Author Archives: Erin Johnson

About Erin Johnson

Hi my name is Erin Johnson and I am from Washington, D.C. Current PSU student, sports and entertainment lover, and Beyonce's biggest fan.

Modern Day Werewolves

When I hear the term werewolf, I generally think of Joe Mangianello as Alcide Herveux in True Blood, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in Twilight, or of Joseph Morgan as Klaus Mikaelson in The Originals.

alcide jacob klaus

(Images all found on Google)

The millennial generation has transformed the scary looking werewolf that eats people into hot men who are burdened with the disease of lycanthropy and are just seemingly misunderstood.

But where did this whole idea of turning into a werewolf come from?

Lycanthrophy, which is derived from two greek words, lykos (meaning wolf) and anthropos (meaning man) (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Lycanthrophy is known as the condition where a man or woman transforms from there human form into a wolf.


(Image can be found here)

Myths of lycanthrophy have traveled from country to country in many forms. Ancient Greece had myths of areas infested with clans of werewolves (Encyclopedia Britannica) . Ancient Rome had myths that the consumption of a potion called versipellis (translates as turnskin) would turn you into a werewolf (Encyclopedia Britannica). Also, European countries in the middle ages burned potential lycanthropes alive (Encyclopedia Britannica).

No matter the origin of the story, the myth of werewolves has survived generations and has now imbedded itself into 21st century pop culture. Furthermore, to this day there have been reports dating back to the 1800s of people turning into werewolves.

Modern Day Werewolves

Since 1850, there have been 13 cases of people who have reportedly transformed into a werewolves (Gholipour).

One psychiatrist in particular, Dr. Jan Dirk Blom, has been looking into these cases of reported lycanthropy (Gholipour). Dr. Blom is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (Gholipour). According to Blom’s research, there have been 52 cases of lycanthropy reported, but only 13 of the original 56 cases meet the actual criteria of clinical lycanthrophy (Blom & Gholipour).

The criteria referenced above is the delusion of turning into a werewolf (Gholipour) . Blom also points out that the term clinical is used emphasize that this means the subject reported is not actual turning into a werewolf (Blom & Gholipour).

The other 39 cases reported had criteria similar to Clinical Lycanthrophy, but reported being able to transform into animals other than a wolf (Gholipour).

According to Blom, Clinical Lycanthrophy is generally found to be the expression of another prominent disorder, such as severe depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder (Blom).

Blom further investigated the data reported and discovered that out of the 56 total reported cases, that 25% of the patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia, 23% were diagnosed with psychotic depression, and 20% were diagnosed with bipolar disorder (Blom & Gholipour).

From this, modern science has begun to investigate that brain diseases cause clinical lycanthrophy (Gholipour).

According to the article, a multitude of brain imaging studies have led scientists to the specific areas of the brain that are responsible for giving us a sense of physical existence, as well as the perception of our physical body (Gholipour).

The most important region involve the brain’s outer layer (aka cortex), which is responsible for movement and sensation.


(Image can be found here)

The patients that Blom studied reported extreme changes in physical appearance, such as: changes in mouth/teeth, broadened chest, shrinking bodies, sensations of burning in thighs and stomach region (Blom & Gholipour) .

Blom suggest that these reported changes are due to issues in various regions of the brain that changed the individual’s perception of their physical shape (Blom).

Blom goes on to recommend that modern psychiatrists continue to diagnose the major brain diseases at hand (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression) because clinical lycanthrophy is just an addition to one of these more prominent dieases (Blom).

Here is a  list of suggested ways to treat major psychological disorders.

Although we have modernized and glorified our perception of lycanthrophy in the 21st century, we now know the disease is still at large and is a factor of serious psychological disorders. Our understanding of psychological disorders has only increased over time and I believe that we make greater strides each day in diagnosing and treating such disorders. And now we have a firm understanding of what lycanthrophy is and how it still effects people today.



“Lycanthropy.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

Gholipour, Bahar. “Real-Life Werewolves: Psychiatry Re-Examines Rare Delusion.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

Did you ever dream of being the chubby red-head kid from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who fell into the chocolate river? Yes? No? Well, I sure as heck did!

Chocolate. That word alone can spark a feeling of happiness, joy, love, and euphoria at the mere mention of it.

In America, we consume about 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year (The Chocolate Store). Which means that each individual person eats about 11 pounds of chocolate a year. Your head weighs about 11 pounds, so each year you eat the weight of your head in chocolate! That is a lot of chocolate (but totally worth it!)


(Photo can be found here)

I am sure many of your parents limited how much chocolate (and other candy) you ate as a kid because chocolate “isn’t good for you.”

But is it really bad for you? Many scientists and doctors are beginning to think that it benefits us more than we think.

One doctor in particular, Rashed Latif, published an article of the health effects of chocolate in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine.

In the article Latif says, that there has been a recent biological discovery of active phenolic compounds that are found in cocoa. Latif goes on to suggest that this has initiated research on the effects of aging, as well as oxidative stress, the regulation of blood pressure, and atherosclerosis (Latif).

Recently, chocolate has been praised for its abundance of antioxidants. Furthermore, when cocoa is more potent, there are more health benefits and less sugar added to the chocolate which makes it a lot healthier (Nordqvist).

Other POTENTIAL benefits of eating chocolate include: lower cholesterol levels, prevention of memory decline, lowering the risk of heart disease, decreased chances of stroke, helps fetal growth, ability to improve cognitive function, lower risk of diabetes, and potential to better athletic performance (Nordqvist).

I am highlighting the word “potential” because (as the article states) the research done on the benefits of chocolate have been conducted in one-off studies. Therefore, to prove that chocolate causes these health benefits, more studies need to be conducted (Nordqvist).


(Photo can be found here)

On that note, I want to use the information I have just given you to connect to the material we have been discussing in class.

When deciphering the truth behind correlation and causation we have been looking for a mechanism within the data (Read). Mechanism is defined by the linking between two things. Having a mechanism defines the cause and verifies the correlation (Read).

In class, we looked at the image below. The image showed a direct correlation between amount of chocolate consumed and the number of noble peace prize winners from a certain country. The data showed that the countries that consume more chocolate, have more noble peace prize winners. However, does the amount of chocolate consumed really determine the number of noble peace prize winners from a given country?


(Photo can be found here)

We have a couple of mechanisms to consider within this data.

The results could be a result of (Read):

  1. Direct Causality: The amount of chocolate consumed is what causes the country to have more noble peace prize winners
  2. Indirect Causality: The number of noble peace prize winners determines the amount of chocolate consumed
  3. Third variable: A third party variable could be causing this correlation, such as: happiness or wealth
  4. Chance: this could all just be completely coincidental

The reason I am presenting the material above is because we won’t know whether or not chocolate is more beneficial or detrimental to your health until we continue to do more research and find out what mechanism is responsible for the presented results (Read).

It may be awhile until we know the true outcome of consuming chocolate, but until then, we can decide whether or not we want to continue to consume chocolate based on all the information presented (Read).

Regardless, I know that I will always continue to eat chocolate no matter what!


Nordqvist, Joseph. “Chocolate: Health Benefits, Facts, and Research.” Medical News Today. Ed. Natalie Butler. MediLexicon International, 1 June 2016. Web. 07 Sept. 2016.

Latif, Rashed. “Chocolate/cocoa and Human Health: A Review.” Netherlands Journal of Medicine 71.2 (2013): 63-68. Web. 7 Sept. 2016.

Scurvy Mate

When winter hits and the temperature drops, the common cold begins to spread like wildfire. The common solution is to take medicine and to pump your body full of vitamin C to get your immune system back up. At least that’s what I do every time I get that faintest little cough or smallest sniffle. However, vitamin C intake is not just an essential ingredient to the cure for a simple common cold, but can also the prevention a horrendous disease called scurvy.

For a long time I thought “scurvy” was a term said by pirates in Hollywood movies that was some sort of slang for something. I had heard the term in pirate movies many times, but never took the time to look into what scurvy actual was.

So what actually is scurvy?


So let me break it down for you…

Scurvy is a disease that was extremely common in sailors during the 16th to 18th centuries (can include pirates). Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C consistently in a person’s diet (Crosta) . The reason the disease was so common in sailors was because sailors would embark on long voyages, meaning they would need to bring food that could last for a very long time. Preserving fruits and vegetables without refrigeration was very hard to do that the time. So, sailors ate foods such as salted meats and bread (Crosta).

Now let’s translate that into what’s going on in the body

Humans cannot chemically create vitamin C on their own (Crosta). Therefore, it is necessary to obtain vitamin C from an external source (Crosta) . Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, vitamin C is especially essential for pregnant women. A vitamin C deficiency can be extremely dangerous to the fetus and can cause an undeveloped brain in infants (Crosta).


What can happen

A victim of scurvy will generally experience the following symptoms: lack of appetite, diarrhea, lack of weight gain, rapid breathing, fever, irritability, swelling of the long bones, pain in legs, hemorrhaging, and feelings of paralysis (Crosta) .

As the disease gets worse the person can experience: bleeding gums, loosening and loss of teeth, bleeding from the eye, hyperkeratosis, sicca syndrome, and a protruding eye (Crosta).

Are we at risk of scurvy?

In my opinion: yes and no. Many of us are not going on long sea voyages with a lack of adequate food in tow. In the time we live in now, we have so much access to the foods that have vitamin C and we can preserve them well. Even if we don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables (for whatever reason), we can now get that nutrition in smoothies and juices. In the modern era, elderly people are more commonly victims of scurvy.


Scurvy can also be found in alcoholics, people who don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables, people on restrictive diets, people with food allergies, and people who are anorexic (Crosta).

So how do we all avoid getting scurvy?


My first suggestion as a college student would be to avoid the lifestyle of that one college kid from New Zealand that Andrew mentioned in class: Eat/drink more than beer and chips (Read)!!!

My second suggestion would be to make sure you eat foods that naturally produce vitamin C. In the morning before class, drink some orange juice. When you’re grabbing lunch at the HUB, throw some bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes on your $10 salad. And for a snack, have an orange, some strawberries, or a papaya.

As a college kid, it is essential to have a balanced diet and to get all of your vitamins daily in order to live a happy and healthy life.

So basically…




Crosta, Peter, M.A. “Scurvy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” Medical News Today.

MediLexicon International, 30 June 2015. Web. 03 Sept. 2016.


F***ing Science

Hello everyone,

My name is Erin Johnson and I am a sophomore Sports Broadcast Journalism major and I am pursuing a minor in International Studies.

I decided to take Science 200, because this class looked the least painful of all the science classes listed. It was also the only class that somewhat appealed to my interests. I think biology, chemistry, physics, human anatomy, etc all suck. I struggled through them all throughout middle school and high school. By struggle I mean that I did it well, but thought it was a waste of my time! This class appealed to me because of the structure of the class and what we were learning about. This class will discuss topics that I find quite interesting; such as, are aliens real?, Why is cancer immortal and we are not?, and could a zombie virus exist? And that is just to name a few. This class is about asking and answering questions that I would love to know the answer to and discuss. I am also taking this class partly because I need six more credits of science to get that gen-ed requirement out of the way.

The reason I am not going to be a science major of any kind is a very simple answer: because science is not my passion or my interests. The only time I was every interested in being a science major was when I was binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. Being a surgeon looked really cool, except body parts being cut open and mangled make me want to throw up. Also, a LOT of school is require to be a surgeon! Four years of regular college is long enough for me. But you can see the appeal of wanting to be a surgeon when the men on the show look this good!

greys men

Although I am not passionate about science, there is something I am really passionate about. I love sports. Sports have been a huge part of my entire life. I have played various sports from the time I was four years old and it has played a major part in who I am today. Unfortunately, I was never going to be the next Candace Parker or Katie Ledecky, but that never changed the love I have for sports. I may never be the one playing in the major game on t.v., but I hope to be that talking head that you watch one day giving you the pre and post game interviews with the players and coaches. Along with that, I have an intense passion for traveling and seeing the world. My dad is a government worker and has spent a ton of time seeing the world. After seeing Italy during Christmas break, I decided that I would like to add this to my major. In addition to being a sports broadcast journalism major, I am pursuing a minor in International Studies.

Here is a link to a really funny scene from my new favorite movie, Bad Moms.

Although I do not like Science, I am really excited for what this class has to offer!

Deuces… obama