Fixing Psychology

A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The academic job market has gotten harder, very recently

There have been many stories recently about the "overproduction" of Ph.D. students in science, and about the increasingly competitive job markets. This isn't going to be a comprehensive post about that, but rather a highlight of a short, but significant paper that might otherwise be under the radar. It is Academia's never-ending selection for productivity by Francois Brischoux and Frederic Angelier, in the journal Scientometrics. It's focus is on evolutionary biologists hired by the National Centre for Scientific Research France, between 2005 and 2014, 55 people in total from what I can tell. The NCSR has a stable and formulaic hiring process, which makes easy to compare hires across years. Despite the small sample, and the narrow focus, I suspect the same trends would be replicated in most scientific fields, at most academic institutions, in the U.S. Here is what I thought was the crucial paragraph :

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stats Help Part 2: Null and Alternative Hypotheses

Many struggle with discussions of null and alternative hypotheses. The logic behind phrasing research questions in that way can be a bit unintuitive. The logical involves what you can or cannot prove given an if-then statement, and I'll put a paragraph about that down at the bottom. In the meantime, here is a much easier way to understand what is going on:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hey white people, listen up! This is what conversations about "racism" are about

So, after spending a long time in conversations about racism --- some time talking, but mostly listening --- I pressed those involved about on the "now what?" question. In response, I have been informed that it is my duty to go out and educate other white people. Seems odd, but there it is, and I'm gonna give it a try.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stats Help: Dependent vs. Independent Variables - Understanding the Difference

The terms Dependent and Independent can be a bit unintuitive, and many stats students struggle with them. The easier term should be "dependent", and that term is easiest to understand in an experimental context. The dependent variable is what you measure at the end of an experiment.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Explaining the "Gay Marriage" controversy in the U.S.

Many of my friends and colleagues in other parts of the world are having a really hard time wrapping their head around the continued controversy in the U.S. regarding "gay marriage." And by that, I mean, "marriage" open to same sex couples, not some new magical thing that has never existed before. Such marriages are so accepted in many other countries today, that these friends think it is simply a requisite part of being a modern nation, and see current legal controversies in the U.S. as evidence that we are morally stuck in the dark ages. Maybe we are morally stuck in the dark ages, but I don't think this controversy is as straightforward as that makes it sound. I am not advocating either position below, just trying to explain the depth of the controversy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deep Thoughts: The Stomach in a Jar Problem

Many throughout history have wondered about the relationship between mind and stomach. Imagine, if you will, that your body had been almost completely destroyed. Imagine still, that whatever destroyed your body left your stomach remarkably unscathed, and that we put your stomach in a vat. But this vat is a very special kind of vat: It can give you stomach all the physical and chemical signals it would have had if the stomach had stayed in your body, and when your stomach does something, the vat reacts just as your body would. Your stomach could be kept alive like that for quite a long time, perhaps indefinitely. 

Something new for the blog: Deep Philosophical Questions

I've long followed a few online comics at a time. At the moment, I mostly check big players in the Pantheon of geek comics, such as XKCD and SMBC. Good, smart stuff, by ridiculously creative people. I also long followed Sinfest, PhD Comics, and still mourn the decade-old passing of (the original?) online shock-comic The Parking Lot is Full. More recently, I have really started enjoying ExistentialComics, enough that I even signed up to support the guy doing it. I would say 8 out of 10 are very good, which is an absurdly high hit rate for a comic that hasn't even had 60 strips yet (they are published once a week). Even more impressive given that it is written by a guy without formal philosophy training. Check out the Philosophy Tech Support, for example. I'm not sure I am capably of doing smart short-from highly-visual jokes common to xkcd or smbc, but the longer-form intellectual absurdity I got a shot at... so long as I don't pretend I can draw. (Well... I can illuminate medieval manuscripts decently well, but I don't think that lends itself to the web comic genera.)

At any rate, I am inspired. So, coming soon:
There will be a series of posts on Deep Philosophical Questions. Stay tuned for such classics as the Stomach in a Vat problem and the many mysteries of Twin-Earth, including the Zombie Sofas problem.

Other suggestions more than welcome. What classic philosophical debates do you think are absurd? Or, what do suspect might be absurd, but you have been waiting for the right analogy to make up your mind?