What Is Schizophrenia?

As you may or may not know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week so I feel obligated to make a Mental Health Awareness post.

However, I feel like on this blog, I have spoken about depression and anxiety quite a bit already, educating and informing and even sharing my own experiences and others. Overall, mental health isn’t really talked about as much as it should. Depression and anxiety, two very common disorders, aren’t even talked about enough so imagine other disorders, which aren’t as common. Such as Schizophrenia.

(I’m going to litter this post with a bunch of art done by people with schizophrenia because I think it’s really interesting and beautiful)

 

At the beginning of this year, I learnt about Schizophrenia as a whole topic in my Psychology A Level. Before we first started being educated about it as part of our course, many people in my class were led on by some misconceptions, which I will clear up now since they are very common misconceptions.

  • Schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder (it can change qualities about a person’s persoanlity but it doesn’t cause a split personality).
  • It’s not necessarily a violent mental illness (a small amount of people with schizophrenia can be dangerous, the same way a small amount of people with depression or no mental illness at all can be).
  • People with schizophrenia need to be hospitalised (they do not and I will go more into this as the post progresses).

 

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is considered a mental illness, consisting of positive symptoms (an excess or distortion of normal functions) and negative symptoms (a loss of normal functions), which is why schizophrenia is so hard to diagnose and classify. Disorders like depression consist of mainly negative symptoms like poor hygiene or loss of pleasure for hobbies, rather than both positive and negative so can be easier to diagnose.

Here are just a few schizophrenia symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorder
  • Avolition
  • Speech poverty
  • Slow movement
  • Poor hygiene
  • Changes in emotions and body language

There are actually many many more symptoms of schizophrenia, which can also be symptoms belonging to other disorders. Avolition and poor hygiene, for example, are also symptoms of depression. Hallucinations and changes in emotions are also symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with schizophrenia also tend to possess other disorders too; a study showed that 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have depression, 29% have PTSD and 23% have OCD. This makes classifying and diagnosing schizophrenia difficult, which can be really dangerous for the person as they may get inappropriate and/or ineffective treatment.

 

Some Interesting Facts!

  • It affects about 1-2% of people (% may be higher depending on if you are related to someone with schizophrenia).
  • Suicide is a severe risk in those suffering with schizophrenia.
  • The risk of schizophrenia is the same amongst all genders, countries and cultures, however some cultures and genders may be diagnosed more due to racism, sexism and ignorant perspectives.
  • It is most likely to affect people ages 16-30, especially if there is a big change in that individual’s life.
  • You can recover from schizophrenia but it’s the chance of this is not that high.

 

What Causes Schizophrenia?

The cause for schizophrenia is a hard one to pinpoint, as it is for most mental disorders. Schizophrenia is also aetiologically heterogenous, which is just a fancy word for ‘different combinations of factors leads to it’. I’m only going to explain a few factors today.

  • Genetic: Some people may have genetic variations associated with increased risk for schizophrenia, usually coding for dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter.
  • Dopamine: The brain may produce abnormally high amounts of dopamine and/or there’s too many dopamine (D2) receptors in dopamine synapses.
  • Ventricular Enlargement: Some people may have an enlargement of their brain cavities, which may be a result from the season of birth effect. People born during winter months may be more vulnerable to this, supposedly, as medication taken by pregnant women, who have viral infections, can cause foetal brains to be damaged.
  • Expressed Emotion: The disorder may result from being in a family characterised by hostility, critism, over-involvement and over-concern.
  • Schizophrenogenic Mother: A result of living with a cold, rejecting, controlling mother, who creates tension and secrecy, leading to distrust and paranoia. (This theory is a little sexist and outdated).
  • Dysfunctional Thought Processing: Metarepresentation, the ability to reflect on your thoughts and behaviour and have insight into your own intentions and goals, may be impaired. Central Control, the ability to suppress automatic responses while you focus on something else instead, may also be impaired. (This sounds, to me, more like the result of having Schizophrenia than the cause)
  • Childhood Trauma: Events in the person’s childhood can lead to the development of schizophrenia later on.

 

There are many treatments as a result of these different explanations such as drug treatments to tackle the dopamine problems, therapy treatments to target family issues and own personal issues. Token economy is also used within institutions for severe cases. These treatments are much better than what was once used a while ago. Schizophrenia is feared and rejected from society, even now, but a while back, it was considered this terrible thing and was treated maliciously. People were cut to allow them to ‘bleed out’ the disorder. Some people were kept in cages, some were rotated. Lobotomy was used, as well as electrocution. It was pretty grim. Although treatment is 100 times better now than the olden days, it still isn’t perfect.

 

Scientists and doctors view schziphrenia as an “illness” that needs to be “cured”. However, there is a big difference between what the scientists/doctors’ explanations and the actual sufferers’ experiences. A more humanistic approach looks through the eye of the sufferer and focuses on the human capacity to overcome hardship and pain by sharing experiences rather than just taking drugs and being hospitalised. And yes, the drugs may help the biology aspect of the disorder but taking drugs and being talked about as a crazy person, who is ill, can cause the person with schizophrenia to internalise the stigma put on them. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and actually make their schizophrenia worse. It can also lead to suicide as they may feel like a burden.

It doesn’t help that there is a Western emphasis on taking drugs for literally anything mildly wrong. An internet survey found more than 1/2 of schizophrenia websites are funded by drug companies so there’s already a bias towards taking drugs. Drugs may not be the best option, for most people. A Dutch man, Hans, said to his schizophrenia support group that the voices he was hearing started to become nasty and mean. The support group told him to demand the voice for respect in return for respect to the voice and the voice actually became nicer and easier to live with. Therefore, a possibly better option for people with schizophrenia is to stop looking at them as ill people and instead as people going through a different experience to most people, helping them to adapt their lives to live and cope with their schizophrenia rather than trying to get rid of the disorder. In fact, there was a study that found out of some post-mortem examinations, only the patients, who received anti-psychotic drugs, had increased levels of dopamine and/or resistance to drugs.

I personally think that a mixture of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes/adaptations and support from people around the person suffering, is the best treatment. However, this can be quite demanding for the person suffering.

 

Prevention And Coping Advice:

  • Make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Practise relaxation techniques.
  • Look to friends, family and others for social support.
  • Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

Schizophrenia is a rare disorder but should still be made aware of. You shouldn’t be scared by people with schizophrenia and empathise with their situation rather than fear it. The crazy man talking to himself on the bus may just be responding to voices he is hearing – it’s not harmful. People with schizophrenia are just like you but are just dealing with different experiences, which can be very tragic (some lose jobs, relationships and even lives). It is a complicated disorder, in which treatments, causes and the way we view it are all up for debate but at the end of the day, it’s another mental illness, seen as a taboo, which it should not be.

Spread your awareness for schizophrenia!

 

-Shay

Everyone’s Unique!

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions, stated by Wikipedia. And also apparently known as astrology for smart people. Choose what you believe! 😂

 

The idea is, you are categorised into one of 16 different personality types depending on your mind, energy, nature, tactics and identity.

You can take the test here or allow me to explain what each letter represents in the types. However, take the test anyway (it’s obviously more accurate than me explaining).

 

Mind

Mind is in regards to how we interact with our surroundings. In terms of MBTI, you’re either introverted or extroverted. But what about ambiverted, Shay? The test gives you a percentage of what you are so you may get 43% introverted and 57% extroverted, indicating you’re about 50/50 (an ambivert) but shows you’re predominantly extroverted.

‘I’ obviously stands for Introverted. Introverts prefer activities they can spend by themselves and have to recharge by being by themselves. They can get exhausted by social interaction and can be sensitive to external stimulation like sounds and smell. A misconception is that introverts are quiet. This is not necessarily true as it’s more about social preference rather that how much you speak, etc.

‘E’ stands for Extroverted. Extroverts prefer social activities and are energized by social interaction. They may be more enthusiastic and excited than introverts but again, being an extrovert does not necessarily mean you are loud and talkative. There can be quiet extroverts too.

 

Energy

Energy refers to how we see and process the world and are divided into: observance or intuition.

‘S’ stands for obServant and describes people as “highly practical, pragmatic and down-to-earth…focusing on what is happening or has already happened”.

‘N’ stands for iNtuitive and described people as “very imaginative, open-minded and curious…preferring novelty over stability and focus on hidden meanings and future possibilities.”

 

Nature

Nature is all about how we make decisions and cope with emotions. There’s either thinking or feeling.

‘T’ stands for Thinking and focuses on “objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotions.” T personalities usually hide their feelings.

‘F’ stands for Feeling, explaining these people as “sensitive and emotionally expressive…more empathetic and less competitive.” These types focus more on peace and harmony.

 

Tactics

Tactics reflect on our approach to work, planning and decision making. You’re either judging or prospecting.

‘J’ stands for Judging, people who are “decisive, thorough and highly organized…valuing clarity, predictability and closure.” I see these types as the planners and organizers! A big misconception, I’ve noticed, is that these people are bossy and boring. This is far from the truth as I know many fun and easy going J’s.

‘P’ stands for Prospecting. These people are “good at improvising and spotting opportunities…tend to be flexible, relaxed, nonconformists.” I see these people as spontaneous and procrastinators. A misconception on these types is that they are active and love the outdoorsy kind of people. P’s can be lazy and can even hate the outdoors. It’s more about being spontaneous with how you make decisions and your approaches to situations.

 

Identity

This type shows how confident a person is in decisions and abilities. You’ll find no one really mentions this part of their personality but it is still part of it.

‘-A’ is Assertive, meaning “self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress”.

‘-T’ is Turbulent, meaning “self-conscious and sensitive to stress…likely to experience a wide range of emotions”.

 

 

My personality type is ENFP-T, A.K.A The ‘Campaigner’. I did the test around 2014, then at around 2017 and again, today (2019), and I’ve gotten the same ENFP-T result (but not exactly the same percentage) suggesting it is quite reliable. My type means I’m extroverted (I do feel more energized when with people and get very depressed when I haven’t had social interaction for a while). It also means I am intuitive, feeling and prospecting as well as turbulent. However, I feel like I’m a bit 50/50 when it comes to Thinking and Feeling but my percentage says otherwise. I, however, still think I’m about 50/50. ENFPs are part of the diplomat group. Yes, there are groups:

  • Analysts (_NT_)
  • Diplomats (_NF_)
  • Sentinels (_S_J)
  • Explorers (_S_P)

 

 

I, personally, think MBTI is really interesting and useful.

  1. Mental Health – The decision making, abilities and approaches of an individual can help with mental health as it takes into account the person rather than isolating and reducing them to just their mental illness. For example, as I said, I get depressed when I haven’t had enough social interaction. I feel like I need to recharge by socialising instead of being by myself to recharge. This can be taken into account to help to encourage people to place themselves in situations, which satisfy them and ‘recharge’ them. Keeping an extrovert alone will only make them more depressed.
  2. Understanding Perspectives – These personality types can help people to come to grips with the fact that everyone has different approaches, decision making, abilities, etc. Therefore, I feel like it encourages people to  understand we’re not all going to see the world and certain situations in the same way and encourages us to be accepting of everyone as we all have different personalities. For example, a J (judging) is more likely to approach schoolwork, for example, with schedules and good planning whereas a P (prospecting) is more like to procrastinate and be more spontaneous with how they work, doing it when they get bursts of motivation. It can help you appreciate the differences in how people are.
  3. Story Writing – For a while, now, I’ve been using MBTI to build up characters in my stories. The types help to see how characters may respond in situations in the story and can help to develop them.
  4. Realizing Your Flaws – If you lack insight into your personality and weaknesses, MBTI is good at pointing out your strengths and weaknesses, highlighting areas you can improve in, for example I can improve in my practical skill and limit how much I overthink (cause I do that A LOT).

 

That all being said, the little letters you get as a result of the MBTI test is just a brief outline of your personality. Obviously, you have more depth that four/five letters and it doesn’t do justice to your identity but it gives insight. One INTJ may be funny whereas another INTJ may not be. The 16 personality types does not mean there are only 16 kinds of people in the entire world.

I do highly recommend doing the test, though. It’s interesting and fun and highly highly detailed if you read through all the information they give you about your personality type and you can find out what celebrities have the same personality type as you! Amy Schumer and Danielle Radcliffe apparently have the same personality type as me. 😄

 

Comment your personality type!

 

-Shay

 

P.S. All the images used are from the 16 Personality Types website as they’re so vibrant and well drawn. Credit to the illustrator (it’s not specified who).

Women In Science!

In celebration of both International Women’s Day and the start of British Science Week (8th-17th March), today I’m making a post dedicated to and appreciating women in science.

 

In the 19th century, women were excluded from formal scientific education but later on in the century, there was a rise of women’s colleges, providing scientific jobs and educational opportunities for women scientists. Also in the late 19th century, on November 7th 1967, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win the award twice. As of 2018, 51 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize. (This could actually be a higher number as you’ll see if you continue reading.)

Women in science has greatly motivated and inspired me to work in science and get involved in that community. I bought a book, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofksy, entitled Women In Science, which is a collection of pages dedicated to the work and achievements of different women in science, so I picked eleven to share with you today!

 

Hypatia – Astronomer, Mathematician and Philosopher

Image result for hypatiaHypatia was one of the earliest recorded female mathematicians, born between 350 and 370 CE in Alexandria, Egypt. Her father, Theon, a famous scholar, instructed her in maths and astronomy and she became an expert in both. She was one of Alexandria’s first female teachers and people travelled from faraway lands to listen to her speak. However, the religious tensions in the area became violent and she was killed around 415 CE, due to her ‘pagan’ teachings, by extremist Christians. Hypatia is a symbol for education in the face of ignorance.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell – Doctor

Elizabeth Blackwell set  herself on the path to becoming the first female medical doctor in the Related imageUnited States. She was accepted into Geneva Medical college but had to sit separately from the male students and even the teachers were embarrassed by her presence in the anatomy classes. She made her thesis on good hygiene and how that can prevent the spread of typhus. In 1849, she graduated first in her class. With her sister, they opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children in 1857, where they treated the poor and taught female medical students and nurses and later, in 1968, went on to found the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, and the London School of Medicine for Women, in 1874. She made it possible for women to become doctors and called for better hygiene standards in hospitals and homes.

 

Nettie Stevens – Geneticist 

Image result for nettie stevensStevens worked hard to save up money for her undergraduate education at Stanford University and PhD at Bryn Mawr College. She was a geneticist and found male insects had an XY chromosome shape but females had XX. She published her groundbreaking research in 1905, which changed many misconceptions like the sex of a baby was determined by what the pregnant mother ate. However, around the same time of her discovery, Edmund and Wilson made the same discovery of XY chromosomes and Edmund was awarded the Nobel Prize. Nonetheless, she will not be forgotten for her amazing research.

 

Mary Agnes Chase – Botanist and Suffragist

Mary was born in 1869 and enjoyed learning about botany, sketching plants and using her savings to take botany classes at the University of Chicago and Lewis Institute. She worked with Reverend Ellsworth Jerome Hill as he mentored her and she illustrated plants for his papers, which eventually landed her a job at Chicago Field Museum, where she was a scientific illustrator for museum publications and then, an illustrator for the US Department of Agriculture in 1903. Despite all this, another amazing thing she did was protest for women’s rights to vote in the US, even though she was at threat of being fired. She participated in hunger strikes, was jailed but helped to gain the right for women to vote in 1920.

 

Lise Meitner – Physicist 

Meitner was born in Vienna in 1878 and worked at a Chemistry Institute in Berlin in 1907, after receiving her PhD, but as she was a woman, she was unpaid and wasn’t even allowed to use the labs or toilets so did her radiochemistry research in a basement. She worked with another scientist, Otto Hahn, as they tried to create new elements but with the Nazi’s rise to power, Lise fled to Sweden since she was Jewish but exchanged letters to Otto about their research. Lise ended up discovering nuclear fission but was unable to return to Germany so Otto was awarded a Nobel Prize for their work without her.

 

Alice Ball – Chemist

In 1915, Alice Ball became the first African-American and first woman to graduate from the University of Hawaii. At age 23, Alice developed a way to isolate ethyl esters in it’s fatty acids, found in chaulmoogra oil, to blend with water for injection as a treatment for leprosy. Those suffering with leprosy, at the time, were arrested and isolated but due to Alice’s treatment, the ‘Ball Method’, they were freed from exile. She found a cure for a what was thought of as a hopeless disease.

 

Gerty Cori – Biochemist

Gerty Cori became a biochemist at the University of Prague and received a doctorate in medicine. This is when she met Carl Cori, who she fell in love with and married. Not only did they become partners in life but also partners in science as they worked together and solved the mystery of how cells us sugar for energy (now called the Cori Cycle). They both shared a Nobel Prize, in 1947, but Gerty soon developed a bone marrow disease as she continued to work in the lab. Carl ended up carrying her to get around when she got too weak and she died in 1957.

 

Joan Beauchamp Procter – Zoologist

Joan was a zoologist, who endured chronic ill health. She kept snakes, frogs and crocodiles as pets and started working at the British Museum, in 1917, as an assistant keeper of reptiles and fish. She then became the London Zoo’s curator of reptiles, in 1923, and discovered a new species called the Peninsula Dragon lizard. She built houses for the reptiles specifically for them to make them feel comfortable and made it seem like their natural habitats with help from her artistic talents. Under her care, the reptiles lived longer in captivity than ever before. Her health, however, caught up with her and she made her way around in a wheelchair with her pet Komodo Dragon on a leash. She died at the age of 34.

 

Mamie Phipps Clark – Psychologist and Civil Rights Activist

Racial segregation meant Mamie wasn’t allowed in shops owned by white people and had to attend poorly funded black-only schools. She met her husband and future partner in psychology at Howard University, where she learnt psychology could be used to prove segregation is wrong. Mamie and her husband conducted the Doll Experiment, travelling the country and comparing responses of children from segregated and integrated schools. They found evidence that segregation damaged children and caused self-hate and this was used in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in public schools.

 

Rosalind Franklin – Chemist and X-Ray Crystallographer

Rosalind’s father disapproved of women going to  university but she went anyway and earned a PhD in physical chemistry from Cambridge University. She spent hours, at King’s College, using X-rays on fibres of DNA, capturing a famous photo providing DNA is a double helix. James Watson and Francis Crick were also trying to figure out the structure and peeked at Rosalind’s work without permission, using her findings to publish their work. She was not credited in their work and they won the a Nobel Prize four years after she died from cancer in 1958. Watson wrote jeering comments about Rosalind in his book, The Double Helix, and admitted to looking at her data. We remember her as the woman, who should have won the Nobel Prize.

 

Valentina Tereshkova – Engineer and Cosmonaut

Valentina dreamed of exploring the world but her family was so poor they couldn’t afford bread. When the space race began between the US and USSR, where she was born, the USSR wanted to be the first to send a woman to space and since Valentina was in a parachute club, she was a perfect candidate. She was selected to compete with four other women and the training was intense but she was eventually chosen as the first woman in space. Valentina flew by herself on the Vostok VI shuttle in 1963 and orbited Earth 48 times, which set a new record. Her photographs in space helped us gain a better understanding of the atmosphere. She had a very bumpy ride back, nauseated and disoriented, but she earned a doctorate in engineering and worked closely with the cosmonaut programme after her trip. She now works for world peace. She is an amazing example that women are strong and tough.

 

It was very difficult having to pick a small amount of women from the Women In Science book. I highly recommend reading it as it is filled with such inspiring women from marine biologists to inventors and neuroscientists to psychoanalysts. A lot of these women were not only scientists but also film actresses, senators, authors, etc, which makes it that extra bit inspiring. Rachel Ignotofsky is also an amazing illustrator as the book is so beautiful! Most of what I wrote above has been taken from the book.

 

Although today is International Women’s Day and we should spend the day appreciating women, let’s not forget that everyday is a day to respect and appreciate women as well as other people.

 

-Shay

Study Drugs: Trick or Treat? | St. George’s University Spotlight on Science

Last Thursday, I attended a lecture at St. George’s University, about ‘study drugs’.

Study drugs are defined as  prescription stimulant medications that are used improperly by a person with a prescription, or more often, illegally by a person without a prescription, increasing concentration and stamina.

That’s the proper, fancy definition so to put it into simpler terms, they’re basically drugs that people use to help them work better or study better, kind of like the pill in Limitless, except these drugs are made for medication not solely for doing better in school, etc.

Minor examples of this include caffeine and cocaine but today I’m going to be focusing on other examples. Examples that include Strattera, which increases noradrenaline (a hormone with is involved in the fight or flight response), Ritalin and Adderall, which increase noradrenaline and dopamine. Modafinil is also an example but there’s not a lot of information known about it.

 

Raymond Hill, a professor in pharmacology, stated there has been a 56% increase for Ritalin prescription in the past five years, in England. He also claimed that they are being “regularly approached by students who feel under pressure to take drugs as they feel like they are falling behind their peers.” And that being said, I feel like it’s important to specify that Ritalin in a class B drug and can result in prison for five years just for possession of it.

 

Students are feeling pressured to take these study drugs to do well and survive the education system by consuming and even overdosing on these drugs, risking the fact they could end up in prison. I even know of someone, who takes study drugs to do well in school. Dr Jennings, a science communicator, showed the effects of increasing the dose of dopamine and noradrenaline, which some of these study drugs do. These are the stages of increasing the doses:

  1. Wakeful (cognitive enhancement)
  2. Vigilance
  3. Hyper-locomotion
  4. Mania
  5. Euphoria
  6. Psychosis
  7. Coma
  8. Circulatory Collapse

You might be thinking Hmm, why can’t you just stop using it when you feel like it’s going too far. Well, Ritalin and Adderall are addictive so it can be hard to stop once you start.

So far, we know study drugs are often taken by students to get an advantage in school but these drugs have severe side effects. You might be thinking these students are cheating and are too stupid to think about the consequences. And don’t feel too guilty if you do think that because I’m @ing you right now. I kind of thought the same too.

But then, Neil Gibride, a lecturer in education, opened my mind.

 

Me and My Best Friend in Chemistry

Gibride explained that GCSEs and A Levels, which are academic qualifications taken in secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges, in most of the UK, are designed so that 30% of students will fail! 30%!

The education system is a competition amongst young people, which parents and students try their hardest to get through. 1/3 of parents knew of other parents that used ethically dubious strategies to secure a good school place for their child, like using their grandparent’s addresses or moving house temporarily so they are considered in the catchment area of the school, which gives them more of a priority into getting in. Some parents send their kids to private tuition for the 11+ exam, which, by the way, has a substantial bias against some ethnic groups.

And once you’re in the school, if your grades are suffering, the school can do this thing called ‘off-rolling’. It’s the ‘removal by one means or another, of students from a school’s roll.’ They informally exclude students so they cannot impact the exam results and make the school look bad.  Off-rolling is basically a way to boost results and climb up the league table. It’s like one big unethical game.

Ofsted should really change the focus from competition to curicuulum. That way students would probably enjoy school and learning more and suffer less in terms of anxiety and mental health AND consuming dangerous ‘study drugs’.

Therefore, it’s ignorant and inconsiderate of us to neglect the understanding of human behaviour since it’s a dynamic between the individual and context, as Neil Gibride said. You can call it cheating but it’s almost as if society is designed to force people to end of seeking these drugs.

 

In conclusion, are study drugs a trick or a treat?

They are dangerous and can be lethal but they can work in enhancing cognitive functions. And students are regularly using them to pull through the competition pinned on them through the education system and Ofsted and because of their own mental health. Personally, I think it’s not worth taking. I understand the education system is corrupt and puts pressure on getting the best grades but they can take your life or ruin them. However, I don’t think it’s cheating, even though it may be considered that. Yes, these study drugs put students at an advantage but so does private tutition and the ‘ethically dubious’ methods I mentioned earlier, which are tactics that aren’t considered cheating.

 

What do you think?

 

-Shay

P.S. Don’t do drugs, kids, unless it’s paracetamol or calpol.

Does Anything Really Exist?

You’re reading this post right now, whether that be through the ability of your eyes or ears or any sensory cell in your body. You’re reading this, right at this very moment. Right?

Now, you might be thinking, Shay, what’s up with you? It’s not even 4:20.

Well, young child (or old), be prepared to start thinking as if it is 4:20.

In our day to day lives, we touch, hear, smell, see, think, talk, move, etc. That’s how we know we exist. We acknowledge the world functioning around us and the people we meet and the places we go and we input all that information in through our sensory cells, which basically explain to your brain what’s going on in the outside world, while it’s cooped up inside your skull. It’s as if your brain is living vicariously through you…but also, functioning and supplying you with the necessities to live.

And we trust our brains to process what is going on because it’s all we really know, since the day we were born. Now, take away that trust.

How do we know what our brain is processing and telling us is actually happening?

How do you know we’re not just hooked up to a machine and 4D videos aren’t being inputted into our brains to make it seem like we’re living in this fake world, where we can feel things and see things? How do you know your thoughts are even yours?

 

How do you know if we’re not just in a some kind of dream? Or a simulation?

Is seeing really believing?

Rubber Arm Experiment

Take the Rubber Arm Experiment, as an example. People were convinced that the rubber arm in front of them was really their arm, with just a few minutes of illusion.

An experiment by Shaw and Porter of the University of British Columbia in Canada found that when they had three interviews with a group of participants, telling and asking them of one false memory (either a crime they did or an emotional event like injury) as well as telling them about two true memories, that were personal to the participants, 71% of those 30 student participants developed a false memory of the crime and 76.6% of another 30 students formed a false memory of the emotional event.

These students were convinced, in quick time, of inaccurate and false criminal and emotional events that occurred in their lives, which never even happened.

So how do we really know that what’s happened in our lives is real? It could all just be one big lie!

 

Maybe you’re real…but how do you know that everybody else is? You can’t see what they’re really thinking or their functioning brain.

 

Morty Lefkoe wrote a post similar to this and asked readers to imagine their hand expanding and expanding until there was nothing in the universe except the hand. He stated:

it would disappear because there would be nothing in the universe that was not the hand. This is a very basic concept about reality: In order for any thing to exist, there must also be not that thing. In order for anything to exist, it must be distinguished from everything else. If no distinction is made between a specific thing and everything else, there is only an undifferentiated everything—which is another way of saying nothing. Everything, without any distinctions, is the same as nothing.”

 

If I lost you there, I’m not surprised. I was a bit lost too. But to basically put it in simple terms, imagine the air. We sometimes refer to the air as nothing because there’s “nothing” there, when actually, there are millions and millions of particles and elements milling around. And they’re not just the same element – they’re different. But we can’t see that difference, we can’t see that distinction so to us, it’s just a big collective thing known as air, which is a huge thing since air is pretty much everywhere so we consider it to be nothing. Think of the phrase “vanish into nothingness”. It’s not really nothingness, though.

Therefore, what really does the word ‘exist’ mean? That’s the real question.

Because with what Morty Lefkoe explained, if everything exists, nothing really does.

 

At the end of the day, no matter what your opinion is and whatever this crazy world really is and whether or not we are real or not, this is our reality and our only reality. So deal with it.

 

-Shay

Tears Are Okay.

Crying is seen as a weakness.

 

I find a lot of people prefer hiding their emotions and tears, which is also fine, but reinforcing to others that it’s a sign of weakness. I also find that amongst boys, it’s seen as weak, ‘gay’ and ‘girly’.

 

Today I’m going to tell you why it’s not.

 

It’s going to get a little science-y but I hope it’s not too confusing! When you’re stressed and depressed, your hypothalamus, in your brain, basically instructs the pituitary gland (the ‘master gland’ that controls secretion of hormones) to order the adrenal cortex to release cortisol. Cortisol is, basically, released to combat and deal with stress.

However, excess cortisol or high levels of cortisol can be really damaging, for example, it can cause:

  • High blood pressure (could lead to strokes)
  • Insulin resistance (can cause type 2 diabetes)
  • Carbohydrate cravings (provoking you to binge eat)
  • Fat deposits on face, neck and belly
  • Suppressed immunity (weakened immune system)
  • Loss of muscle mass (so actual physical weakness)
  • Loss of calcium from bones (again, physical weakness)
  • Loss of cognitive function (e.g. reduced memory, problem solving, etc)

 

Crying, however, releases excess cortisol in your tears.

The behaviour we do and the bodily functions we contain are there for a reason, no matter what you believe.

If you believe in Darwin’s theory, then you know that everything that aids us in survival will carry on in future generations and our genes that help us succeed in survival and reproduction will get passed on. Crying is something that has been passed on to EVERYONE so it’s not there for no reason. Why do you think we feel like crying when we’re sad? It doesn’t happen for no reason!
If you believe in God, then surely God would have put the behaviour of crying in you for a reason.

I could go on.

 

Emotional crying is there for a reason. You don’t need to suppress it.

At the same time, do not wallow in your tears forever because too much of something, as you probably already know, is bad. Even vegetables.

 

And if you don’t trust me, trust Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at UCLA and director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics. He stated that stress “tightens muscles and heightens tension, so when you cry, you release some of that” and crying “activates the parasympathetic nervous system“, which is involved in resting your body and digestion, “and restores your body to a state of balance.

 

So if you think crying is weak, remember that not crying can actually weaken you.

It’s okay to cry. 

 

-Shay

Yanny Or Laurel?

 

Let’s discuss the greatest debate of this century!

Yanny or Laurel? DUN DUN DUN!

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, person who lives under a rock, click here right now!

Okay, so I wasn’t going to talk about it but I am so sick of seeing ‘Yanny or Laurel’ everywhere. 😂 I’m just kidding, I’m not a hater, I think it’s cool and I love that it’s the new ‘the dress’ but it’s absolutely everywhere! Also the memes are funny.

There have been so many people sending the audio to me, asking me what I can hear. I’ve seen so many YouTube videos popping up in my feed, stating they’ve explained it. When I was writing my upcoming Ocean’s 8 post, I googled ‘girls support girls’ so I could get a cute picture to add in and a picture with the words ‘Yanny or Laurel’ literally came up.

So, I decided to be part of this fiasco.

 

Firstly, I can slightly hear both of them. However, I can mainly hear “Yanny” (well, I actually hear ‘Yammy’ but whatever, my opinion is invalid😂). I did hear ‘Laurel’ at some points though, for example, my cousin sent me a video of her playing the audio and I heard ‘Laurel’. I then replayed it and heard ‘Yanny’. I think that goes to show that my brain literally can’t make a decision and it’s not just my own stupidity.

 

The actual word is ‘Laurel’, being said by an opera singer, a member of the original Broadway cast of Cats. Even though, ‘Laurel’ is what is actually being said, whichever one you can hear is technically right. Unless you hear like ‘Quanisha’ or something like that…then get help?

Being a science enthusiastic, I decided to delve deep (well, like ankles deep) into the science behind this internet debate that’s dividing people apart.

 

Both words have similar acoustic features and are technically both being played, but are travelling at different frequencies. ‘Yanny’ is travelling at a higher frequency whereas ‘Laurel’ is travelling at a lower frequency. That basically means that if your ears are “younger”, you’re more likely to hear ‘Yanny’ and if your ears are “older”, you’re more likely to hear ‘Laurel’. It’s just a matter of how damaged your ears are to be honest. That’s why I’m lowkey happy about this whole situation. Even though I hear ‘Yanny’ and people who hear ‘Yanny’ supposedly eat pizza with a knife and fork and bite into Kit Kats without breaking the bars off first, it means my ears aren’t as damaged as I thought they were from constantly listening to music on the highest volume. So to those who hear ‘Laurel’, s̶u̶c̶k̶ ̶m̶y

 

Although, my four year old second cousin can hear ‘Laurel’. He is lowkey an old man in a four year old body though…

Also if your sound quality is low, you’re more likely to hear ‘Yanny’.

 

Another reason is that your brain may just be focused on one frequency, despite whether your ears are damaged or not. Your brain does this to help manage and organise the multiple stimuli and sensory information entering your brain at once. It does this unconsciously, which is why you can’t choose which you can hear.

 

Which do you hear, Yanny or Laurel?

ᴬˡˢᵒ ᵇˡᵘᵉ ᵃⁿᵈ ᵇˡᵃᶜᵏ ᵒʳ ʷʰᶦᵗᵉ ᵃⁿᵈ ᵍᵒˡᵈ

 

-Shay

Mind Boggling Time Travel!

Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with you.

Along the lines of sci-fi, I’m going to be talking about something I find really interesting yet mind boggling. Time travel.

 

“The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

-Albert Einstein

 

 

I’m not a physics students but time travel is a concept that I could go on and on about for ages. I actually had a conversation today with two good friends about something I’ve always wondered:

We are currently travelling slower than the speed of light, as humans, and also moving forward into the future. Theoretically, if you were to travel at the speed of light (ignore the fact that collisions of atoms would cause a burst of gamma rays yada yada yada) everything would be ‘frozen’ around you because you are moving at the same speed as the speed you can see things so basically, you’re literally living in the present…but for a really long time. With all this in mind, if you were to, theoretically, travel faster than the speed of light, wouldn’t you be moving back in time.

Slower than speed of light = moving forward into the future

Speed of light = frozen in time

Faster than speed of light = moving backwards into the past?

To support this, at night, there are stars. (No shit, Sherlock). But some of those stars are already dead yet we can still see them. That’s because the light that star emitted is still travelling towards us, even at the amazing speed of light (299,792,458 m/s) so we’re basically seeing something that existed in the past. The sunlight that hit us from the sun is actually 8 minutes and 20 seconds old so we’re seeing something that was emitted several minutes in the past.

If we were to travel 65 million light years away from Earth (and if we had an extraordinary mega telescope) we could see the dinosaurs that existed on our planet.

 

Another question that boggles my mind is whether time is fixed or flexible.

In the film Déjà Vu, the main character goes back in time to try to change the course of the timeline to prevent something bad from happening. However, by trying to prevent it from happening, he actually causes the events that happened in the lead up to the bad things. As an example, the main character, who is an agent, goes to the house of a victim to murder. A group of forensic scientists tell him that he was reckless and put his fingerprints everywhere when he was searching around the house, even though he definitely put gloves on. The reason to this is because he travelled back into the past, later on in the film, and went to the girl’s house before she had even died.

Even though it’s a film, this could be a potential theory on the flexibility of time.

 

Another very similar question is whether time is linear or cyclic/non-linear…which was also touched on in that fingerprint scenario in Déjà Vu.

Does the past strictly affect only the future or can the future affect the past too?

 

I found this extract from Big Picture Questions, which basically explains it better than I could:

Tom Minderle explained that linear time means moving from the past into the future in a straight line, like dominoes knocking over dominoes. There is a sequence that moves in one direction. Humans think we can’t change the past or visit it, because we live according to linear time.

Nonlinear time works like this: “Imagine if you could slow down time. Or time travel to the past. Or position yourself above the line and view the past, present, and future simultaneously.” He explained:

  • It isn’t just one line, but a whole web of lines, all interconnected and branching with different pasts leading to different presents and different futures.
  • You can choose which alternate present to enter into. The future and past are not different than the left and right end of a table, which exist simultaneously. But whichever end you look at is the end you see.

 

The most widely accepted idea is that time is linear. But that could just be our minds way of condensing information and the complexity of the concept of time.

 

What do you think?

 

-Shay

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Today is not just about protecting the environment – throwing away you litter in a bin and using bags for life, etc. That should be something you do everyday. Today is a day to encourage and spread the message about saving our lovely little planet.

Every little detail in the environment, in nature, is significant to the how it functions. Every detail from a shred of grass to a hover fly is significant, even if it’s not completely obvious, but with the way us, humans, are treating Earth, those significant things are being damaged and killed.

 

This year’s Earth Day theme is about changing human attitudes towards plastic consumption and encouraging people to reduce that.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

10% of the plastic we use end up in the oceans. In fact, there is an island in the North Pacific Gyre, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, mostly made up of plastic waste, 1.6 million square kilometres in size. That’s bigger than the country I’m from. That’s bigger than the UK by a lot! And imagine the animals that have to suffer because of us. Chemicals from plastic pollution can accumulate in bodily tissues of bird’s, causing harmful effects to their reproductive abilities, immune system and hormone balance.

Synthetic plastic is non-biodegradable. One single (I repeat: ONE SINGLE) plastic bag can take up to 500 years and longer to degrade.

If you don’t care about the harm it does to the environment or the animals in nature, then maybe you should start caring because it also affects you. Toxic chemicals from the manufacture of plastics contain carcinogenic (potentially cancerous), neurotoxic (damaging to parts of your nervous system), and hormone-disruptive chemicals, which eventually find it’s way into our water, land and air. And it pollutes the ecosystem and your own bodily systems.

 

But you can do little things to stop it, everyday.

 

  • Use a reusable bottle instead of constantly getting new plastic bottles of water, etc.
  • Use a bag for life instead of using plastic bags (in the long-term, it’ll probably save you money too.)
  • Stop chewing gum, or at least reduce the amount you chew.
  • Don’t spit your gum out on roads.
  • Throw your litter away (in a bin)!
  • Try to always recycle!
  • Pick up litter you find and throw away.
  • Use glass containers instead.
  • Use a stainless steel travel mug.
  • Use bars of soap instead of bottles of soap.
  • Don’t use straws (even request ‘no straws’ at restaurants).
  • Use matches instead of lighters.
  • Don’t use makeup, skincare, or any beauty product with microbeads. (including toothpaste.) Check before you buy!
  • Bulk shop to reduce any plastic you might use for bags.
  • Think before you use plastics. Can you use paper instead? e.g you can use paper bags instead of plastic. Still gets the job done.
  • Don’t complain about having to pay for a bag. (I know this won’t reduce plastic consumption but I find it so annoying, especially as someone working in retail.)
  • Reduce the amount of bottled fizzy drinks and crisp packets you’re buying. (Better for your health too 😉 )
  • Shop at farmer’s markets instead.
  • Use baking soda to wash dishes instead of fairy liquid (or any bottled soap you use).
  • Reuse plastic containers when you get them, like from takeaways.
  • Learn to preserve food without plastic.
  • Make your own snacks instead of buying in the shop, where it’ll be packaged in plastic.
  • Compost food waste.
  • Encourage others to reduce their plastic consumption.

 

Obviously, it can be hard to reduce the amount of plastic you consume because plastic is practically everywhere and in everything. The point is having the right mindset and working to make little changes even if you do one of the above day by day. Be aware and cautious about the amount you use and spread the word.

 

We only have one Earth. Let’s keep it green.

 

-Shay

What Colour are Mirrors?

What colour are mirrors? Think.

Now you might say silver because most mirrors are made out materials that we associate to the colour silver like aluminium but obviously, when you put different coloured things in front of a mirror, it will show that colour. Just stating the obvious here.

But that just means that mirrors are reflecting white light, right? White light contains all colours after all.

 

However, if you put a mirror in front of a mirror, you would be able to see a tunnel of mirrors. The intensity of light starts to decrease and you eventually see a more greener colour at the end of the tunnel.

A lot of people say that mirrors are actually smart kinds of white, which is actually technically true.

A perfect mirror reflects back all the colours – white light, so the mirror is actually also white. Although in reality, real mirrors are not perfect, and their surface atoms give all reflections a very slight green tinge, since the atoms in the glass reflect back green light waves more strongly than any other colour.

 

Short post, but I thought it was quite interesting. 🙂

 

-Shay