Week 9 Blog Prompts – Intelligence

Hand writing on a notebook

Here are the two prompts for this week. Regardless of which one you choose, please use the tag “Intelligence.”

Option 1:

Many people consider intelligence to be largely determined by genetics, but there is substantial evidence that the environment and social processes play a large role as well. Since schools are a place where children try to determine how smart they really are, it is important for educators to understand the impacts of their subtle or not-so-subtle interactions with students. Watch these three videos: Jane Elliott’s classic blue eyes/brown eyes experiment, Claude Steele explaining stereotype threat, and Rosenthal & Jacobson’s discovery of the Pygmalion effect. In your blog post, react to what you saw in the videos, reflect on your own interactions with educators throughout your school career, and discuss what, if any, changes to the school system based on the concepts in these videos could improve students’ performance in the classroom.

Option 2:

In 1998, the Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, proposed spending $105,000 of the state’s budget to distribute a cassette or CD of classical music to the parents of each new child born in Georgia (see the NY Times article). Governor Miller was a staunch believer in the Mozart effect, a theory that listening to Mozart can increase intelligence. The Mozart effect is highly controversial and has spurred numerous research studies, but was based on one study published in 1993. Read the original journal article by Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky and discuss whether or not the original evidence supports Governor Miller’s decision.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Caitlinator

 

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Why We Sleep

This interesting TED talk by Russell Foster talks about sleep and gives some background on how and why we view sleep the way we do in the world today. Foster stresses the importance of sleep and then points to how over the decades sleep has been viewed more and more negatively due to the lack of knowledge concerning what goes on while we are asleep. According to Foster, sleep is the “single most important behavioral experience” in humans. There are 3 big ideas about why we sleep that he mentions in his talk: restoration, energy conservation, and brain processing and memory consolidation. The restoration idea, first developed by Aristotle, is that everything we have burnt during the day is restored and rebuilt during the night. Science has proved that many genes only turned on during sleep so there is descent evidence for this theory. The second theory, energy consolidation, says that sleep is used to save calories. It is true that calories are saved during sleep but since this amount is only equivalent to a single hot dog bun, the idea is seen as unconvincing. Foster’s last and favorite idea was brain processing and memory consolidation. This one says that ability to learn a task while sleep deprived is much harder. Also, the ability to come up with solutions to significant and large problems is enhanced by a full nights rest by a three folds advantage. The important synaptic connections are linked together and strengthen during sleep while the less important ones just fade away.

Out of the three, I found the most convincing theory of why we sleep to be the memory consolidation and memory processing idea. In lecture we learned about study habits and sleep having effects on us. I remember going over how it would greatly benefit someone to study fairly close to when they go to sleep. The website http://www.howsleepworks.com/why_memory.html showed me some more input on this particular idea. On this site, they talked about how sleep deprivation leads to reduced attention and limits on working memory. They state that sleep plays a huge part in memory consolidation after learning, like we learned in class, and also in getting ready for memory encoding before whatever learning experience is coming soon. It makes sense how people say that it’s best to get a good night sleep before classes, not only so you won’t be tired, but also so that you can encode and retain information easier. The information I got from the website all sounds and looks fairly legit, but at the end, there are no sources or proof of any true testing or knowledge. Luke Mastin is the head of this website and, according to further research, is a philosopher interested in anything that has to do with memory. This is a situation where, even though the author seems to most likely be credible, due to a lack of sources or references in the place we got the information there is no way we can declare this data valid. 

http://www.howsleepworks.com/why_memory.html


Legalize it?

The debate on whether marijuana should be legalized for either medicinal or recreational purposes is and has been raging on within each and every state. In my opinion, I believe medicinal marijuana and only medicinal marijuana should be legalized. Even then, doctors should be strict and careful with whom they prescribe marijuana to. If the drug can be beneficial and help someone, then I’m all for it. But, the reason I say no to legalization of recreational use is because this act could eventually lead to the legalization of heroine, cocaine, etc. When arguing for recreational legalization, some make it a point this country is based on freedom and we as citizens of this country should have the freedom to choose what to put in our bodies. Wouldn’t that be the same argument for use of more hardcore drugs? Additionally, like alcohol, marijuana impairs judgement. Some people assume having a high is safer than being under the influence of alcohol, which is not necessarily true. A high from any drug can be dangerous to yourself and others around you.

John Hawkins, also against legalization of marijuana, gives five main reasons he believes the drug should be illegal. First, it can be extremely addictive to some people. Some people is the key word. Most people do not become dangerously addicted, but those who do become addicted struggle greatly. Hawkins refers to Amsterdam, a city who has legalized marijuana and is having second thoughts of their decision. Residents of Amsterdam are concerned with their children’s constant exposure to the smoke and smoking around schools and public places. Research has shown marijuana can have a negative effect on mental health and lower IQ. Along with mental health, physical health is greatly effected. Smoking any substance is bad for lungs and can cause serious problems in the future for smokers. And finally, marijuana can ruin someone’s life if dangerous use becomes regular. A study was conducted with college students, and the students who smoked at least 27 out of the 30 days before the survey showed their “critical skills related to attention, memory and learning were seriously diminished” (14). Another study of postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana had “55% more accidents, 85% more injuries and a 75% increase in being absent from work” (14). These studies do not represent the general population, but are still significant because of the large percentages and findings resulting from the studies. Hawkins validated all five of his reasons with other sources including doctors and other research studies.

On the other hand, Renee Jacques is all for legalization. She points out marijuana has never killed anyone. Too much THC in a body system will not be harmful. Also, 40% of Americans have already used the drug and 58% of people agree to legalize it. Some people have trouble sleeping, need medicine daily, or have serious medical problems and marijuana can be an aid to each one of those issues. Currently, marijuana substances are already in some prescription drugs. Jacques goes on to list celebrities who smoke marijuana such as Martha Stewart and Morgan Freeman. The fact she used this as a way to prove her point, and there were various animations and humorous gifs caused me to not take what she was saying seriously or trustworthy. I found the two statistics she provided useful, but nothing else.

To compare both articles, Hawkins justified my original opinion and also added new insight to my thoughts. He had statistics, research, and other people to back up his information, while Jacques had animations. I know every article or post will have pros and cons, but my opinion still stands: marijuana should not be legal with the exception of strictly and cautiously prescribed medicinal marijuana.

Sources:

http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2014/01/21/5-reasons-marijuana-should-remain-illegal-n1782086/page/full

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/marijuana-legalization_n_4151423.html

 


Restoration Sleep Theory

After watching the TED talks video, I found the restoration sleep theory to be most convincing. As the speaker says in the video, essentially “stuff”, within the brain,  gets used up during the day. Around that time we are awake and we actively use our brains to solve problems, interact with other people, comprehending signs and readings as well as expressing ones feelings or emotions. When the day ends, during the night is when people tend to sleep and that is when the brain restores itself as the speaker also mentions that the brain is restoring, and building back up what was lost during the day. Currently back in fashion a lot more of people will probably start to believe in this theory as well. To further support my argument the following two articles, which both support the restoration theory, will be discussed. In the first article the theory is drawn out even more as the author says that while sleeping NREM “is important for restoring physiological functions, while REM “is essential in restoring mental functions”. Moreover the article continues to list research studies that have provided evidence to this theory such as the idea that “the brain utilizes sleep to flush out waste toxins”. In the second article explains different things about the theory such as the growth hormones that only release into the body during sleep and adenosine, a by product that when built up drives a person to become sleepy and it is only emptied from the brain during sleep as well. Lastly I cannot be sure of how trustworthy these articles are however I do believe they are beneficial and not misleading. In conclusion I believe that the restoration theory is the reason sleep is most important in why we, as people, need sleep.

Works Cited

http://psychology.about.com/od/statesofconsciousness/p/TheoriesofSleep.htm

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep

Why Marijuana Should be Legalized Recreationally, and Medicinally:

 

Harmless herb or harmful drug?

You hear the word “marijuana” and automatically think “drug” or “illegal” when in actuality those words are in fact 100% true (In most United States). Additionally, with both of those words come negative connotations. If alcohol and tobacco are legal why can’t marijuana be legalized as well? Cigarettes and alcohol both contribute to millions of deaths per year but are still made legal to people within certain age requirements. Now. Is it actually that unsafe to smoke a joint or two and then continue on to the rest of your night? No, not at all. Marijuana is harmless to the body, unless being inhaled by smoking because of course ingesting smoke into your body can obviously be harmful to a certain extent. In what cases do you actually hear of somebody having a pot overdose or a fatal accident from the primary cause of marijuana? Well I can vouch for that question, and say not many. The point is  Marijuana can be used for MANY different medicinal reasons, and can treat some diseases without medicating through hardcore prescription drugs. Marijuana in fact is an illegal drug in most states but in some states it has been legalized medicinally for the benefit of cancer patients to help diminish cancer cells from spreading. It’s promised to treat arthritis, people suffering from glaucoma, to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, help control epileptic seizures, ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and many other things. Statistically marijuana is the safest of any drug used in America or around the world, and it also has zero reported deaths from use, but it’s not only used for medicinal purposes. Recreationally, It’s the best form of stress relief. In most cases people turn to tobacco products for stress relief. Tobacco is a highly addictive drug, users know it’s addicting and tell others not to do it, but continue to smoke the cancerous product. Marijuana is not at all an addictive drug. The false accusations about marijuana making the user addicted, lazy, and a gateway to other drugs is completely ludicrous.  The worst that can come of this drug is the misplacement of your phone, or the possibility that you might have too much fun. Crime rates would go down, the economy would go up, and cartels would lose about their largest amount of revenue. It creates jobs, the problem is the government needs to tax it and big pharmacies wanna get in on it but they can’t. Literally the tax revenue generated from the amount of sales made in Colorado last year made so much money that they had to return some to people. A lot of positive things can and will come out of the steps to making marijuana legal across the United States, recreationally, and medicinally.

On the other hand, the main reasons people argue for Marijuana to remain illegal is that they believe the drug to be highly addictive, terrible to your mental and physical health even by causing a higher chance of having schizophrenia later in life, and that it will destroy peoples’ lives and lead to more addicting drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Seriously though when have you ever heard of somebody smoking weed and all of a sudden being diagnosed with the psychological disease schizophrenia?

Not often, at all.

These sources are often used to write about different events, controversies, and discoveries. I am not sure if they are 100% reliable, but so far the facts make sense and supports the reasoning.

In retrospective it is clear that my position on if marijuana should be legalized is stated above by the facts.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/why-marijuana-should-be-legalized_n_1833751.html

http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2014/07/3-reasons-recreational-marijuana-should-be-legal.html?page=all

http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-of-medical-marijuana-2014-4

Colorado marijuana sales skyrocket to more than $996 million in 2015


Recreational and Medical Marijuana

Legalizing marijuana is a big controversial topic in the United States, whether it being for or against legalizing it.  What is Marijuana? Also called weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast number of other slang terms is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves and flowers of Cannabis sativa—the hemp plant. The main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects sought by recreational users, is delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC).

Why should it be legalized? Well for one thing for sure medical marijuana has been proven to help with cancer, aids, epilepsy and many more other diseases. Since we know that it helps why not legalize it? Well first of all congress would not know how to tax it and believe it would get out of hand. Now that 23 states allow medical marijuana it has proven that it really helps the patients out. As of recreational use there are some states that have legalized it. Many people use weed for their purposes and no matter what they still find a way of getting it. I believe that if it doesn’t cause harm for the users than why not? Why do we sell tobacco? Its an addictive substance, that actually causes cancer and destroys your body, and that is legal. If alcohol is legal and causes many outcomes of using it, i honestly believe that marijuana should be legalized.

Why it shouldn’t be legalized? Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the U.S. and around the world. Those who support its legalization, for medical or for general use, fail to recognize that the greatest costs of marijuana are not related to its prohibition; they are the costs resulting from marijuana use itself. Today there are 15.2 million current marijuana users in comparison to 129 million alcohol users and 70.9 million tobacco users. Though the number of marijuana users might not quickly climb to the current numbers for alcohol and tobacco, if marijuana was legalized, the increase in users would be both large and rapid with subsequent increases in addiction.Since legalization of marijuana for medical or general use would increase marijuana use rather than reduce it and would lead to increased rates of addiction to marijuana among youth and adults.

I believe that the sources are trustworthy enough but actual research would help with arguing an opinion on the situation, this goes for both sources.

News, ABC. “Should Medical Marijuana Be Legal?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 11 June 2005. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

“Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana.” CNBC. N.p., 20 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.


Sleep

After watching the TED talk about the reasons why we sleep and the consequences of bad sleeping habits, I’m wondering if I’ll ever be good at the “art” of sleeping. There are so many reasons why sleep is important to individuals of all ages including the restoration of the body, energy conservation, and enhancement of brain function. I believe that the restoration of the processes in the body along with renewing your body for the next day is vital to sustain the optimum functioning of the individual. A good, undisturbed sleep each night is one of the best things we can do for our health, recovery and complete regeneration of the brain and central nervous system according to an article written by Tracy Kaye Holly for Fresh magazine. I believe that in order to get the best results in every aspect of life, an individual needs to be well-rested. For example, before an exam, it should not be very surprising that students who get a good night’s rest tend to score higher than those who pulled an all-nighter. If you allow your body to rest after a whole day’s worth of constant struggle, you’re giving your body a chance to be rejuvenated and ready to take on the next day. The supporting information was taken from a magazine article which stated the importance of rest and sleep on the human body. According to the article, because of sleep, the nervous system is nourished, our muscles are relaxed, and our minds are well-rested. Although there were no additional research to back up the claims the author made, and there were no credible sources for the information provided, most of the detail in the article seemed to correlate fairly well with the TED talk, and thus I find it reliable in a sense that it is not giving out false information to the general public. In a more scientific way, however, I would not recommend the article to back up any specific details about the topic of the importance of sleep.

Link: http://www.freshvancouver.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=193:rest-and-sleep-restore-the-power-of-your-body&catid=49:health&Itemid=108


Why Recreational Cannabis Use Should be Legalized

For years now cannabis has been thought of as an extremely dangerous drug, often being roped in with crack, meth, and heroine. This is all the product of a long history of slander and lies and even racism. According to an article by Anna Wilcox in 2014, cannabis was demonized by white elites who used the foreign name “marijuana” and associated it with African Americans and Mexican Americans to impart blame for the great depression. Harry Anslinger was one of the primary individuals responsible for the negative view on cannabis, testifying to Congress saying, “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage”. As I’m sure we all know, this is racist and bigoted propaganda. The truth about cannabis, as discussed by former NFL player Jack Brewer, is that it has many benefits and is really no worse than already legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Brewer states in his article, “I can buy huge amounts of vodka or menthol cigarettes nearly anywhere in the U.S., and we can attribute thousands of lost lives to those products” which is painfully true. There is nothing to prevent a person from purchasing a gallon of Bacardi 151 (which for those of you who don’t know is 151 proof or 75.5% alcohol and will hurt you and likely kill a man in such quantities) or an entire carton of cigarettes, but any cop on the road will arrest you for buying just a few grams of cannabis. For cigarettes alone, Brewer reports “nearly 500,000 deaths in the United States per year with medical bills approaching $140 billion per year”, yet they are 100% legal. The medicinal benefits for cannabis are also duly noted by Brewer. He mentions that cannabis, “shows promise in treating arthritis and bears minimal chance of organ damage” and “stops pain, mitigates multiple sclerosis and Tourette Syndrome symptoms, and may reduce dystonia, among other beneficial effects”. Brewer also mentions the potential financial gains related to legalizing recreational cannabis use, referencing Colorado’s six million dollar tax revenue from the first two months after the decriminalization of recreational cannabis use. I like the way Brewer makes his points, his article argues the way I would argue, with facts tied in with good logic. That and Jack Brewer is an upstanding figure as an ex-NFL player and CEO of a diversified global advisory firm, and a well-educated man holding a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and having completed executive business programs at Harvard Business School and The Wharton School of Business.

The opposition has many claims of their own, however, many of them are fairly faulty. According to an article on drugrehab.us, cannabis addiction would be problematic as “stopping marijuana use leads to withdrawal symptoms that range from irritability to anxiety”. The problem with this is that stopping any habit would cause irritability and possibly anxiety, I  know that if I stopped drinking coffee suddenly I would become very irritable and fairly anxious, and you, as my fellow class mates can watch for this as I’m all out of coffee and won’t be able to get more for a while. They also say that because it alters the user’s perception it is too dangerous to legalize, but alcohol does the same thing and can even do so in greater and worse ways (getting blackout drunk). And the argument that cannabis is a gateway drug to the hard stuff like crack or heroine is valid, however would not be so if cannabis use was legal. Using cannabis doesn’t create some kind of desire for hard drugs, the only reason that people move to harder drugs is because of their company. People who use illegal drugs often hang out together a lot, this is where the introduction to hard drugs comes from, if cannabis were legal, there would be no need for users to hide out with other drug users and get this exposure to hard drugs, they would instead be able to stay at home and enjoy their cannabis in safety. While I understand some of the article’s claims opposing cannabis use, they still seam invalid to me. Besides, of course a rehab page would argue that cannabis is a dangerous drug, it’s in their best interests to keep it that way.

Brewer, Jack. “​3 Reasons Recreational Marijuana Should Be Legal in All 50 States.” The Business Journals. 10 July 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

“Legalizing Recreational Marijuana – Pros and Cons.” Drug Rehab. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Wilcox, Anna. “The Origin of the Word “Marijuana”” Leafly. 3 June 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.


Why Do We Sleep?

In this TED Talk, circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster mentions and explains three popular theories about why we sleep. The theory that sounded most convincing to me was his third theory, which is about brain processing and memory consolidation. When Foster states, “What’s turned out to be really exciting is that our ability to come up with novel solutions to complex problems is hugely enhanced by a night of sleep… Sleeping at night enhances our creativity. And what seems to be going on is that, in the brain, those neural connections that are important, those synaptic connections that are important, are linked and strengthened, while those that are less important tend to fade away and be less important.” I started to think about what we learned in our psychology textbook on sleep, and how neural connections and synaptic connections are linked.

Doing more research on this theory, I found a website where its main focus is about sleep- what it is, how it works and why we do it. It begins by talking about how sleep is related to memory and learning. It states, “Several studies have shown how sleep facilitates long-term memory processing, both the conversion of short-term memories into long-term ones, and also the reconsolidating of existing  long term-memories.”Going further, it explains how there is a connection between memory and sleep deprivation, because it has been shown to reduce short-term and long-term memory. It begins talking about REM sleep, and how it benefits procedural memory, motor learning, and visual learning. Just like Foster was describing neuronal and synaptic connections, this website goes into more detail and says,” neuronal and synaptic activity in the brain during sleep has been shown to be significantly greater in the same areas where learning took place during the day..” It then talks about connecting REM sleep with synaptic connection. In the end, this article explains how sleep facilitates creativity, flexible reasoning, and higher level “insights”. I find this article trustworthy, because this website is solely based on sleep so I think much of research has been done to do this kind of website. It goes into much detail, breaking down not only this theory but other theories on why we sleep. I also like how this part of the website connects entirely with Russell Foster’s presentation.

http://www.howsleepworks.com/why_memory.html

 

 

 


Sleep Theories

After watching the TED talk I can really see how Russel’s theory of sleep having multiple reasons or theories behind it can be valid, but if I had to choose one from the video i would agree with the Memory and learning processing theory. It seems to be common knowledge that sleep and learning correlate with each other. A fully rested student tends to do better than a student who stayed up much later the night before. The theory that sleep is used as a means of fortifying the knowledge and memories that took place prior to it would make a lot of sense to me. So I went to  HowSleepWorks.com and did some more research to make sure the theory had some more information backing it. According to the information I found there the theory seems solid with sleep being key to forming connections to information learned prior to the sleep. Although I also found that sleep also acts like it is laying a foundation helping to learn and process things in the next day as well.Both of these can be seen by looking at the brain activity during sleep. The brain tends to hit the parts of the brain that were stimulated during the day. Dreams also tend to incorporate things that have occurred recently, prior to going to bed. This could be one way of explaining how people can get nightmare’s after certain scary events occur. People who watch horror movies late at night or even have a traumatic experience that day may relive some of those memories when they fall asleep. There is even some evidence to show that REM sleep and dreams can work on strengthening connections with memories making them easier to access as well as removing memories the brain decides are not as useful or just unnecessary. I find HowSleepWorks.com to be a viable source due to it being an amalgamation of information stockpiled from multiple government websites as well as other books, websites, television, and videos.