Sunday, April 22, 2007

Flip your lid

Who says scientists don't have a sense of humor?

Some of the problems are so pervasive in research that one can almost always be sure to point them out. For example, when a student comes into my office to discuss a study, I usually start the conversation by rubbing my fingers through my toupee and shaking my head back and forth as if I were saying "no" to convey signs of deep frustration and despair. I usually have my student's riveted attention (not counting the time my toupee fell to the floor). Then, before he or she speaks, I begin the back-and-forth head shaking; continue that for at least two seconds of silence; and then say, "Oh- no, no, no- your sample is much too small." (I have been wrong on a few occasions, such as the time the student entered my office merely to ask where the bathroom was.)

Kazdin, A. E. (2004). Methodology: What it is and why it is so important. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Methodological Issues & Strategies in Clinical Research, Third Edition (pp. 5-22). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Update: Kazdin is the American Psychological Association's President for 2008, minus toupee.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Just look at the monitor and smile

I just saw this ad on my Gmail, promising "Life-changing makeovers- Professional Teeth Whitening Online" and was profoundly amazed at what they can do with technology these days.

But what if you lose your internet connection in the middle?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Our reputation precedes us

What is it about this world, or maybe the Germans in particular, or Europe somewhat less particularly, that they have these caricatured notions of other cultures? Too much Hollywood? I don't know, I just don't know. I'll just let the facts speak for themselves.
The NYTimes reports:

A German Army instructor ordered a soldier to envision himself in the Bronx facing hostile African-Americans while firing his machine gun, a video that aired on Saturday on national television showed. “We are currently investigating the incident,” said Florian Naggies, a spokesman for the army and the Defense Ministry.

The clip shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier, “You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways. Act.” The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English. The instructor then tells the soldier to curse even louder.

You can see the video here (I'm not embedding it in my post because of the obscenities). And by the way, you can rest assured that Al Sharpton got in on this act, too, demanding that President Bush intervene. Hey Al, why don't you go over there yourself and personally shove some sauerbraten down their- oh yeah, right, I was talking about this intercultural respect thing. Well, you get the point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Practice makes perfect

In these sad days where parents need to check before moving to a new neighborhood (or letting their kids out in their current neighborhood), many are teaching their children explicitly how to respond to molestation attempts.

My sister recently taught her toddler son how to respond to such a situation:

Don't touch me!
That's private!
I'm going to tell my Abba!

My nephew, thus armed, was later quizzed by his aunt how to respond to someone who touches him inappropriately. He confidently recited:
Don't touch me!
That's private!
I'm going to sing you a song!

He needs some work, it's true, but he'll get there.