The following headline from Inside Higher Ed caught my eye:
Is this interesting? Perhaps to a latter day Tawney or Weber. If interesting, reverse the order of Hindu and Christian in the title. Is that interesting? What if Atheists had come out on top? Clearly, some category would have come out on top. An inquiry guaranteed to produce something interesting is uninteresting.
Along the same lines was a recent ESP study by Bem published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In one experiment he asked 1000 students to pick one of two curtains as the one they thought contained a picture behind it. Students chose the correct curtain 53.1 percent of the time. Suppose they had chosen the wrong curtain 53.1 percent of the time? This is just as informative as picking the correct curtain (being consistently wrong is just as good as being consistently right)…….also evidence of ESP. With a thousand students unless one landed pretty much spot on the 50% mark one is bound to get an interesting result.
Finally, a piece in the August 2nd, 2011 Science Times section of the New York Times, entitled Tracing Social Networks in Elephants. I don’t blame the scientist quoted but the writer of the piece. She put together an article with no content whatsoever (perhaps this is how the Gray Lady is cutting costs?) A scientist followed elephants around noting who they associated with. Here are the three quotes the intrepid reporter chose to relay to the reader.
1) There’s a lot of individual variation.
2) If you think about it, the amount of time you can devote to a friendship decreases with the number of friends you have.
3) It is not clear why the elephants choose to move from one social circle to another.
For this, neither the author of the piece or the scientist conducting the research needed to leave their armchairs. Makes one wonder if the study of social networks has reached the bubble stage.