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London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

stranger_to_himself Re:I've been wondering why this took so long (127 comments)

You think so?

As a Londoner, I've yet to encounter anyone who supported the Tube strikes:

I'm one. So now you have. Glad I could help.

about two weeks ago
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Want To Work Without Prying Eyes? Try Wearing a Body Sock

stranger_to_himself Re:There's this thing called a (75 comments)

I was hoping you were going to say Thneed.

I was disappointed.

You need a Thneed!

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Your grocery store experiments on you ... (161 comments)

... and your testing is useless, because you've just tainted the results by revealing far too much about the scenario. All of your subjects now act differently knowing they're being judged on their responses.

In other words, academics are jealous that real companies get to do more science than they do.

Ha! Actually yes I am jealous that Google has better health data than we do and seems to be allowed to use it in ways that would not be 'ethical' or even legal for academic health scientists.

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

You are right. I just checked my School's ethical research code, and there is an exemption under the 'exceptional circumstance' that taking informed consent is not possible because of a need for concealment. These studies still require ethical review though and the ethics panel will decide whether or not the concealment is justified. I had not encountered this before in my own work and I should not have generalized.

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

Do academic demographers get "informed consent" before processing census data? What about crime statistics? Network security incidents?

You are talking about aggregated data which is a bit different. Its a current debate as to whether anonymous routine data should be available to researchers at the individual level without the explicit consent of the people involved. I would say it should be but many argue otherwise.

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Facebook evil, OKC less bad experiments (161 comments)

Facebook's experiments bother me more than OKCupid's. They're deliberately manipulating which news stories their readers see in order to affect their mood, and seeing how that affects the readers' behavior. That seems mean and dishonest. (Of course, I didn't know Facebook had news, so I'm not in their target market anyway, but it still seems mean.)

I agree that the Facebook incident is much more worrying than what OKCupid is doing.

OKCupid's a dating site, which means that all their "compatibility" scores are pretty much guesswork anyway, assisted by a lot of measurement, so an occasional suggestion of "maybe you two should see if you want to date" to people they normally wouldn't match up isn't that much perturbation of their approach anyway, and "whoops, pictures are broken, why don't you try talking first instead of just looking at pictures" is just fine, and both of them give them a bit of data outside the ranges they'd normally be collecting from - perhaps there are people that would get along well who they haven't been matching up. (I'm not in their market either, fortunately.)

Your post raises another interesting (and IMO ridiculous) issue though, which is that just because providing either of two different services (either pictures or no pictures) to all of your clients is perfectly fine - randomizing people to receiving one or the other is often considered not to be ethically sound.

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

I think the dividing line between when you need to get informed consent is when the experiment begins to make people do things they wouldn't have done anyway. Tweaking how people get paired up for dates is fine if they were looking for a date anyway. Forcing them to go on a date when they weren't planning to would require informed consent (and probably compensation).

Not really - even purely observational academic studies need ethical approval and informed consent. I really am confused about where the diving line should be between academic and commercial work.

about 3 months ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

stranger_to_himself Re:Flash panic (161 comments)

World discovers A/B testing
Freaks out
Until the next reality tv show comes on

When we (academics) do experiments on people however trivial we usually have to go through ethical clearance, get informed consent etc. I think its skipping that part that people are uncomfortable about. Of course that happens every day in the business world (and even did before computer scientists rediscovered basic experiments and called it A/B testing), but in some of these cases it does start to look like an academic psychology experiment. Perhaps use of OK Cupid implies consent to be experimented on but I doubt that consent is collected in a transparent way.

about 3 months ago
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French Blogger Fined For Negative Restaurant Review

stranger_to_himself Re:Freedom of Expression... (424 comments)

And you came to that conclusion...how exactly?

I'd say it has to do with the breakneck speed at which they've re-criminalized blasphemy, and stopped people from stating their point of view especially when it's "contrary to political correctness." Europe is pretty good at that, I can think of a dozen cases off the top of my head from Germany to France to the UK.

Any that weren't made up by the Daily Mail?

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

stranger_to_himself Re:Plumber (509 comments)

"I don't see toilets going away anytime soon.."

There's a (Yorkshire?) saying:
"Where there's muck there's brass."

I don't see Nursing Assistants being replaced by robots or outsourced to 3rd world countries either

True but hardly a career to be recommended (worthy but terribly rewarded). How about doctor?

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

stranger_to_himself Re:Plumber (509 comments)

Pastor, plumber, electrician, and dentist were listed in an article I read recently.

The problem is that they all presume a functioning middle class which has money to pay for their services.

We could get into a situation where 50% of the population can't find jobs unless we pass lower overtime laws (32 hour week max) or provide a basic income to everyone from taxes on those who are working or some other entirely new approach.

It's really a paradigm shift coming.

If things get to the point where the richest country in the world can't pay for dental care for the majority of the population then I think unemployment would be the least of your worries.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

stranger_to_himself Re:Plumber (509 comments)

7. Nursing. There's going to be lots of demand for that while there's still elderly baby boomers around.

Agree with that but nursing is a pretty thankless and terribly paid job given how complex it is. Doctor or even dentist could be better options. Pharmacy also isn't going away.

about 3 months ago
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Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

stranger_to_himself Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (123 comments)

To bring in funding you must have a good research idea, a detailed research plan, the political nous to persuade others that it is worth spending money on, and then the management ability to make sure your ideas are followed through by the post-docs and students that you recruit to follow the plan. Of course you should get your name on the resulting publication.

I knew at least one professor when I was in graduate school that brought in plenty of money without any of the requirements you stated above.

It's possible that the 1% the article references are extremely brilliant and deserved to be named on that many papers. I would be willing to bet that a significant fraction of that 1% are not and are just putting their names on their students papers due to tradition, hubris, or both.

Probably not any more. Funding is now far more competative and funders want to see much more evidence of value for money than they did even a few years ago.

about 3 months ago
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Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

stranger_to_himself Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (123 comments)

...what a lot of scientists do is they bring in a lot of students and act as project supervisors, as it says in the article: "Many of these prolific scientists are likely the heads of laboratories or research groups; they bring in funding, supervise research, and add their names to the numerous papers that result."..

But bringing in funding is in fact the bulk of the 'scientific' work. To bring in funding you must have a good research idea, a detailed research plan, the political nous to persuade others that it is worth spending money on, and then the management ability to make sure your ideas are followed through by the post-docs and students that you recruit to follow the plan. Of course you should get your name on the resulting publication.

about 3 months ago
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You Are What You're Tricked Into Eating

stranger_to_himself Re:Oh well (499 comments)

No, the medical establishment (who still have unconscious roots in medieval moralism, mind you) will eventually decree that the only healthy diet is cardboard and sewer water. This will start off as a recommendation, and when people refuse to go along, will start to creep into law. First they'll seek to ban all non-cardboard entrees in schools. They they'll use our taxpayer dollars to fund an expensive "Sewer Water is for Kool Kids!" ad campaign in the school. Then they'll put pressure on the FDA to ban all non-cardboard, non-sewer foods altogether.

All part of the medical establishment's underlying "If it's fun or enjoyable, it's bad for you" mentality.

The food industry has far more say over what you eat than scientific/medical establishment, and industry is far better at and spend much more money on influencing your individual behaviour (those 'choices' that you think you are making) than governments or public bodies can.

about 6 months ago
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James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

stranger_to_himself Re:Bad Idea (321 comments)

Agreed, The people who are best at [subject X] are those that have a passion for [subject X]. When I interview people for (programming related) jobs, I focus less on what they actually know and more on whether they have a love for it (do they do programming related stuff on their own either for fun or self-improvement, etc.). Even if they don't have the skill I need immediately, I know that they will ramp up quickly and be more productive than someone who went into computer science because it was a high paying job.

Its not so much about paying people to do something as supporting them while they do it (ie enabling them to do the thing they love) otherwise you'll lose potentially good people to other careers. Disciplines compete for the best graduates, and a small financial incentive can make a big difference to a grad student deciding what to study if it means they can spend their evenings studying instead of washing dishes.

about 9 months ago
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Nintendo Could Base Comeback On Improving Peoples' Health

stranger_to_himself Re:Great plan Nintendo (129 comments)

Indeed, speculation on Japanese forums is that this is just the addition of some pads that measure body fat to the balance board. Most bathroom scales in Japan already have them so it was actually kind of odd that the balance board could measure weight but not body fat when it came out. It's just a logical evolution following a fell trodden path.

Bioelectrical impedance isn't a reliable enough measure of body fat for home use really (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectrical_impedance_analysis) - and if your bathroom scales do it just as well (or badly) it wouldn't add much to the Wii fit for the cost and hassle of adding it. I'd guess it only measures weight because it has the sensors to measure center of gravity.

about 9 months ago
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The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space

stranger_to_himself Re:Roll on! (267 comments)

Thanks for that. I'm most impressed by the knowledge that the vomiting response of the wrinkled frog varies seasonally.

about 9 months ago
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The "Triple Package" Explains Why Some Cultural Groups Are More Successful

stranger_to_himself Re:Simple enough... (397 comments)

And how many times have you read that "being hungry", or that you have no other option than to succeed, being a driving factor in the success of a new business?

Such simple truths will be met with limitless rage.

Never?

about 9 months ago
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The "Triple Package" Explains Why Some Cultural Groups Are More Successful

stranger_to_himself Re:It'll work if you want to suceed (397 comments)

Basically you need to feel like an outsider and feel like you're better than everyone else to be truly successful.

This is true. I have both of these things (though I lack impulse control hence posting comments on slashdit when I should be working). But insecurity does make people unhappy - even though it drives success. I whether you'd rather be successful and anxious, or relaxed and 'mediocre' in your achievements. Perhaps that is to question to meaning of 'success'.

about 9 months ago

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stranger_to_himself hasn't submitted any stories.

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Can we measure knowledge?

stranger_to_himself stranger_to_himself writes  |  more than 6 years ago Is it possible to measure the amount of knowledge a person has? I work in geriatric psychiatry, and was idly discussing with some colleagues the possibility that having more knowledge might be good for you. We know that high levels of education and intellectual activity are protective against Alzheimer's disease, but we don't know whether simply knowing more things helps. To find this out we'd have to find a way to compare the amounts of knowledge that different people have. Is this possible?

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