Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Non-shock: OKCupid experiments on humans, like every other big website

See this post from their blog. Of course, if this were an academic experiment (i.e. one with the purported aim of finding socially useful knowledge), it would have been highly unethical - experimenting on thousands of humans! Without their consent!

Clearly, society does not have an ethical problem with experimenting on humans: we let companies do that all the time. Since it is only academic experiments that have to pass stringent ethics committees, it must be that what is prima facie unethical is learning useful things from experiments on humans. We have taken our cue from Genesis:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

This is how all my experiment designs should be

The standard condition consisted of an undergraduate female stationed by a 1964 Ford Mustang (control car) with a flat left-rear tire. An inflated tire was leaned upon the left side of the auto. The girl, the flat tire, and the inflated tire were conspicuous to the passing traffic....
Find out what happens next.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


From the Iraqi bloggers I have in my bookmark folder. Many are shut down or have fallen silent.
War in Iraq.
Home is all about being the same.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The paedophilia scandal

(Back blogging again, just because I feel the need to write something for the non-academic audience, no matter how small!)
The political consequences, though, would surely be a final, wholesale collapse of trust in the political system. Duck houses on the taxpayer are one thing, but enabling child abuse.... If that happens, the best – best! – outcome I see is that UKIP sweep the board at general election time, bringing Neil Hamilton into office alongside a slew of fishy populist coves. 
But a worse, and just as likely, outcome is: nothing. The duopoly nature of first-past-the-post elections means that no outside party can coordinate the voters to break through. Labour and Conservatives continue to dominate Parliament, with an absolute majority of the electorate not bothering to turn up. Democracy becomes a cynical game of mobilizing the parties' core supporters. There is a vacuum not of power but of authority. Politicians simply lack the credibility to impose change against any group's will. Through the first half of the new century, Britain flies on autopilot.
... condemned to watch the lingering agony of an exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, and to see the symptoms of vitality disappear one by one, till nothing is left but coldness, darkness, and corruption.