Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed

In "Something Borrowed", Malcolm Gladwell asks whether plagiarism charges should ruin someone's life by describing a personal story about the plagiarism of the Broadway play "Frozen" by Bryony Lavery. The play was about a psychiatrist that studied serial killers. It turns out that Lavery had taken much of what was put into the play from a profile done by Gladwell about a psychiatrist named Dorothy Lewis. Gladwell continues to describe different situations in which 'copying' is okay and when it is not okay. He describes that if a few chords in a song are similar it isn't considered plagiarism because the original piece wasn't necessarily the first piece to ever contain those chords. Gladwell explains that the line is fuzzy when trying to determine when music is being plagiarized, but for writers it is never okay to copy someone else's work. When referring to the play "Frozen", Gladwell explains that reference needs to be given to the original author of the information because it was them that came up with these creative ideas. Dorothy Lewis was also offended by this because the play was basically on her life and people recognized that, and then there were scenes in the play where her character committed things that Dorothy had never done, like having an affair. Even after all this hardship was caused over Lavery plagiarizing Gladwell's work and Dorothy's life, Gladwell realizes that it isn't the end of the world and Lavery had purely plagiarized by accident.

I thought this article was very interesting and I didn't realize that some of these things were considered plagiarism. I can understand where Gladwell is coming from in this piece as he describes his frustration and then later comes to terms that it is okay. I would be very upset if phrases that I had used ended up in a Broadway play without any attribution to me at all. However, I can understand where Lavery is coming from when she exclaims that her creativity just went loose while she was reading Dorothy's profile and she didn't realize that it was considered plagiarism to use the personality traits in the play. I also feel like stuff like this happens all the time. Students use little phrases from articles and books all the time without making any reference to the author, but because this play was on Broadway and the media was attracted to it, it became a huge ordeal. So I think this piece has made me more aware of what information I am taking out of other sources and made me realize that I need to give attribution to who really came up with the ideas.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chapters 6 and 7

In Chapter 7, "The Right Sort of Madness", in Jon Ronson's book, The Psychopath Test, analyzed the way he had been choosing the interviewees for his book by talking to a woman that has worked in TV production named, Charlotte Scott. Scott was on the writing committee for multiple TV shows and worked with choosing the people to go on the shows. The people she needed to find were people that were "just mad enough" for entertainment purposes. She explained her process of finding mad people was to ask the people who were applying what medications they were on. If the person was on prozac then that meant to her that the person was just mad enough because it showed they were depressed enough to show they needed help. She couldn't put people that were too mad in these reality situations and mess with people's lives, especially children. She explained how choosing people that were too mad could cause horrible situations, such as suicide. So Jon Ronson realized as he left Charlotte that his method of finding a "gem" psychopath was much safer and less harmful.

Chapter 6 and 7 were very interesting to me because they investigated a new type of psychopath, one that hasn't been caught and is living amongst us and running corporate companies. I also find it interesting that the people that are psychopath living in society fit Bob Hare's list of characteristics as well. For example, Al Dunlap demonstrated characteristics of predator prey by having numerous lion and tiger sculptures. But then Jon Ronson mentions in chapter 7 that some of the characteristics Al displayed weren't at all psychopathic, such as his great efforts to succeed in school when he was young and that he went to a very prestigious school. So anyone around us here at UW-Madison could turn into a psychopath at any moment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3rd Blog Assignment

Does cosmetic surgery of the genitals done in infancy have a positive affect on intersex individuals?

This question seems like it would be very interesting to research because it's a topic that not a whole lot of people know about. It is also quite controversial because there have been so many people who have suffered because of their reconstructed genitalia. Therefore, much of the information that I would find on this topic would be pathos, forcing emotion on people. I could start looking for answers by first finding statistics on the satisfaction of intersex individuals on their cosmetic surgery, and then find out the source of the statistics. The primary sources that would be most helpful would probably be case studies of different individuals from a random sample of intersex people. The answers in these sources would probably be life stories about someone that has had surgery or the findings after analyzing the data from the a case study. A question that I might like to answer would be: How is life like for intersex individuals that didn't have reconstructive surgery? I would really need to find information on the positive affects and negative affects. I might have trouble finding information on the positive affects of cosmetic surgery of the genitals because the people that have been negatively affects have more of an opinion on the issue and are much more vocal about it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Psychopath Test. Chapter 4

In chapter 4, "The Psychopath Test", in Jon Ronson's book, The Psychopath Test, Ronson describes the process he went through with Bob Hare in order to understand the characteristics of a psychopath and how to detect them in society. Bob Hare starts out by telling Ronson about his early discoveries with shock testing. These shock tests could determine if someone was a psychopath because they wouldn't show any fear leading up to the shock and would not be expecting the pain even the second time he told them it was coming. When electric shocks were outlawed Hare held a conference for people who were interested in identifying psychopaths so they could put together a list of criteria that would characterize someone as a psychopath. They came up with the Hare PCL-R Checklist. Hare then taught Ronson how to use the checklist by looking at numerous case studies and identifying the characteristics that classified someone as a psychopath. Jon Ronson will now use the information that Hare taught him about identifying psychopaths to his quest, but he has to be careful because he can't trust anyone.

Chapters 4 and 5 were also quite interesting sections in The Psychopath Test. I was wondering if the list that Bob Hare describes in chapter 4 that he created to identify a psychopath is universally used by doctors and psychiatrist to diagnose a psychopath. I also find it interesting that as Jon is learning about these traits of a psychopath that he is questioning his own self and wonders, at times, if he is a psychopath. In chapter 5 I find it very interesting that the people know that Toto did all those murderous acts in Haiti, but yet they just sent him to Queens without any real punishment. Toto also demonstrates the same behaviors as the psychopaths from Oak Ridge because he fakes to try to get out of this institution.