Field of Science

Obama & I

Geoff Nunberg has a fantastic Fresh Air commentary posted on his website about the political misuse of linguistic information. Pundits frequently use statistical information about language -- the frequency of the word I in a politicians speeches, for instance -- to editorialize about the politician's outlook or personality.

That is to say, pundits frequently misuse statistical information. Most of what they say on the topic is nonsense. Nunberg has the details, so I won't repeat them here. There is one segment worth quoting in full, though:

To Liberman, those misperceptions suggest that Will and Fish are suffering from what psychologists call confirmation bias. If you're convinced that Obama is uppity or arrogant, you're going to fix on every pronoun that seems to confirm that opinion.

Watch this Space, the successor to will (hopefully) be launched within the next week or so. The blog name itself has changed in advance. And, in fact, you will find that the URL already works, though it just takes you to the old site.

Why a new website? Among reasons, I've been overhauling the website to make it more engaging and more fun. The old name didn't really fit anymore. Plus it was always hard to say, which is particularly egregious for a language-themed website.

More to come soon...

A Poorly-edited Editors' Handbook

Most psychology journals require that papers follow the American Psychological Association's style guide. This guidebook covers everything from the structure of the paper to the right way of formatting section headings, and it is updated every so often.

The sixth edition was released over the summer, and it seems it had to be recalled due to "errors and inconsistencies."

I haven't actually seen the 6th edition myself (I just bought the 5th edition a couple years ago and am not in a hurry to buy the new one). On the whole, it's a good manual and the rules make sense. However, reviewers will sometimes thank you for breaking the more frustrating rules , like the rule that charts and tables should be appended to the end of the manuscript -- not included in the document itself. This probably made sense in the day of type-written manuscripts, but makes modern electronic manuscripts very hard to read. Electronic documents are wonderful for many things, but the ease of flipping back and forth from one section to another is not one of them.

Hopefully the 6th edition fixed some of those out-dated rules. But I'll wait to find out once the fixed version appears.

Changes in this blog

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm in the process of renovating the lab website. There will also be significant structural changes to this blog (probably a regular schedule for posting, for instance).

All this renovation is taking a considerable amount of time, and you may have noticed the lack of frequent posting. This will continue until the new site is launched, hopefully in the next month.