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Does everyone outside of my stats and methodologies classes think a correlation means causation?? Seriously, everyone seems to just forget about it. Here is yet another example, video games are making our male children not get into college. I’m sure it couldn’t be that males are starting to lean more towards non-university occupations. Maybe the bias against manual labour is decreasing. Maybe males who would have entered university for the money you would make at the end stopped entering since trade occupations can now make a fair amount of money, just ask people in the oil industry.

Perhaps females are entering normally male dominated programs because things like self-fulfilling prophecies are reducing in number. Teachers are starting to learn that males are always better then females. Yes male brains are preprogrammed for things similar to mathematics due to evolution. However, that doesn’t mean that they will automatically be better.

To keep this entry short…. Either way to blame it on video games is quite premature. Maybe its a change in the job market, whether it be availability or less of a bias or normalizing wages. Maybe its Darwin in action and the empty male seats are there becuase the males were to stupid to get in. Competition is what matters in university right? This author sounds like an idiot to me… Anyone disagree with me?

I REALLY hate bad research

For a range of time now there has been a bit of a disagreement in experimental and research psychology over narrative versus meta-analysis. Now, I have found a meta-analysis on violence in video games that was released recently. So here I go trying to show why a person has to take these studies with a lot of hesitation (Barbara you can stop reading now lol). But first off before getting to that I’m going to mention something about the way the results are stated.

"Playing violent video games is a causal risk factor for long-term harmful outcomes" is the way that the author of the article generalises the results. However, a paragraph or two later its stated that "And it’s a risk factor that’s easy for an individual parent to deal with — at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one’s genetic structure." These two statements conflict with eachother.

Topics like poverty and genetic structure are not by themselves risk factors. For example, poverty and low socio-economic status are only risk factors if they effect the parenting that can be given to a child. Reduced parenting is what is a risk factor, not the poverty by itself. To include video games as a “causal” risk factor seems like a leap. If I remember correctly my first post was about how about video games are not causal, they are simply a risk factor. People who have more inherent violent tendencies tend to play violent video games. Who would have guessed… What geniuses.

So whats wrong with this study besides the results seems a little off. Well here we go. A meta-analysis is the process of doing a literature review where you take many studies that have been previously done and combining them to get a “definitive” result. The old way f doing literature reviews is a narrative approach. Where you go through the research and pull what you think is the best and interpret the results together. This can be peer-reviewed and evaluated.

So at a point such as this you might ask what’s wrong with meta-analysis if researchers have accepted it. Well many haven’t and the ones who have I don’t exactly have much faith in. First off, the biggest problem to me is the choosing of studies. The current one on violent video games that I’m looking at took 130 or so studies into account. Now who gets to say what studies are included. To think that a person does not have some bias when choosing studies would be to neglect human nature. Secondly, if you aren’t picking ones that are biased towards your pre-held viewpoint you cannot guarentee quality. Different studies have different quality. Some are better then others. How does a researcher choose which studies are high quality or low quality. I bet different researchers would have differing viewpoints on what are low and high quality ones. With the inability to decide upon which articles to include seems, to me anyways (and Chow :)), to be a major drawback of meta-analysis. One must think that the chance of biases coming into account are important since meta-analysis is usually used to sway policy makers. Do we want to start using biased research to sway policy holders (cancer screening tests, high fats being bad, or the current high salt issues anyone???). But biases in choosing studies isn’t the only drawback to meta-analysis literature reviews.

When you conduct a meta-analysis you are looking at studies as if they were the same as an individual in a normal study. Treating a study in this way does not make sense. You need to be able to assume that these studies are identical just like the individuals in a study are. The individuals in a study are all being analysed to test a specific part of a theory. Different experiments are testing different aspects of a theory. How can they be combined then? They were looking at different topics. Therefore, there are theoretical, methodological, and empirical differences between them.

On that same topic there are mathematical methods used by researchers to control for the differences between individuals. No similar methods exist for controlling for the individual differences between experiments.

Also there is an issue called the nonindependence problem. It is researchers wanting to believe that the experiments they choose are a random sample. However, that can’t be, it does not work like that. But meta-analysis supporters have gone the route of accepting the problem and saying that it doesn’t matter. One then gets taken back to the issue of why a person is doing the research in the first place. If you are accepting a problem to let you keep on doing the research it really seems like you might have a point to make (say if you were trying to affect public policy?).

The reason people keep on defending meta-analysis is because they believe you should have a numerical/ mathematical way to do a literature review. It supposedly has rigor, replicability, and objectivity. But really when you can’t solve the problems without simply accepting one of them as practical are you really achieving any of those goals.

The author of the study itself has claimed that he may no longer do research in this area because his meta-analysis is so conclusive. Personally, please don’t keep on doing research in this area. It seems almost embarassing that a researcher would find a meta-analysis that conclusive. But in the end, everyone please don’t just blatantly believe meta-analysis because the person has a title and a degree. Curiously, the researcher is from the same institution that the other experiment I attempted to beat up on is from (remember the helpless pencils being left on the floor?). Really having issues with Iowa State University after these two experiments.

**The meta-analysis research that I used in this entry is from Chow, S. L. (1987). Meta-analysis of pragmatic and theoretical research: A critique. The Journal of Psychology, 121, 259-271.**


Moral Kombat (bet you thought it said mortal... its a documentary)

I have yet to watch this documentary yet but I do want to try too. I’m hoping to actually watch it this weekend sometime. I then plan on trying to do a full analysis of it. I’m also going to do some more research into the movie itself and especially the director (Biases either way perhaps?). The documentary’s main website is here if you wanted to know more. Its soon to become available on sites like itunes and amazon and I even believe the Playstation Network.

Kerry asks FDA to lift ban on gay men donating blood- The Boston Globe


Veken at Hyperallergic just alerted me to the fact that the federal government is still stuck in the 1980’s (surprise, surprise!) and, although he’d like to donate blood, he can’t:

Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts called today for the Food and Drug Administration to lift a “discriminatory” ban on gay men donating blood…“Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban,” the Democratic senator said in a statement. “A law that was once considered medically justified is today simply outdated and needs to end, just as last year we ended the travel ban against those with HIV.”…The FDA defended the ban.

Everybody hates a hacker

As mentioned, I play online video games. And me, along with most others who play, do not care for cheaters. Let’s just say that when its thought that someone is cheating in a game online there is not much held back by the people. Personally, I become an insulting and tonting game playing… thing… We hate it… plain and simple. We bought this game and play it now for the enjoyment, we don’t need some punk coming in and hacking the server up to make himself feel better about his craptacular game playing abilities. If you’re not that good, your not that good, accept it. I have the utmost respect for the people that just go “ya, its a game, so what?”. I love playing with people like that. They are there to have fun. But then you run into someone that decides it would be even more fun to hack… Many who have played with hackers have gotten the urge “wow I really could really beat the shit out of that guy right now.” Yes its excessive but we also know we will never get the chance. They could live on a different continent for crying out loud. But a knife to the head? That is a bit extreme… actually cancel that… WAY TO EXTREME. I’m all for punishment for doing it; ban an account, kick them off the server, crash their computer so they can’t play anymore. I’m good with that kind of stuff. But to do something like this is way to far gone for me (assuming the story is true). They say the kid is doing alright, they just have to watch out for rust off the knife. So my curiousity peaks when I think about whether or not the kid will continue hacking, will he believe that cheating is worthwhile to get ahead? I don’t know the answer to that, but I also really hope the kids who stabbed him are caught and they also have to live up to the consequences of their actions, they really need some help in control.

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the creator of the Sims and a life long military man got together? Well now you can find out. All you need is to do is register to go and buy a plane ticket to Florida (ya… such a hardship to go there, right?). The point of the conference is to discuss the future of game development and virtual worlds, especially in regards to the training of soldiers. A few days ago the military released information saying that they plan on increasing the use of video game and similar technologies in the training of soldiers. Well, now we have a conference for looking at exactly that topic. I must say I wish I could go but I definitely do not have the money… But supposedly if I had a Second Life character I can attend the conference using them. Now that is using technology to your advantage and to get your point across.


Lucky ****....

This guy is one lucky dude… That would be an awesome project to undertake… My main question: “Why is a biology major doing the research???” He’s a fricken biology major. There is no reason to assume that experimental designs on one level translate into good designs on another level (Why should biology stretch into psychology?). But seriously… jealous!


It’s easy to talk to people and get at least someone to mention that maybe the internet should be monitored. The plain come back to that kind of statement is that it’s impossible to censor it. Well when one stops to think its not totally true. A person must get their internet service from somewhere. It is impossible to censor what is on the internet but its a different story when talking about what can get to a person’s computer. It seems New Zealand is doing this. I am quite surprised that an ISP would do this kind of thing willingly but I guess its different countries. In Canada, there was talk about forcing ISPs to give up their torrenters, the downloading and uploading of material. Last I heard this was going to the courts since the ISP did not believe they should need to do this. The reason for this? Who knows, perhaps that they thought they would lose a customer base? Maybe they wanted to maintain independence from government? Who knows, but it is possible to censor what people see on the internet in a large way. Is censoring something Canada should start trying to do? To much of a “slippery slope”? Lesser of two evils?

Way to go Australia!... Not...

For awhile now Australia has been on a huge campaign to censor video games. They will ban large name games from even being released in the country ( I am not sure if Left For Dead 2 has now been allowed but I do not believe so. Its a good game, I own and play it with friends all the time. Now if you read a bit you see it has do with the lack of an R18+ rating. The urge to create this rating has been going on in Australia for a few months now. Many gamers have supported this type of rating system, me included. But really, to ban the release of a major title because your democracy moves to slow and on of your attorney generals has an issue does not seem right. There is a 15+ rating that was given to the first game, why not give it to the second. We here have changed ratings of games after they were released. One of the GTA games was rated AO (adults only) and then was later changed to M (mature). Why not release the game and change once the legislation has gone through assuming people actually want it, not just a single Attorney General. I’m all for not selling extremely bad games to kids, without at least some sort of parent consent (I hate younger kids online, they are very immature when playing and the 20 some year olds add enough immaturity to playing online… I hate you all if you are one of those people… seriously… grow the hell up…). Anyways this type of censorship brings me to the original article in this post. It has been described as another example of the type of censorship htat is going on there lately. Personally, I think its stupid. I hate rap, I hate the image it portrays of women. But that being said, I don’t believe someone should be arrested for the music they listen to. The kid was waiting for his mom for crying out loud. First off, the fact that the kid was helping his mom with the grocery bags seems to be a good sign of a kid. Seriously, I know people that listen to Christian and country music that won’t even do that. Secondly, the fact that the cop stuck his head in the car, to me, shows that the music must have not been loud enough for him to hear without putting his head in the car. I am also one of those people who hates the people that think they are oh so cool playing their music loud in their cars (or the people who take out things like the catalytic converter to make their car louder… you look like an idiot to me when you do that… just so you know… its a car… not a bloody stereo). But really charging someone with playing very loud music is one thing (assuming its during the period of the day with noise laws) but to simply charge someone due to the words in the music seems a bit undemocratic to me… Freedom of Speech anyone? But anyways… Either way… Way to go Australia! Your an example for the rest of us on what to not do.


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