Thursday, October 27, 2011

Something Borrowed

In Malcolm Gladwell's "Something Borrowed" Gladwell argues that the main point of plagiarism is what and how much you copied, not that you copied someone else's piece of work. Gladwell first uses Dorothy Lewis as an example. Lewis is a psychiatrist who studied serial killers for 25 years and published her findings in a book titled "Guilty by Reason of Insanity." Bryony Lavery later produced a play called "Frozen." Lewis heard of this play and when she read the script found that much of Lavery's play was similar to Lewis's published memoir. When confronted about the issue Lavery claimed she thought the information she copied was "news." Gladwell also compared the music of many famous performers. He found that some artists accused others of stealing their work when yet they just used similar notes. I think the point Gladwell is trying to make is that everyone just assumes that if you take from someone else's work it is considered plagiarism. However that is not true. It is more important what information you copied and how much of it you copied. If you are ever concerned about how much or what to take just use your own work.

I'm not sure if I got the exact point of this article right. What I understood from it was that everyone sort of has their own definition of what qualifies as plagiarism. But Gladwell was more concerned about what information was used and how much of it you used. I was also confused by the series of events. Gladwell seemed to jump around a lot and came back to Lewis's story off and on. I'm also not quite sure what Gladwell was asking because his thoughts were all over the place.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chapters 6 and 7

In chapter 6 Ronson travels to Florida to learn more about the former CEO of Sunbeam, Al Dunlap. On his way to Florida he stopped in Shubuta, Mississippi to learn more about the Sunbeam plant. Shutbuta used to be a booming town but now it is a ghost town. Ronson learned that the Sunbeam company went through many CEO's. The first was Robert Buckley who was later fired for fired for using company money for his own purposes. The next CEO was Paul Kazarian. Kazarian was described as foul mouthed and also noted for doing some uncommon things at the office. After Kazarian came Al Dunlap. Dunlap was known for finding enjoyment out of firing people and closing down plants, which is why Shubuta became so dead. Dunlap faced many legal problems and paid of his debt with almost $20 million, he also agreed to never head a company again. Ronson then continued his journey to Florida to meet with Dunlap. At Dunlap's house Ronson noticed many statues of predator animals like jaguars and tigers. Ronson noticed that Dunlap fit many of the characteristics of Hare's checklist. When Ronson confronted Dunlap about potentially being a psychopath, Dunlap provided reasons for why he fit those characteristics. After his meeting with Dunlap, Ronson met up with Bob Hare to discuss what he just witnessed.

This chapter made it clear how paranoid Ronson now is with finding psychopaths. Just the fact that he traveled from London to Florida just to meet with a former CEO and a potential psychopath for what seemed like a very brief period of time. I also thought it was interesting that Dunlap described himself as being successful and was proud of everything he did in life, but yet when Ronson asked him about the Sunbeam corporation he was very short about it. I also found it funny that Ronson's wife usually gets irritated with his obsessions but now she finds herself comparing people she meets with Hare's psychopath checklist.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Research Question

Is stem cell research the future of medicine?

I chose this as a research topic because I wrote my first project on animal testing and this was an example of an alternative option. I figured there is so much research going on with this topic that it would be an easy question to answer. I also thought it would be an interesting topic since I'm interested in the medical field and stem cell research could make significant advances to health care in the future. I would begin to look for answers simply by researching what stem cells are already known to do and the impact they have on the human body. I also think it is important to know any negatives associated with stem cell research. There is a lot of controversy whether or not stem cell research is ethical because embryonic stem cells are taken from fetuses. It would be interesting to learn the reasons behind each side.

The focus of this question is not opinion based but more so the benefits of stem cell research and whether or not it would benefit humans in the future.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chapters 4 and 5

In chapter five of Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, he meets with a known murderer to determine whether or not he can identify him as a psychopath. Emmanuel Constant, or Toto, was an anti-supporter of the Haitian exiled democratic president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Toto organized a group called the FRAPH to terrorize the supporters of Aristide, which usually involved kidnapping the man of the house to torture him and gang raping the women. Toto fled to America when Aristide returned to power in 1994 and was later arrested in New York. But Toto was not going to go out without a fight, and told the media that the CIA encouraged the formation of FRAPH and funded him as well. Threatening to reveal American secrets on their foreign policy in Haiti, U.S. authorities released him from jail and gave him a green card to work in the U.S. However, he had many restrictions. He was not allowed to talk to media, and he had to live with his mother in Queens without leaving. Ronson found it intriguing that a  murder could settle with his mother in a suburb of Queens so he decided to visit. The visit was brief but when Ronson found out Toto was sent to the Coxackie Correctional Facility he decided to pay another visit. Toto originally showed several qualities of a psychopath but after being interviewed for a second time, Ronson decided there was not way he could be a psychopath. Ronson wanted to use his findings with Toto to analyze his friend Tony's behavior.

Personally I found chapter four to be a little more challenging to read and took more interest in chapter five. When Ronson first interviewed Toto I for sure thought he was a psychopath. He possessed many of the characteristics on the Hare PCL-R checklist. But yet Ronson decided he was not a psychopath. It makes you think that maybe Hare's checklist is not exactly accurate because Toto fit many of the "requirements" of a psychopath. I am starting to think that there is no clear definition of a psychopath or certain way to identify them.