Author Archives: Justin Passaro

Yeah, he’s drunk

For a lot of young adults who pursue a college education, drinking and college go hand and hand. Obviously, I know that when we as humans consume alcohol and exceed our personal sobriety thresholds, we become impaired. What I want to know, is what causes us to experience symptoms of being drunk when we drink an excess amount of beer? Also, for us guys, is there a possible correlation between alcohol consumption and bravado? A null hypothesis is that there is absolutely no correlation between beer consumption and one’s confidence. Let’s see…



According to this website, there are many symptoms that come along with being intoxicated. These symptoms include trouble keeping your balance, trouble seeing, delayed reaction times, a hindered ability to speak and difficulty in regards to recognition. The website also explains that several factors will come into play when it comes to your body’s determination of how effected it will be by the symptoms. Factors such as age, general health, gender and one’s tolerance level, just to name a few. This article, states that the kind of alcohol that we consume is ethyl alcohol. Obviously, beer goes through a fermenting process and is composed of a wide variety of ingredients. I found an article that outlines an essay written by Dr. Robert S. Gable. According to Dr. Gable, he states that, 33 grams of ethyl consumed in the amount of two cans of beer (12oz.) would start to have effects on a healthy person of 155 pounds. If we do the math, 33 grams of alcohol consumed over two 12oz. beers would equal about 16.5oz. of ethyl alcohol that make up a single can of beer. This article states that your liver takes on, by far, most of the brunt in the ethyl alcohol consumption process. It goes on to explain that enzymes help turn alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is the toxin that enhances the symptoms you have while experiencing a hangover. As most of us know, symptoms of a hangover are strongly relatable to being overly intoxicated. But don’t worry, it also informs us that your body will metabolize the acetaldehyde, ensuring that the effects will go away in time. The same article, then goes on to explain that alcohol raises inhibitory neurotransmitter activity, specifically gamma amino butyric acid. Due to the increase in gamma amino butyric acid activity, alcohol, in our case ethyl, acts a a Central Nervous System depressant. These negative effects to our CNS correlate with physical and cognitive impairments such as the ones I listed above.


Beer and Bravado:

Ever notice that “one guy” or at time “guys” at a party or a bar that seems to be overly intoxicated and over confident? It’s obvious that the effects of alcohol has this guy believing he can ram through a brick wall. I believe that a possible correlation between beer and bravado can be justified by one’s longing for social acceptance. In this article on debunking liquid courage, Dr. Scott-Sheldon states the possible fact that, students specifically, may believe that consuming alcohol will result in a positive change in their personalities. In her meta-analysis study, Scott-Shelton, used the sociological method of incorporating 19 different alcohol expectancy challenges to over 1,400 college students. Scott-Shelton actually concluded that her intervention caused the students to reduce the amount they drink and the amount of alcohol expectancies.

After reading about her study, I wonder if it is it all in our heads? If someone can learn how to socialize more effectively and have more confidence, could we see a possible end to the “drunk guy” at parties and bars? Personally, I would guess that it’s highly unlikely due to the large amount of universities and college students.







Sleep: How much is enough?

Growing up, I have always heard different amounts of hours that is recommended to get what is considered a good or complete night’s sleep.This person says no more than 3, while he says 6, and she says around a full 9 type of thing. I want to get to the bottom of this, how much sleep do we actually need per night to have a productive next day and why?


The National Sleep Foundation’s website, that I found through this article in the Huffington Post, actually comes right out with a list of recommended hours for people depending on their ages. For us in the young adults category (18-25), there is no specific number of hours but a range 7 to 9 hours that is considered a full night’s sleep. The same article, actually goes on to list 6 different ways that sleep benefits your mental health but for the purpose of my blog, I will only use 3 that are mentioned. The first point, states that a lack of sleep will increase the probability that one will inherit increased risks for further health problems. It is further explained in an article linked to the previous, nearly 50-70 million Americans are living with chronic sleep disorders. These sleep disorders causing a lack of sleep, or causing abnormal sleeping periods, as mentioned, will increase your risk for various health problems ranging from hypertension to stroke.

The second mental effect in the Huffington Post article is that sleep can improve your memory. The article leads to another, that should pertain more to us college students because it states that looking over your notes before you go to sleep on the night before the exam, might help you perform when it comes time to take the test. Members who participated in a study were told that they would need to remember a certain list of made-up words and must be able to present that list the next day, after what is considered to be more than enough time to sleep (12 hours). The study proved that the subjects who received a full night of sleep, had a higher ability to remember what their words were opposed to the subjects who chose to stay awake.

The third mental effect mentioned in the article is that a proper amount of sleep can help you keep your emotions intact. A source I found inside the main article, for this study, the effects of sleep were measured using MRI and EEG machines. The subjects were participating in a challenge to complete various tasks that would test their cognitive abilities. Emotional distractors were incorporated into the challenges to see how the subjects would react. Due to the fact that the emotional distractors were placed in the study, this would force the subjects to have to attempt to keep their emotions in check. The machines showed that the sleep deprived subjects had exhibited a decline in their ability to connect and decipher various emotional distractors to the adaptation process that would require them to keep their emotions under their control.


For my question, how much sleep do we need to be productive?, I also wanted to look at possible physical side effects of sleep. Or as talked about in this article, a lack thereof. Common sense will tell us that to have a truly productive day, not only do you need your head but also your body. The article I found shows the relationship between sleep and neuromuscular function. The article states that sleep deprivation can lead to muscular weakness by having a negative effect on our Central Nervous System. It negatively effects our CNS by causing a slight delay in the time that it takes for information to be processed from the brain to our muscles. Unfortunately, I was not able to find specific studies that could follow up with what I learned in this current article. I wanted to find a study that would show statistics of how the negative effects on our CNS work. I wanted stats that showed exactly how delayed the process would be for the average person who only received 3 hours or 4 hours of sleep, opposed to a person who received the recommended amount of 7 to 9 hours with little to no delay to the CNS.

In conclusion, I quickly was able to see that based off my age, I need to get a recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night in order to maximize my productivity for the next day.













What causes Binge Eating Disorder?

According to NEDA’s website, in May of 2013, the DSM-5 officially declared that it recognizes binge eating disorder under it’s list of diagnosable eating disorders. Their website describes binge eating disorder as consuming large quantities of food in a short amount of time accompanied by feelings of discomfort and a loss of self-control. I am saddened when I hear about eating disorders and curious as to what causes them. Specifically, what are some possible causes of Binge Eating Disorder?


I found an article that shows a possible correlation between binge eating and traumatic events. The author of this article, Kate Bader, states that there are reasonable correlations, though there is yet to be a direct correlation determined between trauma and consistent binge eating. Bader brings up the idea that people who suffer from post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) may be looking for something to keep their mind off whatever traumatic experience they had. In an attempt to dig deeper into a possible correlation, I focused on a group of people in America who are no strangers to PTSD, soldiers. I found through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, that nearly 30% of Vietnam veterans (at some point in their lives), 12% of Gulf War veterans, and 11-20% of Iraqi war veterans have or are currently experiencing PTSD. According to another article on the same website, a study performed circa 2014 showed that a whopping 78% of the over 45,000 veterans who were using the Veterans Health Administration for aid in weight loss had been dealing with binge eating. Still, the article admits there is still much more research needed to be done.

Feeling blue


Another possible cause of binge eating disorder could be depression. In an article I found in the New York Times, Dr. B. Tim Walsh, a specialist in eating disorders, basically states that if you take two groups of people who are equally overweight, with one group consisting of binge eaters and the other of non binge eaters, the binge eaters will be more negatively connected to depression. This article, states that 75% of patients who become diagnosed with eating disorders in general, also share many symptoms of depression. The article goes on to explain that serotonin, a chemical messenger that is sent out to various neurons in our brain, is the chemical messenger that controls what kind of mood we are in, how hungry we are, and our ability to memorize. Although, people with binge eating disorder can suffer through low levels of serotonin, in turn, making them feel depressed. With lower levels of serotonin, they won’t feel the same satisfaction of eating. It is also possible that reverse causation is involved. If you think about it, people with binge eating disorder who have lower levels of serotonin can be linked to depression, but that depression, though not fully proven yet, is thought to be a cause of binge eating disorder.

In conclusion, through researching what causes binge eating disorder, I realized that nothing has been fully proven to be a direct correlation to the disorder. I believe that because the disorder was just recently (going on 4 years) officially recognized by the DSM-5, the scientific research behind the disorder will start to pick up. So for now, I can only assume that traumatic events and depression are two things that may possibly be the cause binge eating disorder.









Human health and cold showers

I was once told by one of my former hockey team’s trainers that the water temperature in your shower can have many health implications. He told us that using cold water in the shower opposed to warm or hot water is much better for you. I am someone who prefers to take long warm showers so I have often wondered if his theory is true. Are there correlations between your health and taking colder showers? Since I like my warm showers, I am naturally approaching this issue with a null hypothesis mindset against any possible benefits I may find.


First, I wanted to see if a cold shower could potentially impact your mental health. I found a study that shows a correlation between cold showers and depression. Part of the study’s hypothesis is that we, the modern day human, do not experience enough changes in our body temperature, which is resulting in insufficient brain function. The same study also states that the brain’s sympathetic nervous system becomes activated when the human body starts to experience a cold sensation, while noradrenaline is released in the brain due to a rise in beta-endorphin blood levels. Lastly, the study states that a cold shower could send an immense amount of electrical impulses to the brain through contact with the human body’s cold receptors located in our skin. Our brain is said to possibly feel anti-depressive effects after receiving a large number of electrical impulses.

High resolution man drawing chart heartbeat


Next, I want to focus on the cardiovascular effects. The heart is widely considered to be one of the most important muscles of the human body. I actually found a useful article from the same website that contained the previous study I viewed in regards to mental health correlation. Although, the article is actually based on hydrotherapy all together, it still contains quality information on the affects that cold water can have on your health. The article states that cold water will increased heart rate and metabolism. Obviously, an increase in metabolism is a positive. Although, I am not quite sure how to interpret an increase in heart simply by exposure to cold water. Yes, it’s true that an increase in heart rate helps you burn calories when working out. But, I’m assuming that you are just standing in the shower and not doing jumping jacks or any other calisthenics, I would think that this article is pertaining to an increase in resting heart rate. As we all know, an increase in resting heart rate can be a potential sign of a heart attack in the future. Just to back up my last statement, this article by Dr. LeWine, reassures that an increased heart rate can be dangerous to your overall health. Although, I still can’t fully rule out a positive correlation because I used common sense to suggest that the article was referring to an increase of resting heart rate.

Lastly, I want to look at the affects that cold showers had on our hair and skin. The reason I want to focus on a possible correlation with our hair and skin is cause the cold water is coming into direct contact with both during a shower. According to Lizette Borelli of medical daily, colder water will increase the tightness of your pores and cuticles. Increasing the tightness will help ensure that they don’t become filled with dirt. She also states that the same applies to the pores on your scalp.  Borelli also referred to dermatologist, Jessica Krant, in her article. Krant stated in The Huffington Post that using cold water results in a higher rate of retention in regards to the natural oils our skin produces to maintain it’s healthy appearance.

In conclusion, I did find some correlations between human health and taking cold showers. I chose the three main topics because I thought that they would provide the sensible examples to any possible correlations. In regards to my three main topics, I definitely found some positives, while also finding a likely negative. This did not shock me though and I will remain taking warm showers.









Butter or Margarine?

Many people, especially us Americans, like to use either butter or margarine to cook with, bake with, or as a spread. As a child, I was told by my parents that we carry margarine in our fridge because it is a healthy option opposed to butter. When I would ask why, I would get the “it just is” response. Now that I am older and not under the same roof, I would like to know if margarine truly is a healthier option than regular butter.


The first area I would like to examine, are the effects that each has on our cardiovascular system. I think this important because, as we all have been told over and over, heart disease is currently killing more Americans than anything else. According to an article I found posted on Mayo clinic, butter has more saturated fat than margarine because it is made from the fat of animals. An article on the American Heart Association’s website tells us that our blood cholesterol will rise if we continue to consume foods with high saturated fat content. It also stated that raising blood cholesterol levels will increase the chances of obtaining heart disease. Margarine, as registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky explains, isn’t always created by using the exact same products. She explains that margarine can contain trans fat. Fat that can also negatively impact cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. She also states that margarine that comes in the form of a stick, will carry more trans fat opposed to margarine that comes from a tub. Her suggestion is for consumers to read nutritional facts and to go for a spread margarine that contains no trans fat and the lowest possible amount of saturated fat.


Another aspect of health that I believe should be taken into account to make the determination is the effects on our mental health. I have to admit, I had some difficulty finding credible sources for mental health benefits in regards to butter consumption. But what I did find, is that there is a possible correlation between saturated fat consumption and impairment of cognitive function. According to Lizette Borreli of Medical Daily, saturated fats effect the brain by slowing down the abilities of your dopamine reward system. According to Wikipedia, the dopamine reward system, or just referred to as the reward system, is responsible for how much you will enjoy something. She also states that by hindering the abilities of your dopamine reward system, you will experience an increase of dependency for more foods that contain saturated fat. I noticed that there could be a possible reverse causation in regards to what she stated. So not only by consuming butter (saturated fats) are you increasing the chances of gradually delaying your dopamine reward system, but as your consumption habits cause more negative effects on your dopamine reward system, you will experience and adapt to an increased craving for butter and other saturated fats. It seems to almost have an addicting or full circle effect because your crave will increase while your consumption satisfaction will continue to decrease. Margarine, opposed to butter, may come with even greater mental health risks. Sodium benzoate, a chemical product that is used to help preserve margarine can potentially cause negative side effects in regards to mental health. I found in this article, that sodium benzoate can be directly linked to ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity. An investigation I found outlines a method involving college students consumption of sodium benzoate beverages and their conclusion that sodium benzoate consumption can lead to ADHD symptoms. The study, admittedly, says that this is an issue that should require more investigation.

The third and last factor I would like to look at is the relation or possible correlations of these two products to cancer. The outcomes for both products were not very positive. Let’s start with butter again. Evaluating another blog that I found online, I was able to learn that saturated fat, as mentioned, a key ingredient in butter, is linked especially to both prostate and breast cancer. I found this blog very helpful because it directed me to links were I can find correlation between these cancers and saturated fat consumption. According to the prostate link, people who consumed at least three dairy products with considerable amounts of saturated fat, had a 76% increased risk of general death. Even more interesting is the fact it showed that people would increase their risk of dying due to prostate cancer by 141%. The study was between groups that consumed at least 3 servings of dairy products with saturated fats to those who only consumed 1 serving per day.  As for the breast cancer study, saturated fat was linked to breast cancer through high cholesterol. Like butter, foods that can result in high levels of cholesterol increased the chances of breast cancer development by 18% for women in general and a 21% increase for women who were postmenopausal, according to the study. As far as margarine goes, I did not find any studies that contain proven evidence that can directly link margarine and cancer. The only link I could find was not direct and more of an assumption. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, trans fats which are found in margarine, can lead to serious weight gain which can lead to obesity. As it also states that obesity can now increase the risks of at least 10 different cancers.

After doing my research on if margarine is truly a healthier alternative than butter, I have come to find that I cannot answer this question with complete confidence. If I’m being honest with myself, after doing this research, I have come to find that both butter and margarine have negatives effects on your health. When it comes to cardiovascular health, I give as Katherine Zeratsky suggests, go with a margarine that is spreadable and does not have any trans fats. Now mental health, is a different story. I give a slight edge to butter because I would rather exhibit more self control and not consume a large amount of butter, rather than taking the risk of consuming margarine that contains sodium benzoate. Cancer is also a tough analysis because there is simply no proof of how much that margarine is or is not related to cancer. Consuming both can lead to weight gain and obesity which can be linked to cancers. So, to answer my question, I cannot fully say that margarine is a healthier option than butter.

……Go with olive oil!!!!


Source 1

Source 2

Source 3








Bench Bosses: Who can produce?

According to this website , there are nearly 36,000,000 young american kids ages 5-18 who are playing a competitive sport. As I’m sure that the majority of students in our SIOW class have at one point in their lives. Personally, I played a competitive sport for 16 years as an ice hockey player. Having played in many different leagues and travel teams, mini-mite (youth) through Junior ‘A’, I have experienced playing for many different coaches. I recognize that different coaches have their own little eccentricities that make them unique to their players, but for now, I would like to focus on two of the more popular styles of coaching. Styles often referred to as the “player’s coach” or the “yeller”. I want to know which style has a stronger correlation to winning.

The player’s coach, typically is seen more as a nice easy going coach. Someone who can relate to their players and can be capable of developing a friendly relationship with them. They aren’t known for screaming at players when mistakes are made, but do like to make sure a player knows when they performed well. That being said, the player’s coach will generally give a lot more positive, rather than negative feedback. When mistakes are made, or a player is having a difficult time grasping a certain aspect of their respective game, the player’s coach will take an encouragement approach to motivating  the player’s through their issues. Their pregame and post game talks to the team won’t involve a red face accompanied by protruding facial veins.

Brainerd Warriors' head coach Ron Stolski chats with defensive back Trevor Dukowitz and tells him not to get discouraged, that the DB position requires resiliency, and that he has "the stuff to be a good player and leader."


Through my experience, I have had many nice guy coaches during my hockey career. I had developed more of a friendly relationship with them and still keep in touch to this day. In a respectful way, us players would often joke around and act as if the coach was just another guy on the team. Even our parents developed friendly relationships with the coaches. Post games I had coaches who would stand in the lobby with the parents and talk about the game while waiting on us players to come out of the locker room.

On the hand, there is the yeller. The yeller is not a coach you want to mess up in front of. And when you do, he/she will let you know right away. Some will get in your face and belt out how poor that mistake was with a booming loud voice. For example, a 2009 article in Yahoo Sports by MJD, describes how at the time, then San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, once yelled at wide receiver Michael Crabtree for working out while still considered to be injured by the 49ers organization. The article states that coach Singletary had the first round draft pick almost to the point of tears over the situation.


I will admit to have more experience with player’s coaches than yellers, but yet, I have had a few yellers. One word that comes to my mind is intimidation. Around my teammates, I used to pretend that I was tough and that these guys couldn’t intimidate me. That wasn’t the case… There were a few instances where I missed a pass or shot the puck over the net where I was a little scared and anticipated some vocal criticism on my way to the bench.

I found a video on YouTube that featured an episode of the show FSN Sport Science. This episode, labeled episode 5, is meant to find out which coaching style is more effective. The two styles they are comparing are in other words, the player’s coach and the yeller. To find out, the team at FSN Sport Science had a basketball player shoot 10 free throws with an encouraging coach to his side and 10 more free throws with a yelling coach to his side. As you will see, the results actually proved that when being yelled at, the basketball player actually drained more shots.

In conclusion, I do believe there is a correlation between a coach’s style and the results of games. Otherwise, what would be the point of even having a coach on the sidelines. Again, referencing my personal experience, I have actually developed more from having the yelling coach. But that is just me, athletes are different. Just because one responds better to an authoritarian approach, doesn’t mean every athlete will. Making the case that yellers will win more than player’s coaches or vice versa, extremely hard to prove. I will add that I think it’s a positive thing that we have a variety of coaching styles. This blog has actually made me also question whether there is reverse causation involved with coaching styles. What I mean is, how much correlation is there between the outcome of the game, and a coach’s attitude post win or loss?


Yahoo Sports

YouTube FSN Sport Science

Statistic Brain

Media references:

Player’s coach pic I used

Yelling coach pic I used







Welcome to SC 200

Hey, my name is Justin Passaro and I am a Junior majoring in Labor and Employment Relations. I am from Greensburg, Pennsylvania (about 45 min outside Pittsburgh). Prior to coming to Penn State, I played ice hockey for 16 years. Even though concussions have hindered my ability to play competitively, I still enjoy playing in “pick-up” games and adult leagues. During my last 3 years of playing hockey, I played what is called “Juniors”, a developmental league for players who hope to play NCAA. It was an experience of a lifetime on and off the ice. I was able to meet so many different people from playing all over the East Coast and living in three different states.

So why did I choose to take SC 200? Well, to be honest, I didn’t know very much about the class at all. I needed another science, so I started reading through descriptions of various courses that would fulfill my needs. SC 200 stuck out as a class that I thought I might have more interest in. I also will admit to checking out Rate My Professor and seeing that Andrew had very positive ratings. I can say without hesitation, after the first class meeting, I made the right choice. In regards to how most of us were taught in junior and high school, what Andrew said the first day of class that has really had me thinking. Have I been taught wrong?  I never really thought science was boring but I never really found it super interesting. Prior to this course, I was taught that science is just science and it is not something that anyone outside the various fields should question. After attending Andrew’s first couple lectures, my curiosity wheels are turning! I want to avert more away from my traditional microanalytic science brain to a more macro and “big picture” way of viewing. For example, I know that hockey is a game built on physics. You have men and women standing on two inch blades of steal trying to accelerate and decelerate, slapping a little hard disk of vulcanized rubber with such velocity that it can fly past the goaltender and into the twine that makes up the 6’x4′ goal (all while trying to balance on ice). What I want to know are questions such as, “Why are people like myself so attracted to the game?”, “What about the game helps us form these certain stereotypes of hockey players?” or “Do we all internally share something in common?”. I don’t believe that I will know exact answers to these types of questions at the end of the 16 weeks, but I do believe that I will learn and acquire certain tools that can help me approach and think about them in a better way.

The reason why I am not a science major kind of goes back to my high school days. As I said earlier, it was never boring for me, but never super interesting. I was always a decent science student in high school, but nothing crazy. I will say, I feel that this class is going to be different. I don’t believe this will be just any old conventional science class, but one that can have a positive impact on how we think and solve problems. I am excited!


Justin Passaro