Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soundtrack to my Life...

You all know this one! Basically, it is the staple of my life. I've definitely played it over a thousand times already this year, and I know I will play it thousands of times more (literally).

"Glitter in the Air" - Pink
The first time I heard this song, Pink was performing it on some music awards show. I loved the performance, but the lyrics and the song itself go together so beautifully. It's one of those songs that really makes you think and moves you..

I really like the beat of this song. It's loud and strong, and just has a great feel to it.

"I Question Mark" - Wade Robson
There's just something about this song. It's not really a true song, with real instruments, but it definitely has its own language of music. I just really enjoy the originality of it, because it's so random like I am.

"Knee Deep" - Zac Brown Band
Summer. Sunshine. Country. Home. I think of all the summers I've had: growing up, working outside, swimming, fair time, all of it. It's just one of those songs that makes you want to sit back and relax in a lawn chair on a warm summer's day, and watch the sun set.

"Shake Your Groove Thing" - Peaches and Herb
Two words: Showcase Singers. The first summer I was in Showcase we sang this song. I'm pretty sure that was the best summer of my life. I had such a great time and made SO many memories too!

"Don't Break My Heart" - B.O.B.
This is such a great change-up to Build Me Up Buttercup! It's so upbeat and fun. I just like it. A LOT! It makes me smile. :)

"People Are Crazy" - Billy Currington
I've never had a song mean so much to me as this one does... It's the only one that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. It was my teacher's favorite song, before he died in a terrible tractor accident. He was the best teacher I've ever had, and one of those people that tries to help everyone and connects with you personally. He was the "super awesome uncle" kind of guy, and he taught me so much, life lessons too. I will never forget him. RIP Mr. Polk

"On Wisconsin Finale"
Awesome. Epic. A year in band. "We never say goodbye. But, we'll see you next year!"

Monday, November 21, 2011


"...sibling shares are decreasing with birth order...children from larger families have lower levels of education and that there is an additional negative birth order effect."

Booth, A., & Kee, H. (2009). Birth order matters: The effect of family size and birth order on educational attainment. Journal of Population Economics, 22(2), 367-397. doi:10.1007/s00148-007-0181-4  

This piece explains the effect of family size and birth order on the educational attainment of children. Even though research used to write this article was obtained in Europe, I still feel that this information has relevance in the United States. This is an academic article that cites several other sources to support its research, therefore I know it is a reputable source. Also, I would use this quote in particular to explain why younger siblings struggle more than their older siblings in school. Though I would also make the claim that depending on how close in age these siblings are, the case isn't always this drastic, with my sisters and I used as an example in this.

"...birth order is influential in development because of both (a) differential investments by parents and (b) children's finding a niche in the family... the effect of birth order on personality is mediated by niche finding and differential investment."

Dunkel, C., Harbke, C., & Papini, D. (2009). Direct and indirect effects of birth order on personality and identity: Support for the null hypothesis. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 170(2), 159-75. Retrieved from 

This piece discusses the effects of birth order on personality and identity. This study was also conducted in Europe, but the information collected is valid, as results are presented along with the use of other sources to back-up the arguments. Results show that the effects of birth order are still fairly controversial because of the mixed findings, but that niche finding and differential investment mediate it. I could use this article to show that despite the results found, information is not conclusive because results from different studies conflict with each other.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley and Good Luck!

In the tenth chapter of The Psychopath Test, Ronson focuses on the impact of the DSM upon the diagnoses of mental disorders and whether or not these diagnoses are legitimate. The original publication of the DSM included few mental disorders compared to that of today. The immense volume of disorders that was added to the DSM came to be after a series of particular events. It began with the psychologist David Rosenhan, who believed that psychiatry was practically a joke. He and seven of his friends faked mental illness and were admitted to mental hospitals for treatment. The ploy was to destroy the image of psychiatry and expose the inaccuracy of diagnoses that had been performed, which Rosenhan accomplished through the publication of a book of his fake experience as a mental patient. Upon the ruin of psychiatry, Robert Spitzer volunteered to edit the DSM-III. With the role as editor, he hosted many editorial meetings in order to create the new edition of the DSM. These meetings allowed mental health professionals to come together and create new disorders with lists of symptoms, making diagnosis much easier. With so many new diseases the DSM-III was hundreds of pages longer than before!
Despite the new ease associated with diagnosing mental disorders. The question became whether or not these diseases were real, or just aspects of human behavior. A major example of this can be found in the case of Rebecca Riley. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at four years old. One night when she couldn't sleep because of a cold, her mother gave her more medication. The next morning, Rebecca was dead, from an overdose. This case caused many to question the legitimacy of the diagnoses presented as a result of the DSM, especially in the case of children.
The end. The final chapter had so much that went on in it, but I am glad that Ronson tied up all the loose ends. It's good to see that he finally realizes how dangerous the power given him through Bob Hare's checklist really is, along with the dangers involved in the many checklists of symptoms in the DSM. I'm also glad that he spoke up to Bob Hare, and told Hare his opinion of what the checklist does to people. I feel as though Ronson learned a lot through his experience of writing this book, going from the extreme of "everyone's a psychopath if they fail the checklist" to "there's a gray area in there somewhere." I totally agree with his newest ideas on psychopaths as well, particularly in the case of Tony, who wasn't crazy enough to be a mass murderer, but still crazy enough to be a "semi-psychopath" in Ronson's words. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, though I was quite surprised by who turned out to be the person that sent all the manuscripts. I was not expecting it to be Petter. That's for sure!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aiming a Bit High.

In chapter nine of The Psychopath Test, Ronson focuses on the ways in which the wrong diagnosis of a person's mental state can turn out so wrongly. He begins by meeting with Bob Hare at Heathrow. During his visit, the two discuss the psychopath checklist and Ronson questions Hare as to whether or not Hare believes his checklist is dangerous in the hands of the wrong person.
With this new curiosity as to the dangerous/misleading aspect of the checklist Ronson meets with Paul Britton. Britton is (or was) a criminal profiler, known to track down the worst of the worst, until his failure in the case of Robert Napper and Colin Stagg and the murder of a young woman. In this case, Britton and his team deceived Stagg, the innocent man, into revealing a side of himself which really wasn't him. Their undercover agent wrote sexually violent letters to Colin, trying to get him to confess to the murder of the young girl. He would not, as he hadn't committed the crime in the first place. They ended up creating a honey trap, only seeing what they wanted to see, and not the truth, and arresting Stagg. Colin then spent months in custody while Napper remained free to kill again, but this time a mother and her daughter.
In further discussion with Ronson, Britton goes on to say that Robert Napper was at the scene of the crime and Colin Stagg was not. However, both had been at the park, which Britton objects to saying, they weren't there at the same time. From this, you can see how even though Britton was wrong in his diagnosis, he like so many others will not admit their wrong doing.
This week's reading was filled with intriguing information to me. Chapter eight, where the discussion of conspiracy theorists, particularly how far Dave Shayler went because "he was right," amazed me. I never realized how big of a problem and profound an impact they had on society. It's heartbreaking that Rachel Nickell's entire life was destroyed by the bombing, and then to have people say she isn't real and not believe her story when she witnessed it?! That's so sad. Ronson's epiphany as to how much the media and exploitation of those crazier than us is utilized to make us feel better about ourselves is so true too. I'd never thought about that before. In this reading I was surprised to see that Ronson was actually truly questioning the fact of the danger of amateur psychopath profilers. He even asks Hare! This is key too, because of the way in which the false accusation of Colin Stagg led to more disaster and the death of others. Ronson is starting to see the picture from all sides now, I believe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Something Borrowed

          In Gladwell’s, “Something Borrowed” he ponders what it means to plagiarize. The entire article revolves around the fact that a piece of work written by himself and Dorothy Lewis had been used by the playwright Bryony Lavery in order to create her play “Frozen.” Lavery used hundreds of similarly worded phrases and occurrences from the lives and work of both Gladwell and Lewis to portray her story. She defends herself to Gladwell saying that she didn’t know she couldn’t use the information so closely because she thought it was news. In contrast, Lavery used information on Marian Partington, to whom she gave much credit because she was using Partington’s experiences so regularly. In further exploration of plagiarism, Gladwell speaks with his lawyer and they discuss many cases of plagiarism in the music industry. Gladwell seems to come to the conclusion that plagiarism causes more distress when it takes personal experiences and uses them without credit, though he isn’t very clear on what he actually believes.
          This piece of work was very eye-opening to me. I didn’t realize how much of an effect that plagiarism could have on a person, though it does make sense and I believe I would have a very similar reaction if someone were to take my personal experiences and use them without my permission. It’s just unfortunate that the situation occurred the way in which it did. Since, I feel like Lavery had no idea she was actually plagiarizing Gladwell and Lewis. She was so remorseful for what she had done and she had given Partington so much credit, I find it hard to believe she would purposefully plagiarize anyone else.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Right Sort of Madness

At this point in The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson is questioned why he is pursuing this project and, as a result, he begins to question himself as well. The uncertainty Ronson feels originates from a conversation with his friend Adam Curtis. In this conversation, Curtis begins to criticize Ronson’s work; saying that all Ronson is doing is weaving fragments of stories together into a single story. In fact, that is what all journalists do in Curtis’s mind; they wait for the ‘gems’ which turn out to be the ‘madness.’ In response to this, Ronson wonders if some journalists go about the interviewing process in the opposite way, through the use of personally created systems that identify the best interviewees. It is through his research of this question he learns about Charlotte Scott.  In her job as a guest booker for television programs such as, Jerry Springer, Trisha, and Jeremy Kyle, she had to learn how to distance herself from the sadness in the lives of potential interviewees for the show. Throughout her time working at these shows, Charlotte also devised a system in which she would look at the medical history of possible interviewees to determine whether or not they would make good shows. She would choose people who were only slightly depressed, on a drug like Prozac, to ensure that they weren’t mad enough to kill themselves or others or not mad enough and would be boring on the show. Despite her system though, she tells Ronson of a time where it failed and almost ended up with the death of a man. The only thing Ronson takes from his conversation with Charlotte is that he hasn’t done anything as bad she has.
                Ronson’s interview with Al Dunlap was very interesting to me. The ease with which ese Dunlap fired people and the enjoyment he got out of it was disturbing though. He had no emotional attachment to the fact that firing so many people was destroying the lives of those people; especially in the case of Shubuta, Mississippi, where the entire Sunbeam plant was shut down, systematically ‘killing’ the town. With this in mind, I was not surprised that he possessed many of the qualities of a psychopath from Bob Hare’s Psychopath Checklist. Then, later on in the book, I was very intrigued by Ronson’s interview with Charlotte Scott. I had no idea that people with her type of job sorted out ‘good interviewees’ in that way. It’s very interesting to me that something as simple as the type of medication a person takes could affect the way they would react to a show like Jerry Springer. However, I am glad that it worked effectively so that very few people were negatively affected by their experience on the shows.  However, it did surprise me that the only thing Ronson took away from his interview with Charlotte was that at least he hadn’t done anything as bad as what she had. I’m not sure if I agree with this statement entirely. Yes, he didn’t publicly ‘humiliate’ the people he interviews, yet he did publish an entire book about the psychopaths he interviewed, for the general public to read. How is that not similar to what Charlotte did?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birth Order Effects?

Does birth order have an effect on the behavior of children when it comes to academics, behavioral problems, creativity, etc.?

To many people this question would seem irrelevant, though coming from a family with multiple children I can see the differences between each of us. This observation has led me to wonder how much birth order really does affect the behavior of children, both growing up and in their lives in general. This question also intrigues me greatly, since I haven’t heard much information about it and would like to learn more. Depending on the results I find, I may want to focus my paper on one area of affected behavior, if it goes into great detail; otherwise I believe that a general exploration of such affects would still provide great information to the uninformed, including myself. In addition to the types of behavior affected by birth order, I may want to explore the difference that gender makes too. For example, how being the second son or third daughter affects the child, if such information exists.

I’m not sure how much information I would be able to find on this subject, since it doesn’t seem thoroughly explored. However, I would just begin with anything I can get about the effects of birth order. I know there have to be at least some, as I’ve seen it happen in my family and others as well. I’m just very excited to see how this all fits together. Hopefully it will help explain some of the reasons my sisters are the way they are, as well as myself.