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Friday, 27 January 2012


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Hmmmm. I know you have often pointed out that scientists sometimes fudge their data (at least you point this out when the subject is climate change). You might consider the possibility that Dan Ariely has done the same. It just doesn't wash with me. (BTW, I've never worked in Bahavorial Psychology, but that is what my degree is in, and I've done my share of research). As a general rule, mistrust EVERYTHING Psychologists say.

The first study makes sense, but it is not about incentives. It's called punishment, and avoidance behavior. Psychologists don't bother with the subject anymore. Too many confusing factors come into it.

I take your point, Dom, which is why I was careful to insert "Mind you, I'm never very sure quite how useful or even accurate they are". As for psychologists and their ilk, I think our knowledge of the human mind is about level with the knowledge of physiology held by a medieval leecher!

It would be rather odd if there weren't some optimal level of incentive, and therefore very natural that it's possible to offer too great an incentive. Evidence: (i) introspection, and (ii) knocking about a bit.

"Evidence: (i) introspection, and (ii) knocking about a bit."

Can you clarify that a bit, DM?

the group with the biggest incentive to succeed were the least successful.

Not to be pedantic but I would have thought that should be "WAS the least successful."

I understand these are not your words, David, but I would dearly love some erudite clarification here. DM perhaps?

I don''t know about Australians, but the English don't seem to be consistent about making subject and verb agree when the subject is a collective noun. I sometimes read in a blog, "The team are ..." and then later in the same post "The team is ...". There must be a rule, but I can't see it.

DD, can you explain it?

Yes, Dom, I can explain it. Most bloggers are semi-educated twerps like me who are dimly aware of grammatical transgressions but too idle to proof read their own words. That's why I keep DM around the place (well, he's very cheap, you know) to, er, tidy up and administer the occasional reprimand, as it were!

To be more serious, I find it exceedingly difficult to proof read myself. I do actually check my text as I publish, occasionally several times if it is a long post but, dammit, re-reading it a day or two later I spot the howlers. Mea culpa and all that!

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