We discussed the Stanford Prison Experiment in my 102 class in depth, but reading about it a second time still unsettles me. It reminds me that you never truly know what a person is capable of, especially if you know them just on a surface level. Similar to the Milgram experiment, where an alarming number of people shocked the unseen “subject” with a seriously harmful or even deadly amount of volts, an innocent looking stranger on the street could be wiling to do things you don’t want to think about. Of course, the Milgram experiment was looking at obedience to authority instead of simulating a prison environment, but the results of both experiments didn’t exactly put faith in humanity. The SPE is maybe a little more unsettling, because the “victims” were real humans who faced real abuse, not just a voice behind a wall. I don’t think it was ethical to run this experiment, because the subjects were clearly scarred for life, and even the head researcher admitted that he got lost in his role and probably wouldn’t have snapped out of it for a while if a third party hadn’t pointed out how cruel the experiment was becoming.
I think the Goethals and Allison article was fascinating. I found that it further expanded on the evolutionary preferences for leaders in an LSS that we read about, especially when it comes to political leaders like Kennedy and Reagan. It was also a little alarming, because it reminded me that people make a crazy amount of assumptions about you as a person based on first impressions and rumors that they’re content to never follow up on. How you perceive yourself vs how other perceive you could be completely different and you might never know about it.
Reading this excerpt from “The Logic of Failure” was basically seeing my entire life as an Environmental Studies major (or anyone who is environmentally conscious) put on paper. So much of the climate and environmental problems today are from people making a quick solution that ends up causing more problems. When thinking about conservation or reparation, you pretty much have to think five steps ahead of yourself to prevent some kind of harmful environmental butterfly effect from happening. It’s headache inducing. Are pesky insects eating your crops? Try pesticide! Oh, congratulations, you’ve contaminated the local groundwater and some of those insects have developed a resistance to that pesticide, meaning you’re now in a lose-lose situation where you can increase the concentration of pesticide (killing more insects but increasing contamination) or try and switch methods (potentially reducing pollution but putting your crops at risk). Humans have made so many of these quick solutions over the last few hundred years that we’ve dug ourselves into an environmental grave. I think my favorite example is the cane toad in Australia; settlers there were having issues with an invasive beetle eating their sugar cane, so they introduced the cane toad to try and control it. They got what they wished for, but cane toads are literal vacuums that will eat anything in sight (conservation biologists have found ping pong balls and other inanimate objects in their stomachs), and soon the toads started threatening native small mammal populations. By not taking the time to ask the important questions and think about long-term repercussions, the settlers cursed themselves with years of ecological damage that still hasn’t been solved.
Forsyth’s article was not what I was expecting. When I read that bolstering students’ self-esteem actually decreased academic performance, I immediately thought that it must be due to some external factors. Maybe the fact that our generation greatly differs from generations past plays a big part- as Forsyth wrote, “The current generation of young adults, who comprised our sample, differs substantially and significantly from previous generations in several relevant respects. Most notably, they have higher self–esteem and lower beliefs in internal control.” (457) But now that we know this information, what do we do with it?
The reading by Stern and Kalof was a nice reminder of concepts I remember learning in 102 and in AP Statistics my senior year of high school. Reading about surveys especially brought me back to Stats because we had so many discussions about why many surveys actually don’t provide valid data. There are so many factors that one has to consider when making a survey that it almost drives you nuts; for example, how will the survey be delivered? If it’s through phone, you have to consider that some people might not own a landline. If people don’t pick up, that also affects the data. If it’s interviewing in public, the sample you get at a mall versus outside of a bar will get a different demographic, so you have to consider if the sample you’re getting is representative or not.
I was really fascinated by the von Reuden reading. The discussion of SSSs and LSSs reminded me of the book Big Fish, and the comparison of the metaphor of being a big fish in a small pond or a big fish in a big pond. It made me think of the SSSs and LSSs in my life. If you think of a household as an SSS, mine reflects what happens in an LSS, in that my dad makes more money, has more of an alpha male personality, and is the confident one that makes the ultimate decisions. It makes me wonder how that has affected the way I perceive what I leader is. Since I’ve gone to a liberal high school and college and have been exposed to progressive ideas from a young age, I think that would have altered any initial traditional ideas of leadership in my subconscious. Still, according to this paper, despite our beliefs, the leaders that actually show up in LSSs are more traditional.
My second thought from this reading is how do we change what a leader looks like to what society looks like? How do we get more women to be leaders, and more people of color? We all know by now that a leader doesn’t always have to be tall, over-confident, and masculine with aggressive tendencies. In fact, I remember reading last year that people prefer a leader not to look like that. What’s holding us back, and how can we fix it?
I had heard of some of these social dilemmas before, but I had heard them outside of game theory. I learned about the Tragedy of the Commons in a high school environmental science class because it relates to overfishing, and I learned about the Prisoner’s Dilemma in Econ. (Although somehow this book explained it better than a whole semester of Econ.) I knew of the concept of Chicken because it was a game we played at recess in elementary school, where two people would hang from the monkey bars and kick at each other until one gave up and jumped off.
It’s interesting that dilemmas like these can apply to very small situations, like a roommate not doing the dishes and getting their frustrated roommates to do it for them, or to large scale situations, like thousands of young people free riding on social welfare. Whatever the scale, the solutions seem to apply either way, like threats vs negotiation. Since we can recognize these dilemmas, I think it would be valuable to know ways in which to nullify these situations, especially since all of us are in a setting where we often have to work collaboratively with people, and will likely need to do so when we first get jobs or internships.
I had never heard of DIC before, but I knew that patients had a right to refuse treatment even if it was detrimental to their health. After reading this article, it does make sense that people should have a right to self-medication. I’ve heard of instances before from family friends where a doctor denied them a certain prescription medication despite our friend knowing that something was wrong, which ended up harming them in the long run. This is very much applicable to my family; my mom has pulmonary arterial hypertension (the arteries that pump blood from her heart to her lungs are constricted and put too much pressure on her heart), which becomes life threatening very quickly if she doesn’t have a constant administration of medicine. There are several types of medicine, and a person’s response to the medicine is very individualistic. In this case, a doctor might prescribe one of the medications based on how her tests come back, but the only way to know if the medicine is working is if she feels her quality of life is the same as it was before (basically asymptomatic). Luckily our doctor is very nice and is willing to prescribe another medication if it means my mom will feel better, but it could be the case that he would refuse because he thinks he knows which medicine is best- even though the only person who can truly know is my mom. She should have the right to switch medications, because she’s the only one qualified to judge her well-being.
I also agree with Flanigan in that people should first be informed of all the benefits and risks before receiving the drug they request. Not everyone would research a certain drug before they request it, so for liability’s sake, they need to at least hear the risks even if they choose to ignore them.
The paper by Dr. Hoyt sounded very familiar to me, because I actually wrote a lengthy paper about biases that prevent the successful representation of women in leadership (more specifically sports, politics, and business) in my 102 class. The conclusion that I came to is that societal expectations that lead to double binds and the lack of access to necessary resources are what result in this significant underrepresentation. I specifically remember reading a lot about communal and agentic traits and how they both are assets in a leader, but that they’ve been tied up in gender stereotypes. I think that Richmond has done a good job in encouraging students regardless of gender to take on leadership roles, but I’m curious what it will look like in the real world. My sister is 28 and is a certified Adult, and this reading makes me want to ask her if she’s experienced some of these stereotype threats.
Reading about the different biases and mindbugs hurt my mind a little bit, because it makes me wonder how many I have and may not realize. The fact that I consciously could be against a certain stereotype but automatically lean towards it is a little upsetting, because I can’t do anything about it unless I know about it, but how am I supposed to know about if it’s automatic?
I took the Gender-Science test and was a little surprised by the results. I got a strong automatic association for male with liberal arts and female with science. According to other people’s results, I’m in the 1%, and I really thought that I would have an implicit bias towards the opposite. In trying to figure out why I got what I did, it could be because I’ve taken several philosophy and literature courses both here and in high school, and I really can’t remember ever reading texts from a female author. When it comes to STEM, my schools have always done a good job of encouraging girls to go into the sciences, so maybe my biases have changed from that. Although I think I do normally associate males with things like math and engineering, I’ve been scarred (harsh word but true) so much from those philosophy and literature courses that I may just associate liberal arts with the male authors I had to read.
I’m not going to lie, I was digging the CTAA reading until we got to mapping the different moral arguments. My brain hurt after the midterm, but once I finished the reading, I respected it. I’ve been in a lot of philosophy courses before, but had never read about consequentialism, egoism, or deontic and aretaic moral arguments before. Although it’s a little hard to remember which is which, I do appreciate the different perspectives in which they let you evaluate a moral argument/situation. If you’re just analyzing a statement written in this book for example, it’d be valuable to try and analyze from each perspective to see which one makes the most sense to you, so you can then form your own opinion. It’s similar to how diagramming an argument and categorical logic are different methods of evaluating an argument but help you achieve that similar goal. When I read about the sheriff situation, I had to stop and think for a minute. I still don’t really what I would do in that moment. I don’t want to frame an innocent man, even if it would be for the greater good, but I also don’t want more people to die. That’s my one qualm with this reading and these methods- if you’re in a situation like that that needs a decision right away, like if you saw a child drowning in a pond, you’re not going to sit back and analyze the different moral perspectives.
I really enjoyed the Blind reading, because it reminded me of readings we did in 102. My professor actually did the social security number test on us; even though I consider myself a frugal person, I was willing to spend more on those three things, and the last two digits of my social security number are on the higher end. I think mindbugs are fascinating and I’m glad that I actually enjoyed reading something for a class for once.
On Wednesday, January 29th, I attended the Eco-Corridor Mini Symposium, which was a presentation of the senior capstone projects of several Environmental Studies and Geography majors followed by breakout discussion groups. If you don’t know, the Eco-Corridor/Gambles Mill Corridor is the patch of land behind the Print Shop that the Office for Sustainability has been working on for the last year. It was often used as a running path and there were a few community gardens in the middle, but nothing significant had been done with it. Hearing these projects were especially relevant for me, because the spring project for my SSIR is to present proposals for more projects for the Eco-Corridor. The projects presented ranged from introducing a freshwater mussel population to regulate the water quality of Westham Creek which runs through the Corridor, to taking drone images of the land before and after construction to use for advertising and possibly to create LIDAR data. My group is focused on the physical restoration of the area. Our project idea right now is to 3D print a topographical map of the Corridor to put at the entrance. Some other group’s ideas are a pollinator meadow (which is actually already in effect), a farmer’s market/5k to achieve community outreach, and signage throughout the Corridor.
I’m very excited for the official opening on Earth Day, because the purpose of the Eco-Corridor is so students can have an outdoor/green space to retreat to on campus. There will be a newly renovated path that leads right to the river (which I think a lot of students miss out on), outdoor classrooms, community gardens, picnic tables, and an area by the creek called Little Westham Beach for general recreational use. Although the Office for Sustainability is the main driver behind this project, many of the ideas and actions came from students. It gives me some hope that the University sees value in spaces that are created by and for students.
On Thursday, January 30th, I attended the Community Meeting held to hear students express their concerns and feelings about the racist acts of last weekend. I had also attended the open mic event held on the Forum that Tuesday, and the stories and messages I heard at both were some of the most powerful. I cried at both, because although I was aware of the racism on campus beforehand, I had no idea of the awful walls and prejudice some students have to face. The story that particularly stuck with me was told by a senior girl from China (I don’t remember anyone’s names, I’m awful at names) about how she never felt comfortable in the business school, as the atmosphere is dominated by white people in Greek life. Even the professors are mostly white old men. I also avoid B-school if I can, but then she revealed that she was a B-school major. I was absolutely floored; imagine not feeling welcome in your home school for four! years! And the tour guides who are POC who talked about how they now feel conflicted when they give tours, because what are they supposed to say if a POC family asks them what their child can expect? Racist slurs written on doors? Immediate segregation dependent on whether or not they participate in Greek life?
There are so many problems on this campus that sit at the University’s core, and although it took way too long to have these conversations become campus-wide, I desperately hope they continue. I hope the University listens to the student voices that need to be heard, and as someone who benefits from white privilege, I will put in more effort in supporting my fellow students so that Richmond can actually one day feel like one big community.