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How different amount or distribution of opportunities might distort a statistic reminds me of a profound question I was bound to ask last year when my credit history hit the bottom for a silly reason. The core of the problem was that I forgot to pay for my emergency room back in 2014 because of my misunderstanding of the US medical system, but I would also say that the US credit system itself has a strange structure where distribution of opportunities to prove one’s credit is weird to say the least.
The problem is that the US credit system never counted how I paid for my tuition in time for the entire 4 years of my undergraduate, and how I even paid for my housing regularly for the 5 consecutive months back in 2013 when I was living off campus in a local motel because of a health reason. It never counted those but only counted this one occasion where I did not pay for my emergency room in time because of my lack of comprehension. Even then, I actually did pay for the hospital itself, yet the only problem was that my service providers were not entirely from the hospital but with some of them actually from a private medical institution, as I was sent to the emergency room at midnight. Nonetheless, because I was not aware of this at all, and did not pay for this private medical institution over a year, my credit score in the US hit the bottom, and I had to pay $300 to Wells Fargo just in order to rebuild my credit. All because the US credit system did not count all the other occasions where I paid a lot of important things in time, only to count this one occasion caused by misunderstanding.
Therefore, as a person who experienced with my own precious money how a mistaken distribution of opportunities may distort a statistic such as a credit score, I can completely agree with this part of the book from the bottom of my heart.
Now this part of the book is deeply related to the concept of behavioral confirmation we have discussed earlier in the semester, and I also do have my own unfortunate story related to this, which just distracts my mind every time I think about it even at this point of time.
When I was in from kindergarten to middle school, I was conjectured by other students and some of my instructors to be medically retarded, (which means that I was not called a “retard” as an insult, but conjectured to have mental retardation in a serious context) only because I hanged up with an imaginary friend. Now, as for a different cultural context, I later did hear that it is also common in South Korea for kids to develop an imaginary friend when they are young, but the problem is that, unlike in the United States, it is a norm in South Korea for parents to teach their children to stop hanging up with an imaginary friend as soon as possible. Yet, my parents did not do that, and I hanged up with an imaginary friend even up to the face of adolescence, which caused the aforesaid treatment as a kid with mental retardation.
Yet, even the more serious problem was that I did perform very poorly at school when I was conjectured as a retard throughout the entire elementary school. It was weird, because no matter how hard I study myself, my grades were not as great as I wanted them to be, and these poor grades just kept “confirming” other people’s belief that there must be something wrong with my developmental status. It was only after I entered a language school for my high school curriculum where the most of faculty members are equipped with better pedagogical skills all the while I have already abandoned the habit of hanging up with an imaginary friend that my grades could literally “skyrocket.” The reason why I would use this specific verb is since, unlike other people having guessed that I would never adapt to a competitive language school because of my supposed “mental retardation,” my grades at a language school were clearly better than my grades in earlier phases of my public education, even if the language school had a way more competitive environment. This was exactly how I experienced the phenomenon of behavioral confirmation, and as much as the agent of this behavioral confirmation was none other than myself, the concept, personally speaking, is almost unforgettable for me.
As a thanatology student, I have something to mention about the part where constructivism and critical realism are discussed in the book. This boils down to how the “all interpretations of reality” as mentioned in the context of constructivism naturally imply that the agents of these interpretations are agents with their own modular states and how the concept of modularity itself is questioned in the context of thanatology.
The problem is that it is a part of innumerable forms of folk psychology to attribute the phenomenon of personal modularity to the existence of a “soul.” However, before we even investigate if the concept of a soul is adequate in the scope of natural science. There actually exists a serious flaw with this supposed association between personal modularity and a soul even on the level of formal logic. The major problem is that this can be considered a full-blown fallacy of circular argument.
For instance, even if we somehow attribute the phenomenon of personal modularity to a “soul,” there is bound to arise another question of “How does that soul, in turn, have its own modularity?” Then we are eventually bound to imagine a problematic concept such as “the soul of a soul,” and as one can easily notice, this cycle basically never ends, structurally speaking. Therefore, it is very easy to notice, even without any training on formal logic, that the common association between personal modularity and a supposed existence we refer to as a “soul” is a full-blown circular argument that does not result in any logical conclusion at the end.
Now, as much as this is the case, while “all interpretations of reality” as it is mentioned in the book in the context of constructivism are bound to have its agents equipped with their own modular states, the phrase itself naturally brings the question of how the concept of personal modularity can be defined in the first place without causing the circular argument as above. As much as constructivism basically builds its statements from this very assumption even without having successfully answered this question that is bound to accompany its basis itself, I am also very skeptical, just like the author of our textbook, on the validity of constructivism. In other words, I would strongly argue that constructivism is questionable also when it is approached in the context of thanatology.
As for the part where the concept of a moderator variable is mentioned, I am actually curious on the reason why our book has not come up with the concepts of longitudinal design and cross-sectional design, as much as I learned from a previous class that these are very important concepts in psychology when it comes to the different approaches to a specific study. I would say that it would have been helpful for this part of the book to mention longitudinal design as opposed to cross-section design, primarily as a way to minimize the possible existence of moderator variables in a study.
Even though I showed my opinion that constructivism is questionable at best, I would actually believe, from what is stated in this part of the book, that constructivism might be a natural derivative of how there is “no escaping personality assessment (and judgment).” It basically seems to me that the fact that humans live in the endless amount of judgments as a natural part of their life was bound to bring them the idea of constructivism, as much as humans live their everyday lives in this literal swarm of interpretations and judgments. As much as the size of this “swarm” is so intense with its prevalence virtually pauseless in a daily life, it might be natural for humans to bring an idea that perhaps all these interpretations and judgments will have their own share of reality. I would believe, therefore, that humans actually live in the daily circumstances where the invention of the idea such as constructivism is kind of inevitable.
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