Author Archives: lkv5058

Are You Smarter Than Your Grandma?

IQ scores are rising at a remarkable rate according to livescience.com. Some scientist have argued against this saying the tests today are easier, but a study done by intelligence researcher James Flynn, an emeritus professor of the University of Otago in New Zealand, put this argument to rest for the most part. To see the “Flynn Effect”, volunteers took old IQ tests but still tested higher than the scores of the previous generations who originally took those tests.

Despite these findings, however, the claim that people today are smarter today than ever remains as controversial as ever. Many scientists argue IQ is not an accurate measurement of intelligence. Gerald Crabtree, a Stanford University School of Medicine researcher, published two papers in the journal Trends in Genetics. He didn’t agree that the “Flynn Effect” proved our generation’s superior intelligence and instead claimed humanity peaked between 2,000 and 6,000 years ago. He based this assertion on the development of mutations harmful to intellect determining genes. He concluded that between 2,000 to 5,000 genes control human intelligence and he calculated that at the rate at which genetic mutations accumulate, humanity has likely suffered from at least two mutations harmful to intellect-determining genes.

This was not the only theory arguing against the claim that today’s humans are of superior intelligence. Dysgenic Mating may also be at fault. This theory points to the fact that people of higher IQs produce fewer offspring than people with low IQs, therefore, decreasing the IQ level of the next generation. The problem with this theory, however, is that despite this phenomenon IQ test are still increasing every generation.

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In conclusion, wether we are smarter or dumber than previous generations depends on how it is measured. Yes, we have higher IQs, but our cognitive skills, reaction skills, and number of mutations in our brains may not necessarily point to us being the smartest generation yet. Do you think we are the smartest generation to step foot on this planet? Will new technologies have a positive or negative effect on our IQs? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

http://www.livescience.com/37095-humans-smarter-or-dumber.html

Is Christmas Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It turns out Santa isn’t the only word that starts with an S that we see more of around Christmas. Stress levels increase dramatically as well. ABC News reports that the increase in stress levels that we see over the holiday season can lead to serious health complications.

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According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist and professor at the University of California, the stress hormone cortisol works overtime during the holiday season. This in turn increases sugar production in the body and an increases blood pressure. This can lead to many health issues. Stress also weakens the immune system and combined with the cold this can be a dangerous situation. Colds, the flu, and other diseases are very prevalent during the holiday season.

So if people are so stressed and sick why are they so happy around the holidays? According to the Holiday Stress survey published by the American Psychological Association, nearly 80% of people reported that they were positive and happy during the holidays. Lustig credits this to the simple pleasures during the holidays that mask the underlying stress. These include impulse purchases for oneself and others, indulging in sweet treats, and other activities that bring short-lived happiness but not true contentment or joy. What they do do, however, is cause long run negative effects such as worse health or financial issues… both of which lead to stress. This is likely why in the same survey 70% of Americans reported feeling fatigued during the holiday season.

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So is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? Well, it depends. It’s a great time to spend with family and indulge in impulse purchases and christmas treats but it does have an overall negative impact on the body. As the holiday season approaches, remember that Christmas isn’t about money, food, or gifts but rather about religion and spending time with family. This should be an effective way to fight off the negative effects of the holiday season.

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/hormone-effect-christmas-makes-us-nutty/story?id=15107836

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf

Does Chapstick Make Your Lips More Chapped?

Sounds crazy right? Why would a product have the opposite effect of its intended use? Well it many not be as ludicrous as it seems. Chapstick companies make more money when you have chapped lips, so why fix the problem?

According to Caitlin Covington of Greatist.com, applying lip balm to ones lips only temporarily soothes them but had a negative effect on your lip’s health in the long run. The lip balm interferes with the signaling between the dying cells and the mechanism that produces new healthy cells. As a result, the lips are prevented from replenishing the cells and healing your chapped lips. This makes the chapped lips worse causing you to again apply chapstick. This process repeats over and over and your lips become more chapped than they were before you started using the product.

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Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD blames the negative effects of chapstick on hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both common ingredients in products for chapped lips. These chemicals draw moisture away from the skin. While she claims that these ingredients can be effective alongside other chemicals that prevent water loss, she recommends to never use chapstick that don’t also include occlusive agent. These are often only found in medicated or high end lip balms.

Dry climates, altitude, and many other factors can chap your lips, but your body is built to heal on its own. Unless your chapstick is medicated or contains an occlusive agent like beeswax or shea butter, you are better off leaving them alone. Using chapstick without these agents is no better than licking your lips and can cause health problems rather than solutions.

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Don’t have access or the funds to purchase this pricey lip balm? Today.com has some other solutions. The first is staying hydrated. Through my research, I’ve discovered this is pretty much the #1 thing on every dermatologists lists. Other advice includes using a humidifier and using sugar to exfoliate the lips. As well as avoiding lip balms, they also recommend staying away from lipstick and gum.

As this dry winter weather approaches, I hope this will be a helpful guide. Do you have any personal stories that support or refute my findings? Let me know in the comments below.

http://www.today.com/style/put-down-lip-balm-doctor-approved-list-chapped-lips-do-t69466

Yes, Lip Balm Is Making Your Chapped Lips Worse—Here’s Why

http://greatist.com/health/chapstick-addictive

The Best Mattress May Be No Mattress

After sleeping on the floor of my friends house for a few night over break and having some of the best nights go sleep of my life, I decided to look into wether a mattress is really necessary. Turns out, many chiropractors and sleep specialists agree that no mattress may very well be the best mattress for some people.

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Todays mattress tend to be soft and thick. This combination does not provide the proper support for a straight spine and good posture. They increase the chances of misalignments of the spine. thenewhealthadvisor.com recommends sleeping on a thin mat on your back, this is contrary to popular belief. The misconception could very well come from advertising from mattress companies who would lose much of their business if word got out. The New Health Advisor claims that simply sleeping on the floor can help with back pain, and can lead a healthier, more productive lifestyle. On top of that, it’s cheaper, takes less effort, and takes up less space.

In an online article, titled “The Ergonomics of Sleep”, Jeah Kessha states that mattresses create structural imbalances in the body. She too recommended sleeping on a hard surface. She also explains an issue I ran into. There is almost no research done in this field despite its importance. This could be because the data is so subjective. “Comfort” and “Best” are hard to judge. REM sleep, back problems, and hours slept, however, are measurable so studies could be done. My own experience leads me to believe these people, but it could be due to chance or a third variable.

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I think this is worth researching. If it’s true that sleeping on a mattress actually makes sleeping less effective then the experiment could change the way we spend about 1/3 of our lives. I have a hunch (no pun intended) that this would be hard to prove, especially when going against big bedding and furniture businesses, but it is worth a try.

You can decide for yourself if you think it’s worth a try, but one night on the floor could change the way you sleep forever. I may be the exception not the norm, but my experience supports the conclusions of these writers.

Have any of you had a similar experience or one that contradicts? Do you have any ideas on how to test this hypothesis? Let me know in the comments below.

http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Sleeping-on-the-Floor.html

http://www.zafu.net/sleepergonomics.html

 

 

The Science Behind the Trump Victory

Wether a Trump supporter or not, the GOP candidates victory probably came as a surprise to you. He was losing in nearly every poll and almost every forecaster and public record pointed towards a Clinton victory… but according to Leslie John, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, that may have been the exact reason Trump won. trump

John is an expert in behavioral decision research, he studies flaws and biases in human reasoning. He credits the outcome of the election to overconfidence, social acceptance, and the elites desire for a certain outcome.

John suggests that many in favor of Clinton didn’t think they needed to vote to assure her victory and instead stayed at home. The majority of figures in the public eye were anti-trump which gave the impression to the American people that the majority of America was anti-trump. This, however, was not the case. The people in the public eye are not an accurate sample of the country as they do not reflect the same opinions as the nation as a whole. These pollsters, forecasters, and analysts may have hurt their own chances at victory by being so confident.

The fear of rejection and judgment may have also played a role in Trump’s Victory. John credits a response bias in the polling that behaviorists call “socially desirable responding”. He believes that many voters, especially women and minorities, feared backlash and supplied pollsters with the information they thought they should say rather than their true beliefs. This could mean that Americans who said they were voting for Clinton instead cast their ballot for Trump on election day. Either this, or they chose not to respond because they viewed the pollsters as “part of the establishment” and were not included in the first place. These dilemmas very likely lead to flawed data in the pre-election polls.

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A study done at Stanford University in 1979, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization,” may provide some explanation for the elections outcome as well. The study concluded that when you want to believe something and you are presented with evidence, you interpret that evidence in a way that supports your initial beliefs. This study was done by giving two groups with differing opinions articles both in favor of and against the death penalty. Both groups left more confident and polarized with their original opinion. This can be applied to the Presidential election as many in the media clearly desired a Democratic victory and may have subconsciously told the public their own biased interpretation.

Wether you are pleased, upset, or indifferent about the outcome of this election, the fact that practically all the experts were wrong is very interesting. We must remember that there can be flaws in the collection of data and that just because some studies say something, doesn’t mean it is the truth. We learned in class that differing opinions are important to finding flaws in others research, this was not done enough between the like-minded media and pollsters in this election. What are your thoughts on how to improve the polling accuracy in the future? Is it possible to really know the outcome of an election before it takes place?

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.372.1743&rep=rep1&type=pdf

https://hbr.org/2016/11/blindsided-by-trumps-victory-behavioral-science-explains

Stress and Binge Drinking: Does one cause the other?

Our beloved Penn State University was just placed in the top 10 of a category we don’t want to be in: Most Stressed Out Student Bodies (University Primetime). Out of all the thousands of schools in this country, Penn State was ranked 6th overall, above Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, and just about every other university. We also took the #1 overall spot in a very different one of University Primetime’s lists: Top Party Schools. Could these two be related? A new study done by Canadian scientists says that could be very possible.

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Researchers from Queen’s University sought to discover if there was a correlation between acute stress (stress caused by situations or events) and alcohol consumption, specifically among college students. Their study consisted of 75 students separated into 3 groups. One received unlimited amounts of alcohol, the other a placebo that tasted and looked exactly the same, and the last received a specified nonalcoholic drink. They were all put through the Trier Social Stress Test, which was deigned to provoke feelings of anxiety and stress. By testing the student’s stress levels before during and after the experiment, the researchers were able to determine that the students consumed substantially more alcohol while facing high levels of acute stress. However, those consuming the nonalcoholic drink and the placebo showed no increase in consumption after their stress levels rose. These findings led the researchers to conclude that the amount of alcohol being consumed by college students could very well be due to the high levels of acute stress they are put under. This would explain Penn State’s placement on both the Top Party School and Most Stressed Out Student Body list.

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Most people would agree that both high stress levels and binge drinking are bad things. The question is, how do we fix this problem? It seems to me like the root of the problem is stress, so making alcohol less easily accessible should not be the answer. Closing down bars and making complicated rules about where and when alcohol can be purchased will not solve this problem. Instead this university, as well as universities across the country, should work on reducing the stress levels of their students. Creating a low stress environment on campus will promote healthier drinking habits among students.

While we all see Penn State as #1, we shouldn’t strive for first in every category. The combination of stress and alcohol is harming our student body. Alcohol poisoning, alcohol related sexual assaults, suicide, and many other serious issues that plague our university could be reduced by looking into this study and by making real changes on campus to reduce stress levels. A less stressed student body is better for the students, faculty, and the people of State College.

I view this as a very important issue and I’d love to hear some of my classmates views on the subject. Do you have any ideas on how to reduce the stress levels here on campus? Do you think stress is the true cause of binge drinking among students? Let me know in the comments section.

 

Futbol, not Football

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but here in the United States, most people don’t even know when the MLS season even starts. Why is this? Why don’t Americans appreciate soccer the way most European, African, South American, and Central American countries do? Will this ever change?
I’ve done some research and come up with a few theories.

 

It’s not violent enough- America’s two favorite sporting events are Football and NASCAR, both sports where the players put their life on the line. This isn’t changing. In fact, baseball, a less violent sport, is decreasing in popularity while, according to bleacher report, MMA is now the fastest growing sport in America. Violence does correlate to a sport’s success in the US, but why? Are Americans really more entertained by brutality than most nations? Answering these questions could very well help us discover if the lack of violence really is the reason for soccers lack of success in the US.

soccer

Low scoring- Americans are used to seeing dozens of points scored in NFL or NBA games. Because of this, low scoring soccer games can seem disappointing no matter how competitive the game is. Despite being a relatively worse game, a score of 112-105 could very well appear more exciting than a score of 1-0. The average American’s attention span is decreasing and could likely be taking soccers chances of succeeding down with it. If this theory were true, increasing scores, wether it be through bigger goals or less people on the field, should help the sports popularity in the states.

American Exceptionalism- This third and final theory is the one I find most likely. It is basically the idea that the reason Americans don’t like soccer is because we’re not the best at it. There could be truth to this as Americas four favorite sports are also 4 sports that Americans do extraordinarily well in on the global stage. America dominates most nations in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, but we could very well lose to a small African or European country in soccer. We dominate just about every Olympic Games and call ourselves world champs in sports only we play. Our nations lack of superiority in soccer could be the reason for our lack of interest in the world’s favorite sport. Wether the truth or simply propaganda, most Americans truly believe they live in the best nation on earth, so if Americas not the best at soccer, then soccer must not be important, right? If the US one day wins the world cup and Americans still don’t warm up to the sport, this claim could easily be refuted, but as of now it seems to be the most likely explanation for this phenomenon.

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The New York Times did an article about American Exceptionalism in the world of sports, it can be found here.

I’m not optimistic that soccer will be catching on any time soon in America. The sport isn’t getting any rougher, the number of goals scored isn’t increasing, and America is still not the best, but I could be wrong. While all of these factors could contribute to soccer’s lack of success in America, none have been proven to be the cause. Which do you find most likely? Is there something I missed that you think could be contributing? Let me know in the comments below.

Likes: Encouraging or Depressing?

Has Facebook lead to an increase in depression?

Americans spend hundreds of hours of their lives on social media and Penn State students are certainly no exception. Most people never think twice about pulling out their phone to see what’s going on with their friends and family, but maybe we should. While posting on your friends timeline or scrolling through your news feed seem like harmless activities, studies show they may be leading you to towards a state of depression.

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For years scientists have seen this correlation, but a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology may have found the causality. They determined the link between social media and depression to be social comparison. The conclusion was that people make comparisons between the worst parts of themselves and the best of others, damaging their self confidence and leading them towards depression

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Now the question is, what do we do? One could argue that not using social media anymore would be the best solution, but social media does have its perks. It keeps people connected, entertained, and makes events and pictures much easier to share. I believe the best thing to do is come to the understanding on you’re own that what you see on social media is not an accurate description of the lives of those around you. That way, you don’t compare the worst of yourself to the best of others. I think this approach would be much more effective than a ban on social media like the ones many school systems are using. If instead of blocking social media, schools educated students about how to approach it in a healthier manner, students might actually learn a lesson instead of just postponing their depression until they’re home from school.

There is much more to this debate about social media in school, more information about the pros and cons can be found here.

There is also another issue linking social media to depression.  Stephanie Mihalas, PhD, a psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA  believes social media can trap people in a dangerous cycle. She has discovered that people often use Facebook and other social media to try and escape depression, but the constant surfing of social media often is the root of the unhealthy emotions. She argues that being on social media keeps those already struggling with depression secluded, remote, and less attuned to the real world around them.

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Social media is not all bad, but next time you’re scrolling through your news feed, be sure it is bringing out heathy emotions, not damaging your self esteem.

Hello SC 200, my name is Luke Visser, I’m from San Diego, California, and I am a finance major here at Penn State. I planned to stay as far away from any science classes as possible until I was informed by my advisor that I had no choice but to take one in order to fulfill my requirements. After she told me this, I think she could see horror in my eyes because she immediately recommended SC200 as the course for those who’d give anything to never have to look at another periodic table again. After hearing that, I signed up without even reading the course description. While it was probably a poor decision to sign up for a class I knew nothing about, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. This class seems extraordinarily different from my high school science classes where I memorized everything but understood nothing.53879277

I have read through the topics of discussion for future classes and I’m genuinely interested in most of them. I’m looking forward to really discovering new things and acquiring knowledge I actually want to know. I think I will enjoy my time in class, stay interested throughout the year, and unlike many previous science classes in my life, I think I’ll actually be able to stay awake. On top of not boring me to death, I think the critical thinking involved with this science course will actually help me be successful in the business field. I appreciate science but it has never captivated me the way business does. For this reason, I have not chosen a major in the science department. I am, however, already beginning to enjoy science more in only two short classes so who knows where my interests will be four years down the road. 

Also, I found this website with some great thought provoking questions, so if you need to get those wheels turning to prepare for all the critical thinking in this class, or you’re just bored and sitting in you’re dorm room, it’s worth a click.