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Ch. 1 - Critical Thinking in Everyday Life... 
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Post Ch. 1 - Critical Thinking in Everyday Life...
Ch. 1 - Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: What's Your Evidence?



Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:58 pm
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The purpose of Part I is to show why critical thinking is important in everyday life. And here in chapter one, Riniolo gives us some commonly held beliefs and asks, where's the evidence? Or to paraphrase, where's the beef?

1. Is repression of traumatic memories common?

2. Where is the evidence for the claim that a midlife crisis is a common occurrence?

3. Is the time immediately after birth a special period of bonding with the infant?

4. Are peptic ulcers typically caused by a bacterial infection?

I post this summary to see if it will generate any discussion, but it's a relatively straightforward chapter. I was especially interested in repression of memories because I have researched this issue pretty extensively for a novel I'm writing. Supposedly some people in response to traumatic events (rape, childhood sexual abuse) repress the memory of the event. Rinolio says that just the opposite is true, that it's actually very difficult to forget traumatic events and that the typical response of victims of rape and childhood sexual abuse is not repression.

"Unfortunately prior to a critical evaluation of the evidence for the theory of repressed memories, individuals were being arrested and subsequently sent to jail based upon what is at best a speculative theory." (36)

Rinolio goes on to say: "So, what actually is the evidence for "repressed memories" being a common occurrence? If repression does occur, it is exceedingly rare (I am still unaware of a validated case) and it is not a common occurrence?"

I take issue with Rinolio's assumption that repression of memories is believed to be a "common occurrence." I've always thought it to be a relatively rare event myself. Also, I think there are documented cases. See Jennifer Freyd's web site:

http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/~jjf/whatabout.html

Click on the first PDF link and scroll down to Case Studies.

Rinolio includes No. 4 as a sort of curveball to show how an evidence-demanding attitude can provide factual basis to support what was at one time a very speculative hypothesis. Science works!


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Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:11 pm
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I think one of the reasons cases of repressed memories are not seen as rare is because they are so popular in entertainment. A person with repressed memories is a great character for a story. You can do a lot with a person in such a circumstance.



Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:18 pm
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Interbane wrote:
I think one of the reasons cases of repressed memories are not seen as rare is because they are so popular in entertainment. A person with repressed memories is a great character for a story. You can do a lot with a person in such a circumstance.


You're probably right. The Bourne Identity quickly comes to mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fi ... al_illness


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Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:26 pm
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Memento (2001) [3]
50 First Dates (2004) [4]
Finding Nemo (2003) [5]
The Number 23 (2007) [51]
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) [52]

Even films with related illnesses. Memento is one of my favorite films.



Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:36 pm
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Interbane wrote:

Even films with related illnesses. Memento is one of my favorite films.


Not to get off track, but Memento is not about repressed memory, but rather a damaged brain that can not make new memories. I think (I am looking) this phenomenon is pretty well documented. I think that maybe the case in the movie is an extreme example, though. I'm trying to remember the movie, but I can't seem to recall if the main character also has memory loss of the damaging event. It is very common for a person in an accident that causes brain trauma to loose all memory of the accident and several days or even weeks after. I know someone for whom this is the case and have read the book I am the Central Park Jogger (non-fiction) in which the author describes this very type of memory loss due to traumatic brain injury.



Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:10 pm
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Post memories
Geo,
During your research, have you ever found an adult, who as a child, not only repressed memories, but replaced them. Have you ever heard of a child who suffered abuse, emotional abuse, and their mind created an escape? I'm not talking about a split in personality. The child's personality remains the same when their enviornment is stable. But, on those occasions when the child does experience abuse on a steady basis, a fantacy forms. This fantacy only emerges during those times. The longer the abuse continues, the more detailed the fantacy becomes, and the child no longer has any memory of the emotional abuse suffered. The memories are not repressed, they are gone completely, even as an adult, but the fantacy stays clear in the mind.

A repressed memory can be obtained, can resurface, but memories that have been replaced are gone forever.



Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:08 pm
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Riniolo’s ideas on critical thinking remind me of the psychological concept of “schemas”, or mental constructs that provide us with a simplified, standardized image of how common scenarios will play out, or a map of how physical locals should appear. We have expectations, for example, about what events will transpire at a birthday party, and in what order. The word “office” will probably bring to mind a sort of generic image of how a typical office might be arranged, or an idea of the items in it.

It has been speculated that schemas provided an evolutionary function. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably benefited from having a handy script for the way a hunt should go, with all-important items listed, rather than being sidetracked by non-productive behaviors, like getting a drink from the creek, or checking a bush for berries. Usually, these schemas are fairly accurate and beneficial. But sometimes, they can lead to error. Try reading these lines:

John was feeling very hungry when he entered the restaurant. He settled himself at a table and noticed that the waiter was nearby. Suddenly, however, he noticed that he had forgotten his reading glasses.

How is sentence 3 related to sentence 2?

Most would reply, after looking at this example, that John would need his glasses to read the menu. But a menu was not mentioned. It simply fits with our schema for this type of common event. We have a predisposition to take mental shortcuts, which is probably essential for much of the time, but can also lead us in the wrong direction, without a good grasp of the idea of critical thinking.



Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:16 pm
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Post Re: memories
Suzanne wrote:
Geo,
During your research, have you ever found an adult, who as a child, not only repressed memories, but replaced them. Have you ever heard of a child who suffered abuse, emotional abuse, and their mind created an escape? I'm not talking about a split in personality. The child's personality remains the same when their enviornment is stable. But, on those occasions when the child does experience abuse on a steady basis, a fantacy forms. This fantacy only emerges during those times. The longer the abuse continues, the more detailed the fantacy becomes, and the child no longer has any memory of the emotional abuse suffered. The memories are not repressed, they are gone completely, even as an adult, but the fantacy stays clear in the mind.

A repressed memory can be obtained, can resurface, but memories that have been replaced are gone forever.


Whoa, I completely missed this post. Sorry, Suzanne, for the late reply.

I didn't see anything like this in my research. From reading Jennifer Freyd's book, Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse, it seems the most likely scenario for memory loss is when a child is subject to abuse (usually of a sexual nature) by someone who the child also depends on for care. The child must subjugate the reality of the abuse because he/she depends on the adult for survival. Freyd also suggests this memory loss is often encouraged by the abuser, who threatens him/her in some way. But from what the evidence appears to show, these memories aren't gone, only repressed temporarily.

I wasn't really researching your scenario in which real memories are replaced by fantasy. I have heard that those who claim to have been abducted by UFOs are often creating a fantasy to deal with sexual abuse. I have no idea if there's evidence for this, but it sounds plausible. I know lots of memories we have from childhood are flawed at best. We reconstruct and combine events, editing them to fit best with how we want to remember them.


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Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:27 pm
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etudiant wrote:
Most would reply, after looking at this example, that John would need his glasses to read the menu. But a menu was not mentioned. It simply fits with our schema for this type of common event. We have a predisposition to take mental shortcuts, which is probably essential for much of the time, but can also lead us in the wrong direction, without a good grasp of the idea of critical thinking.


This reminds me of a story about my grandmother. I was a young child and was telling her something when she suddenly said, "Honey I can't hear you, will you please hand me my glasses?" I thought she was crazy and told my mother what happened. It turns out her hearing aid was attached to her glasses (as was done at the time), but it definitely didn't fit into my schema at the time.



Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:42 am
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