You might be mad at Logan Paul for the wrong reason

If you haven’t heard yet by the explosive media coverage, people are a bit angry with Logan Paul because of a vlog he posted on YouTube that included footage of the dead body of a man who committed suicide in Aokigahara, Japan, often referred to as “Suicide Forest.” I’m not really a fan of Logan Paul’s lifestyle and choices, so I don’t follow him, but the public outcry made it next to impossible for me to ignore this, so I looked into it a bit more closely.

Although I agree with the general public and believe Logan Paul is in the wrong, I think most people are mad at Logan Paul for the wrong reasons. Here’s a breakdown of the situation, and reasons why people should and should not be upset with Logan Paul, through the eyes of someone with a background in criminal psychology.

 

Unjustified reason: Logan Paul’s laughter

Laughter is a complicated thing. In fact, it’s so complicated that there is an entire field of research dedicated to studying the psychology and physiology behind laughter – it’s called gelotology.

We’ve all witnessed awkward or nervous laughter – laughter that is prompted by cases of stress, discomfort, embarrassment, trauma, and/or pain. The physiological source of this kind of laughter is completely different – nervous laughter comes from the nose and/or throat, while joyful laughter comes from diaphragm contractions. It’s prevalent enough in everyday life that I’m actually surprised this many people are so unempathetic such that they are claiming Logan Paul is laughing out of amusement instead of nervousness … but then again, this may also be a case of bandwagoning.

Sometimes, there is a disconnect between how our body wants to feel and how our brain actually feels. Neuroscientific studies show that when we en­counter something traumatic, our brains often trigger nervous laughter as a way to attempt to convince ourselves that the awful thing we are wit­nessing isn’t actually that awful. To keep things simple, this is a coping mechanism.

The most famous study demonstrating nervous laughter is Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment, in which subjects (the “teachers”) were instructed to electrocute experiment insiders (the “learners”) every time the “learner” got a quiz question incorrect. Of course, the electrocution on the “learner” was fake, but they were told to act as if they were in terrible pain.

The test subjects laughed at the cries and screams for help not because they were sadistic, but because they were unsure of what to do. The discomfort they experienced while they were having an internal mental dilemma – whether to continue electrocuting the “learner,” or defy the authority of the principal researcher – prompted them to laugh in order to relieve some of the stress.

Seeing a dead body is no joke for most people, and for someone like Logan Paul, it’s likely that this was the first time he ever saw a dead body “out on the field” (as opposed to in a controlled environment, like a funeral). He was laughing because his body was put in a shocking situation and it didn’t know what else to do. We shouldn’t be hating him because his body engaged in an uncontrollable physiological reaction.

 

Inconclusive reason: Displaying a dead body

It’s easy to skip this topic by saying “displaying shocking images is against YouTube’s terms of service” and disregard this entire argument, but I think this is important.

Culture is a powerful force. So powerful, in fact, that it basically determines what is okay and not okay to do. Cultures can vary substantially across different regions – that’s why culture shock exists. Sometimes, culture is so dramatically different that something considered to be inherently bad in one culture is not inherently bad in another.

Japanese culture sees suicide very differently than other cultures.

Have you ever heard the meme “commit sudoku”? It’s often accompanied with an image of a dead man with a bloody sudoku board carved into his chest. The origin of this meme is an ironic representation of the confusion of the word “sudoku” with “seppuku,” a Japanese term describing an honorable, ritualistic suicide by disembowelment. The fact that such a concept even exists in Japan should be a clear indication that Japanese views on suicide are very different than American views.

The Japanese government is taking steps to ensure suicide rates go down in Japan, but public demonstrations of seppuku have been done as recently as 1970 by Yukio Mishima after a failed coup d’état. Those who were raised in, or are familiar with, that era have non-negligible exposure to a culture accepting suicide, as long as it is done in an honorable manner.

An example of a suicide that may be considered honorable is if a man is unable to support his family due to unemployment. According to his inter­pre­tation, he would have believed he did the right thing by taking his own life because he was being a disservice to his family; consequently, he is allowing his wife to remarry with a more financially stable man, resulting in a brighter future for his children.

To Americans, a story like this would be catastrophic and heartbreaking. To some Japanese, especially members of older generations, this is considered tolerable behavior.

This is not at all an argument claiming that it is okay to show this man’s body because he is Japanese. We may never know the circumstances sur­round­ing his suicide, and there is no guarantee that he committed suicide with honorable intentions. Just because he was found in a public forest does not automatically mean he intended for his suicide to be a public event.

I stand by the philosophy that we should respect his privacy and conceal his body. However, it is important to note that we should not be quick to generalize our thoughts on all situations, as unexpected things – like wildly differing cultural views – can introduce strange twists. Just because you and I think one way does not mean the rest of the world thinks the same way.

 

The most concerning reason: Logan Paul may be increasing suicide rates

To keep things simple, talking about suicide increases suicide.

That is obviously grossly oversimplified, but the point remains the same – research has shown that poor media coverage of suicide increases suicide rates. The more detailed the coverage, the higher the chance of suicide rates increasing. Once suicide methods and photos are introduced, rates skyrocket relative to other types of coverage (known as the dose-response relationship).

By providing video coverage of this Japanese man’s suicide in his vlog, Logan Paul is exposing his fans to a trigger that has been scientifically proven to increase suicide rates in those with risk factors. Adolescents suffering from depression and anxiety are most in danger – which happens to be the age group in which most of Logan Paul’s fanbase is presumed to reside.

Another issue of Logan Paul’s methodology of coverage is the lack of depth of discussion. Excluding cases of youth impulse, most instances of suicide are a culmination of a massive number of problems. Poor coverage of suicide events may misattribute the motivation behind suicide to something superficial or simple, thus implicitly reporting that suicide may be an option for single-faceted problems. Although Logan Paul attempts to discourage his audience from engaging in suicide, it is done with relatively low emotional depth; it is critical to balance out the negativity of the suicide story with stories of hope and recovery.

(As a disclaimer, there is some degree of generalization happening here when applying the findings of these studies to this scenario. Most conclusive studies investigate suicides by notable public figures who may have had a following, putting followers at risk for imitation. In this video, Logan Paul is reporting on an anonymous man, which may provide a sufficient disconnect between the suicide victim and the viewer such that this research could possibly be inapplicable.)

While doing some supplementary research and fact checking while composing this piece, I ran into a website called ReportingOnSuicide.org that goes further in depth on the topic of the media inadvertently increasing suicide rates. If you’re interested in learning more about this phenomenon and finding out how you can avoid it in your own coverage (even if it’s just commenting about it on social media), I recommend you check out their website.

 
In summary, if you’re mad at Logan Paul for his actions, your emotions are probably justified. However, instead of being mad just because everyone else is mad, it’s important to reflect and understand the real reasons why you should feel the way you do.

 

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Regarding AA’s disqualification, through the eyes of a social psychologist

After explosive controversy regarding Astral Authority’s Heroes of the Storm team’s disqualification from ESL’s tournament, I decided to seize this opportunity to write a piece about the event, through the eyes of a social psychologist.

Because I take a much more broad and general role at Tempo Storm, I don’t really dig deep into Heroes of the Storm news, even though I’ve been with Tempo Storm’s HotS team multiple times to different events. However, something as big as this definitely catches my eye, and I took some extra time to actually read through what people were saying.

My main motivation for writing this piece was how much people were complaining about how “the right thing” didn’t happen, as if life is supposed to be perfect. It seemed a little strange to me, but then I figured that it was simply because a lot of the commenters were young people who just didn’t have much life experience.

To help them out a bit, I applied some psychological theories and explained both why stuff like this happened, and why it’s just how life is.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the introduction:

 

Last night, one of my good friends Mellina Kong, manager of Astral Authority’s professional Heroes of the Storm roster, posted an update on Twitter about how her players had their dreams crushed. Curious as to what was happening, I looked into it.

Apparently, Astral Authority had qualified for the HGC Fall 2016 NA Regional, happening in early August. The winner of this regional will qualify for BlizzCon 2016 to take their shot at proving themselves to be the best team in the world, on the grandest stage of them all. Not long after, Astral Authority was notified that their qualification had been revoked and their team was disqualified due to bug abuse.

Tyrael has a bug with his trait where selecting a particular sequence of talents and inputting a series of key presses with the right timing will cause his Archangel’s Wrath to deal an unintentionally high amount of damage. According to investigations conducted by ESL and Blizzard, a player on Astral Authority was abusing this exploit to gain an unfair advantage in their games, and consequently, the team was disqualified.

Drama began to explode, with some members of the community and other professional players directing the hatred of 10,000 years at ESL, Blizzard, and Astral Authority’s opponents. People attempted to justify Astral Authority’s behavior by bringing up evidence of other teams using the exploit, claiming ignorance, and just spewing hatred to get the frustration out of their bodies.

What’s done is done. ESL disqualified Astral Authority from the tournament and are scheduling a match to determine their replacement. No matter how vocal Astral Authority fans get, I highly doubt that ESL will reverse their decision by reinstating Astral Authority or revoking the match offer they gave to the runner-up teams.

Having an educational and professional background in sociology and psychology, with a speciali­zation in criminal psychology, I decided to write this piece to help explain this whole fiasco, and nudge the community in the right direction – away from drama, and towards a thirst for learning.

There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this situation about how life works.

  1. Just because you work hard for something doesn’t mean you get it.
  2. People will break rules.
  3. Not everyone gets punished for wrongdoing.
  4. Don’t get caught off guard by Schadenfreude.

 

Want to finish reading the whole piece? Check it out, available exclusively on Tempo Storm’s website:

https://tempostorm.com/articles/stop-the-drama-and-start-the-learning-lessons-from-astral-authoritys-disqualification

 

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Scare Tactic: “_____, the same ingredient found in _____!”

Hi humans.

Back when I was in junior high school, I read about Twinkies and supposedly how terrible they were for your health. One of the reasons they gave was that the Twinkie contains ingredients that are found in rocket fuel.

Even at that time, my young mind was able to laugh at the terrible logic used to claim Twinkies were unhealthy. I never disagreed that Twinkies were unhealthy, but if you want people to believe you, you need to use valid justification.

Unfortunately, I realized not everyone was bright enough to identify the huge flaw in that claim. I came across adults who avoided Twinkies because it shared ingredients with rocket fuel, rather than legitimate reasons such as its absurdly high fat and cholesterol content.

So, I decided to present a few analogies similar to the Twinkie ingredient claim to help people see why this “reason” is so bogus. Basically, what I’m trying to prove is that, just because an ingredient is used in something that is inedible does not automatically make everything else containing that ingredient inedible.

Let’s start with something very simple: salt. Salt is put in almost all your favorite foods. For example, the tomato sauce in pizza contains salt. During the winter in colder regions, trucks spray a substance on the street in order to decrease the freezing temperature and avoid icy, frozen roads. This substance is clearly inedible (unless you enjoy feeling sick and ingesting toxic substances). A primary ingredient in this substance is salt. As a result, according to the Twinkie logic, because anti-freeze road spray contains salt and is inedible, pizza is also automatically inedible, because it contains salt.

What about food coloring? We all know food coloring is used in many foods, and is non-toxic and safe to eat. Let’s say we added some green food coloring to some eggs, as a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” During the process, we also accidentally spilled some coloring on our little sister. Now, both our eggs and our sister contain green food coloring.

According to Twinkie logic, you should avoid eating Twinkies because it contains the same ingredient as rocket fuel, so eating Twinkies is pretty much just like eating rocket fuel. Well, you better avoid those green eggs, because it contains the same ingredient that’s currently on your little sister, so eating those green eggs is pretty much just like eating your little sister. You don’t want to be a cannibal now, do you?

As we were able to see by making these comparisons, the logic used to discourage Twinkie consumption is invalid. If anything, it is a psychological scare tactic, taking advantage of the human brain’s tendency and desire to form connections and jump to conclusions when discovering two pieces of similar information, in an attempt to fit everything into a bigger picture.

It’s easy to avoid falling into these traps in the future. When you encounter problems with unfamiliar topics (such as unknown ingredients and rocket fuel), substitute in things you’re more familiar with (such as salt and food coloring) to make understanding the big picture a lot easier.

 

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Introduction to the Health & Psychology category

Hi humans.

In response to feedback and suggestions for my website, I decided to create a new topic of content on my website – Health and Psychology.

One of the main reasons people asked for this is because of my background with psychology. Even before attending university, I had an interest in psychology that led me to do a lot of independent learning, research, and experimentation. Upon entering university, one of my primary focuses of study was psychology (the others being sociology and criminal justice). Thus, my background in psychology is driven by intrinsic interest and motivation, as well as formal studies at a university-level educational institution.

The second main reason is because of my apparent compatibility with health and fitness. It’s commonly known that my favorite restaurant is McDonald’s and I eat a lot of unhealthy food. However, I manage to stay fit and thin. Upon learning about this, most people think I have some sort of secret. I also have close ties to fitness and exercise because I have been a martial arts instructor in various different training academies.

All this being said, and even after taking the public view into consideration, I don’t think I’m anyone special beyond others who have the same qualifications as I do. However, I am still willing to share what I know based off what I have experienced and learned.

When I advise others, I like to give them things to think about, rather than telling them what to do. The format of my Health and Psychology posts will be the same – I will be presenting facts related to your questions to help you make better, more informed decisions of your own. It’s also important to make proper judgments as to whose information is more valuable. For example, if your doctor tells you some­thing that conflicts with what I say, you should probably listen to your doctor; not only because he may know some­thing that I don’t, but also because my information will be oriented towards the general public, while your doctor’s information will probably apply personally to you.

With all of this disclaimer-style information out of the way, I feel like I’m ready to address some of your questions. I already have a handful of topics prepared that will last me several posts, so questions you ask now may not be answered for a while. However, all valid questions will be placed in a queue, and the most popular and controversial ones will receive priority. To submit topic suggestions, my recommendation is to send me a message through my website’s contact form.

 

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