Sunday, January 31, 2010

Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner

This weekend was supremely miserable/generally antisocial, largely due to over 600 pages of dense textbook readings and preparation for exams and a presentation this week.

In an effort to preserve my sanity as I read, I collected passages from Psychology (Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner, 2009) that made me pause, laugh or cringe. Here are a few highlights:

- Phrenology made for a nice parlor game and gave young people a good excuse for touching each other, but in the end it amounted to a series of strong claims based on weak evidence.

- The rivalry between these two schools of medicine didn't last long, however, because the [Ancient Greeks] who chose to see dogmatists tended to die, which wasn't very good for repeat business.

- If a pig flew over the White House, it wouldn't matter whether other pigs could do the same trick. The fact that just one pig flew just one time would challenge our most cherished assumptions about animal physiology, aerodynamics, and national security.

- How long will a person life if she eats a pound of bacon every day? Probably not as long as she would have lived if she'd instead eaten a pound of spinach every day.

- If the participant was changed in any way (e.g., made to feel sad), the psychologist must attempt to undo that change (e.g., ask the person to do a task that will make them happy) and restore the participant to the state he or she was in before the study.

- But ours is a world of people like us - people who are sometimes brilliant, typically competent, and occasionally dimmer than broccoli.

- Although this resolution to a hundred years of disagreement is not particularly exciting, it has the compensatory benefit of being true.

- The word for "intelligence" in Zimbabwe, ngware, means to be wise in social relationships.

- As soon as one of these sperm manages to penetrate the coating, the egg quickly releases a chemical that seals the coating and keeps all the remaining sperm from entering. (Think of them as silver medalists.)

- The vast majority of adolescents do dabble in misbehavior but don't actually major in it.

- The physical transformations that take place during adulthood can be characterized succinctly: Things quickly get worse slowly.

- Research suggests that one of the best ways to increase one's share of happiness in life is simply to get older. The machinery may not work as well, but the passengers seem to enjoy the ride more.

- Does this photo of Sister Rosa Elena nailing Sister Amanda de Jesús with a snowball change your stereotype, or are you tempted to subtype them instead?

- Research shows that stereotyping effects can be reduced (and sometimes eliminated) by a variety of factors ranging from educational programs to damage to the prefrontal cortex. Education is probably the better social policy.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I spent the week wrestling with an assignment for Thinking about the "potatoness" of Pringles (which are technically only 40% potato flour).

Here's a relevant article:
The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles are Potato Chips
(Adam Cohen)
« Britain's Supreme Court of Judicature answered [in May 2009] a question that has long puzzled late-night dorm-room snackers: What, exactly, is a Pringle? With citations ranging from Baroness Hale of Richmond to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Justice Robin Jacob concluded that, legally, it is a potato chip.

The decision is bad news for Procter & Gamble U.K., which now owes $160 million in taxes.

[Lord Justice Jacob] was dismissive of Procter & Gabmel's argument that to be taxable a product must contain enough potato to have the quality of "potatoness." This "Aristotelian question" of whether a product has the "essence of potato," he insisted, simply cannot be answered. »

Honestly, I've never really liked potato chips, especially not after a mind-numbing analysis of their "potatoness" and "essence." I don't particularly dislike Pringles - they're fairly tasty, and I like their shape, but about a third of the way down the cylinder, it starts becoming extremely annoying to keep digging for more.

And apparently they're just imposters, too.

. . .

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
- J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The past 24 hours have been a series of disappointments:

Yesterday, 12:55 pm
I can eat lunch, or I can wear skinny jeans, but I can't do both. At least not if I plan to breathe.

Yesterday, sometime after lunch
The iPad is awkward, bizarre, and completely unnecessary. No wonder Apple share prices fell 4% immediately after Steve Jobs unveiled his gadget. And is changing one letter (from iPod to iPad) really the best naming idea the company could come up with? At least it's relatively cheap.

Yesterday, 10:00 pm
Politicians should stop using the term "root canal" as a metaphor for unpopular policy decisions. Now that I think about it, I'm not entirely sure what a root canal is, exactly. In my opinion, the 2010 State of the Union Address was fairly balanced but not particularly inspiring and a bit too deficit-happy. Senator Harry Reid's yawn was pretty epic, though.

This morning
Woke up in a winter wonderland. If it's going to be cold, it might as well snow and look nice, right? Unfortunately, the mercury wasn't too cooperative today, and New Haven is now covered in an uneven layer of mushy, unvirginized snow (which may interfere with plans that involve borrowing trays from Commons and a hill named Science).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Listening to:
"Horchata" by Vampire Weekend

In recent weeks, I've become an enthusiastic fan of CultureMap, a new online magazine and "mapazine" headquartered in Houston. Check it out:

It emphasizes "hyper-localized intelligence and insight to each city that it covers"—entertainment, real estate, shopping, restaurants, nightlife, social events—and maps individual articles to different locations throughout Houston. There's also a detailed city travel guide, events calendar, and information about local trends. I think CultureMap has enormous potential, and I hope its success also spreads to other cities.
. . .

Professor Lockhart explained during Psychology and the Law today that there are interesting and sometimes disturbing correlations between attractiveness and criminality. In one study, for example, facial photographs of high school-age African-American and Caucasian delinquents were judged less attractive than control high school students by same-race raters. In addition, studies have shown that attractive defendants are often given less severe sentences than unattractive defendants. On the other hand, if attractiveness is related to the crime (such as swindling, embezzlement, etc.), then attractive defendants tend to receive longer sentences. Furthermore, in one fascinating 1978 study, 100 physically unattractive men being released from Riker's Island Prison received cosmetic surgery. Years later, this group had significantly lower rates of recidivism compared to a control group of 100 men whose looks had not been surgically improved.

"First figure out how cute you are, then choose your crime."
- Prof. Kristi Lockhart, Psychology and the Law lecture

Friday, January 22, 2010

O Tempo no Brasil

My first Portuguese essay:
Minha primeira composição portuguesa:

Meu nome é Paulo e tenho vinte anos. Eu sou estudante da Universidade Yale em New Haven, uma cidade no estado de Connecticut. Eu estudo Ciência Cognitiva e Estudos Internacionais. As minhas máterias deste semestre são psicologia, economia e neurociência. Moro num dormitório da universidade com muitos outros estudantes. Estou muito contente aqui.

Quando volto para casa, moro em Houston numa casa bonita com meu pai, mãe e irmão. Meus pais são da Coreia, mas meu irmão e eu somos dos Estados Unidos. Meu pai tem uma empresário. Nos finais de semana, ele gosta de jogar golfe e assistir filmes. Minha mãe gosta de ir às compras, cozinhar e cantar. Meu irmão tem dezoito anos. Ele é muito alto e forte. Ele joga lacrosse e toca violão. Nós temos uma cadela marrom chamada Niki. Ela é bela e muito inteligente.

Eu gosto de tocar violino. Meu compositores favoritos são Brahms e Tchaikovsky. Gosto de muitos esportes também, por exemplo tênis, squash, natação e ioga. Após a formatura, quero ir a uma escola de direito para fazer pós-graduação. No futuro quero ser um advogado de direito internacional.
. . .

I find it astounding that the length of my first composition in L1/L2 Portuguese is comparable to the length of weekly essays in L5 Chinese (which were also much more time-consuming and tedious to write), albeit a bit simpler.

"O nome da minha garagem é Morte. Porque eu sou brasileira. E os brasileiros não gostam do frio."
"My garage is named Death. Because I am Brazilian. And Brazilians do not like the cold."
- Prof. Marta Almeida

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That's Why I Chose Yale

This video brings back traumatic memories of High School Musical...
I also had no idea that so many different words rhyme with "Yale".

Friday, January 15, 2010

Week 1 Avaliação

  • Taking 6.5 credits might not be a party.
  • Every Yalie should try to take Marvin Chun's PSYC 110 course before graduating.
  • From Monday through Thursday, I have ten minutes between classes for lunch.
  • No class should be two hours long, even if it's Intensive Elementary Portuguese.
  • On the other hand, I might need all the help I can get: Portuguese has nine oral vowels, five nasal vowels, ten oral diphthongs, and five nasal diphthongs.
  • And til (the tilde sign over vowels such as ã) is somehow pronounced "cheeu"...Help?
  • I happily discovered that grits are served every morning in Commons (but the Yankees apparently missed the memo and think it's a decent idea to eat grits with honey or brown sugar).
  • I will go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 a.m.
  • Just published the Winter 2010 issue of Business Sphere magazine, a new Yale undergraduate publication. Check it out:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Year Two, Part Deux

  • KREN 151: Advanced Korean II
  • PORT 125: Intensive Elementary Portuguese
  • PSYC 110: Introduction to Psychology
  • PSYC 301: Psychology and the Law
  • PSYC 330: Thinking

Friday, January 8, 2010

A few things I’ve been reminded of this break

  • It’s never too late to start the night.
  • It’s never too late for banana pancakes.
  • Climate change is definitely not a linear progression.
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the funniest creation since cheese gimbap.
  • Foot massages = instant happiness
  • Restrooms should not be hidden in a corner of the second floor.
  • Exercise is a whiny, attention-seeking, and high-maintenance (but ultimately loyal) friend. (Our relationship’s been on the rocks lately, but we reconnected at Lifetime last week.)
  • Nothing is permanent. Until it involves A.K.
  • Shipley’s is a divine gift to the people of Houston.
  • Foolishness is sometimes purity in disguise.
  • I will probably graduate college with no marketable abilities.
  • Fortes fortuna adiuvat.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wishing everyone lots of 福

Here's to hoping the white tiger will bring good fortune!