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Is Lance Armstrong still your hero?

Lance Armstrong has won 7 Tour de France titles, fought and won his battle against cancer and is a well-known philantropist. He has been considered as one of the best athletes the world has ever had, and many have considered him as a role model. Recently, however, he admitted that he doped (see how doping works in the video below) and used performance enhancing drugs whilst competing over the years. A few days ago, he publicly stated that he doped when he was interviewed by Oprah (see the video below). The question now is, where does this leave Lance? Is he still your hero?

The bottom line is that he cheated. He knew what he was doing was wrong, yet he still carried on. He even blatantly denied doping and sued a lot of people for (rightfully) accusing him of cheating. In his interview with Oprah, it was clear that he did what he did because he knew that he could get away with it. It was almost guaranteed that he would not get caught because at that time, the drug tests were flawed and Lance and his team exploited this flaw. Does that make it right? Of course not! But would you do the same thing? It depends. Here’s my question: if someone told you that you can rob a bank or  a person and it is guaranteed that you would not get caught, would you do it? Again, your answer may depend on a lot of things. For instance, if you are deperate for money in the sense that someone in your family is dying and she/he needs an expensive operation, you probably would go along with robbing the bank/ person. But you may think twice if you are self-sufficient. Another thing to consider is your personality and your moral views. Even if you have money, the prospect of becoming even richer by not doing much may appeal to you. Lance told Oprah that his mentality was ‘win at all costs’. He wanted to be the greatest (who doesn’t?), but unfortunately, he did it in the wrong way.

Another justification that Lance Armstrong gave was the fact that he believed that other competitors were also doping, therefore what he was doing was OK. In other words, in his eyes, he doped to make the competition fair. Does it make it acceptable? My anwser is no. What he did was wrong and he knew it. It’s appalling.

But he apologised. He admitted to everything that he’s done. He is well aware fo the implications and the repercussions of his actions (now), and he seems willing to make ammends. To me, it takes huge courage to apologise, especially in Lance’s case. He made mistakes and now he’s ready to do the right things to make it up to people. Does his apology undo what he did? Of course not!

Do people have the right to hate him? Yes, but only to a certain extent. He cheated many, many times, yes. But he apologised. I have not yet made my mind about what to make of the situation because I want to see what Lance Armstrong will do after this. What will he do to make ammends to the people that he sued, he publicly called names, and to the public who have loved him and almost worshipped him all these years?

This case makes me think about other sporting legends. Have they all cheated in any way? How? Would they come forward too, just like Lance? I hope so.


Why is this song in my head and how do I get rid of it?!

carly rae jespen

Whether it’s Carly Rae Jespen’s Call Me Maybe, Nickelback’s How You Remind Me, or Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger, we all had a song or two that has been stuck in our heads for a while and we don’t quite know why. Such an experience is called ‘Earworm’, a term which is a direct translation of the German word ‘Ohrwurm’.It  has been found  that around 90% of the population have had such an experience at least once a week. Earworms have been found to last between a few minutes to a couple of hours (Beaman & Williams, 2010). Although it is a common experience, around 15% of people claimed that Earworms are ‘disturbing’ and ‘unpleasant’ (Liikkanen, 2008).


Although there isn’t a definitive theory which can explain why how songs get stuck in our heads, there have been a few suggestions:

  1. Exposure: Some have proposed that songs/tunes are more memorable than others because we’ve listened to them a lot of times. However, a research by Victoria Williamson and her colleagues (Williamson et al., 2011) found that listening to a song is not a necessary pre-requisite for a song ‘worm-into’ our brains. Their findings suggest that being exposed to a stimuli which are (sometimes vaguely) related to a song can induce an Earworm. For instance, reading a number plate with the letters CMM can lead to remembering Call Me Maybe.
  2. Memories: Being in the same place where you’ve heard a song can be enough to trigger an experience.
  3. Mood: Williamson et al.’s findings also suggest that being in the same mood as you were when you first heard a song can also trigger Earworms.
  4. Boredom: The same study have also found that in some cases, Earworms begun when people were bored or in a ‘low-attention state’.



Now that we know the possible reasons why an Earworm manifests, we must know of any strategies of stopping it. In a research conducted by Hyman et al. (2012), participants were asked to listen to a variety of songs, from those of the Beatles to current ones like Lady Gaga’s. They then completed a number of different puzzles, with varying difficulties. After these, they were asked to report whether there are any songs that are playing on their heads (and did so again after 24 hours). They found that puzzles which are too easy and too difficult induced the most number of Earworms. The researchers suggested that:

  1. Earworms are manifestations of Zeigarnik Effect, i.e. we only cease to remember things/tasks when they are completed. In other words, a tune lingers in our heads because only a certain part (and not the whole of it) plays in our head. Hence, if we want it to stop, we need to consciously ‘play’ the whole of it.
  2. Also, after we’ve listened to a piece of music, we need to perform an activity that will keep our minds and/or bodies occupied. However, we need to consciously avoid tasks that are too easy or too difficult for us.





Beaman CP, & Williams TI (2010). Earworms (‘stuck song syndrome’): Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts.British Journal of Psychology, 101(4), 637-653.

Hyman, I., Burland, N., Duskin, H., Cook, M., Roy, C., McGrath, J., and Roundhill, R. (2012). Going Gaga: Investigating, Creating, and Manipulating the Song Stuck in My Head. Applied Cognitive Psychology DOI:10.1002/acp.2897

Liikkanen L.A. (2008) Music in everymind: Commonality of involuntary musical imagery. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition. Sapporo, Japan.

Williamson, V., Jilka, S., Fry, J., Finkel, S., Mullensiefen, D., and Stewart, L. (2011). How do “earworms” start? Classifying the everyday circumstances of Involuntary Musical ImageryPsychology of Music DOI: 10.1177/0305735611418553