Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Comment Elsewhere: Academic Psychology an oxymoron?

In a discussion of one of the least impressive bits of well-publicized psychology "research" I've seen in years, I avered:
Cherry picking and confirmation bias! Without them, psychology would hardly exist as an academic discipline. I understand the inclination to give these people databases and statistics packages as a corrective, but you have to fix the, if you'll pardon the reference, underlying psychology first.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Comment Elsewhere: Google Creep

In a discussion of the failure of Buzz, I remarked
Frankly, the more services Google tries to bundle, the less I like them. Maybe it's just because I appear on the internet in both pseudonymous and epynomous forms, but the ability to keep political, family, shopping and professional issues separate is actually quite important to me. There have been about a half dozen cases in the last few years where online service mergers made my online life more difficult, not more convenient.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Comment Elsewhere: Bad Genetics Counseling

In response to a great but difficult question on genetic testing, I wrote:
It's very important to get good information on genetics -- I'm not saying you're not, because you clearly know how to read scientific material critically, but my blind spouse talked to a "genetics counselor" before we were married who literally didn't know the difference between recessive and dominant traits, and freaked us out (until I could get over to the medical library and do some research, this being pre-WWW).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pop Quiz: Politics or Theology? Wait, there's a difference?

Trinitarian debate or Republican mythology?
He's nothing like the father! He doesn't share the epistemology of the father. He doesn't have the nature of his father, the knowledge -- he has nothing in common with the father.

This actually comes from a discussion of Pres. Ronald Reagan and what, in theory, he would think of Sarah Palin. [via] It's a member of the current conservative commentariat telling Ronald Reagan JR. that she has a better grasp on his father's political judgement than he does. At one point she seems to conflate Reagan with the Founding Fathers, and concludes by saying that Ron Reagan, JR. must never have really met his father. Politically speaking, presumably.

The metaphysical discussion of political legacy aside, what actually struck me about this exchange is that Ron Reagan, JR. seems to have a higher (and better supported by recent evidence) opinion of his father's abilities and judgement than the so-called conservative he's arguing with, who seems to have absorbed the common liberal opinion about Pres. Reagan's essentially emotional/anti-intellectual approach to governance.

Update: to make things more interesting, Michael Reagan is getting into the act, raising the possibility that the Reagan legacy could split into opposing camps....

Friday, February 05, 2010

Comment Elsewhere: The Evil of the Clone Wars

Towards the end of a discussion of character and continuity in the Star Wars universe I commented:
Am I the only one who thinks that the animated Clone War series is a cruel trick on children, who will think of Anakin as a mildly annoying but basically heroic figure, only to discover that he’s really a mind-shatteringly evil person outside of that very limited storyline? Also, all the characters they are getting attached to get wiped out in a vast slaughter, except for the ones who eventually get killed one by one....

I really don't understand what they're thinking: they're creating a generation of children who will view their movies as a vicious betrayal. With luck, I suppose, the franchise will wither and die as a result. One can only hope.