Category Archives: 03 – 12.00pm

Games and Books

I think that the Games article did a great job illustrating the similarities, differences, pros, and cons of gaming compared to other activities.  As someone who has never “gamed”, it is a completely unfamiliar world for me.  Like many of you, I’m sure, I was encouraged as a child to read by going to the library and having reading time each day.  My school required children to log their reading (pages and time) each day.  This made reading a chore for me, and while I still love learning about topics that I find interesting, reading for pleasure is not one of my favorite activities.  What if, instead, my parents took me to the gaming store over every weekend, and part of my academic success was based upon my performance in games?  It seems strange, but I believe that it is also strange to stress the advantages of reading so heavily.  Some people may enjoy reading, but every person works differently.

I know that I am a kinesthetic learner.  I fidget all the time in class, and especially when I read, because staying in one place simply looking at a page does not keep my mind occupied or interested.  I can’t help but think that I may have done better in an environment where something that involved movement and more excitement, like gaming, would have benefitted my learning style more.

I am interested to see how the stigma attached to gaming may change in the future.  Education is now beginning to catch up with studies being done on learning differences and variation, and finding mediums that help more people take in information and succeed could be a great next step.



I agree with Johnson’s argument that, essentially, books are better than games. Johnson poins out that reading requires “effort, concentration, attention, ability to make sense of words, to follow narrative threads, and to sculpt imagined worlds out of mere sentences on the page.” However, I think these same skills can be developed through video games as well. For me, playing video games requires more effort than reading. It takes all of my concentration and attention to finish a task. And video games to involve dialogue and words, which the user has to make sense of. The only thing video games don’t do is make you “sculpt imagined worlds out of mere sentences.” For me, that’s where the creator of the video game comes in. The creators of video games had to do just that.

I don’t think Johnson’s article addresses board games, word games, etc. I think board and word games do all the things he thinks books do, and thus have the same benefit of reading.

While I agree with Johnson’s argument (partly because I prefer books to video games), I found it hard to believe him. At points in the article, he admitted that he makes a living off of writing books, and he “worries about the experiential gap between people who have immersed themselves in games, and people who have only heard secondhand reports, because the gap makes it difficult to discuss the meaning of games.” The sense I get from the article is that Johnson has never picked up a game controller in his life, which leads me to believe he’s basing his arguments off secondhand reports. He admits that he doesn’t trust people who do that- then how can we trust his article?

Easter as a Metaphor

The parallels between Easter Island and the world as a whole are striking: both divided into different “clans” that share resources, consume resources to maintain a growing population, and more.  But will our fate as a planet be the same as this 67 square mile island society?

Easter Island suffered as most societies did when Old World explorers brought illnesses with them on their ventures into their unknown.  Seven-eighths of the native population died off because of them.  Is this possible in the greater world? Unless aliens came to earth and infected us, that would probably not be the exact chain of events, but what about modern medicine?  Effective antibiotics are running out, and strains of diseases are constantly mutating to become less susceptible to our treatment.  Could this be part of our fate?

What about the abolition of  a country or “clan” system, and replacing it with a single military ruler?  It’s been attempted in the past, and has worked on a nearly-continental scale for impressive periods of time with rulers such as Hitler and Stalin.  

At first I thought that our globalized world was too big to fail in such a drastic way, but now I am not as convinced.  Diamond successfully illustrated the similarities between Easter Island and the world.  While our fate may not be identical, it may be prudent to study their failures just in case.


Logic of Failure and my experience

In “The Logic of Failure,” Dorner argues that humans have come to deal with problems on an ad hoc basis, to think of a solution for the problem at hand while not considering the consequences of their actions. Dorner states that, “The modern world is made up of innumerable interrelated subsystems, and we need to think in terms of these interrelations” (5). The ad hoc approach to dealing with problems often goes wrong when decisions are made in these complex systems, with connections between subsystems that the decision-maker does not anticipate.

Reading “The Logic of Failure” emphasized for me what I’ve previously thought is necessary in a leadership team. A leadership team requires more than one person. Having multiple people brings in different perspectives and slows down the decision making process. This allows the group to spend time specifically on thinking through the implications of the problem, which could help avoid the situations Dorner wrote about. I’ve experienced this type of leadership with an organization I’m involved in on campus. When our coach makes decisions without consulting me (the club’s student president) and the club’s vice-president, it has led to conflict between members of the club. Similarly, when I or the VP make a decision without consulting each other, conflict has been created as a result of our decision. The best decisions with the fewest long-term negative implications has been when the three of us have talked about it and specifically thought through the consequences of our choices.

What scares me the most…so far

I had heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment, and my 102 Leadership class watched a movie adaptation based on the experiment. But reading further into The Lucifer Effect and seeing the firsthand account of what happened was very eye-opening. I’ve always had a pessimissic view of humanity, and this book is confirming my feelings regarding how evil humans can be.

Two things in particular have shocked me so far. First is the treatment of the prisoners by the guards. The way the guards treated the prisoners is just appalling. I can’t even fathom what must have been going through the guards’ heads as they unnecessarily punished the prisoners. Everyone was equal going in. A coin flip decided their fates. I don’t understand how the guards forgot that fact. Zimbardo described at one point how one prisoner looked at the two week experiment as “paid vacation,” meaning the prisoners thought they would simply sit around and sleep for two weeks. The guards had the same feeling. The training Zimbardo gave the guards instructed them to make a real prison experience for the guards, but that alone does not warrant the verbal and physical harassment the prisoners received. Zimbardo mentioned how bored the morning shift was afraid of becoming. Was it really boredom that prompted the guards to begin treating the prisoners the way they did?

Secondly, Zimbardo’s involvement and reactions in the experiment terrifies me. In Chapter 5, Zimbardo describes when families and friends of the prisoners came to visit. Zimbardo wrote, “As they come down into the basement, full of good humor at what seems a novel, fun experience, we deliberately and systematically bring their behavior under situational control, according the plan. They have to be taught that they are our guests, to whom we are granting the privilege of visiting their sons, brothers, friends, and lovers” (pg 93). This quote terrified me. Zimbardo believed that not only are the prisoners under his control, but their families and friends. As a professional psychologist, Zimbardo needed to retain a level of objectivity. When Zimbardo felt he needed to exert control over the families of the prisoners, any shred objectivity I felt Zimbardo may have had left disappeared. What scares me is that Zimbardo is a psychologist. He’s a professional. He’s supposed to be conducting studies and researching to help people. And in this experiment, this professional ended up wanting to hurt people. The fact that not just your average college student, but someone as educated in psychology as Zimbardo eventually succumbed to evil is really, really scary.

The Scientific Method and Leadership

In the article, “Critical Thinking: The Scientific Method,” the author outlines the basic steps of the scientific method. First you identify the question that needs to be answered, then you formulate a tentative theory. Next, check for correlations and if necessary, formulate a new theory. Then check that theory for different kinds of causation and correlation. Finally, develop new questions.

At first, I thought that the scientific method was meant only for science. But after reading the three articles and reflecting on my leadership experiences, particularly with Mock Trial, I think the scientific method applied very loosely is a good tool to use when guiding discussion with a group and finding solutions to problems.

In Mock Trial, we’re given materials and we have to prepare a case that we actually try at a competition. When we’re initially given the materials, my role as team captain is to read through everything with my team and figure out how we want to develop our case theory and what facts to bring out or keep out in trial competition. The scientific method described in the “Critical Thinking” article is essentially how I guide that discussion. However, I think there are gaps in that particular explanation of the scientific method. The method described in that article do not prep you in the event something goes wrong, and focuses on finding a theory and then searching for proof or disproof of that particular theory. It does not remind you to keep an open mind and think about other options.

This is where I think Skinner’s article fills in those holes. Skinner talks about some unofficial principles in the scientific method. These principles include: when you run onto something interesting, drop everything else and study it; some ways of doing research are easier than others; some people are lucky; and (what my summer Biology professor termed) the serendipity factor- the art of finding one thing while looking for something else. These steps are key to how I use the scientific method in my leadership position.

Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender

I thought the readings were very interesting.  It is interesting to note that the first reading, “Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender” was written in 1994.  However, it does not change much the context of it.  Even in today’s ever-changing society, we still see stereotypes about gender in almost everything we watch.  A lot of women are still portrayed as stay-at-home moms who run their kids everywhere.  Look at the show Desperate Housewives. I mean the name even has a stereotype in it.  The whole show depicts the women stereotypically by having all of the women be different stereotypes.  A lot of shows today also have men in leadership positions, being strong and independent. 

Even though media today still portrays men and women in stereotypical roles, media is changing slowly so that we are now seeing some different things.  We see a lot more women in higher positions in businesses on shows and such.  We also see more men showing a softer side.  And we even see gay couples and gay people in the media now.  We still are a long way from breaking these stereotypes, but I do think we are moving towards the right direction.  I also find it interesting that even if people just see skinny people on tv that we only have skinny people.  You would have to be pretty ignorant and unaware to realize that the people you see on tv are representative of the entire population.  Although, it does subconsciously send a message that you should look like that because those are the people on tv. I am interested to see how quickly the media is going to change in the future to be more inclusive and less offensive.

AP Stats

My senior year of high school, in a valiant effort to avoid Calculus, I took AP Statistics. We had to do a project at the end of the year. I chose to survey my senior class about where we were all going to college, and why they chose that college. I colored a map of the US and clumped different states together in different regions. I created a list of general reasons why a student may pick a specific college (cost, location, programs offered, etc.). I couldn’t survey my entire class, so I chose my Theology class as my sample size. Theology was a required course, so I figured I would have a better balance of girls (I went to an all-girls school) who took a million APs versus girls who did not. I then compared my data to the data the counseling office had compiled from the two previous years. I had to calculate all the z-scores, t-scores, averages, degrees of freedom, and all that fun jazz that comes with stats.

How to Lie with Statistics revealed some of the errors of statistics, and provided valid reasons to be skeptical of numbers that are thrown around in the news and media. The line that struck me as most accurate regarding statistics was this: “I want you to infer something, to come away with an exaggerated impression, but I don’t want to be caught at my tricks.”

I personally have never put much stock in statistics, because I do not care if 9 out of 10 dentists recommend this brand of toothpaste. I trust what works for me, not what others say will work for me. After taking AP Statistics in high school, I grew even more wary of how statistics are calculated, interpreted, and used. While I understand the calculations behind determining the significance of a statistic (1%, 5%, etc.), that whole concept seems arbitrary. This is because the test of significance is affected by the data you have, which comes directly from the data you have which comes directly from the sample population you picked which is impacted by biases you have.

Additionally, I admit that I fudged some of the responses my sample population gave me. Some girls did not answer the question of why they chose a specific college, so I picked a reason that did not have as many responses as the others. It was incredibly easy for me to do this. I was the one creating, administering, collecting the survey, and analyzing the results. Companies and services that provide statistics to the general public could just as easily do the same thing I did. I wanted to create a certain impression with my AP Stats project (mostly, convincing my teacher I knew what I was doing), so I created a survey that would have simple results and would be easy to manipulate. Companies want to create a certain impression on its potential customers, and have the means to manipulate and control statistics in the same way I did, but on a larger scale and impacting more people.

Le Post

I do this thing sometimes where I like to break social norms.


I was afraid to write that, and now you’re probably extremely uncomfortable. That I wrote this banned word probably won’t win me much respect, and might even cultivate disgust. But why is that? Avoiding things that are ugly and taboo just magnifies their status as ugly taboos. What is this ugly word, really? It starts out with the curve of lips and the simple movement of the tongue against the teeth and the roof the mouth to produce noise; or in my case by connecting three consonants and a vowel on a keyboard. Communicating ugly words reminds me of the underwear gnomes story. Step one! Write or move mouth! Step three! Offend everybody! What happens in step two is a completely enthralling and crazy mystery.

I am fascinated by the oddity of socially consequential language, which seems to be exclusive to humans. I suppose that our species, which values conflict as a means for social movement, invented in language an efficient way to incite this conflict. I wonder if there have always been “ugly” words. Some language philosophers posit that language at its core must have begun as a tool for the simple communication needed to express the orders needed to maintain a primitive society. If that is the case, at what point did humans wake up to the possibility of swear words? Could it be that language began as a means for expressing emotion? That might explain the seeming ubiquity of taboo language.

Contemplating the origins of swear words is good fun, but I feel that I should explain that whole incident at the beginning (you know the one). I dared myself to write a taboo word in this homework assignment because I think that there is something to be studied in that moment of shock that people feel when observing or experiencing taboos– I write experiencing because I felt shocked, as well. When I closely examine this uncomfortable feeling, I realize that the only reason I’m uncomfortable is because it is embarrassing to do things that go against social norms. And if it turns out as I suspect, that using these types of words lessens their power to hurt peoples feelings, then I think I’d be doing more harm than good in keeping mum.

Out of Silence

I thought the most interesting part was looking at how differently language can play a role when looking at double standards between males and females.  This is seen a lot in today’s society and it is really disturbing to me.  When you turn on any tv show and watch commercials, there are always ads for women and girls to do all of these sorts of things in order to be the “ideal beauty.” Try this cream, this diet, this pill, this surgery.  It is a sad thing that the language companies use can persuade the masses in order to alter their bodies in harmful ways including surgically altering themselves.  The connotations that come with beautiful are that you have to be blonde and very thin. And the connotations that come with overweight are lazy, worthless, fat, bad.  This is not how it should be.

Men don’t really have to deal with these types of things and that really is unfair.  Women are constantly being judged on every single thing they do, but men are pretty much free to do whatever they please and don’t really suffer from many repercussions.  Language is a very powerful thing and it can be seen here that when used in certain ways, it can brainwash mass amounts of people to think that they have to change the way they are to conform to some sort of stereotype. I hope one day that we can break through these double standards and ridiculously unachievable goals that mass media presents to girls in order to make sure that they’re beautiful.