For my rabbit hole this week, I looked into how recently there have been some issues with schools changing history curriculums to paint certain groups in a more positive light than actual facts would cast them in. For example, in Texas in the late summer of 2015, the public school curriculum was changed so that the new textbooks “barely address[ed] racial segregation,” according to the Washington Post. The textbook didn’t mention the Klu Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, and painted the main issue of the Civil War as states’ rights instead of slavery. I think this is especially relevant now, with so much false information being spread around and the introduction of “alternative facts” from the government and constant uncertainty about the truth of the press. The idea of censorship and instances like this changing or omission of facts interests me, and I think it would be fascinating to further look into the ethical implications. This is a bit of a branch-off of some of the work we did first semester with truth and whether or not the truth is always a good thing.
Dear Mrs. Sutcliffe,
Sorry this one’s late, but I was at Thespian Convention over the weekend and didn’t have a chance to write. This week we heard presentations from everyone in our half of the class about potential thesis topics, all of which I found rather eye-opening. I expected a lot of people to have similar topics, but everyone’s was very unique and really seemed to spark their passions. I feel the same way about the topic I presented, and I hope that I articulated it well enough for everyone else to get a general gist of what I was going for. Some of the ones I found most interesting in my class were Chloe’s and Graham’s. Chloe had a few different possible areas of interest, one of which was the differences between religions and cults. She seems excited about the idea, and as she explained it, I understood why. One of her driving questions on the matter was: Why are some “religions” accepted by societies and others are condemned as voodoo? It’s an interesting path to take, and one that will inevitably lead her to some strange discoveries about the different cults in the world. Graham’s interest was about penny stocks and their impact on the microeconomy. Although I’ve never been one for economics myself, he seemed to light up while he was talking about these penny stocks and how people have used them to become millionaires overnight. His enthusiasm drew me in and I knew that if he was this passionate about something many people might find boring or confusing, it would make a great topic for him to pursue as a thesis. I hope that all of us manage to find a focal point that we are as enthusiastic about and can follow a path that will lead us to new and exciting discoveries!
For my rabbit hole this week, I looked into the hormonal effect that music has on the body. While I already knew, and also found while rabbit hole-ing, that studies have been done on different genres and their effect, I would like to go a little bit more in depth with this as a potential thesis. It is proven that heavy metal or rock music increases heart rate and blood pressure, and that pop and classical lower them. However, if I were to research this, I would like to look more at chord progressions and the more technical aspects of music to see why our bodies classify them into certain categories. We can be exposed to a song we’ve never heard before, and the majority of people would probably say that a song was creepy, or that another one was happy. I’m curious as to whether we have instinctive sound analysis that immediately categorizes sound, and therefore, music, or whether the way we were raised is what trained us to hear music in such a way. Furthermore, if the first proves to be true, I want to see if there are instances in nature that we evolved to analyze in this way as a survival skill, like if we think certain music is scary because we evolved that way. I would look specifically at common chord progressions in the different music types and key signatures to see if there is a common thread between many pieces in a certain type.
The only truly common trend I see with my interests is that none of the questions I’ve been asking have any chance of having much of a concrete answer. As a person and as a student, I’ve learned to embrace ambiguity as a possibility rather than a lack of information. My topics reflect that, as well as several of my previous projects.
One topic I know that I’m impassioned by is music. I’ve always felt drawn to it, and I even just found out this week (thanks to the Highland Ability Battery) that I’m what’s called “naturally musical,” which basically means that for me to be happy, music must be somehow incorporated into my life. Specifically within this field, something I think I might like to study is hormonal responses to different chord progressions, as well as biological responses to a major key versus a minor key, etcetera. We may know that the song “Here Comes the Sun” makes most people happy, but I’m curious to know why that happens, whether the answer be social upbringing or biological responses.
Another topic that intrigues me is (big shocker here) black holes and theoretical astronomical physics in general. The things that I generally enjoy learning about the most, funnily enough, are the things about which I can never learn enough. There will probably never, in my lifetime, be a way to surely know what happens in a black hole, but that’s part of the reason that I love learning about them so much. It brings together creativity and analysis, because you must apply the basic laws of the universe to attempt to figure out what happens inside a black hole, but it also takes a certain amount of imagination to theorize what might happen.
Finally, I know that I’m interested in color psychology and its practical uses for therapeutic reasons. Similarly to the music topic, I’m interested to know why our bodies subconsciously react to color the way that the do. Were we raised to think that way, or do our minds inherently connect certain colors to certain things?
I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Mr. V’s perspective from a place of scientific research and Dr. Pritchard’s from a point of research in the humanities. What I took away from the discussion as a whole is that, while any type of research has its surface appeals, there is much more monotonous work that goes in for every sliver of this romanticized research. In Mr. V’s case, it was the months of analysis he had to do on his oceanographic findings, while in Mr. Pritchard’s case, it was the meticulous typing of his dissertation amidst the dig through countless archives. What I realized from their discussions is that the less romantic part of the job doesn’t make the adventures any less valuable. If anything, it makes them mean more, because then they achieve something. They would be interesting on their own, but that meticulous analysis afterward is what makes them mean something, and allows them to contribute to further discovery. That is the beauty of research at its core, at least in my opinion. It’s never finished and it’s constantly growing, built up from every shred of information anyone has ever discovered about a certain topic. It’s thrilling to think about, and I can’t wait to apply all of the lessons we’ve learned about it to my own research process.
As someone who is extremely interested in biology, I was enthralled by Dr. Buckner’s discussion today. It was intriguing to learn about the inner workings of a real lab, from writing grants to publishing papers to working with HeLa cells. For me, it’s always seemed like the life of a scientist was most likely to go pretty much unfulfilled, since there were so few “big” discoveries. After hearing Dr. Buckner’s talk today, I realize that there’s quite a bit more to it than that. Her work is tackling an important issue and even if she doesn’t find a cure to chlamydia, she will have contributed something to the field, that will help future scientists for years to come. The actual content of her presentation also intrigued me, especially since Elliott, Angelina, and I all did a project on STDs (STIs?) last semester. It was satisfying to hear her mention something that I already knew a bit about, like the unusually high STI rate in Louisiana, and Baton Rouge especially. Her story about how she was so certain she didn’t want to go into immunology was a source of comfort to me as well. I may have a pretty good idea of what I may want to do a thesis on, but I have to learn that it is okay for that path to change with time. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and I’m as excited as ever for our upcoming thesis process!
Sorry for the lateness, but I was staffing a retreat sans internet at my camp over the weekend and didn’t get a chance to submit my rabbit hole before I left Thursday.
Anyway, for my rabbit hole this week I looked into color psychology and its most common uses. I knew to some extent that colors were used in advertising and such to send subliminal messages, but I didn’t know about its many other uses. They can be used to make placebos more effective, where red and orange pills are used as stimulants and “cool-colored” are used as depressants. Furthermore, in terms of emotional responses, colors like red, orange, and yellow evoke more energetic responses from the brain, like anger, joy, or excitement. On the other hand, cool colors like green, blue, and purple, evoke more calm emotions, like balance, tranquility, and creativity. I find this all very interesting, but there’s one question that I couldn’t seem to find a straight answer to.
What happens when you start moving past primary and secondary colors? Does a perfect turquoise between blue and green evoke a mix of the two feelings or both or does the theory of color psychology only apply certainly to primary and secondary colors? I hope to see if I can find some theories on these questions in the future, but as of now, it seems like they are questions that will go unanswered.