Since I can remember, Mythbusters has been one of my favorite shows. Watching the talented crew members investigate myths, urban legends, and strange occurrences has always been a go to pass time activity for me. One of the main reasons this is one of my favorite shows is because it revolves around science to effectively prove myths busted, plausible, or true.

This show fascinates me because the myths they test are ones we as a society have typically always heard but never questioned and put to the test the way they have. To name a few of my favorite episodes; the one where they test how possible it was for the 3 men on Alcatraz to escape, the one where they test the flying surfboard that supposedly killed someone after flying through their windshield, the one where they test sneezes,  and obviously every episode that they blow things up.

Another reason this is one of my favorite shows is because they advocate critical thinking. Using science they break down myths to show how and why something is true, plausible, or busted. Science uses analysis, reasoning, and evidence to prove why a particular theory, or argument, is valid or invalid. In large part, this is exactly what critical thinking is at its core. It’s the construction of formulaic thought supported by evidence and reasoning to persuade or prove an argument. It’s also a tool used to question certain theories and arguments to find a better solution.

The way that the Mythbusters used science is very systematic. This is because it works. They are very precise and diligent with trying to make something work. They approach a myth from every angle possible to reach their final conclusion. This is important because with critical thinking, it’s also very crucial to approach an argument you have been handed from every angle possible. Critical thinking helps people be more open minded to other points of view and instigates a rhythmic method of questioning, analyzing, testing, and concluding.

One of the main reasons this show is so incredible is because, at its core, it promotes critical thinking to viewers. People that watch the show are granted the opportunity to learn from how the Mythbusters carefully piece apart a myth just to put it back together in a reasoned and calculated manner. For those who aren’t just watching for the cool explosions, this rings a bell. It’s a calling card if you will that indulges the critical mind.

By the end of each episode, I am personally amazed by the skill and effort portrayed.  I’ve actually attempted to find myths that they might be able to test so I can send my suggestion I, but as of right now, I haven’t found anything they haven’t already tested. Overall though, I appreciate their ability to promote such qualities in a society that seems to progressively lack the skills to think critically about what they are fed by corporations and businesses,  whether it be advertisements, movies, shows, music, books, the internet, and virtually everything we consume. It’s important to have the ability to make decisions, buy products and gain knowledge with a critical mind. I believe the Mythbusters inspire many people and do a lot of good. Especially because they themselves are a part of our popular culture.

Maybe we can form another group that advocates critical thinking to the masses and have fun while doing it.

Gamifying Education

The concept of gamifying education is one that really interests me. To think that in this day and age we have reached a point where education could simulate the interaction between a player and a game excites me.

After watching a short clip on the gamification of education, I reached several opinions regarding the matter. Overall, I think it is a good idea, although I believe in many cases it could create complications. For starters, let me review why I think it is a positive gesture.

In many cases, children today find it difficult to remain focused, let alone interested in scholastic matters. There are several ideas as to why that is. Perhaps, the main issue resides in the rapid and progressive interaction between man an machine. We have become so attached, dependent, and committed to our technology that as a society, we could be viewed as a person with wire veins. Boarder line cyborgs. With this increasing attachment, our upcoming generations are challenged with different endeavors. Distractions. It is incredibly easy for us to simply stop doing what ever it is that we don’t want to do and aimlessly scroll through our phones, latch ourselves to a computer, or jump down the throats of our televisions. Technology is so readily at hand that it’s nearly impossible to escape the longing we have to get lost in it. So under these conditions, gamifying education brings the learning closer to home. In this sense, a student, being more familiar and comfortable with technology than sitting bored in a classroom, could essentially find pleasure in completing their work, and in turn actually gain the knowledge they need to be successful. In this respect, it also allows students to work at their own pace. Providing them the opportunity to repeat levels until they gain enough experience to defeat the boss and move on to the next world. Another positive is that students feel a sense of satisfaction in knowing that they have earned points right off the bat for completing an assignment. That feeling of progression is astronomically crucial to the student because if they feel like their is no benefit they will lose interest and motivation. Unfortunately, there are several issues I believe may occur with the gamification of education.

There are many students, believe it or not, that are not video game savy, do not find satisfaction in playing video games, and have no interest what so ever in them. If gamification where to happen accross the board, or even in just one district, I dare to assume that many students may actually perform worse than before. That lack of familiarity with games may just cause them to procrastinate, not complete work, and fall behind. Another issue resides in subject matter. Under what scholastic subjects will gamification be most effective? English, biology, mathematics, history, geography, etc? It seems as if every student has their strong points, preferences, and weaknesses regarding subjects. Another issue involves the ages of students. At what age is it appropriate to introduce the gamification. Many parents try to regulate the usage of technology to their children. Perhaps if gamification was introduced to public schools, many parents may not agree with this method as appropriate for a certain age range, or even at all. Also, if the work is designed to be used online, or with electronic devices, and would be required if administered to public schools, what happens if a student doesn’t have access to such technology at home, or have a reasonable means to find access to them? Is that something the school will fund and provide, or does this fall under the category of school supplies that parents need to finance? On top of that, there is also a concern regarding social structure and stability between students. If parents are trying to teach their children to be diverse with their interactions between other people and their usage of technology, how would applying gamification hinder that? Are there any major consequences to promoting students to be more technologically active? Perhaps if it is just for education students wont spend as much time, or get into their work as much as they would an actual video game. It is debatable. Furthermore, and most importantly, how do we decide to approach all of these concerns and issues. Yes, gamification can be useful and helpful to many students. It already has been. How do we create a balance between learning through gamification and learning in the classroom so that all students have access to what they feel most comfortable with while managing to increase the effectiveness of our educational system? Perhaps we provide the means for which students have to opportunity to gamify their education, and we leave it up to them to decide what courses they want to gamify, if at all.

Food for though. I enjoyed this exercise.

Ancient Aliens!

Ancient Aliens, a TV series on the History channel is one of my favorite shows. This show is essentially dedicated to analyzing ancient civilizations and presenting theories as to how these civilizations were capable of being so advanced in their time. The reason I chose this as an organization that promotes critical thinking is because they analyze evidence collected from multiple ancient civilizations and, through reasoned thought, present what they believe is a possible conclusion or answer to how each civilization was capable of being as advanced as they were. Although they aren’t advocating critical thinking about popular culture, this is popular culture itself and reflects historical events.

In a nut shell, the overall objective of the show is to explain that these civilizations couldn’t have been as advanced as they were without the help of, well, aliens. Not only do the speakers walk the viewers through why they think aliens assisted the ancients, after providing what they consider valid evidence, but also I think this show promotes critical thinking in another way, that is to say, by means of analyzing the evidence to prove that the ancient civilizations were in fact as advanced as we see through the remainders of their cultures. This show creates skepticism and interest in matters like how a civilization with no advanced machines could build pyramids.

One of the ways that this show appears to be headed in a promising direction, for me anyway, is that they use evidence from hieroglyphics. They analyze the writings, symbols, and paintings and have found images and passages that depict what could represent aliens, flying saucers, and first hand contact with extra terrestrials. Furthermore, they analyze and study the civilizations advancements in almost all of the sciences. They then incorporate the information into a verbal equation that sounds similar to: The ancients at this time hadn’t had the ability to construct monumental buildings/shrines until after we started seeing writings appear that suggest the visitation of other worldly beings. This could only mean one thing. Aliens! Now don’t get me wrong, they sound a lot more professional and believable than when I say it, but that is the jist of it.

Systematically, they approach just about every theory this way. They start off explaining the history behind the civilizations, then work their way into the improbable achievements, throw in a little alien spice, and conclude with, I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.

To me, whether or not I believe their claims, I find it fascinating to listen to a different perspective. I find myself evaluating the evidence, and several times I have gone out on my own to research the evidence they provide and see if I can come to the same conclusion. Furthermore, it seems as though the way they set up their arguments resembles the foundation of a great persuasive speech or essay. This allows the viewers to be critical of what they are producing as evidence and question the validity of their argument. With this being the case, I think this automatically becomes a more insightful program because at it’s core it encourages research, analysis, skeptical reasoning, and the ability to support your claims, no matter how farfetched they may seem. Many other programs on television don’t promote any of this. It is simply plot and encourages the audience to fall into the story and accept without consideration the situations at hand.

Here is a link to one of my favorite episodes of Ancient Aliens. To sum it up, its basically about how all of the ancient monuments were orchestrated on a global scale to match complex mathematical equations, even when the civilizations all existed at different periods of time and had no contact with one another. Trippy huh? Hope you enjoy!

The Future of Critical Thinking

After taking this class, my view of popular culture has changed dramatically. It’s strange to say, but there are many aspects of popular culture that I never would have given much thought to if it wasn’t for this class. I used to be the kind of person that would just take everything for what it appeared to be, but over the last couple of years I’ve tended to be a more skeptical individual. This class has only reinforced that ability. For starters, advertisements used to just be noise in the background that annoyed me, in all honesty, but now I find it to be entertaining to evaluate them with a critical eye. Observing their methods of connecting with an audience and evaluating it’s effectiveness. To name a few appeal techniques; humor, love, family, self identification, adventure, etc. These are all tools used to catch a viewers attention, connect with them, and really drive the audience to want that specific product or brand. What is most fascinating to me is that I never thought I’d fall victim to these techniques, but when I reevaluate myself, and look closely at my reactions, there have been plenty of times where I found myself impacted by a Subaru commercial that shows a family together and happy, because it reminded me of my own family. In many cases, it’s that sort of thing that should be evaluated critically. Although I would love to think Subaru actually cares about family values, when I evaluate it critically I know they just want people to think they do so they will buy their brand instead of a Honda, or Lexus.

To bring this home a little closer to pop culture in my own life, the music industry is an entity I will observe more critically. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why so much crappy music was being produced. Or why so many people listened to it at all. After taking a closer look, and even going so far as to do some research I found that many of the Pop artists these days don’t have many options. They get signed on with a major labeling company under contract that dictates what they have to perform, when, where, with who, and they basically have a lot of their creative freedom stripped away. For example, I watched a documentary on Katy Perry. Before she got signed on she was interviewed by a recording company. The director said that her music was very poetic and heartfelt, but that that wasn’t something that would sell. Right then and there I realized that the music industry isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. It’s restricting based on the companies interest in making money. What bothers me about that though is that people are interested in heartfelt and poetic music. People relate to that more than just regurgitated nonsense. Another example is with Blink-182, a 90’s Punk Rock/Pop Punk band. After Blink reunited after a few years of separation, they decided to publish an album on their own dime. They were no longer signed with a record company. In an interview the band members Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus both explained that it was difficult without the support of a record company, but in so many ways it was rewarding to have all the freedom they wanted to be fully creative with the music. What these two examples do for me is help me see behind the front of the music industry and evaluate critically the image placed by the companies for the masses to see.

Another aspect of popular culture that I will definitely look at more critically is the internet and social media. With the internet, just about anything goes. Not only is it important to be able to use the internet for fun, but being able to know how to use it safely in a recreational manner, but academically as well. Academically, it is crucial that people know how to find and use credible sources. I can’t stress the credibility enough. Many people don’t consider the possibility that their sources may not actually be credible, accurate, or even real. This class definitely helped me know how to find sources, check their credibility, and look for signs that show a source may not be a good one. For example, simply knowing the difference between certain URL addresses can save a researcher a tremendous amount of time. Dot Coms can be created by anyone, which means the information used is automatically more questionable than something coming from the Library of Congress Dot Gov. Furthermore, buying things on the internet can be some sketchy business. The first thing one should look for is credible contact information. It’s probably a good idea to call a company and ask them about the product you want to buy before you go ahead and put your personal information into the check out section of the webpage. This goes for most companies that aren’t widely known or accepted, unlike Amazon, Walmart, Barns and Noble, etc. This is important because it is really easy to be tricked into having your personal information stolen or abused.

In terms of social media, this is something almost everyone uses in some way shape or form. Believe it or not, e-mails used to be considered social media at one point in time. Now with mass used sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram,, Soundcloud, Youtube, etc, people are constantly connecting, sharing, posting, and viewing everything everyone ever places on the internet. What this means is that we should be selective and somewhat reserved with what we post. Many people out there can and will use information against you, or find ways to hack into your computer and set a virus or steal personal information. Now granted, many of these sites do their best to prevent such activity, but it is something everyone should be more aware about and have concern for. This class has helped me reevaluate the content I desire to share.

Most importantly, all of this talk about pop culture takes me right back to the concept of consumerism. It is more clear to me now after taking this class that basically all of our pop culture is derived form consumerism. Every product I like to buy, whether it be clothing, music equipment, apps for my phone, car parts, skateboard/snowboard gear, culinary supplies, food, gifts, destinations I want to visit, and even colleges I’m interested in all revolves around revenue generating businesses. What this means is that everything I see, touch, breath on, or buy is luring me to spend money. What this class has helped me do is question my own motives for why I want to buy a specific product. To critically thing about why I feel a certain devotion to brand names, and that perhaps I may start consuming based on something more tangible like the quality of a product over buying the name of a product. In turn, finding valid reasons for my preferences. With this, I truly believe I will be happier with what I consume because I made a choice based on my own likes and dislikes rather than what a company tells me I should like or dislike.

I leave you with this. It has been a fun semester, and I hope that everyone will share these techniques of critical thinking with other people that aren’t enrolled in this class and challenge them to take a step back, observe their surroundings, evaluate what they are being handed, think critically about the decisions they make, and question their devotion to specific products.

Wacky Websites O.o

Alright everybody. I have been challenged to review a handful of websites that may or may not be hoaxes and distinguish between the real ones and weed out the fake.
How am I going to go about completing this task, you ask? Well, I’m going to post the link to the website, and after reviewing it I will put my initial reaction, then I’ll do some research then provide my final answer with feedback. Basically, you’ll be reading my reaction in real time. Sounds weird, I’m sure, but it’s happening.

First website is (
Initial reaction/impression: First of all, I love zombies, the idea of them, and honestly I hope the apocalypse happens someday because I know I will be a survivor. Also, right off the bat I’m going to assume this is a legit website based on the fact that the URL is addressed to .gov. Although I’m not actually familiar with the regulations regarding who is allowed to have a .gov address, perhaps it is only government agencies, because that seems only logical, but you never know these days.
Conclusion: Alright, so at first glance, before reading any of the material and simply skimming the topics in the article, it seemed like it could have been just a hoax, but after reading just the first paragraph it becomes evident that it is a legit website created for fun, but to evoke awareness for disaster situations. Another good clue as to why I believe this is legit is because there are links to the original blog post on the CDC website that this article was played off of. Typically if a website is a fake there wont be any links or information leading to anything that may validate the website as real. On a side note, I think it was really creative for the CDC to use zombies as a means to raise awareness for necessary supplies in case of an actual disaster or emergency.

#2. (
Initial reaction/impression: For starters, I have never heard of RYT Hospital. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but going off the advertisement on the homepage that states they have cutting edge technology I have a hard time believing that if this organization is as advanced as they project themselves, why haven’t I seen them on the news, or in a ted talk or something? Moving along, I noticed they at least have a “contact us” link. This leads me to think that they might actually be legit. I’ll click on it and find out what information they provide.
Conclusion: Well, that was interesting. This is what every link on their homepage defers to.

Not Found

The requested URL /index.php was not found on this server.

Apache Servehttp://r at Port 80

I think it is safe to say that this website is a hoax. My reasoning for that you ask? Well, any real website typically has links that WORK! Also, I tried clicking on the “read more” links at the bottom of the page, and it just shoots you back to the top, which ironically isn’t very far so it looks like the page is glitching out. Although, for the sake of being generous, we can give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their website is under maintenance. NEXT!

#3. (
Initial reaction/impression: Here is to hoping that this is a real island because I’m sure my 17 year old dog would love to visit before he passes away. Perhaps I could consider it similar to putting an old person in a retirement home. Moving on though, I see a set of links at the top that I hope work better than the RYT Hospital ones. Other than that, they have a nifty little “dog statistics” blurb on the left that shows what size dogs have visited. I think now I’ll try to open some links and read more.
Conclusion: As entertaining as this was, with a special acknowledgement to the creativity put into the categories “Send Us Your Dog” and “Facilities”, I enjoyed reading the vague descriptions of the “complex islands” and how complex they are. The real kicker was when I tried to look at the rates. Typically when a website has a link like rates is shows prices, or perhaps package deals, but all there was to be shown was a description of the “Normal Route” which is free stay for dogs that plan to retire there and “Vacation Island” which I quote is “very very expensive.” Now, I would honestly love to send my dog here, but if I’m going to make this happen I’m going to need my thinking cap. Ready? Critical thinking, ACTIVATE! Superficially, this is very cute, but evidently provides no means of legitimacy what-so-ever. First of all, to pick apart this page, nothing is free. Once anyone these days understands that, they wont be fooled as easily by advertisements that claim their product is free. It would take a lot of money to simply maintain of run such a facility, also accounting for liability, insurance, payroll, inventory, taxes on simply owning the Islands or even renting them, etc. Furthermore, organizations and businesses don’t operate at all, at least successfully, providing “free” services. After all the time, energy, and money it would take just to set up a resort like this for dogs, I can guarantee someone running the business is looking for a FAT gross turnout to match, if not surpass, their overhead/investment. Unless we are talking about Disney. They make so much damn money that I can actually see them setting up something similar as a promotional event, perhaps to raise awareness for underprivileged or abused dogs. Even then it would probably only last a week, if not just one day, and have it be considered a fundraiser. In addition to all that, no company trying to make a real dollar would advertise their vacation island as “very very expensive.” That’s just silly. Evidently, I’m going to claim this site as a hoax. If I’m wrong, I pledge to donate my left lung.

#4. (
Initial reaction/impression: At first glance this website seems very plain. It is addressed to the most common URL, a .com which indicates someone anywhere could have just created it for fun. Although, at the bottom I see information regarding the address, and it seems real. I’ll navigate now.
Conclusion: This website is legit. Not only is it legit but now I want to visit the museum it is for. I checked the visitor information link, and it had admission prices, days and times the museum is open, regulations on photography, and a real address/phone number. Also, the gift shop link worked. There is a multitude of different items for sale ranging from jewelry to apparel, museum publications, and DVD’s and CD’s. Furthermore, the museum events are real. Craig Ventresco, a musician just recently played on November 20th. I went as so far as to look him up and see if he was even a real person, and he is. What a pleasant surprise!

$5. (
Initial reaction/impression: I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous this site looks and feels. My critical thinking insides are screaming, RUN IT’S A TRAP! The website has an odd amount of well.. odd pieces of equipment that all seem to be powered by the telephone line. I don’t even want to bother debunking this site, but for the sake of the challenge I will.
Conclusion: About us. That’s what I clicked first. They apparently don’t have a store that a customer can walk into but they have a will-call facility located in Roselle, IL. No actual address which is the first clue this is crap. They do have a phone number posted everywhere, but I’m hesitant to call. I’m afraid my phone will catch a virus or something. I checked the contact us page and there is the same phone number with instructions to call when they are open, or to e-mail them by clicking the, e-mail us, link which in turn is an inactive link. Furthermore, this website is riddled with random links that aren’t useful or helpful to selling products or gaining any relevant contact information. I therefore declare this website a hoax.

#6. (
Initial reaction/impression: This seems like a really strange excerpt. I will navigate and evaluate.
Conclusion: After reading the passage, I only became more concerned than convinced. Hiccups can be difficult to get rid of in some cases I guess. At any rate, I looked through the webpage and found that it was addressed to a .gov and its the NCBI. Both of these things are promising. I clicked, log in, to the NCBI website and there were familiar passages that exclaimed my logging in would involve information of mine being used, which is normal. I also found working links in the top left corner that direct you to the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Also, I couldn’t find any signs of the site being fake, it was just strange. I declare this site valid because of this.

#7. (
Initial reaction/impression: Right off the bat, this is all about Bigfoot. My initial reaction to that alone is that this is a hoax. But we shall see. The layout seems interesting and relatively thought out. It doesn’t look like a Bigfoot obsessed teenager put it together. Also, there is a link at the bottom of the home page that says, about the bfro. I’ll start by navigating there.
Conclusion: After reading several of the passages it seems pretty clear that this has potential to be a real organization. They seem sincere and committed to the cause of studying Bigfoot. They aren’t an organization based on making any sort of revenue. It is an organization for fanatics and individuals interested in Bigfoot. All of the links are usable and redirect you to more information about findings, records, and statistics. With all of this I’d think it is safe to assume the legitimacy of this group.

#8. (
Initial reaction/impression: This a campaign website. It seems legit. The information provided about Ms. Kirkpatrick doesn’t appear to be farfetched. Perhaps some research is necessary.
Conclusion: I plugged Ann Kirkpatrick into google and got nothing but information regarding her political activism. This is definitely a legitimate website.

#9. (
Initial reaction/impression: “It is the Foundation’s primary objective to continue to build a body of scientific evidence that will shed light on the egg-and-chicken controversy, that most basic of conundrums. The Foundation’s long and exciting history began in 1865 when Craigorn Shippen discovered the first scientific evidence that the egg came first.” This was the first paragraph of the website. (Person A: I must say, an organization dedicated to such a cause really cracks me up. Person B: Oh person A, you sure know how to crack a joke at the right time.”) Ok, I’m done being silly. Honestly though, this website looks like it could represent an actual organization, despite how silly and strange it looks.
Conclusion: This website is unfortunately representing a fake organization. Many of the links worked and redirected the site to more information regarding the organization’s cause, but obviously is not enough to support it’s validity. The education portion seemed promising until it let me down with lessons about “which actually came first”, the chicken or the egg. No actual course plan was laid out and the prerequisite for lesson 2 was to basically complete reading the 4 sentences in lesson 1. It was entertaining, but to top it all off, the contact us page was once again an unusable link. I therefore declare this organization a hoax.

#10. (
Initial reaction/impression: This historic location of the torchwood house looks really interesting. Although I’m sure it may actually be a real place, it doesn’t appear to be a museum or an organization trying to make money off of it.
Conclusion: I take that back, they very well may be trying to make money. Unfortunately I can tell this website is a hoax based on the fact that the information provided about the Wedding services is limited and doesn’t supply enough tangible information in order to actually schedule a wedding ceremony, let alone even contact information to a wedding director/manager. Not even an e-mail address. Furthermore, there is no actual address to the facility itself. Simply vague descriptions of the facility itself and where it is next to, if it even exists. All of this leads me to believe that even the information provided in the “history” subcategory is all falsified and also a hoax.

#11. (
Initial reaction/impression: Dead duck day? That is so awful. I love ducks. My passion aside, though, this site is linked to a blog page. That makes me think that this isn’t a real holiday for those with a sick sense of humor. I think the only way to actually find out if this is real or not is to research it.
Conclusion. Unfortunately I can’t prove that it is not a legitimate holiday because the only information I could find was all linked to Mr. Moeliker. Perhaps he was the one to start this holiday and that is why his name shows up everywhere, but this doesn’t appear to be a holiday celebrated by many. In my search though I did see a link to where Moeliker gave a talk regarding Dead Duck Day. This leads me to conclude that this holiday is plausible but hopefully fake.

#12. (
Initial reaction/impression AND conclusion: This is absolutely hilarious, but so fake. A peanut could tell this was fake if it were given half the chance to have a brain.

#13. (
Initial reaction/impression: This seems like an interesting site, being dedicated to providing information about every explorer in history. It appears like it could be useful as a source to get an idea of who to research, but when thinking critically it also seems like it would be a good idea to double check the information found on this website with other sources. Lets click on some links and see what happens.
Conclusion: There is an actual list of explorers with functional links to information about them, there are also functional links to educational services for teachers. It appears that this website can be used by teachers to help students remember facts, or just learn facts, about specific explorers in history. I’m going to claim this site as real, but only under the condition that I would try my best to validate the information provided. Questioning the credibility of sites like this is important when reviewing factual information.

#14. (
Initial reaction/impression: This site looks fake from the start. It looks like some random person just decided to make a random website that would randomly be found by random people with random motivations to randomly fail at life. Perhaps that was harsh, yes perhaps, but can you honestly say this site looks promising? Didn’t think so. Moving on. I doubt any of the links will work. I doubt any of the contact information is accurate, or even existing for that matter. We shall see.
Conclusion: Just as I suspected, this site isn’t very credible. Although it may not actually be fake based on the fact that the random person we talked about two seconds ago is actually maintaining this site, but I highly doubt it. Just for Pete’s sake, I’m declaring this site obnoxiously fake.

#15. (
Initial reaction/impression AND conclusion: This link wouldn’t even open for me. If you get it open, I challenge you to tell me if it is a hoax or not, but as for my judgement about it, I think it is fake. It wont even open.

Finally, we have reached the end of our challenge. We navigated through multiple websites and stripped them raw to uncover their legitimacy and credibility. Hopefully this will help others be able to distinguish between a real website and hoaxes.

Until next time!

Oh, I know my sources.

After reading the prompt, I realized that I don’t typically have only one source that I use when doing research on a certain topic. I typically have several mainly to keep the information I find varied and to keep the information in check and balance with what is accurate and usable and not.

One of the main sources I use, if I need to find a quote from someone credible regarding whatever topic is The New York Times. Their website has always proved worthy when I was in need of a good, qualified quote.  Their authors are typically educated individuals who have knowledge regarding their topics and who express their opinions well. Although sometimes the authors may be biased, that bias actually provides a great opportunity to read someones opinion about a topic and gain a better understanding from one perspective in order to question the topic further and pursue finding information about the opposing side of a subject matter. Another reason why I find the New York Times website a good website is because it is a well known and credible.  Whether people agree with what authors write or not, the website maintains a reputation that inherently gives it its credibility. Also, if I’m unsure about an author, I’m able to type in their name into Google and typically I’m able to find plenty of information about their credentials, degrees they may have attained, what companies they’ve worked for as published writers, and so on. I usually use The New York Times when ever I have a research project, which isn’t very often, but it has been consistently a great tool. When reading an article from The New York Times, I check its credibility by checking the date, when the article was updated, if at all, check the author’s credibility and usually I’ll try to find a couple other articles about the same topic, say if it were concerning an event that happened, I’ll try to find other articles that refer to the same event and compare and contrast the details and perspectives.

Another source that I’ll use is I’ll basically use the same method approach to analyzing CNN that I do for The New York Times when using this source. Also, as sort of a side note, I use the college’s research tools often as well. Usually as a starting ground for gaining other sources that I may be able to look into. The reason why I do that is because it is a college resource. That automatically, to me anyway, deems a source credible because a college is using it. I do of course still check everything for comforts sake, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a college resource being faulty.
I think it is important to have several baseline sources to use. Being able to find information, and credible information for that matter is crucial, not only for college students, but just to be a well informed individual that doesn’t just soak up the crap they are handed verbally or visually.

Love Marks

Marketing is an incredibly powerful yet annoying substance in our society.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how advertisements are everywhere we look. They are basically impossible to escape. All we can do is tune them out. Which brings me to a point I’d like to mention that was brought up in the documentary, The Persuaders. Several times in the film they bring up the point that begs the question, are these marketing and advertisement styles, angles, and methods working?  In order to “break though the clutter” advertisement companies have to create new and interesting ways to catch the consumer’s attention, via though emotion or rarely, logic. I’d like to say that I don’t believe any new advertisements maintain a sense of individuality. It all seems like clutter to me, yet when I delve deeper into observing products that I consume or use daily I have to ask myself, why did I choose one product over another? What specifically am I gaining from a certain product that I couldn’t obtain through its competitor? Really, the answer is simply loyalty beyond reason to a brand or product.

I wish I could say that I don’t take part in the nonsensical realm of consumerism, or being a sheep, in a society that promotes such activity so actively, but I do.  For example, there are a couple brands I find myself attached to Enjoi, a skateboarding brand, or Taylor, a guitar brand I’m not necessarily attached to any of these products because I believe they will enlighten me as an individual that believes any of these products are manufactured to promote love, family values, individuality, which in and of itself is hilarious because there is no such thing for a mass produced product because how can a person be individualized if millions of other people are wearing the same shirt? I find myself simply admiring the logo of Enjoi. It is a panda, one of my favorite animals, and they tend to have funny or catchy phrases/pictures on their T-shirts, skateboards, hats, jackets, etc. 

I can consider this something of a lovemark because I like being identified with a brand that incorporates humor and skateboarding, two things I love. My attachment to Enjoi therefore doesn’t lack loyalty without reason, because I do have reason, but at the end of it all I question whether or not my reasons are even good.

With Taylor guitars, my attachment to them is simple. They are good quality instruments and although I have yet to see mass advertisement for them, my loyalty to them is shown with my appreciation for their excellent craftsmanship. Being able to say that I will some day own a Taylor guitar provides a sense of satisfaction, that as a musician, I wouldn’t be able to obtain through saying I own an Ibanez. It is the recognition gained by others who are familiar with the quality of Taylor guitars that makes that satisfaction valid. Other musicians will get a certain impression about another musician that has a Taylor and knows how to use it well. It implies experience and ability.

With both of these pictures, I think the advertisers are expressing the values I personally look for, well. With the Enjoi photograph, the humorous caption is there, and so is a guy skateboarding. That’s something I think looks cool and interesting and would be happy to wear if it was a shirt or jacket, and would love to have on the bottom of my deck.

The picture of the Taylor guitar just screams elegance. It is sleek and powerful. The detail along the rim of the body of the guitar and the detail put into the fret board is pleasant to look at, and seeing the Taylor logo to the right lets the viewer know that it is top quality playing material. This just makes me want to go jam with a brand new Taylor just to hear its mellow but crisp tone.

At any rate, these are my love marks.

Sub-Genres Ruin Music

In my adventure to find a worthy persuasive article, I stumbled upon an editorial titled, “Sub-Genres Ruin Music”, written by Craig Roxburgh, an author associated with the website Mind Equals Blown. (

In his article, Roxburgh makes the argument that sub-genres of music inherently ruin music and the way people classify genres. His thesis can be identified in the statement, “The answer is that this wide range of genres is in fact destroying music, or rather, destroying musical creativity.” He continues on to explain how bands essentially create new names for sub-genres to classify themselves rather than attempt to create a new sound that legitimately sets them apart from other bands or genres. To Roxburgh, this causes an unnecessary surge of ridiculous sub-genres that could evidently be classified as a broader genre.
The evidence that Roxburgh provides rests in his explanation that many sub-genres are useful ways to classify different sounding bands, but he suggests that it goes too far when bands have, “mashed together a bunch of genres to create some obnoxious sound that you couldn’t find a name before and the decided to create one yourself.” He goes on to make this remark that I found rather entertaining, “Hey, maybe you threw in an orchestra, a noise flute and some gases just so that you could call yourself electronic-orchestral-neo-post-metalcore. (If you could read that without cringing then you have a high tolerance towards pretentious hipsters.)”. Lastly, he states, “The division that genres create results in conflict among music lovers… Sub-genres create an unnecessary division within a genre that already has a tough time gaining recognition.”
Aside from Roxburgh’s explanation, he lists a multitude of genres he considers valid, and others that he believes strays away from appropriate classification. Some of the examples of genres that he feels are over the top are listed as “post-metal, doom metal, acid metal, sludge metal, orchestral metal, nintendocore, math metal, indie metal, pagan metal and so on.” To verify the sub-genres listed, I decided to Google lists of music sub-genres. Under almost every main genre I found lists of sub-genres that coincide with Roxburgh’s list, as well as others. For the sake of entertainment, I found this other article listing the top ten most ridiculous sub-genre names in electronic music. The list consists of Splittercore, Illbient, Hardbag, Yorkshire Bleeps and Bass, Full-On Darkpsy, Orchestral Uplifting, Cybergrind, Complextro, and Clownstep. ( Also, if you just look up List of Rock Genres in Wikipedia, an unbelievable amount of genres and sub-genres will pop up. Here is a link to the webpage. See for yourself. (

After reading Roxburg’s argument, verifying the validity of his argument, and analyzing the structure of his article, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was a well reasoned through and thought out piece. He made a statement pertaining to his opinion, was capable of explaining why he feels the way he does, had enough evidence to support his argument, and was effective with his words to convince the reader to at least consider the ridiculous amount of sub-genres as detrimental if anything other than simply agreeing with him.

Pop Culture Tour

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my pop culture tour.
On this tour, we will navigate through three aspects of popular culture that directly impact and influence my personal life. The three subjects being addressed consist of music, culinary arts, and skateboarding.



Blink 182, a crappy punk rock band out of San Diego, CA formed in 1992. I was born in 1993. By the time I was old enough to listen to music and thoroughly enjoy it, Blink 182 has been one of my favorite bands, among others like The Story So Far, A Day To Remember, Taking Back Sunday, August Burns Red, Silverstein, etc.  Blink 182’s style has greatly influenced me in music. Not only do I love to listen to music, I play it and create it daily. Many people have not heard of Blink 182, but individuals familiar with the genre of crappy pop/punk rock are.  Blink 182 has not only been around for over 20 years, they have released 7 full length albums, 1 EP, and 1 greatest hits album. They have toured the world multiple times and continue to do so today. What makes them apart of today’s popular culture is that they are a widely dispersed and accepted band. Millions of people around the world enjoy their music daily and spend money and time going to their concerts. Their music is riddled through out Youtube, and other media sites. Not only do fans enjoy listening to the original work done by Blink, there is a large amount of them that enjoy doing covers of their songs. Also, creating fan made logo artwork, shirts, wristbands, hats, and other kitchy items. Their band has been considered an icon for pop punk and an inspiration to other bands as being one of the founding bands of pop punk. What this means is that Blink 182 has the potential to continue being apart of the popular culture in the music industry for many years to come, possibly even after they are no longer a band. Personally, I know Blink 182 will always be one of my favorite bands and a strong influence to me.

Culinary Arts 


The knife above is a 6″ Zwilling J.A. Henckels, German culinary arts chef’s knife. Henckels is a name brand knife in the culinary industry. They are crafted with precision and are one of the best sets of knifes around. They have a weight to them that allow chefs to cut, slice, chop and dice with ease. Knifes to a chef is as water to fish.
The reason why I am discussing this is because I know from personal experience how important the proper tools are in a kitchen.
The culinary industry over the last few years has become a huge part of my life. My first job, and still current, is in the kitchen of a 4 1/2 star restaurant here in Prescott, AZ. I started as a dishwasher and was promoted to a prep cook, line chef, and now lead line chef. It is a stressful, but rewarding career path and a great influence in my life. Not only do I love to cook food, I love eating it more.
The culinary industry is a major component in the realm of popular culture. Food is made everyday, all over the world. Whether it is being made in restaurant kitchens or in the comfort of people’s homes, dishes are prepared and consumed every second of every day. What makes the culinary industry pop culture is that it is people don’t just cook or have someone cook for them. We watch cooking on television and read about cooking via internet, books and magazines. The Food Network is a channel devoted to nothing but cooking. Whether it be Guy’s, Dinners, Drive Ins, and Dives, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, or Beat Bobby Flay, we witness the culinary arts being mass distributed. We view commercials for Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute regularly, and read special Thanksgiving recipes in magazines like Food & Wine. These things don’t just show us what the culinary industry is like, they invite and encourage the common person to try recipes themselves, to pursue the culinary arts field, and to impress guests with our ability to create wonderful dishes. To me, this by definition is what makes popular culture so much apart of our culture.



The image above illustrates a multitude of skateboarding deck brands, apparel brands, and sponsors to professional skateboarders. Like many sports, skateboarding is one that I’m not personally very great at. I have been skating for years, and have progressed greatly, but in no way can compete with the style and accuracy of the professional skateboarders like Mike Moe, Caswell Berry, Cairo Foster, or the amazing Rodney Mullen.
I skateboard as often as I can, and am constantly pushing myself to get better, learning new tricks on flat ground, in the vert, and on the streets. Skateboarding is something that can be very dangerous, but if done with caution, rather therapeutic. Its a different feeling, one that almost escapes description, but is best defined as a sense of freedom and removal from the outside world. Ask anyone with a passion for skateboarding, the feeling of being in the zone, focused to the T on what your body is doing, where it is going, and how to maneuver the board in order to land that perfect laser flip down a set of 12 stairs. Its an adrenalin rush and once you experience it, you only want more. The feeling of success when surpassing any trick or move that hindered you before is something that motives skaters to continue doing what they love.
What makes this pop culture is that skateboarding is practiced all over the world. Countries around the world hold competitions locally and nationally that are broadcast and previewed on television and the internet. Youtube holds many of the Vans skate competitions every year. Professional skateboarders create films with the companies they are sponsored by and those films are release and bought in skate shops all over the country and via internet. Professional skateboarders go on tours around the world to demo the new equipment each sponsor company is producing, and to get crowds pumped up about the extreme sport.
One of the most widely known competitions is in the XGames, which is basically the Olympics of extreme sports. It was in this competition that Tony Hawk, a world renowned pro-skater landed the first 900 ever recorded.
Another aspect that makes skateboarding a huge part of popular culture involves clothing and brand name apparel. Many people aren’t familiar with the origins of the brands they wear, but companies like DC, Vans, Audio, Globe, Element, Flip, Fallen, etc. are all skate boarding sponsor companies that also produce clothing, shoes, backpacks, hats, sunglasses, and much more. These items are most definitely widely dispersed and bought by millions of people every day.

These components of popular culture are and will continue to be very important parts of my life. I would like to thank you for letting me guide you through this tour and look forward to reviewing yours!