11 February 2011

Brain Power

Okay so maybe this isn't something I'm qualified to write about, but hey, bear with me okay?

The Kitty Princess is taking college level biology for her senior year of school.   She had a MASSIVE project over the summer b.e.f.o.r.e. classes even started that required her taking 45 pictures of various items on a list with a "marker" in the pictures to prove she actually took them.  The marker she chose was her Hello Kitty ring.

Now, my first problem with this is that I do not subscribe to the whole huge project over summer vacation theory.  It's called summer vacation for a reason.

My second problem is that in order to either have said photos developed or printing them out either one was a major expense.  Maybe not if you've got a regular job and regular income, but for us, the $35 we had to pay for a new color printer cartridge was a problem.  That's a rant for another day though.

Because she didn't DATE the photographs she got a bad grade on the project, even though it was immaculate otherwise.  The teacher (who we continue to have problems with still - she's lost several of Kitty's papers and instead of admitting she lost them, she's insisting they were never turned in.  So yes, I'm believing my kid, she told me the day she turned them in, I saw them, rode her ass every day until they were done, so I'm not buying that she didn't turn them in) gave them the option to participate in the science fair project to make up for the summer project grade.  Okay, she can do that.

The project she and her partner came up with was subliminal messaging.  They came up with a program that flashes a color on the screen while playing solitaire.  It wasn't obvious unless you were looking for it.   The set out five bowls of M&M's and asked each participant to pick a color after playing a game of solitaire.  In every case, the person picked the color they were subjected to.  Pretty neat if you ask me.

We got to talking about projects though and she told me about the kid who won the national project either last year or the year before or something.  The student, a 14 year old, submitted a project about dihydrogen monoxide.  He passed around petitions to have the substance banned for the following reasons:

  • is called "hydroxyl acid", the substance is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the "greenhouse effect".
  • may cause severe burns.
  • is fatal if inhaled.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

Sounds nasty doesn't it?  The petitions were accepted readily, and thousands of them were signed supporting the ban of the substance.

The project was entitled "How Gullible Are We?"

So, what does gullible have to do with it?  Dihydrogen monoxide is water.


Kitty and I had an intense discussion about this on the ride home from school today about the power of the brain and the power of suggestion.  Yes, they're different, but also in many ways the same.  A friend of our family passed away about a year ago.  My belief is that she actually killed herself.  No one could ever find anything wrong with her despite constant hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room.  She was definitely a hypochondriac, but is it possible that her belief that she was dying was powerful enough to make it happen?

We see the power of suggestion every day in more places than we might even realize.  The media especially.  Peta.  Politics.  Racism.  Video Games.  Music.  Beauty.  The list goes on and on.  

Peta went on a huge campaign telling us how it was horrific to be milking cows.  Obviously they've never heard a cow who missed her milking.  But they had people jump on the bandwagon right along with them.

Political candidates go on and on about how great they are, how awful their opponents are, and many people don't even research, they just buy into whatever fits with their own lifestyles hook line and sinker.

The argument for racism goes on and on.  White on White, Black on Black, White on Black, etc., etc., etc.  We've got so many people living in this country together, and I'm not sure it's even racism anymore.  It's just human nature.  Sure there are people who hate other races, but are they the exception or the norm?  Do people hate other races for reasons or the stereotypes that we've been subjected to all our lives?

Video games cause kids to kill people.  We ALL know that right?  Bullshit.  What video games DO is desensitize kids to violence.  Not make them commit it.  As far as I'm concerned it's no different than NCIS or CSI, or for that case the plethora of movies that are full of violence.  

Music....ugh.  I'm not even going there.

Beauty?  Blondes have more fun, redheads have tempers, brunettes are smarter?  Really?  Not to mention the whole body image thing.  Are we fat because some Victoria's Secret model weighs 100 pounds and throws up every bite of food she eats except those two celery sticks she allow herself for breakfast and lunch?

My point is that we as individuals need to stop taking things at face value.  We all have brains, why do so many people fail to utilize them to research things?  A recent article was published about the use of the term Obamacare.  It was said that republicans coined the term in a derogatory manner.  Really?  The truth is that the democratic party submitted the term to Google Adwords and had it protected.  Yet, as usual, you've got the political diehards arguing over it.  Aren't there better things to talk about?  Does it really matter where it came from?  People are using the controversy to try and sway the minds of the American public in BOTH directions.  Just stop.  Enough is enough.  I think after two years of having President Obama in office, we've all made up our minds one way or the other.  Like him or not, who really cares who came up with a term that's been accepted for what it represents?

It's amazing what we're willing to accept as the truth.  Like the science fair project, it's so easy for someone to present us with a set of facts, even if they're true, and turn them around to make us believe something else.  I think I'm going to start doing a whole lot more investigative research before making decisions from now on.  How about you?


  1. What a great post! I completely agree about the herd mentality and people jumping on the bandwagon due to the power of suggestion. I wrote a post a while ago about how marketers do this with the cosmetics ads. They promote things like Pro-Retinol and Amino Peptides and all sorts of confusing chemical things and we buy in that these things must be good and desirable for us. Even though we have really no idea what they're talking about! Shampoos too! Can't wait to hear what else your research brings up. It is interesting!

  2. Your daughter should win for the subliminal message thing. The dihydrogen monoxide thing is good, but I've heard it before. Your daughter's M&M thing is much more original. (I know, the other project was from last year, but...what was my point?)

    I had a summer project once. It was a bug collection. I had to put the bugs in a jar with nail polish remover and then freeze them. Well, it seems like I didn't wait long enough to freeze them. The day we turned in the project I had them all pinned in the case, and then a bunch of them came back to life. They were squirming all around with the pins in them. It was quite disturbing.

  3. I think this is one of the best posts I have read in a long time, Donna. How interesting! I know the power of the mind so it is scary to think that it is so easily manipulated!!! I hope that science fair project helped your daughter out. It's way better than any of the snience fair projects I ever saw (or did.) lol.


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