“Goose Bumps” — What? Why? Where? How? When?

I am going to try something here. I am going to try to define “goose bumps” without looking it up using the www-google resources. Afterwards, I will look it up using those resources to see how close I came to what is there on the WWW. I think in terms of the “operational definition”, what actually happens in a step-by-step sequence of physiological events, or the operations that produce an effect. That is my trained response to events. That is my habit. That is my understanding of science, of having a scientific approach to problems, and since I had the experience of “goose bumps” yesterday, July Fourth, 2013, I thought I would use that experience in this way, to demonstrate the operational definition, Just now I have no idea what I am going to write.

I experienced “goose bumps”. I had a perception that produced that phenomenon and immediately wondered about goose bumps, a strange feeling affecting the skin. I saw something that almost immediately went to my skin. I had not experienced goose bumps like that in a very long time. I must have had them before because I recognized them for what they were. My skin, it seemed all over my body, erupted with a reaction that created very small bumps all over, almost like an erection in and of the body skin especially all over the trunk of the body. And they sorta felt good.

Perception is defined as a response involving sensory and nonsensory components. I have this penchant for scientific ways of defining human responses to life’s situations, especially related to human verbal and nonverbal communication, that is, speech communication. I became convinced that the operational definition is the most reliable way of dealing with all concerns for humnan communication.

Remember, sensory components are the five exteroceptors that we have, taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing, and the five interoceptors are pain, balance, pressure, temperature, and kinesis.

But there are also the non-sensory components in a perception that come from memory, past experience retained and effecting a quality to be attached to our present sensory experiences. You may have an experience for the first time for which there are no previous experiences as referents. In that case, you might doubt your experience, having no word for it as a portmanteau. But you want to name it, somehow. Think of young children at a loss for words.

Regarding my “goosebumps” experience, I saw something, a United States flag on a stick stuck in my yard on the morning of July Fourth. I wondered how it got there and immediately felt the goose bumps. I had no idea how it got there. I immediately made up a story, a covering cause. I thought that the American Legion came around and put flags on every home address of a Veteran. At that moment I got goose bumps, that excitation that shows up all over the skin.

What a strange response. It felt sorta good. I recognized it immediately and saw that cause. But which part of the cause caused the reaction. If by the American Legion, of which I am a member, then I immediately thought, “what an honor in recognition of my service”. So I went outdoors to look at the stick. I immediately looked to see who in the neighborhood the veterans were. Lo and behold, every home up and down the street had a flag. So I was immediately disillusioned. The note attached to the stick gave the address and picture of a realtor. I will sue for engendering false gooseflesh excitement. But before my disillusionment, that was a strange and very good feeling. I think it goes back to the time when we were all in the promordial soup with something like quills or feathers, like porcupines, sea otters. You tell me.

It is said to happen in moments of extreme arousal in such as experiences of strong emotions, fear, nostalgia, pleasure, euphoria, awe, admiration and sexual arousal (a h.o. of the skin, so to speak). My moment was filled with the pleasure of complement, or admiration.

I had a slight goosbump experience a long time ago when I was honored with a surprise dinner at my retirement from university teaching. That was the last time. This time I felt very odd when i saw the realtor’s note. VERY strange!

Here it is, the day after the fourth. It’s still there. I’ll go now and bring it in with negative pimples. The imploded kind, in reverse. And laugh at myself. For what I am. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes)

Thank you, Terry Carter, of Tear-y (my connotation) Carter Homes, for exposing to me myself, my vanity, in accomplishment. (I did enjoy the bumps.)

What fools these mortals be! (Puck) As I was fooled by the nonsensory components of my perception. Totally.

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Aphorisms and Operational Definitions


God is the invention of people in trouble, having been in trouble, or about to be in trouble.

Jealousy is envious anger.

Dignity is having choices.

(Before I go further, let me explain. The bedrock of my character is sedimentary, the silt of concepts developed over the years of study, thinking, and teaching, and now coming out in what has been called “the universal phenomenon of reminiscence in later life” [from the summary of the research reported in the abstract I have placed in the articles section of this blog].

(So, continue with the concepts.)

Attention is selective response.

Concentratiuon is prolonged attention.

Reasoning is symbolic balancing of alternatives.

Science is a method of reasoning, empirically or experimentally.

Romance is art. Marriage is science.

Motivation is energized behavior.

Genius is nothing but monstrous energy. (To wit: The German empiricists.)

Thought fills the delay between stimulus and response.

Thought is that internal monologue that inhibits response.

Theory is a statement that attempts to account for all known facts in a field of inquiry.

[The theory of evolution is not a speculation.]

Perception is a response involving memory and sensation.

Character is what you do at home, alone, and in the dark.

Character is forged in the metallurgy of choice.

Eloquence is the marriage of heart and brain.

Presidential candidate #1: passion minus poise. #2: poise minus passion. Eloquence equals poise plus passion.

Culture is shared codes, a matrix of demographics and communication codes.

Political correctness is cultural astuteness. (PC is the attempt to show in public policy a sensitivity for culture.)

Art is the final tuft and essence of science.

Life is irritable matter.

Time is elastic.

Teaching is a process of diagnosis, awareness, experiences, critical feedback, testing.

Justice is due process.

Intelligent use requires prudence, circumspection, sensitivity, bibliotherapy.

Habit is response without awareness, the silent valet.

Learning is changing habits, substituting new for old.

Learning is painful; if an experience hurts, there is an opportunity to learn.

Conscience is the sense of an ideal self.

Law is an expression of social conscience.

Honesty is a method, not a trait, and can be avoided where a trait cannot.

Courage is enduring discomfort with fortitude.

Courage is a marker of maturity.

Maturity imagines the discomfort of others.

[Hemingway: “Courage is grace under pressure.”]

Ego disengagement means generosity, trust, self-criticism, rejection of self-interest.

Morality is that which has survival value.

Morality is acting as I would legislate for the whole world.

Capitalism, by its acquisitive nature, is a conservative philosophy.

Democracy is a liberal philosophy.

Democracy is discussion, and debate if discussion breaks down.

Alternatives to democracy are anarchy or dictatorship.

All organizations are hierarchical.

Hierarchical organizations cannot be democratic.

Democracy captured by an arisocratic “establishment” becomes a “system” that pays lip service to democracy.

Adaptability precludes adaptation, and vice versa.

Alternative forms of suicide are divorce, drugs, abandonment, infidelity, lying, cheating, alcohol, gluttony, and so on.

Listening is accurate paraphrase of what is being said.

Active listening is repeating what was said to the satisfaction of the speaker.

Demagoguery is saying what the people want to hear.

Arbitrariness is the wish and power of one ego over all the rest (and to be fought in all pursuits).

Death is mainly ego-obliteration. What others may retain of the departed ego is not the ego obliterated.

Frankness is the art of getting the truth across unmistakebly, without brutality.

One’s maturity and mental health is the extent to which intelligence rules passion, habit, and, yes, reason. Look out for the infantile personality

Probing questions, beyond the first two or three, take you down the path of the other person’s point of view to walk a mile in the other’s shoes. (The test for all journalists.)

Hindsight knows everything. Foresight knows nothing. Judgment is prudent. Prejudgment is reckless.

A journalist is a conduit.

The largest errors of our time: making immediate decisions without regard for long-term consequences.

The seven stages of life: inheritance; presence; competence; ascendance; eminence; impermanence; imminence. (But only in a democracy.)

Earth’s orbit is the Goldilocks orbit.

Silence is consent.

Published in: on February 16, 2007 at 2:32 pm  Comments (38)