Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You've Been Bamboozled!

Being bamboozled is synonymous with being duped, tricked, fooled, deceived, etc.   Everyone has been bamboozled and will probably continue to be bamboozled on occasion.  There is no foolproof way to avoid it.  However, learning to think scientifically, rationally, statistically, and accepting the fact that everyone is susceptible to cognitive errors may lessen the tendency to be bamboozled.      

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting popular examples of bamboozlement.   You have been bamboozled if you believe:
That low carb diets are superior to All other diets
Low carb diet enthusiasts claim their diet is supreme to other methods. They claim their diet offers a metabolic advantage-"metabolic advantages that will allow overweight individuals to eat as many or more calories as they were eating before starting the diet yet still lose pounds and inches" (Atkins, 1992). In addition, advocates claim overproduction of insulin, stimulated by high CHO intake, is the cause of obesity. Other claims include: low carb diets result in weight loss, fat loss, improved body comp, and improved health. Simply put, low carb dieting is superior to other forms of dieting, according to many low carb advocates.

Low carb diets have been shown to improve the conditions previously mentioned, but isn’t it true other diets offer some of the same benefits? And in some cases aren't low carb diets successful due to calorie manipulation and not some metabolic advantage? Or are low carb diets simply the way to go across the board
Low carbs and weight loss

Studies consistently show that weight loss is primarily determined by caloric intake, not diet composition (Hill et al.,1993)

In all cases, individuals on high-fat, low-CHO diets lose weight because they consume fewer calories (Freedman et al. 2001)....
Homeopathy is a real medical treatment
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, developed homeopathy in the late eighteenth century. He did so because of his dissatisfaction with the conventional medicine of his time.

Hahnemann suggested two key principles. First, he asserted that “like cures like.” In other words, a substance that produces certain symptoms in a healthy person can be used to cure similar symptoms in a sick person. Second, he claimed that very small doses of a remedy would be effective. Hahnemann diluted the remedies in a process he named potentization. He would take an original natural substance and dilute it numerous times. Between each dilution, he would shake the remedy. Shaking supposedly released the cure’s healing energy....
Homeopathy: Less is More

When making decisions trust intuitive thinking
Intuition has its place in the world. But believing it is a reliable cognitive device in most situations that we should trust more often than not is sure to get you into trouble. Relying more often on intuition instead of reasoning is not something that I believe is supported by our current psychological understanding and research.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Nonsense Detection Kit

The impetus for writing the Nonsense Detection Kit was previous suggestions made by Sagan (1996), Lilienfeld et al. (2012) and Shermer (2001).  The Nonsense Detection Kit is referring to nonsense in terms of “scientific nonsense”.  So, nonsense as it is referred to here refer to “nonscientific information” that is often perpetuated as scientific, when in fact it is not scientific. 

The Nonsense Detection Kit provides guidelines that can be used to separate sense from nonsense.  There is no single criterion for distinguishing sense from nonsense, but it is possible to identify indicators, or warning signs.  The more warnings signs that appear the more likely that claims are nonsense.     

Below is a brief description of indicators that should be useful when separating sense from nonsense.  These indicators should be useful when evaluating claims made by the media, on the Internet, in peer-reviewed publications, in lectures, by friends, or in everyday conversations with colleagues.   

Nonsense indicator- claims haven’t been verified by an independent source  

Nonsense perpetuators often claim special knowledge.  That is, they have made specific discoveries that only they know about. Others lack know how, or do not have the proper equipment to make the finding.  These findings are often reflected in phrases such as, “revolutionary breakthrough”, “what scientists don’t want you to know”, “what only a limited few have discovered”, and so on.  These findings are not subject to criticism or replication.  That is not how science works.  When conducting studies it is imperative that researchers operationalize (provide operational definition- precise observable operation used to manipulate or measure a variable) variables so the specifics can be criticized and replicated.  Non-scientists are not concerned with others being able to replicate their findings; because they know attempted replications will probably be unsuccessful.  If a finding cannot be replicated this is a big problem, and it is unreasonable to consider a single finding as evidence.  It is also problematic when only those making the original finding have replicated successfully.  When independent researchers using the same methods as those used in the original study are not able to replicate this is a sign that something was faulty with the original research. 

Nonsense indicator- claimant has only searched for confirmatory evidence

The confirmation bias is a cognitive error (cognitive bias) defined as tendency to seek out confirmatory evidence while rejecting or ignoring non-confirming evidence (Gilovich, 1991).  Confirmation bias is pervasive, and may be the most common cognitive bias.  Most people have a tendency to look for supporting evidence, while ignoring or not looking very hard for disconfirmatory evidence (showing a dislike for disconfirmatory evidence).  This is displayed when people cherry pick the evidence.  Of course, when you’re a lawyer this is what you need to do.  You don’t want any evidence entering into the case that may be incongruent with the evidence you present.  However, as a scientist it is important to look for disconfirming evidence.  In fact, it has been suggested that a good scientist goes out of their way to look for disconfirmatory evidence.  Why look for disconfirmatory evidence?  Because when discovering reality is the objective it is necessary to look at all the available data, not just the data supporting one’s own assertions.  Confirmation bias occurs when the only good evidence, according to the claimant, is the evidence that supports their claim.  Often, perpetuators of nonsense may not even be aware of disconfirmatory evidence.  They have no interest in even looking at it.  

A study by Frey & Stahlberg (1986) examined how people cherry-pick the evidence.  The participants took an IQ test and were given feedback indicating their IQ was either high or low.  After receiving feedback participants had a chance to read magazine articles about IQ tests.  The participants that were told they had low IQ scores spent more time looking at articles that criticized the validity of IQ tests, but those who were told they had high IQ scores spent more time looking at articles that supported the claim that IQ tests were valid measures of intelligence.  

Scientific thinking is structured to minimize confirmation bias.  The late Richard Feynman (Nobel Laureate, Physics) suggested that science is a set of processes that detects self-deception (Feynman, 1999).  That is, science makes sure we don’t fool ourselves.   

Nonsense indicator- claimant does not adhere to the standard rules of reason and research 

A large number of nonsense advocates do not even know what the standard rules of reason and research is, let alone adheres to them.  They often lack any training in research methodology, and are ignorant to the accepted rules of scholarly work (Shermer, 2001).  Consider the following example provided by Shermer (2001, p.21). 

Creationists (mainly the young-earth creationists) do not study the history of life.  In fact, they have no interest in the history of life whatsoever since they already know the history as it is laid down in the book of Genesis.  No one fossil, on one piece of biological or paleontological evidence has “evolution” written on it; instead there is convergence, they have to abandon the rules of science, which isn’t difficult for them since most of them, in fact, are not practicing scientists.  The only reason creationists read scientific journals at all is to either find flaws in the theory of evolution or to find ways to fit scientific ideas into their religious doctrines.


Other Nonsense indicators featured in the Nonsense Detection Kit: personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusion, excessive reliance on authorities, use of logical fallacies, cannot be falsified, avoidance of peer review, overreliance on anecdotes, extraordinary claims, and use of excessive “science sounding” words or concepts. 

The complete Nonsense Detection Kit is featured in the book- In Evidence We Trust: The Need for Science, Rationality and Statistics.  

References are available upon request

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: The SharpBrains Guide To Brain Fitness

Arguably, the brain is the most complex structure known to science. Writing a book on the brain that is accessible to the general public is a daunting task.  Writing a book that is accessible for the general public and useful for students of the brain sciences is even more challenging.  I am happy to say the task has been completed with success.  The SharpBrains Guide To Brain Fitness is that book!

What scientists are saying about the book?
“The only book that I know of that seamlessly integrates latest information about cognitive health across the lifespan.” Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois
“One of those books you cannot ignore.  Insightful, to the point, actionable.” Dr. Tobias Kiefer, Director Global Learning & Development, Booz & Company
“An essential reference on the field of the brain fitness, neuroplasticity and cognitive health.” Walter Jessen, Ph.D., founder and editor, Highlight Health   
The book contains nine chapters.  The book begins (Chapter one) with a discussion on the general framework regarding the structure and function of the brain. Moreover, chapter one provides a discussion on neuroplasticity and why it is imperative to brain fitness.  Each of the chapters includes transcripts of interviews with world renowned scientists, and a section titled chapter highlights. 
As an example of chapter highlights, the following is an excerpt from chapter 3:
“Aerobic exercise can enhance a wide variety of brain functions especially executive functions supported by the prefrontal cortex (planning, task-switching, inhibition, etc.)” – p.82
Another example of chapter highlights, taken from chapter 8:
“Physical exercise, balanced nutrition, stress management and social and cognitive engagement provide a foundation for maximizing brain health and functions.  Cross-training your brain builds on and goes beyond that foundation by enhancing targeted capacities.” -183
The book contains an Appendix with “55 IMPORTANT BRAIN FITNESS FACTS”
Brain Fitness Lists:
Top 3 Brain Facts, Top 7 Smart News Reader Facts, Top 4 Brain and Physical Exercise Facts, Top 11 Brain and Nutrition Facts, Top 8 Mental Challenge Facts, Top 6 Brain and Social Engagement Facts, Top 6 Brain and Stress Facts, and the Top 10 Brain Training Facts
Once you read this book and understand how to properly apply the information provided you will be on the path to maximizing brain health.  If you have any interest in brain fitness you will benefit from reading this book.  “Without brain health, you do not have health.” (Sandra Bond Chapman Ph.D., p. 216).  Generally, when writing a book review I include a brief list of key points.  This book has to too many key points to make the list brief. So, below I have provided links that furnish additional information about the book. 
Recommended Websites
The SharpBrains Guide To Brain Fitness 

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Psychology of Science

The following interview was conducted with Dr. Gregory Feist.  Dr. Feist is the founding president of the International Society for the Psychology of Science and Technology and founding editor-in-chief of Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology.  In addition, he is an Associate Professor of Psychology at San Jose State University.

Why does the psychology of science need to be classified as its own discipline?
Because psychology can shed light on the personalities, developmental histories, cognitive processes of scientific interest, talent, and creativity that other disciplines do not. History of science touches these topics sometimes, but in case studies in a historical context. Psychology is the only discipline that studies these topics empirically. 

How is the psychology of science different from the philosophy of science and the sociology of science?
Psychology is the only study of science that combines an empirical perspective with a focus on the individual. It also is the only study of science that uses the experimental methods. Also psychology uniquely focuses on psychological factors such as personality, motivation, brain activity, and development of thought. Philosophy is mostly analytical, that is non-empirical and does not test its own hypotheses the way psychology of science does. Sociology ignores or even refutes the individual in a social context and focuses on sociological structures and forces. The individual doesn't really matter.

Does the psychology of science address the psychology of rationality? That is, rationality as defined by cognitive science (instrumental and epistemic rationality).
Psychology, or more specifically cognitive psychology, very much is concerned with rational and non-rational cognitive processes, often by comparing experts to novices and seeing what distinguishes the two groups in how they identify and solve scientific problems. Cognitive scientists like Paul Thagard, Herb Simon, and Kevin Dunbar have examined rationality; but to the extent that psychology weighs in against pseudoscience, anti-science, and social constructivism, it takes a stance on rationality and the scientific method being of value. A very good cognitive science perspective on science the edited volume by Carruthers, Stich, and Siegal (2002) entitled the cognitive basis of science. 

What books do you recommend to a lay audience if they are interested in learning more about the psychology of science?
There no trade books for a wide general audience, so my 2006 book (the psychology of science and the origins of the scientific mind) would be one possible lay audience book (no stats in it).

What books do you recommend to the scientist that is interested in learning more about the psychology of science?
There are many books on the topic that might be of interests to scientists;
--the handbook of the psychology of science, edited by Feist and Gorman (2013) (springer publishing)
--creativity in science, by Simonton (2004)

What is your favorite book?
I assume you mean in the psychology of science. The books that for me have a special place were the two that inspired me to become a psychologist of science during graduate school, namely the edited volume by Gholson, Shadish, Neimeyer and Houts (1989) psychology of science: contributions to metascience and Dean Simonton's (1988) scientific genius: a psychology of science.

Where do you see the discipline- the psychology of science- in five years?
I would love to say that it would have PhD programs and research centers, but I think that is overly optimistic. More realistically, I think our society--the international society for the psychology of science and technology--will continue to have it's biennial conferences and have a small but loyal core group of scholars working and identifying themselves as psychologists of science. 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Evidence We Trust!

In 2005 I had an idea to write a book about scientific and rational thinking. I started writing the book that year, but progress was slow. In 2006 and 2007 I wrote a few books on different subjects; however I continued to work on the 2005 idea.  In 2010 I completed another book; this one was on exercise and nutrition myths.  I began working with Eastern Kentucky University’s Perception and Cognition Lab and Psychophysiology Lab in 2011.  By 2013, in addition to working with the labs, I had begun working as an instructor (teaching facilitator) at EKU.  January 1, 2014 my idea- In Evidence We Trust- came to fruition.    

Purchase e-books, In Evidence We Trust: The need for science, rationality and statistics and Nutrition: Fact or Fiction for only $29.95. 

What scientists are saying about In Evidence We Trust
“A great introduction to scientific thinking, useful for the student and the general reader alike”  …Keith E. Stanovich, Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto, author of How To Think Straight About Psychology 

“A useful, informative, and engaging compendium of critical thinking tools.  Should come in handy for novices and experts alike.  I recommend it!”  …Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology.
“Intelligent people make poor decisions every day. They use emotion over evidence, fantasy rather than fact, and superstition instead of science. Much of this has to do with a general state of scientific illiteracy and the inability to think critically. Jamie Hale's new book is a major step in overcoming this problem.” …Brian Jones, Ph.D.,  Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies, Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY.  

“Most undergraduate curriculum focus on training students in their knowledge areas.  More recently, there has been some emphasis put on thinking skills like critical thinking and scientific reasoning.  Yet the vast majority of textbooks still present scientific knowledge as though it is a finished product: someone a lot smarter than the average student figured all this stuff out, and the textbook contains “the truth.”  Very few textbooks introduce critical thinking and scientific reasoning as a process that we have to go through, and even fewer lay out what the components of the process are and how students should work through them.  Jamie Hale’s book is an excellent supplement to any science course because it introduces students to the landscape of the process of scientific thought.” …Richard Osbaldiston, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY.


Introduction ….................................................................2               

Chapter 1: The Need for Science and Statistics …..........6 

            The Skeptic …......................................................7

Scientific & Nonscientific Approaches to     

Knowledge ..........................................................17

            Science Might Have it Wrong? …......................29

            The Common Sense Myth! …............................31

            Correlational Studies are Important Even if

            They Don’t Imply Causation! …........................34  

            Why We Need Statistics! …...............................36

            When Experts are Wrong …...............................39

            Understanding Scientific Research Methods ….48

            Why Science Matters by James Randi …...........55

            The Nonsense Detection Kit …..........................57

            Science Roundtable: Discussing Scientific

            Matters …...........................................................67

            Guidelines for Reading Research Reports ….....80 

Chapter 2: The Need for Rationality ….........................83 

            Developing The RQ Test …...............................84

            Good Thinking: More Than Just Intelligence ...92

            Intelligence and Rationality: different

            cognitive abilities …..........................................95

            The Ultimate Goal of Critical thinking …........100

            Man is an Irrational Animal! …........................104

            Common Myths About Rationality …..............111  

Dysrationalia: Intelligent People Behaving    Irrationally ….......................................................... 114 

Chapter 3 FAQ: Research Methods and Statistics …..123 

References ...................................................................177 

Appendices ..................................................................185

Appendix A Practice Problems …................................185

Appendix B APA Style Citation and Reference

Lists ….........................................................................194

Appendix C Recommended Readings: Popular

Science Books ….........................................................197

Index …........................................................................200

About the Author ….....................................................204


Note: The hardcopy will be available soon!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The BS Antidote

BSers have no idea if the claims they perpetuate are true or false; they have put little effort forth in regards to investigating the claim.  The truth-value of a claim is not important to the BSer.  There is a difference between a liar and BSer.  The liar misrepresents what they believe to be true. 

On Bullshit (Frankfurt, 2005) is a pocket size, 67-page book that discusses BS.  Frankfurt discusses why BSers and Liars do not necessarily have the same motives.  I had never thought of the two- BSer and liar as being different until reading On Bullshit.  However, after reading Frankfurt’s book it became clear- there is a difference between BSers and liars.

Frankfurt points out that BS is one of the most salient features of our culture.  Everyone engages in some level of BS.  Frankfurt makes a point to explain that someone who thinks they are lying can actually being telling the truth. A statement is a lie if the person making the statement “believes that the statement is false and intends by making it to deceive” (p.8). 

Why are there so many Bsers? There are two key reasons:1- ego inflation 2- customary communication.  Many people like to always be right, or at least make others think they are right.  Of course, most people like to be right.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be right, but this becomes problematic when being right becomes more important than finding the truth.  Many people pride themselves on being good BSers; you know the type of person that can carry on a conversation with anyone, or wow people with their smarts.  Some of the most popular people are BSers.  Personally, I don’t mind to hear a little BSing.  I BS on occasion, but I limit my BSing, and I know when it is inappropriate.  The excessive BSer doesn’t seem to understand or care to understand that BSing is sometimes inappropriate.  As an example, the excessive BSer has a tendency to consistently make unfounded claims, and attempts to participate in conversations on topics they know little to nothing about.  They haven’t looked at the evidence, and they aren’t interested in what the evidence says.  They know they are right, even when they have no evidence to support their claims. They generally support their claims by using an array of logical fallacies and nonsensical claims.  What is the antidote to BS, in this context?   Maybe we should call the bluff, and ask to see evidence.  This generally doesn’t work.  I have been in many Internet battles, and asking BSers to produce evidence is generally a waste of breath. To reiterate, BSers are not interested in the truth-value of their claim.  And, most of the time BSers have a completely different idea than others, when it comes to what constitutes evidence.  This lack of understanding in regards to what it means to produce evidence is prevalent, and is particularly problematic when discussing science.  In science, we discuss topics by referring to evidence, not wishful thinking, personal observations, or common sense.  Scientific thinkers derive their claims from systematic processes used to collect and analyze information, namely science.  If asking for evidence doesn’t work what should we do in order to combat BS?  I don’t have a good answer to this question.  Maybe someone else does.  Maybe we should pass a law that allows us to duct tape their mouths shut?  Maybe they should be fined for intellectual pollution?   

The customary process of communication may be another reason that BS is so prevalent.  Consider the following: you and your significant other attend a dinner party for your friend.  Your friends are talking and seemingly having a pleasant evening until the conversation addresses stem-cell research.  Your friends appear to be relatively knowledgeable about the subject.  After a few minutes of dialogue they ask for your opinion.  You panic because you know very little about the subject, but you decide to express your opinion. Why would you comment on something you know nothing about?  You felt obligated to say something because you didn’t want to be rude. This type of situation occurs on a regular basis.  Bullshit is unavoidable when someone is forced to discuss a topic that they know little about.  In this context the antidote to BS is politely admitting you are not qualified to discuss the topic. 

BS is ubiquitous and sometimes it is fine; however, at times it is inappropriate.  Good thinkers are able to figure out when it is appropriate. The next time you notice you are discussing a topic, and defending it vehemently, even though you have no evidence to corroborate your beliefs do yourself and anyone listening to you a favor and shut up!   

Below is some of the e-mail I have received and responded to over the past three weeks. A lot of these conversations are with BSers.

Not-Fan Mail

E-mail: Hello Jamie,

I am a fan of some of your work, but your article on testing and learning is PLAIN wrong.  I am a junior high teacher and I know from experience that testing does little to improve learning.  In fact, it is my opinion, and the opinion of many of my co-workers that testing has a negative influence on learning.

My response: Thanks for the e-mail.  I assume you are referring to the article titled Does Testing Enhance Learning http://jamiehalesblog.blogspot.com/search?q=does+testing+enhance+learning

Your opinion is a moot point if it is not supported by even an angstrom of evidence, and lacks logic.  “I know from experience” is not sufficient evidence.  Of course, at times experience may lead to the formation of testable hypotheses, and if that is the case they should be tested.  The article you are referring to discusses the following research:

Balota, D.A., Duchek, J.M., & Paullin, R. (1989). Age-related differences in the impact of spacing, lag, and retention interval. Psychology and Aging, 4, 3–9. 

Roediger, H.L., & Karpicke, J.D. (2006). Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention. Psychological Science, 17 (3), 249-255.

The results support the claim that testing enhances learning

Name, sorry you don’t like the results, but science doesn’t have any concern for whether or not you are pleased with the results.  Science is the great truth finder and self- deception detector.

2nd email:  The results of studies are often wrong.  Scientists have vested interests.

My 2nd response:  You don’t think you could be wrong.  Science might be wrong, but it makes use of numerous self-correcting techniques to help ensure that it isn’t wrong.  When scientific information is shown to be wrong that information is abandoned in exchange for better information.  All scientific information is tentative. If interested in learning more about scientific processes I suggest you spend some time educating yourself in the following areas: philosophy of science, research methods and stats.  I can send you some suggested sources if you would like.

3rd email:  Jamie, I have no interest in seeing your suggestions.  It appears to me that you have a hidden agenda.  Maybe you are just interested in promoting science.  It seems to me that you think science can answer everything.

My 3rd response:  My agenda is the perpetuation of science.  I am not trying to hide that.  I am a science educator.  Do I think science can answer all questions?  No, I do not. You have never heard me say that.  You have heard me say, and you will continue to hear me say scientific processes are unquestionably the most successful processes we have for discovering reality.  There is no other method of knowledge acquisition that even compares.  Of course, you will probably dishonestly say you disagree.  I say dishonestly, because you like everyone else depends heavily on science and technology.  Try going 2-3 days without using any of the benefits that you are provided due to science and technology. 

E-mail: It appears to me that you are a hypocrite!  You are always talking about being skeptical.  So, why shouldn’t we be skeptical of your claims?

My response:  I appreciate the not so kind words.  You should be skeptical of all claims, including those made by myself.  Skeptic is derived from the Greek skeptikos, which means, "inquiring" or "to look around”. Skeptics apply reason to and need evidence for all claims. It is important to consider who are making the claims, but no matter who makes the claim evidence is required. The individual’s reputation, authority or credentials do not make the claim correct.  

If you are not a skeptic you should be.  Skepticism should be applied to all claims; no claim should be given a free pass when it comes to providing supportive evidence. 

E-mail:  Hey Coach Hale,

I used to be a fan of your work, until you became boring.  You are always talking about evidence.  Not everyone cares about evidence!  They just want the answers.  

My response:  I agree that many people do not care about evidence.  Especially, when that evidences contradicts their beliefs.

Correct answers are dependent on evidence; so, if someone wants correct answers they should want evidence.  But, people often do not care about what the evidence says, they are only interested with recipe knowledge- they want to know what to do, but they are not  concerned with why they should do it.

E-mail: If correlational research does not determine cause and effect why do researchers conduct this type of research?  It seems that they are wasting time. 

My response: Even though correlational research is not used to determine cause and effect it is still important. Consider the following points made by Stanovich (2007):

“First, many scientific hypotheses are stated in terms of correlation or lack of correlation, so that such studies are directly relevant to these hypotheses."

"Second, although correlation does not imply causation, causation does implycorrelation. That is, although a correlational study cannot definitely prove a causal hypothesis, it may rule one out."

"Third, correlational studies are more useful than they may seem, because some of the recently developed complex correlational designs allow for some very limited causal inferences."

"…some variables simply cannot be manipulated for ethical reasons (for instance, human malnutrition or physical disabilities). Other variables, such as birth order, sex, and age are inherently correlational because they cannot be manipulated, and, therefore, the scientific knowledge concerning them must be based on correlation evidence.”

Correlation does not imply causation, however causation does imply correlation. Correlational studies are a stepping-stone to the more powerful experimental method. (Hale, 2014).

E-mail:  Sometimes your comments are very rude.  I think each person has a right to their own beliefs, and those beliefs should be respected. 

My response:  You are being dishonest. You do not believe that all beliefs deserve the same level of respect.  Believes that are not based on evidence do not deserve the same level of respect as evidence based beliefs.  As an example, no one respects the belief that “Elvis lives.”  Why don’t people respect that belief? Because it is absurd; even if we can’t prove he doesn’t live.  It is important to realize no matter how much you want something to be true if it defies everything that is known about reality it probably isn’t true.  No amount of wishing makes it any truer.

E-mail:  I think it is offensive to tell people if they don’t have any training in research methods and statistics, or that if they don’t read about those subjects they can’t understand them. 

My response: Thanks for pointing this out.  I am sorry that you are offended by this fact.  Why do you think that you understand the complexity of research methods and stats if you have made no effort to acquire an education in these areas?  When I say that you do not understand these subjects, or when I say you are ignorant in these areas I am not saying you are stupid.  However, I am saying when you continuously attempt to show how much you know about subjects that you nothing about you demonstrate irrationality.  Of course, consistent irrationality might be referred to as stupidity.  Or a euphemism may be used in suggesting stupidity.

To be clear, not understanding a subject doesn’t reflect stupidity; if that were the case we would have to say everyone is stupid.  No one understands all areas of knowledge.   

E-mail: You admitted that your writing style has prevented you from getting published in some of the big magazines.  That should tell you something?

My response: It tells me that magazines should change their publication criteria.  When my writing style reflected many of the popular myths disseminated by the fitness industry it was a lot easier to get published.   
Many types of magazines not just fitness magazines have suggested that my writing style is a little too evidence based, and not practical enough.  Generally, magazines publishers are interested in generating high revenues, and quite often evidence based information might not be the best revenue generator.


Frankfurt, H.G. (2005).  On Bullshit.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.   

Hale, J. (Not yet published ).  In Evidence We Trust: The need for science, rationality and statistics.

Stanovich, K. (2007).  How To Think Straight About Psychology 8th Edition.   New York, NY: Pearson. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Answer Key: In Evidence We Trust

Answer key

1- IV: list of words- levels (conditions, groups): names of objects, abstract nouns
    DV: memory
Operationalization of DV: A test was administered to participants that assessed     memory.   The test was administered after participants were exposed to either of the lists of words.  Scores were compared.

2- IV: Presence or absence of drug- levels: received drug, no-drug
     DV: rate of learning
Operationalization of DV: The drug group and no-drug group ran the maze while   observers recorded how many times they had to run before learning.  Different judges recorded and compared their scores (interrater reliability). 

3- IV: Type of room where eating- levels: hot room, cool room
   DV: food consumption
Operationalization of DV: Researchers recorded the amount of food in each room before participants began to eat and after they finished eating.             

4- IV: Presence or absence of soft music- levels: soft music room, no-music room
    DV: plant growth
    Operationalization of DV: Compare the growth of the plants that were grown in each   room.  Baseline measures of plants were taken, and then at the end of the study another measure was taken.

5- IV: type of feedback- levels: told score was good, told score was average
     DV: self esteem
     Operationalization of DV: After receiving feedback participants are given a questionnaire.  The questionnaire is used to assess self-esteem.

1-c  2-b  3-a 4-a  5-b  6-c  7-b  8-c  9-b  10-d

A- 6.67  B- 2.5  C- 2  D- 2  E- 1  F-2

Roberto= 1  Dellis= 0  Pamelisa= -1  Hennis= -1.5