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Posts Tagged ‘research’

Here is one of the best blog posts on putting Wolfram|Alpha into perspective:

Asking which result is “right” misses the point. Google is a search engine; it did exactly what it’s supposed to do. It isn’t making any any assumptions about what you’re looking for, and will give you everything the cat dragged in. If you’re an elementary school teacher or a flat-earther, you can find the result you want somewhere in the big, messy pile. If you want accurate data from a known and reliable source, and you want to use that data in other computations, you don’t want Google’s answer; you want Alpha’s. (BTW, the Earth’s circumference is .1024 of the distance to the Moon.)

When is this important? Imagine we were asking a more politically charged question, like the correlation between childhood vaccinations and autism, or the number of civilians killed in the six-day war. Google will (and should) give you a wide range of answers, from every part of the spectrum. It’s up to you to figure out whether the data actually came from. Alpha doesn’t yet have data about autism or six-day war casualties, and even when it does, no one should blindly assume that all data that’s “curated” is valid; but Wolfram does its homework, and when data like this is available, it will provide the source. Without knowing the source, you can’t even ask the question.

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The CNN article “Charting the psychology of evil, decades after ‘shock’ experiment” ought to be retitled “Charting the psychology of web reading on a Dull Friday

Stanley Milgram’s research was remarkable and valuable. It has been replicated. It has been quoted and interpreted to ad nausium. Now in an effort to sell copy during the hiatus between presidents some genius has resurrected it and given it a fancy name with “evil” in the title. Now it has a zillion hits and is replete with “coulds” shoulds” oughts, may, and other conditional phrases that allow the reader to be led down a path to a possible chance-finding of a new version of a car crash.

Words are powerful. It is a sign of Dumbness when people hoping to land on an island of absoluteness grasp on to anything that is presented as binary:

Good vs. evil

right vs. wrong

Chevy vs. Ford

normal vs. abnormal

Democrat vs. Republican

Worker vs. management

Muslim vs. Christian                                                           

etc. vs. etc

It’s here again. We use the research rather than this sadly disturbed illiterate interpretation to keep authority figures off alter boys, teachers off cheerleaders, bosses off new-hires and rent-a-dicks away from ‘civilian combatants’ in detainment.

But, because we have the 1890 concept of behavior as being based on religion, traditions, and good and evil, all these perverts continue to exist aided by the writers who need to finish off the month with a dippy article in order to look like they know how to read.

All this has to do with implied and explicit rules and a false sense of personal and divine responsibility that has been part of the teachings in schools and churches and synagogues for 400 years at least.

Pay attention to the consequences to understand behavior. Pay attention to the rules that the “other” person is working under to understand behavior. Pay attention to the knowledge that you have millions of rules you don’t know about and those rules are not likely the same as anyone else’s rules – at the moment they are your rules. Pay attention that the different rules you attend to on Monday don’t exist on Sunday.

When reading about “What the heck is going on out in the world? – consider that some grad students or volunteers got paid to be in an experiment 29 years ago. They wanted to do it right in front of all the PhDs and they wanted the money and they wanted to show they were smart and on and on.    Hundreds of rules were working including doing what you were told that our parents locked down early on.

When you define things arbitrarily – the things like evil, good, honest, hero, sinner, saint, patriot, freedom fighter, and all the other meta-terms keep their fuzziness so that you read what you bring to the article. (By the way, that is another experiment to read up on….) While having specific and empirical definitions is not going to happen, using your noggin for something more than a baseball cap rack can’t be beat.

As they say on ESPN’s NFL Countdown… “C-mon Man!

This site and this author will contribute by provided one of the many versions of “BALONEY DETECTION COLLECTION”… stay tuned…it’s coming to you and, as always, it is FREE…

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A reflection on what happens so much in technology, science and, even, art.

In technology we get “sidetracked by [our] tools–like a sculptor who spends all day sharpening her chisels but never sets one to marble, or a novelist who spends all day fiddling with the fonts in his word processing program.” – from a piece about Stephen Wolfram.

Why?

Our tools are so fabulous and sometimes so challenging.

We don’t like risking success.

There are few immediate consequences to us for telling people “it’s in the works”

and so many more contingencies that basically keep us forever in focus groups, font selection, logo design, mission statements, problem framing and all other manners of sidetracking.

How to Avoid?

Value the Do.  Value the Done.  Value the Ship Date.

Write, send, sell, get in front of users, professors, bosses or whoever the end consumer is and get reinforcement directly for your efforts.  They won’t reinforce you for sidetracking, they’ll only want to know what you efforts have done and will do for them.  You’ll learn to value the do.

 

 

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A couple of posts ago I made a mistake in my data assumptions on the number of movies in available for recommendation.  IMBD gives a better idea… i was off by about 20x.  hahaha.  yikes.

The other day i was making a point to someone about how the blog medium promotes research laziness.  Here I prove my own point.  Painful.  Luckily this same medium allows you to print retractions, updates, and improvements uber fast.

~R

 

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