I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

EQ: How does race limit one’s freedom and opportunities in America?

Thesis: African Americans are limited in their freedom due to their subjugation based on the belief that whites are superior, and whites who try to help expand rights for African Americans also in turn end up with limited opportunities.

J.K. Rowling gave a Harvard Commencement speech in 2008 and spoke about both her failure and success while writing the Harry Potter series. She experienced a lot of rejection but still she says, "We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better" (Rowling). She uses Ethos to persuade everyone that even if the first time they don't succeed they should keep trying. Her credibility is built off of being a very successful author, and still she was shut down by various publishers.

"her gray sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her" (Fitzgerald 58). This shows how love at first site can be real. Nick sees Jordan from across the room and immediately falls in love with her, he feels the connection instantly. In this time period, it seems like marriage was just a way for women to advance in the social class and so far in the book marriage isn't seen as a loving bond between two people. this passage suggests that Nick is starting to fall in love with Jordan and the word choice and imagery Fitzgerald uses shows a contrast to Tom and Dasiy's relationship and Myrtle's view of marriage.

the definition of freedom in America differs from person to person; paradoxes show how even though everyone is considered free, but not all people have the same rights.

"Guidelines" by Lisa Majaja and "I Too" by Langston Hughes are closely related. They both express the struggles of Americans who don't fit the stereotype. "Guidelines" suggests that if anyone gets questioned about being 'American', they should fight back and always remember that it doesn't matter religion, or race, everyone who lives in America are 'American'. "I Too" explains the role that African Americans had and how they had to eat in the kitchen rather to eating in the dinning room with everyone else. The writer plans on taking a stand and sitting with everyone else the next day, as a sign of how they are both equal no matter their race differences. Both poems show how people should stand up and tear down some Americans stereotypes.

So far I have read 97/118 pages of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The book is broken into five parts, each containing several relatively short chapters that describe different scenarios in which the two systems of thinking are used. Kahneman begins the book by first explaining what the two thinking systems are and how and when we use them. He writes, "When we think of ourselves we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do... I describe system 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2" (Kahneman 21). Here the author illustrates the differences between System 1 and 2 by telling us what types of functions they perform. One of my previously stated essential questions touches on whether or not humans can benefit from using a specific thinking system. As the book continues, Kahneman expresses that (in most cases) humans do not consciously decide which system they use in different situations. Kahneman writes, "System 1 has been shaped by evolution to provide a continuous assessment of the main problems that an organism must solve to survive" (90). Kahneman explains how System 1 allows us to constantly make judgement of people and of situations without trying. Given that the book has explained that the actions of System 1 are involuntary, I have decided to change my essential question to: What leads humans to doubt their intuitiveness and think more in depth before making decisions?

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I have finished all 252 pages of Atul Gawande's Complications. I have decided to research the effects of various types of isolation. So far, one article (about a BBC experiment) I read was about total isolation like what one would find in solitary confinement. Essentially, when someone is completely alone their mental state declines quickly and they start hallucinating, becoming anxious, and they don't perform as well on tests to determine their cognitive ability after isolation. I also read about a more common and less severe isolation that results from a lack of feeling connected to others. This can have effects not only mentally but also physically (more tired, more prone to chronic illness, etc.). This video describes the differences between social isolation and perceived isolation (loneliness) and their effects on one's mentality and and physiology. According to this researcher, whether one feels lonely has a much greater effect on a person than actually being alone. The reason for this has to do with the fact that human eveolved as social creatures and have spent an incredibly long time forming friendships, families, societies, and cultures in which we can all have a role and function as part of a group. Part of being a social species is that we rely on others to survive so when we become isolated it activates our fight or flight instinct and also causes extreme stress and anxiety.
This information I have found in my research takes a different direction from what Gawande described in Complications: he talked about a slight social isolation resulting from people not really being able to relate to working in the medical field. However, he talked about how, when he went to a convention for surgeons, everyone kind of gravitated toward each other in a way that's generally uncommon under usual circumstances. This and the rapidity with which they bonded over their commonalities seems to suggest that human necessity for being part of a group will kind of push us to find and almost latch onto people who seem to have similar needs, experiences, or interests.

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I have now read all of the 269 pages in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and the structure of the novel has remained the same. My essential question is still "how/ why can simple surroundings (such as birthdays) impact a humans success in specific categories?" The book discusses how people thrive due to things around them: this section in the book Gladwell discusses how language impacts ones success. A well known stereotype is that Asians are good at math; even though this may not be true for every Asian there is a reason why they have an advantage. This is because of their "logical counting system. Eleven is ten-one. Twelve is ten- two. Twenty four is two-ten- four and so on" (Gladwell 229). At first glance this many not seem to be an advantage; however, when an English speaker needs to do math they need to convert the words into numbers. For example thirty- seven and twenty two will become 37+22. On the other hand when "ask[ing] an Asians child to add there- tens- seven and two-tens-two then the necessary equation is right there" (Gladwell 229). This allows Asians to be better at math due to how easy they are able to add numbers. The Chinese language also benefits it's speakers when memorizing numbers. This is due to their numbers ability to "be utter in less than one- quarter of a second (for instance, 4 is 'si' and 7 is 'qi')"(Gladwell 228). Gladwells findings on the Chinese language help answer my essential question due to language, a simple surrounding, impacting Asians successes in math. Now knowing that this stereotype was prove correct with scientific knowledge I started to wonder which other stereotypes are also valid. One that came to my mind is how birth order can affect ones personality. According to an article on Parents.com birth order does indeed drive human behavior: the oldest child is said to be the achiever, the middle is the peace maker, the youngest is the life of the party, and the only child is the lone wolf. The article goes more in depth to give examples of children that fit in each stereotype. Tracy Rackauskas is a first born who is an achiever, she said "I want to be the best dressed, in a quirky-fashionable way; I want to have the best fantasy football team; I want to be the best editor," she then continues about other things that she wants to be the best in. After reading the first few paragraphs I was starting to wonder if there were any well known exceptions, close to the end they had a few examples -- twins, gap child, and adoption. The book and my research make me believe that simple surroundings impact ones behavior.

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I have now read all 303 pages of Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas, and the structure remained consistent throughout. I have decided that my essential question will remain as “In what way to sociopaths function differently than others?”, as it continues to be supported by the text, especially in the first chapter of this chunk.

The first of these last two chapters focused on a sociopath’s seduction, the second on family life. A big part of the first chapter was about the sociopath using people’s motives against them, figuring out how they work and how to make them respond as the sociopath wishes. As sociopaths are not naturally good at social situations, this can act as a coping mechanism: “I just listened. It’s amazing how much more effective listening is in seduction than anything else.” (237) This shows the sociopath’s analytical approach to what would be a normal conversation, as they try to figure out how people work and how to use that. M.E. also describes an email to a love interest she had scared away, explaining how and why she put in it what she did and how she knew each statement would affect her target: “In the email, I said that I loved her several times and made sure to use the past tense, because I wanted her to feel regret for something she didn't even know she had. There isn't anything more crushing than lost love, and there are few more compelling motives than to recapture it. Because she never knew I loved her, and because I didn't, she never got to savor it. At the end, I threw in a few mild recriminations disguised as insecurities (she made me feel abandoned and bereft) and suggestions that things would be different were we to reunite (though I claimed I had no reason to believe or hope that we would). It was an effective email.” (239) In this example, M.E. fully demonstrates her capability to understand what drives other people, if not herself, and her competence at emulating it. Whilst to many people it would not sound as though written by a sociopath, the reasoning behind it is what makes the action different. To explain her fascination with understanding how people work, she says: “My desire to know every layer of you isn't feigned, but interest isn't love, and I make no promises of forever.” (241)

On the topic of her childhood, M.E. describes how she was rational even then, when other children were more driven by emotion: “As a child, all I understood was cause and effect. If I felt like I or my siblings could break the rules and still get away with it by crying on cue, then I would have done that instead of following them. I was as amenable to conditioning as laboratory rats, learning to push the levers that gave me treats and to stop pushing levers that yielded nothing.” (270) She goes on to say that due to the style of parenting employed by her mother and father, she learned as a child that the easiest way to get what she wanted was to play along, which was likely what kept her from being violent, instead being more manipulative but less harmful (271). These behaviours are usually not consciously thought through when being employed by others, but M.E. shows the difference between the empiricism of the sociopath and the emotional logic of the empath through these descriptions.
Although it supports the evidence found in the previous chapter more,

I found a video that displays the differences found on an fMRI of a psychopath versus a non-violent empath when confronted with words, with or without emotional connotations. In this case, the psychopath’s brain mainly delegates this task to one part of the brain, just enough to tell whether or not it is a word as they were asked to do. The empath, however, has more brain activity in the left and right sections of the brain, as well as the amygdala when being confronted with words that have negative emotional connotations, which shows that they are not only seeing the word, they are making connections between the word and their own experiences. The cold rationality of a sociopath is likely reflected by this, as is the empath’s tendency to connect themselves to others. This also makes me wonder whether violent offenders that do not qualify as psychopaths or sociopaths would conform more to the first or the second scan, as well as those with NPD and BPD, as they are generally similar to sociopaths in some ways.

Based on this chunk, one question that I would ask would be whether or not sociopaths are capable of “loving”. It is clear based on the chapter that they are able to emulate it when it suits them, but M.E. also mentions that when she has a person of importance to her, she says that: “... like a child, a sociopath will be extremely loyal. A sociopath will never put you above himself, but if you’re worth it to him he will readily put you above all others.” (248) This makes it seem to me that they do not love, but instead are possessive as if you were a cherished pet, but it probably depends on the person.

I have somewhat revised my working thesis to reflect what I have found in these chapters, to be:
Sociopaths, due to neurological differences, are incapable of processing social situations in ways others would; in order to cope and appear to others as natural, they often over-analyze people and their motives and use rational manipulation to get what they want.

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My nonfiction book is The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. I have read all 135 pages of this book. I found another answer to my essential question: What effect do outside situations have on people with autism? One answer is that many things can trigger different situations: "Panic attacks can be triggered by many things, but even if you set up an ideal environment that gets rid of all the usual causes for a given person, we would still suffer panic attacks now and then" (Higashida 109). He is saying that sometimes outside situations have an effect on autistic minds, but they sometimes don't. I found an answer to one of my other essential questions: How is the autistic mind different from non-autistic minds/how are their feelings different? They are different in many ways: "Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure" (Higashida 111). The structure of this book stayed the same throughout: each chapter being a question which is then answered throughout the chapter. The theme also stayed the same; to better help us understand how the autistic mind works. Working thesis: Human behavior is driven by an effect from outside situations and also a feeling of belonging. Autistic people often feel like they are left out which causes them to do certain things. This video I found tells you all about the autistic mind. It talks about what can cause it to what goes on in their brain. This is very similar to my book that I read. Some questions I have from this video are how many years did it take them to actually find out what causes autism and will they ever find a cure for autism? I really enjoyed reading this book and I suggest it to anyone who is interested in the autistic mind.
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