December 11, 2005

"The Year in Ideas."

I open this week's NYT Magazine with great excitement. It's time for "The Year in Ideas." Blogging, I'm in a position to notice a lot of the ideas that make the news, and, generally, I'm more interested in ideas than events, so I wonder how many of the things the magazine has chosen will be things that I've blogged about. Actually, I only found 3:

1. The anti-rape condom. I blogged about the "Rapex" here.

2. "Pleistocene Rewilding," I blogged that here.

3. "The Totally Religious, Absolutely Democratic Constitution." Blogged here.

So, I found lots of new things to fascinate me, especially:
"The False-Memory Diet"

"The Hypomanic American"


"Preventing Suicide Bombing"


"Stoic Redheads"
There's a good idea that isn't on the list but is exemplified by something on the list. That is: MSM referring to blogs. A great strategy for traditional news sites to get more readers is to say something about blogs in their stories. Bloggers will tend to notice -- it's about me! -- and devote a blog entry to the story. I know this strategy works on me. For example, last week, I wrote about "food swings," and I'm sure part of the reason the story jumped out at me as bloggable was because there was some material in there about how some of these food swing types blog about their adventures in hunger management.

"The Year in Ideas" makes its plea for attention from bloggers with this entry: "Conservative Blogs are More Effective." Throw that into Technorati and see if there isn't a hot new idea deserving a mini-article titled, perhaps, "Tossing in a Reference to Blogs Is More Effective." Oh, and it helps if the reference to blogs also says something that a lot of bloggers are going to feel isn't quite right, so that we'll instantly fire up a compose window and start typing out the little insight they could so easily have predicted. "Conservative Blogs are More Effective" is a perfect example of this. You know all those conservative bloggers, always ready to go, always monitoring the MSM. They will surely bite at this one!


Dave said...

I found the magazine very boring.

That's been happening a lot lately.

They are slipping.

Icepick said...

Dave, I have a question for you. Is the magazine boring, or is it that by the time the magazine recognizes something that you would have found interesting you have already read the subject to death online?

Dave said...

The magazine is boring.

Most of what is in there is not stuff I have read on line.

But it's not interesting the way, say, the New Yorker is interesting.

A lot of it (Safire, the ethicist, the new cartoons) is just very pedestrian, predictable, and, well, boring.

PatCA said...

I think one reason papers don't mention blogs more is they semi-steal a lot of what blogs write about.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: Did you read "The Year in Ideas," or are you just talking about the magazine generally? I think "The Year in Ideas" is a phenomenal annual feature. If you say you found it boring, I'm inclined to think you're boring. Explain yourself.

Icepick said...

Dave, thanks for the answer.

Dave said...

I read the Year in Ideas. I found it marginally more interesting than the regular magazine.

What do you want me to explain? Why I find the magazine, generally, to be boring? Or why I'm not as interested in this special issue as you seem to be?

Ann Althouse said...

The latter.

AJD said...

The "false-memory diet" is just more utter nonsense from the diva herself, Elizabeth Loftus. More interesting to blog about would be the invasion of privacy lawsuit pending against her in California, or the human subjects sanfu that ran her out of Washington.

How anyone can take this diet idea seriously is beyond me. The underlying "studies" provide ZERO basis for thinking this would actually work. You are gullible, dear professor, if you think this is "interesting." It's actually junk science, pure and simple.

The junk science diet. Now there's an idea.

Mickey said...

Funny post ann.I like funny more than say, interesting.

Daryl Herbert said...

Loftus' research makes some people very uncomfortable; it's not hard to see why.

I mean, if we can't rely on our own memories, what can we rely on? It challenges our belief that our justice system could rely on eyewitness testimony. It challenges our ideas about human autonomy and freedom.

But just because you desperately want something to be false doesn't make it so. Don't shoot the messenger.

Personal attacks and vague references to flaws or dishonesty in the work seem to be the most common way for a boring person to insult an academic.

AJD said...

Let us say that a distinguished profesor does something unethical. I guess in Daryl's world, they would have a free ride, because saying anything about it would constitute a "personal" attack.

Sorry Daryl, that just does not make sense. I am not attacking the messenger. I am attacking a shoddy scientist, who has done any number of unethical things -- things that caused her to leave her last position and things that are currently being litigated in a civil suit in California.

Want to ignore those things and remain ignorant? Fine. But don't blame me, I'm just the messenger that Loftus's "false memory diet" is utter junk sceince!

Daryl Herbert said...

Since anti-Sheck won't provide a link, the story regarding the lawsuit can be found here:

It's the story of a young girl who was made to believe her mother was sexually abusing her, so that her father could win custody. Loftus exposed the evil conspiracy.

Now a lot of people hate Elizabeth Loftus. It's not surprising. The girl isn't thankful to learn the truth (if she even accepts it) because of what it means about her life. The prosecutors and academics who've made careers out of "repressed memories" want to destroy her.

What's your angle, anti-Sheck? You're just a noble crusader against junk science? I don't think you understand the term. Something can't be "junk science" if the results are meaningful and reproducible.

If you're trying to say she's used unethical methods, that's something else entirely, and I don't see how that is relevant to whether or not her research is valid.

Even Dr. Mengele's research wasn't "junk science." His results are still used today to determine things like how long we can expect someone to survive if they are swept overboard in the ocean.

So the question of whether Loftus has acted unethically is completely unrelated to whether her work is, at heart, no more than "junk science."

So now the question is, what has she done that's unethical? She's the defendant in a lawsuit. That's unethical? Or do you mean that she's guilty of what's alleged in the lawsuit?

XWL said...

There's an unmentioned corollary to the Hypomanic American story.

If you believe that the risk takers left Europe and other places to come to America, then you have to assume the risk averse are a greater percentage of the breeding stock left in those places.

In Europe you have the added likelihood of a genetic predisposition towards wimpiness given the devastation of two World Wars fought on their turf.

I seem to remember reading where current German males have the lowest testesterone levels amongst populations studied. (Those with the least 'cojones' were the ones most likely to breed after WWII)

So European waffling and risk aversion isn't only cultural it's genetic.

(and I have about as much science behind my assertions as the UCLA professors cited in the article do for theirs, which is to say very, very little)

Also given the nature of the web, I hate when MSM mention scientific articles without linking the actual papers that produced the results they are highlighting.

Why should I have to google when presumably the author of the article has already visited the site they distilled?

(To answer my own question I suspect many of those MSM science articles are probably from press release reporting rather than reading the primary sources or directly speaking with the scientist cited)

Noumenon said...

I must have really been skimming. I read those this morning, and it seems like each of them has a final paragraph I never saw. And each is more interesting than what I read.

brylin said...

More on Elizabeth Loftus from the Orange County Register.

brylin said...

And like Ann Althouse, Elizabeth Loftus has her own Wikipedia article.

Ann Althouse said...

Brylin: What's with you and Wikipedia? Who cares what accumulates over there? Why is the existence of an entry for anything there interesting or surprising? I don't get your Wikipedia fascination.

brylin said...

Wikipedia is a great source of information that happens to be easily accessible and free. I happen to think that it is almost as revolutionary as Google and in the ideals of the early founders of the internet who think that information tends to be free. Compare Wikipedia to Britannica or any other encyclopedia and it compares favorably in my opinion. As with any source one must be aware of potential bias.

brylin said...

With respect to Elizabeth Loftus, I am showing my ignorance by stating that before I saw her name on your blog, I had no idea who she is.

After reading the opinions of anti-Sheck and Daryl Herbert, I thought that I should find out about her from other sources. So I "googled" and "wikied" her and found out more from Wikipedia than Google. I thought your readers who didn't know who she was would find the Wiki entry helpful and perhaps it would provide some "balance" anti-Sheck and Daryl Herbert. But if you rather I not post Wiki links, I will comply.