Author Archives: emilybusbee

How to improve your decision making

Do you ever find yourself ALWAYS struggling over a decision, always uncertain of what choice you should make? An article in the Harvard Business Review gives a few ways to help improve your decision making. The article talks about how you need to have a good idea of how desirable each choice is and how the choices you make will have an impact on later outcomes. “Decision making requires both prediction and judgement”

  1. Be less certain

This involves the phenomenon of overconfidence. If you are very confident that choice A will cause such and such to happen, then you will be more biased towards one decision over the other, which may have bad consequences. If you realize that you may not be as correct as you think you are, you can really evaluate the likelihood of each event and be able to possibly make a better decision.

2. Ask “How often does that typically happen?”

If you are trying to make a big decision, like starting up a company but you are afraid that it is going to fail, you may want to ask yourself historically how often the average companies that are starting up fail. Starting with comparing your decision to other decisions that have worked out or not in the past will help you to figure out the likelihood of the success of your decision. This ties in the base rate, which is the change of some specific event occurring, all things being equal. The likelihood of your plane crashing is very low, and so the fear you have of going on an airplane and the decision to not go to that wedding simply BECAUSE you must go on a plane to get there may not be rational.

While these two ideas can help you improve your decision making, there are still a lot of different factors that get in the way of making the best decisions. Availability can get in the way of you getting on that airplane if you had seen a few plane crashes on the news throughout the week beforehand. Decisions can be tricky because there are so many things that can get in the way and cause you to make an error.


The Trouble of False Memories and Confessions

Despite what a lot of people might think, the human brain is extremely malleable. With coaxing or some sort of manipulation, it can be very simple to convince a person that a certain memory occurred in their lives when in reality, it did not. This sort of phenomena is called False Memory. Entire events of a persons life can be inserting into someones memory when in reality, it could be completely false. While repression (the “forgetting” of an event, usually after an extremely emotional trauma) can occur, more often then not these memories (usually false) are brought to light in therapy or from help of an outside source.

This can become difficult when it comes to crime cases and confessions or accusations. For example, in 1989, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker was at the park watching her young daughter play when she received an abrupt and violent memory of her father sexually abusing and murdering her 8 year old friend in 1969. This friend had gone missing that year, and was found dead 3 months after she went missing. Eileen immediately called the police and informed them she remembered this incident from 20 years earlier, stating that she watched her father do it and was told she would be killed if she told anyone. Repressing this obviously traumatic event and recalling it years later arose some tentativeness, and Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who was called to be an expert witness for the defense. Elizabeth had been studying memory for 20 years, and she found it odd that each time Eileen was asked how her memory came back, the reason would be changed each time. She told the courts that our memories are highly suggestible, and that using this woman’s recall of memory might not be the most reliable thing. However, the courts disagreed and convicted the Father of the young girls murder.

The truth finally came to light 5 years later, when Eileen’s sister testified that Eileen had been going to hypnotherapy around the time her “memory” came back to deal with depression that she had dealt with since she was a teenager. The therapist had diagnosed Eileen with PTSD, and had fabricated the memories that caused the trigger.

This shows just how susceptible our memories can be to the dangers of fabrication. This does not say that Repression is all a lie, but it should be looked at with extreme caution. Events can be completely encoded, forgotten and then later recalled, but the chance of these memories being fabricated into false memories is just as possible. This can lead to problems when it comes to court cases and even a person’s personal life. While childhood amnesia is also a possibility in the case of Eileen, given that she was younger when it occurred to her, the combination of hypnotherapy and the influence of the therapist points in the other direction.


The Mind of Walter White

I know I’m probably extremely late to the game, but I just recently started watching Breaking Bad, and I am obsessed. The show is honestly a psychological jackpot, from Jesse’s family life at home to Marie’s kleptomaniac tendencies. The most interesting character in my opinion however, is Walter White. A high school Chemistry teacher turned into a creator of Methamphetamine. He becomes a completely new person once he is diagnosed with cancer and his life begins to be surrounded by the danger and of course, ALL of that money. He goes from being Mr. Wholesome to becoming the next Scarface.

But why?

Walter White believed he had nothing to lose. This has been shown to convince people to take risks that they would more often not do in any other circumstance. This is known as risk sensitivity. Also, at the beginning of it all, he only pretended to be bad. I think we all know how that turns out simply by looking at the Stanford Prison Experiment. When you are placed into a situation where you must act a certain way and are channeling those feelings, you are more likely to act in this certain way, which shows why Mr. White easily blows up the drug dealers office with fulminated mercury. This connects to mood congruency, where the tendency to remember emotionally charged information is easiest when you are in a mood matching the experience. This is how it became easier and easier each time for Walter to commit these acts.

in my own opinion I also think that Walter White, from the very beginning and even before he began cooking the meth, suffers from some kind of amygdalar damage. He shows very little to no emotion when it comes to his wife and to Walt Jr. To me he just seemed as though he was just a very neutral person who had no real extreme emotion over anything, which would indicate a problem with his amygdala. This could also play a key role in his willingness to cook meth with Jesse. If he has less emotion connected to the decisions he makes, he would be more willing to go along with the riskier decision.

I think one of the biggest things that led Walter White to become who he was is one of the more obvious ones; money. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and that treatment is not cheap by any means. Every time he completed a deal and was given more money, he would almost go into this state of euphoria. It is shown that as a person’s wealth increases, they become less compassionate and they feel as though they deserve more, and they experience increased levels of entitlement. There have been studies done that show the same part of your brain that is effected by cocaine, (dopamine levels are increased, creating the feeling of euphoria) is also effected by acquiring large sums of money.

While I am still in the early seasons of the show, it is amazing to watch how Walter White transitions from the harmless chemistry teacher to the ruthless and deceptive Meth dealer. Huge changes in his life and in many parts of his brain play key roles in making him into who he is.

Transferring our Consciousness into a Blank Human Sleeve

At the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this month, the International Consumer Electronics Show was held. However, one booth seemed to stand out among the others. A company called Psychasec displayed a booth which contained which seemed to be human bodies in class cases and in air sealed tight bags. They market these as “blank human bodies” that are ready for a new human consciousness to be uploaded. Along the outside of the booth crowds found posters saying “immortality is immoral” and “Boycott Psychasec”.

Now as any normal person would be, the crowds that gathered around this booth were extremely skeptical. The researchers at the booth explained that this was Psychasec’s newest plan for immortality, they would upload a persons consciousness into bodies grown inside of a laboratory. These bodies are, “Skin, tissue, muscle, bone, nervous system, cells, everything that we have to generate ourselves to make our movements, these are made of.” These bodies would still be susceptible to disease and injury. How in the world though you would wonder, would you be able to “transfer your consciousness into a lab-made human sleeve”? The exhibitors explain that this is possible with the use of a “Cortical Stack,” placed in the base of the spine inside of the human sleeve.

Once the cortical stack is placed inside of the sleeves spine, it would then work to “download” the persons memories into this new sleeve. They compared this to the same idea iPhone users do when they upload their phone to the Cloud. So when this is complete, the information would be transmitted into the body in what is called “Needle Casting.” When the human sleeve becomes too old for a persons liking, they simply transfer their information into a new sleeve, thus, creating immortality.

Once the exhibitors finished their speech and demonstration, freaking out almost every wide eyed person in the crowd, they finally came out with the truth. This booth was simply a marketing technique for a new Netflix series that is coming out, Altered Carbon. (Cue sigh of relief).

While this may seem enticing to some people, the legitimacy and validity of this actually being possible is less than likely, more so and probably a good thing to let Netflix keep this one.

Test Post and Introduction

Testing out blog posting and it definitely works! My name is Emily Busbee, I don’t have a lot of experience with blogs and posting on them but I am excited to try this out! I also have attached a picture of my favorite winter activity, pond skating. This particular pond is right near my house at home, so I’m constantly on it in the winter time.