Sorry for the Silence (Unedited)

Oops Picture

Contrary to what I said in my prior post, I didn’t mean to be quiet this long. A week without posting something is way too long, but it’s not from lack of trying. I ran into the same problem twice.

I had an article idea the day after I posted the latest update that I think is pretty interesting. It’s something I want to learn more about and that I think would surprise people – not the individual nuances but how they all play together. (Sorry for the vagueness but the article will be coming soon.)

The problem I’ve run into is a systemic issue with how research is conducted and utilized.

The Case in Point

While doing my research, I came across an article that stated the proof I was looking for and even linked to the scientific study that its claims were pulled from. Being the thorough researcher I am, I read the study. The writer of the article grossly overstated the study’s results so bad that I had to stand over a toilet for a few minutes for fear of vomiting.

I understand that F(1, 176) = 21. 08, p < .001, η 2 = .11 is confusing if you haven’t been taught what all the variables mean and their significance. I get that the writer just skimmed the summary and took what sounded good for their purposes, but you can’t represent a “slightly significant difference” with made-up numbers like 59% compared to 95%. An almost 40% swing is more than slightly significant.

What’s worse is that this article is on a major news website and no one called the writer out on his mistake. Why didn’t they? Because he linked to the study through the academic journal it was published in. People would have to pay $30 and then be able to read it. Instead, they just went along with his assumptions and fiction became fact.

The Problem with Research (Especially within Psychology)

Unfortunately, even though what I’m looking to write about widespread psychological ideas and theories, there isn’t a lot of research behind them. Research isn’t driven by an actual desire to understand the unexplained, it’s driven by cash flow. No one wants to delve into why humans desire things they can’t attain – something the rest of the animal kingdom doesn’t do – but Pepsi will pay millions for another Pepsi vs Coke study because they want to win this time.

I would’ve liked to be a psychological researcher, pushing our understanding of the human condition. Applied psychology, the practical application of psychological phenomenon in everyday life, is where I excel in the field. Why we act and think the way we do, and how we can use our understanding of the human condition to affect our lives and society as a whole, has always been fascinating to me ever since I started selling door-to-door.

But there are two major problems that prevented me from pursuing such a career.

  1. Too much education is required.

In order to work within the research field you have to go to school for at least eight years to get a doctorate – which I contend makes no sense within our present education system, but that’s a subject for another time. After those eight years, you then have to spend multiple years being a silent assistant until you “earn” the respect of the scientific community enough to maybe be trusted enough to pursue your own ideas.

The amount of “I don’t know”s I got throughout college from doctorate holding professors in the field makes this old-boys club requirement ridiculous. I’m supposed to waste away and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on school to MAYBE get a shot at finally studying the ideas I had in my early 20s when I’m in my 30s or 40s? And we wonder why research and breakthroughs take forever.

  1. Worthwhile psychological studies don’t exist.

The real cutting edge right now in psychology is within neurology, because it’s easy to study chemical processes and come up with real results. Every behavioral psychological study is pointless for a number of reasons, but mostly because the sample sizes are so small than even a high school student with a C in Statistics could tell you that the study’s results mean nothing.

A randomized sample of 183 people can’t even slightly represent a population of millions. That’s not an opinion, it’s a statistical fact. The best you could hope for from such a sample is a loose hypothesis for a real experiment – which you could’ve come up with without running a 183 person study in the first place.

Sidenote: Who the hell looks at today’s society and thinks men are more likely to pursue women in committed relationships than the other way around?! That’s a stupid old world notion that I could’ve disproven for you without the months it took to run a damn social experiment. And seriously?! Of all things, you choose to study mate poaching?! (Sorry for the tangent but I just had to get that out.)

Issue with Article #2

So I hit a snag with the first article due to misinformation and research limitations. After a couple days went by I still wasn’t confident enough in what I’d learn to write about the topic at hand, but I wanted to get something out. That’s when I thought about writing about the Elo ranking systems in video games, particularly within CSGO.

Elo ranking systems have been around for a while and I’m sure Valve’s been upfront about how their system works, right? WRONG!

The amount of misinformation and unsubstantiated claims will drown the hell out of anyone looking into a game’s Elo formula. Games are rarely upfront about how their ranking systems work – even though most are based on chess’ Elo system (think the window equation in The Social Network).

On one hand, it makes sense. If people know exactly how the system works then they’ll manipulate it to their advantage, and the system is constantly being tweaked to account for new data.

On the other hand, it’s really irritating and basically I’m having to piece together a needle-like jigsaw puzzle of facts hidden within a mountain of false, speculative information.

What Had Happened Was…

They’re two articles I want to get right, but they’re taking a while to research and compile. Coupled with writing for clients and constantly trying to find more work, a week flew by.

It’s not an excuse, just an explanation. The blog’s not dead, I just don’t believe in spreading false information and may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Trust me, it’s really irritating get into writing something only to have to stop because the basis of your ideas is called into question by shoddy research. But it happens and this is already a lot longer than I thought it be, so we’ll just end here.

P.S. I’m not proofreading this (that’s what Unedited means), but feel free to tell me about any mistakes you catch!

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