Trying to measure the iffiness of lots of psych research

August 27th, 2015

Many psychologists try to measure things that are tough to measure — and many of those many do it iffily. The Reproducibility Project is trying to measure how iffy those measurements are. They published a study called “Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science,” about their progress.

Psychological ScienceBenedict Carey tells about this, in a New York Times article called “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says.”

Ed Yong tells about it, in an Atlantic article called “How Reliable Are Psychology Studies?

You might be able to tell something about it by skimming through titles and abstracts of studies published in Psychological Science.

Psychological Science is the top-of-the-line psychology research journal assembled by the top-of-the-line association of psychologists, the Association for Psychology (also known as the APA, and also known these days for the way some of its recent leaders relate to the activity that people other than those leaders call “torture”).

BONUS: Here’s how some (hard to say how much, but the Reproducibility Project might one day be able to say something) of the most iffy research can happen: “Science Isn’t Broken
It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for“, by Christie Aschewanden, on the FiveThirtyEight web site.


Paige Bebee’s excellent appendix adventure film

August 27th, 2015

Paige Bebee’s short film, “The Secret of the Appendix”, is the 2015 winner of the secondary schools’ category in the annual Schools Sleek Geeks Eureka Science video prize. Behold:

The Sleek Geeks, inspiritors of the video prize, are two in number: Karl Kruszelnicki (who is, among other things a 2002 Ig Nobel Prize winner for his work with belly button lint) and Adam Spencer.

The gentleman munching in the film is Barry Marshall, who has eaten stranger things and even been rewarded, eventually, for doing so.

(Thanks to Joanne Gould for bringing this to our attention.)

The Tradition of Shoe-Throwing at Weddings

August 27th, 2015

Shoe-throwing may now be mostly a political act. But not long ago, it was a common rite of marriage, writes James Crombie of Aberdeen, who has gathered some matrimonial footwear-hurling facts into a 24-page treatise called Shoe-Throwing at Weddings.

This was in 1895, when readers may have empathised with Crombie’s opening thought: “Pelting a bride and bridegroom with old shoes when they start on their honeymoon is a custom we are all familiar with, and in which many of us have participated.”

Some 113 years later, in 2008, Muntazer al-Zaidi recategorised the social role of shoe-throwing when he hurled size-10 shoes, and some words (“This is your farewell kiss, you dog”), at US president George W Bush at a press conference in Baghdad….

So begins this month’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

Here’s video of the press-conference shoe-throwing:

BONUS: Another shoe-throwing video (thanks to SciCurious for bringing it to our attention):


“Why does coffee make you poop?” Four videos.

August 27th, 2015

Several organizations try to answer the same question (a question that is laden with assumptions): “Why does coffee make you poop?”

Discovery News:


ACS Reactions:

Nathan and Rose:

(Thanks to Vaughn Tan for bringing this to our attention.)


Puritan values: Revised history of Harvard and Yale Universities

August 26th, 2015

Puritan State University tells its own history, and also its own history of two other universities:

Brief History

PuritanStateUAs were the cases wherein Reverend Harvard founded Harvard University and Rev. Yale, the Yale University in the states, so was Dr. Si Hwa Chang who likewise, as nationalist and a true believer of the Puritan martyr spirit, who founded the first Christian school on 3726 W. Adams Blvd. on this land in the recent dawning era of Koreans in the states….

This Christian school, having commenced as LOS ANGELES BIBLE COLLEGE AND SEMINARY, was approved by the State of California in 1969…. In 1987, the school changed its name to L.A. Christian Univ. and in May 1993 to Puritan State University.