by Aisha Keown-Lang '18
Storm Juno, named after the Roman goddess of love, was pretty fun — students across the East Coast enjoyed cancelled classes and an impromptu pajama day. Juno was an example of a storm gone “right” — that is to say, it was underwhelming. While the Weather Channel and media promised us the “blizzard of the century,” those of us who ventured outside know that it was just some heavy snow and a few gusty winds.
How much did you prepare for Storm Juno? If you are like most people, you bought a few extra snacks and bunkered down inside to avoid the cold. Deciding how much to prepare for any natural disaster is a serious issue; during Hurricane Katrina, as with other storms, many deaths were the result of a lack of preparedness. The reason for this lack of preparation, however, may surprise you. A study published in 2014 garnered substantial media coverage with its claim that female-named hurricanes are more deadly than male-named hurricanes because sexist biases lead them to believe female hurricanes are less dangerous. As a result, people tend to prepare less for storms with female names, which can have deadly consequences.
by Ben Williams '16
When asked how he remains sane while studying the psychological effects of harrowing experiences, renowned psychiatrist and author Robert J. Lifton replies, "I draw bird cartoons."
"We need a sense of absurdity, sometimes gallows humor, to survive the absurdities of our world," said Dr. Lifton in a speech entitled "Research as Witness: A Psychiatrist’s Struggles with Extreme Events," delivered at Brown on October 21, 2013 as the 21st annual Harriet W. Sheridan Literature and Medicine Lecture.
The 87-year-old Brooklyn native has held positions at Harvard, Yale, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has published over 20 books on the psychological consequences of historical events.
Over the course of his career, Lifton has interviewed American prisoners of war, survivors of Hiroshima, and Nazi doctors. After two years in the Air Force in Korea and Japan, Lifton embarked on the "struggle to bring together psychology and history." Eschewing the ideally objective approach of scientific research, Dr. Lifton found himself constantly motivated by ethical concerns and a desire to participate in what he calls "relevant activism."
by Joseph Frankel '16
A month into the semester, a close friend revealed to me her firm belief in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Sitting me down in front of her laptop, she directed me to an online version of the exam. About five minutes and 72 yes-or-no questions later, the test revealed that I am an ENFP, that I am more Extroverted than Introverted, more Intuitive than Sensory, more Feeling than Thinking, and more Perceiving than Judgmental.
Immediately, I searched for information to help me interpret these findings. I found websites full of neat little graphics along with bit descriptions of each personality of the 16 personality types “in a nutshell.” Thus began my introduction to the cult of the MBTI.
Used by over 10,000 companies, 2500 colleges, and 200 government agencies, the MBTI is the most widely used personality test in the world. Created during World War II by amateur psychologist Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs, the test’s initial purpose was to help women entering the workforce to replace men who’d gone to war determine in what line of work they’d be “most effective and comfortable” (1). Myers and her mother were avid followers of the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and based the test on his theory of types, that people would tend towards one or another style of interacting with the world along several different axes. In years since, it has ballooned into the go-to metric for human resource departments throughout the world in determining job placement, building teams, and career and academic advising.
by Amy Butcher '17
It’s 2013 and social media is all over the place. Words like “blogosphere”, “twittersphere”, and “[insert social medium here]sphere” that used to sound so awkward coming from the mouths of news broadcasters are now daily occurrences. As for science’s relationship with social media, at first glance the pervasiveness of high-speed communication seems fantastic for scientists and science lovers alike. Surely social media must be good for improving scientific literacy- more ways to share and access information mean a more informed and perhaps even more enthused public, right? Anyone who was online when Curiosity landed on Mars could see firsthand social media’s role in stirring up scientific awe and inspiration- people were truly wrapped up in the story, across nearly every social media platform. Hooray! There is, however, a darker and more insidious trend in social media which counteracts genuine scientific communication online…