My Blog Friends

Monday, October 31, 2011


Hi Everyone I am still here but I will make a  quick post just to keep in the habit:)
Things went well we sent our kids out by themselves for Halloween for the first time. It was so nice.
Helped out at a carnival and had fun at parties.

I hope everyone else had a great day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

I want to thank WilyBCool for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. It is so much fun to be recognized by such an amazing blogger.

The rules in accepting this award: Thank the person who nominated you. Tell 7 things about yourself so that your readers may learn more about you and nominate 7 other newly discovered bloggers and let them know you nominated them.

1. I love to game my favorite being Guild Wars.  (I am so anticipating the second one coming out soon).
2. I was in a musical 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.
3. My first car was a Nissan Maxima when I was 21.
4. I was a teller for a bank.
5. I was an IT guy for a software company.
6. I owned my own computer business.
7. I wrote my first story 2 years ago.

7 Versatile Bloggers:

1. Logopaedics- This is my wife's new blog or not so new but I really love how she is trying to share with others  more about speech issues.

2. Em Dashes and Ice Cream - I really enjoy the stories and advice she gives.

3.Vive le Nerd- The name speaks for it self :)

4. Miranda Hardy- I love her fun posts and comments. Plus she is participating in nanowrimo!

5. Christine Rains - Writer- She has the coolest picture for her giveaway!!

6. Empty White Pages- She does some really cool Musical stories.

7. My Life with Zane- Very cool blog about her son who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.

There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I have met many new ones recently. Thanks for all of your continued support and congratulations to all the of you!!
Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Tidbits: see above :)

Friday, October 28, 2011


I will make a quick note of a study that I decided wouldn't be good to go too deeply into due to its content. However, it is very applicable to our characters and needs to be mentioned. It was a study that looked at human sexuality. It was conducted by Masters and Johnson in the 60s. It explored a very important fact about sex and that is that it is as much or more a psychological experience as it is a biological one. It is also important to note that we may not use sex in our books but we need to use the romance in our books because that is a huge part of our lives. Every one gets a crush and falls in love. It is a great tool to get our readers involved and sympathetic to our characters. Romantic tension is one of the best ways to get a reader truly involved in our books.

How many stories have you read that had no romance in them? How can we ruin a book with romance?

Another thought along this line is who is more romantic men or women?

Tidbit: I am definitely the romantic one in my marriage :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Power of Responsibility

Langer and Rodin in 1976 theorized that by increasing control and power an individuals happiness and health should increase. They conducted their study at a resting home and gave half of the participants increased-responsibility treatment while the others were left to the normal routine. The results of the study showed that by giving these participants this training the participants health and happiness increased. After the researchers returned 18 months later another significant thing occurred. 30% of the participants not involved in the treatment had died, while in the group that had received the treatment only 15% had died. Keep in mind that the demographics and characteristics of the groups were the same. Personal power and control over one's life is key to how happy and productive an individual will be.

On the flip side another study that came out of this was the idea of having too many choices can decrease happiness. Iyengar and Lepper in 2000 conducted a study in which participants where given the option to buy jams and chocolates and to do an extra credit essay. One group of the participants was given 6 choices while the other group was given 24 or 30 choices. The results showed that when fewer choices were presented a significant amount of participants would buy the chocolate and write the essay. It was also found that those who had fewer choices were more satisfied with their choices.

In writing about our characters they will be presented with choices and decisions to make generally they can choose to accept the quest or not choose the quest. However, it would be interesting to write into our stories more choices for our characters to choose from. More ways to slay the dragon. Show that the characters have the ability to choose and that they have responsibility for that choice. Also it would be interesting to see how they would react when given to many choices. There is a story about some Russian women who came to the U.S and were taken to the grocery store to see how they would react. Many of the women became upset and wanted to go home. There were to many choices for them to make. How do our characters behave coming out of orphanages (or a number of other confining institutions) and into a new world full of responsibilities?

Tidbit: I love all kinds of music (except for RAP never have liked it) some of my favorite is actually "scream" (in very very very small doses). I like the contrast actually and the emotion that is in it. Below is a youtube video of  another type of music that is definitely at the top of my list. I don't know the name of the genre but it is when orchestras play rock. I hope you enjoy this piece it blew me away :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How much love do we need?

Harry Harlow in his study The Nature of Love looked at how monkeys reacted in different situations. In his experiments he had baby monkeys in cages with either a cloth monkey that would deliver food to the baby monkey or a wire monkey that would deliver food to the baby monkey. In the study it was found that the monkeys in both cases ate the same amount of food and gained the same amount of weight. However, the monkeys that had the wire monkey mom had problems with digestion and problems with diarrhea. Further, these monkeys were tested by putting them in situations that would frighten them and they would run to the cloth monkey but when the cloth monkey was not around they would freeze.

Another interesting fact that came from this experiment was that when the monkeys were taken away from the cloth monkeys for several days when reunited they would play with the cloth monkey ignoring other objects in the room that the monkey had normally played with.

Harlow points out that the key to successful parenting is contact comfort which means that both parents need to be involved.

In creating our characters we need to understand where our MC get there contact comfort from and explore how this looks in our characters if they have had to much or to little.

Tidbit: I have four wonderful children!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recalling of Events

Elizabeth Loftus (1975) conducted several experiments examining the ability of people to recall events. Her experiments revolved around the common thought during her time that eyewitnesses are a reliable source of information. In her experiments she specifically looked at how the wording of a question influenced the recall of an event. An example of this would be "Did you see the children getting on the school bus?" as opposed to, "Did you see a school bus in the film?" By inserting the word "the" into the question it promotes more affirmative answers.

The reason this happens is that memory is not like playing back a recording like when we play a movie. Memories are made up of events that occur over time and when we recall them they are intermixed with not only the event that we are recalling, but any new information that we have taken in since that event. This causes the memory to be reconstructed based on the new information. By using the word "the" the questioner is giving new information to the person recalling the event and that person reconstructs the event based on the new information, assuming that the questioner is correct about the event e.g. there was a bus even though in actuality there wasn't.

By understanding this we as writers can play upon the retelling of events when our characters are informing the reader. We also must understand that when a character is retelling an event it is not always going to be accurate, but it will have some variance to what actually took place. There will be little parts that one person will see or imagined seeing that another character will not have seen.

Tidbit: I was engaged to my wife two weeks after meeting her and married two months later and yes we are still happily married after 12 years :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slacking :(

So today my post is coming very late and I want to apologize for that. It has been a good day of working very hard but I wanted you all to know how much I appreciate all of you and also the hard work you put into your blogs. I find them fascinating and informative as well as great stress relievers. Thank you for your continued support.

I have also decided that it might be fun to start giving tidbits about myself so that you can get to know me a little better. I hope you find these interesting :)

So for the first tidbit about me is that I love to learn about religion. I find religions to be fascinating and amazing source of both joy and regrettably, sadness at times. I think that it is amazing to look at the similarities they share and how they have one very important message in general, to be the best you can be and to treat others with kindness.

Have a wonderful night I will see you tomorrow with some more studies on human behavior!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Giveaway Winner

I have randomly selected the winner for the giveaway!

The Winner is Domestic Ventures!! Congratulations!

Thanks to all of you who participated I wish I could have given all of you something.

I have had reports of people not being able to comment on my blog and I want to get a number of how many are unable to do this. Please if you are unable to comment email me at and let me know.

Everyone have a great day I'm off to have my eyes checked :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cogito Ergo Sum part 1

Rene Descartes a French Philosopher is probably best known for his statement Cogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am). This statement means that if a person is even wondering about his/her existence then they must exist. There must be an "I" doing the thinking therefore they are.

So far we have talked a lot about the behavioral studies that look at stimuli as  the motivator behind everything we do. The ABCs (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) of our lives; those behaviors that can be directly observed. During the 1930s and 1940s this was the way everything was looked at and there was little to no thought given to those things that were unobservable, what a person was thinking and feeling.

Tolman, E. C. (1948) is known as the father of cognitive behaviorism. He proposed that not only do humans and animals think but that it can be observed, if indirectly. He created rat maze experiments that proved this point. You can read more about that here. In a nutshell he said that we have cognitive maps that help us get to point a to point b even if blocks are placed in our usual path. So imagine if you were heading to your local grocery store and there was some construction in your normal path. Most of us would be able to determine an alternate path to get to that point. This is how a cognitive map works.

Tolman then expanded this to thoughts on society. If a person has a narrow strip map, meaning they have little perspective (trapped in their box) then they can become prejudice and negative human conditions. While on the other hand, others have broad strip maps and can expand there thinking and include or at least understand other ways of thinking.

This brings us back to the original statement by Rene Descartes "Cogito Ergo Sum". Our characters need to think through situations understand the broader meaning of what is happening around them rather than just reacting to stimuli.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giveaway and Picture

The day is almost over and I wanted to remind everyone about the giveaway that will be happening this Saturday. So far there have been very few who have signed up. If you want to participate now is the time to do so. Look on the giveaway page for details. Remember this is a giveaway for $40 software!!

The other part of this post my family and I went up into the hills and took family pictures today. It was amazing and we had a lot of fun. I had my wife take a couple of pictures of me so I could update my picture. Let me know if you have a favorite :) They are below. I hope everyone else is enjoying the beautiful fall weather and colors.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

IQ and multiple intelligences

This is a very interesting debate between psychologists, can intelligence be narrowed down to just one number or do we have multiple intelligences. Gardner, H. in 1983 proposed that we have multiple intelligences which was a very different idea than what had been practiced up to that point. During the 20th century an individuals IQ was measured and was referred to as "g". However, during the 1970s and 1980s researchers began to question this idea that "g" was all there was to intelligence and in fact it is still highly debated today.

In Gardner's theory intelligence is not based off of one thing but several different areas can be looked at which would have a different intelligence. Further, he explains that different parts of the brain are responsible for different aspects of intelligence. Gardner came up with eight intelligences:
1) Linguistics:  Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Woody Allen
2) Musical:  Mozart, Lauryn Hill, Andrea Boccelli, Paul McCartney
3) Logical-Mathmatical: Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Marie Curie, B.F. Skinner
4) Spatial: Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leonardo DaVinci, Van Gogh
5) Bodily-kinesthetic: Charlie Chaplin, LeBron James, Serena and Venus Williams
6) Interpersonal: Ghandi, Abraham Maslow, Oprah Winfrey
7) Intrapersonal: Plato, Hermann Rorschach, Helen Keller, Bill Gates
8) Naturalist: Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson

The idea is that we may be low in one intelligence while another may shine out. Also we may have several areas that shine out.

Whether or not the theory is true or if it is just redundant is besides the point. The fact is that when we are creating our characters we need to look at their particular strengths and WEAKNESSES. Often we forget that Heroes shine in certain areas but they also always have a weakness. Superman and Kryptonite is a off the head example. Maybe we create someone who is extremely athletic but is not very good at being introspective. Or a person who is a genius who needs support because he/she can barely move (i.e. Raistlan and Carman in Dragonlance series). As authors we need to make the MC as believable as possible so that our readers will attach to them. Often I forget about the weakness that my MC has because I want her/him to have none because I want them to be perfect but, I can't do that :)

What weaknesses and strengths do your MC's have?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

In an experiment by Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. in 1966 it was found that expectations of teachers influenced gains by students. Specifically several students were identified as bright students to their teachers when in actuality they were randomly assigned. By the end of the year on a test score the students in younger grades (1st-4th) gained as much as 30 points on the test while the control group gained around 12 points. The experimenters found that when a teacher expects a student to do well then they will do much better than if the teacher expects them to do poorly. This has been studies and evaluated many times and still holds true.

Another interesting story is about a horse called, "Clever Hans." This horse was able to do simple math, read and write. After studying further it was found that the experimenters conducting the tests to see if it was true were giving subtle hints to the horse. One was after they asked the question they would look at the horses hoof for an answer queuing the horse to start stomping his hoof. Second when the horse was approaching the correct response they would look up slightly, once again queuing the horse. The horse was able to read the subtle movements and "expectations" of the experimenters thus getting the answers right.

Think about the stories and movies that we read and watch. The MC almost always has someone who believes in her or him. That person expects the MC to succeed. In my book the MC's parents expected him to be good and do great things and more importantly he knew these expectations. Near the end of the book my MC has another experience in which he is given a choice and the person giving the choice expects great things of him and so he chooses in the way that is expected of him. Of course there is something with in the MCs that makes them strong and choose correctly, an inner strength but, think about where those inner strengths come from.

Who expects your MC to succeed? How does your MC react to those expectations? What are the subtle hints that readers can catch onto that will make them expect certain outcomes? By answering these questions the readers are also trained to think a certain way which will draw them deeper into the story especially if you follow those expectations. A thought, what would happen if we are putting out subtle hints and then go against those expectations? My thoughts are that this could be really cool if done correctly but it could also very easily backfire on you so be careful when dropping hints :)

BTW: I made it through the blog hop it was so wonderful seeing all of the new blogs out there and I look forward to visiting them all again. Welcome again to all of my new followers and thanks for the support from those who have stuck with me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aggression learned behavior by modeling

This next study by Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. in 1961 looked at if aggression was learned or could be transferred from one subject to the next. It was proposed that if a child saw an adult acting aggressively that child would "learn" that behavior and do likewise. The experiment was setup so that a child was taken into a play room where an adult would then enter and beat up on a Bobo doll. Other children the control group had an adult come in who did not beat up the Bobo doll. There were both female and male models. The children where then taken to another room where there were more toys and the Bobo doll. The children were observed through a one-way-mirror and it was noted each act of aggression that was displayed by the child. Before taking the children into this next room the experimenters first aroused anger in the children by not allowing them to play with some toys.

The results where very interesting. The children exposed to the violent acts imitated the acts. Boys' violent behavior was more influenced by the male model than the female model and 3rd boys were more violent than girls. The results were mixed on whether the non-aggressive model had an opposite effect on aggression.

This study showed that through observation, in this case violent ones, behaviors could be learned. The next thing they showed that is interesting is that male aggression was more acceptable than female aggression. Other studies have looked at this and they have found that the farther away from realistic models the models are the less likely the children will model this aggression.

How does this help us develop our characters further? By understanding how behavior is learned through observation it is important to teach our characters in the same manner. It is also important to look at the societies that we build within our stories to make them realistic as well. When we have models for our characters especially ones than could be seen as authority figures we need to show how the models behavior affects the character. Do we have an "evil" model for our character. If so does that character learn the behavior or parts of the behavior. Maybe the character becomes the hero of our story but has hints of the behavior that the "evil" model had. Maybe the MC has to stop himself from killing someone as he flashes back to the cruelty of his father. In our societies who is the dominant sex. Is it okay for a male character to beat another person to death or is that viewed as unacceptable. How about a female character is it improper for her to walk away from a fight or is it improper for her to defend herself?

When looking at our characters we need to be aware of the learned behaviors that they do not even know about and how the models around them affect their behavior.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giveaway and blog hop

Welcome to all of my new followers I hope that you find some good information. I think the bloghop was great and I met a lot of new people with great blogs. I'm still working on getting through the list and hope to complete it by tomorrow. I have a family event going on this weekend so I'm not getting around as quickly as I would have liked to have.

Just a reminder to enter the giveaway only one week until the drawing occurs. Check out the giveaway page to find out the rules. Comment on this post to let me know how many entries you have. For some reason the giveaway page is not letting me allow comments, GRRRRR.

Have a great weekend and have fun checking out the amazing blogs out there.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Today is a pay it forward Blog Fest check out the official announcement here.

Here are the three blogs that are a great source of information and fun:

EA Younker Great stories, Reviews and Monday writing tip each week.

Unbagging The Cats If you need a laugh this is the place to go.

Waystationone  Wonderful poems each and every day.

The rest of the wonderful blogs are listed below check them out. It was so hard to narrow it down to three but there you have it. Have a great Blogfest today!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Milgram Studies Revisited

Today is a revisit from a past post in which we discussed the Milgram studies. This re post is due in part to an assignment I had in class and just how fascinated I am with the fact that we as humans follow orders from Authority. That authority can be a person, an institution, a country, or even an idea. Recently the Milgram studies were replicated by burger in 2009. There are three youtube videos showing the experiment with the actual participants being filmed. It is fascinating and scary to watch. Here are the links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

These videos show that even today in our "highly sophisticated" society we are still going to conform to what we are told to do. I think a really good exercise to do on this is to do some more people watching, but this time pay attention to what they do when they don't think anyone is watching and when they do think someone is watching.

How do your characters behave when no one is watching?

Note I realized that my page on the giveaway is not accepting posts. I have tried to fix this but it is not allowing it. If you want to be in the contest just post below and put in the number of entries you deserve. Sorry about that I will continue working on it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today I decided to talk a little bit about regrets. As I was walking to school today I was thinking about things that I have not done and wish I had done or things I had done differently. It is interesting how things affect us at different times and how they can help us understand ourselves better.

Often I hear about the regrets of things we wish we hadn't done that would have made our lives better like I wish I wouldn't have skipped school so much or I wish I wouldn't have... (you fill in the blank their are numerous answers far more than we could imagine). There are also the regrets of things I wish I would have done. Like I wish I would have stayed at a particular job longer, I wish I would have traveled more, I wish I would have.... (Once again too many things to fill in the blank).

The new regrets that I had never thought about but make up who I am are regrets that would not have necessarily made my life better but I wish I had experienced. These regrets are much more personal because they bring out the bad side of who I am but who I have pushed down so as to have a healthy life. These regrets are the ones that we are taught by our parents not to have such as hitting other kids. One regret that is a "bad" regret that I have is I wish I had hit the bully that picked on me. Hitting the bully may or may not have made my life better but it was always taught by society to not hit and so I didn't hit. I regret not hitting him. This is a more grey regret I understand but hopefully you get my meaning without me having to spill my soul :)

I think about our "perfect" main characters who always seem to do what is right and never think bad things or regret taking the quest instead of staying home in the nice comfy bed. I think to make our characters more alive and real to our readers we need to give them regrets that are bad as well as good. Meaning the character should regret yelling at his mom and regret not kissing his best friends girlfriend.

So there are my thoughts on regrets. What do you think? How have you used regrets to shape your characters?

Just a reminder not many have signed up for the giveaway. Even if you do not want to participate I would appreciate all the help and mentions you feel you can give :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Albert

Just a reminder to go to my Giveaway page to enter into the contest.

This next study was conducted by Watson & Rayner (1920).  They were wanting to find out where emotions come from and so they setup a study to find out. They proposed that behavior is generated outside the person (these are your nature folks). Further, they proposed that we learn our emotions. In fact he made a statement that said that everything is learned, "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own special world to bring them up in, and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant, chief, and, yes, beggar man and thief" (Watson, 1913). Watson theorized that if presented with a stimulus that produced an emotion and then coupled with another stimulus the person would start to equate to the new stimulus (Just like pavlov's dog but with emotions this time).

In the experiment they put a rabbit with Albert and he was not afraid of it but then they coupled it with something that Albert was scared of (a loud noise) and soon Albert was afraid of the rabbit. This proved two of Watson's thoughts first that all human behavior stems from learning and conditioning and second that behavior stems from unconscious processes. This was done in part of course as we have looked at our nature vs. nurture already.

So how does this apply to writing? I think that once again it goes along with how does our characters become who they are? Did they learn it or were they born with it? Do they have a strange response to something because of a past stimuli? What about smells do they get happy when they smell Christmas smells (I know I do)?

How does your character react?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Giveaway for My memories suite software

This Giveaway has ended thanks to all of you who participated!!!
I was approached by My Memories Suite to do a giveaway of their program. I have looked at the software and think it is a great idea. Very easy to use and fun. They have a great video on youtube on how to use it and what it is all about. Take a look at it. Now they did give some stipulations an that is that you need to visit their site. The following are the ways to earn points for the giveaway:

1 point for following (Must do to enter into the competition)
1 point for going to My Memories Suite (Must do to enter into the competition)
1 point for tweeting about my blog
1 point for blogging about my blog
1 point for google + mention
1 point for facebook mention
2 points for each person that follows me because of your recommendation

Please go to the Giveaway page on my blog and let me know how many points you have earned. Also in order to get the 2 points for additional followers they need to let me know who referred them so have them post that along with their own points on the Giveaway page.

Good luck to everyone!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pavlov's Dog

Most of us have heard about Pavlov's dog but, a quick run down. Pavlov created a situation in which he was able to study and condition a certain response from his dog. He was able to condition a dog to salivate by simply hearing foot steps . He did this through several steps. First he used an unconditioned stimuli (food) this caused an unconditioned response (salivation). 2nd a neutral stimulus (foot steps) was introduced with the Unconditioned stimuli (food) and we got the unconditioned response (salivation). Step three was to repeat step 2 over and over. Finally you get a conditioned stimuli (footsteps) that leads to the conditioned response (salivation).

Pavlov then applied this to human behavior to show that we have conditioned responses to certain stimuli. An example of this is when my father got home from Vietnam he was walking down the street and a car backfired sending him to the ground. People around him did not dive to the ground because they did not have the same conditioned response to a conditioned stimuli. Another part to this example is extinction. If a car backfired around him now he would not dive to the ground, he would flinch but not dive to the ground. If a conditioned stimuli is not reinforced then eventually it goes away.

When we are writing we need to understand the different unconditional responses and unconditional stimuli that are affecting our character as well as the neutral stimuli that may be turning into conditioned stimuli. An example of this would be that a character has just experienced a traumatic event in which he now cowers from events that are similar to the traumatic event. Eventually the character will get used to similar events (extinction) but in some cases they may never get used to it (PTSD).

What are some ideas you have about using this in a story?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animal Research and Human Empathy

So today's post is long it is a paper I needed to write for class. The long version is below, this is the nutshell version. Human's have empathy for other species. The further we get away from species that look like and act like us the less empathy we have for them. When writing we need to build on this empathy and recognize few readers are going to fall in love with a main character that looks like a cockroach. If you want more read below :)

While reading these articles the question that kept coming up was, why do we not want to do animal research? Festing and Wilkinson (2007) explain in their article “The ethics of animal research” that if animal research was done away with “it would have enormous and severe consequences for scientific research.” Overmier and Carroll (2001) recall the many benefits that science has provided for our societies and race. Further, they explain that many of the comforts that we have today are due to the scientific studies that have been conducted in the past, many of which included animal “models.”
            So, the question, why do we not want to do animal research, comes back to mind. Saucier and Cain (2006) also looked into this question and set up a study in which they examined the beliefs of individuals in why they would or would not want to do animal research. They came up with several reasons why people believed the way they believe. It seemed to me that the beliefs centered around knowledge of the individual about the procedures and necessity of the research conducted on the animal subject.
            Festing and Wilkinson (2007) discuss the importance of knowledge and how the public should be made more aware of the process in which animals are used to further research. In a past class the professor discussed the importance of educating the public on the projects that are being conducted. The example that was used was a facility that was going to be used to store toxic waste in Arizona. The project was part of a plan to work with several states in order to meet requirements of storing hazardous wastes including nuclear. Those in charge of the project did not educate the public on the project and so it was protested by those against the project using scare tactics that eventually ended the project. To date, nothing is being done with the wastes in the state. If the public had been made aware of the entire details then they would not have fought against the project because they would have realized that the most dangerous waste, nuclear, was going to a different state. This is how I think we, as researchers, get ourselves into trouble because we do not educate the public about what we are doing.
            Still, the question comes back, why do we not want to use animals in research? It may seem strange that I keep coming back to the same question but I think it has something to do with what the articles are talking about, education. I think about the general public and what they believe. They trust the internet more than the professional, the guy on Dr. Phil more than the psychologist they have been seeing for years and the late night radio host talking about aliens than what is right in front of them. This gets me to the point of why I think many people are against animal research.
            I have never been against animal research but, I found myself questioning this while reading the articles, and like I said earlier, the question why kept coming up. I realized, for me, that it was a matter of putting myself in the animals place. How would I feel if an advanced race, aliens, came, invaded the earth and decided that I would be a good “model” for their research. Images of movies flashed through my mind as I envisioned myself lying on a steel table unable to move. Yes, it is ridiculous, but it is also what I perceive as a great strength of the human race, empathy.
            As humans, we have the ability to empathize with not only others of our kind but also other species. The further we get away from a species that we can identify with, the less empathy we have for that species. Such as a cockroach, I can smash it without thinking twice. However, to smash a bunny, I don’t think I could do it. This ability for empathy of similar species is well known to writers. A writer needs to gain the audiences’ sympathy for the main character or the book will fail. In order to do this the main character must be similar to the reader in not only psychological characteristics but, also physical characteristics. A good example of this is Avatar, even though the alien race was not human they looked very human and we could identify with them.
            This takes me to the main point of what I am getting at. We identify with animals because of our fear and empathy. We can picture ourselves, our parents, and our kids in similar situations. For this reason it is so important that researchers educate the public on how and why the studies are being conducted. They need to help the public become more aware of the benefits of the research. However, more importantly, educate the public on the costs of not doing the research. I don’t think anyone would want to go back to the days that Overmier and Marilyn (2001) describe, “…infant and mother mortality rates were very high. Those children who did survive were battered by a variety of fatal or debilitating diseases (e.g., whooping cough, measles, rheumatic fever, and infantile paralysis).”
            Animal research, at this point in the history of man, is a necessary evil, but that does not mean that it cannot be done humanely. It is also important that we as future researchers understand the importance of educating the masses on what we are doing and more importantly why we want to do animal research.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Risky Decision Making

This next post is from a study done by Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). It is an amazing study that looked at why people make risky decisions. The found out that people make decisions based on losses and gains as opposed to the probability of those losses or gains. An example: 
"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved." 
In this example more people chose option A (72%) because the example is presented in gains. The same example just presented in terms of loss: 
"Imagine your country is preparing for the outbreak of a disease expected to kill 600 people. If program A is adopted, exactly 400 people will die. If program B is adopted there is a 1/3 probability that no one will die and a 2/3 probability that 600 people will die."
Here more people chose option B (78%).

So from the examples we learn that people don't really care about the odds but are more concerned with how it is worded or in other words what are they going to lose.

When writing our stories we need to see how we are presenting ultimatums. Are we looking at them from the perspective of odds or from gains and losses. The character is more likely going to make the choice depending on how it is presented rather than the odds of success or failure.

Monday, October 3, 2011


When we sleep we go through different stages. When we first fall asleep we are in stage 1 which is a light sleep and progressively we move into deeper and deeper sleep (stage 4). We then cycle down until we approach stage 1 in which we enter a different kind of sleep Rapid Eye Movement (REM). It is in this stage in which we begin to dream. We then go back and forth in between REM and NREM (when we don't dream).

Something interesting happens when we are in REM, our bodies become immobilized which is a protection from acting out our dreams. Also a study was conducted by Dement that showed that we need to dream and in fact if a person goes without dreaming the next night they will end up dreaming more than usual. Also in the study it showed that there was a slight increase of weight gain by not being allowed to dream.

As we write sleep into our characters lives we need to understand their sleep patterns and how they work. Are they getting deprivation of sleep and/or dreams? They should be having the "big" dreams in the morning when more people have dreams or is this what makes the dream unique because it happens immediately upon falling asleep.?. Dreams can be a great way to move our characters and to give insight into our story to our readers. It is also a great way to show foreshadowing.

How do the dreams affect our characters? Do they believe in the dreams they are having? Are they grouchy for the rest of the day? You know the days I'm talking about you wake up after dreaming about fighting with significant other and you are angry at them for the rest of the day.

Keep in mind the sleep patterns of your characters and how all that sleeping on hard ground is affecting them. How do you interpret your dreams?

Friends Meetup Party - the perfect line