Thursday, August 27, 2009

Three Links

This blog post discusses the placebo article I linked to yesterday, with more good info.  The author shows that the placebo effect is stronger when the trials are more rigorous.  Bad science tends to make the 'real' treatment look better.

This post talks about a research study that showed how easy it is to get people to sign false confessions.  I would like to see more discussion about whether they actually believed they were guilty, or if they were making a cold calculation to make their life easy.  I suspect the latter, because far fewer people were willing to falsely claim that another person was guilty of cheating.

This article
talks about the literacy of the Internet generation.  It argues that writing ability is much better than it used to be, and makes several good points:

"Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again."

But now, people do a lot of socializing via the written world, and they tend to be good at it.

I have been happy with the communication skills of my students.  I expect a lot of them and grade quite strictly, and they still manage to do fairly well.  I know that I am teaching at an (almost) elite college, and that I am seeing the better students of the generation, but from what I see there is nothing wrong with the literacy of kids today.  Some of them may be hopeless at math and abstract reasoning, but that's nothing new.

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