Author Archives: franciee

Fallacious Reasoning

I just saw that I must have not caught on about the blog posts for the first one so here is a post about fallacious reasoning at the end of the semester built on it.

The fallacious reasoning chapters we read at the beginning of the semester are what our entire course was based off of. How manipulation works and how fallacies are everywhere, we just didn’t know what they were called until now. It is easy to see how fallacies can be used for you or against you, especially when you are trying to win an argument. Effectively, fallacies are how we build an argument. Without them we would live in a world without basic human nature to make someone else look worse so you look better. Because of this they have been around since humans started disagreeing with one another, they are present in children trying to stay up for an extra hour at night, they are used in politics (A LOT), they are even used in the classroom. We are surrounded by fallacies and now it is our task to recognize and analyze them.

The end of Hitler

Despite the controversy that surrounds Hitlers death, his grip on life and the lives around him were incredibly clear. The power that Hitler held over his men became imminently clear in the weeks before Hitlers death and the death itself. The fact that many of the people working in the bunker didn’t leave until very late in the game, which if they had left earlier could have saved their lives is a perfect example of that. As Hitler was losing his grip on the war and Europe, he only let go of the power he held on the men when he started talking about killing himself. Some realized what was happening but it seemed still found it difficult to do much about it. Which shows how powerful certain forms of dangerous leadership as well as group dynamics can be.

As many of the other posts have mentioned, I was also a bit thrown off by the end of the book and how Trevor- Roper claimed that Speer was the main criminal of Nazi Germany. We discussed in class the problem of punishing people who were following orders compared to simply punishing the person that gave the orders, and although we didn’t come to a distinct conclusion, I did not expect Trevor-Roper to direct all of the blame onto Speer and in a sense direct attention away from Hitler himself. It left me questioning more than I expected I would be.

Nan Keohane

I was very excited when I heard that Nan Keohane was going to be the last speaker I went to for the 3 that were required for this class. The first I went to I struggled to relate to leadership, the second (henrietta lack’s grandchildren) I left feeling uninspired, and I was hoping the last would pull it all together. Keohane met my expectations. Very articulate, I found her lecture to be easiest to relate  to leadership, but also the most relatable to what we as students are doing in our day to day lives. She spoke about two different kinds of leadership and gave examples of current situations. She knew how to reach her audience and I left feeling like I learnt something.

When breaking the two different types of leadership down, I was able to particularly relate to the quieter form she was speaking of, leading from behind. She related this to Shepards directing their sheep and the recent Arab spring. As a psychology major we learn a lot about this leading from behind technique as it is often used in therapy. Attempting to help someone come to a conclusion on their own terms instead of telling them what to do. Many people don’t think of this when they first think of leadership, instead the strong, outspoken leaders are thought of. The quieter leaders might not get as much recognition, but there are probably countless behind every major decision that has affected our world. Nan Keohane really made me think of these leaders in a way I hadn’t thought of before, which is the whole purpose of these Jepson Forums in the first place.

An Open Letter…

While reading “The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, I think many of us had a feeling that something or someone other than just Henrietta was being exploited by this book. We’ve spoken a lot about Henrietta and the story itself, but before this we have failed to really linger on Rebecca Skloot and her motives. Why did she actually write this book, and how can she claim it is a non fiction when so many scenarios could not possibly have been known. Once I really started thinking about the book in terms of Rebecca rather than Henrietta, I started to question many of the things I had previously skipped over as assumed truths. As Rebecca Kumar mentioned in her letter, Skloot creates a large distinction between herself and the Lacks family, and even though she is more educated than them, it seems like she emphasizes how uneducated they were and black people in general.And if she truly did care about the Lacks family, why is she the only financial benefactor of this book?

The inequalities of Skloot compared to the Lacks family really stood out to me in the Jepson Lecture I went to with Henrietta’s two grandchildren. Most of the people in our class who went had the same reaction, we all were not expecting them to be so politically correct and so inarticulate. They said nothing bad about Rebecca Skloot, relying on the response “she is a very nice lady, and was very close with Deborah”. For someone who is supposed to be writing a book that should draw the public’s attention to old racial stereotypes, she is strangely reliant on modern day stereotypes. To counter this though, would we still be calling Skloot racist if she were black?

Henrietta Lack’s Grandchildren Speak

When I first walked into the Jepson Alumni Center I had a lot of pre-conceived ideas going in. I was expecting well articulated, educated, and practiced speeches by the two Lacks grandchildren. Based on the book, I should have realized that the Lacks family still lives in relative poverty, although less and less as the years go by. Their responses were politically correct and almost apologetic. They weren’t even that knowledgeable about what seemed to go on with Henrietta. Albeit, they weren’t alive while she was going through her experience with Johns Hopkins and cancer.

The other problem though, was that we weren’t asking the hard questions. The man that was proctoring the questions and the discussion with Henrietta’s two grandchildren wasn’t trying to ask questions that would actually affect the way students, like me, viewed the book. As someone mentioned in class, it could be the fault of the One book One Campus project. Unlike the Jepson School, whose speech proctors are much more likely to ask challenging and provocative questions.

The one thing that the granddaughter did make an interesting comment about was the modern day healthcare. As she said, “the first thing they ask when you walk into a hospital is who is your healthcare provider”. Although addressing the problem very broadly, this is an issue that our country is definitely not paying enough attention to. However, yet again, the Lacks grandchildren did not have a particularly educated opinion about it.

Capitalistic Societies

We live in a capitalistic society. One that supports competition between companies and as a people we demand the lowest price at a speed that keeps up with our fast moving lives. The problem is, we don’t usually think about what the repercussions of our wants are. We have become so used to having everything be a possibility that a life that has less than what we have grown up with seems alien. Because of this we continue to ask for what we want and the companies continue to oblige our demands. No matter what the environmental risk. If it can make a company money they are willing to invest.

My dad works for a private equity firm that invests in oil and gas. One of their current investments involves hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, also known as fracking. This new from of drilling is able to access a resource of petroleum and natural gas that has previously been unreachable to us. However with fracking comes the possibility of ground water contamination and the possibility of a spill. These consequences sound to risky but the incentives of the profit was too much for people, including my dads firm to resist.

Its weird to think that we argue these things in class but often times we don’t realize that we are supporting them in so many different lights. As consumers, as investors, as car owners we are all stuck in a circle centered around a resource that will eventually run out. It is easy to argue that we shouldn’t be doing many of the things we are as a community, but I don’t know if I can say I would give up my education here at Richmond for my dad’s company not to be invested in fracking. I cannot foresee people giving up anything of the like for a very long time.

Richard Rhodes, Hedy’s Folly

The Jepson Leadership Forum with speaker Richard Rhodes on Wednesday night was on the topic of his most recent novel Hedy’s Folly. He started off the speech by explaining his background a bit and showing the audience the patent created by H. K. Marky about radio hopping controlled torpedoes. He also showed the audience an image of Hedy Lamarr, one of the most beautiful pin up girls of WWII era. Once he made the connection and finished explaining Hedy’s life, I was left with a few lingering questions about many class discussions we had previously had.

At this time in history, women were not expected to be anything but pretty faces, especially women in Hollywood. However Hedy broke all the societal norms and used all her resources to not only impress the community around her but also affect our lives as we know it. Further on this point, Hedy Lamarr was not a professional inventor, however she still believed that her ideas were important enough to make a difference in the lives of people. When our class is discussing how we can effect our environment it is easy to say we don’t know what to do we are not professionals. But Hedy Lamarr was not a professional. Could our fear of being wrong or lack of curiosity be holding us back from solving may of the problems our world has today? Hedy was able to let her curiosity run wild and kept putting her ideas into actions. Perhaps we should start putting our ideas into actions.

The hypothetical Future

While reading the prologue and second chapter of Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse: how societies choose to fall or succeed”, I couldn’t get past something that Diamond wrote in one of the very first pages. On page 7 he says, “If this reasoning is correct, then our efforts today will determine the state of the world in which the current generation of children and young adults lives out their middle and late years.” It is easy to say yes global warming is happening and we should do something about it, but it is another thing to actually act. We want technological advances, but we don’t want to have to give anything up. We don’t want to have to lower our standard of living as Diamond says will be the ultimate consequence. But no one will change. We will not change our life for something that is hypothetical. I’m not going to lie, I did wonder if the Mayan prediction was going to come true, that our world would change as we know it. It is a little scary to think that our society could be forcing itself in a downward destructive spiral.

I do believe however that we are incredibly adaptive creatures having lived in many different climates and made it through unforeseeable obstacles. However the same could be said about Dinosaurs. We are a very fragile species, and there are some things we just cannot protect ourselves from however much we think we can. The Meteor that just hit Russia is a perfect example.

I know this was not Jared Diamond’s main points to get across, but rather that there are many factors that play into the success or fall of a society. That did not stick with me though. The fear of not having a life that I imagine for myself and not being able to explore the world the same way I did as a child is what really stuck with me. I know what I want my life to be, and the possibility that that might not even be a lifestyle anymore made me think about how little control I had. A selfish thought, in an unfortunately selfish society. We can never know what will happen in the next 50 years but that hypothetical might be our problem.

Personal Biases

Being a Psychology major as well as leadership, I found it incredibly difficult to read many of these articles, particularly Anderson’s “Marketing Scientific Progress and Scientific Method” with out having a pretty biased opinion. In the psychology world if you created an opinion “ad-hoc” or after the experiment is already finished, it cannot actually be called an experiment. For an experiment, at least in the psychological field, a hypothesis must be created apriori, or before the tests are run. In Anderson’s paper when he was comparing logical empiricism to falsification I couldn’t help but close my mind off to logical empiricism  I have been told so many times that a theory can never be proven, it can only be dis-proven  or failed to be dis-proven, other wise known as the falsification, that it is hard to see how others could accept it. It is like the paradigm problem Anderson was explaining. So many scientists have their minds set that they are not open to new ideas. Is that what is happening to us when we decide to specialize in one area? Do we end up closing off the other methods of finding answers? And on a broader level have we closed off our minds to understanding other ways of life to an extent?

Albeit that is a bit extreme, but it is easy to see in a non scientific way that we all have paradigms and stereotypes about people around us based on our own personal experiences. Through our lives we have been institutionalized and been molded to think a certain way aspire to fill certain roles. In America that role is to be as competitive as possible and climb up the ladder of success. In non westernized societies however, it is easy to look down upon the roles that are customary to them. We don’t deny they are there but we think they are not modern, or unfair, just as I couldn’t help but think that logical empiricism seemed not modern. It is a reminder that we must check our judgments before we understand the history behind the idea.