January 24, 2008

a new blog about . . .

Are you interested in issues of cause and effect? Do you use quasi-experimental methodology or correlational analyses for your own research? If so, I might just have the blog for you!

It's called . . . what else . . . Alan & Bo's Correlation and Causality Blog. It's brand spanking new too, with two posts so far. It looks pretty interesting though. I just found out about it yesterday through a social psychology listserv. Here's a little blurb describing the purpose of the blog:

"On this blog, we seek to raise and discuss various issues pertaining to correlation and causality, much like we did during our frequent conversations at Texas Tech. In fields that study human behavior in “real world” settings, many potentially interesting phenomena are off-limits to the traditional experimental desgin that would permit causal inferences, for practical and ethical reasons.

Does the birth of a child increase or decrease couples’ marital/relationship satisfaction? Does growing up with an alcohol-abusing parent damage children’s development of social skills? How does experiencing a natural disaster affect residents’ mental and physical health?

For none of these questions could researchers legitimately assign individuals (or couples) at random to either receive or not receive the presumed causal stimulus. Much of our discussion, therefore, will be aimed at formulating ideas for how to make as strong a causal inference as possible, for a given research question.

By raising issues of how researchers might approach a given research question from the standpoint of internal validity, we hope to fulfill a “seeding” process, where our initial commentaries will be generative of further discussion and suggestions. We are thus permitting (and encouraging!) comments on this blog, for this purpose. We hope to learn as much (or more) from you, as you might learn from us."
Seems pretty unique, a blog specifically devoted to the logic of causality. I'm looking forward to their future posts. Well, anyways, go check it out!

January 21, 2008

it's all in the name!

So I was reading through the current issue of Dialogue, the official newsletter of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and I found some very interesting trivia facts. That is, the most common names among contemporary social psychologists.

They basically compiled a list of 1,179 different first and last names from individuals who were current members of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. And can you guess what the 2nd most common name was among male social psychologists? If you guessed 'Richard,' then you are correct! Ha! So maybe I was born to become a social psychologist, or maybe my parents were trying to condition me from the very start, haha. Of course, what would it mean if I didn't make it through grad school? I guess I'd have to change my name to 'George' or something.

Okay, so setting the kidding aside, if you are interested in the top name for male social psychologists, it's: John. I guess I wasn't too surprised on that one. The top two names for females in social psychology were: 1. Linda and 2. Ann(e). So there's some random social psychology trivia to spike up your life! Your welcome!

On another note, my blog is officially 1 year old! Yea! I actually missed like a lake's true blogaversary by a couple days. I was thinking that my first post was on the 21st of last January, but it was actually on the 12th. Doh! Oh well, happy late blogaversary to me!

January 9, 2008

To Understand Evil . . . Through Science

Just found out about this, so I thought that I'd let the readers know.

For anyone who has the National Geographic Channel, tonight's Explorer will be doing a special on the Science of Evil:

"Explorer journeys inside one of the most fascinating places of all - the human mind - to better understand the Science of Evil. Using cutting-edge functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques, scientists attempt to isolate the mechanics of moral judgment by mapping patterns in neurological processes. Could neuron activity in the brain really give rise to good or evil? Then, gain insight into the minds of some of the worlds cruelest people."
I'm pretty sure that the show will cover some of Phil Zimbardo's work as well, like the Stanford Prison Experiment. It looks pretty interesting though, and it starts at 8pm. I think that it's also playing on Saturday around 7pm. I'd check it out myself, if I had the channel . . . maybe I'll get a friend to tape it for me. Oh, and if you have Adobe's flash player, you can check out a video preview from the show . . . here. Enjoy!

January 8, 2008

First post of 2008!

Yeah, I know, I know. I am a tad bit late, but Happy New Year anyways . . . ha! I can't believe that it's 2008 already. The time does fly I suppose. Well, anyway, I hope everyone's Christmas and New Year's get-togethers were fun and eventful . . . or peaceful and relaxing.

So, has anyone had time to check out
Edge's annual question for the "intellectual elite"?

As I'm sure many readers know, John Brockman issues a question every year to the world's leading thinkers and publishes the responses on the Edge website. And then usually a collection of the best responses get published in paperback format. You may recall seeing the book on last year's question, "What Are You Optimistic About?," at your local bookstore.

Well, this year's question is:

Edge has received responses from 165 contributors, all leading thinkers within the Sciences and Humanities, particularly the evolutionary and cognitive sciences. I haven't had a chance to read through all of them, but there are a few that I have looked over. Steven Pinker has a short essay about whether humans have stopped evolving or not. The cognitive scientist, Stanislas Deheane, has an interesting essay about whether we will soon have a mathematical "theory of consciousness." And there are lots and lots of others! Go ahead and check them out!

And if you are interested in answers to past Edge questions, go check out the World Question Center.