Applying the Scientific Method
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a syndrome in which a person has difficulty focusing sustained attention on a task for a significant amount of time. In some cases this is accompanied by hyperactivity as well. It is currently being diagnosed at an all time high. Between 1989 and 1996, youth visits for ADD increased 90%, from 1.9% of total physician visits to 3.6%. Now a psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Hallowell is making a new distinction. He has described a similar set of characteristics in a large number of patients that he terms Attention Deficit Trait (ADT). It looks a lot like ADD in its day to day manifestation, but unlike ADD, ADT symptoms lessen when the sufferer goes on vacation or into a decreased sensory input setting for an extended time period (on the order of days or weeks). In such a long-term placid situation, the ADD sufferer's problems continue unabated. We will pretend (assume?!) that you have the general set of symptoms described above. You'd like to know which of these two problems you have: the disorder (ADD) or the trait (ADT). We’ll approach your problem using scientific methodology—developing a question, an hypothesis, an experiment, and a control for the experiment. Let’s share this assignment. I will supply both the initial question and the experiment we’ll perform on you. Your job is to state the hypothesis and to design the most important and most basic control for this experiment: Your Question: What's my problem? Is it ADD or is it ADT?
Your Experiment: Keeping your same diet, sleep habits, and basic activity level, you will be sent on a two week vacation to the Bahama Islands where you will be given only a beach to walk and your favorite friend to talk to, following which you will be asked to read and memorize 10 sequential definitions from a standard dictionary in 30 minutes’ time. (2) Your Control for this Experiment:
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