Psychology


Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

polling-1000

The news always seems full of surveys/polls about this or that, trying to predict trends or outcomes and explain society. Nowhere is polling more prevalent than in the political arenas. One popular place to go for polling data is Rasmussen Reports, which says of itself, “If it’s in the News, it’s in our polls.”  They do many surveys too, but this is just a poll of another kind. Here are some seasonal examples I looked up on their website (as of 11/27/2015):

1.) Nearly 3-out-of-4 American Adults (72%) think stores start the Christmas season too early.
2.) 43% of American Adults say they have started their gift shopping. 54%have not.

About these polls it is told that 1,000 American adults were surveyed and that “The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.” Hmmm, what does that mean? To understand this, some definitions are in order, specifically ‘margin of error’ and ‘level of confidence’.

Margin of Error (MoE) – Measure of the accuracy of the results, which indicates the difference between an estimate of something and its true value.
Level of Confidence (LoC) – Measure of the reliability of a result, which tells how confident we are in the margin or error.

Polls and surveys work by asking a random sample of the total population a series of questions. Obviously they can not ask the total population (perhaps hundreds of millions), so they sample in a random way (it’s cheaper and quicker) and use that data to state something relevant. The numbers themselves can be thrown around, but how accurate are they? That’s where MoE and LoC come into play. It’s important to remember that the MoE and LoC depend on the sample size, not the total population size, if that total population size is large. For a 95% LoC, the MoE turns out to be 0.98/√n, where n=1000 (the sample size). Do the math and it is 0.98/√1000 = 0.03 (or +/- 3%). In simple terms, this means that the survey/poll is 95% confident that the error between the sampled population and the total population is +/- 3%. Said another way, if you keep polling in the same way, then 95% of the time the answer you get will be within 3% of the correct answer. The mathematics reveals that (contrary to popular belief) the relative sample size matters less than the absolute sample size. That is, the results are independent of the total population, no matter how big it is, and it is just the sample size itself of that population that matters. How is it possible that a sample size as small as 1000 out of a total population in the millions or hundreds of millions has an MoE as small as +/- 3%? Welcome to the nature of the so-called ‘Bell Curve’. It’s also called the ‘normal distribution’ and is is a tool statisticians use to tell how far the sample is likely to be off from the overall population, that is, how big a MoE there is likely to be in a survey/poll.

Bell-MoE

Under the most ideal conditions, the above is generally true, but a more realistic condition is that an LoC of at least 95% requires that LoC >[1 – 1/(4n*MoE^2)], which for n = 1000 gives MoE ~ 0.07 (or 7%). This turns out to be a more realistic number for mathematical reasons relating to the sampling itself and randomness (see Small samples, and the margin of error). Further, even this is somewhat idealized in scenario and questions can come up as to nature of population sampled, questions refused, undecided, understood, truthful and other intangibles which can play a role. Survey and polls can be widely off depending on the nature of the questions and how they are answered or not answered. Treat them all with skepticism, but bear in mind they CAN be accurate even with a sample size as small as 1000. This seems to be the magic number (n=1000) most survey/poll people use to get the 95% LoC with 3-7% MoE, and usually the ideal case of 3% MoE.

The truth of political polling is that if 3% MoE is acceptable 95% of the time, then that is what they go with. People who poll and survey seem to have settled on this and the sample size is usually 1000 people. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true from a mathematical perspective. In all human endeavors there are always intangibles to be considered (some of which I’ve mentioned) and these can make survey/polls quite unreliable. In addition they can quickly become irrelevant soon after they are taken when events or circumstances change. My best advice it to treat them as you might the daily Horoscope, realizing they encompass a multitude of possibilities, but the reality is in the outcome itself. The mathematics does not lie and can be a predictor of trends and outcomes, even with a small population. The greatest variable is not the behavior of human beings, which can reasonably be predicted under certain conditions, but the human beings themselves, who are both the predictor and predicted simultaneously. We tend to change with the wind. I think of it as weather, which changes from day to day, week to week, month to month, but climate itself is the long term average of weather, which can be predicted. Polls/surveys are like the weather and change daily, weekly, monthly like weather, but long term maybe can be averaged to predict human behavior. This is somewhat the basis of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series where the science of psychohistory can predict the track of humanity into the far future, but the random element always plays a role, which can throw predictions off.

Foundation-Trilogy

Remember always, mathematics doesn’t lie, but people do, though not always intentionally. We live in a very partisan and biased culture where so-called ‘news’ media conduct their own polls, present the results without even understanding the mathematics of what it means. These media personalities of today are mostly sensationalist and/or just want to promote their conservative and/or liberal cause, what ever those nomenclatures mean anymore. I still remember the words of Dr. Fitz, as we called him, my Advanced Civics teacher in high school back in the late 1970’s who told us to read, listen and watch, then read between the lines. That advise has stuck with me my whole life and never has it been a more valuable lesson than in our culture today.

Note: In general, for Margin of Error (MoE) at various Levels of Confidence (LoC), use these formulas, where n=sample size:

MoE at 99% LoC ~ 1.29/√n
MoE at 95% LoC ~ 0.98/√n
MoE at 90% LoC ~ 0.82/√n

If the sample fraction is > 5% of the total population, then also multiply the results by the factor √[(N – n)/(N – 1)], where n = sample population, N = total population. This is the ‘finite population correction’. Usually the N >> n, so this correction is negligible.

There are also Margin of Error calculators you can use, such as:

http://www.americanresearchgroup.com/moe.html

Statistics and mathematics aside, it’s really the quality of the questions, how they are asked and responded to that matter more perhaps. That is, how sound was the methodology of a survey or poll, and was there any ‘built-in’ (intentional or unintentional) bias? Statistics alone can not answer that, as it’s a more subjective question. Non-sampling errors can always creep in, even in the best designed survey/poll. These include true randomness, poorly designed questions, poor interviewers, and a host of other factors. These non-sampling errors can, in fact, often exceed the sampling errors themselves. It’s always best to treat surveys/polls with some skepticism and the statistics behind them are not always just an indicator of their reliability.

20-yrs-internet

I read somewhere once that in the Middle Ages some people believed we are all created from preformed tiny human beings, called homunculus (Latin for “little man”), which grow into ourselves, but the inner homunculus always maintains control. Who is really pulling the strings, eh? I mention this because it is near about 20 years on the internet for me now and it feels a bit like a homunculus, even though I was born long before it became widely available to the public. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be born into the world with the internet already existing. Sometimes it feels like it has always been there, so ingrained has it become, but I know when I think back in ‘the before time’ I have memories of a world without it. I don’t want to focus on the ‘before time’ in this blog, but say something about 20 years of Internet. Just for fun, I can start by sampling what the internet looked like 20 years ago. Should I be capitalizing it as Internet?

Web-sites-1995

Looks pretty cheesy by standards of today, but back then it was the ‘bees knees’, to use a very old fashioned phrase. In those days most of these companies were using available technology, but the internet was mostly slow and clunky. I bought a 28.8k baud modem in 1995 and squealed my way into cyberspace. At first I only found things like BBS (Bulletin Board System), Usenet or News Groups. These were mostly discussion based arenas for sharing information, though some media could be exchanged as well, but it could be time consuming depending on the size. I did this on the cheap finding numbers to dial up and get online, then once accessing information I found ways to set up TCP/IP and access web pages with a thing called Netscape using various other dial-ups. These free dial-ups came and went with the wind, but I suppose the seeds of a homunculus were planted inside me during those days. You had to be sort of clever and tech inclined to make this shit work back then. The October 1995 issue of FHM (featuring Cindy Crawford on the cover) had an article entitled: “How to log on to the internet – the pleasures and pitfalls of going online”, by Tony Horkins.

dissecting-fhms-seminal-october-1995-feature-how-to-log-on-the-internet-101-body-image-1433515762

Eventually I think I got Compuserve and then AOL (America Online) after that. The rest is history and the homunculus that has grown inside me now seems to have a mind of its own – well, it’s my mind, but still… At least I think it’s still my mind. This brings me to the infamous Clifford Stoll Newsweek article from 1995 entitled “The Internet? Bah!“. Clifford Stoll is much maligned today for getting it wrong, but on reading it in 2015 I think maybe he got it right – for the most part anyway. I feel his vibe now in attitude and it brings us together, but at the same time isolates us from one another. There’s a great passage at the end of the article:

While the Internet beckons brightly, seductively flashing an icon of knowledge-as-power, this nonplace lures us to surrender our time on earth.

At the time Clifford Stoll wrote those words, he had the 20 years experience with the internet already, not as advanced as it is today, but enough to recognize something fundamental in the human experience. My own experience 20 years on after using the internet allows me to recognize that while it has its uses it is just a tool, another in the history of mankind. We should not lose sight of that and while mastery of tools set us apart from the beasts of the wilderness, those tools do not define us. We are all something more than the sum of our parts or the tools we use. There is a danger in being servant to the internet as opposed to allowing the internet to serve you. As Mr. Spock said in the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Ultimate Computer”:

Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them.

Such reflections are well considered and philosophically sound. Take a step back and think about it, whether it be 20, 10, 5 or 1 year of internet experience…

vintage-social-networking1

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

city_on_the_edge_of_forever-kirk&spock

 

 

Loose-endsThe definition of ‘Loose Ends’ is given as: A part of something that has not been completed. In life we all have those things that are or were a part of us, but remain uncompleted. What satisfies understanding at least in the end of such things? In other words, what does it take to feel something is completed and there are no ‘Loose Ends’ left over? If it is a personal issue, I can say that all it takes is some communication. Silence can do a great deal of harm on its own over time, but a silence can be broken for making those ‘Loose Ends’ in life seem to fit together better. This is perhaps a thought of advancing years, when the days of youth are well behind, and there is a desire to feel centered, without the unresolved past to disturb that balance. The nature of a person is to guard the self – never mind the altruistic visions of love and giving yourself to another person. The women I have known in my life, without exception, chose self over love in the end. I don’t blame them – it’s a rational choice to believe in head over heart! This is, however, where ‘Loose Ends’ enter and caused by disparity between head and heart. It can be from a relationship, a job, a social occasion, and any other number of human interaction. My philosophical premise is that ‘Loose Ends’ come from head vs heart in human interaction.

We all have stores to tell, and I will tell some here:

1.) I knew a woman who did not want to leave her family and familiar surroundings to take a chance in life. We had a daughter together, and were divided to what was best. She chose her way and I chose mine. In time all the ‘Loose Ends’ were tied together because we communicated and had our daughter to take care of together, even though separate.

2.) I knew a woman who was in some conflict with her home life. I tried to get to know her, but pushed a bit too much maybe, and she pushed me away. That was lost long ago, but there was resolution to that ‘Loose End’  when she told me the whole story many years later. We communicated and brought our interactions to some understanding.

3.) I knew a woman who did not know whether she wanted to live or die, but took a chance on living. We were together for 10 years and I thought she loved me, but today I do not know if she ever did. I won’t speak on the details, but there were odd happenings at the end, and they were never explained to me. There was no communication to understand.

4.) I knew a woman who had issues with me, and was not afraid to speak of them. I appreciated this initially, but when it went on and on, one thing after another, I kept a distance always between us. We were together, but apart for 5 years. There was misunderstanding and pain in the end. We communicated a few years later and sought clarity with each other, to some success.

Well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, but I should say that #1 was a constant communication, as it involved our daughter. In regards to #2, it didn’t happen until some 20 years later, so better late than never rings true and I am glad for that. She contacted me to discuss it, and that was meaningful. We are friends now. For #3 I am totally baffled. I have not talked to her for 10 years, but reached out to her a couple years ago. There was no response, so with no communication there can never be understanding. In selfish ways, I always felt she owed me an explanation on the odd happenings,  and all I did or tried to do for her in love and devotion. Some people just are not capable of facing the past and prefer to live as if some part of their life never happened. I can not judge and only say there are ‘Loose Ends’ there because there was no communication then or 10 years later now. This brings me to #4, which I have already written extensively about in this blog. I appreciate she reached out to me and wanted to have closure and tie up those ‘Loose Ends’. I think she has anger issues and she thinks I may have Asperger  Syndrome, albeit a mild form, but we can agree to disagree or consider what is inside us that needs to be thought about.

My examples and explanation here all deal with my relationships with women. In my life I have much of what I want or desired, not through any random luck, some with perseverance and belief in my abilities. In the ways of love & relationships I am perhaps a failure and it is the focal point for my ‘Loose Ends’ to tie them up. I have done so for the most part and feel happy for that. One is missing (#3) and I guess I just wish I knew the odd happenings that led to the end. The last time I saw her,  I hardly recognized her, and that memory stays with me to this day. Sometime the ‘Loose Ends’ have very long threads indeed. As I said, I have 3 out of 4 and that should be enough, but I was hoping for 4 out of 4 to say:

But thanks
For your time
Then you can thank me for mine
And after that’s said
Forget it!
If there was a word
But Magic’s absurd
I’d make one dream come true
It didn’t work out
But don’t ever doubt
How I felt about you

It a total perspective, the ‘Loose Ends’ in life do affect us in time and over time, and with communication they can become threads in the tapestry of life to make a story of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. I might maintain that some ‘Loose Ends’ may be good for us in the short term because they provoke thought, but in the long term, provoke a manifestly profound alteration of ones psyche. There is this quote usually attributed to Anain Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe that’s what ‘Loose Ends’ tell us, more about the way we are than the way things are..

Cognitive_Psychology_Word_Cloud

Cognitive Psychology Word Cloud

For my 100th blog posting, I’d like to do a little something different. We may all be tired of those titles with top 5, best 10, greatest 7 , amazing 3 and so on, but they do seem to resonate with people. So, I won’t be a snob about it and present here 5 useful tools (at least in theory) to improve your life and relationships (at least in practice). This is something I have become familiar with and/or accumulated as part of my knowledge through experience over a number of years, and was not born as a topic just recently. I am a physicist, not a psychologist, therapist or professional in studies of the mind, but I have these tools to offer from my own thinking and personal experience. I thought I would share them here and perhaps you, the reader, will find them useful and/or interesting perhaps.

1.) Transactional Analysis (TA): Transactional Analysis was developed by Dr. Eric Berne, and introduced in his book “Games People Play” published in 1964. Basically, it breaks people down into three categories of interaction, or ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. These states do not necessarily correspond to common definitions, but represent patterns in our mind on a conceptual basis. In essence it is something like: Parent – taught concept; Child – felt concept; Adult – learned concept. Transactional Analysis is a method of analyzing and improving communication by recognizing the various states of interaction. This link describes it in detail: Eric Berne M.D. There are some videos that are great for an intro to Transactional Analysis. 
Three different ones in fact (ego states & basic transactions, games, gimmicks). Watch the first, and then see links on that Youtube page to the others:

2.) Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Multiple Intelligences was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, and introduced in his book “The Shattered Mind published in 1975. His premise was that what we normally think of as intelligence (IQ) does not entirely explain the range of our cognitive ability, and there are other levels of intelligence of an interpersonal (understanding others) as well as intrapersonal (understanding oneself) nature. The term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has some storied history, but for purposes here it is referred to as a sentimental capacity of the mind as opposed to a thinking capacity of the mind. It is EQ as opposed to IQ. There are 4 branches of Emotional Intelligence in regards to emotions: Perceiving, Reasoning, Understanding, and Managing. This link describes it in detail: What is Emotional Intelligence? The tool here is recognizing the levels of EQ. There is a good video by Daniel Goleman that introduces the topic:

3.) JoHari Window Model: The JoHari Window Model was developed by Joseph Luft and  Harry Ingram (hence the JoHari name) in the1950’s and its main purpose is to help us understand ourselves, and aid in building relationships with others. The model is fairly simple and is composed of a box with four components or areas: Open/Free, Blind, Hidden, and Unknown. This represents us and reflects our interactions with ourselves and others. So, we all have these four components and any one of the four boxes can stray into the others, but it’s a give and take, so the model is one of giving and receiving feedback in a sense. This link describes in detail: Understanding the Johari Window Model. There is a good video that explains the model:

4.) Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI): The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument was introduced by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in 1974 as a tool developed to measure an individual’s response to conflict situations. Here there are five different styles of conflict: Competing, Avoiding, Accommodating, Collaborating, and Compromising. It uses two axes labeled assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is similar to the JoHari Window Model in structure, but different in content. There is usually a questionnaire accompanying to asses the person and their conflict style, but it can be used as a tool like the JoHari Model too. The idea here is that people are not alike and have different ways of interacting, with conflict naturally being part of that interaction process. This tool helps with understanding conflict resolution. This link describes or illustrates in more detail: Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). A video explains it as well:

5.) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was introduced by Abraham Maslow in a 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review, and later fully elaborated on in the 1954 book “Motivation and Personality“. The hierarchy is interpreted usually as a pyramid (though Maslow never used this representation), with basic needs at the bottom and leading to higher levels of needs. They are (from bottom to top): Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem, Self-actualization. The idea here is that we all have needs, from the basic biological to the more sophisticated, and the complexity of the human mind has many motivations at once. In a sense we exist on all levels, but to which degree we focus on can determine how we progress from the basic to the sophisticated and what motivates us to do so. Needs determine behavior is the main point. This link describes in more detail: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Another interesting link can be found here: Abraham Maslow and the pyramid that beguiled business. The videos on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are mostly a mixed bag. This one is ok:

I would like to discuss Erikson’s Social Theory and Gestalt Theory too, but these are more complex and not so readily used as tools, so I will save them for another time. For now, remember that theory is fine for learning about such things for knowledge purposes, but to implement them takes practice and you have to use what you learn for it to be of benefit. That is why I titled the blog: 5 Tools (in Theory) for Improving Life (in Practice). Use them at your leisure for self-improvement. My descriptions of the tools are only meant for a brief introduction and take advantage of the links and videos to learn more. Learn the theory behind them first and then put them into practice. They may improve your life and relationships, or at the very least give you a different perspective that you may currently have.

 

psychology

……….I felt a cleaving in my mind
……….As if my brain had split;
……….I tried to match it, seam by seam,
……….But could not make them fit.

 ………The thought behind I strove to join
……….Unto the thought before,
……….But sequence ravelled out of reach,
……….Like balls upon a floor.

……….~Emily Dickinson (The Lost Thoughts)

drspock

I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:

Spocklogic_DC_Travel_Blog

.

Spocklogic_Italy_Travel_Blog.

Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Travel_Topics.

Spocklogic_China_Blog.

Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…

knowyourspock-1

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