BGSU Common Read

Faculty panel is skeptical about claims of technology addiction

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News On Monday Adam Alter, the author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” will talk about his book, which has been the Common Read this year at Bowling Green State University. A crisis, he believes, is at hand with many people, 50 percent even, becoming addicted to technology. In anticipation of his talk, a panel of faculty from the Psychology Department was convened to discuss his thesis. The members of the panel, moderated by department chair Michael Zickar know about addiction from the inside out. Casey Cromwell is a biopsychologist, who has studied the chemical workings of addiction including time in the same lab discussed by Alter in his book. Harold Rosenberg has treated people suffering from addiction and compulsion disorders. Eric Dubow is a child psychologist who studies the impact of technology on children. And Joshua Grubbs is “the porn guy,” though his work extends beyond studying porn to other compulsive behaviors including gambling. “I tend to be a skeptic,” Grubbs said, of Alter’s theory that technology is designed to be addictive. “I think we pathologize a lot of things that are very normal behaviors, and that there is money to be made from pathologizing normal behavior,” he said.  The diagnosis of addiction has traditionally been restricted to those hooked on substances such as drugs and alcohol, not those linked to behaviors. Only recently has gambling been recognized as an addiction.  In addition, the World Health Organization recognizes excessive gaming and compulsive sexual behaviors as impulse control disorders, not addictions. “It’s important to define addiction correctly because if we’re not defining it correctly, we’re minimizing the struggles people who actually have addictions,” Grubbs said. Cromwell said many of the experiments into the underlying mechanisms of addiction are done using animals. But behaviors like cell phone use or watching porn can’t be tested on animals. Rosenberg noted that one characteristic of addiction is the simultaneous need to take a substance but not liking the outcome. This occurs when the addict’s tolerance for the drug develops. It’s an internal “tug of war.” Cromwell said the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in this is “a little confusing,” and may not apply to the craving. And Rosenberg wondered: “What are they addicted to the content or is it something about the device itself?” “I actually think it’s quite specious to…


Author J.D. Vance looks to his Mamaw for solutions to Appalachia’s ills

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The great stabilizing influence in J.D. Vance’s life was his grandmother, Mamaw. The best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy” told an audience at Bowling Green State University Wednesday that she always seemed to know what he needed. When she could barely afford her prescriptions, she still made sure he had the calculator he needed for high school math. Mamaw knew he needed “a little discipline and firm hand to not succumb to bad influences” as so many others in his family and community already had. When he started hanging out with an adolescent who was just getting into the drugs, she told Vance if he kept hanging out with him, she would run the kid over with her car. Her model helped him as he enlisted in the Marine Corps, served in Iraq, got through Ohio State in two years and landed at Yale law school. Vance visited campus last night as the summation of the Commons Read program. His memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” had been selected. In introducing Vance, President Mary Ellen Mazey spoke about how the book reflected the hard work, sense of place, patriotism, and humor, despite the frequent heartbreak, that marks Appalachian culture. She noted that her home state of West Virginia is the only state that is entirely within the region. “As I grew up in Appalachia, my mother would always tell me we were so poor we didn’t know we were poor, so it didn’t matter.” Vance is also an example of what American education can do, she said. Then as “a fellow hillbilly,” Mazey invited Vance, “to come on up and tell them what it’s all about.” Vance rose from tough young life growing up in Middletown, Ohio. When at Yale he took the Adverse Childhood Experience quiz, which measures how difficult one’s childhood is. He scored a 7 on a scale of 10, as did other members of his close family. His girlfriend, now his wife, scored 2 as did an uncle who’d been more successful. He struggled to adjust at Yale. “It was like my spaceship had crash landed, and when I got out nobody was like me.” For the first time, he felt out place. Still he could fall back on his late grandmother’s sense of resilience. “Mamaw had to overcome a lot worse in her life.” That, he said, is the key to helping communities…


At BGSU, Clarence Page reflects on Middletown & “Hillbilly Elegy”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clarence Page is a story teller. That’s what all good journalists are, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner said. On Thursday at Bowling Green State University, though, he reflected on someone else’s story, J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Vance’s book has been selected as the university’s Common Read. Page was invited to BGSU to discuss Vance’s book. Meant to bring everyone together to read the same book and spark discussion, this year’s selection has done the trick. Social media is full of commentary on the book, and even its appropriateness as the Common Read. “Hillbilly Elegy” arrived at the same time as Donald Trump was elected to office, and many reviewers touted it as the book to read if you wanted to understand Trump voters. Vance takes a hard look at his people, who feel displaced in America and are plagued by dysfunctional families and unemployment. This demographic is the most pessimistic of any in the country.  Poor whites are more pessimistic than poor blacks. “Maybe because we’re used to it.” Page, who like Vance comes from Middletown, Ohio, said the book gave him a look at what was happening on the white side of town. Page noted he started out as “colored,” and has been a Negro, black, African-American, before now being a person of color. His family, he said, was “po’” because, according to his father, they were too poor to afford the “or.” But, he added, “ we were rich in spirit.” Page, 70, said he’s told Vance that save for the difference in age and race, it could be his story. But there were differences. Unlike Vance who chronicles a difficult family life, Page said his family was boring, a quality he’s come to appreciate as he’s gotten older. Like Vance’s grandfather, Page’s family moved north from the south to work in northern industry. Page’s people were part of the Great Migration that brought blacks north by rail seeking an escape from the segregated south and seeking greater opportunities. And Page remembers the lure of the railroad, looking down the tracks imagining an escape from Middletown. He succeeded in large part because of what he learned there.  He wanted to be an astronaut but his vision, “being four-eyed” ended that dream. But he was also captivated by seeing the reporters during a whistle…


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page to visit BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS As part of the Bowling Green State University 2017 Common Reading experience, BGSU will welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page, syndicated columnist and senior member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, as the Common Reading Scholar-in-Residence. Page will participate in a number of events and give a public presentation at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, followed by a question-and-answer time. In his Oct. 26 presentation, Page will address issues of culture and identity in the United States and share his perspective on topics raised in this year’s common read “Hillbilly Elegy.” Like J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” Page grew up in Middletown, Ohio, where “Hillbilly Elegy” is set but a generation earlier, attended Middletown High School and went on to a successful writing career. Also during his visit, in a session designed especially for faculty and graduate students, Page will participate in a faculty panel discussion on “Migrations and Cultural Populations” from 3-4:15 Oct. 26 in 207 Union. Moderated by Dr. Ray Swisher, sociology, panelists include Drs. Melissa Miller, political science; Andrew Schocket, American culture studies; and Larry Smith, humanities and English, BGSU Firelands. Dr. Michael Ann Williams, chair of the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University, will speak about “Appalachian Cultural Landscapes” at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, also in 1007 Business. Vance will be on campus Nov. 29 to discuss his New York Times best-seller, “Hillbilly Elegy.” To register for Page’s talk visit registration.


“A More Beautiful Question” author to speak at BGSU, Oct. 26

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING& COMMUNICATIONS As part of Bowling Green State University’s Common Read, author Warren Berger will speak at the University Oct. 26. Berger, a journalist and innovation expert, will talk about one of the most powerful forces for igniting change in business and in daily lives – questioning. Questioning can help people identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas and pursue fresh opportunities. Berger’s presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union; doors open at 7 p.m. Berger will answer questions and sign books following his presentation, which is free and open to the public. Berger’s book, “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas,” expands on the University’s Common Experience theme of “In the Spirit of Innovation.” He believes that questioning leads to innovation, can help people be more successful in their careers and can spark change in business and personal lives. To reach this conclusion, Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s leading innovators, designers, education leaders, creative thinkers and red-hot startups to analyze how they ask game-changing questions, solve problems and create new possibilities. In his book, he shows that the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners, raising questions no one else is asking – and finding the answers everyone else is seeking. Berger currently writes for Fast Company and Harvard Business Review; he was a longtime contributor at Wired magazine and The New York Times.