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Initial post: Feb 4, 2011 1:32:34 PM PST
Marina says:
So, this book has no IRB approval (among other things because there was no informed consent from the people these "scientists" did their research on), is not backed by a single research institution and is made of 100% false assumptions, prejudice and pseudo-science.

My question is, which of these makes you angrier/which of these do you think the most solid reasons to revoke the authors' academic degrees before they do further damage? Is it the publisher's fault for cooperating with them in the first place?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2011 4:40:46 PM PST
What makes me sad and angry is that there will be some people to read this and believe this trash because they will not know that these frauds have absolutely no true academic standing or basis and not realize the complete fiasco that was their research. Research, I use that word loosely when applied to them. Their research was basically piddling around the internet and making assumptions based on their own bias and prejudice and whatever they thought would make them the most money.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2011 9:17:52 PM PST
Greenwick says:
Clearly they didn't need to do research because they already knew the myths they wanted to code into written form.

Posted on Feb 21, 2011 10:23:30 AM PST
I'm embarrassed for the well-respected academics who gave cover blurbs for this piece of utter claptrap. They ought to know better.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2011 3:52:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2011 4:29:50 PM PDT
Stan Rhodes says:
Randy, I'm really curious--and even suspicious--about the endorsements attributed to Roy Baumeister and Steven Pinker. Very strange. If they allowed themselves to be used as endorsements, they really ought to answer for it. We need less brainless, reviewless endorsements, not more. If they were bamboozled somehow into these blurbs, they ought to be aware of it. I hope someone will follow up when this book is released.

I am editing my comment because I found the obvious link between this book and Pinker and Baumeister: Penguin Books. Pinker's upcoming 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature is published by Viking (owned by Penguin), and Baumeister's upcoming 2011 book Willpower is published by Penguin Press HC.

Why I posted here at all: I did a superficial investigation of A Billion Wicked Thoughts after an article by its authors in the WSJ about women and erotica. That article triggered my bad science warning system, but I had no idea I'd find this ball of wax.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 8:28:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 4, 2011 8:34:36 AM PDT
ChiRaven says:
I'll have to wait and read the work before commenting on it in any depth, but from my understanding this study is more properly classified initially as an internet traffic study, with the interpretative portions added from post-capture data analysis. As such, it would not require "informed consent" any more than did the BellCore studies that demonstrated the presence of self-similarity across time scales in internet traffic in the 1990's, or even the investigative work by Erlang that led to the initial theories on telephone trunk group sizing requirements in the early 1900's.

Further, given the nature of study envisioned, any attempt at "informed consent" would have interfered with the purposes of the study itself, because of the Hawthorne Effect.

Once again, I will have to read the work (I did NOT receive an advance copy ... I am just, as you probably suspected, a retired telecomm statistician and researcher and now part-time adjunct at a small university, not a heavy-hitter academic). Questions of personal anonymity (access to personally identifiable customer information) are the usual criteria used to decide the propriety in traffic studies. As long as customer anonymity is preserved, academic research on telecommunications traffic data is normally considered quite legitimate. Beyond that, getting into the areas of behavioral and motivational extrapolation, of course, I have absolutely no expertise whatsoever and would never presume to comment. But I can speak from decades of experience on what is considered ethical in data collection and use in telecommunications studies. If they were using the internet as their research vehicle, THOSE are the relevant data capture rules.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2011 1:32:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 21, 2011 1:32:44 PM PDT
Marina says:
I appriciate that you're not a "heavy-hitter academic", but do you know what an IRB is? Do you know why they exist? Do you know why no research in the field of psychology would ever be taken seriously by any scientific publication or community if conducted without IRB approval?

I don't know how you learned of this book, but if you read the article linked at the top of this thread (or google around some) you'll see they were not collecting telecommunication data - that would be useless in their chosen field - they devised a survey (hence the episode sometimes being referred to as SurveyFail) and asked people to answer it. A detailed, multiple choice survey to be filled out by subjects, whose consent they did not obtain, nor did they maintain any methodology guidelines (which is why, although they initially lied and told the subjects they were affiliated with Boston University, once the BU was contacted it denied any affiliation with the authors or their research).

These authors did not set out to do academic research, period, though. They set out to write a "popular" book, that they had no intention getting approved by any academic institution, that would make them money (and not IN ANY WAY advance the study of their field) and as such they took a few random stereotypes and doctored what data they had to to fit into those assumptions. And then, when they were informed of the biases and inaccuracies of their findings and interpretation - again and again and again, by academics, by the subjects of their study, by people in the media, by anyone with half a brain - they ignored them. So they could write a book and make it popular (because hey, what's better than the same old stereotypes wrapped up in "science"?) and make money and not give a crap about any scientific cred.
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Participants:  6
Total posts:  7
Initial post:  Feb 4, 2011
Latest post:  May 21, 2011

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A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire
A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire by Sai Gaddam (Hardcover - May 5, 2011)
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