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information on contemporary issues of academic interest for community practitioners and/or new developments within  various community work settings. All posted items are refreshed monthly. Stay in the loop. ♥
Your responses are subject to moderation to maintain the focus. ♥ Commulink.
Read the older posts below.
.♦  What is your ideal BMI?
BMI (body mass index) is a method of calculating the body fat of men or women aged between 18 and 65. While its results are a good guide for the general population. If you have your height and weight, here is your calculator:
By AB, Feb. 9, 2013/ Tags: Lifespan Development, Health, Lifestyles
 Bystander Effect reconfirmed  using virtual reality.

The bystander effect suggests that the ‘more people’ who witnessing a violent emergency the less likely it is that someone will intervene. It was first identified in the 1960s, but conducting research on the phenomenon has been difficult. Most experiments rely upon staging fake emergencies or violent encounters using actors, but it is tricky to gauge how genuine a response is.

Dr Richard Southern, Research Lecturer from Bournemouth University (UK) and his colleagues have turned to 3D computer animation technology- a system  called ‘ReaCToR, stereo images were projected onto the walls and floor of a small room using high-resolution digital projectors.  A person stepping into the room wearing lightweight shutter glasses similar to those used in modern 3D TVs, producing a realistic 3D sports bar scene, in an attempt to overcome these obstacles.
“We realized that to conduct experiments we had to recreate reality as best we could,” he says. “With virtual reality, if you can trick people into believing they are in a place and the responses that occur around them in that environment are believable, then people will respond in a realistic way.

Have anyone realized this effect in daily life?. I am a victim!

Ref: Science Daily, Jan. 11, 2013:
By AB (Anonymous Blogger)/ Tags: Psychology, Social Psychology
♣  Miss Montana, contested for Miss America title 2012 was diagnosed with autism: More hope for concerned parents.
By Anonymous Student blogger quoting  Bianna Golodryga:

Ms America Contestat 2013 Alexis Wiseman Autistic

Miss Montana Alexis Wineman, 18, will be the youngest contestant when she takes the stage at this weekend’s Miss America competition in Las Vegas.And no matter the outcome, she will also go down in the Miss America record books as the 92-year-old pageant’s first contestant diagnosed with autism.“The girl you’re seeing right now is not the girl you would have seen 10 years ago,” Wineman told ABC News.  “I have overcome a lot.  I have overcome so many of my symptoms.”Wineman was first diagnosed with the developmental disorder that affects one’s social and communication skills at age 11.  Even though she was considered highly functioning, Wineman recalls being ridiculed for her speech impediment and intense shyness.“I would stay in my room for hours, not wanting to talk to anyone,” she said.  “Growing up, I barely hung out with anyone and that’s because I was afraid of being laughed at.”Source ABC News Studio.
Tags: Lifespan Development, Learning Disabilities, Psychology, Personality


♣ HYPNOBIRTHING Provides Relaxation.


HypnoBirthing is a natural birthing style that focuses on reaching a point of deep relaxation so the mother can work with her body. She practices self-hypnosis, which blocks out distractions, reduces the level of pain and allows the woman to enjoy childbirth. Essentially, proponents say, the mother relaxes and the baby just kind of slips out with little pain or discomfort. It’s largely in the mind.

“The power of the mind is phenomenal,” said Debbie Gordon, the HypnoBirthing teacher at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, who has a new class starting tonight. “You can create your own reality literally with the power of your mind.”

That description is a far cry from what you normally see — and hear — with childbirth. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be, said Lauralyn Curtis, a Utah County HypnoBirthing practitioner. The difference, she said, is women believe childbirth is going to be painful and difficult; the body goes into survival mode and starts funneling blood away from non-vital organs, including the uterus.

Tags: Lifespan Development, Assisted Human Reproduction



The final piece of McGuinty’s education legacy will be a very tough sell
ADAM RADWANSKI: The Globe and Mail, Published Tuesday, Dec. 04 2012.

It runs the risk of playing like satire. As Ontario’s high-school teachers cancel extracurricular activities and elementary teachers threaten to walk off the job, Dalton McGuinty is trying to launch a discussion about how to better teach emotional intelligence in the province’s classrooms.

Provincial officials concede that the imminent release of “From Great to Excellent,” a discussion paper by Mr. McGuinty’s longtime education adviser Michael Fullan, is less than ideal. But the document, and the circumstances around it, will say a great deal about the self-styled “Education Premier” – about what mostly worked very well for him over the past decade, and why he’s not able to finish building a legacy the way he wanted.



CBT Helps Relieve Depression When Medication Fails
By ,Associate News Editor
 Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 7, 2012
People who don’t respond to antidepressants report improvement with cognitive-behavioraltherapy(CBT), according to researchers at the University of Bristol.CBT, a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy, is a way of helping people with depression change the way they think, which helps improve how they feel and change what they do, researchers said. A research team led by Nicola Wiles, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol recruited 469 adults who had not responded to at least six weeks of treatment with an antidepressant.



Ô Psychology, Lifespan Dvp, Mental health



Study finds Canadian immigrants at a growing disadvantage.

JOE FRIESEN :The Globe and Mail, Published Monday, Dec. 03 2012.

Canada ranks first in the world on the percentage of immigrants who take up citizenship, about 75 per cent in this study, and does very well on the equality of opportunity afforded the children of immigrants. It also has the highest percentage of immigrants with a post-secondary degree, 52 per cent, and the lowest proportion of immigrants considered low-educated.

“Canada is doing quite well. That should not come as a surprise,” said Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the International Migration Division of the OECD. “Overall, the finding is that immigrants are well-integrated in the labour market and have fairly good results in health, education and civic engagement.”

He said one of the main reasons for Canada’s success is that for more than 40 years it has selected immigrants for their education, their language ability and their perceived ability to integrate. Immigrant integration is seen as vital to the policy agenda in most countries to ensure social cohesion, the report says.

“The type of migrants Canada receives compared to other OECD countries, particularly Europe, is quite different,” he said. “Canada receives more skilled migrants, more migrants from Asia, who tend to perform quite well and especially their children perform quite well. The other element is that the labour market situation is much better overall in Canada than it is in a number of European countries.”


Ô Canadian Social Welfare



The World’s Worst Tourists:Americans? 

Survey Finds Americans think they are World’s Worst Travelers; 78 Percent of Americans have visited at least one foreign country; 40 percent have stolen from hotels.


Õ Psychology, Human behaviour, Social Psychology


NBC NEWS:  November 30, 2012

U.S birth rate hits a record low

The rate of babies born in the United States hit a record low in 2011, a new analysis shows. Researchers say the drastic drop in the birth rate among immigrants has greatly contributed to the overall decrease.

Based on preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Pew Research Center calculated that the overall birth rate — the annual number of births per 1,000 women between 15 to 44 — was 63.2 last year. That’s the lowest since such reliable record collection began in 1920 and close to half the birth rate in 1957, amid the Baby Boom years. The overall number of births declined 7 percent from 2007 to 2010. During this period, U.S.-born women saw a 5 percent birth-rate decline, while there was a 13 percent drop in births to immigrants. The drop was even more dramatic for Mexican immigrant women, at 23 percent.

Despite the recent dip, foreign-born mothers still give birth to a disproportionate share of the nation’s newborns, a trend that has persisted over the past two decades. The birth rate for immigrant women in 2010 was 87.8 per 1,000 births, compared with 58.9 per 1,000 births for American-born women. And although only 13 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born in 2010, immigrant births accounted for 23 percent of all newborns that year, according to the Pew Research Center.

The report also found that the share of births to unmarried mothers and teen mothers was higher for U.S.-born women (42 percent and 11 percent, respectively in 2010) than to foreign-born women (36 percent and 5 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, a higher share of immigrant women gave birth at age 35 and older (21 percent) than did U.S.-born women in that age set (13 percent).

Read: US birth rate hits a record low.

Ó Lifespan Dvp, Human Rightswomen’s status

Busting Myths About Human Nature:
Is Inequality Natural? Does our evolutionary history condemn us to social inequality?
Race, monogamy, and other lies they told you. by Agustín Fuentes, Ph.D.,Published on October 1, 2012 
The top 1 % of USA citizens control nearly 35% of the country’s wealth and 22% of American children live in poverty.  President Obama calls income inequality a defining issue and Mitt Romney tells us that the nearly half of the US population who don’t make enough to pay income taxes are failing to take responsibility for themselves.  Even without election season and a flurry of statistics to remind us, the vast majority of us realize that that the USA is a pretty unequal nation.  It also should not be surprising that for much of recent human history, material wealth has not been equally divided amongst members of a society.  But has it ever?  Is inequality part of our evolutionary heritage.Well,  yes and no.

First a bit on biology: Humans are biologically very diverse and, thus, we are not individually equivalent in the sense of specific traits and abilities (height, face shape, muscle density, running, calculating, singing, speaking, standing on our heads, etc…). No two humans are biologically the same and, thus, we are not “equal” in that sense.   However, humans do have evolutionary equality. No individual or group of humans today is evolutionarily “better” at being human than any other individual or group (in spite of racist and sexist assertions).  So while we vary as individuals, we are all equally good at being human.  This is called psychosocial equality and it simply means that every human being born without substantive brain damage can acquire the language, habits, mores and behaviors of the culture in which she or he grows up: we are all psychologically equally capable of being human.

Social inequality is something else.  This is when some members of a group have less or more social power than others.  Our relatives, the other primates, can help our understanding of social inequality. In primates dominance is basically a measure of priority of access to resources. – i.e. more dominant individuals have an easier time getting the things they want.  However, dominance is not an inherent characteristic of an individual (not in their genes or bodies) and individuals can hold many dominance relationships across their lives. All primate species have some form of social hierarchy (a sort of ranking relationship).  Some are very strict with clear-cut dominant males and/or females and others are a bit more flexible with social relations.  In these looser systems, social inequality takes on different forms depending on which members of the group are around and what happens to be going on at the moment. In all systems there are many ways to gain, or to lose, dominance and individuals vary in how they negotiate relationships. In short, some degree of social inequality is common in primates, but it is not determined primarily by an individual’s biology: rather their individual behavior, social context, experience, and connections count the most.

So what happened? Read further:

Õ Social Work Practice, Social Welfare, Social inequality

Is There Really A Glass Ceiling For Women?
Glass ceiling or career labyrinth? You decide …

Thin Is In For Executive Women: How Weight Discrimination Contributes To The Glass Ceiling  (strictly for academic purposes)

Õ Human Relations, Leadership, Sociology, Economy


Acceptance rates for refugees to Canada decline substantially since 2006
Toronto Star Report, Published on Thursday November 01, 2012

Debra Black, Immigration Reporter

Canada’s acceptance rates for refugees have declined substantially since 2006 when the Conservative Party took office.And with new regulations to be laid out by the federal government in mid-December, some critics worry that the changes will make it even more difficult for refugees to seek shelter when they arrive at Canadian borders.

Data from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) recently released to the Star shows that in 2011, the overall acceptance rate for the top 10 source countries — which include Hungary, China, Colombia, Pakistan, Namibia, Mexico and Nigeria — was 31 per cent, roughly 4,800 claims accepted out a total of more than 15,500 cases.

So far this year (2012), the acceptance rate is around 28 per cent, with 2,449 claims accepted out of 8,646 cases.That’s a substantial drop from 2006 when the acceptance rate was 47 per cent, with 5,024 cases accepted out of a total of 10,620. Casting a net globally and looking at the acceptance rate of refugees from all around the world who apply to Canada, the numbers also show a decline — albeit not quite as dramatic:

  • Global acceptance rates for 2006 were 46 per cent or 8,065 claims from refugees worldwide out of a total of 17,377 cases.
  • Five years later, in 2011, global acceptance rates were about 38 per cent, or 12,537 cases out of 33,340 cases.
  • To date for fiscal year 2012, 5,050 cases from around the world were accepted out of 15,005 applications — or about 34 per cent.

“The numbers are very disturbing,” said NDP Immigration Critic Jinny Sims. “Considering we’ve been a place of refuge for those forced to flee from their home countries, the trend is troublesome. It means Canada is abandoning the most vulnerable around the world and not living up to our obligations.”

Read more:–acceptance-rates-for-refugees-to-canada-decline-substantially-since-2006

Ô Canadian Social Welfare



Autism diagnosis change questioned….

York University study, Published on Thursday November 01, 2012

Kate Allen
Science & Technology Reporter
In the clinics, classrooms, and conference halls where autism is front of mind, there are few topics that carry more urgency than the DSM-5.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the tome doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, is set to change the way doctors diagnose autism, a spectrum of developmental delays that affect 1 in 88 children. Since a draft of the changes was first revealed, controversy has bubbled over whether some children will no longer qualify and, as a result, be stripped of access to social services.

Still, when Dr. Adrienne Perry helped a York University undergraduate student, Azin Taheri, design a study to look at how the new DSM-5 criteria mapped out onto kids who already had autism, “I didn’t think it was going to be particularly controversial,” she says.

Perry, an associate professor in York’s Department of Psychology, expected most children to fit the new diagnosis. “But that was not the way it turned out.”

When it is published in May 2013, the DSM-5 will substantially recast autism, doing away with sub-categories like Asperger’s syndrome to make way for one broad label called autism spectrum disorder. It also tweaks how the disorder is described, adding new traits and changing the number and nature of characteristics kids and adults need in order to qualify. The changes were made, in part, with the hope of diagnosing more accurately.

The York study looked at case histories of 131 children aged 2 to 12. All had either autism or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), two of the current subcategories. None had Asperger’s.

Perry, who had originally diagnosed all the children, used her previous clinical notes and parent interviews to complete the DSM-5 checklist. Another experienced psychologist, who was not told about the hypothesis of the study, did the same for about a quarter of the cases with nearly identical results.

Õ Lifespan Development, Early Childhood, Learning Disabilities

Autism study: First signs do not appear until after 6 months of age…
Published on Tuesday October 30, 2012

Andrea Gordon
Family Issues Reporter
Babies with autism don’t show outward signs of the neurological disorder in the first six months of life, but after that develop differently than other children, a U.S. study has found.

“Those children who go on to have autism are looking pretty healthy at 6 months,” lead author Rebecca Landa, director of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders, said in an interview.

But the study, released Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found some children can be identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by 14 months, while in others, red flags are more difficult to detect until age 2 or later.

“These findings indicate that not all children with ASD may be detected at the same age,” wrote the researchers, from Kennedy Krieger, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School.

For that reason, they suggest physicians administer general developmental screening by age 1, followed by autism screening at 14 months and at regular intervals through the preschool years.

ASD, which includes a group of neurodevelopmental disorders causing social and communication impairment, has increased dramatically over the last decade, now affecting one in 88 children.

There has been growing emphasis on the importance of identifying children at risk as young as possible and starting intervention.

But the study provides further evidence that ASD is complex, emerges at different ages and affects children in a variety of ways. It notes that a diagnosis comes from observing a young child’s development over time, rather than at one specific age.

The researchers make a convincing case for more vigilance in screening practices to spot those who need further assessment, said Elizabeth Kelley, associate professor of psychology and head of ASD Studies at Queen’s University.

“The earlier that children are diagnosed and start receiving treatment, the better their outcomes are.”

Being proactive could also benefit those with speech and language or other delays, whether or not they are eventually diagnosed with autism, by offering supports and strategies for parents, she added.

Universal screening has been a subject of debate. While the American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends autism screening twice before the age of 2, the Canadian Paediatric Societydoes not have a policy.

Ontario physicians can use screening tools such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) at the routine 18-month checkup, and other developmental screening tools earlier. But practices range across the province, with some physicians using them only if parents express concern, there is family history of the condition or they spot potential signs.

Ô Lifespan Dvp, Early Childhood, Learning Disabilities


Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

October 30, 2012

Recession’s legacy has food-bank usage soaring in Canada


Developed as a short-term solution to hunger problem in the 1980s, a study finds food banks are now used in record numbers

A record number of Canadians visited a food bank this year, an indication the recession’s legacy continues to bite. More than 882,000 people used a food bank this March, a 2.4-per-cent increase from last year. Demand is now 31-per-cent higher than before the recession, a study to be released Tuesday says.

Food banks were never supposed to be a permanent part of Canada’s landscape. They sprang up during tough economic times in the early 1980s as a temporary way to alleviate hunger. Thirty years later, more than three quarters of a million Canadians are using food banks each month.

This year’s elevated numbers show “the recession is still affecting us, while low-paying jobs and inadequate social programs continue to challenge a lot of Canadians,” said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, which is releasing its 16th annual tally.

Need has broadened in the past four years to “those who we might least expect visit a food bank,” from employed people to homeowners and two-parent families, the report said.

Nearly a fifth of employed Canadians are working poor, earning less than $17,000 a year, reflecting a shift in the economy towards lower-paying services jobs, Ms. Schmidt noted. The statistics show nearly 93,000 people are first-time clients of a food bank.

Cashama Charlery is one of them. She arrived in Canada last December from St. Lucia with her now seven-month-old son, hoping he would have a brighter future here. She holds a college degree in hospitality from her home country and has two years’ experience as a customer services rep for the cellphone company, Digicel.

The only work she’s found since, however, is erratic shifts at a frozen food manufacturer that pay $8-an-hour (below minimum wage) with no benefits. After paying for a babysitter and medical bills, she has no money left.

“People don’t see this struggle, they don’t know how hard people are trying to make it here,” said Ms. Charlery, 22, who gets diapers, baby food and basic staples from a food bank in north Toronto. “I’m very ambitious and I know I can make it. … I just want to have a chance to show how I can work and give back to this country.”

Ô Economy, Canadian Social Welfare


Opinionator - A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web

The stone

How Reliable Are the Social Sciences?
By GARY GUTTING: May 17, 2012, 9:30 PM  349 Comments

Public policy debates often involve appeals to results of work in social sciences like economics and sociology.  For example, in his State of the Union address this year, President Obama cited a recent high-profile study to support his emphasis on evaluating teachers by their students’ test scores.  The study purportedly shows that students with teachers who raise their standardized test scores are “more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement.” Beware the journalisticallyexciting result.How much authority should we give to such work in our policy decisions?  The question is important because media reports often seem to assume that any result presented as “scientific” has a claim to our serious attention. But this is hardly a reasonable view.  There is considerable distance between, say, the confidence we should place in astronomers’ calculations of eclipses and a small marketing study suggesting that consumers prefer laundry soap in blue boxes.A rational assessment of a scientific result must first take account of the broader context of the particular science involved.  Where does the result lie on the continuum from preliminary studies, designed to suggest further directions of research, to maximally supported conclusions of the science?  In physics, for example, there is the difference between early calculations positing the Higgs boson and what we hope will soon be the final experimental proof that it actually exists.  Scientists working in a discipline generally have a good sense of where a given piece of works stands in their discipline.  But often, as I have pointed out for the case of biomedical research, popular reports often do not make clear the limited value of a journalistically exciting result.  Good headlines can make for bad reporting.Second, and even more important, there is our overall assessment of work in a given science in comparison with other sciences.  The core natural sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology) are so well established that we readily accept their best-supported conclusions as definitive.  (No one, for example, was concerned about the validity of the fundamental physics on which our space program was based.)  Even the best-developed social sciences like economics have nothing like this status.Consider, for example, the report President Obama referred to.  By all accounts it is a significant contribution to its field.  As reported in The Times, the study, by two economists from Harvard and one from Columbia, “examined a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term.”  As such, “It is likely to influence the roiling national debates about the importance of quality teachers and how best to measure that quality.”But how reliable is even the best work on the effects of teaching?  How, for example, does it compare with the best work by biochemists on the effects of light on plant growth? Since humans are much more complex than plants and biochemists have far more refined techniques for studying plants, we may well expect the biochemical work to be far more reliable.  For making informed decisions about public policy, though, we need to have a more precise sense of how large the difference in reliability is. Is there any work on the effectiveness of teaching that is solidly enough established to support major policy decisions?The case for a negative answer lies in the predictive power of the core natural sciences compared with even the most highly developed social sciences.  Social sciences may be surrounded by the “paraphernalia” of the natural sciences, such as technical terminology, mathematical equations, empirical data and even carefully designed experiments.  But when it comes to generating reliable scientific knowledge, there is nothing more important than frequent and detailed predictions of future events.  We may have a theory that explains all the known data, but that may be just the result of our having fitted the theory to that data.  The strongest support for a theory comes from its ability to correctly predict data that it was not designed to explain.

While the physical sciences produce many detailed and precise predictions, the social sciences do not.  The reason is that such predictions almost always require randomized controlled experiments, which are seldom possible when people are involved.  For one thing, we are too complex: our behavior depends on an enormous number of tightly interconnected variables that are extraordinarily difficult to  distinguish and study separately.   Also, moral considerations forbid manipulating humans the way we do inanimate objects.   As a result, most social science research falls far short of the natural sciences’ standard of controlled experiments.

Without a strong track record of experiments leading to successful predictions, there is seldom a basis for taking social scientific results as definitive.  Jim Manzi, in his recent book, “Uncontrolled,” offers a careful and informed survey of the problems of research in the social sciences and concludes that “nonexperimental social science is not capable of making useful, reliable and nonobvious predictions for the effects of most proposed policy interventions.”

Even if social science were able to greatly increase their use of randomized controlled experiments, Manzi’s judgment is that “it will not be able to adjudicate most policy debates.” Because of the many interrelated causes at work in social systems, many questions are simply “impervious to experimentation.”   But even when we can get reliable experimental results, the causal complexity restricts us to “extremely conditional, statistical statements,” which severely limit the range of cases to which the results apply.

My conclusion is not that our policy discussions should simply ignore social scientific research.  We should, as Manzi himself proposes, find ways of injecting more experimental data into government decisions.  But above all, we need to develop a much better sense of the severely limited reliability of social scientific results.   Media reports of research should pay far more attention to these limitations, and scientists reporting the results need to emphasize what they don’t show as much as what they do.

Given the limited predictive success and the lack of consensus in social sciences, their conclusions can seldom be primary guides to setting policy.  At best, they can supplement the general knowledge, practical experience, good sense and critical intelligence that we can only hope our political leaders will have.

Gary Gutting

Gary Gutting is a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and an editor of Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. He is the author of, most recently, “Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy since 1960,” and writes regularly for The Stone.

Lovisa McCallum, winner of the Female Leadership award by Women in Capital Markets, poses for a portrait on the trading floor at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, Ontario, on Monday,October 15, 2012

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