Friday, March 20, 2009

Newsletter #00016

So as I woke up from my 3 hour nap, I had realized I had no idea what to write about.
Then in a stroke of genius I remembered my 2 dozen or so Muse magazines from when I was younger, just chalk full of interesting topics. Of course now the entire pile is sitting beside me while I raid it for ideas.

First up: Inherent association

I was going to start off with prejudice because of this cool test you can take online that was mentioned in my magazine. Lo and behold, I go to the website to take it and discover that once you give them your email to sign up/ log in, you no longer get to choose the test you take but w/e.

So basically, the article I read talked about race and racial prejudice and it said that even if you consider yourself not a racist, you may still have racist tendencies. The test you can take (and I'll provide a link after if you want to try it) gives you a topic. I just took one on self-esteem. Basically, you go through this thing where they give you a word and you put it in the good or bad column and then they start throwing in words related to self-esteem. You do that twice, and the first time you will either have to put it in the good column or the bad and then vice versa.

So I took this, and initially I was thinking that I would be faster at categorizing the first time, regardless of whether I had to put words about self-esteem or race or w/e it was into a good category vs. a bad one. First of all, I was wrong. Really wrong. I haven't gotten to take the racial one yet (they're random), but I took one on social order and another on self esteem. When I took the first one, I had no trouble putting social order into the correct category, since I don't really think about it much or have any opinions on it.

When I got to the self esteem one, I had a lot more trouble putting words associated with myself into the bad category than the good, even though the bad category was the first one I had to do. Of course, as i was taking it I realized this, and I realized it is because I have really high self-esteem. Which is interesting, and suggests that the test might actually prove something.

After thinking about it however, I don't necessarily believe that's true. If and when I get to take the racial one, I think it will probably come out and show me that I have some racial tendencies. Does that make me a racist? I don't think so, even if my mind more easily associates bad with black people or good with white. I think it is our decisions that matter more. If I don't look at a black person and think of them as less than a white person, then I'm not a racist. If I purposely choose not to be one because I don't believe that skin color should determine what type of person you are, then I don't think I'm a racist, even if I show racial tendencies. What I really believe is that people may test that way specifically because we've spent so much time in school and in life talking about how blacks used to be treated inferior and how they used to be slaves. Which really makes me wonder- if we had never been taught these things as children, but instead raised in multicultural societies and taught that skin color is simply a difference in a chemical, melanin, with no association to it ever having been different, would that make racial tendencies go away? Or would people be bound to make the same mistakes and eventually turn one racial group into an inferior group again?

Anyways, before I move onto other subjects, I'd like to give you the link for these if you want to give them a go. Its Click on Research and then register. It'll ask you for an email address and then some other questions. Just make sure you put you are over 18 or you can't take it.

Ok, so something cool I just read in one of my magazines. This is going to be an exact quote. It says "0.999999... repeated FOREVER equals what? There are actually two answers, depending on which system of mathematics you use. In ordinary math, this number equals 1. But in some new versions of math dreamed up by modern theorists with nothing better to do, 0.999999... is INFINITESIMALLY LESS than 1. This means that the difference 1 - 0.999999999999... is an "infinitesimal" number smaller than any "real" number but bigger than zero. Does your head hurt yet?"

I thought that was really cool because it actually makes perfect sense.

Speaking of interesting math, have any of you ever seen the movie 21? If not, there is a scene in it where a college professor is teaching a class and he gives the students a scenario. Say you are on a game show and the host shows you three doors. Two of them hold a goat (or some other insignificant object) behind them. The third holds a car, which of course, is what you want to win. You choose a door, say door 2, and the host opens door 3, which holds a goat behind it. Now it seems like you have a 50/50 chance of being right. The host asks you if you would like to change your guess to door 1. Do you do it? Why or why not?

The answer to this is that you should always switch if that is the scenario. When I first heard that I thought it didn't make sense, because with two doors left, you should have a 50/50 chance of being right. And by that logic you do. However, switching doors after one has been eliminated actually raises your chances to about 66.6666...% I'll explain why if you don't already know, since I decided to figure it out one morning afterwards.

So say you have the three doors. We'll use the letters X and Y to represent goats and cars and whatever else. You want to win Y, which is behind 1 door, and not X which is behind the other two. When you first pick, you have a 2/3 chance of picking a door with X behind it. So the host goes and eliminates a different door that had an X behind it. Now, if you had picked Y in the beginning (which you only had a 1/3 chance of doing) at this point, if you switched you would be out of luck, because no matter which door the host eliminated, the remaining door that you didn't choose would have an X behind it.

Now say you had picked an X from the beginning (which you had a 2/3 chance of doing). The host then eliminates another door, with an X behind it and asks you if you want to switch. Now, since you had one X from the beginning, and the host has just eliminated the remaining X, switching will give you the Y. Since you can only switch and get the Y after one has been eliminated if you originally started out choosing an X, it is in your favor to switch every time, since there was a 2/3 chance of you starting out with an X and therefore now ending with a Y. As opposed to the 1/3 you had of starting out with a Y, switching and ending up with an X.

I think I was going to try and write about more than 2 subjects today but since I have spent so long on this one already (its literally been hours. I took a bunch of those Inherent association tests in the middle of writing this) I think I'm just going to end this one where it is.

March 20-2009
-By Kasey

No comments:

Post a Comment