scientific misconduct as choose-your-own-adventure video game!

Kelly pointed to this in the comments on my last post: a CYOA game in which you get to take on different roles and try to prevent a science fraud scandal from happening.

As a connoisseur of CYOA, I don’t think it works that well as a game — too much stuff before and between choices — but the videos have surprisingly high production values and script quality for something like this.

that faculty impact “study”

I got a call this morning from the Daily Tar Heel because, while UNC was dead last among the 94 universities covered in the study Kieran has been mocking for its invention of an MIT sociology department, I am apparently the third-most-impactful faculty member in that dubious list. Talk about damning with faint praise.

Continue reading “that faculty impact “study””


It’s humbling to go to the library every once in a while. Standing in the stacks reminds you of all the things you don’t know – regardless of whether you think of these as the things you have left to learn, the things you’ll never know, or the things that others don’t know either so you’re clearly not all that inferior. If you’re too lazy busy to walk to the library, watching this video might suffice.

Edited to add: Apparently BBC blocked the video. UK readers are still able to see it (part of the “Super Smart Animals” program) here.

how not to graph trends over time

Talking Points Memo has a slide showing President Obama’s approval rating 2011-2012:

Putting the theorized causes of opinion shift between the two lines is pretty, but misleading since at least to me it implies that these events caused the difference between the two lines, not the change in the overall rating.

More misleading–though in a direction that undermines the graph’s thesis–is the manipulation of the y-axis so it ranges only from 40 to 55. The graph’s claim (that the President’s approval is “Nearly back to where it started”) is sort of true, but truncating the y axis makes it look false, since the Gallup line has fully 33% of the y axis to go before matching its peak!

those reality tv camera conversations, with academics.

The videos on this site are strangely reminiscent of the follow ups at the end of late night episodes of Blind Date or the drunken ramblings from The Real World confessionals (only without booze). It’s a far cry from the solution faculty dreamed up to “turn the tables” on student evaluations.

An interesting aside – Continue reading “those reality tv camera conversations, with academics.”

speaking of social psych and hollywood…

(I realize that I haven’t blogged in weeks and now it’s two times in an hour, but bear with me)

Back in my Intro to Soc days I used to have students do this project on stigma.* Within minutes of my last post, a friend shared a link to this little Hollywood adaptation of that assignment (although I had students work in teams of two, not two hundred).

Continue reading “speaking of social psych and hollywood…”


I have an old email account I check on occasion. Others sometimes mistype their own account and register for services using this email address. Most services ask for confirmation so there’s not much of a problem. In such cases I don’t confirm and that way the registration doesn’t really go through. Presumably the person eventually realizes this and registers with the correct address.

However, not all systems go through such verification. I just checked this account and noticed that someone has signed up on one of those social sites (you know, the ones like MySpace where you connect up with friends) and has since been accumulating numerous connections. I get a notification about both friend requests and friend acceptances requested by “me”. Continue reading “conflicted”

the end of the world as we watch it

A video is circulating around the web that many are calling the most disgusting thing they have ever seen. There’s also a video circulating just of the horrified reaction of people watching it. A friend who seems otherwise tough-to-squick apparently clicked to view it in a coffeeshop and almost threw up right there in front of the barista.

I will not here provide a link to it or even say anything that can help a person Google it. However, Continue reading “the end of the world as we watch it”