your digestive tract suddenly becomes an organic garden?

It’s no surprise that people more commonly opt for a seedless watermelon (who really wants to keep spitting seeds out of their mouth…) However, what a lot of people don’t know, is that watermelon seeds actually carry a lot of nutritional benefits that many people don’t know about.

An article published on talks about five very beneficial perks of swallowing watermelon seeds.

Forget about accidentally swallowing one while you’re eating watermelon, this article actually advises taking them out of the watermelon, roasting them, and then dusting them with olive oil and salt, or cinnamon and sugar. (Yum?)

It’s no surprise that these seeds are very low in calories. This makes them a great alternative to nuts, which have a surprisingly high caloric value.

Not taking your daily vitamins? That’s okay, the seeds are high in magnesium, iron and folate. (If you’re a vegetarian like me, I’m sure you want to take any chance to grab iron that you can.)

Finally, stated that they are comprised of good fatty acids, like monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. (And yes, everyone needs fat in their diet, just make sure it’s the good kind!)

So while I don’t advice going home and eating an entire watermelon, (I tried once, it didn’t workout too well.) I do recommend taking a new perspective on them, and being open to how they can benefit you.


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Photo Source

Cheating Lessons

Most people would like to think that they would never cheat, regardless of the circumstance. We can say with certainty that if the likelihood of being caught cheating is especially high, we definitely would not even attempt. However, when the likelihood of being caught cheating is low, research and past events have found that people would in fact cheat a little bit. According to research by Dan Ariely, only way to defeat the problem of cheating in high education is by changing the structure of the environment in which they are performing, instead of focusing on what group cheats more than another group. The author acknowledges that cheating cannot be eliminated in its entirety, however preventative measures can be taken. If the learning environment itself is modified, then the number of instances of cheating can be reduced. In the “Princess Alice” study, a group of 5 year olds were given a difficult task in to do (using their non dominant hand) alone as well as in front of an adult and an imaginary person named Princess Alice. It was found that the children were more likely to cheat without the presence of an adult or if they did not believe that Princess Alice was real. Ariely’s experiment and the Princess Alice experiment both provided common cheating-inducing experiences.

Psychologist George M. Diekhoff conducted a survey in 1994 comparing cheating habits among students in similar courses in both Japanese and American universities. The American students were, on average, younger than the Japanese. Other survey research finds that older students are less likely to cheat than younger ones. Yet the Japanese students cheated 29% more than the American students. It can be theorized that the difference in rates of cheating is due to the cultural differences between these two countries. In order to encourage more honest work and less cheating, courses need to be modified. For example, in Japan final exams are weighted most heavily, with pop quizzes and other exams rarely given. Therefore, study habits were not regularly practiced. Passing these exams, therefore, is a lot of pressure for these Japanese students. The explanation is as follows: “The fewer opportunities that students have to earn their grade in a course, the more pressure they feel to perform on each exam or assignment. The more pressure they feel on each exam or assignment, the more likely they are to succeed by any means necessary, including cheating.” For most of those teaching in higher education, they have the ability to design their courses as they see fit, unlike those taking the Chinese civil-service exams or other standardized tests, where cheating is found to be prevalent. Providing many assessments, as opposed to just two or three large exams, is more likely to eliminate cheating. The benefit of cheating on one small assessment is low, while the consequence of cheating on any assessment is always high. These frequent assessments will also provide students with practice for when the high-stake exams take place, because this article does not condone eliminating them entirely. The point made here is to not exactly redesign a course to reduce cheating but rather to induce learning.

The first survey of cheating in higher education in the United States was conducted by William J Bowers in 1963. This survey asked if the students had engaged in any of 13 dishonest academic behaviors. 75% of students surveyed admitted to cheating at one point during college. There has been an astounding rate of cheating amongst college students over the past 50 years. The author believes that it’s time for the faculty to take a role in redesigning courses, assessments and daily classroom habits to prevent cheating from occurring. The best defense against a student cheating is a student not needing to cheat, therefore learning. When provided with the tools they need, students need not to cheat. Actually taking more quizzes and exams produces more learning than simply reviewing notes, hi-lighting text, or rereading books. The key to learning in the Karpicke and Roediger study is the repeating testing and not the studying.


Can Prayer At Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Reduce Cravings?

“Hi, I’m (insert name here) and I’m an alcoholic”. We’ve all heard it plenty of times in movies, TV shows and other mediums. But can going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and maintaining prayer actually help victims of alcoholism? According to one recent study, the answer is yes. At the NYU School of Medicine/Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, researchers found that members who recited prayers after viewing images of alcohol had less craving for the drink as compared to them simply reading a newspaper rather than viewing the images.

Even long-time AA members can still be addicted or have trouble staying away from alcohol and drugs, without the danger of a relapse. But at NYU, the researchers wanted to investigate how the brain responds to triggers for alcohol, with tragic/upsetting events and even seeing alcohol on television or out in public possibly cueing relapses for victims. The study reported that every single research participant/subject reported some degree of craving for alcohol while seeing the images, but less after reciting AA prayers following the sight of the images. While many would call this a placebo effect, essentially that the alcoholics can believe what they want to, the researchers wanted to see if there was scientific evidence to show that the prayer can change the way that alcoholics think.

In my opinion, the evidence is inconclusive. Dr. Galanter, one of the heads of the experiment has been investigating how AA has worked for people over the course of time. His research, while promising, doesn’t necessarily provide evidence we can’t already just imply about the organization. His argument that the current findings open a new field of inquiry does have some basis to it, but with his current evidence and argument, its hard to find where anyone would disagree with the fact that prayer can help those who believe in it.

Galanter also describes how his study would support the validity of long-term AA experience equaling physiological changes inside the brains of alcoholics. While his experiment is interesting, and study of alcoholism should expand so lives can be saved from this disease, there needs to be new research to the table as to how the numbers for alcoholism can be reduced. Raising the drinking age or changing policies won’t help as people who want alcohol will always be able to find it if they look hard enough. When it comes to prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you truly get out what you put in. “It works if you work it”, as they say in the AA chapter on the TV show “House of Cards”. Hopefully research can come out related to alcohol that can truly change people’s behavior, not just make it harder for them to buy alcohol.


What is Laughter and why is it contagious?

Laughing we all do it and we know it is something that is natural to us. but what really is Laughter?



According to Science.howstuffworks Laughter is a form of communication in a way of being social.Laughing is more then just a sound but also the way your muscle moves in your body. When these two parts are combined we are squeezing the air out and not taking enough in making it harder for us to breathe. Now we have all experienced if we see someone laughing everybody else in the room starts laughing as well. Why is this is laughter contagious? Well According to PsyArticles human emotions laughter, smiling, crying and so on this is more do to bonding or for the social environment that you are trying to fit in its a natural response. In the same article they tell you about a research that showed them 3 kinds of movies and then they measured their brain wave. They found that whatever the type of movie it was pleasant, unpleasant and neutral they had the same response. And later on Dr. Sophie Scott says something that catches my attention in the same article when she says “mirroring behaviors” and it makes sense cause this happens as soon as we are born, We “mirror behaviors” we learn how to talk and act from our parents and whoever we interact with and laughter goes along with that too.

I hope this article helps you get an idea of what laughter is and why it is contagious

Is Generation Y a lost cause?


Generation Y has been born into the digital age- cell phones, computers, iPads you name it. But can all this time spent fooling around with technology on a, let’s face it, 24/7 basis effect the development of these millennials’ minds? That’s something Sunyoung Cho, a young ‘Pittsburgher,’ dug a little deeper to find out.

Reading this article (http:// opened my eyes to this growing problem.

It is a well known scientific fact that the human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. So what can technology do to that development? Let’s see.

There are several parts of the human brain. You have your lobes (parietal, occipital, temporal, frontal), your gyruses (precentral and post central), your Sylvian fissure, Olfactory bulb, cerebellum, and finally your central sulcus. Each of these areas serves a different function. A study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing found that with technology added to the mix, your entire prefrontal cortex, parietal lobe, and cerebellum develop differently.

Your prefrontal cortex is what controls how you act and your ability to acquire new knowledge. Your parietal lobe controls your ability to understand language, and your cerebellum is what controls muscle movement. Each of these areas is effected by the constant use of technology. We just don’t know by how much.

Being glued, so to speak, to your devices inhibits people’s natural ability to communicate with others. This loss of real social interaction for Generation Y is what I think will set millennials back. Yes, innovations in technology are what pushes our society forward; however, the lack of face-to-face communication between people is not helping our brains’ development. Talking directly with someone, looking them in the eyes, and not having a device grasped in your hand is the cause of social anxiety for many people in today’s world. Nowadays, some people can’t even walk down the street, stand in line, or even eat by themselves- all simple everyday life tasks- without having a device to cling to for dear life.

God forbid somebody came up to you to say hello…or even WORSE…LOOKED AT YOU. AH! The horror!…

Have you ever heard of IAD? Well, psychologist and professor at St. Bonaventure University Kimberly Young, has diagnosed some of her patients- patients suffering from blood clots just from staring at a screen all day- with Internet Addiction Disorder. She finds this disorder to be just as addictive for people as drugs. Living through your phones and computers is not living in the moment and experiencing life. Technology, while it does come with many advantages, is what’s causing people to become disengaged with reality. Depression and even over eating can be linked to not having enough or any in-person interaction.

Our bodies need personal social interaction to release endorphins and other chemicals in the brain so that we feel happy. At the end of the day, a screen is a screen and it will not give you the feeling another person can by just interacting with them face-to-face. While there are several other factors that contribute to the development of your brain, researchers are currently trying to figure out just how much technology effects us.

Why not wear Makeup

Every woman wants to feel beautiful and for some reason beauty is influenced by media. Women who are categorized as beautiful are normally the ones we frequently see on television, magazines, etc. Other than body structures, what differentiates the ‘average’ woman from women in media? Makeup. For years humans have used items to enhance and emphasize their features. Makeup, to be specific has been used as a beauty enhancer for over 10,000+ years. I know, when I heard 10,000 years ago I thought, stone age. So I know what you ladies are thinking, “cave women knew how to apply eyeliner?” Well, It wasn’t exactly called eyeliner back then but the concept/purpose was still the same.

In ancient Greece women used powered lead (which later became poisonous) to maintain a pale skin tone. While in China both men an women used makeup for social class structure by painting their nails with gum during the ages 3000 BC. Alongside, women in ancient Egypt who wore a substance named kohl to darken their eyes and give it a more almond shape to accentuate eye beauty, in comparison, to the modern day eyeliner. As well, as rouge, which both men and women used on the lips just like modern day lipstick. Before modern day chemist created a healthier way to use makeup. Women such as the greeks passed away for using such harsh chemicals on their skin.

So, now we know why people use makeup. The question is why does makeup work? Why and or how does it intrigue people. Most will say because of the impact society has on makeup but from a scientific perspective, makeup is used to exaggerate our natural youthful  features. Thus, making a woman seem more appealing to the man for ‘mating’. People fail too realize that just like wild animals we to give off a ‘mating call’ throughout appearance. In comparison, to  a male peacock who struts his feathers. Human females wear makeup to impersonate the face of an ovulating woman. When most women are ovulating they tend to give off a “glow” with rosy cheeks and lips because their hormones are raging causing a heavy blood flow throughout the body and appearing a certain undertone of the woman’s face.  Giving reasoning why makeup tones are normally in red tones. An assisting professor at the Gettysburgh College named Dr. Richard Rusell performed a study in which he showed the same face twice with and without makeup to prove women look more feminine when wearing makeup. In result, more appealing to the males eye.


Some guys are probably reading this post and do not agree with women wearing makeup. They prefer the ‘natural’ female. That is a lie. A study has been performed where men met choose the woman he finds most attractive. Not realizing that it is the same women just with and without makeup men have chosen women who wear makeup to be more attractive. Leaving me to believe that men do not dislike makeup because women do not look attractive but because it’s deceiving. So, thanks for the compliment gentlemen but we all know makeup is beneficial.

Not only does makeup help a woman feel beautiful and perceive her mating call it also helps her become successful. Based upon economist Daniel S. Hamermesh’s book, ‘Beauty Pays’, beautiful people are more successful. In the book the author, explains how beauty gives a person confidence. With confidence comes networking, with networking comes clientele and job offers. I noticed that while working at Red Lobster as a waitress I would receive more tips on the days I wore makeup to the days I would not wear makeup.

So, ladies its okay if you wear makeup for the attention of man, blame it on your natural animal instinct. If you wear makeup for self satisfaction, that’s completely fine too. Just make sure you reap the benefits makeup can give you, whether its a successful job or a new man.

Citation links:

Hamermesh, Daniel S. Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2011. Print.

Attachment to T.V. shows

As I was researching I started to have trouble thinking of topics to write my three blog posts on. I felt I was at a standstill and decided to take a break before I became extremely discouraged. Whenever I am sad I know one thing that can instantly cheer me up: my favorite T.V. show. It is kind of peculiar that a fictional T.V. show with made up characters and plots can instantly change my mood and keep me captivated time and time again. Some shows have the ability to make you feel like you are there and the characters are your friends, which happens to me on a daily basis. So then I got thinking what is it that makes us so attached to these fictional characters and plot lines? I then knew what I wanted to do a post on: the science behind our attachment to T.V. shows.

In a world full of Netflix binge watching it is easy to bond with people over their favorite shows and episodes. It is also easy to become slightly obsessed. This however is not uncommon it is actually very normal due to the “social surrogacy hypothesis.” Events on T.V. shows allow a part of our brain to access memories and emotions. If you are struggling during a sad time it is easy to find comfort in the characters who are also feeling blue. Fictional characters can affect people in very real ways even changing them drastically. Live Science did a study on this exact subject and I found some really interesting findings. They stated that, “Subjects in one study who felt down from remembering unhappy moments of social rejection soon perked up upon writing about their favorite TV shows and characters.” Spending time with fictional characters could even pose as a break from spending time with actual people. When our favorite characters dies, we feel it, when our favorite couple breaks up it feels we are experiencing heart break too. “In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Jonathan Cohen, of the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa in Israel, examined the responses of television viewers to the potential loss of their favorite television characters. Cohen found that viewers anticipated experiencing the same negative reactions to parasocial breakups as they experience when their real social relationships dissolve. Even though parasocial relationships may offer a quick and easy fix for unmet belonging needs, individuals within these relationships may not be spared the pain and anguish of relationship dissolution.” T.V. shows and the feelings they cause can have major psychological effects.

The next time you find yourself crying when a character is killed off or smiling when a character has a major triumph know that what your feeling is normal and you are not alone.


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Can I Use Turkey As Nyquil?

I don’t know how your family goes about Thanksgiving, but mine goes above and beyond. The day consists of hours upon hours spent cooking dozens of dishes, setting long decorative tables, and giving many thanks. There is no doubt that at the end of the night, we are all ready for a long night’s sleep. I personally always thought we were just so tired from all of the effort we put into the holiday with all the traveling and preparation, but my Granddad insists otherwise. For years he has been telling me that the thanksgiving turkey is what makes us sleepy. I’m like, “….yeah. We just cooked it for 8 hours..duh”, but that is not what he means. He claims that it is an ingredient in the turkey that makes the brain groggy.

I decided to write this blog about this topic so I can do a little bit of research to confirm or deny this because for years I have just trusted his elder knowledge. This secret ingredient that my old pop speaks of is L-Tryptophan. You cannot find this amino acid naturally in the body, it can only be ingested with certain foods that have it, and yes, turkey does contain it. This holiday bird is no Nyquil!!! In fact, it’s much more complicated than it seems. According to Lisa Zamosky, L-Tryptophan sparks a chain reaction of chemical reactions in the body. The amino acid allows the body to create the chemical Serotonin in the brain which then is used to create the hormone Melatonin which initiates sleep and awakening. As Zamosky states, Turkey is just one of many poultries that contains L-Tryptophan, and it isn’t even the leading bird with the most of it. Chicken and fish are actually two foods with the highest amount of the amino acid.

So, due to this explanation, are us turkey eaters allowed to sit here and tell the “non-thanksgiving-turkey-eaters” that they’re not tired because they didn’t eat any turkey? Of course not. Like we talked about in class, just because something is evidence toward a conclusion, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be other causations toward the dependent variable. So yes, working hard cooking, alcohol, organizing, traveling, talking, preparing, or just overeating in general could all be plausible causations of a sleepy Thanksgiving celebrator!


Picky eating 101: The psychology of trying new foods

I grew up in a family of six, with three younger siblings. One of the most stressful, and yet memorable parts of my childhood is family meals. Absolutely none of us liked the same types of food. Of course, there were a few things I didn’t particularly enjoy the taste of at a young age, most of which I still dislike, save a few tastes I now crave on a daily basis. I still can’t stand salad, cold lunch meat, peppers, or cantaloupe… however, I have gone through the natural progression of begrudgingly learning to love vegetables, a few types of sauces and spices, and even certain obscure cultural foods of other areas of the world. However, absolutely nothing I experienced compared to that of my younger brother. My brother Jack is just two years younger than I am, and his childhood was completely transformed by his extreme picky eating. From the age of three to about 14, he essentially lived off of chicken nuggets, peanut butter, apples, cereal, and sweets. We tried everything in the book, with nothing prevailing. Image result for food aversionI even vividly remember trying to sneak a pear slice into his plate of apple slices, just so that he would try it, and he immediately noticed before it even touched his tongue and I was honestly so frustrated. How could a growing boy evolve into a man without having a slice of pizza, or a hamburger? He managed to do it.

It wasn’t just that he disliked a lot of different foods because he either refused to try them, or hated the taste. It was that he truly did not like the act of eating. He felt as though it was a chore, and we had to do all but force him to sit still at the table and put down a full meal, even if it was the exact same thing he’s eaten every night. Unsurprisingly, he went through his childhood the size of a twig. However, in the past three years, he has gone through an amazing transformation. Today, he will eat close to ten times the types of foods he was willing to try before, and in bulk. He looks forward to meals, and gets all of his vitamins in that he needs. He’s probably grown close to a foot just having finally expanded his food horizons. He even is willing to try new things; he constantly asks to order something different at a restaurant, or take a bite of someone else’s meal. Having firsthand witnessed this experience, I’ve often wondered, what makes a person evolve to love the food that they would refuse to even be in the same room with as a child?

Through some research, it essentially comes down to science, shown through a handful of factors. The first major player in our food preferences is innate, and it all starts with genetics. According to an article by author Joseph Bennington-Castro on the psychology of food tastes, as humans, we all are predisposed to Image result for meme picky eaterenjoy a few particular tastes for evolutionary reasons. Fatty food attracts us for its high calorie count, providing us with the energy to get through the day. Sweet food often attracts us for its energy as well, along with nutrients and vitamins. On the other hand, tastes that are bitter are historically prevalent in toxic plants, so we are genetically predisposed to despise them (Bennington-Castro). However, genetics don’t play an overbearing role in our psychological predisposition to enjoy and dislike particular foods.

In fact, the majority of our preferences are actually learned, sometimes before an infant is actually born. Apparently, within the womb, infants are often influenced by the mother’s daily eating habits, so that whatever tastes they are often predisposed to, they have been shown to have greater positive reactions to after birth. In one study, as detailed by Bennington-Castro, mothers regularly drank carrot juice late in the stages of their pregnancy. After birth, psychologists found that these babies tended to enjoy carrot-flavored milk and cereal more than their non-carrot-drinking counterparts (Bennington-Castro). Following birth, an infant will essentially eat anything for a period of around two years (Bennington-Castro). Directly following this, children often develop neophobia, developing a dislike for any new food.

Often, parents take this period of time and give up altogether on trying to force their children to eat the food they will throw a tantrum at the sight of (Bennington-Castro). However, this is often the solution to avoiding a picky eater. Children must habitually eat the things that they may dislike, because later, this neophobia will subside, and they will learn to love it. Additionally, I believe that sometimes, cultural influences affect your willingness to try food. I genuinely think that my brother eventually got so sick of having to be the one who needed a special order at a restaurant or who couldn’t eat the slice of pizza at the pool party that he forced himself to try and like those things that he was afraid of. It simply takes time, people will learn to adapt after passing this initial neophobic age,  and realize their true tastes. Expanded horizons are a positive thing, and most will develop an ever-expanding palate as they age. If you want to check out a video that teaches you to overcome a taste aversion, you can find it here.
Bennington-Castro, J. (2013, April 22). The psychology of hating food (and how we learn to love it). Retrieved September 16, 2016, from

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Cancer in the Turf?

While trying to think of a blog post I thought of an interesting story I heard on ESPN about the turf beads on turf soccer fields correlation to cancer. Not many people know but the turf beads on turf fields comes from used rubber tires that are then broken down into little rubber crumbs. The use of the rubber crumbs on synthetic turf fields was a solution to the build up of used tires with no where to put them.

The institution of turf has been great for the sporting world. Personally, as someone who played football on both a grass field and a turf field, a turf field has every advantage. Turf fields are softer, flatter, and dry fifa-turf-sexist-kat-mcgrail1more quickly then almost any grass field. However, recently, a disadvantage may have been discovered.

Amy Griffin is the goalkeeping coach for the University of Washington’s women’s soccer team. More importantly, she seems to have picked up on a scary correlation. Griffin noticed a significant number of athletes who had once constantly practiced and played on synthetic turf fields were diagnosed with some form of cancer in their later lives. The even more shocking discovery was that many of these players were goalies. Since this discovery Amy Griffin has sought out to find more cases of athletes who once played on synthetic turf and have been diagnosed with any type of cancer. The results were consistent with her hypothesis. She made a list of 200 of athletes who fit the mold she was looking for. Of those 200 athletes with cancer, 101 were soccer goalies. Used tires are toxic if burned and thats why they can not be put in landfills, but now there is fear breathing in or exposure to the toxicity maybe be causing cancer, primarily lymphoma. It is suspected that the crumb rubber getting on open cuts, in the eye, in the mouth, and other exposed areas may lead to health concerns. Although many toxologists suggest there is not enough evidence for concern that the fields are causing cancer, the statistics definitely call for attention to this subject.  here


Throughout my life I have always just assumed any type of food that was modified from being completely organic is not good for me. However, one day while sitting in lunch last year an argument erupted between Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). On one side of the argument my friend was saying he refuses to eat any GMOs because they are bad for him and on the other side was the valedictorian of my high school saying not all GMOs are bad, in fact, some GMOs are better for you then organic food. It was hard to believe the valedictorian based on the tiny amount knowledge I had on the subject, but I was curious to find out if he was right.


It is generally assumed that because an organism is genetically modified it has been tampered with to either look better, taste better, or both. In that assumption there is no way GMOs can be healthier than regular food, right? Wrong. As it turns out there can actually be a lot of nutritional benefits to genetically modifying a product. Many scientists are actually trying to improve the eating conditions through genetically modified organisms. With the sophisticated work scientists have been doing with GMOs they will be able to modify food that can help ward off illness and disease. For example, scientists have genetically modified rice to contain more Vitamin A which could save people in third world countries from becoming blind. However, this genetically modified rice is not unable to reach any third world country and its not due to lack of resources. It is because of people like  my friend who refuses to eat genetically modified organisms and think it is unethical to release food that is not organic into the world. As someone who is now slightly educated on the topic I can not understand that people would oppose something with so much positive scientific evidence backing it. It is almost like what we discussed with the realization that cigarettes are unhealthy. People need to see the results in order to change their opinions. I think over time the majority of people will come to realize the benefit GMOs can have on society, but for now the highly debated argument continues.