Thoughts on Psychology

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New Blog, Moving There

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Our School has set up a new blog for psychology at University of Gloucestershire, which can be found here:
University of Gloucestershire Psychology Blog
Going forward I’ll tend to post there more than here (and try to post more often). I’ll still use this blog for more personal posts or other views too strong to be associated with the University name 🙂

Written by daijones

February 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

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Facebook group for issues in psychology

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I went to the HEA/BPS History & Philosophy of Psychology section annual conference, and delivered a session in the preceding workshop on teaching conceptual and historical issues in psychology. It occurred to me that there wasn’t really an online forum for sharing ideas, resources etc in the teaching of conceptual and historical issues, so I set up a Facebook group to hopefully act as such a forum. It’s an open group which anyone can join, check it out here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Conhistissues/

From the group description:
“Back in the good old days the Higher Education Academy’s Psychology Network had a page for resources in Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology (CHIP). Unfortunately the Psychology Network fell victim to the cuts, and the page went with it. At a recent professional development day on teaching CHIP co-hosted by the BPS History & Philosophy of Psychology section and the HEA, there was a discussion of how the teaching of CHIP could be enhanced. Restoring the lost facility for sharing resources seemed useful, as did providing a forum to facilitate discussion. That is the purpose of this group. Feel free to join and lurk, ask questions, join discussions, share ideas, and post useful links or other resources.”

Written by daijones

May 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm

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Link: Levenson on science reporting

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Useful summary of the Levenson’s enquiry comments on science reporting in the press. Levenson is more upbeat than the commenter, but makes a particularly interesting observation about how the search for “balance” can lead to a mis-representation of scientific evidence:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/nov/29/leveson-inquiry-science-scepticism

Written by daijones

November 30, 2012 at 12:18 am

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Link: On female sexual dysfunction

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I’ve spoken about female sexual dysfunction as a problematic diagnostic category in lectures: driven by pharmaceutical companies, medicalising the psychological, and reducing a complex nexus of social, psychological and biological factors to an issue in the brain chemistry of individuals. There’s a nice paper here tracing the history of the development of the concept, while also discussing the relationship between feminist critiques and psychiatry/psychoanalysis:
http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/25/4/3.full.pdf

Written by daijones

October 21, 2012 at 1:11 am

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The BBC can be so stupid

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A trivial moan, but reporting on the bad weather tonight a BBC journalist said something like “drivers reaching their final destinations talked of journeys cut short”. If they reached their destination, the journey wasn’t cut short. Is that hard?

I love the BBC, and really don’t want to be lumped with that bunch of right wing idiots that want to close it down, but some basic  logic wouldn’t go amiss. If that’s the quality of reporter’s reasoning on the best of British news (which the BBC undoubtedly is), and if such idiocy goes unchecked, no wonder science reporting in this country is so  poor.

A lesson here in basic argument: don’t have a predicate fundamentally contradict the conclusion. It makes you look stupid. Because it’s stupid.

Written by daijones

February 5, 2012 at 4:22 am

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Learning about the paranormal from a carton of eggs

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I’m sometimes asked how psychology might explain events that seem so strange that they suggest the existence of paranormal activity, for example when you’re thinking about a friend and how you haven’t talked to them for a while, and then the phone rings and it’s them. These events seem so very unlikely, it seems impossible that they could happen by chance. The explanation that it’s just a coincidence doesn’t seem very persuasive. However, sometimes an unpersuasive reason is the right one, and the reason why unusual events sometimes occur comes down to the law of large numbers.
Any event that can be possible, including bizarre coincidences, has some chance of it happening, even if that chance is very small. However, there are so many events, and so many people to potentially experience them, that even the most unlikely of coincidences is likely to happen now and again. Hence the picture above. I was making an omelet last night, and was surprised to find when I cracked the first egg that it had a double yolk: I haven’t had that happen to me for a long time, probably because the chances of an egg having a double yolk are about one in a thousand. I was considerably more surprised when I cracked a second egg, and found that it too had a double yolk. If the events (each egg crack) are independent (though they probably aren’t), then the chances of that happening are one in a million. When I cracked the third egg and found another double yolk I must confess to feeling a bit spooked. When the fourth egg was a single yolk I was a little disappointed, but also a little relieved: it meant I could stop looking for pixies at the bottom of the garden! Then the fifth and sixth eggs were also double yolks, and I started feeling spooked again. Six eggs produced 11 yolks, pictured above. The chances of that, if the events are independent, are infinitesimal: let’s say one in a billion for a nice round number. And yet, it happened. Even if the chances are one in a billion, given the number of people buying eggs on a regular basis then there will be times that people find multiple instances of double yolks.
I thought five out of six was pretty spooky, but then I found this: six out of six
The Mail quote odds of a trillion to one for that, again based on the events being independent. As some of the comments point out though, it’s unlikely that the events are independent, and the odds of a double yolk are probably greater than one in a thousand for large eggs (eggs with a double yolk are more likely to be large), and perhaps for free range eggs. Still, I buy these eggs regularly, and have never had a double yolk before, so it’s still a pretty unlikely event.
I refuse to believe the commenter in the mail post who claims 11 out of 12: that’s too far fetched even for me!

Written by daijones

January 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm

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It’s not just me

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Good post here on problems with the BBC’s science reporting:
The BBC’s problem with science

Written by daijones

January 27, 2012 at 1:16 am

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