"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Altruism or Egoism: The Great Debate

John Donne
wrote almost 400 years ago:

No Man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

Helping others in distress is not only social behavior, but ethical behavior as well.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Free the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for year 2010, was sentenced to 11 years of prison on December 25th 2009 under the name of 'inciting subversion' because of his initiation of 'Charter 08' which calls for democracy and protection of human rights in China.

The sentence is unacceptable and illegitimate, as it's completely against fundamental human rights and China's constitution.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 states that:"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

According to Chinese Constitution Article 35, the freedoms of expression and publishing are protected as well:"The citizens of China enjoy freedom of expression, publishing, assembly, association, manifestation and demonstration."

A Chinese citizen from Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, has started a petition asking Chinese authories to free Liu Xiaobo.

Can you imagine a man being sentenced to 11 years of prison just because he wrote an article calling for the protection of human rights and democracy?

That man is Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2010. He has been fighting for a more open, free and democratic China for more 20 years, but now he is imprisoned illegally and illegitimately.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Of Our Spiritual Strivings

"Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line."

W.E.B Du B.
ATLANTA, GA., FEB. 1, 1903.

"After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

W.E.B du Bois

O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand,
All night long crying with a mournful cry,

As I lie and listen, and cannot understand
The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea,

O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I?

All night long the water is crying to me.

Unresting water, there shall never be rest
Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail,
And the fire of the end begin to burn in the west;
And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea,
All life long crying without avail,
As the water all night long is crying to me.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Walter Humes, a research professor in education at Paisley University, wrote

"One advantage of the summer holidays is that they give teachers and pupils a chance to escape from the herd mentality that afflicts much of education. Sociologists call this tendency "groupthink", a mediocre consensus of views designed to silence dissent and promote conformity."

Holidays allow us to step back from the assumptions of our daily routine. I think it would be healthy if teachers returned from their break more willing to challenge groupthink.

Groupthink refers to an excessive tendency to seek concurrence among group members. The symptoms of groupthink produce decision making which can lead to a bad decision.

A groupthink is a group decision making style characterized by an excessive tendency among group members to seek concurrence (Kassin, 2011, p. 315). According to Kassin (2011), “some scholars have proposed that the group dynamics behind the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 reflected groupthink.”

According to sociologist Irving Janis (1972, 1982), groupthink refers to the “collective tunnel vision that group members sometimes develop. As they begin to think alike, they become convinced that there is only one “right” viewpoint and a single course of action to follow.” The group starts making faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.”

For example, when top leaders were trying to provide justifications for starting the Iraq War, they announced that Iraq was negotiating with an African country to buy uranium. Six month later, the public learned that this claim was based on clearly falsified documents from Niger, a country in west-central Africa. Furthermore, the president maintained that his State of the Union address had been cleared by the CIA (Isikoff & Lipper, 2003, as cited in Matlin, 2009). Top leaders were convinced that they made the right decisions to go to war according to this error of the “uranium question.”

According to Irving (1982), the top leaders’ administration had incomplete survey, poor information research, selective bias in processing information at hand, and errors in source monitoring.

The top leaders had the characteristics which contribute to the development of groupthink: (1) a highly cohesive group; (2) group structure that is composed of people from similar background directed by a strong leader; (3) a stressful situation which provoke groupthink; (4) illusions of invulnerability where the group think it is invincible and can do no wrong; (5) collective efforts to rationalize or discounts warnings; (6) stereotyped views of the out-group; and (7) a shared illusion of unanimity.

According to Marcia Johnson (2002), the government agencies need to be careful about checking the accuracy of their information. This will help many countries not to fall into expensive, destructive wars.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

What Attracts us to Others or, just as important What Attracts Others, to us?

Have you ever “looked in the mirror” and told yourself – “Wohoo – I am Good Looking”?

As Social Psychologists an additional question you may have asked during this “mirror session” is “How do others view my attractiveness”?

Clearly, the most important question a student can ask is "How powerful is the influence others have on us?"

Group influence and conformity are both concerned with how outside agents influence behavior.

We will be forced to put our "biases" (*as best we can - since we have already learned that we, as humans are couched in bias!) on alert and open our minds to social theory, if we are to understand the social psychology of interpersonal relationships.

A suivre...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Social Class and Stratification

Henslin defines social stratification as "a system in which groups of people are divided into layers according to their relative power, property, and prestige" (2009, p. 172).

The whole notion of stratification is borrowed from geology where layers of sediment, organic matter or stone, called strata, are evident when one digs down into the ground from the surface.

Sociology borrowed that term and made the analogy that in a given society, some people (the poorest or least powerful) are at the bottom of the pile. Others with more wealth or power are over them, still others who have even more wealth or power are on top of them, until the wealthiest or most powerful are at the top of the heap.

No known society is or has been unstratified! Someone always has more money, goods, power, than someone else!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Approach to Memory Improvement

There is no single solution to help students or adults with their memory problems. Psychologists propose that we need a more comprehensive approach to solving memory problems.

For example,
Douglas Herrmann's multimodal approach emphasizes that people who seriously want to enhance their memory must adopt a comprehensive approach to memory improvement; this approach focuses on many different modes or factors (Herrmann, 1991; Herrmann et al., 2002).

A comprehensive approach requires us to pay attention to our physical condition by
getting sufficient sleep and attending to health problem.

Also, students who have a strong motivation to achieve success are also likely to have high grade-point average (Robbins et al., 2004).

People who want to improve their memories should develop
a repertoire of several-improvement techniques:
  1. Do not divide your attention between several simultaneous tasks.
  2. Process information in terms of its meaning, by emphasizing elaborative encodings, distinctiveness, and self-reference.
  3. Try to learn material in the same context as the one in which you will be tested.
  4. The amount you learn depends on the total time you spend practicing.
  5. You will learn more if you spread your learning trials over time
  6. You will enhance your memory just by taking tests on the material.
  7. Use imagery (mnemonics) that shows an interaction between the items that need to be recalled.
  8. Use chunking by combining isolated items into meaningful units.
  9. Construct a hierarchy by arranginf items in a series of classes.
  10. Create a narrative, or a story that links a series of words together.
  11. Create a vivid, interactive mental image to prompt future recall.
  12. Create a specific reminder or an external memory aid.