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New Study Fails To Show That Violent Video Games Diminish Prosocial Behavior

yali Statistical power (113 comments)

I realize this is a less sexy/exciting comment than all the speculation on substantive merits... But the studies lack statistical power. N=64 in the first 2 experiments and N=32 in the 3rd. Those samples are much too small to have even a reasonable chance of detecting the effects that are common in behavioral science, even effects that are considered very consequential. (The authors offer a weak and IMHO unconvincing defense of their sample sizes in the discussion.) Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially with underpowered studies that use null-hypothesis significance testing.

about 9 months ago

University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department

yali Re:The Department of Redundancy Department (628 comments)

"Make money" is relative. All universities, including the ones like UF that claim to make money, certify that their big-time sports programs are "substantially related" to their educational mission, and the IRS and state tax boards choose to believe it. As a result, the university's revenue from tickets, TV broadcast rights, advertising, and merchandise are tax-exempt. Donations from boosters are tax exempt (and a tax writeoff for the donor). Construction of stadiums and other sports facilities is funded with tax-exempt bonds.

Next time you turn on the TV and see a bowl game or March Madness, realize that as far as tax policy is concerned, you are watching a charity event among nonprofit institutions. If that makes sense to you (something you might ponder in between the action while watching a beer commercial or two), then yes, perhaps UF is making money.

about 2 years ago

Dharun Ravi Trial: Hate Crime Or Stupidity?

yali Re:Commercial (671 comments)

If you kill a man, you have committed a murder.

If you kill a man while announcing to a bunch of people, "This could be any one of you, and unless you start acting like I want you to act (or disappear entirely), next time it will be," you have committed a murder. But you have done other things too. You have also threatened a bunch of people with violence.

The legal theory behind hate crimes is that they are like the second case. When you target somebody partially or wholly because of their membership in a group (not just them as a unique individual), you are making an implicit threat against that entire group. When it is a group that has a long history of being targeted with similar violence, your implicit threat carries an especially large capability to intimidate. Hence the need to give special status to hate crimes.

more than 2 years ago

The Stanford Prisoner Experiment - 40 Years On

yali Re:Faked? (175 comments)

There's faked and then there's faked.

If you mean "they made the whole thing up like the moon landing," then no. There's no reason to believe that kind of conspiracy.

But based on contemporary accounts, even from Zimbardo himself, it's pretty clear that he stepped well past his role as an objective researcher and became an active instigator -- appointing himself warden and egging on the guards. But even with that acknowledged, the fact that he was able to succeed so easily is part of what makes it an important demonstration.

more than 2 years ago

The Stanford Prisoner Experiment - 40 Years On

yali Re:Movie (175 comments)

For the record, Zimbardo has objected to Das Experiment's portrayal of his experiment, on the grounds that (a) it isn't clear which parts are reenactments and which parts are fictionalized, and (b) in his view the movie doesn't properly explain why the study was scientifically important. Read his side of it here.

more than 2 years ago

Paper Manufacturer Launches "Print More" Campaign

yali Re:I don't worry much about paper (446 comments)

From a 2006 NYT article:

...The paper industry is not without its impact. Because of its consumption of energy, the industry -- which includes magazines, newspapers, catalogs and writing paper -- emits the fourth-highest level of carbon dioxide among manufacturers, according to a 2002 study by the Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy. The paper industry follows the chemical, petroleum and coal products, and primary metals industries.

. . .

The most harmful part of the process is paper production. Breaking down wood fiber to make paper consumes a lot of energy, which in many cases comes from coal plants.

more than 3 years ago

Don't Talk To Aliens, Warns Stephen Hawking

yali Re:Security through obscurity? (1015 comments)

Unfortunately for all of us, not only to the aliens have super-advanced weaponry, but even worse: they're descriptive usagists.

more than 3 years ago

"Supertaskers" Can Safely Use Mobile Phones While Driving

yali Re:Are they just worse drivers to begin with? (388 comments)

I wish I had mod points to mod the parent up.

In an experiment where each subject has only been measured once in each condition, you cannot distinguish stable individual differences (which is what is being suggested) from real but transient effects. Worse, you cannot really distinguish real-but-transient effects from stochastic error except by making some strong statistical assumptions. This is an interesting first result to follow up on, but it's not nearly strong enough to warrant a press release.

about 4 years ago

Magnetism Can Sway Man's Moral Compass

yali Re:Not going to RTFA; explain? (586 comments)

Here's a link to the journal article [pdf].

Notwithstanding the summary and press reports, what they actually did was show that the subjects relied less on the actor's mental states and instead just considered harmful consequences. For example consider this scenario (this is one of several scenarios from the actual study):

Janet and her neighbor are kayaking in a part of the ocean with lots of jellyfish. Janet's neighbor asks her if she should go for a swim. It is not safe to swim in the ocean, because the jellyfish sting and their stings are fatal. Because Janet read information that said the ocean's jellyfish are harmless, she believes that it is quite safe to swim in the ocean. Janet tells her neighbor to go for a swim. Her neighbor does, gets stung by jellyfish, and dies.

In different versions of the scenario, Janet either did or did not know that the jellyfish were dangerous, and her actions either did or did not cause harm. Several other scenarios were used that varied in the same ways. After reading each scenario, the subjects rated the actor's moral culpability.

What the study showed was that after TMS stimulation, subjects based their moral judgments more on whether harm was done than on whether the actor knew that her actions would be harmful.

about 4 years ago

I Use Twitter, Please Rob Me

yali Re:Everyone leaves their homes (403 comments)

Criminals will still just sit out in front of your house and wait for the cars the leave.

You've got a very high opinion of criminals.

A smart, patient, motivated criminal could probably get into 90% of ordinary people's homes without too much trouble. But in contrast to the romanticized catburglars in movies, in the real world smart, patient, motivated people don't generally become criminals. Most actual criminals are impulsive dumbasses. This service is perfect for the "I'm jonesing for my next meth fix, where can I get some easily-pawned stuff RIGHT NOW" crowd that make up the vast majority of actual criminals.

more than 4 years ago

Digital Fundraising Booms For Haiti Relief

yali harnessing emotions (124 comments)

It's not just the amount (though that's part of it). Technology is allowing people to give easily at the very moment that they're seized with the urge to help. Used to be you'd have to go find your checkbook, a stamp, look up an address to send to, etc... which requires a sustained intention that lasts longer than the emotional impulse. Now you just text HAITI to 90999 and instantly satisfy your desire to do something. That makes a huge difference in turning noble motivations into action.

more than 4 years ago

EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy

yali Re:Decisions, decisions. (103 comments)

Ummm, because I posted the part that was germane? The GP said they didn't want others to see their profile pic. The part I quoted said you cannot restrict things that way. The part you quoted was about limiting availability in search, which is not what they were talking about.

more than 4 years ago

EPIC Files FTC Complaint Over Facebook's New Privacy Policy

yali Re:Decisions, decisions. (103 comments)

GP wrote: "you can no longer have your Profile Pic show up for friends only". The GP was correct. From the new privacy policy:

Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings.

more than 3 years ago

DRM Flub Prevented 3D Showings of Avatar In Germany

yali Re:Given all the reviews I have seen .. (386 comments)

Everyone is basically saying "pretty pictures, but the story sucks"

The New York Times's hoity-toity film reviewer Manohla Dargis (who usually only likes stuff with subtitles) begs to differ.

more than 3 years ago

Toyota Claims Woman "Opted In" To Faux Email Stalking

yali "Informed consent" = no way (667 comments)


Tepper, Duick's attorney, said he discussed the campaign with Toyota's attorneys earlier this year, and they said the "opting in" Harp referred to was done when Duick's friend e-mailed her a "personality test" that contained a link to an "indecipherable" written statement that Toyota used as a form of consent from Duick.

Tepper, said that during those legal negotiations, Toyota's lawyers claimed Duick signed the written legal agreement, which they said amounts to "informed written consent." [emphasis added]

I work in research with human subjects, and there is no way this constitutes informed consent.

If Toyota wants to argue that the fine print spelled it out and it's her fault she didn't read it carefully enough, maybe they can win the case through legalistic hairsplitting. But if they buried it in fine print and incomprehensible language, they're jerks no matter what.

But they're making a much broader claim if they're calling it informed consent. Informed consent means that she comprehended what was going to happen to her as a result of agreeing. In other words, "informed consent" isn't just a statement about the objective content of the opt-in statement -- it's an assertion about the state of mind of the person who gave consent. If she had truly given informed consent, then not only would she have no legal claim, but she'd have no moral claim either (because she'd have known what she was getting into). But it's blindingly obvious that that isn't true here.

more than 4 years ago

Marge Simpson Poses For Playboy

yali oblig. xkcd (413 comments)

Oh internet... Is there nothing you won't show naked?


more than 4 years ago

Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year

yali Re:Wrong solution (1073 comments)

It depends what you mean by "how long" -- how long in a given day, or how long between vacation periods? Cognitive psychologists have demonstrated that the spacing of study occasions is highly important for learning and long-term retention. The education literature is full of studies on summer learning loss. So Obama isn't just making this up out of nowhere -- he's basing his proposal on a substantial body of empirical research.

more than 4 years ago



Women Engineers and Workplace Sexism

yali yali writes  |  more than 4 years ago

yali (209015) writes "Women in traditionally male-dominated fields like math and engineering face the extra burden that their performance, beyond reflecting on them individually, might be taken as broader confirmation of stereotypes if they perform poorly. A newly published series of experiments tested the effects of such stereotype threat among engineering students. Standardized observations showed that male engineering students who had previously expressed subtle sexist attitudes on a pretest were more likely, when talking with a female engineering student about work issues, to adopt a domineering posture and to display signs of sexual interest (such as noticeably looking at the woman's body). In the next 2 experiments, female engineering students were randomly assigned in one experiment to interact with males who had endorsed different levels of subtle sexism, and in a second experiment with an actor who randomly either displayed or did not display the domineering/sexual nonverbal behaviors. Women performed worse on an engineering test after interacting with the randomly-assigned sexist males (or males simulating sexists' nonverbal behavior). In another experiment, women's poorer performance was shown to be limited to stereotype-related tests, not a broad cognitive deficit. In a final experiment, interacting with a domineering/sexually interested male caused women to have temporarily elevated concern about negative stereotypes, which they subsequent attempted to suppress (thought suppression being a well-known resource hog). The results indicate that even subtle sexism can be toxic in workplace environments where women are traditionally targets of discrimination."

Czech Pranksters Face Jail for Hacking TV Station

yali yali writes  |  more than 6 years ago

yali (209015) writes "Several months ago, a group of Czech pranksters inserted video of a mushroom cloud into a morning weather show. The video included a not-too-subtle indicator that it was a joke, and no panic ensued. But now the group's members are facing jail time on charges of "attempted scaremongering." Czech culture has a long tradition of high-concept pranksters pulling public stunts; are authorities overreacting?"

Depression is elevated among women engineers

yali yali writes  |  more than 6 years ago

yali (209015) writes "A U.S. government survey of depression rates by job category has revealed some interesting results. The headlines are about food service and healthcare providers, who perhaps unsurprisingly have the highest depression rates. But buried in the official report is an interesting split. When the data are separated by gender, engineering is the least-depressing job for men. But it has one of the higher depression rates for women (fifth-highest among 17 job categories). Although women are generally at greater risk for depression, that does not fully explain the difference. 3.3% of male engineers have a major depressive episode per year (versus 4.7% of men overall). By comparison, the rate is 11.1% for women engineers (versus 10.1% overall). Is the engineering workplace an especially depressing place for women?"

yali yali writes  |  more than 7 years ago

yali (209015) writes "Security experts like Bruce Schneier have criticized America's airport screening system as a lot of security theater and not much else. Well, what happens when the theater starts running ads? CNN reports that, following a pilot program at LAX, the TSA is getting ready to sell ad space in those ubiquitous gray X-ray trays in order to raise revenue. Is it right for a government agency to foist advertisements on a captive audience? And once the TSA becomes dependent on ad revenue, will it get that much harder to convince them to roll back ineffective procedures?"

yali yali writes  |  more than 7 years ago

yali (209015) writes "The United States has gotten worse on an international index of corruption, based on an annual analysis of expert opinions and survey data. The analysis, published by Transparency International, also found that Iraq is more corrupt now than it was under Saddam Hussein. The least corrupt nations were Finland, Iceland, and New Zealand."

yali yali writes  |  more than 7 years ago

yali (209015) writes "The White House is being accused of suppressing a report that considered the effects of global warming on hurricanes, according to Nature. The report, prepared by scientists at the NOAA, explored a possible link between human activity and the increasingly strong hurricanes that have been observed over the last several decades. The NOAA Administrator, a political appointee, claims the report was withheld because the NOAA is not allowed to take policy positions. However, Nature says that the article only discussed the current state of the scientific evidence."

yali yali writes  |  more than 7 years ago

yali (209015) writes "Women pursuing careers in science and engineering face disproportionate obstacles, according to a report by the National Academy of Science. According to the executive summary, differences in career paths cannot be explained by innate biology, self-selection into less competitive careers, or an unsufficient pool of qualified women. Rather, the problem lies with institutional structures as well as unconscious biases in hiring decisions. From the summary: "An impressive body of controlled experimental studies and examination of decision-making processes in real life show that, on the average, people are less likely to hire a woman than a man with identical qualifications... Although most scientists and engineers believe that they are objective and intend to be fair, research shows that they are not exempt from those tendencies.""


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