During the Nazi takeover of Europe, Freud and his family were in trouble like all Jews in the affected regions. They were able to escape due to connections (including Princess Marie Bonaparte of France, who put up the necessary funds to buy his freedom and allow him an exit visa). CLICK HERE to read the details.
In 1938, Freud was recorded by the BBC reading a short speech about his work in psychoanalysis. It is the only known recording of Freud's own voice, and is a rare treat for those of us who work in the field. To save the file, RIGHT click the link and choose "Save file as," then click "Save."
Nine months after this recording was made, Freud's inoperable cancer of the mouth (after a lifetime of smoking cigars) became unbearably painful. He asked for, and received, a fatal injection of morphine. He was 83 years old.
In case you have difficulty understanding him (he was in great pain, and was reading a script written for him in phonetic English), here is a transcript:
"I started my professional activity as a neurologist, trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend, and by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the Unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges, and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science - Psycho-Analysis - a part of Psychology and a new method of treatment of the neuroses.
I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts, and thought my theories unsavory. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end, I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psycho-Analytic Association. But the struggle is not yet over.
CLICK HERE to take an online version of the Jenkins Activity Survey, an introspective measure that will allow you to test whether you fit into the category of Type A or Type B personality. This measure is based on research by Jenkins, Ayzanski, & Rosenman (1971), and consists of just 30 items.
More information on Type A and Type B personalities can be found HERE.
Please click the links below to download either the Stress Scale for Youth, or the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (for adults). Both are designed to provide you with insight into your level of stress, and help you decide whether it's time to take steps to cope better. Keep in mind that we can be under great stress and not even notice it, so don't assume that you'll know when you're at risk.
If you score particularly high, are concerned about your overall stress level, would like to learn some coping strategies, etc., please feel free to contact our Mental Health Counselor, Rosemary O'Neill (RONeill@ohlone.edu). She's a wonderful person and would be more than happy to offer advice and/or assistance.
Click the image below to watch a performance by Karen Carpenter, of the 70s brother-sister pop group "The Carpenters," singing one of the songs that made her famous. The Carpenters shot to stardom in the mid 1970s with such hits as "Rainy Days and Mondays," "We've Only Just Begun," and "Close to You." She has been cited as a musical influence by Madonna, Pat Benatar, Shania Twain, K.D. Lang, Jewel, and many others.
Karen became famous later in her life for something far less desirable than her beautiful singing voice - an eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa.
Although most of you likely know quite a bit about the disorder, most people at the time could not imagine why a person would simply starve herself. CLICK HERE to read more about this and other such devastating eating disorders, as well as how to recognize the signs.
Karen managed to start down the path of battling her disorder, but unfortunately, did not survive the disease. Her seriously damaged heart was simply too weakened, and she died of heart failure on February 4th, 1983. She was 33 years old.
Click the link below to read an interesting article from Skeptic about research on nonhuman primate communication. For decades we've heard conflicting reports about efforts to teach chimps and gorillas (and sometimes orangutans) to "talk" using sign language, message boards, and other means. In the early 1970s, the answer seemed to be that it was possible that they might actually have the capacity to express themselves on something approaching a human level of communication. Since that time, the research has been criticized in terms of its methods, research design, conclustions and, in some cases, even its very authenticity!.
For more information on the research as it is now being conductedCLICK HERE
Keep an eye out for the documentary about Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee who was raised in a family as part of a research project attempting to teach sign language to a non-human primate. The trailer can be watched below:
Have you ever wished for a better memory? I think it's a very common (perhaps ubiquitous) human desire. Many might even go so far as to envy those who have "perfect recall," the ability to store and retrieve nearly every experience, fact, thought, etc.
As with many such cases, however, the reality of perfect recall, often a result of Hyperthymesia, is far from the rosy picture many of us imagine. The case of Jill Price (The Woman Who Can't Forget) illustrates this quite well. Studied by researchers for years, always under a pseudonym, Price has marveled memory specialists with her ability to recite dates and facts down to the smallest detail, with little or no error. She even corrects entries in encyclopedias and other authoritative sources.
CLICK HERE to read a report about this fascinating woman, and watch the embedded video for additional details about how this "gift" can also carry a "curse."
Click the video below to watch a short documentary about Jill and her life history.
As we will discuss, one of the world's leading researchers in Memory is a psychologist namedElizabeth Loftus. Professor Loftus has published hundreds of articles, reporting the results of work with tens of thousands of subjects' memories. The big lesson from this research is that memory production is "constructive" and maleable. It is not a perfect reproduction of the experience, as many people assume.
This is particularly important when questions of Eyewitness Testimony are considered. In the 1980s, for instance, a series of modern-day witch trials, mostly involving YOUNG CHILDRENbegan to sweep the country, causing parents and others to believe that children had been abused and molested by parents, day care workers, etc., and resulting in the destruction of many people's lives and livelihoods. Click the video below to watch a trailer for the film "Witch Hunt" produced and narrated by Sean Penn. It exposes the hysteria in my home town, Bakersfield, California, during the height of the child-molestation scare, and how an overzealous prosecuter and ill prepared law enforcement ruined the lives of dozens.
As discussed in class, you will be writing a Course Paper for credit. Below is a basic description of what I’m looking for.We will discuss these in class with each other at some point so that everyone can learn about each other’s projects, experiences, successes, failures, etc.
Perhaps no better example of the success of B.F. Skinner, the training of kamikaze pigions in Project Orcon in the 1940s and 1950s showed how Operant Conditioning could be used in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable. In it, Skinner shaped the behavior of the birds so well that they could actually guide missiles toward their target (ultimately killing the birds, of course, but they didn't know that).
CLICK HERE to be taken to a website that covers the project in detail, including strategic blueprints, as well as a short video clip that explains its history and problems.
One of the best known studies in the history of Behaviorism is that of Little Albert, an infant who was used as a subject by psychologist John B. Watson to study Classical Conditioning. Although it's shocking to us by today's standards and could never be replicated, these studies answered many questions about the principles of this type of Associative Learning. Perhaps the most enduring question, however, has been "Who was Little Albert, and what ever happened to him?"
CLICK HERE to be taken to a story about a young boy with the rare disorder "Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis" (CIPA) a condition that leaves him unable to feel pain, or to regulate his body heat.
Although we often complain of headaches, toothaches, skinned knees, etc., the truth is, without pain to let us know where we need attention, trouble quickly arises. The heartbreaking stories of children like this remind us how lucky we are to feel pain from time to time, especially when one considers the fact that these children rarely live to the age of puberty.
Click here to read an article on the creation of the "Mosquito Noise," a 17 kilohertz sound file that was created to discourage young "troublemakers" from hanging out in front of stores, in construction zones, or in other places that they are creating trouble or putting themselves in danger.
Its genius lies in the fact that, generally speaking, only those under the age of about 25 can hear the noise (which I understand is quite shrill and annoying). Presumably, those over 25 years of age are less likely to make trouble, and can go about their business in a mature fashion. It may seem a bit "age-ist" and discriminatory, but initial reports are that it seems to work better than constantly calling the police.
In an interesting side note, clever youth have begun to download this file as a "silent" ring tone for their cell phones, allowing them to receive calls without the "old folks" knowing it. In the game between Youth and Age, I'd say the score is a 1:1 tie, then.
CLICK HERE to be taken to a wonderful web site full of illusions that will test your perceptive abilities and make you better aware of just how the brain's perceptive abilities work (and don't work) to give us a sense of the world around us. For a preview of such wonders, click the image to the right and stare at it for a moment. Although your brain may tell you otherwise, I promise it's not actually moving.
CLICK HERE to see some creative examples of pareidolia created by photos of solar prominences. Very funny stuff! See Bigfoot in the image to the right?!
For another real-life example of how people can be fooled by their own senses, take the recent event in Florida that many hailed as miraculous. Some would say the miracle was the of the appearance of the "Virgin Mary" in a grilled cheese sandwich. Others would say that the true miracle occurred some 10 years later, when the owner (and griller) of the sandwich sold it on eBay for $28,000.
What is it about the human nervous system that allows us to make order out of the disorder in stimulus input around us? Why do we unconsciously seek out faces in random visual stimuli? How do our brains make sense of this chaos of light rays, sound waves, tactile sensations, etc., and in what ways do we "get it wrong"?
Answers to questions such as these may lead us to a better understanding of such illusions as that on the sandwich in question (which I, personally, think looks more like Mary Pickford), as well as to the bumps in the night that some interpret as proof of ghosts, the phantom limb sensations of amputees, and the many other that we misperceive the world around us.
They say the devil's in the details, but they never warned us that he may also be lurking in your I-Pod.
At least, that's what the proponents of BackMasking would have you believe. This phenomenon is not only predicated upon the belief that we can be affected by subliminal input, but even more outlandishly, that we can be affected by BACKWARD subliminal input.
CLICK HERE to be taken to a web site where you can hear excerpts from songs of the accused, played forward and backward. Numerous music artists throughout the years have been accused of "corrupting America's youth" with messages of death, destruction, suicide, and evil supposedly hidden within their music.
The best defense against the nonsense of BackMasking lies in how difficult it is to determine what the message is before reading the "reverse lyrics." An area of the brain responsible for language comprehension (the Wernicke's Area) creates this auditory phenomenon. Ever on the lookout for input, the Wernicke's Area only needs the slightest suggestion to give us the perception of language. With an almost endless supply of recordings to search, it is almost certain that a combination of sounds will present themselves that are close enough to actual words to be perceived as language, especially once we are prompted to listen for them.
The primary goal in this assignment is to "provoke" your classmates to learn, process, and utilize the material in the chapter. You may do this by numerous methods of your own choosing, including lecture, in-class assignments, formal or informal quizzing, memorization exercises, handouts, etc. Whatever method(s) you choose will be up to you as individuals and as a group. I choose this "Collaborative Learning" format because 1) you are adult students who do not need to be spoon-fed the material, and 2) my experience is that it is more entertaining and effective than a straight lecture format.
CLICK HERE to read an article I wrote a while back for the Bay Area Skeptics' website. In it, I detail the findings from the classic Marshmallow Test, and how research on children's ability to delay gratification eventually became a marker for their overall success in life. A great example of a Longitudinal Study (one that tracks behavior over years, rather than minutes, hours, or days), this study has been replicated numerous times, with the same basic results: Those who cannot delay gratification are at risk for drug addiction, suicide, poverty, school dropout, divorce, and a number of other coping problems.
Sadly, Ohlone College does not currently offer even a SINGLE course in "Queer Theory," nor do we thoroughly review the contributions of gay men and women in our History curriculum (the way such is, thankfully, done for Chicano and African American History).
Until this is done (and as I encourage the college to correct this omission), I offer the following information for my students.
1. BIOLOGY OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Research on the biological evidence for Sexual Orientation, and a specific reference to the work of Simon LeVay, and to his website where you'll find a good SUMMARY of the biological research to-date.
2. GAY RIGHTS: An explanation of the Stonewall Riots, an incident in 1969 that many view as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. (Keep in mind that such violent outbursts share much in common with other riots based in civil rights, namely severe oppression over long periods, a history of violence perpetrated upon the group, as well as a general feeling of institutionalized hatred toward the group.)
3. GAY PRIDE PARADE: The history of the Gay Pride Parade, the major symbol of the end of oppression of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) individuals. (Many ask why such "flamboyance" is shown at these events, and I have two answers as a Social Scientist. First, media coverage is usually focused on the "best story or picture," and results in a skewed image of the folks who usually attend. Second, like Mardi Gras and Carnival [in Rio de Janeiro], participants like to be as outrageous as possible to enhance the fun; however, such portrayals hardly represent the entire population they come from.)
6. TOLERANCE: Please CLICK HERE to be taken to some recent research on the correlation between familiarity with gay people and greater tolerance for differing sexual orientations.
Keep an eye out for a new film entitled "A Dangerous Method," starring Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud, and Viggo Moretenson as Carl Jung. The film takes place just before WWI, a time that would test the complex and increasingly strained relationship between Freud and his young protégé. I'm sure it's available on DVD by now.
Reviewers are hailing it as a masterpiece of historical drama, and it seems destined to win many more awards than it already has, as well as to re-introduce the world to the achievements of these two great men. Click below to watch the trailer.
CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets for the latest installment of the Ohlone Psychology Club Speaker Series. Our next guest speaker will be James "The Amazing" Randi! Clear your calendar for Friday the 16th of October, 7pm!
In this talk, former magician and escape artist, James "The Amazing" Randi, discusses his investigation of self-described faith healers, psychics, infomercial gurus, and medical charlatans. Click the video below to watch a short introduction to a soon-to-be-released documentary about Randi and his long career as a magician and a challenger of paranormal phenomena, psychic abilities, and medical charlatans.
IF YOU ARE ENROLLED IN ONE OF MY CLASSES THIS SEMESTER, YOU MAY DROP YOUR LOWEST TEST SCORE BY ATTENDING. SIMPLY BRING YOUR TICKET STUB, AND YOUR AUTOGRAPHED PROGRAM.
Tickets are $10.00 for Students with ID, and $15.00 for the general public.
CLICK HERE to visit our web page, and to purchase tickets.
One of my favorite topics in the field of psychology is the true story of an attempt by neurologist Oliver Sacks to help people suffering from a never-before-seen disease called Encephalitis Lethargica (Sleepy Sickness).
Sacks' book about this, "Awakenings," quickly became a best seller and was later made into a motion picture by the same title (with some liberties taken in the subplots) starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.
and a number of other books, each of which chronicles true stories of people with bizarre and interesting neurological disorders. Rather than presenting his patients' stories as "freak shows," Sacks details each with compassion and respect, while also providing a glimpse into the fascinating and mind-boggling complexities of the human brain.
Watch an interview with Dr. Sacks below (fully captioned):
For a more complete listing of Sacks' books as well as some information on his personal and professional life, click here.
A recent discussion in some of my classes led me to look further for sources to answer some questions my students brought up. In the search, I was reminded of V. S. Ramachandran's amazing works (which see). Although Dr Ramachandran specializes in neurology, don't let that put you off. He writes in the style of Oliver Sacks (one of his biggest fans!), and Richard Dawkins (who wrote the forward in one of his books), making the information accessible to the professional and layperson, alike. My advice is to purchase only ONE of these books. They have a great deal of similar content, so you won't get much more if you buy them both.
Use the link below to download the instructions for creating your online survey using Survey Gorilla. We will discuss the final product, grading, etc. as we go. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so bear with me.
If you would like to experience a modern-day "Personality Test," click the links below and download the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Keirsey uses a few dozen self-report questions to categorize you into one of 16 different personality types.
After answering the questions, use the KEY to add up the numbers and determine your 4-letter category. Then, look up your "type" on the list of all 16 personalities.
Clicking the hyperlink above will allow you to critically analyze the orignal MBTI and its creators, and to decide for yourself whether these types of tests have any validity.
As you already know, your Course Paper is to be constructed using peer-reviewed journal articles only as your scientific source material. To that end, please use the Ohlone Library's databases to find these. Click the link below to open this blog post and follow the instructions:
As many of you may know, we have a thriving Psychology Club here at Ohlone College. One of the most visible and active clubs on campus, the Psychology Club regularly hosts guest speakers, organizes off-campus field trips, has regular fund raisers, and engages in regular discussions related to the field of psychology.
Our meetings are held every Wednesday, from 3:15- 4:15 pm.
We meet in Room 7102 (in the new Student Services Building).
Please join our Facebook page (see sidebar on this blog) for more info and updates.
Please use the links below to download and save your syllabus. We will be reading and discussing it on the first day of class. Some of you might like to take a look at it ahead of time, and/or bring a copy to class with you.
As there are five of them, you must be careful to download the correct syllabus. The one for your class will be different from the ones for my other classes.
P.S. For PC users viewing with Internet Explorer, simply RIGHT CLICK on the link and choose "Save Target As" to download the document to your desktop. For PC users viewing with Firefox, LEFT CLICK on the link and a pop-up box should open. (I have no knowledge of how to save using a Mac.)
Information about required textbooks for your classes is available in the Ohlone College Bookstore on campus, with classes organized in the store by department, instructor, and course. Just ask any of the floor staff to help you find the section marked "Psychology," and find the book(s) with my name on the tag. To assist you, however, I have included the information below.
If a book is available in e-book format, that's fine. I don't usually require their use in class, and if I do, there are usually enough students with a book that can share.
Nota bene: It doesn't much matter to me how you get these books (in the campus bookstore, online, through a friend, etc.), but I cannot hold lectures or tests because you're still awaiting your book's arrival.
Please download and complete the Student Data Sheet below, then bring it to class next time we meet.
You can insert a picture of yourself and then print it out on the sheet, or just staple a picture to the sheet if that's easier. Please make sure it's one that allows me to recognize you (no big sun glasses, artistic turns of the head, etc.). I'm using these to get to know my students by name and face, in the hope that the information will help me adjust my teaching to students' needs and backgrounds.
I have included the document below in two different file types, due to complaints from students who do not yet have Microsoft Office 2010.
As mentioned in class, the word "transgender" is an umbrella term that covers any individual who expresses (through behavior, mode of dress, etc.) the opposite sex from the one assigned by biology. This includes transsexuals, who are different from the other transgender categories in that the sex they were assigned by nature is the wrong one. In other words, their "brain sex" is truly who they are, while their bodies represent an incorrect assignment by nature.
Some transsexual men and women choose surgery to alter their bodies in ways that match their true gender, while others don't (for various reasons). As a society, it is our ethical responsibility to learn the proper terminology, to accept trans men and women for who they really are, and I think, to fight for equal protection and respect under the law.
To learn more about my friend, guitarist Marissa Martinez, (pic to right) CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE to read about the lack of legal protections for people in the Trans Community.
CLICK HERE to learn what you can do to help end discrimination against trans men and women.
And click the link below to download a one-page description to learn how to speak of, and to, trans people with the proper terminology.
James Randi is not only one of the greatest magicians and entertainers of all time, he's also a wonderful critical thinker and a decent human being. He has devoted most of his adult life to protecting the public from those he sees as charlatans and swindlers, while also teaching us some important lessons about the power of rationality and the scientific method.
In Spring of 2015, I hosted a screening of the documentary film about Randi's life, called "An Honest Liar." At the time, it was only being shown in theaters and our screening was the only one approved for release on a college campus. I'm happy to say that the film has now been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, and is available to watch online via Netflix.
I strongly encourage you to watch it. You'll not only be entertained, but also informed and better prepared to protect yourself against the many scam artists and con criminals you'll encounter in life.
I'm pleased to announce that my long-awaited podcast has finally aired. Each week, my co-host Amanda DeVaus (from the Australian Skeptics) will cover a different topic from science or skepticism, and feature interviews from famous scientists, authors, critical thinkers, etc.
NOW AVAILABLE in the iTunes store! Just search for "ShelShocked," then subscribe so that episodes will download automatically each week FREE.
CLICK HERE to join our Facebook fan page where each new episode will post, and related information can be found.
In addition, you can listen to (or download) episodes directly from my website HERE.
NEW POLICY: Students who bring a laptop to class to take notes may no longer sit in the back row. It has become obvious that some are doing this to avoid allowing other students to look over their shoulder and see that they are using their computers for things other than taking notes.
Although most of you still rely upon the tried-and-true method of taking notes by hand (a method that research shows to be superior for retention and deep processing), some opt for bringing a laptop to class instead.
I have no policy against the use of laptops, and leave it to each student to decide the best method for him or her to use. I do, however, reserve the right to request that students respect me enough to use their computer for note taking only. An 18-year career in teaching, combined with several advanced degrees in the Behavior Sciences, gives me a better-than-average capacity to recognize when students are not actually taking notes. Lack of eye contact for prolonged periods, occasional smirks or untimely laughter while looking at their screens, or a general non-responsiveness during times in my lecture that other students are reacting, are just a few of the cues that tell me a student is instant messaging, checking her/his Facebook account, or even watching videos (I caught one student watching Netflix in class with the subtitles turned on, and couldn't help wondering why the hell she even bothered to come to class!).
So please take note (pun intended). If you choose to bring and use a laptop in my class, use it to take notes not to childishly "get away with" doing something else.
Thank you for your cooperation, and I'll see you in class.
The James Randi Educational Foundation recently announced the release of a FREE e-book entitled, "Magic in the Classroom - Using Extraordinary Claims to Teach Critical Thinking." I'm proud to say that three of its 28 chapters were written by me (so you know they're good!).
In each section, a topic is introduced along with guidance in encouraging rational answers to complex issues. These include paranormal events, psychic powers, Creationism, pseudoscience, and other topic, accompanied with professional references for supporting the author's claims.
CLICK HERE to visit the download page where you'll find copies for iPad, Kindle, and PDF.
I'm happy to report that Operation Bumblebee (San Jose) was a rousing success. Several of us to took part have written up articles about the experience, and some are already taking part in podcast interviews to spread the word. In addition to tricking self-described psychic Chip Coffey into connecting with our fake dead relatives, we also hoped to spark skeptical activism in our community. When you have a moment, click the link below to read (or listen to) my take on the evening. It was an emotionally exhausting experience, but very gratifying, nonetheless.
CLICK HERE to read a report of the evening's events (also available in audio format on that page). We have some interest from several major publications and a TV show, and I'll keep you posted about those as they develop.
Many of you laughed when I mentioned the Flat Earth Society in class (and it is, indeed, laughable). But believe me, I'm not kidding. There are litereally thousands of otherwise normal, everyday folks around the world who believe that our planet is flat.
This view of the world is ancient, and derives from staggering ignorance. Even Christopher Columbus knew that the world was a sphere (regardless of the children's tale that says otherwise). To find people who believed this, you'd have to go back much further than the 1400s. In fact, it was the Greek philosopher Pythagoras who first proposed a spherical Earth in the 6th century (the 500s)!
CLICK HERE to read a report about the Flat Earthers and their ridiculous beliefs. Then, consider what other beliefs people hold (homophobia, Creationism, sexism, anti-GMO, racial superiority, vaccine denial), as well as any that you yourself may hold that aren't supported by the facts.