Proposal: 5 sources – Dale Hamstra

For my research topic I will be examining if it is possible to walk in a straight line while blindfolded. Experiments have shown that it is not possible to walk in a straight line without a visual landmark. However, I plan on using first hand study and research to see if different sounds will help to keep people on a straight path.

1. A Mystery: Why can’t we walk in a straight line?

This video and article provides a clear description of the problem that people can not walk in a straight line when they have no visual landmarks to work off of. It gives specific examples of people who have tried this experiment and what the results were.

I will be using this to to establish what others have done to test this problem. I will also be using it to help guide me through my own personal research.

2. Mythbusters: Walk in a Straight Line

In this video The Mythbusters, Jamie in particular, offer up a theory that we cant walk in a straight line because the body makes fluid movements and is not perfect. Eventually, all of the little errors that are made while walking, without correction, will pile up causing us to walk in circles.

I will use this as a possible answer to the mystery question of if there is any way for us to actually stay on a straight path without the help of visual landmarks. I also noticed in the video that while doing the experiment they were wearing noise cancelling headphones, so that still leaves my theory that noise can substitute as a landmark open.

3. We Can’t Help Walking in Circles

This article gives more information about Jan Souman’s experiment where she blindfolded participants and let them attempt to walk straight in the desert or through an open plain. There is also a video about her experiment.

I will use this to help me determine how large of an area I should use to conduct my own experiments. Unfortunately, I will not be able to use an area as large as in the original experiments.

4. Jan Souman’s Paper

Gives all of the information about the experiments where she had subjects walk through the woods on a cloudy day as opposed to blindfolding them. Also gives more information about all of the separate tests since this is her main research paper.

I will use this as my main source in my research paper, getting most of my information about her theories and experiments from it.

5. Personal experiment

I will do my own experiment to see if we can walk in a straight line while blindfolded. I will also attempt to find out if noise can be used as a stand in for a visual landmark.

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4 Responses to Proposal: 5 sources – Dale Hamstra

  1. dalehamstra27 says:

    Please take a look at this for me. I was having some trouble finding quality sources, that had significant differences between them. Also, am I allowed to put my own future research in this assignment?

  2. davidbdale says:

    Fails for Grammar Rule 8. Please fix and let me know. See Grammar Basics in Resources in sidebar.

    Eliminate wordiness in situations such as: There have been experiments done on this before and they seem to show that it is not possible to walk in a straight line without a visual landmark.

    By saying: Experiments have shown that it is not possible to walk in a straight line without a visual landmark.

    *first-hand (when used as an adjective)
    *can’t
    *perform

    I’m delighted you’ve adopted this topic, Dale. The phenomenon is fascinating and inexplicable. Your proposal is clear except and narrow enough except that you promise to deliver results about “why it is impossible,” which your experiment is not designed to answer. Even if an aural cue keeps walkers on course, it won’t exactly be true to say “we walk in circles because there’s no sound to follow,” any more than it would be correct to say, “we walk in circles because there’s no handrail.” I want details of your research plan very soon, please. Let me know.

    As for the sources, “background information” is always useless. I mean this sincerely. Information is useful in your essay if it provides evidence or data to support your argument. Your first source “provides a good description of the problem people have walking in a straight line when they cannot orient themselves to the landscape with visual cues.” For example. Do you see how this version actually summarizes the value of the source for readers who have not seen it? Follow this guide throughout your descriptions, please.

    I will be using this source “to establish what others have done to test the phenomenon . . . .” Understand, Dale?

    Source 2. Is there a “mystery question of if we can actually stay straight”? Or is there a different question altogether? Whether we can walk straight seems to have been established.

    Your summary of Source 3 says precisely nothing about the experiments and their results. We can’t tell in any way whether they’re related to the phenomenon or what use they would be to you.

    Ditto for 4.

    As for Source 5, I can’t wait to see what you come up with, Dale. My insistence that your proposal be more helpful doesn’t diminish in any way my enthusiasm for your project. In fact, please understand, it’s because I’m interested that I want you to intrigue me with the fascinating facts and theories your sources contain! Read Victoria Converse’s model again if you need to. It’s not perfect, but it keeps our interest the way good appetizers do.

    Fix the grammar and get back to me with questions if I’ve been unclear to you. Thanks.

  3. dalehamstra27 says:

    Thanks for the help. I updated my post. Hopefully this is more what you were looking for. The only concerns that I have are that many of the sites I found online just stated the same things as every other site, so I had a hard time finding unique sources. Also, you said I failed for rule 8, however, I couldn’t find any incidences where I used then or than incorrectly. Hopefully the grammar fixes I made bring this paper up to par. Lastly, for my personal experiment, I plan to let my participants go in an open field, unfortunately not as large as the original experiment, first with no blindfold and no sound, then with a blindfold and no sound, and finally a blindfold and one of the sounds I decide to use. So far, I have decided that I will use the sound of someones voice, and the sound of a car’s engine. I plan to use at least one or two more sounds, but I am not sure what to use as of yet. If you have any ideas to help me out, or see that it may be flawed in some way, please let me know. Thank you.

  4. davidbdale says:

    I appreciate your work, Dale. Your illegal use of than was in the first paragraph of your first draft. You’ve edited it away without perhaps noticing it first. It’s gone now. Other small problems remain, and I’d be very happy to bore you with help in certain inelegant phrasings you use, but you’ll have to ask for that sort of punishment.

    Of course you won’t find sources as specific as your study, Dale. You’re lucky to have found so many. But that’s not the point of research. Instead, you’ll want to examine your small question from several angles.

    Look into the physiology of walking. The Mythbusters are probably onto something. Walking is imprecise, and probably everybody favors one leg more than the other. We go off track because the body has a tendency and without cues, we have no reason to correct for them.

    Look into other types of navigation. Have pilots in fog without instruments or sailors in the open sea gone in circles too?

    Can birds be made to fly upside down? I heard this story recently. Migrating geese are killing themselves in parking lots, or something like that. They’re used to dark ground below and bright skies above. So when they fly at dusk and they see a brightly lit parking lot below, they mistake it for the sky and climb (or think they’re climbing) into the lot. Something like that.

    Use these examples, or others you can find, of how animals navigate, how they steer, how they orient to their journey and destination.

    Do you know Monarch butterflies make their 5000 mile annual migration journey without ever having made it before? They don’t live a year, so they only make the journey once. That’s pretty remarkable. But wait. They don’t live long enough to make the whole journey even once. It takes more than one generation to make the trip. So not one of the butterflies that arrives at the destination was at the departure point. And nobody can teach the next generation the way back. But they always make it back. What keeps them from going in circles?

    You haven’t been clear enough about your study technique. 1) Why bother with the no-blindfold, no-sound trial at all? We all know the walkers can walk toward a visual destination. 2) Will your field be big enough to result in circular paths, or will you just record how far from the actual destination your walkers ended up? At the end of a certain amount of time? or when they reach any edge of a big box? 3) Will the sound be stationary and constant and loud enough to be heard at the departure point? 4) Have you considered, if the sound is a running car engine, driving the car slowly in a really big circle to see if you can influence the path of the walker by moving the destination as an additional trial?

    Get bigger and more numerous ideas into your White Paper, Dale.

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