Author Archives: Leah Hincks

Reading Response for 4/6

Something out of the reading from “A People’s History of the United States” was how little that I actually knew about the colonization of the United States. For example, I knew that a lot of Native Americans were killed but I was shocked to learn that more than 9 million were killed from wars, disease, and being taken prisoner. I think that my lack of knowledge on this topic just shows what a skewed version of history that is taught in schools in America. We learn the “white” version of history. I learned in elementary school that Columbus was the hero that brought my ancestors to this country. The version in this book paints him as much more evil. When he met the Native Americans, his immediate reaction was that they would make good servants. This is entirely because of the color of their skin, he immediately had no respect for them as people. I wish that schools in the United States would stop white washing history and give and accurate representation of the way that this country was colonized.

Honestly, I found the second reading boring and a little confusing. However, what I did get out of it was that sometimes I forget what a complex racial history the city of Richmond has. It of course stems back to the Civil War, but it did not end there. African Americans in Richmond had to fight and fight to get a fair amount of city counsel people to represent them. It goes to show how when a group of people is in power, they almost always abuse that power to stay in control . Reading this paper makes me what to take a closer look at Richmond’s government, and see how it may still be under representative of some groups of citizens of Richmond.

Stanford Prison Experiement

Reading about the Stanford Prison experiment was really interesting, however it raises questions for me about the ethics of it all. The thing that struck me the most was the ability to create such intense power dynamics, even though all participants knew that the prison was fake. Not only did the guards take their role seriously, perhaps too seriously, but also the prisoners did not question the guards’ authority. Also, the psychologists behind the study started to act more as prison wardens than psychologists. When they heard rumors of the prisoners trying to escape, they focused all of their energy into trying to foil the plan, instead of studying the prisoners trying to escape. Also, even outsiders, such as family visitors, did not question the authority of the prison guards/ superintendents. It is shocking how real the situation became for everyone, and how quickly the power dynamics strengthened.

This study makes me question the ethics behind it. Although they cut the study short, when it became clear that the prisoners were suffering mentally and the guards were becoming increasingly abusive, prisoners were still tormented severely throughout the experiment. The participants did agree to become prisoners in the study, but I doubt that it was enclosed just how degradingly they would be treated. Also, when one prisoner tried to quit the experiment, he was convinced to stay. Another one was pressured into staying by the other prisoners just to prove that he wasn’t a “bad prisoner.” He had forgotten that he was not even a prisoner at all. Just a college student who had agreed to participate in a study. It struck me when the psychologist reminded the prisoner of this and said “it was as if he had waken up from a bad dream.” Any experiment that makes participants forget who they are cannot be ethical. Also, the guards became abusive, when likely they are good, respectful people.

I recognize that this study was done a long time ago, before there may have been more strict ethical guidelines for psychological studies, but I would hope that after this experience, stricter guidelines were put into place.

“The Logic of Failure” Reading Response

I thought this reading was especially interesting considering the current challenges that the US government is facing. As I was reading the example of Greenvale in the study, it occurred to me that our government may make some of the same mistakes that the “bad mayors” make in the example. For one, I think that the government may be asking what questions instead of why questions. For example, it took the Senate days to agree upon a plan to stimulate the economy. Now of course I cannot know for sure, but I would guess that some senators were looking for an easy solution to bring money back into the US economy, without having a specific plan, that considered not only how the money should be distributed, but WHY.

Another point from the Greenvale example that I think that our government may be grappling with right now is the tendency to get fixated on one thing at a time. In this time, it is so easy to get overly focused on one issue- getting the economy back on track, producing more tests, finding a vaccine, washing your hands, etc.. Whatever it is, we cannot stay focused on just one of these things. It is crucial to address all of the issues at the same time, as well as continue on as best we can with the regular upkeep of the country. This is, of course, extremely challenging at a time like this, and, as the reading says, against the nature of some people. However, I think it is increasingly important that the government does not get fixated on just one of the issues at hand.

Leadership in small-scale societies

I thought this articles evolutionary perspective on leadership was interesting because I was actually recently discussing this with my mom. We were talking about how some groups are more likely to be leaders just because that is how our species evolved. Specifically we were talking about how men are more commonly leaders because they are bigger and stronger and were more able to provide when humans used to hunt for their food. I was wondering if that is why it is more common even now for men to work and provide for their families.

Something that I have never thought about, however, that the article addresses is race in terms of an evolutionary perspective on leadership. The article states that likely our ancestors would not have come in contact with those of another race, so it may have had a minimal impact.

Game Theory Reading Response

I liked how the end of the article addresses how humans are not necessarily reasonable. It is great to discuss all kinds of game theory, however in the moment it is really impossible to predict how people will act. This reminds me of a game we played with Dr. Harwell in my 102 class. In the game, everyone put a certain amount of their money into a pool, the pool was divided by three and then split evenly among the participants. The more everyone donated, the more was multiplied by three, and then was given back to everyone. However, some people could choose to be selfish. I know that I went in with the mindset that yes, rationally it does make sense to give the most amount of money, and if everyone does that, then we will get the most amount back. However, when it actually came time to play the game, I found myself questioning whether or not my classmates would play fairly. Because I was skeptical of my classmates, I myself got greedy and did not donate the most amount of money. Thus, I threw reason out and acted irrationally. This just goes to show that even if a person understands what is best for the common good, they may act not act reasonably in the moment. This is what makes game theory so fascinating.

Response to “The Duty to Disobey Immigration Law”

While I understand what Hildago is arguing in this essay, I have a hard time accepting that it is okay to break laws.  Basically, Hildago is saying that because immigration laws are morally unjust, it is okay to break them. But saying that these laws are unjust is subjective. Also, we live in a democracy where we elect leaders to make these laws. If we don’t agree with the laws that our leaders make, then we can elect new leaders. Furthermore, perhaps the laws are unjust, but if the goal is to be moral, then breaking the law is immoral as well.

Hildago addresses these counter arguments, but not well. Essentially he claims that immigration is an outlier in our democracy. Again, this is subjective. Just because a person does not agree with a law, does not mean that it is moral for them to break it.

Implicit Association Test

I took the IAT on Gender and career. I was not especially surprised by the results (slightly bias towards men =careers) because this is a common association to have. However, as I was taking it, I realized how many I was getting wrong when I had to associate men with family. This was a little startling. I grew up with both parent working full time, and my mom actually working more than my dad. So, it is interesting to see that I still have this bias, despite having a female role model who works that hard.

Implicit Bias Reading Response

The reading discussed how to bypass mindbugs and implicit biases. It says that instead of trying to “outsmart” them, it is better to acknowledge the ones that you have, and try to get rid of it. I found the story of the woman who changed her computer screensaver to pictures of various counter-stereotypes especially interesting. This is something that I will try to be mindful of, and do when I catch myself having a bias.It is a challenging thing to come to terms with. We all have biases, whether we want to or not. However, having biases does not make us bad people, as long as we do what we can to counter them when we catch ourselves having a bias.

I also learned about the concept of “double binds” in Dr. Hoyt’s class that she discusses in the reading. It makes me realize how it is possible to have two biases on the same subject, making it impossible to win. Dr. Hoyt gives the example of women being criticized for being strong leaders, and also being criticized for being “overly feminine.” I definitely see this double bind in my life.

Reading Response for 2/24

The CTAA article discusses different ways to evaluate moral arguments. One that stood out to me was egoism. Egoism is an argument form where any action by any person is moral as long as it creates the most possible pleasure for that individual. The article states that egoists are selfish, and selfishness is regarded as a moral flaw, therefore egoism is not moral. I think that egoism is a good argument form however.

 If everyone is doing what is best for them, then each person creates their own happiness. If everyone creates happiness for themselves, then everyone will be happy. This also is less stress on each individual because they only have to be concerned with one person- themselves. If a person cannot do actions that creates the most happiness for themselves then that is their fault. Therefore, Egoism is a good moral argument form.