Titanic Fanatics… Time to Get a Life!

Living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we have Titanic victims and history and all, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic has been one seriously overblown melodrama in a province that thrives on traditionalism.

However, sadly for them all, the 100th anniversary just past yesterday and now it all will fade into obscurity again. That was their day in the limelight. Now that it’s over, though, thank you very much for the time and effort put in to preserve the legacy, but it’s time to get a life!

That may sound harsh, but I do have compassion for them.  Continue reading

Researched Suggestions for Writing the Next Hit Song in America

A new study published in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts suggests that the most popular songs in American culture these days are increasingly about oneself, especially one’s angry or antisocial behaviour (DeWall, C. Nathan; Pond, Richard S., Jr.; Campbell, W. Keith; Twenge, Jean M., Mar 21 2011).

See the more complete and easier to read Miller-McCune article here.

Continue reading

TED 2011 Ads Worth Spreading, Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of 3 posts showing all the ads TED deemed worth spreading. (Part 1)

The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) community just released its 2011 Ads Worth Spreading contest winners, and the ads are better than the ones I have seen for the Super Bowl in any year! But what did you expect from a brilliant group who’s moniker is “Ideas Worth Spreading”?

Now these ads aren’t like ones in the Super Bowl lasting 30-60 seconds. These ads are much longer, often being the full version of the shortened ads for TV time slots. However, with ads like these, I could watch commercials in place of TV shows because I don’t notice how long or short they are. I’m actually a little sad once it’s over, alongside whatever mood the commercials left me in.

I have posted a bunch of the ads here because I have found higher quality versions of the ads than the ones available on the TED website. Otherwise, I’d have just posted links to them all on TED’s site.

The link for Part 3 is at the end of the post.

Enjoy and be prepared to be wowwed!!!

Continue reading

“Study” on Facebook Narcissism and Insecurity not REAL Research

A hot story has been circulating for a few days now regarding a study done by undergraduate student Soraya Mehdizadeh of York University about how more active users of Facebook are more narcissistic and insecure than the rest of us. Problem is there’s nothing good enough about it to be called either a “study” or “research”.

The media is also to blame. I’m not sure whether to call the editors who allowed it on their popular news sources “stupid” for running the story like it’s legitimate news, or “smart but immoral” for putting it out knowing stuff like that sells, even if there’s no substance to it.

The greatest shame, though, has to go to the “journal” of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking for publishing it as if it were worthy of being called “academic” quality (study PDF). York University should be just as disgraced for letting that pass its standard for “academic research”, push it for publication and then blabber about it as if they had some meaningful research on their hands.

An above average high school student could have done a better job on such a project! Soroya basically did a bad high school project, if you ask me.

Think of that as a challenge for you high schoolers out there looking for a good Science Fair or other project to do. It’s a project that should be fun and engaging if you’re a Facebook fan, and there should be at least a few of you out there who qualify. Then social network together to pool results and get a decent sample size… which Soroya never even came close. And fix some flaws critiqued here.

Here are a few tragic fatal flaws of that “study”.

Lack of sample size with just 100 subjects

For a site with 500 million users, all Soroya can show for it is 100 users? I know it was an undergraduate thesis, but people used to have to work for their thesis, you know? Also, in the electronic media for this day and age, you’d think she could get more than 100 people to do some tests! If you were going to target 100, call it a term project and leave it at that! Don’t go screaming you’ve got a study on your hands and seek attention.

Oh, wait. I think that’s narcissism!

Which professor let that be called research anyway??? Soroya did publicly admit the sample size was a weakness to the “study”, but that’s not a weakness. That doesn’t constitute a study in this case. If I did a study of 1, I could say the same thing. Of course, nobody would call it a study due to the sample size of just 1. So at how many do you call a study, and why? With that many users and statistically significant polls of merit needing around 1000 subjects, 100 subjects is still way too few to be enough data to call a study!

Soroya also had the audacity to talk about gender differences on a sample size of 50 or so people! Did she ever take statistics? And who vetted this to allow it???

All subjects were 18-25 years old

Since when did humans outside of 18-25 years old not qualify as “people”? You can’t draw a conclusion for “Facebook users” on this demographic alone. The media did that more than Soroya, but she implied it enough not to title the study “18-25 year old Facebook users” for a subject group. And were the 100 selected even representative of all 18-25 year olds? There must be literature to determine that “average” to compare to the test group narcissism and insecurity profile. Hey, maybe 18-25 year olds at York are just more narcissistic and insecure than the typical group and uses Facebook as a symptom of it!

You can make that call. 🙂

Causality… or lack thereof

So are more active Facebook users narcissistic and/or insecure? Or are narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook more actively? Does Soroya know the difference? In case she doesn’t, let me clarify. The first is what the media story and her so-called “study” suggests. So everyone who uses Facebook more actively are narcissistic and insecure. The second means only some of the people who use Facebook more actively are narcissistic and/or insecure, and that you can’t tell if they are by the level of their Facebook activity.

But that doesn’t sell or cause a stir or make anybody care as people could have told you that on their own instinct and be right. I’m not even sure if narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook a lot because you’d also have to look at the ones who don’t use Facebook and see what portion they make up, never mind those who don’t use it much.

Soroya’s pretentious “research” can’t prove any causality, but she comments on all kinds of causality.

If I had to bet on any connection between Facebook usage and narcissism and/or insecurity, though, I’d easily bet on the second reason. I’d bet narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook more actively, not that more active users are narcisstic.

Carefully constructed self-image???

Beyond the ridiculous conclusions drawn by Soroya on causality, she then dared to speculate on meanings of symptoms of narcissism and insecurity. For example, the more active users had carefully constructed images of themselves, to project their best features and hide their worst, or that their profile is nothing really like them. Um. Does Soroya even know anything about Facebook usage?

The active users are the ones who get caught for affairs, missing work, lying to their friends, or just plainly do other less than appropriate things. They’re the ones Facebook etiquette guides were written for, cause they’re so blind to what their actions says about them to know better!

Reasons for Facebook usage unaccounted for

Does Soroya have any idea if people in this subject use Facebook for the same reasons as other demographics by any division? I mean, seniors tend to flock to Facebook and social media to be better up to date and involved in the lives of their adolescent or older grandchildren. Is that narcissism or insecurity?

Or maybe it’s love and caring. But wait, that doesn’t sell.

Some musicians I know add friends like crazy not because they care, but because they can show potential promoters and labels a nice base of fan support. Is that narcissism or insecurity?

Or maybe it’s just good old fashioned business and public relations. But wait, that doesn’t sell, either.

Final thoughts

There are many more problems with Soroya’s “high school project”. I don’t need to bore you with more as I think I’ve discredited it enough to make it worthless. I’ll just throw in a few commentaries to conclude.

Who knew it was so easy to get 15 minutes of fame these days?

I wonder what Soroya thought of Canadians possibly being among narcissistic and insecure people in the world. We have 47.9%  of the population connected, a higher percentage than any nation with over 10 million people. We also have the 4th most users in the world (CTV, June 2, 2010), without anywhere near the 4th largest population in the world! Would she have said most of us use Facebook passively like we are on a lot of things? Sure we didn’t all sign up only to be passive, did we?

High school students reading this, or Parents of them, try the challenge I had for high school students at the beginning. Seriously!

And where did Soroya get accepted into medical school? I won’t fault the school in case she didn’t tell them about this work to get in. For the love of God, Allah and the Buddha, I hope Soroya never be allowed to do research until she learns some more about what research is about! Just stick to areas in Med School one only has to memorize things or use one’s hands or something that doesn’t require research type of critical thinking!

But to end positively, congratulations for raising awareness on the Facebook usage issue, Soroya. I just wouldn’t have used sensationalism in the name of research to get credibility and attention.

By the way, Soroya, how did you fare on your own test?

Good luck in Med School. Just don’t tell the media which one accepted you for your school’s sake!

 

 

Other Facebook issue posts on my site:

The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes

How to Get Rid of Your Facebook Past

25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With

25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen

Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0

Happy Pi Day! How Are You Celebrating?

Today, March 14 (when this was posted), is Pi Day. March 14th’s date is often written as 3-14, which contains the first three digits of π, so it is chosen as Pi Day. Coincidentally, but rather symbolically appropriate, it is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, and few other dates could be more appropriate in my opinion. That is unless you count Feb 7 as 2-7 and really approximate the natural logarithm e to a useless 2 digits. Geekier people can celebrate Pi Minute at 1:59 AM (24 hour clock only) or 1:59 PM (12 hour clock) on March 14, since 3.14159 is a longer extension of the Pi decimal. I would argue for something like 3:54:32 PM because on the 24 hour clock, 15.935 hours is that time, but that’s probably too geeky even for the mainstream Pi Day celebrators. Mind you, some of them celebrate Pi Second at precisely at 1:59:26 AM or PM on the 12 hour clock, with decimals of a second being really optional to any number of 5-3-5 tenths, hundredths or thousandths of a second. Too short to even let out a scream, though!

So far, I’ve written this article with only a link to π, as if you knew enough about it to get the rest of that first paragraph. You probably do, but in case you don’t, here’s a shortened plain language version.

If you divide the length of a ring by the straight line distance across that ring through the centre, you will always get π. The more precisely you could measure those distances, meaning like to some ridiculously small unit of measure and that you’ve got the correct measure of a perfect ring, the more precise a value of π you will get with more and more decimals. One beauty of π is that while it is always the same, its exact value will never be known because it is what is known as an irrational number, which’s decimals never repeat. You can see π to one million decimals here for yourself if you want to satisfy yourself (might be 100,000 when you find it pending traffic on the server)! Talk about a good way to impress your teacher! The University of Tokyo supposedly has  π calculated out to 200 million digits, but that takes 4.2 GB to download so I’ll leave it at that. In being an irrational number, though, no fraction can represent π. It is sometimes approximated as a fraction of 22/7, but that is not correct. So thank goodness for symbolic representations, eh?

Pi has a lot of beauties to it, both within the number and without in relation to where it appears in the physical relationships of scientific phenomena. If you don’t believe there is a higher being of some sort, seeing the order of the universe involving π almost certainly will make you believe. If you’re still not convinced, I suggest researching the same thing for the natural logarithm e which is the base of all things as it occurs mathematically and naturally, unconstrained by cultures that count by 10, 2 (computers) or some other base. The previous link to π on Wikipedia will tell of many of the beauties of π, with additional links. The Pi Search Page also contains a load, including trivia, frequency of repeating patterns of digit strings, etc. Really geeky stuff on both links, but you know you’d love it so click on through to learn and appreciate!

So with all the amazingness of π to celebrate, how could one sufficiently acknowledge it all? Well, simple, because π is all about simplicity despite its complexity. That is actually a life philosophy of mine, that the simplest things aren’t actually simple. They are only made that way by all the complex details behind it so you had better be prepared to be overwhelmed if you’re going to study or tackle the simplicity of anything, rather than thinking it’s going to be easy!

So to celebrate Pi Day, you just eat pie in keeping it simple!

Geekier folks will add discussing the importance, relevance, properties or other matters involving Pi. I’m coming close with blogging since that isn’t truly a “discussion”. But by discussing Pi, I mean Pi without an e, over Pie with an e, but I’ll take discussing Pi with an e over Pi with an e as well.

In this unhealthy age, walking around something would be good, if only to burn off the pie. Striving for a close to perfect circle as your walking path would be outgeeking yourself.

With Daylight Standard Time having gotten switched at 2 AM this morning, in places that switch, it was a momentous way to celebrate Pi Minute by altering time the minute after. Too bad it doesn’t occur every year!

I am posting this at 1:59 PM my local time as a second Pi Minute celebration. Am I geeky or what, eh???

I’m one hour short with the “spring ahead” clock change, so I’m going to metaphorically be running around all day. If you’re not familiar with English expressions, “running around all day” means keeping busy or doing all kinds of things, whether that is work, chores or someone else. Um, if you’re not familiar with English expressions, you can research that last one. I couldn’t help it with my sense of humour after all the geeky humour leading up to it.

My metaphorical running around all day will literally include a circular 12K running route that isn’t that circular in shape, but goes around part of the peninsula on which I live to end up where I started and close it off. The route will also go around several landmarks.

How will you celebrate Pi Day?

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.7

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