It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I'm pretty sure many of you know the difference between a "house" and a "home". A house is just that, a building where we occupy. A home is much more than that. It's meaningful. It's a family. It's happiness. It's the place where all our sorrows suddenly fade away and hopes suddenly re-emerge. For this post, I would like to list down some of songs about home or finding home.

1) Carrie Underwood - Temporary Home

This song tells stories about people who are passing by places and thinking and one day they will get home. This song makes me think about what makes a place a home. Is it the sense of belongingness? Is it a home if your family is there? Different person has different definition of home.

2) Dido - Life for Rent

This life sounds like it talks about life in general, but in my own understanding, it's about a person who feels like he/she doesn't belong anywhere in life, hence the "life for rent". Sometimes no matter how hard you try making it your home, you always end up like you never actually belong to the place. 

3) Phillip Phillips - Home

This song sounds more "happy" as in it talks about a person who reassures his friend/family member/life partner that bumps in life are just temporary and if they keep together, they can build a place where they can call home. It's about support and love, which are the main ingredients in making a place a home.

4) The cast of The Wiz - Home

One piece of the lyrics: "When I think of home, I think of a place, where there's love overflowing..." I think this piece is enough to show how lovable this song is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Inverse Placebo?

Most of the time when we read a finding report of a study, we are more likely to stumble upon the word "placebo" especially when the study involves controlled variables. Some of those report would tell you that the treatment given is more effective than the placebo, which is a term given for the treatment that looks like the real treatment, except that it's fake. Some others would tell you that the effect of the real treatment is not significantly different than the placebo. The latter is the results that most researchers would not wish to encounter, but findings are findings.

But another way to look at placebo is called "the placebo effect" in which the placebo has the similar effect with the real treatment because the mind is told that it would work the same way with the real treatment. So, it is not that the real treatment does not work, it is just that the placebo works equally wonderfully if the mind is suggested so. So, is it fair for the real treatment if this happens? I reckon not. So, what if we look at placebo differently?

Rather than conjuring up a stuff and administer it as a placebo, why not make the real treatment as the placebo? What I mean is, maybe to avoid the placebo effect, get rid of the fake treatment altogether, instead administer the real treatment and call it something else, anything else, as long as it is not the intended purpose of the thing. For example, drug A is supposed/believed to cure morning flu, so in order to see if it's really working, gather up a group of sample who suffer from morning flu, and administer them this drug, except tell them that it's for something else, like providing energy for morning activities. Then, maybe see if the drug works for what it is intended for: Reducing the symptoms of morning flu.

I tried to search the web about this but apparently the only thing I stumbled upon was something called as a "nocebo", a phenomenon where a placebo administered causes the condition to be even worse. And this article discussed about expectation that is manipulated directly in relation to the purpose of the drug - which is whether the painkiller would kill pain or not. But it's different than what I'm talking about here. What I am saying is that, redirect the focus of the drug's use from the intended purpose altogether to the belief that is totally irrelevant.

Or maybe my googling skill is not up to par?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vulnerability of Memory

First, watch this video,

Although I think this is made by Jimmy Kimmel for entertainment, it shows us how vulnerable memory is. With a little push and manipulation, you can have a totally new memory of things that you thought happened, but actually didn't.

In the video, Jimmy set up a "polygraph" by which if the kid in the video was caught lying, the machine would detect it and give an alert. But the twist was, the kid might not even lie, and the machine might still give an alert just to see the effect the alert had on the kid's statement. After several alerts given by the machine, the kid started to say anything that he thought was true, because "truth" as gradually defined throughout the session was if and when the machine did not give the alert. So, Jimmy would ask a question, and the kid answered, the machine gave an alert, then the kid knew/thought that he was lying so he changed his statement.

So, what does this mean? When applied into the context of forensic psychology, how reliable is eyewitness testimony in giving statements about a particular crime that happens? How do you know if what is reported is what actually happens? How do you know if the report is based on the personal interpretation from the limited angle of the witness' experience? Or even worse, how can you be sure that the memory is not a made up memory at all?

This phenomenon should be studied well because it gives impact on how investigation can be done when it comes to collecting evidence from eyewitnesses. This is why, in Islam, the number and conditions of eyewitnesses are important to determine the truthfulness and reliability of the account reported. I think there are a lot that are still in need of being uncovered by researchers of the field.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Time and Psychology

I read an interesting piece about even something as seemingly fixed and constant like time can be altered by our own perception. One interesting study was carried out to see the alteration of perception of time. The summary of the study can be read here. In the study, one group of participants were asked to rate the time taken to plunge off a big device, then watch other people do that and rate the time taken for the other people to get to the lower point. The time rated for self-experience was 36% longer, which showed that brain perceives time to be slower when we are undergoing an adrenaline-invoking experiences.

Another way the brain alters the perception of time is called as Chronostasis. The study can be obtained here. It is when you watch the second hand of an analogue watch, it is like it makes its first movement in our observation and then it seems to take a longer time to make a second movement to the next second. I don't really understand the mechanics of the study well, but the explanation is like this: Time appears to be extended a little upon a saccade. A saccade is a quick eye movement. When we observe the first movement of the second hand, and our eye experiences a saccade, the second movement of the second hand seems to take longer in time. Ahh, too many "seconds" and :movements".

There are various other studies that show how our brain can achieve remarkable feats by altering our perception of time. And this is obviously a new and intriguing subject for me. I found this book titled, "The Time Paradox", while browsing the Internet and I think I will make this the to-read-next book. It seems interesting.