Archive for the 'Myth-busting' Category

Disney, are there really subliminal messages?

So, I’m sure everyone loves the wonderful Walt Disney movies. We all watched them in our youth and might still watch them at times because they remind us of our childhood! In high school I took a psychology class and we learned about subliminal messaging. Subliminal messages are hidden words or images in advertisements, movies, or music. It has been noticed that there are subliminal messages in some Disney movies such as The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.  Have you all seen heard of these messages being present in the Disney movies?

Here is an example of a subliminal message in Aladdin.

You must listen very closely, but Aladdin says, “Take off your clothes.”  Why would Disney put this into one of his movies that are meant for children?  What do you think?

Another movie is The Lion King.  While Simba lays down in the grass, dust flies up into the sky to spell the word sex.. watch closely in this video.

Finally, a third movie that has subliminal messages in it is The Little Mermaid.  At the end of the movie, when Prince Eric and Ursula are getting married the priest is having a little problem with his pants… here’s another video.

After watching these three examples of subliminal messaging in Disney movies, does it change your perspective on them? Do you think these are real or fake, there is much controversy between the subject so what is your opinion on it?


The stress of Lying

Someone has recently blogged about the stress of feeling guilt. This reminds me of lying. The smallest of fibs can cause a person to feel tremendously guilty and to really beat up on themselves. Even exaggerating something seems to come back and haunt my mind because I think about why I did it and if it was necessary. It usually isn’t. I think about pathological liars; those who obsessively lie as if it does not affect them. My mom and I joke constantly about this girl who I went to high school with. She was known, and not a good one. Whenever her sentences ended in “ask anyone, even ask my dad”, I knew instantaneously that it was a lie. I mean, no one was going to go out of our way to ask her dad about something completely outrageous. She never looked anyone in the eye either. She was always looking up or around during conversations. People who incorporate lying into their daily lives are interesting, though, because I think they start to believe their own stories. Have you ever met people who you really think believe that their lies are the truth? The more a person lies the easier it is to do. Convincing people that something is true means a repetition of the story. The more they hear about it and discuss it, the more intricate detail they add. Eventually, these people think their lies are the truth. Most people are offended that people don’t believe them. They dislike that someone thinks they are lying, although they are. Maybe some of you don’t understand what I am getting at because you don’t know people who are pathological liars. There must be some mental impairment which is causing them to forget the truth and believe lies.

This is a youtube clip of Dane Cook (the comedian) on lying. I have seen it a million times (this is a lie, more like 5) and can’t get enough of it!

Going Gray

The other day I was horrified when I was outside talking to one of my friends and she stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh my God you have two gray hairs!” My friend immediately went on to ask me “have you been stressed lately?” This question got me thinking with exams coming up and the school year coming to a close I had been extra stressed lately, not to mention I’m only in college I shouldn’t be getting gray hairs! Not to mention after taking a personality test online I learned that I have a tendency to worry a lot. All of these factors got me to ask myself the same question as my friend, can too much stress really cause gray hair?

When I was younger I remember my mom and teachers using the expression that I was giving them gray hairs. But this expression goes back way further than my childhood. It was said that Marie Antoinette’s hair turned completely white the night before she was sent to the guillotine. But that’s just a legend right? Well I didn’t know and after learning exactly what a big impact stress can have on our body’s physically as well as mentally I started to believe that maybe there is some truth behind this idea.

Well as it turns out even though scientist say it is extremely unlikely for Marie Antoinette’s hair to have turned completely gray overnight, it is a known fact that stress ages us, and as part of that aging some can be left with an increased amount of gray hairs. How ever after reading an article which also attempts to bust this myth I discovered that the biology of hair color is a lot more complicated than worrying about an upcoming exam and as a result a gray hair starts to grow.

If there really is any connection between stress and going gray, I mean it makes sense that older people have more gray they have had to go through a whole life time of stressors while a younger person for the most part is stress free- until they get to college that is. However, according to professor David Fisher he makes this final statement about the connection between stress and gray hair, “Stress hormones may impact the survival and / or activity of melanocytes, but no clear link has been found between stress and gray hair.” So weather or not it was my extra stressful week that caused those two gray hairs, scientists say not.

Adrenaline Junkie Genetics?

I always considered myself a thrill seeker, but I never would classify myself as an adrenaline junkie.  When I took the risk taker test I got an 85,
which is pretty high.  When asked why I think I look for this rush, I didn’t know how to answer because I have always sought adventure.  I have ridden horses since I was seven, and have taken some risks on them (including a few trips to the hospital).  Since I came to Virginia I have gone skydiving twice, white water rafted down 5+ rapids three times, I go camping constantly, and have done many things on a whim.

However, no one else in my family searches for adventure like I do.  Most of the time, they think I am insane for doing what I volunteer to do.  I wonder if being an adrenaline junkie has any genetic qualities, or if it is based more off of the environment you are raised in.  I found some articles that say it may be hereditary, but there is nothing definite.

Fear: Useful or Incapacitating?


Fear. We all pretty much think of fear as a bad thing, but sometimes it can be good. It motivates us to change and it also challenges us to grow and face what it is that we fear. When we get scared and our body responds, our breathing quickens, heart races, adrenaline sprints through our body to prepare us for the lion that might be chasing us. We have learned how after time this response, if repeating over and over will put our body through large amounts of stress breaking its homostasis. Therefore, we have our initial incentive to face our fear and not let our emotions run rampant. After talking about our personalities and how we react to differnt stressors in class, it seems how we deal with fear is one of the most important traits. At one point, we discussed the moment where, in moments of extreme concentration and/or fear, everything just seems to melt away. in these moments of perfect clarity, everything is perfect. We can do everything perfectly and our minds are focused and balanced. For example, in the Karate Kid, there is a moment where he has to put away his pain and focus completely on his opponent.

 These moments of clarification would be useful in pretty much ever aspect of our lives, but for those of us who have experienced them, we know that such moments are rare. But they are what we strive towards in concentration. That moment of perfection is what every athlete wants to have whether it be by scoring the perfect goal past your opponent’s hands, or executing the perfect, graceful dance move on skates. Our fear can help us focus to this. If we can put it aside and take control of our minds in moments where we might fall apart, we can get one step closer to not only experiencing these moments, but using these moments to build our characters.


         As we learned from Sapolsky a “placebo effect occurs when a person’s assessment of their health improves merely because they believe that a medical procedure has been carried out on them regardless of whether it actually has” (pg.197).  Another more siplistic way to put it is that a placebo is a sugar pill.

        The big secret to the success of the placebo effect is that the patient doesn’t know that they are taking a sugar pill, right?  WRONG!  Placebos can work even if the patient knows that they’re fake.  New research done treating irritable bowl syndrome suggests that placebos can work without the secrecy.

         In the study patients were told they would be taking “placebo pills made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical trials to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes.”  The difference in this study compared to other studies done is that the patients were told that the placebo pills worked.

        The results showed that 59% on the placebo got better whereas only 35% got better without treatment.  These dramatic effects of the placebo compare to some of the strongest treatments tested for IBS.  The exception is that the placebo has no side effects.

       These results are being used in an ongoing controversy over the ethics of using plcebos with or without telling the patients they are getting a placebo.  The problem was that until recently the placebo effect was only known to work if the patient was unaware.  Know that may possibly all change.  Here is a link for more info: 

“When Kids Get Life”

This is just some food for thought!

I recently had a very stressful debate in one of my classes about whether or not children under 18 should receive the death penalty. It reminded me of a frontline release of When Kids Get Life, which also brought up the argument of whether or not children under 18 should get life sentences.

We all know that adolescence is often characterized by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it is also a time when brain changes can result in a myriad of high-risk behaviors, such as extreme sports without protective equipment, unprotected sexual encounters, drug and alcohol addiction, and in extreme cases, even murder. But what a lot of people don’t know is that different parts of the adolescent brain matures at different rates, and that brain development extends at least into a person’s twenties.

I once watched a film called Inside the Teenage Brain, which indicated that adolescents have an immature frontal cortex, which is responsible for their in ability to make good decisions and evaluate and understand consequences and circumstances. This immature frontal cortex, which is going through rapid changes during adolescence, is also responsible for teenage impulsivity, rapid and intense fluctuations in mood and behavior, and their inability to properly identify and understand the emotions of others. They also found that their emotional/gut responses are more activated than adults, and they are unable to organize information from the outside world. Teenagers also experience changes in their cerebellum which is involved with coordination and thinking processes.

Based on the intense and rapid brain development during adolescence, and its effect on cognition and behavior, I do not believe that children (under the age of 18) should be tried and sentenced as adults, as they do not have an adult’s ability to make proper decisions, regulate emotions, assess consequences, and organize their actions, and the information from the outside world. I also believe that sentencing minors as adults and giving them life or even the death sentence deprives them of the chance to demonstrate maturity and reform. The minor should be given the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential. In essence I believe that minors should be sentenced as juveniles, and given time fit by the court while allowing brain development to occur and for them to be able to demonstrate this maturity. Compared to adult offenders who have reached optimal brain development, children have a great capacity for change and rehabilitation, and sentencing them as adults ignores the scientific evidence of the reasons behind their offenses, and their ability to become a better person.

However, after my debate a lot of people felt otherwise, and believed that there is nothing wrong with children being sentenced as adults and given life or the death penalty… What do you guys think?

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