Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is a historically significant figure throughout many fields of scientific study.  He is most well-known for his theory of natural selection, however, Darwin’s research extended beyond the physicality of biology and geology.  The psychological school of functionalism was founded around Darwin’s research and evolutionary theory, and applied his theory about the evolution of physical characteristics to psychological characteristics.  Darwin also conducted some of the first research on infant and child development and published his findings in an article entitled, A Biographical Sketch of an Infant.
Darwin assembled a case study through carefully recorded naturalistic observation of his own children throughout their infancy.  Darwin analyzed both physical and cognitive developments, noting the sequence of development of innate reflexes, visual acuity, musculoskeletal control, emotions, communication, and personality traits.  He compared his analysis to another researcher’s case study and, although he made no conclusions, many of his hypotheses were later expanded and remain central to many theories of child development.
Darwin’s case study, although thorough and detailed, only sampled his own children and experiences and compared his findings to one other researcher who had done the same.  This small sample population cannot give a full picture of infant development, but his descriptive research paper laid a foundation for future psychologists to build on.
Darwin, C.  (1877).  A biographical sketch of an infant.  Retrieved from
Stangor, C. (2010). Introduction to psychology. Irvington, NY: Flat World. Knowledge, Inc.


The Cold War

For the American people in the 1960’s, the fear of a Communist takeover was very real and was validated by the actions of the government and the information disseminated by the media.  The vision most commonly associated with the Cold War era portrays American families huddled around their radios and TVs listening for the latest developments in the numerous global crises transpiring worldwide.  Americans were dependent upon these news outlets (as well as newspapers and magazines, however, these medias did not satisfy the new need for instant gratification) as their sole source of information and were ignorant to the fact that these medias were still being controlled by the government and only disseminated the intelligence government officials authorized, as Farber (1994) emphasizes, “Nor had mass-media executives and their employees become secure enough in their newly developing power to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounded the country’s political and economic leaders.” (pg. 31)  As television was emerging in the 60’s, news outlets and reporters did not have the all access passes and uninterrupted satellite updates from across the world that are currently used to fill the 24/7 news outlets of modern television.  International media was also limited, there was no BBC news station giving another country’s perspective or information otherwise withheld by the American government.  The people’s knowledge of world events rested solely in the hands of their political leaders; and as was the case with Fidel Castro’s take-over of Cuba at the time of President Kennedy’s inauguration, even the nation’s leaders were not fully informed on the international political affairs surrounding them (Farber, pg. 35).
The Cold War, having immediately succeeded World War II, had been waging for almost 15 years; Americans had been in a state of conflict and war for most of the first half of the 20th century and the fears instilled in the American people during this time ran deep.  International relationships all over the world were still unstable and the possibility of another world war loomed through the 1950’s.  Aggressive Communist nations presented several threats to global civilization post WWII.  The Soviet Union did in fact have nuclear weapons at its disposal; China was eager to join to race for supremacy against the US; much of Europe was under the control of the Soviet Union, whether by choice or force; and most frightening to Americans, due to its proximity to our own soil, Cuba was siding with the Communists and was implying the threat of nuclear action against America (Farber, pg. 33).
While Americans’ fears of an attack by Communist nations held valid precedents in the years immediately following WWII through the 1950’s, the Soviet Union’s claims to be a more prosperous post-war superpower than America in the beginning of the 1960’s threatened the very essence that politicians had begun to define as American culture: prosperity and power.  This governmental fear of competition from the Communists and the potential to be economically defeated by a country deemed lower class than the United States, perpetuated the cycle of fear throughout America in the 1960’s as the government used propaganda and the media to incite the American people and maintain control through the careful instillation of fear.
The 1960’s was a decade of change around the globe.  While the United States and the Soviet Union battled for global supremacy, numerous small countries fought for and won their independence from imperialized nations.  Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar, Zaire, Kenya, Jamaica, Uganda, and Trinidad are only a handful of the countries that attained their freedom during the 1960’s (’60-’69 World History, 2007).
1960-1969 World History (2007)
Retrieved January 23, 2012
Farber, D., (1994) The Age of Great Dreams America in the 1960’s New York, NY: Hill and Wang.

Hack Away the Pounds

When it comes to losing weight there are many fads, gimmicks, and “miracle cures” available on the market to “help” you lose weight. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to managing one’s weight; the only way to achieve and maintain a healthful weight is by taking personal responsibility and making permanent lifestyle changes. Expecting a pill, drink, or grapefruit to magically melt off the pounds is unrealistic. Even if short term results are seen, in the long run, maintaining that diet could have dangerous health consequences and most often the weight that has been lost returns, commonly adding additional weight gain as well.

The Hacker’s Diet, developed in 1991 by John Walker, an engineer and computer programmer, is unlike most other diet programs on the market. There are no gimmicks, no quick fixes, no promises of success without hard work or dedication. Walker’s “The Hacker’s Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition” focuses on long-term goals, the important balance between calorie intake and energy output, and modifying lifestyle behaviors, including exercising for the health of it, not just to reach weight loss goals. His approach to weight loss doesn’t focus on eating or eliminating any type of food, and while supplements are recommended for those who are not reaching their daily recommended intake for certain nutrients, they are not considered essential, or even necessary, for success with the program.

Although his unique mechanical approach to weight loss may seem intimidating at first, the concepts, such as the “eat watch” and the “rubber bag,” are thoroughly explained using real life scenarios, experiences, and humor, making Walker’s book an easy and enjoyable read. He also offers many tools to help promote progress and increase motivation including: calorie intake records, energy expenditure records, weight loss and gain records, analytic reports, and a diet calculator. He includes strategies for all technologic comfort zones: those who are experienced with computers will find many helpful online tools and Excel spreadsheets, and those who prefer paper and pencil will learn valuable record keeping skills including how to keep a food journal and how to draw a graph and plot your progress.

The Hacker’s Diet doesn’t simply offer weight loss strategies, there are no exercise plans or recipes, but it is unique in its thorough education on how the body controls the intake and usage of energy and how it functions in different states of malnutrition. Walker provides an easy to understand foundation for developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime, not just a bikini season.

Achieving and maintaining a healthful weight is not a short-term goal, it is a life-long process that requires education on how the body functions, behavior modifications, and lifestyle changes and implementations that promote a lifetime of health and wellness. A weight loss program should not be something to be started and ended; it is a process that once started can lead to success in maintaining a healthful weight and achieving optimal physical fitness and health, extending life expectancy as well as quality of life.



The Hacker’s Diet. Walker, John. (2011). Retrieved May 3, 2012 from 

Thompson, Janice and Manore, Melinda. Nutrition: An Applied Approach 2nd edition. (2009).

Pearson Publishing.

Don’t Bible Me (at least not in science class)

The following post was written in response to a classmate’s discussion board post in a nutrition science class about euthanasia for the terminally ill:


I want to start by stating that I respect your religious beliefs; however, I disagree with the use of the bible as the final word on what is “right” and “wrong.”  You stated:

“God says [thou] shall not kill and that suicide is [a] major sin. I do not see in the bible where there is an exception.”

I find it hypocritical for Christians to play the “Thou shall not kill” card when their god repeatedly killed nation after nation in the bible and condones murder “in the name of god.”  The bible also states that anyone that works on the sabbath should be put to death, homosexuality is an abomination, selling your daughter into slavery is legal, and touching dead pig skin makes one unclean; you cannot pick and choose which “laws” from the bible you are going to follow to the letter.  [Yeah, I think I stole part of that from The West Wing, but it’s true.]

The bible was constructed 1700 years ago; laws and beliefs held in the 4th century are (beyond) outdated, cannot be applied to modern society, and do not account for the new problems created by modern, technological life.  As human beings, we have the right to choose how we live and end our lives, and there is no one, either here on earth or in any astral plane, that can take those inborn rights away from us.

Relying on the bible to guide our moral decisions in a time with thousands of new ethical questions that could never have been addressed in a book written 1700 years ago is naïve and limits our ability as a society to continue moving forward intellectually.


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