I would like to consider myself a healthy individual with good eating & exercise habits. A habit I also include in my daily routine is taking a multivitamin. Since I was in elementary school, I heard how important it is to "take your vitamins". In 2010, over 110 million Americans spent over 28 billion dollars on supplements & multivitamins. However, is taking a multivitamin as beneficial as we think it is? 
Many people believe that taking a multivitamin will make up for the nutrition they miss out on due to their eating habits. Also, people are will to pay top dollar for these multivitamins.An article published in the Huffington Post talks about the issue & has answers. according to The U.S. Preventive Services task force, taking a multivitamin is neither advised or not recommended in order to prevent cancer. Also, that taking the top of the line multivitamin is unnecessary, and that the average, basic brand will work the same. 
I'm sure there are plenty of questions still to be answered about the exact effects of a daily multivitamin. It makes you wonder though, "What exactly am I putting into my body when I take these things?"

It is a habit that millions of Americans are committed to every day. In fact, some people claim that they need coffee to function on a daily basis. I even quote one of my friends on social network saying "don't consider me useful to society until I have coffee." Personally, I do not find myself needing coffee to function daily. However, there are people who drink up to 6 or more cups of coffee today. That makes you ask, "Is drinking coffee good or bad for your health?"

Coffee is actually a very unique drink, that consist of hundreds of different compounds. With so many compounds, it is difficult to say if it is good or bad for you. Some of these compounds can be beneficial to your health, while others can be not so beneficial. Some research over the year has shown that coffee drinking is beneficial. Some of the benefits may include protection against diabetes, Parkinson's disease, & liver disease. However, in order to be confirmed, these results will need to be studies further. If coffee is affecting your sleeping patterns or emotions, chances are you are consuming too much of it. Also, the article states that research is typically based on a typical 8-ounce cup of with little or no milk or sugar. If you are loading your coffee with a lot of sugar & cream, that could add to your daily calorie intake, which could eventually lead to gaining weight. 

Good news for coffee drinkers, a study conducted by Harvard found that there was no relationship between coffee drinking and increased death risk.

Therefore, coffee can definitely have its pros & cons like anything else we put in our body. It is my no means urgent to stop, or start, coffee consumption immediately in order to be healthy. 

"I will just study the night before and i'll be fine." Being a busy college student, I am 100 percent guilty of cramming for an exam. Sitting at my laptop from night time up until the time of the exam the next day. At times it has worked for me, and other times, not so well. It made me wonder, is there a science behind whether or not cramming for an exam is actually affective. A new research conducted at UCLA sums up to answer in a few words, "don't bother."

Yes, you may think that you are being extremely productive studying all those consecutive hours. However, when all is said and done, you are actually being counterproductive. When a student sacrifices valuable sleep time in order to binge study, they are more likely to be like productive academically the next day. Andrew J. Fuligni, the senior author of the study, states that a proper amount of sleep is equally important for academic success. The most efficient way to study is to abide a schedule. 

Although it sounds extremely difficult considering we all live busy lives, it is important that we make room for adequate sleep and study time. Will I ever pull an all-nighter cramming for an exam again? I would be lying to you if I said "no". However, it is very eye opening on how counterproductive cramming for exams can be. 

I am by no means a gym rat. I do try to make it a point of emphasis to make it to the gym 5 to 6 times a week. However, if I have something more important to take care of, I am willing to sacrifice my fitness time. Many people believe that spending countless hours in the gym is the key to being healthy. Is that actually as healthy as people think it is? New studies reviled that too much time in the gym can be just as unhealthy as not working out at all. 

The research suggested that teens who over do it in the fitness centers are as vulnerable to low self-esteem and stress as those who do not make exercising a priority at all. This is not suggestion that regular exercise is not a good thing. In fact, regular exercise has many positive traits. These include positive impacts on mental & physical health. The research, which was published in the British Medical journal, examines more thank 1,2000 16 to 20 year-olds. They found that teens who exercised 14 hours a week had the greatest physical & mental health benefits (14 hours a week is twice the recommended). It was the teens who did 17.5 and above hours of exercise a week who saw the negative affects. The study found that only 5 percent of the teens examined fell under this category. 

Therefore, it is important for you to get regular exercise. However, don't over work yourself. Us college students have enough stuff to stress about on a daily basis. The last think we need is something as enjoyable as a good workout to stress us out!

Once the weekend hits, there is absolutely nothing better than sleeping your days away after a busy week. It can't be that bad right? I'm sure we have all been told that sleep is very important for our health and well being. According to the article on CNN.com , the average human being sleep 33% of their life. The question that arises now, "exactly how much sleep is too much sleep?"

The verdict that has been reached is that too much sleep can be bad for your health. Many factors go into how much sleep an individual needs. Your current age, health & level of activity throughout the day contribute to how much sleep you actually need. There is times in our lives when our body needs more than the average 7 to 9 hours of recommended sleep. For example, if someone is recovering from being sick, their body may require more rest time. However, oversleeping has been associated with some serious health issues. These health issues include kidney & liver disease, depression & dementia. 

Moral of the story, like anything else, sleep is good, but can also be bad if over done. Just because you can stay up really late & also sleep in really late, doesn't make it is a good thing to regularly do. Think about this next time you are thinking about hitting that snooze button for a couple of extra hours on the weekend. 


Sweet & simple - walking.

As college students, we find ourselves busy with trying to get school work done & keep up with our social lives, all while trying to maintain a healthy sleep & exercise routine. Sounds impossible, right? Sometimes you will find yourself picking & choosing which to do on a daily basis. However, there is a simple thing you could be doing daily that has substantial health benefits - walking. Yes, walking is one of the most effective exercises. 

Walking is very simple, yet very good for your heart & lungs. Dr Craig Williams believes that "It is good for bones & improves the body's cardiovascular system". Also, because walking is a low intensity cardiovascular exercise, it does not present a high risk for injury. Believe it or not, walking is better for the spinal discs than running, since it puts less pressure on it. Of course you also need to maintain a healthy diet & other exercise routines in order for the benefits of walking to be 100% affective.  

It's hard to believe that something as simple as walking can have so many benefits. It is said that we are recommended to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you walk regularly, you should have no problem meeting the minimum requirement. Just think about how much us Penn Staters walk every day. Next time you can't make it to the gym due to school work or whatever else, just remember that walking can be a healthy & beneficial alternative. 


Today as I was walking back class I overheard a conversation between a girl and her mother on the phone. The girl was whining that her mother had decided to buy her a new computer for school, instead of an iPad for Christmas. This led me to realize what many Americans have already realized: we've really lost the true meaning of Christmas.


The original reason Christians celebrated Christmas was because of the birth of Jesus Christ, whom they believe to be the savior. After Jesus's birth the wise men brought gifts to the manger where Jesus was born. You're probably wondering a fat, jolly man in a red suit came into the equation? Well, the legend of Saint Nicholas states that Saint Nicholas was a very rich and giving man who knew of a poor family with three daughters who could not afford to get married, so Saint Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down their chimney. Then there is also the story that some countries in Europe and Scandivia originally celebrated Christmas around the time of the winter solstice (darkest point of the year) to bring some light into the darkness. These are three really different explanations for celebrating Christmas neither of which anyone really seems to remember anymore. Somehow the magic of Jesus's birth, the kindness of Saint Nicholas, and the light on the darkest day of the year have morphed into a holiday that revolves around arguments over how nice the gift you get is. Christmas has truly become entirely about materialism.


Some people might say why is materialism around Christmas really relevant, the sad part is that the materialism displayed at Christmas seems to be perpetuating all aspects of our society. Today people put more value on the money they make and not enjoying their job, what you wear is more important than what you think, and money can buy anything or anyone. I suspect gained our greediness and materialism right around the time we fogged up the meaning of Christmas. While stopping the materialism around Christmas may not stop the materialism we see all over society, Christmas definitely contributes to the materialism we see everywhere today.

Most people believe that stuffed animals are only for children but I completely disagree to be honest. Luckily for me, thanks to 35% of British adults, I'm not alone. Studies show that 35% of adults in Britain still sleep with a teddy bear for the purposes for de-stressing while they sleep! In their efforts to re-unite past customers with their lost teddy bears, a hotel chain, Travelodge, noticed that many of the teddy bears they were returning belonged to adults and not small children! After making this funny observation, they surveyed about 6,000 adults to find out what their reasons were behind still using a stuffed animal. Their findings were also just as funny.

As it turns out, about 25% of the male respondents will take their teddy bears with them while they're away on business (or vacation like this guy). It's comforting for them, even reminds them of home and plus, " ...a cuddle helps them to nod off." Fifty- one percent of British adults still have a teddy bear from their childhood and the study also found that the average teddy bear is 27 years old! One in ten single men admitted to hiding their stuffed animals when their girlfriends come over and about 14% of married men hide theirs when friends and family come over!

adult with teddy.jpg

Among other pro- adult teddy bear loving responses that responsdents gave, it's easy to see that in Great Britain at least, adults having teddy bears is quite acceptable! It's quite refreshing that this study was able to test Britons' level of tolerance towards adults with teddies. However, to take the study even further, it would have been awesome to see them expand on their statement that people use their bears to de-stress while they sleep. Testing stress levels of adults of varying ages who still sleep with stuffed animals and comparing them to the stress levels of adults of the same age would be an interesting start to finding out if there really is a true benefit to hanging on to your stuffed animal later in your life. Or is it all just imagined and a stuffed animal doesn't really do much else but provide something soft for us share our bed with? Also, it would be interesting to compare Britons' level of tolerance towards adults with stuffed animals to that of Americans'! I get the feeling that in America, the number of men who carry their stuffed animals away on vacation or business would be much lower than 25%. How much of a difference can be expected when we compare stuffed animal tolerance across cultures?


Many of you have most likely seen Luminosity commercials or heard about it's efficacy. It claims to train your brain using the power of neuroscience and neuroplasticity! How scientific sounding is that?! But are they just using buzzwords or is this legit?

Designed by neuroscientists.PNG

Still sounds pretty convincing. Start their training and they'll give you an insight into how they will train your brain to be better and smarter.

in a nutshell.PNG

Graph with a picture of a brain. Can't go wrong there. Science!

The real question is, does it really work? Go to www.luminosity.com and look at their portion of the science behind it. They claim to have published many papers and given many talks on the project. But that's from the website itself, of course they're not going to say it's a scam. Well a third party study was done on these brain games and Dr. Shelli Kessler has led a study at Stanford to try and prove whether or not these do work.

Her experimental group played the Luminosity game four times a week for 12 weeks. The results before and after the 12 weeks showed they improved on "word finding, executive functioning, and processing speed" over a control group.  However this study had flaws, as it depended on self-report for a few measures.

Two more studies gave conflicting results. Professor Susan Jaeggi led a study that showed positive results of brain training game, while a Georgia tech study found no such effect on it's participants. There is new research coming out that says that playing video games in one area can improve cognition in that area. But for how long? Do you have to constantly play these games to maintain that level of cognition? And are the Luminosity games the best ones for your brain? These questions are still being debated by scientists right now.

I did the free trial myself and this is what Luminosity claimed it could do for me:

How it will help me.PNG

But what do those numbers MEAN?! I'll be 92% better at spotting birds and remembering tiles (two games the trails had me do)? Or will I score better on my completely unrelated biology test? I don't know about other people that see these ads but it really does seem like a sensationalist scam.





Why are my Chips Stale?


            I do not think there is one person in this class that has not eaten a stale chip. I know I will look in the cabinet, reach in for a snack, grab a chip bag down, and when I bite in the chip has a stale taste I'm wicked disappointed. The word stale has been in my vocabulary for as long as I can remember; I have just accepted it, but truly I have no idea why chips go stale in the air and not in the bag that they are in. There is air in the bag isn't there?


            Well the answer is: Nitrogen. The article I said pointed out that if you think of feeling a chip bag, you think of it feeling inflated, similarly to a balloon. This is because chip bags are actually not filled with air but nitrogen gas! The nitrogen gas is actually what keeps the chips from going stale. Oxygen cannot do the trick because it is very reactive and when it is combined with other molecules it can cause chemical reactions. Nitrogen is the opposite being very stable and unreactive. When a food reacts with oxygen it is said to oxidize quickly and these nitrogen atmospheres can prevent that from happening. Something that should be mentioned though is that air is not just oxygen but actually 78% nitrogen gas! So don't worry opening those chips, nitrogen gas is all around us.





The short answer to this question is sometimes, but the real story is the effect that traumatic events can have in a baby's development. To start off I'd like to define what constitutes a traumatic event; traumatic events include, but are not limited to: car accidents, natural disasters, sudden illness, death in the family, abuse/neglect, terrorism or witnessing violence. If an adult were to experience any of these events it would have a traumatic impact on their life and for babies the effect of traumatic events is often magnified.


Experiencing traumatic events before the age of 3 can cause physical and emotional developmental problems in babies. Babies who witness traumatic events often experience issues with mobility and managing or developing emotions. If the traumatic event was witnessing a family member dying or losing a primary caregiver to divorce, babies are more likely to have issues developing relationships and have separation anxiety. Further, in the first few months of a baby's life they are especially sensitive to arguments between parents or issues with caregivers and they often feel like they caused the event because they don't fully understand it. Traumatic events frequently lead to physical and emotional developmental problems in babies.


A major issue for babies who witness or experience traumatic events is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Babies will re-experience the trauma they suffered when they are older through dreams, sounds, smells, or sights. This can lead to issues sleeping, increased anxiety or irritability. However, what is really significant about the PTSD that babies experience it that when they are older they are more likely to remember the traumatic event that happened, than the good events that took place in their childhood.


While traumatic events hinder the physical and emotional development of a baby, they also cause a serious disorder, PTSD. However the question still remains can children actually remember traumatic events that occurred when they were babies? The answer to this depends on the child and how developed they are. For children who are a little older and more developed(around 6) they are likely to remember the actual event, while babies who are only a few months old are likely to experience more negative development effects, but do not remember the actual event. Scientists have determined that there is not a specific age at which children remember or don't remember traumatic events, because every child responds to traumatic events differently and develops at different ages. 




Emotion in Color

| 1 Comment

We all know that we normally wear dark colors to funerals and bright colors to weddings, but why? What is it about colors that communicate a message to others? Colors are such an important part of our world and society, from marketing campaigns to clothes to cars, it seems like colors are a major selling point wherever you go.


Red signifies power, passion, love, war, energy, and intensity. It is a very emotionally intense color which rises heart rate and metabolism. It has a high visibility and it found in many national flags. It is widely used to promote warning signs, energy drinks, and passionate love.

Orange combines the energy of red with the happiness of yellow, creating joy, happiness, and creativity. It gives the impression of heat without being as intense as red. It stimulates appetite and is associated with healthy foods. It is often used for promoting toys and food products. You will find it on many restaurant logos.

Yellow is also associated with energy, as well as intellect and happiness. It generates muscle activity and brain stimulation. You should avoid using yellow if you want to communicate stability and safety. Yellow is used most often on leisure items and children's products.

Green says freshness, fertility, and natural. Lighter greens make you feel safe, and dark green is often associated with money and wealth. It is the most restful color to the human eye. You should use green for medicine packaging since it is a "safe" color.

Blue is the color of depth and stability, like the sky and ocean. It slows the metabolism and calms you down. It is a masculine color, deeply accepted among males. Avoid using blue to promote food, because it suppresses appetite. However, you should use blue for travel, cleanliness, or a high tech product.

Purple is the recognized color of royalty, power, and luxury. Purple is better for women's designs.

Black symbolizes power, mystery, and evil. It denotes strength and authority, and also the unknown. It gives the feeling of perspective and depth, and can make you look thinner. Combined with more powerful colors, it mixes to be a great color scheme.

White is the symbol for light, pure, innocence, and virginity. These are all reasons that a traditional wedding dress is white. It is considered to be the color of perfection. It should be used to promote clean or pure products. It would be appropriate to use with medical products, salons, dairy products, and low-fat foods.


So, you can tell a lot about someone depending on the colors they choose to wear, and you can also use colors to your advantage to communicate subtle messages or make other people feel a certain way toward you. It's all in the eyes!


The Fight


Despite the incredibly advanced society that we live in with treatment for almost all of the threat posing illnesses, much of the world is not as fortunate and is victim to diseases treatable in other areas of the world.  It seems that people are as philanthropic as ever and are looking to solve the world's problems of hunger and disease. The world's donor countries have raise $12 billion over the past three years for the treatment of AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria.

I feel that country to country to aid is important. If one country has excess, while another is still in development (which is obviously always the situation) then the able country, barring any major misunderstanding or conflict between the countries, should provide aid in any way possible. Nowadays there are major donating foundations. At the same time, there are a select few of extremely wealthy people that are charitable. Bill gates is one of the more humanitarian and charitably active people. In 2007, Bill Gates set an initiative to completely eliminate malaria by donating $4 billion a year for the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria. In recent years, global aid has been helpful. With the help of more widespread insecticide nets, sprays and drugs, malaria deaths have dropped to about 650,000 per year compared to one million in prior years. 

Charitable donations will hopefully continue to grow in future years. Selfishness with money is not an option; money funds research which is the ultimate answer to the worlds problems. In the meantime, money has its uses and makes the distribution of medicine and preventives readily available to those in need. Global Medical Brigades and Doctors Across Borders are examples of the many foundations that are committed to aiding through action as opposed to monitory donations. 


            With the impossible standards girls feel the need to live up to and the growing rate of obesity, everyone is constantly looking for the next big thing to help weight loss.  I have heard people say before that green tea is good for weight loss and have seen it being sold in stores like GNC, but never saw any evidence backing up everyone's claims. 

            Researchers of Penn State in the College of Agricultural Sciences experimented on mice the effects green tea would have on their weight gain patterns while also having a high-fat diet.  Mice fed the compound found in green tea (EGCG) had 45 percent slower weight gain than the control group who had a high fat diet without the green tea compound.  They also concluded that the mice fed the green tea supplement showed a 30 percent increase in lipids that suggest the tea limits the body's ability to absorb fat, making it enhance the ability to use the fat instead of storing it (1).  A problem that could have altered these findings is how relatable they are to humans.  They stated a person would need ten cups of green tea daily to intake the amount the mice used in the study.  They also only focused on already obese figures; resulting in little legitimate evidence on the effects green tea could have on people who are a healthy weight.

            In a second study, they said green tea didn't only slow down weight gain in mice, but reduced their weight by 49%.  They also claimed that the rats injected with green tea extract daily showed a loss of appetite and reduced their food intake by 60 percent after a week.  This alone led to a 21 percent weight loss in the rats.  They gone on with stating the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed green tea increased metabolism by 4 percent.  They claim adding 3-5 cups of green tea a day can help drop extra pounds and give people the energy they need to want to exercise.

            This second study was trying to prove it would increase weight loss, but consisted of many flaws and has been put beside a much better study method stating it does not increase weight loss, but slows down weight gain.  The first study consists of a control group and a group being tested with the green tea extract.  They also informed us of how much extract the mice were receiving and the amount that would be equivalent to for a person to take.  The second study never even mentions having a control group.  They also never claim how much extract is being injected which could result in exaggerated results.  By not having a control group in the second study, it makes it nearly impossible to say they have made a legitimate claim with so many possible third variables.  One third variable they mentioned they didn't even take into consideration for the significant weight loss in the mice.  They said after a week they were only eating 40 percent as much food as they were before the extract was being injected.  The tea could have kept their metabolism constant (not necessarily raising it) when the body's natural functions would quickly slow down the metabolism on it's own if someone were to take in less than half of what they use to ate.  If humans were also given this unknown amount of tea extract, it looks as though it could give them possible eating disorders, rather than healthily improve weight loss.  Since the first study found no signs of loss of appetite and stated their amounts were equivalent to ten cups of tea a day, the second study could be related to a fad diet, which is extremely harmful to the body.  Taking in well over ten cups of tea a day and eating less than half of what you use to?  Doesn't really sound like a healthy way to lose weight when you put their findings into perspective. 



    (1)  http://news.psu.edu/story/154848/2011/10/04/green-tea-helps-mice-keep-extra-pounds

    (2)  http://www.greenteabase.com/green-tea-benefits-weight-loss/

    (3)  http://www.myessentia.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/green-tea.jpg

    (4)   http://a57.foxnews.com/global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/Health/2009/July/660/371/640_skinny_fat_jeans.jpg?ve=1 

Paying the Price

| 1 Comment

I have noticed and many would agree that global warming is an increasingly debated topic. It is becoming more apparent that the government is taking it seriously by the amount of regulatory legislation being passed. To my satisfaction, climate-related carbon taxes are being imposed on some of the countries biggest oil corporations such as ExxonMobil- the most profitable corporation in the nation.

I am an advocate of natural gas because of the fact that it emits the least amount of carbon of the nonrenewable resources and I support the passage of this legislation. Oil companies are now inadvertently forced to switch over to the natural gas business to avoid paying the carbon tax. I am also supportive of the policies focus on consumers. As a result of the tax, the price of oil based products, mainly gasoline, are going to spike deterring consumers from purchasing the product. I do not think there is a more effective way to regulate carbon pollution then this. The thing that motivates these corporations to carelessly reek havoc on the environment is the exact thing to target in efforts to stop them. Money.

In this day and age, climate change is a reality and we are well aware of who the culprit is. It should no longer be acceptable for greedy corporations to suck up money from the ground with no regard for the toll that these activities are taking on the environment. Future generations are going to pay the price for our actions and the government should continue to regulate carbon emitting activities. Though companies are largely to blame, we also must admit that we are equally contributing to green house gas emissions: Every time it is a little cold in our house we turn up the thermostat as opposed to putting on a few more layers; every time we  leave a room the majority of us turn of the lights infrequently.







            I am taking the class English 181b which is an adventure lit class offered at Penn State where we venture to places that connect with what we our learning in class. Our latest field trip was to the State College sewage treatment plant, University Joint Association, where we were given a tour by the manger, Art, and spoken to about how the plant works.

            I will fully admit that I was nervous about going; I fully admit to being a girly girl and spending an hour or so touring the place where all people's waste from this area goes sounded smelly and unfortunate. Now I am not going to lie, it smelled, not unbearably, but I actually found the tour very engaging, the sewage treatment plant is actually doing many high tech things.

            The first building we ventured into was where the sewage water was being filter through these tubes (each tube worth about $1,000) that had a sort of microfiber inside of them that cleaned/strained the water that went through it. In the back of the room there is a computer set up that monitors all the machines in the plant and actually controls all of them. During our tour we were shown how they monitor how clean the tubes are, that there number on the screen when said 15 must be changed. When he was showing us the middle section was showing the number 14 so he said that meant tomorrow they would need to be changed (meaning almost $90,000 worth of new equipment would be used tomorrow). This is not all that the water goes through he said it also is it with ultraviolet light to separate the particles and previously to what we were seeing it had already been strained between solids and liquids and went through machines that used processes such as light and chlorine to separate the water (this is clear because it went from mucky brown water to clear).


            One could tell that Art was very proud of what they were doing at the plant. During the beginning of the tour he was prefacing what he was going to show us and he said that the plant is allotted 9 million gallons but due to regulation they are only allowed to dump 7 gallons into the river. They needed to figure out what to do with the rest of the of the waste they had. This is when they hired engineers to create a way to turn this waste into water that could be used to within the community. Currently the plant's water they produce is feeding the stream at the bottom of their property as well as the wetlands on their property and that's not all. The water is being used in local hotels pools and for dishes and laundry machines. He also spoke of a few other different places using their water lines for example the gold course uses their water to water the courses grass.

            Since this is before I had seen anything the plant does my first thought was I am never, ever swimming in that pool. As we went through the tour though I saw how clean this water really was getting; he even said that it is actually cleaner than the water we actually use in State College, but it is plain and simple that people just cannot get past that it is poop water and therefore do not want it to be classified as drinking water.

            When I shower or do the dishes or use the restroom to me that water and the waste I am producing was just gone. I never thought about the fact that it had to go somewhere, and that it was someone's problem to deal with. Even if I had though I now I could have never guessed how much science has gone into making our sewage benefit the environment and be safe to reuse. Art said that they even have 2 million fresh gallons of water stored in case of emergencies, such as if the fire department needed to pull water from it.

            He walked us down to the river that their water was feeding to and gallons and gallons of water was being pours into it, which opposed to the wetlands where it was almost just a constant trickle feeding into it. There plans for the future is to expand, apparently there is a stream next to IHOP that goes dry during the summer season, last year people had to save the trout in it because there was not enough water for them to survive, and they want to pipe and keep that stream active. In that direction they also want to create a wetland with their excess water; he says everything they are doing is in attempt to give back to the community and environment.

            The thing I thought that was really interesting that he was that through looking at the sewage in State College he can actually infer life at State College. He said Christmas day is the day when sewage produced is the lowest; he also said that breaks he can tell how many people left because the numbers drastically drop. Laughing he said he can even tell when it was a particularly fun night at Penn State! How weird that our sewage is telling our story!!


Black Friday shoppers are always a sight to see. With their raging emotions to grab the best deals from their competitors they spring into animalistic action. Consumers suddenly drop all of their morals and sometimes literally fight to the death for that Best Buy TV that's 500 dollars cheaper than before. But why to we do this? What sparks in our minds that make us think like acting like barbarians is okay. I believe that the important variable to consider is the environment. A scientific study on the craziness of a black Friday shopper concluded that there is a switch in our brain that is turned off when participating in these activities. "Consumers process information in two ways: high-level abstract and low-level concrete forms of thinking. With high-level abstract information processing, consumers consider things like the overall effect of the product, such as the brand value. At low-level concrete processing, however, consumers look at details such as how cheap the price is". This study was a beneficial learning for me because it aided in a psychological concept of black Friday. Our brain plays a major role in how we interpret situations and this study provided support in the hypothesis that depending on where we are and what were doing we take on a specific role. 


            Another website provided the fact from an observational survey that "44% of respondents said they'd mostly be purchasing goods for themselves on Black Friday". This fact didn't support my original thinking because I proposed that a confounding factor in our animalistic ways on black Friday is because we are hunting down gifts for our loved ones so we have a greater motivation to snag them more.

            The main purpose of these studies though is to help people learn ways into not acting like savages when partaking in Black Friday experiences. Frankly, this behavior has a domino effect; once one person cracks another does, and then so on and so on. So how do we embrace our inner classiness during these shopping rampages? One option is to know the store's promotions and their tactics to not end up in such situations. If you are aware of a stores hot deals but are also aware of equal deals that may not be as promoted you may save yourself from a fistfight in Wal-Mart! Another option is to avoid the chaos all together. Now with Cyber Monday deals arising people can stay in the comfort of their own homes while still obtaining door-busting savings. So be smart and process information on a higher level rather than lower and beware of your surroundings. 

How Does Popcorn Pop?


Although it seems like a rather elementary concept, the science behind popcorn popping is actually quite interesting. What makes this delicious treat come out of small, hard kernels?

Each popcorn kernel is special, and contains oil, water, and starch. It is surrounded by a hard outer coating that keeps it all together. When heated, the water inside wants to expand into steam, but the coating prevents it. The hot oil and steam make the starch like a gel, making it softer and more moldable.

When the popcorn reaches a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius, the pressure inside is enough to burst through the popcorn hull. It actually turns the kernel inside-out. The pressure expands the proteins and starch inside the kernel into a foam like texture.


Of all the types of corn grown all around the world, popcorn is the only one that can pop. This is because it's hull is the thinnest out of all types of corn.

Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn per year. Get popping and enjoy this scientifically delicious treat!





One time or another in your life, you have an impending task you want to get done as soon as possible and then you look at the clock, or out the window, and conclude that maybe you will have time to do this task tomorrow. Possibly you have felt like me and had so much pent up anxiety about a task that you cant possibly start now while your mind is racing and you are more concerned with what happens if you DON'T complete the task. The feeling I am referring to is the dreadful procrastination. Procrastination is the act of putting off certain tasks with the hopes of completing them at a later time. There have been speculations that procrastination could be linked with anxiety and depression.

The heartbreaking thing about procrastination is that it is a full circle disappointment. You're anxious and have little confidence starting the task. You continue to put off the task until the very last minute and when you finally complete the task, instead of a feeling of accomplishment, there are just feelings of guilt and anger for wasting so much time. 

A more scientific approach taken from Amy Spencers <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/time-management/procrastination-00000000055281/">article<a> is

"The prefrontal cortex is a newer and weaker portion of the brain. It's what allows you to integrate information and make decisions. "This is the part of the brain that really separates humans from animals, who are just controlled by stimulus," says Pychyl. The prefrontal cortex, located immediately behind the forehead (where we tap when we're trying to think, dammit, think), gets the job done. But there's nothing automatic about its function. You must kick it into gear ("I have to sit down and write this book report!"). And the moment you're not consciously engaged in a task, your limbic system takes over. You give in to what feels good--you procrastinate."

 It is possible to combat procrastination however it takes time to train your brain (not everyone is the same). There are ways to combat procrastination such as breaking up your work and engaging with those who inspire you to take action.

Have you ever found yourself unable to focus on a task at hand? Whether it's studying or cleaning your room or even finishing a text? I most certainly have. The majority of my high school career was spend gazing out windows and unseeingly staring at my notes and textbooks. 

Well, we're not to blame! An article from Phys.Org says that a new study in the field of neuroscience shows that while we have more grey matter - which is a type of neural tissue most commonly associated with intellect - our brains are less fully developed than those of mature adults. Which means, we are more like younger children than adults. Evidence from the study also suggests that the brain doesn't completely mature until the late twenties and early thirties, which is much later than what was earlier believed.


The study, conducted by the University College London (UCL) used an MRI machine to observe the brain activity of 200 participants between the ages of seven and 27. The volunteers of the study were given tasks to do, while simultaneously having to ignore distractions and perform a side task.

The results showed that the brain activity for teenagers was much more than that of the adults showing that they were unable to use their brains as efficiently as the adults were. The easily distractible nature of teenage minds was explained by the excess grey matter - which is apparently responsible for chaotic thought processes. The fact that so much is going on inside the head of a teenager leads to a waste of energy and resources leading them to have an impaired decision making and multitasking ability.

So how will this knowledge affect our lives? Considering the fact that teenagers and people in their early twenties are so easily distractible should the government possibly raise the driving age, in order to lower the number of car accidents involving teens?

Christmas Trees Cause Depression?



              Well, it's that time of the year everyone. The time where every radio station you turn on, there's Christmas music playing. Also it's the time when everybody goes out to get a Christmas tree. Every year "about 25 million Christmas trees are purchased in the United States, according to the National Christmas Tree Association." Wow, there's actually a National Christmas Tree Association, I learn something new every day. Anyway, it is very important for one to take good care of the tree so that it can stay fresh for longer and also so it doesn't become a fire hazard. Between 2006-2010, U.S Fire Departments responded to 230 fires that stared with Christmas trees with an average 4 dead, 21 injuries, and 17.3 Million dollars in property damage. More Statistics Here

              People who celebrate Christmas buy the Christmas trees to celebrate the holiday and bring a lively hood to the houses, however, how is it that some studies have proven that Christmas trees cause depression? Study Researcher Michael Schmitt of Fraser University asked participants to fill out surveys about themselves while sitting in either a nondescript room or a room with a small Christmas Tree. In this study, 30 celebrators and 22 non celebrators took part. The researchers repeated this study, this time have 19 Buddhist students, 19 Sikh students, and 47 Christian students.

              In both studies, the Christians/ Christmas celebrators felt mostly cheered by the tree, while the non-celebrators/ religious minorities felt fewer positive feelings towards the presence of the tree. This seems like the obvious response people were looking for, people that like to celebrate Christmas like Christmas trees, and vice versa. Of Course, even for Christmas lovers the holidays can be a stressful time. However, the interesting part is that both groups thought that Christmas decorations would make them happier.

              This result I don't really understand. How could religious minorities and non-celebrators be inside a room with a Christmas tree and be uncomfortable and have fewer positive feelings, but also at the same time think that decorations would make them happier? Schmitt explains that "Maybe it's a subtle effect, and they weren't really aware that the tree is affecting them."             

              This article is then concluded by explaining that positive things for some people could have a negative effects for others so one should take time to think about how their symbols could affect others.

Christmas lights are usually the catalyst to the fires, so remember to unplug lights before going to be or leaving the house. Other safety tips here.


How many of you guys celebrate Christmas and what's the best present you've gotten?


When I started lifting weights, I was always told that "you cannot overtrain your muscles" or "you can't work out the same muscle group everyday" When I heard about this I, like many others, thought it was true but had no idea why. I guess it made sense to me that your muscles need time to recover and that you need rest before your muscles are back at full strength but, looking at some of these bodybuilders, I thought to myself, "there is no way these enormous men do not workout their arms every day." So about a year ago I stumbled upon a few Youtube videos made by a former bench press champion, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHiKDa4ip_Q">C.T Fletcher</a>. Although C.T has a loud, vulgar way of saying it, lets just say he disagrees with this whole "overtraining" malarkey.


C.T believes in training his 22-inch pythons to the point of exhaustion every day in the gym. In short, this means that he goes through a full Tricep and full Bicep workout every day, on top of the other training he has scheduled for any other muscle. At first I thought he was just your typical meathead but after looking deeper into his videos, he definitely had some logic behind his claims.


He claims that "overtraining is individualized." This means that one man's workout may be too much for another and vice versa. Overtraining is only a mindset in a sense. C.T claims that if you are mentally tough and dedicated, you can see significant gains in the weight room by training to the point of exhaustion every day.


Fletcher compares <a href="http://douglasernstblog.com/2013/08/03/ct-fletcher-is-correct-over-training-is-a-myth/">overtraining in the weight room</a> to basic training for the army and triathalon training. He claims that as he was in basic training, he was pushed to the point of no return with a lot of the exercises. Although it was extremely tough, he had no choice but to do it. He said his body "adapted" to the physical strain and any given workout then had a feeling of normality.


Additionally, overtraining is often time used by Professional athletes. <a href="http://experiencelife.com/article/overtraining-myths-facts-and-fantasies/">Eric Cressey</a>co-owner of Cressey Performance, preaches that the majority of people who believe that overtraining is affecting their performance, haven't actually trained to the point where this could be possible. The human body is an amazing thing. You can push yourself way further than you think. This is proven to be true in world-class athletes. Correct me if I am wrong, but if you think you are overtraining your muscles during a workout, imagine going through a workout that Adrian Peterson goes through to prepare for a big game against the Packers. That alone is evidence that the body can be pushed to such an extent where essentially, overtraining is impossible.


Some may be skeptical about C.T's methods, but I for one, 100% endorse it. I feel like the human body can accomplish more than what we think it can, and the only way to find out is too push your limitations. It makes sense that if you consistently break down your muscles every day, they have but no choice to adapt and recover at an accelerated pace. I highly recommend checking out his videos for anyone who is big into lifting weights. They may change your entire approach in the weight room. 

Works Cited: 




The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that cigarette smoking causes 90% of lung cancers, and smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get or die from lung cancer. The relative risk seems insanely high, so I decided to research what the risk for getting lung cancer is for a non-smoker.


The American Cancer Society states that 16,000-24,000 "never smoker" Americans die of lung cancer each year. They define a "never smoker" as someone who has smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. It seems interesting that you could smoke 99 cigarettes and still be put in the same category as someone who has never touched one. This seems to be an inherent flaw in the research already, but cancer.org may have a slight bias in order to try and convince people to quit or never start smoking. Either way, these numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt.


The important thing is, if there were a separate category for lung cancer in "non-smokers" (notice the quotations), it would be in the top 10 deadliest cancers in the US. The leading causes of lung cancer in non-smokers are secondhand smoke, gas and carcinogen exposure as well as air pollution. Looking at the numbers, it is interesting to note that the American Cancer Society estimates 3,400 people die per year from secondhand smoke. I stated above that they also said 16,000 to 24,000 non-smokers die per year from lung cancer. What accounts for the other tens of thousands of deaths?


The answer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is radon gas exposure. An estimated 20,000 people per year die in the US from lung cancer caused by radon gas exposure in the workplace or elsewhere. The reason I am giving you these statistics is for perspective. According to an article from LiveScience.com, "fewer than 10 percent of lifelong smokers will get lung cancer", and you apparently are "more likely to have a condom break than get cancer from smoking".


You have to look at the facts objectively or else they can become extremely ambiguous. As you cans see, the statistics I gave in the first part of this blog would make you wonder why anybody would ever pick up a cigarette in the first place. The information from this article attempts to explain the different risks and percentages that get thrown around in the cigarette danger conversation. It is important to note that if the CDC or the American Cancer Society posted the stats on how many smokers beat lung cancer and survived, it wouldn't make for a very good anti-smoking platform.


The problem with trying to research hard data on topics like this is the amount of bias and statistical manipulation that goes on. It really does feel like walking in circles, with one pro-smoking website giving one number and an anti-smoking website giving the inverse of that. This just furthers the importance of learning the skills like we have in class so that we can become more educated in how to see through the smoke and mirrors and identify the true facts.  I am curious if anybody else can find a true, unbiased number of deaths occurring from lung cancer in smokers and non smokers. 

            We all remember that time of year as an adolescent when we had to take our standardized tests. Up to three hours of pure boredom of writing in the box provided below and always "showing all work and explaining each step". These tests seemed like a gift of torture from our government. Now as I am past that stage of my educational process I pondered what the effects of these tests are. Are they even beneficial to teachers or students? My personal hypothesis is that the null holds true and that these tests do nothing for the teachers and students. Personally I think that the remedial aspects on these test downplayed my schools curriculum. The confounding factor that the test makers didn't think about was the demographics of the schools. All of the tests across the state were the same, and yes some of the simple math topics may have been difficult for some students in some areas but in others their simplicity was a nuisance and a waste of time.


            One study disagrees with my hypothesis in saying that testing is beneficiary to schools because it increases pressure on teachers to improve their students' learning. "Fish found that apparent pressure on teachers to improve their students' test scores was influenced by a number of factors including: the degree and nature of administrator involvement, teachers' professional self-concepts, and teachers' years of teaching experience (Fish, 1988)". One important note Fish's study was that there was a confounding factor was that experienced teachers thought that inadequate test scores were caused by factors beyond their control "such as low student ability and discrepancies between the test and curriculum, than did novice teachers". I admired the variety of the observational studies. The study observed different types of teachers in various types of settings and this helped explain the confounding variables that were found.  

            But what about the effect it has on the students? I also thought that it had no effect on the students because the tests were too easy to make a student think about the testing process. Another observational study agrees with my hypothesis in saying that the tests do nothing for the benefit of the students. The study says that the important traits of learning ("Innovation, creativity and love of learning") are not enforced through these tests, so "Subjecting students to incessant drills and practice under the guise of test preparation does them few favors in the long run". The issue that I have with this notion from this study is that these matters are subject to opinion and frankly if you ask a child does a standardized test help you in your process of the love learning, many will say no simply because of the fact that many hate the tests and think they are boring.

A third finding collaborated the pros and cons of standardized test. The website stated "93% of studies on student testing, including the use of large-scale and high-stakes standardized tests, found a "positive effect" on student achievement". It showed a randomized study that also provided reasoning for students to benefit from standardized tests. As the first study stated this one alike said that students feel pressure to do well on these and gifted students in particular feel pressure to bring up scores and have frustration for these tests. With these conclusions from the study I inference that standardized tests are detrimental to the learning process of students because it doesn't allow them to enjoy learning materials with the thought in the back of their head that they are only doing this for the benefit of their teachers and school personnel.  

            With the results from all of the studies I chose to adjust my original hypothesis. Now I believe that the null hypothesis remains true in saying that standardized tests have no benefit with regards to students, but the opposite is true for teacher in which the alternative is true.




The United States is still one of few countries that continue to enforce the law of "no drinking until you are 21." Right about now, all the seniors' in High School are shaking their heads in disapproval. But honestly, why is this? I understand that the United States is trying to prevent younger audiences from participating in such debauchery, but wouldn't there be benefits of lowering the drinking age?


When I think about the age "18," I think about the privilege of being allowed to vote. If someone is old enough to legally change the way a country operates, don't you think it would be alright for them to grab a quick beer at the bar afterwards? Along with being able to buy tobacco products, driving, and voting, turning 18, in a lot of ways, symbolizes becoming an adult. My parents always told me that when you are an adult you can make your own decisions, but I guess that was not entirely true.

 A lot of times, because kids are not allowed to drink, it makes them want to do it even more. This can lead to kids drinking in unsafe environments and developing unsafe drinking habits. According to the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm">Center for Disease Control and Prevention</a> people between the age of 12 and 20 consume 11% of all alcohol drank in the United States already. If kids were taught proper, safe drinking habits, this number would be undoubtedly lower. If the drinking age were to be lowered to 18, kids could learn how to drink in regulated environments and learn the safest way to handle themselves when doing so. In my opinion, binge drinking on weekends would be greatly reduced, as would the nasty habit of drinking and driving. If kids were exposed to this privilege at a younger age, it would give them the experience they need to learn how to develop safe drinking habits. Safer drinking habits means less underage citations and happier parents.Binge drinking is also the fifth leading reason for <a href="hospital visits">http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/drunken-teenage-revelers-fifth-leading-emergency-room-visits-city-public-hospitals-article-1.1085829</a> among underage teens. If teens were taught how to practice safer drinking habits at a younger age, hospital visits would decrease as would the number of fatalities associated with binge drinking.


Not only would this <a href="http://drinkingage.procon.org/">lower drinking age</a> incur benefits for the kids, but would also benefit the United States economy. With more people in general allowed to go to bars, beer distributors, and liquor stores, an entire new demographic would appear for the owners of these establishments. They would increase profits greatly and could really have the chance to thrive in their respected markets. The tax dollars generated from this new audience could also be used to better the United States in a number of ways. For example, the government could fund more programs to teach kids the dangers of alcohol use. A good idea would be to have every 18-year-old attend a mandatory alcohol abuse class funded by the tax dollars generated by the new law. This class could inform, teach, and even frighten kids about the dangers they could encounter when partying too hard. It would cut down drinking and driving dramatically and save many lives in the process. 

The most important reason why the drinking age should be lowered to 18 years old, is because it has proven itself to work in other countries. For example, Germany's drinking age is <a href="http://www.cognac.com/15-reasons-why-drinking-age-should-be-18/">16 for beer and wine and 18 for liquor and other spirits</a>. To many people's surprise, the number of drinking and driving fatalities in Germany is significantly less than the number in the United States. An alternative method of enforcing drinking and driving laws if the drinking age were to be lowered to 18, would be to have a "no tolerance" law for drinking and driving. This means that even if you have .01 blood alcohol content, you are over the legal limit to drink and drive. This "no tolerance" law would certainly make people think twice before drinking and driving. 

Works Cited: 





Why America is so Fat


fat guy.jpg

The whole world knows at this point that <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/08/16/why-were-so-fat-whats-behind-the-latest-obesity-rates">obesity in the United States</a> is a huge problem. Fast food places are thriving, gym memberships are going unused, and physical activity in general is basically non-existent. I get that our country has been labeled as "fat" but I just did not understand how we got to this point of near disaster. This curiosity allowed me to stumble upon some interesting reasons why it wouldn't hurt Americans to occasionally mix in a salad.


One of the catalysts of this problem are the many Americans who have extremely low incomes every year. This completely limits their abilities to obtain a healthy lifestyle. For starters, healthy food has become extremely expensive to afford. Lower class Americans have to resort to eating cheap fast food because they cannot support their families and, at the same time, make sure they maintain a healthy diet.


Yet another reason why obesity is at an all time high is because Americans are very insecure about their weight and those who are not overweight, are very judgmental towards others who are. Although some Americans are able to afford gym memberships and expensive exercise equipment, they are not willing to use it if they are not in a completely comfortable environment. For example, a man could have purchased a fancy gym membership at the local LA Fitness but never attend because he is afraid of the way people will perceive him as he is working out. No one wants to be seen as the "fat guy" at the gym. It is a shame that Americans are so harsh when dealing with anything concerning looks. A man or woman who puts their inhibition behind them and takes the leap of faith to workout at a gym, should be rewarded with compliments rather than being glared at like an outcast.


Lower education levels is also a contributing factor to the obesity problem in the United States. People simply are not informed enough to realize what they are actually putting into their bodies. If people were more aware of the harm they were doing to themselves, the epidemic would decrease drastically. Schools should consider adding a mandatory health class to the curriculum for kids from years k-12 that stress the importance of eating healthy. Although this may cost a little extra, the lives saved and the knowledge gained would certainly be worth it.


<a href="http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/solving-common-obesity-problems-early.html#b">17% of 6-19 year-olds are obese in the United States</a>. This is an absolutely alarming statistic. Almost one out of every five Americas between the ages 6 and 19 years old are obese. There are many easy ways to lose that extra, unwanted poundage. First off, keep track of the foods you eat every day. If the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fats, etc. consumed surpass the suggested amount for your body weight, it is clearly time to cut back on the junk food. Do not go on crash diets or starve yourself because this will decrease your metabolism in the long run. The weight that you would lose from your crash diet would eventually come back, along with some more. A high metabolism is key to losing weight. The higher the rate that your body can burn off the calories you consume and turn those calories into fuel, the easier it will be to lose the weight. Another way is too just start walking. If you normally drive everywhere or take public transportation, consider walking to your desired endpoints. Simply moving increases your metabolism, which should be the focal point of those who desire to lose weight.


I feel like if people are made more aware of the solutions to losing weight, the United States' obesity epidemic could be a thing of the past. If less people are obese, that means that average lifespans could increase, sports would be more competitive, and maybe even being healthy would begin to become a "cool" thing.


Works Cited: 



To Run Or To Sexercise?

From September 2012 - April 2013 a rare study was conducted in the Montreal Region. Twenty-one heterosexual couples from the ages of 18-35 years were asked to engage in 40 minutes of exercise with a 5 minute warm-up and cool down, leaving 30 minutes for 65% of their maximal heart rate to be up. Each was administered a test at the beginning of the study to determine what amount of exertion on the treadmill did this for them. The couples were asked to perform 1 sexual activity per week in their homes for a month ( four sexual activities). Sexual activity was characterized by the study as the onset of foreplay, intercourse, and at least one orgasm by either the male or female. A questionnaire was filled out after each sexual activity involving how much energy output and pleasure they experienced from the sex in comparison to the treadmill.
As predicted, couples reported experiencing much more pleasure after their sexual activity than the exercise activity. Women assumed more energy output occurred for them during sexual activity than what actually did occur. The actual results somewhat surprised me. The energy expenditure for men was 101kcal (4.2 kcal/min.) and 69 kcal for women (3.1 kcal/min). This proves to be less strenuous than jogging at 8 km/h, but more strenuous than walking at 4.8 km/hr. From a very simplistic and general viewpoint, unless you are going to hit the gym and jog for thirty minutes or more, opting for sex isn't necessarily the lazier option. However, the 30 minute exercise proved to exert more energy and had greater intensity overall. On the contrary, though, men did occasionally exert more energy during the sexual activity than in the exercise activity. Also, sexual activity overall had an intensity level that represented more than 2/3rds of the treadmill exercise activity. The way I see it, sex can and has proved to be a rigorous exercise activity that can exert as much energy and burn as many calories as low to moderate intensity exercise. I find that if someone is having regular sex, they may have a health advantage over those who are not. Not only does it count as exercise but it can lower risk of heart attack, improve mood, promote well-being, improve sleep, increase chances of longevity, improve immunity, and lower mortality rates. The way I see it, everyone could benefit from some sexercise!


trinidad.pngI told myself I wasn't going to write a molly blog because it would be too predictable, but it is so popular it almost be ignore not to, so here it. This is about purity of supposedly pure drugs.

Molly is the trendiest drug right now. According to the New York TImes, it was patented by Merck pharmaceuticals in 1914, but did not start getting abused until the 1980's where it was used primarily in New York nightclubs. Molly is designed to make people happy and upbeat. It has become popular recently due to the popularity of EDM.

CNN Investigators, reported that Molly is appealing because is pure MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine), which is the active ingredient in Ecstasy. It was intended to be a medication to help with depression but the Molly sold today (or what is called Molly) is a dangerous mixture of lab created chemicals according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Either way, anything done excessively is not good in my opinion.

"You're playing Russian roulette if you take these compounds because we're seeing significant batch-to-batch variances" say deputy drug administrator Al Santos. Law officials have found completely different ingredients in the same package of molly. The main chemicals in Molly are created in China then distributed to middle men in the US who then combine it with other drugs. The worst part about it is that some of the filler drugs are drugs that are not even used for recreation, such as, plant chemicals. In other words it is not pure at all.

I do believe there is any pure drugs, even prescribed ones. The are manufactured chemical substances, so technically it cannot be pure in overall quality. This especially goes street drugs which are what are used for fun such as Molly.



Sleep is for the Weak



Over Thanksgiving break, I have been sleeping for almost 12 hours a night. I have actually done more sleeping than anything else. The universally "accepted" hours of sleep for proper function the next day is known to be 8 hours. I've noticed that when I sleep for more than 8 hours a night, I tend to be sluggish and unmotivated the next day. I've also noticed that when I sleep for 8 hours in any given night I tend to feel exactly the same, sluggish and unmotivated. But, the crazy thing is, I feel more awake and focused when I get less than 8 hours of sleep. Either I am programmed differently than everyone else in this world or this magic number of "8 hours" cannot be correct. This made me extremely curious about the subject so I tried to dig a little bit deeper.


According to the <a href="http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/howsleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need">National Sleep Foundation</a> the number of hours of sleep necessary for someone can vary. Various factors including, exercising, eating habits, and sleep consistency can all affect the amount of hours necessary for someone to sleep. This number of hours that an individual needs to sleep per night is completely variable depending on any number of these factors. This chart posted by the <a href="http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-muchsleep-do-we-really-need">National Sleep Foundation</a> shows the estimated amount of sleep time necessary separated by age group. So it looks like this 8 hours of sleep per night "mumbo jumbo" has come to be known as a thing of the past.


If one's sleep schedule can be variable, do we actually require sleep? Can we survive without sleeping if our body says "keep going?" I personally think that if we accepted tiredness as a state of mind rather than a necessity, we could sleep for shorter hours of time per night and could be way more productive as a society. Imagine the feats we could accomplish if we, as a world, cut down the amount hours of sleep per night by 5 hours. Those five hours could be used to think, generate ideas, and innovate society. It could incidentally, propel us into the future of technology.


Now, when I express the idea of decreasing the amount of sleep per night by 5 hours I am being completely hypothetical. Sleep is essential for brain function during the day along with several other key functions of living. The good thing about sleep, is that you can always make up for lost sleep. According to <a href="http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm">many studies concerning sleep and brain function</a>, if you struggle with sleeping during the week, sleeping more on the weekends can reenergize your brain allowing you to have more brain capacity come Monday morning. And more brain-power on Mondays, equals happy college students.


In short, yes we do need to sleep to live. It is a basic human function. <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-can-humans-stay">The Scientific American</a> claims that any given human being can live without sleep for around 8-10 days. But, eyesight would suffer and hallucinations would begin to occur. So yes, technically we cannot go on without sleeping at least a little bit each night. But my theory is that if everyone decreased the number of hours they sleep per night by just a little, we could accomplish many things.

Works Cited: 




Dream Weaving

| 1 Comment


Dreams can be so puzzling sometimes. Why do we dream? Why are the dreams we have so vivid sometimes, and other times so fuzzy? It is extremely mind-twisting to think about. One theory explained by <a href="http://psychology.about.com/od/statesofconsciousness/p/dream-theories.htm">Ernest Hoffman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, Mass</a> suggests that dreams occur to help us cope with trauma in the future or prepare us for an out of the ordinary situation. Basically, he is saying that dreams are a way to prepare us for things that happen every day in our lives. This is an extremely interesting theory to me. I, personally, have had several dreams that I remember so vividly because I end up experiencing a situation similar to the dream in reality. So, could dreams possibly be the reasons we experience the sensation called "Déjà vu" as well?


This theory that Ernest Hoffman has created sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation of the purpose of dreams. Dreams aren't meant to confuse you or scare you (for example Nightmares), but are actually a way of preparation. Kind of like a teacher would prepare you for a big exam, dreams prepare you for the obstacles you could/will have in the future. Everyone knows that feeling of waking up helplessly from a dream, sweating and exceedingly scared. Without experiencing that feeling of helplessness as a result of a dream, would we be able to cope with deaths in the family, nasty relationship breakups or even the feeling of getting into a terrible car accident? I believe that dreams serve a positive purpose in the course of our entire lives although, at the moment, they can be frightening or puzzling.


On the other hand, I think that the dreams that we experience that give us an overwhelming feeling of happiness or enlightenment can prepare us for the good things that happen in the course of our lives. For example, I am sure every guy out there has had many dreams/fantasies about meeting a smoking hot girl. If we didn't have that dream to give us the feeling of arousal, would we be able to deal with the situation in a calm fashion if it were to happen in real life? Or would we freeze up and become suddenly overwhelmed because we have never had that experience before? Dreams can be interpreted as a test run for real life scenarios. Everything that we desire, fear, and question can be tested in what seems like an actual situation, but actually is a figment of our imaginations.


All in all, dreams are still an incredibly vague feeling that I do not think will be properly explained in the near future. Dreams play a huge part in the development of personalities and I, for one, am thankful that I have them. Hopefully one day a detailed explanation can be given as to why they occur. Who knows, maybe dreams can give a realistic point of view of how our lives are predetermined by an outside force. Although that theory may be a bit of a stretch, it is not completely out of the question. We will never know the true meaning of dreams until they are rigorously tested and multiple hypotheses are made.

Works Cited: 


beer belly.jpg

Men, have you noticed that you have developed a "belly" after enrolling in college? If you have not already figured it out, it most likely is what people refer to as a "beer belly." These beer bellies are extremely common in men who drink heavily and frequently. Contrary to popular belief, beer bellies are not just as a result of drinking the calories from the alcoholic beverage, but also from the greasy food that your body craves after drinking the alcohol. For example, everyone tends to get the post <a href="http://rebelhealth.blogspot.com/2008/06/why-does-alcohol-make-you-hungry.html">midnight munchies</a> after a long night of drinking and let's be honest, you are definitely not going to sit down to a healthy meal, but rather engorge your face in crunchy gordida supremes at Taco Bell. Alcohol actually drastically raises insulin levels in your body, sending the message "I need a greasy, hardy meal" to your brain. As a result of the increase of insulin levels, blood sugar levels drastically decrease as well, causing the hunger. Alcohol completely dehydrates your body. It can cause you to pee frequently throughout any given night which will decrease <a href="http://paleohacks.com/questions/172391/why-do-i-get-so-fcking-hungry-when-i-drink-booze.html#axzz2mLHVn9zN"> sodium levels </a>. So, the salty food that you crave (and usually devour) is an attempt by your body to replenish sodium levels. After sodium levels are somewhat replenished by the salty foods, a deep sleep usually follows.


So now we know that the calories from the food we consume while drinking is a contributing factor to the beer belly. The question still stands though, why does the fat for men tend to accumulate in the belly area? Men, most of the time, store the majority of their fat in their midsections. According to WebMD, <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-truth-about-beer-and-your-belly"> "Because men have less subcutaneous fat, they store more in their bellies."</a>. Women on the other hand, tend to store their fat in other places around the body like the butt and thighs (which I might add is equally unattractive). The sad truth is that this accumulation of fat around the midsection is not going to get any easier to keep away. The older you get, the more likely your body is to store fat in the waistline area. Beer bellies will continue to be a likely "girl repellent" for years to come unless you can figure out a way to minimize the damage.


I actually believe it is extremely possible to avoid getting a beer belly. For starters, try to exercise at least 5 times a week. This will speed up your metabolism enough so your body has a chance to burn off the many calories associated with alcoholic drinks. Also, try to cut back on the drunk eating because you are most likely not going to remember eating it anyway. Try leaving an apple, or any other healthy alternative, on your bed before you go out. This will remind you to choose your snacks wisely when returning from a night of partying.


Beer bellies can be avoided. So please, men, do not lose hope. 

Works Cited:




I am one of the few people who can say that they have never seen an original Disney movie. Did your jaw drop just like many of the other people I tell this to? Now you're confused and you want to know what I mean by "original" because clearly I MUST have seen the Lion King, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Peter Pan, Snow White and if not those then Tangled. Well you may have to sit down because no I have not seen any of those movies. My mom hates cartoons, always has, and when my older sister was born she sucked it up and tried showing them to her. According to my mom my older sister hated them and would cry, so she got what she wanted anyway which meant not watching cartoons. When I was born two and half years later my sister's hatred for cartoon had not changed (she's twenty two and still hates them) so there was no reason to show them to me.

People always ask me how is it possible that I have never been exposed to any of the movies and that's the thing I have been exposed to them. I can look at a character (for the most part) and tell someone which movie that character is from, but I cannot name the dwarfs from Snow White for the life of me. I mean it is funny because now that I am older and I hear all the ways Disney movies are actually bad for children to watch I am glad the way I grew up. I think that people who grew up with the movies cannot admit that they can do harm, but I get to have an outsiders view which is pretty unique.

It is easy to find sites that can point out bad things about Disney movies. Still in denial that Disney movies are bad because I will list some things that kids observe from them:

·      Importance of social status

·      Historical Inaccuracies

·      Beauty is thinness

·      Sexual harassment is acceptable

·      Ugly is immoral

·      Beauty is moral

·      Gender stereotypes 

Above are just a few examples that overlapped on multiple sites. Since I never watched Disney movies though I am more curious about what I could have missed from not watching them. In the article Disney Princesses Have Mixed Effects on Children it summarizes Sarah Coyne's findings from her research on the topic at hand. Coyne, inspired by her 3 year old daughter, predicted with her research team that, "higher levels of Disney princess exposure would lead to more female gender stereotyping, higher levels of pro-social behavior, worse body image and lower aggression." 


The study took three preschools, three hundred and seven kinds total, and tested them as well as their teachers and parents trying to understand as much as they could the child's tendency and exposure to Disney culture. A strange result occurred, everything matched the teams' hypothesis except their assumption about body image. Those more exposed to princess lifestyle most were actually more likely to have better body image. The data had definitely shown that the negative of producing gender stereotyping but the positives were pro-social behaviors and better body image as well as lower aggression.

What I found was interesting was Coyne's comments on how when speaking to the children about Disney princesses they are very real to the kids. This realization of hers is exactly why I think when those kids, who almost think a Disney characters like real people from their past, are not inclined to believe that Disney can be bad. Coyne's recommendation is to watch princess shows in moderation, there are positive effects she states but the negatives are there to and in order to reduce them moderation is key.

            A comment on an observation Coyne made in the article had me thinking there may have been a flaw in the study. She said that kids who watched princess movies seemed to be kinder; I then thought of the fact that she never spoke of splitting up genders in this study, which I would be curious to see their groupings they made off of their observations of who watched princess movies because I'm assuming it would be split majority boys versus girls. If this is true boys and girls have very different aggression/social behaviors at that age and therefore their findings could have been more because of gender than princesses influences. 


Walking into class with your hair disheveled and school supplies in havoc. Another night of little sleep and your body is punishing you for it. However, are you not the one to blame? Studies show that "social ties" may be the culprit behind your lack of sleep. 

Conducted at the University of Cincinnati, researchers wanted to discover the real reason behind teenager's sleep deprivation. Their hypothesis: social ties affect teenager's sleeping habits.  Therefore our null hypothesis: social ties have no affect on teenager's sleeping habits. Scientists sought answers by gathering a group of 1,000 teens ranging from the ages 12-15 of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The study measured each individual teen's cognitive, physical and social development-yet primarily focused on their sleep record as well. 

What they found was appalling. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need a total of 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night (Teens and Sleep,National Sleep Foundation). Scientists measured teens between the ages 12-15 were getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night. 

So where does this apply to the teen's social ties? In search of the reason behind teenager's decline in sleep, researchers found that their relationship with parents and peers is the contributing factor to their lack of sleep. Scientists concluded that teen's with parents who strictly observe how late they stay up, get better hours of sleep. Teens who also get the appropriate hours of sleep were ones who cared about their school work and had friends who did as well. Researchers wrapped up their field of study with one last piece of advise, "Having strong social networks of people who are positive and have good social habits themselves may encourage traits like getting to bed on time" (Sifferlin,TIME). 

However, where was this conclusion derived from? The article in TIME lacked to include any results or tests that led researchers to believe that social ties were the reason behind teen's tired bodies. The study at Cincinnati was clearly Observational, and found its results from the record log kept by the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. I do understand that it may be hard to make this field of study experimental, however I think a survey created by the researchers themselves and distributed among teens may be more affective.

Researchers accepted their hypothesis that social ties affect teenager's sleeping habits. However, I don't know if I can do the same. Results would be more convincing if they were taken from multiple fields of study-not just one. That is the only error I can conclude. 

So all in all, we have reason to think social ties may be the reason behind teen's lack of sleep. However, I'm going to need further proof to solidify the hypothesis before accepting it myself. Good thing is, us PSU students don't have our friends to blame for our late nights, but our academics instead. 

So when your not up late cramming for the next exam, follow these tips to make up for your lost hours of sleep.

  1. Sifferlin, Alexandra, and Alexandra Sifferlin. "Why Teens Stay up Late: Blame Their Friends." Time. Time, 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
  2. "Teens and Sleep." Sleep for Teenagers. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
  3. "How to Sleep Better." : Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep. Help Guide, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.

Omega-3 fish oil supplements are one of the most widely used supplements. All over the world, people have incorporated Omega-3s into their health regimes. They are believed to be beneficial in a number of ways:

1) Scientists believe they might play a role in reducing inflammation in the body (blood vessels, joints, etc).
2) They lower triglyceride levels - which when elevated can increase risk of heart disease.
3) Reduce depression.
4) Help people with with rheumatoid arthritis - reduce stiffness and joint pain.
5) Can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children and promote cognitive function.
6) Prenatal health.
7) Asthma - reduce the inflammation.

However, a recent study showed that men with higher concentrations of omega-3s in their blood from animal sources had an 44% increased chance of developing prostate cancer when compared to those with low levels of them same in their blood. 

The first thing worth noting is that the study wasn't actually a study centered around the consumption and consequences of taking Omega-3 supplements, but was a study called 'SELECT' or Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Therefore the participants of this trial were not actually being given Omega-3 supplements, in fact most of them reported not having taken any at all. 

The second thing to remember is that correlation is not causation. While the study shows a possible correlation between the blood concentration of Omega-3s and prostate cancer, since the study was not specifically targeted at the problem they seemed to have found they did not control for third variables or manipulate an independent variable and since they haven't proved that it isn't reverse causation either (could people with prostate cancer have higher levels of Omega-3s?), all of this in addition to the fact that other studies did not support this finding, therefore it's more than likely that the findings were either due to chance - or, basically, anything else.

So, in conclusion, at the moment, we have no proof of the supposed harms of consuming Omega-3s while there is plenty of proof of the good the supplement does. In addition to that, what's clear is that the media often overlooks more sensible (often more correct) studies and arguments in favor of those that will cause a frenzy - so what I'm taking away from this is not to make decisions based solely on the word of the media. 

What do you think of the study? Are you likely to start/stop your Omega-3 supplement regime? Do you think this was a well conducted study? 

Here are a few examples of the media delivering the news calmly while not trying to cause a frenzy:

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 10.59.16 AM.png

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 11.00.05 AM.png
Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 11.00.14 AM.png

No matter how old I get I cannot stop the habit of biting my fingernails. I have tried everything over the years: fake nails, polish, nasty tasting polish, and different products that all just ended up in the trash. My parents even tried reward techniques; my mom finds the habit really gross saying she would pay me to stop. When that did not work they even tried the opposite approach insulting my nails, telling me people did not find it attractive. Nothing worked. I would even get to a point where my nails had grown out and without thinking about it I would just bite them down.


In an article about nail biting it talks about how nail biting is over looked and how experts are classifying it as an addiction/mental disorder, an addiction that is even harder to get past than cigarettes. Decisions have been made to change the classification of nail biting from a simple habit to instead will be a form of OCD according to The American Psychiatric Association and will be in the upcoming issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

When compared to other disorders that are characterized within OCD such as repetitive hand washing and hair pulling, so nail biting fits right in with those. What people need to understand though is that even with this new classification it is a disorder that is not impairing, therefore not very serious medically. Not everyone who bites their nails even should classify oneself to the level of OCD, nail biting becomes an issue when it is destructive meaning when one is impairing their hands or are getting repeated infections from biting.

During my research I actually found a correlation between nail biting and the pinworms we discussed at the beginning of the semester. Pinworms are actually not a dirty thing, anyone that has pinworms can spread them on anything they touch: literally anything from couches, to blankets, to towels, ext. No matter how clean a child, children most commonly get pinworms, is the eggs live up to two weeks so if they catch one under their fingernails and stick that finger in their mouth, they will get pinworms. The unfortunate thing about pinworms is that they are even contagious to oneself, if one is also a nail biter (or even just puts ones finger in his/her mouth) one can give themselves pinworm all over again. If a child was getting pinworms over and over again from nail biting this becomes an example of nail biting being destructive.

TLC's show My Strange Addiction featured someone who is a nail biter and has been for 35 years. They bite their nails without the willpower to stop even after blood is drawn; they keep biting through the pain. That episode was in 2011 but actually is not the first time TLC has touched on nail biting in 2009 TLC printed an article in InTouch reporting on a study done by Dr. Jon Grant on the effectiveness of N-Acetyl Cysteine when used to treat skin picking and nail biting. After using the product Dr. Grant reported that 56% of the tested subjects had prominent reduction of symptoms. This was a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of NAC that was funded by a donor-funded Research Grant Program within TLC.


NAC is an amino acid, which affects the levels of glutamate within the brain, therefore making it easier for people to control unwanted behaviors. This knowledge is why Dr. Grant chose to test NAC on nail biting for he believes that glutamate modulators have the capability to help with disorders, addictions, and compulsions. This study produced results in favor of Dr. Grant's hypothesis (56% improvement of subjects on NAC, 16% improvement on subjects on placebo), which in this field in science is actually rather exciting. This study is actually among the first studies that focus on glutamate's effect on compulsive behaviors as opposed to serotonin.  The hope is that from this study doors will open allowing them to expand with a larger subject pool and high dosages.

People like myself (though I am not as bad as the person on the TLC episode) are struggling to stop biting their nails. A study where 44% still do not see significant effects from the drug does not make me want to jump up and go buy the product. Clearly though 56% of people having an effect shows that there is a hope and a reason for more research. 

You've had your hair straight for a week now how does it stay straight when you wash it? You mean you only straightened it once? You haven't washed your hair all week? You don't have to? Of course you do! What? Ew! What do you mean you don't wash your hair everyday? Doesn't it get oily and dirty?

The science of kinky curly hair is truly fascinating. As a Black woman, I have been asked this question many times by puzzled white women who don't understand the nature of our hair as their hair type is most widely advertised. To start, curly textures are drier naturally since we have porous hair that loses and gains moisture very quickly. Our hair curls and coils prevent what little natural scalp oil we have from reaching all the way to the ends of our strands. There are many rules to <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Take-Care-of-Black-Girls'-Hair">black hair care</a> which many of us are not aware of. To start, the vast majority of shampoos are made with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate which is very drying to curly haired textures stripping the oils from your strands to cleanse them which is why conditioner should be used immediately after. 

Natural oils must be applied to curly textures to replenish the oils that have already escaped through the shampooing process. Replenishing the natural oils will help retain moist, strong, hair with little breakage.

photo taken from <a href="www.africanaturalistas.com">here</a>

Everyone, at some point or another, has awakened to the dreadful sign of a new zit  emerging. It's a terrible feeling and once it is there in all it's red, pimply glory, people tend to try to hide it or hide out until it's gone. As a sufferer of mild to moderate acne, new research on acne always interests me and gives me a sense of hope for new treatments and future generations of sufferers.
A UCLA study conducted with researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute found both "bad" strains of bacteria that cause acne and "good" strains that may protect it. Every study can lead to a breakthrough, but this particular study caught my eye not necessarily for the content, but due to the intentions of the principal investigator. Huiying Li, an assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA reported the following: "We hope to apply our findings to develop new strategies that stop blemishes before they start, and enable dermatologists to customize treatment to each patient's unique cocktail of skin bacteria." When a researcher's intentions are so clear-cut and innovative, I think he deserves his own fan-base. Anyway, the results of the study were eye-opening and potentially helpful for the cause.
With the use of pore cleansing strips, microbial DNA (P. acnes bacteria) was extracted from the noses of 52 clear-skinned participants and 49 acne sufferers. They then used technology to isolate over 1,000 strains of bacteria. They found that the strains of the diseased (acne-ridden skin) looked very different than those of the clear-skinned individuals. Also, two unique strains of bacteria appeared in 1/5 of the acne participants, but none of the clear-skinned individuals. The most helpful results of the research resulted from finding a third strain of bacteria found mainly in healthy skinned individuals. Researchers think that increasing this strain in acne sufferers through cream or lotion could help treat them. It is very possible that this strain is what is in charge of protecting the skin from breakouts. I wonder if this "good" strain kills or fights the harmful bacteria or if it acts as a balancing mechanism. Regardless, it seems that those who have too little or none of the bacteria seem prone to breakouts. Eventually, researchers might find a way to make individuals' bodies produce more of this bacteria on their own through a pill or injection. Hopefully the use of topical treatments will spike the body's own natural production of the bacteria if it's already present. I am curious as to how they will make these creams, what the side-effects might be, what balance of other ingredients/medications might be used, and how effective the treatment will be. Overall, I think this was an extremely effective study and one the population might benefit greatly from.




Step one: snap an awesome pic! Step two: pick out a flattering filter. Step three: Post it on the social media outlet of your choice. Step four: repeatedly check throughout the day to see if you've accumulated a sufficient amount of "likes". 

            We all find ourselves following these four steps multiple times during our social media careers. But does step four have a bigger impact on ourselves more than we perceive? Research studies have shown that an alternative hypothesis holds true when it pertains to social media. This alternative hypothesis is that the more social media "likes", comments, and interactions with friends the higher users self-esteem tends to be. There seems to be a positive correlation between the two aspects.

            So if social media is so great on our self esteems and makes us all feel good there could be no down side right? ... Wrong. Studies show that all the attention that we receive promotes narcissism. Also the lack of likes that we don't earn defeats our self esteems. A study conducted by Cornell University tested the affects that viewing ones own Facebook page as opposed to gazing at a blank screen would have on a person's self-esteem. The experimental study proved after an evaluation that the participants who made adjustments to their Facebook pages during the study had higher levels of self-esteem than those who simply stared at a blank screen. The findings had to do with "selective self-presentation in digital media"; meaning that when on a social media website a person can instantly become a 'better' version of themselves causing them to become more confident.  Baseline of Health Foundation describes Facebook as a way to put "the most positive spin you can put on yourself without losing reality or being deceptive".

            In my opinion I believe that the Cornell study should have gone further in depth to discover what parts of the social media experience causes this self-esteem boost. Is it the interactions with friends?; The "likes" that we receive on statuses and pictures? The recreation of ourselves?; Or all three aspects combined?

            A psychology student was also curious about how social media affects our brain and discovered studies that proved that social media has a greater affect on our self-worth than we imagine. She discovered that a study in the UK "reported that participants also said that their self-esteem suffers when they compare their own accomplishments to those of their online friends". This finding allows for justification of why we feel defeated when our profile pictures only get 15 "likes" compared to one of our friends picture that accumulates a massive 100 "likes". We begin to question whether or not our online selves are less popular or attractive compared to our friends, and even worse we begin to wonder if our actual selves are on a lower level than our friends.

            This is where the danger of social media experiences comes into play; when we transfer our feelings received from social media into our everyday life experiences. The UK study was beneficial as it explained how the feelings we receive from social media experiences transfer into our own lives.

            We as users though need to make the final push towards helping ourselves. Personally I know the attention I receive from my online friends effects myself esteem, so I know now that I need to take two steps back from my lap top and realize that its only a one second click of a button that causes these feelings. How will you control your emotions?

Do Video Games Cause Violence?

As more and more cases of major acts of violence occur -- first the shooting at Columbine High School, then at Virginia Tech, then Sandy Hook, and far more in between -- I become more and more interested as to why this stuff is happening. Being an 18 year old male, I am well acquainted with violent video games such as Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto. People my age play these games hours on end, and for some, it consumes their lives. This makes me wonder if there is any sort of causal connection between playing these outrageously violent games and violence the real world. Do these games cause people to commit real-world violence, or at least cause them to be more susceptible to such actions?

vid game violence pic.jpg

One study, conducted by Ohio State University professor, Brad Bushman, took 70 French university students and sat them down in a room. It was a single blind study where the students were told they would be participating in a study to measure the effects of video game brightness on visual perception, and that they would each be paid 10 euros a day for their efforts. This method allows the study to be more unbiased because the students will simply go about the experiment like they normally would, not knowing that the researchers are actually measuring aggressive behavior.

 The students were split into two equal groups, with each group being randomly assigned to play either a violent or non-violent game for 20 minutes a day for three days. After each session, students were told to write the ending of a random story. For example, in one story a driver crashes into the main character's car and basically destroys it. The student is then supposed to write what happens when the main character confronts the other driver. Additionally, each student was told to play a computer game in which they had to respond to a visual cue faster than their opponent. The loser would receive an awful sounding noise that combined scratching nails on a chalkboard, dentist drills, and ambulance sirens. The winner was able to choose the intensity and length of these sounds. The results found that the students who played the violent games were more likely to write violent-related stories and give out more intensified and longer unpleasant sounds. 

Bushman concludes that exposure to violent video games can be positively linked to aggressive effect and physiological arousal. However, this study only proves the link of short-term behavior. Longitudinal studies must be done to prove that there is a causal effect between violent video games and long-term aggressive behavior. 

Although this study appeared to be very well done and conclusive, I am not yet convinced that video games cause aggressive behavior. There are just too many third variables that can skew the research, such as the chance that kids who play violent video games also watch violent television and movies. Who's to say that the violent television isn't leading to violent real life behavior? Additionally, reverse causation definitely needs to be considered on this topic. It only makes sense that people who are already violent in real life have more of a desire to play video games that allow them to continue to be violent. As british psychologist Guy Cumberbatch says referenced by this article from Live Science, "Finding that people who enjoy violent media may also be aggressive is tantamount to observing that those who play football also enjoy watching it on television." What he is saying is that football players watch football because they enjoy the game of football, just as people who commit violence in the real world like to play violent video games because they enjoy the nature of violence. The article goes on to make another good point: While video games have become more violent over the last 20 years, violent crime has decreased significantly, with gun violence such as assaults, robberies, and sex crimes dropping 75% lower in 2011 than in 1933. 

violence decline pic.jpg

After researching this topic thoroughly, I have concluded that there is no doubt a correlation between violent video games and real world violence. However, correlation does not imply causation. Until there is conclusive evidence that these video games cause short and long term aggressive behavior and violence (which is nearly impossible considering the points I have made about third variables and reverse causation), I will not be convinced. So for now, Science 200, I say keep playing GTA5. Just don't kill anybody. 

But enough of my opinion, what do you guys think? Have you been playing violent video games all your life and now consider yourself a violent person? Or has it had no effect whatsoever? It would be interesting to here how this topic has impacted you guys personally. 

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag