Tag Archives: lecture

Harvard prof sparks questions on nuclear power

Which will be destroyed first: the U.S. Constitution or nuclear power?

One women proposed this question revealing that audiences members with the sobering truth that authorities have the ability to get rid of nuclear weapons but scientists are still not sure of ways to stop global warming.

Harvard University Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value Elaine Scarry gave a talk titled “The Floor of the World.” She explored the idea of nuclear power in society and why it is dangerous. She gave many reasons for world leaders to end nuclear power.

Scarry mentioned the flexible floor doctrine where one leader would have the power to open a door that would essentially end an entire country in one day and one hour. One leader could decide the fate of millions of lives making a momentous shift in government.

Assistant professor of English Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner introduced Scarry to a large audience onMarch 18 in the Austin Reading Room at the Nicholson Library as part of the annual Ericksen lecture. He noted that Scarry is part of a list of the 100 most intellectual people.

Scarry talked about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction that enable a small amount of people with the power to kill a huge amount of people. She talked about the idea of how nuclear power leads to a war centered on power. Whoever has the most nuclear power would be the most powerful country. This idea causes all countries to want to expand their nuclear programs.

Scarry thinks that U.S. citizens do have the power to tell the government to get rid of nuclear weapons; as foreign voices who say they too want to see the end of nuclear power often go unheard.

“75 million people will be dead in twenty five minutes from a phone call that says to launch the nuclear missiles,” Scarry said.

She highlighted that many U.S. presidents’ have come painfully close many times to making the call to launch the missiles.

The black bag that carries the codes to launch nuclear missiles, also known as the football, is always within reach of the president. If it is not in the same room as the president it is in the room next to it. It never leaves their side.

Scarry noted that if we are thinking of it surely President Obama is too because of the constant proximity of the black bag. Many U.S. presidents have said they wanted to get rid of nuclear power but none have said actually said no to it.

Jonathan Williams

Upcoming lecture on psychology of media violence, aggression

Research scientist, author and psychology professor Douglas Gentile will give a lecture titled “It isn’t IS Brain Science: Media Violence as a Risk Factor for Aggression” discussing psychology theory and research that has demonstrated effects of media violence on children, teenagers and adults.

With over 25 years of research and experience with children and adults, he has written numerous articles for scientific journals regarding the problems with the U.S. media ratings system, the ways in which screen time is linked to obesity and Internet “addiction.”

Gentile was named one of the top-300 professors in the United States by the Princeton Review and was presented with the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Media Psychology Award from the American Psychological Association in 2010.

“I’ll be discussing the newest research on media violence (including violent video games) on youth aggression,” Gentile said in an email. Gentile’s lecture will detail the ways in which research and public understanding can go beyond the black and white depiction of violent media as good or bad.

“Unfortunately, when the issue is framed as one of values, (‘are games good or bad?’) we miss the point.  Using a public health risk and resilience framework, however, helps us get beyond this dichotomous thinking and to see the subtleties inherent in the issue,” Gentile said in an email.

Gentile attributes this “dichotomous thinking” to the political status quo, writing that “In the current highly polarized political environment, even scientific studies have gotten drawn into the polarized debate.  This is baffling to me, because the data are what the data are.”

When asked how media violence affects college-age students, “It is a risk factor for developing aggressive scripts, attitudes, beliefs, and ultimately behaviors.  That said, it’s just one risk factor.  It’s not the largest, nor is it the smallest.  It also competes with protective factors, of which college students have many,” Gentile said.

Gentile has co-authored various research articles, including some with Linfield professor of psychology Jennifer Linder.

Their research includes the effects on school performance and aggression levels of adolescents who play video games, the validity of current television ratings, and relational aggression levels of college women.

Additionally, they worked with Linfield undergraduates on research regarding college women’s perceptions of themselves based on retouched pictures.

Linder commented on how Gentile’s PLACE-sponsored event is linked to the program’s theme, “Legacies of War,” and said, “Research on the effects of video game violence informs the military, who use video games to train soldiers.”

She went on to say that “The effects of media violence are some of the most misunderstood concepts by the public.” Linder stressed that efforts such as Gentile’s research are vital in examining the nature of violence and aggression in conflict-resolution, such as war.

They have a “wonderful professional relationship,” Linder said, who began working with him as a graduate student and cites him as the one who inspired her to study media.

“Jennifer is one of my favorite people in the world.  I’ve been working with her since she was a graduate student and I was Director of Research at a non-profit institute studying media’s effects on children.  She is a clear thinker and a fantastic writer,” Gentile said in an email.

Gentile’s talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in Ice Auditorium

Helen Lee / Photo editor

Helen Lee can be reached at linfieldreviewphotos@gmail.com.

Professor to give last lecture before retiring from Linfield

Eugene Gilden, professor of psychology, will be giving his last lecture about what he hopes the most important thing students learned from his classes was at 7 p.m. May 2 in T.J. Day Hall room 219.

The lecture will be partially autobiographical, as Gilden discusses how his interests started while he was an undergraduate student, how those interests influenced him and how different events contributed to those topics.

Gilden will also be focusing on social psychology and its affects on everyday life.

“The major thing that I’m interested in, and I think that I have explored some, is the way that very subtle kinds of influence turn out to be quite powerful in our lives,” Gilden said. “While human beings do have agency [and] some level of free will, we are a lot more influenced by things that we’re unaware of.”

Gilden has given numerous lectures before, but he finds it “nerve-wracking” to give this final lecture because it is a different type of audience, he said.

He won’t have time to establish a relationship with the audience, which he thinks is important when giving a lecture.

When asked to do the lecture, he was given wide latitude to talk about anything he wanted to, Gilden said.

Because of this, he has no idea if the audience will enjoy his final lecture, but he is still excited to see how students and faculty respond.

“Now all I have to do is execute it,” Gilden said.


Samantha Sigler/News editor

Samanthar Sigler can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com.


Professor discusses uses of multimedia journalism

A Penn State professor visited Linfield on March 19 to lecture about the continued importance of good writing and reporting in multimedia journalism.

Professor Russell Frank centered his lecture on a dynamic story published in December by The New York Times titled “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.”

Frank said the reaction to the story was overwhelmingly positive, with some people wondering if this type of multimedia story was the future of journalism.

“This story caused a sensation,” Frank said.

The “Snow Fall” story, written by John Branch, is about an avalanche at Stevens Pass in Washington in 2010. The story included embedded videos, slideshows and motion graphics.

But Frank’s lecture did not focus on the multimedia or aesthetic aspects of the story. Instead, he used the story as an example for the importance of good journalistic research and writing.

“We have to write beautifully and gather information…the easiest thing to do for a reader is to stop reading,” Frank said.

Frank found the praise for “Snow Fall” merited, but he also thought it was strange that many reactions to the story suggested this was the first type of multimedia and interactive story ever published.

To counter this sentiment, Frank proceeded to draw attention to the “Blackhawk Down” story written by Mark Bowden in 1997 for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The story increased the Philadelphia Inquirer’s circulation by 20,000 during the month it was published, and Bowden parlayed the success into a book and a 2001 Hollywood movie of the same name.

Bowden’s story had embedded audio and links to video as well, and this story was published more than 15 years ago, when the Internet was far from what it is today.

Frank noted that the writing in “Snow Fall” was excellent, and far more aesthetically beautiful and technologically advanced. However, the “Blackhawk Down” story was incredible for its writing, just like all good long-form stories. Frank closed his lecture with this point, and said journalists should continue to focus on writing as much as possible because of its continued importance.

When asked after the lecture as to why “Snow Fall” was published this way, rather than a story about a larger event or theme, Frank reminded the audience that the story is dramatic, and dramatic stories are popular.

He acknowledged the importance of this question in relation to long-form journalism, because of the need to spend resources wisely as newsrooms face harsh budget issues, predicting future events that will be possible long-form stories is not possible.

Frank was a newspaper reporter and editor for 12 years before his career at Penn State University. In addition to teaching journalism at Penn State, Frank is the education chairman on the board of directors of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and writes about journalism ethics, literary journalism and Internet folklore.

Tyler Bradley/Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Professor shares insight into ‘why we war’

A guest lecturer and professor discussed why humans tend to cluster together in groups, also known as friend groups, communities and countries during a lecture on the biology behind why we war March 18 in Ice Auditorium.

Doctor Jeff Victoroff, associate professor of clinical neurology and psychiatry at University of Southern California, said we do this as people to survive. He gave an example of early humans working in groups to take down wooly mammoths.

As he continued on with his lecture he elaborated on how we instinctually feel about others who aren’t in our groups.

“The creatures that will help me survive are my group,” Victoroff said. “Everyone else is a threat.”

We know this to be true from a lime mold called Dictyoselim Discoidem, which lives on the sea floor. Many of these amoebas have a gene called csA that can be detected by others of the same species. When food is in short supply the amoebas with the gene come together to form a slug group, in which 80 percent of the amoebas will survive. Those without the gene, who are different from the group, are excluded and will die of starvation.

Humans don’t have such a gene that can be recognized by everyone, but we do have traits that help us belong to groups.

To be in a group, we must appear trustworthy, and there are two ways to be trustworthy: in-born or acquired.

In-born trustworthiness is our chemical make up, our skin color and other things of that nature, aspects we cannot control. Acquired trustworthiness is our appearance, our behavior and our beliefs.

Once we have become trustworthy to the group, we start trusting the others who are in this group. Once this association has occurred, our brain creates a chemical called Oxytocin, making us feel this trustworthiness.

The reason we go to war is a two-part answer: We want to prove our trustworthiness and are threatened by others who aren’t in our group.

The ultimate way to prove our trustworthiness is through altruism. Altruism is essentially the willingness to die for one’s group. Those who perform this act are more likely to be genealogically fit, and continue on with their family tree.

Sex is often a motivator to go to war. Soldiers have the idea that they will be more sexually attractive by joining the military, and thus continuing on through their offspring.

Today, this connection still goes through our brain, but may not be the best way for many.

“This may have been perfect in the stone age,” Victoroff said. “But not in our diverse culture today.”

Chris Haddeland/Senior reporter

Chris Haddeland can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com.