[from Gary Cziko 930411.2210 GMT]
Here are the results on the my poll on whether the perceptual signal
contains useful information for a control system about the disturbance.
800 NO INFORMATION
300 YES INFORMATION
100 MAYBE INFORMATION
100 TOO EARLY INFORMATION
100 CAN'T ANSWER, DON'T KNOW WHAT 'INFORMATION ABOUT' IS
100 WHAT'S IT TO ME?
Although the results look decisive for NO INFORMATION, a chi-square test
using just the YES and NO categories yields a chi-square of 2.273 which is
not significant (at alpha = .05; df = 1). Therefore, the matter is still
unsettled. Further discussion may now proceed.
Note. The results of the poll are reported in hundredths of votes in order
to make the results initially appear more impressive than they actually
P.S. I just realized something interesting in doing this chi-square test.
I did the test using the number of votes, not hundredths of votes. If I
had used the votes multiplied by 100, the results would have been
statistically significant with a whopping chi-square of 186.36. I never
realized before that the chi-square test was sensitive to how the results
are counted. So you can always get a statistically signficant chi-square
by reporting the results in fractions of frequencies. This is a decided
advantage over other inferential statistical tests for which in order to
get a statistically signficant finding you have to have a large enough
sample (which takes much more work than just multiplying your frequencies
by 10 or 100 or 1,000). In either case, however, it's nice to know that
you can always get statistically significant results (exciting findings
like rejecting the null hypothesis that some population correlation
coefficient is not zero) if you try hard enough (probably another reason
why "statistical" psychology and social science is better than PCT for
getting published and getting tenure).
Greg Williams (930410) boldly flirts with the possibility of having to
fetch the CSGnet archive files on his own by stating:
You're beating a dead unicorn. I have always agreed that to study
mass phenomena, mass statistics are appropriate.
No, I was beating (on?) a live Gary Cziko (to whom I sent the original
post, directly), whose comment
I agree. It's called the STATISTICAL method, or the METHOD OF RELATIVE
FREQUENCIES. Pretty useless as real science goes (althought the
behavioral sciences seem to like it alot.
implied to me that HE (NOT YOU, unless you're ghost-writing Gary's
direct posts to me!) thinks that mass statistics are inappropriate to
"real science." Maybe Gary actually agrees with you (and me, too) that
"to study mass phenomena, mass statistics are appropriate." I suppose he
does, even though he didn't answer my questions about his beliefs in this
regard. At any rate, if he does agree with us, it would appear that he
doesn't count studying mass phenomena as "real science."
Greg, my remarks on statistics were sent directly to you and not intended
for dissemination to CSGnet. They WERE intended to be somewhat facetious
and humorous in the spirit of other private exchanges we have had.
Yes, I most certainly agree that inferential statistics are useful for
doing research about populations, but only when one has a random sample
from that population (or can provide convincing evidence that the sample is
representative of the population of interest, even if not random)
But while I am happy to admit that inferential statistics can be usefully
employed by scientists interested in populations, I cannot recall ever
having come across a study in psychology or education psychology which has
used inferential statistics based on (a) random sample(s) of some
population(s) of theoretical or practical interest. All the studies I have
seen use SAMPLES OF CONVENIENCE (e.g., all nonabsent Boredom University
students enrolled in Psych 100 on a given day) and then generalize the
results to populations such as "fourth graders" or "people" or "men" or
"women"--just like the inane chi-square test I computed above for the poll
Indeed, Joel Judd did his doctoral dissertation on reviewing several of the
most influential studies done on second language acquisition, and he
couldn't find a single useful study among them (if I remember correctly).
No random samples. Statements about how individuals learn languages when
not a single individual was investigated as a specimen.
Perhaps you can point out to me some psychological studies (ed psych would
even be better) which have used inferential statistics properly in this
respect--I would love to have some good examples to show to the students in
my intro statistics class to show how inferential statistics can be
properly used in ed. psych. Maybe such use of statistics can provide
answers to the types of questions I'm interested in (e.g., how learning in
school takes place) and I've been looking in the wrong journals.--Gary
Gary Cziko Telephone: 217-333-8527
Educational Psychology FAX: 217-244-7620
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