Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Burrowed --> Malcolm Gladwell

In the essay "Something Burrowed" by Malcolm Gladwell, he asks whether or not plagiarism charges should ruin a person's life. He first starts off with giving us an example of Bryony Lavery, who is a British play writer of the Broadway Play called "Frozen", and how she plagiarizes by using works from people, such as: Dorothy Lewis and Gladwell himself , to complete her play. Dorothy Lewis was a psychiatrist that was interviewed in one of Gladwells articles, and some of the information that was given to Gladwell about her life was in comparison to a character in Lavery's play. As the controversial issue on Lavery started to arise and having Lewis considering on filing lawsuits against her, Gladwell meets up with Lavery. He then learns from Lavery that she had not intend on plagiarizing his and Lewis's work but that she saw their work as “news”, therefore she thought that she could use it without receiving consent beforehand. Also in the essay, Gladwell writes about how music can also be related to plagiarism and how what matters is not that someone copies another person's work, but how much the person copies. Gladwell then summarizes that one artist cannot own a certain note because there are so many different ways and durations to use that same note, therefore it is not plagiarism. Overall, in Gladwell's essay, he does not provide and answer or go into further investigation on whether or not plagiarism charges would ruin a person's life, he just leaves it as an open-ended answer.

After reading Gladwell's essay on plagiarism, I felt that it was clever on how he did no say whether he was for or against plagiarism, but that he provided us with examples of plagiarism and how it had affected a persons life, and the evolutionary background of plagiarism. The way on how I understand what Gladwell is saying about music is that plagiarism is not bad in the music industry because music evolves over time. In my understanding of what he was saying, I agree with him because I also feel that no artist can officially own a key or note in their lyrics because music does evolve over time and that newer artists build from past generation. Also with Lavery's plagiarism on her play, with my open-ended answer, I felt that she was scared and knew what she did wrong but did not want to admit that she was wrong, and I felt that she should have some sort of consequence instead of getting away so easily for having such a huge impact on public notice for her plagiarism on others' work. Overall, I felt that Gladwell's essay could have been better in answering all of his questions or providing us with some feedback with some information as to why he did not come to a conclusion with his answers.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


In chapter 7, Ronson meets up with Adam Curtis, a friend who is also a documentary maker, at a bar in North London after his visit in Florida with Al Dunlap.  He told Curtis about his visit and that Al Dunlap had a "crazy sculpture collection of predatory animals" and also that he had "oil paintings of himself". Ronson gets upset at Curtis because he was critiquing him and also criticizes journalists in saying that all that they do is travel far away to get bits of "craziness" from all over the place and just "stitch it all together" and make a story out of it. Basically, Curtis is saying that journalists have the desire and need to seek out the negativity and "craziness" in someone to have an interesting story. After his visit with Curtis, Ronson meets up with Charlotte Scott, a woman who had a job with TV corporations talking to people on hotlines who had family crisis and wanted to be on TV.  Some of the shows that she had dealt with in putting people on the reality show were Jerry Springer, The X Factor, American Idol, and Extreme Makeover. These shows wanted the flaws of people to make it interesting for the audience to watch. In her job, she looked for people who were "just made enough" and not "too mad to come on the show".  In working on the hotline and bring "mad" people on the show, it started to dehumanize her and other workers to "find ways to eradicate empathy and remorse from their day jobs" so that they can do better on their jobs. Charlotte then goes on and talks about a woman, Deleese, who was put on the Extreme Makeover show and she was denied the surgery to make her look pretty.  Before this incident, the family had told the truth about their feelings toward Deleese and that she was ugly.  In Charlotte not going through the surgery and making her look pretty had caused a lot of traumatic events in the family from telling the truth about their feelings towards her.  This caused her sister to die from overdosing on pills and alcohol.  

My reaction to both the chapters were that it really showed the crazy in people and reality shows.  I thought that it was really interesting to hear about the events of Al Dunlap and his house filled with predators and that reality shows did only seek out to people with major problems, but it is very sad to hear about these things and that they are actually happening.  Chapter 6 really did go in depth with one person's life and how his psychopath behaviors had reflected on how he lived and Chapter 7 had shown the psycho behaviors being put on reality shows. Everything in both the chapters were very well described and Chapter 7 on the reality shows really gave my a great insight on why the reality shows are so interesting to watch because they consists of people who are already crazy, so it already makes it interesting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


"How does societal norms shape the way a person thinks and behaves?"

With this question, I will go about finding what society does to a person.  Some of the places that I will look at for answers are models, teens in school, and the media.  I will first try to look at websites and articles on the internet to get information.  Then from there I am also thinking about getting my peers thoughts and feelings of how society impacts a person.

In choosing this question, I just want to learn more about how and why society has impacted a person wan whether or not the societal norms are ethically or morally wrong.  I feel that some of the answers that I will be finding are that society does do a big part in shaping the way a person behaves.  Some problems that I might encounter while doing this research is trying to find enough sources to back up my question.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"The Psychopath Test" Chapter 4

In this reading, Jon Ronson meets with Bob Hare and discusses about his studies on psychopaths which is “The Psychopath Test”. Bob Hare is an influential psychiatrist who did many findings of the psychopath brain anatomy. To determine how different the brain anatomy from psychopaths and non-psychopaths, Hare performed two different studies. One of the studies being that the psychopath and the non-psychopaths were strapped by an EEG that gave the patients a painful electric shock. As a result, the psychopaths did not have any emotion or even break any sweat. In the test, the amygdala that is part of the brain should have encountered the unpleasantness of the electric shock and sent the signals of fear to the central nervous system to create a reaction, but it did not for the psychopaths. Due to this, Hare came to the conclusion that psychopaths had a different brain structure than regular brains, and they had no memory of the pain. Another study that Hare had done was the Startle Reflex Test. In this test, psychopaths and non-psychopaths looked at visuals of grotesque images of crime scenes, such as someone's face being blown apart. As a result, the psychopaths were not disturbed or horrified by the pictures. If anything, the psychopaths were more fascinated by the obscure pictures. From this, he created the twenty-point Hare PCL-R Checklist that determined if someone was a psychopath and at what item they were at, such as item 1, item 2, and so on. Corresponding with the item is the behavior that goes along in describing the psychopath. Ronson came to learn more about “The Psychopath Test” from attending Hare's three-day residential course where a group of psychologists, prison officers, and budding criminal profilers would also attend. At the beginning of the course, Ronson and the other members were a bit skeptical on Hare's checklist. As the course went on and Ronson provided many videos that included psychopaths who were convicted of any felony. Along with the videos, Hare's checklist had correlated with the psychopath's behavior. Towards the end of the seminar, Ronson was enlightened by Hare's theories and findings. From the seminar, Ronson believes that Hare was correct and now he himself feels like he has the great ability to spot psychopaths and that he now has a long journey ahead of him.

Based on the reading, I feel that the twenty-point Hare PCL-R Checklist is not very effective because some people can inhibit one of the behaviors, but they are not necessarily considered psychopaths. Some of the things on the checklist are such as Item 15, which is irresponsibility. I feel that sometimes I am irresponsible, but that does not make me a psychopath. Although I feel that the psychopath checklist is not very effective, I thought that the reading was really interesting, and I liked how in depth each of the cases on the psychopaths were told.