Archive for October, 2010

Are you sure you counted right?

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here is the next experiment that is crucial in understanding how I have arrived at many of my assertions. I can’t really “Cliff Note” this one. You have to watch it and see for yourself. And of course judge the relevance using your own vision.

I have not read the book, but I listening to an interview on NPR with the author, I believe they are missing many of the important lessons. The book is in my near future for sure. Future post about concentration, repression, eye witness accounts, bias beliefs and prejudice behaviors, and at the very core we often prove what we believe instead of the other way around. How the mind of an artist differs from that of a mathematician. Most importantly, why I can gain such a heavy advantage in a chess game, only to blow it at the end. How this concept applies to something as individual and person as a budding new relationship. It also applies to how defined yet completely opposed two political movements can be even though only 1 can be right on certain issues. Meaning the author only seemed to apply this concept to the visual stimulus and not the internal influence. Again why do we believe the things we believe? This question has been the driving force of my quest.

I don’t want to give too much away. I will only add that the things you can do with knowledge gleaned from this experiment to make your life less stressful is invaluable.

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      I remember back in a basic sociology class a description of an experiment. It was conducted by a researcher named G. R. Stephenson. The Best description as I remember it was here. Monkeys Learn Anxiety.

     For those of you wanting the cliff notes, here is the basics. 5 monkeys were placed in a cage. A ladder leading to the ceiling where bananas hung was placed in the center of the room. Every time a monkey tried to climb the ladder to get the banana all of the monkeys were sprayed with ice cold water. This was repeated until they all got the idea that if anybody tries to climb the ladder, they will all suffer the consequences. So it got to the point that if anybody even tried to climb the ladder, the group would go wild and even beat the offending monkey up. 1 by 1, new monkeys replaced ones who had learned the lesson directly. Eventually the cage was filled with monkeys who had never experienced the cold water bath. Yet, all were conditioned by the others not to try and climb the ladder.

      One of the things gleaned from this experiment, even though the threat no longer exists, the monkeys still feared it. Our human brain is not immune to this. Back when the threat was real, anxiety was healthy and necessary. Attempting to climb the ladder resulted in a threat to personal warmth and security for all. But as this threat went away, that fear became unhealthy. Here the only thing stopping them from obtaining the food is an unrealistic fear of a consequence that none of the remaining monkeys had ever encountered and none are not even aware of.

     There are so many directions to go with this, that I will just say the now common mantra “I will reference this in future posts”. In order to put a realistic face on this concept I will share a personal experience/ reality with this. I had to sit in court and get harassed because I let my 2 yr old daughter craw in the kitchen exposed to falling down two steps. I was chastised for teaching a 2.5 yr old to use a knife, and the trick to stop crying when cutting an onion by putting a book of matches in our teeth. I want to home school her and create an healthy environment. All of these thing certainly raise anxiety. They definitely do with me. But I refuse to let my anxiety drive my behavior. For it, the “monkeys” in the courtroom started screaming anxiously. Maybe there was once a real danger of a cut finger, maybe there is a danger in an unobservant parent not knowing their child is playing with fire, MAYBE the homeschooling of yesteryear was made up of parents who just didn’t want to send their kids to school. But all of that are irrational fear where I am involved.

     F rom this experiment we can make observations about not only anxiety, but prejudices, social constraints, parenting, peer pressure, affect of misinformation, and many other which I an not considering yet.

     So I will end this post here. I will leave the reader to ask, what makes them anxious. What are your phobias? Are they rational? Were they rational once?