The last post for a while

26 07 2006

Summer session is over, and I am moving next week to a new city, teaching at a new school. So it is au-revoir for a while. Back in a few weeks.




Behavioral genetics and domestication

25 07 2006

In General Psychology, we use the David Myers text, and it describes some experiments on domestication in Russia, which have shown domesticated foxes to be produced in a relatively short number of generations through Mendelian genetics. The New York Times has an article on the recent activity of this Russian research enterprise.

There was far more to Belyaev’s experiment than the production of tame foxes. He developed a parallel colony of vicious foxes, and he started domesticating other animals, like river otters and mink. Realizing that genetics can be better studied in smaller animals, Belyaev also started a study of rats, beginning with wild rats caught locally. His rat experiment was continued after his death by Irina Plyusnina. Siberian gray rats caught in the wild, bred separately for tameness and for ferocity, have developed these entirely different behaviors in only 60 or so generations.

Link to the article.

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Stanley Fish on academic freedom and lecturing

23 07 2006

The NY Times has an Op-Ed piece by Stanley Fish on academic freedom and lecturing.

Any idea can be brought into the classroom if the point is to inquire into its structure, history, influence and so forth. But no idea belongs in the classroom if the point of introducing it is to recruit your students for the political agenda it may be thought to imply.

There is a world of difference, for example, between surveying the pro and con arguments about the Iraq war, a perfectly appropriate academic assignment, and pressing students to come down on your side. Of course the instructor who presides over such a survey is likely to be a partisan of one position or the other — after all, who doesn’t have an opinion on the Iraq war? — but it is part of a teacher’s job to set personal conviction aside for the hour or two when a class is in session and allow the techniques and protocols of academic research full sway.

I do become somewhat political in my lectures, but I try to present reasoned debate, rather than position statements. The main reason I do is to bring the subject of psychology into our real everyday lives. I am always careful to present it as the topic of academic inquiry and to demonstrate critical thinking.

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Peace In The Middle East May Be Impossible…

23 07 2006

… is the title of an article that came to mind when I was reading the news this morning. In the day class, we’ve just finished studying Social Psychology, and this is relevant. Lee Ross is a social psychologist (who originated the term “fundamental attribution error”), who studies the social cognitive aspects of conflict and negotiation (among other things). The APS (Association for Psychological Science) Observer magazine covered a talk he gave at the APS convention a couple years ago.

In the article he describes “Naïve Realism,” a process where we all see our own perspective as “right,” and the perspective of others is devalued, ignored, or just not taken. Here’s one of his experimental findings:

During one experiment, Ross took Israeli created peace proposals, labeled them as Arab proposals, and showed them to Israelis.

“The Israelis liked the Palestinian proposal attributed to Israel more than they liked the Israeli proposal attributed to the Palestinians,” Ross said. “If your own proposal isn’t going to be attractive to you when it comes from the other side, what chance is there that the other side’s proposal is going to be attractive when it comes from the other side?”

So even though the Israelis understand that Palestinians see the world a certain way because they’re Palestinian, they believe being Israeli is central to understanding the issue, and that being a Palestinian blinds you to reality. (The case also holds true vice versa.)

link to the article from the APS Observer.

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Probe the Motor Cortex!

21 07 2006

Whoa — Way cool — Mind Hacks points me toward a PBS page where you can probe the motor cortex and watch the body parts move! Well, it’s crude and the dude on the table needs some sun, but you get the picture.

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The Last Podcast Episode

20 07 2006

The final episode of my Summer, 2006 General Psychology Lectures Podcast is now available. This episode covers the Rosenhan study, psychological disorders – specifically mood disorders (depression, bipolar), personality disorders (antisocial, borderline), anxiety disorders (panic, phobias, and OCD), and dissociative identity disorder. It also covers drug therapies, and psychotherapy.

Subscribe to the podcast using this link (if you have iTunes).

If you’re iTunes-deficient, subscribe to the feed using this link (although you will be missing the slides if you don’t use iTunes).

This is an enhanced podcast, so be sure to open the Artwork Viewer to see the slides and any links to internet resources.

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General Psychology Lectures Podcast Episode 15

19 07 2006

Episode 15 of my LectureCast is available, and covers the topic of abnormality and abnormal behavior. We are entering the realm of psychological disorders.

Subscribe to the podcast using this link (if you have iTunes).

If you’re iTunes-deficient, subscribe to the feed using this link (although you will be missing the slides if you don’t use iTunes).

This is an enhanced podcast, so be sure to open the Artwork Viewer to see the slides and any links to internet resources.

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Very happily announcing Episode 14 of the General Psychology Lectures podcast

13 07 2006

I’m happy to announce the exciting availability of the most recent lecture on emotion, stress, & health! It includes the psychology of emotions, specifically happiness and anger. It also includes stress: Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome, Lazarus’ ideas on stress, and health. But, I’m a bit stressed about it, as it has caused my .Mac bandwidth to be exceeded. Oh well — it’s in the service of a good cause: the edification of our world!

Subscribe to the podcast using this link (if you have iTunes).

If you’re iTunes-deficient, subscribe to the feed using this link (although you will be missing the slides if you don’t use iTunes).

This is an enhanced podcast, so be sure to open the Artwork Viewer to see the slides and any links to internet resources.

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General Psychology Podcast updated — Social Psychology

12 07 2006

The podcast for my General Psychology course has been updated. This lecture covers social psychology, especially the research of Stanley Milgram, Solomon Asch, and Leon Festinger.

Subscribe to the podcast using this link (if you have iTunes).

If you’re iTunes-deficient, subscribe to the feed using this link (although you will be missing the slides if you don’t use iTunes).

This is an enhanced podcast, so be sure to open the Artwork Viewer to see the slides and any links to internet resources.

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Déjà vu article in the NY Times

9 07 2006

Mind Hacks pointed me toward an article on deja vu from the New York Times:

The accepted scientific definition of déjà vu, put forth in 1983 by a Seattle-based psychiatrist named Vernon Neppe, is “any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of the present experience with an undefined past.” Beyond the definition, however, the scientific understanding of this “inappropriate familiarity” remains murky. Religion and parapsychology have offered their own explanations, citing déjà vu as evidence for everything from clairvoyance to past lives. Because the phenomenon is difficult if not impossible to reproduce in a laboratory, though, researchers like Moulin have traditionally had limited means to dispel the conventional wisdom.

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