Currently viewing the tag: "cause and effect"


Cause-and-effect thinking is critical to human survival, Legare said. So it’s natural for people to find logic in supernatural rituals that emphasize repetition and procedural steps. If doing something once has some effect, then repeating it must have a greater effect. For example, if a mechanic says he inspected something five times, the frequency of his actions leads the customer to overestimate the effectiveness of his work. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Create a ritual for your character to use and then write a scene about it. Focus on the internal monologue.

Journaling Prompt: What rituals do you use?

Art Prompt: Supernatural Ritual

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the psychology of ritual. Include stories about the rituals used by famous people.

Photo Credit: on Flickr

Hurricane Katrina

When we’re threatened we defend ourselves — and our systems. Before 9/11, for instance, President George W. Bush was sinking in the polls. But as soon as the planes hit the World Trade Center, the president’s approval ratings soared. So did support for Congress and the police. During Hurricane Katrina, America witnessed FEMA’s spectacular failure to rescue the hurricane’s victims. Yet many people blamed those victims for their fate rather than admitting the agency flunked and supporting ideas for fixing it. In times of crisis… we want to believe the system works. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene about a character’s reaction to a crisis.

Journaling Prompt: Have you judged the victims of a crisis because you wanted to keep intact your belief that the system works?

Art Prompt: Disaster

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Explain to your audience the natural response to crisis and formulate a model for a more constructive method of responding.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr


The plague microbe had developed no special traits that allowed it to emerge with regularity and unhindered in Europe for five centuries. Crowded cities, poverty, misinformation, and perhaps too much faith in a powerless clergy and medical profession made the plague into the scourge that changed history. These same factors, more or less, exist today. –Anne Maczulak, Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria

Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about a modern day plague.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about sensationalistic reporting of diseases like the bird flu? How do you distinguish between fear mongering and facts?

Art Prompt: Plague

Photo Credit: otisarchives2 on Flickr


People always claim that they want the truth, but most people only want a truth that fits their beliefs. Of course, they like to delude themselves that they make up their minds on the facts, but they really just select the facts that back up what they already believe. -L.E. Modesitt Jr., Flash

Writing Prompt: Write an inner monologue for your character illustrating how he or she chooses the facts to pay attention to in making a decision.

Journaling Prompt: How do your biases affect your decisions?

Art Prompt: Delusion of Reality
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the delusion of reality and give them strategies for how they can become more aware of how they create it themselves.

Photo Credit: martinhoward on Flickr


Thanks to Sue Ann Bowling for sharing this quotation!

“If you want to make your enemy into something you can hate, you first remove his humanity.” Mercedes Lackey, Storm Warning

Writing Prompt: Create some inner dialogue for a character who dehumanizes someone in order to rationalize hating them.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you rationalized hating someone.

Art Prompt: Hatred

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how people are taught to hate. Encourage them to challenge their own perceptions by humanizing the hated person/group.

Photo Credit: Furryscaly on Flickr

iconic void

If you’re writing about teens, consider including music in your story.

The amount of music that 8- to 18-year-olds listen to has increased by 45 percent in recent years, rising dramatically with the popularity of MP3 players, such as iPods. Previous research has indicated that there is a strong link between exposure to sexual media (on screen and in music) and sexual activity. Teens tend to overestimate the sexual activity of their peers and one source of this misperception is the entertainment media. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene about a teenager listening to music. What do the lyrics mean to him or her? What thoughts arise? What actions do the lyrics prompt?

Journaling Prompt: How does music and the lyrics affect you?

Art Prompt: Music

Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ on Flickr


Schizophrenia is thought to be a disorder in which a person cannot tell real from imaginary. They perceive their internal monologue as being from another being. Scientists are trying to determine why.

The cohesiveness of consciousness is essential to our judgments about cause and effect—and, therefore, to our sense of self. In one particularly sneaky experiment, Eagleman and his team asked volunteers to press a button to make a light blink—with a slight delay. After 10 or so presses, people cottoned onto the delay and began to see the blink happen as soon as they pressed the button. Then the experimenters reduced the delay, and people reported that the blink happened before they pressed the button.

Eagleman conjectured that such causal reversals would explain schizophrenia. All of us have an internal monologue, which we safely attribute to ourselves; if we didn’t, we might think of it as an external voice. So Eagleman has begun to run the same button-blink experiment on people diagnosed with schizophrenia. He reported that changing the delay time did not cause them to change their assessment of cause and effect. “They just don’t adjust,” Eagleman said. “They don’t see the illusion. They’re temporally inflexible.” He ventured: “Maybe schizophrenia is fundamentally a disorder of time perception.” If so, it suggests new therapies to cajole the brains of schizophrenic patients into recalibrating their sense of timing. –Scientific American

Writing Prompt: Write a scene where a character accepts his internal monologue as the voice of another being.

Journaling Prompt: Write about an internal monologue you have experienced.

Art Prompt: Cause and effect
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how our internal monologue creates our feelings.

Photo Credit: Fey Ilyas on Flickr