A New Perspective on Writing

4 months ago when I signed up for Writing 3030 I had no interest in the class or writing in general for that matter. This is because my writing experiences in both college and high school have been too structured.  When I say structured I don’t mean teachers telling me how to write; no, I mean teachers telling me what to write. I just thought that this is how writing class were and the structure would always frustrate me because I had no passion in what I was writing; this made my final product poor and turned me off of the idea of writing.

Writing 3030 has allowed all of us in the class to express ourselves in our writing because the topics we were writing were so open ended. That aspect of the class was the most fascinating for me, because when I write about something I have interest in, my writing becomes that much better and easier to do.

Another misconception I had about writing when I entered this class was that I should use the most profound words possible while at the same time using the most words that I can fit into a sentence.<— (do you see what I mean?)

Our teacher, Amy, taught us that concise writing is key. Nobody wants to read useless words anyway, the only purpose they serve is filling space. I learned many things in this class but I believe concise writing is one that I will never forget.

 

Thanks Amy

Advertisements

Bioneers Presentation: An organizational Review

I went to the Front Range Bioneers conference on Saturday and saw a woman speaker by the name of Michelle Parish put together a presentation that I thought was well constructed and got her point across effectively.

When she began her presentation she introduced herself and gave out preliminary information to set the stage and let people know that she had the appropriate credentials to know what she was to be presenting on. Her introduction involved:

-Affiliations (Head of CU Climate Justice)

– Past accomplishments

– Current Projects (Boulder Flood Relief)

After her intro she gave us her thesis statement or general theme of her presentation; resilience of the community after the Boulder floods. After introducing her broad theme, she narrowed it down to a more concentrated issue; The harmful plutonium in the Rocky Flats area that was disturbed by the flood.

Now that the audience knew exactly what she was presenting on she went on to outline her points of concern and finished with a take home point that wrapped up her presentation well and in turn she got an impressive response from the audience after her presentation was over.

The highlight of the organization of the presentation for me was the broad theme that she introduced and then narrowed it down to a smaller target issue that allowed the audience to attend to the core concepts of the presentation by eliminating confusion about her focus for her message.

Image

The Views of the Depressed

Work Cited: Nieuwsma, J. A., & Pepper, C. M. (2010). How etiological explanations for depression impact perceptions of stigma, treatment effectiveness, and controllability of depression. Journal Of Mental Health, 19(1), 52-61. 

This study explored how the biological explanations for causation of depression “influences perceptions of stigma, perceived controllability of depression and perceived effectiveness of depression treatments”. (52)

The participants for the study were college students in an introductory psychology course who “were screened using The Depression History Screen and the BDI-II”. From the results of the screening test, two groups were created: Those who have been depressed in the past (n:36) and those who have not (n:33). These two groups went on to participate in interviews and further questionnaires in order to produce statistical data results. (55)

Relevant results of the study showed that “participants who reported having suffered from depression…believed that persons with depression are perceived as [] dangerous”. (58) Another interesting result of the study reported that the depressed participants believed that self-initiated treatments were more effective than psychotherapy or medical intervention. (59)

‘Stronger’ participants in this study, such as diagnosed clinically depressed participants rather than reportedly depressed participants may have created stronger results; but the reoccurring problem in our society today is that most unstable or dangerous people are the ones that are undiagnosed which brings relevancy to this source.

Writing Serious Things, In a Creative Way

After my years of schooling, which will probably be quite some time from now, I would love to work with children with developmental issues. Developmental psychology is a very interesting subject because the brain is changing and evolving (growing) throughout the process of working with the child. So I set out to ask someone in this particular field a couple questions about communicating their work and findings to the ‘outside’ community.

Natalie is on the board of directors at Imagine! Colorado. Imagine! provides support services to people with developmental and cognitive disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

I learned from our conversation that writing is a relatively large and crucial part of the job. She writes ‘progress reports’ about the different kids that she works with. These reports go out to both the parents and the senior developmental psychologist at the program. She plans on publishing her findings after a certain amount of time and clients. 

She says “I have become accustomed to writing my findings in a professional manner but I have always felt I’ve been better at communicating in a more informal, fun way”. I agree with her remarks on communication format when addressing a large audience. I have often felt restricted when writing in a very formal manner. 

Writing in this “fun” way, allows me to write outside the box and allows me to express myself in a way that enables me to drive a point home. This more creative style writing would also allow me to communicate with a larger audience outside of the science community—Just like a blog does.

The Internet: A Resume For Scientists

In our modern world, more and more information is found on the internet. Because of this, the Internet has become one of, if not the best way, to get your name out there.

For me and my particular interests, The American Psychological Association is a king among citizens in the world of psychology. There website is no different. APA.org is not just aimed to give out random streams of psychological information; its aimed to help people and allow Psychologists to communicate and network with each other. 

Image

 There mission statement explains their goals perfectly:

“Our mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.”

The audience that this site attracts are both ‘normal people’ and scientists who are looking for information about psychological research. Because of the broad audience ranging from fellow Phd holders to Joe Six-Pack, the information is presented in a ‘humanistic’ or plain English style of literature. When writing in this style, the psychologists are not bending themselves from their norms of rhetoric because, their research is almost completely comprised of working with people in the general public, and their writing style reflects that. 

Image

There are hundreds of topics to choose from when logging onto the site and each topic is littered with informational articles written by highly respected psychologists. Reviewed by the ‘Senior Staff’, the Information that is placed on this site is cited with empirical evidence to ensure facticity and the scientists who publish the articles have researched their specific topics extensively before it is seen by the public and other scientists alike.To be published on this site would be an honor to any scientist and would be an ideal way of getting a ‘foot into the door’ in the psychological research world.

 

A Humanistic Science

The field of psychology is commonly referred to as the people’s science. This is because all of the ‘findings’ in this field directly concerns everyone—everywhere. This should mean that my field of science is entirely humanistic and factual right? Wrong. The hard truth is that Psychology is a ‘messy’ science. This is because everyone is different; A therapy used on one patient with schizophrenia may not work on a different patient with schizophrenia. This may make Psychology the least factual scientific field around. It’s about trial and error, which produces the best possible results, which are in everyone’s best interest.

That being said, I think it is a ridiculous to claims that scientist’s findings are not factual or relevant. This is what Jonathan M Marks says in his book What it Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee. He gives us an extreme version of some of the resentments that the general public has towards scientists.

Marks says, “The problem is that science is very good at answering questions people don’t care about”.

I believe psychology and neuroscience is a field that many people care about.  It is true that psychology makes claims about how and why people act certain ways. I am using the word claim here because they’re not necessarily truths. Nonetheless, these claims aim to be relevant to everyone’s daily lives and aim to help those in need of psychological direction.

This is what concerns me and leads to believe that Marks’ argument needs a sensible counterargument from someone who sees science as use and humanistic in order to be taken seriously.

Let Me Pick Your Brain

I ambled into my first day of classes at CU an undeclared eighteen year old with a background in meteorology. My father, a meteorologist, encouraged me to study weather but I knew that I wanted to work with people. Weather doesn’t fascinate me; people fascinate me.

What I did not expect was my life to be changed when I walked into the first day of my general psychology class. I felt as if the teacher in the front of the room of 300 students looked me straight in the eye and said ‘You don’t want to tell people what the weather will be like tomorrow, you want to actually help people, you should be a psychologist’.

And then it hit me like a sack of bricks; I had been conducting my first case study my entire life. Both sides of my parent’s families were littered with cases of schizophrenia, alcohol dependency, adultery and suicide. Some people may think psychology and neuroscience are not important in the world of science. Our brain is everything we’ve got, think about it (see what I did there?) you’re using your brain right now to read this blog post and you’ll use it later to figure out what you’ll have for dinner. Our brains can make or break us. When the mental state of a brain goes south it can and will break a person. I’ve seen it first hand throughout my childhood whether I’ve recognized it or not.

Image

Another thing that drew me to science is how relatable all of the fields are to each other. Carl Sagan, a late American astronomer said it perfectly in his book The Demon-Haunted World, “Some of science is very simple. When it gets complicated that’s usually because the world is complicated – or because we’re complicated”. Sagan is correct in saying that science is simple; but what drew me to Psychology is how complex the human brain is.

My position as a scientist is to help people with mental health issues. It’s hands on work and you can see results in helping patients feel good about themselves by having a sound mind. That is what drew me to the subject, plus, weathermen only have to be correct 25% of the time (sorry, dad).