Konferenz-Gedanken

Zum Ende der 2. GEBF-Tagung in Frankfurt habe ich ein paar Überlegungen festgehalten. Sie beziehen sich nicht zwingend auf die konkrete Konferenz, die insgesamt sehr kurzweilig war (und u.a. Kekse beinhaltete).

  • Alle Pausen (mindestens) 30 Minuten lang machen! Redezeiten werden überzogen, man geht zur Toilette, man deckt sich mit Kaffee und Keksen ein, bisweilen sind die Vortragsräume über verschiedene Gebäude verteilt – und es bleibt (bei 15-minütigen Pausen) kaum Zeit für Gespräche, Orientierung und Regeneration. (Im Zweifelsfall dafür eine Keynote weniger ins Programm nehmen.)
  • Hilfskräfte mit Wasserpistolen ausstatten, die immer dann zum Einsatz kommen, wenn ein Redner die Zeit überzieht! Ich fände es auch sinnvoll, eine Datenbank mit der Vortragsdauer (bzw. der jeweiligen Abweichung von der vorgegebenen Redezeit) anzulegen, damit bei zukünftigen Tagungen die “Überzieher” (Konferenz-übergreifend) identifizierbar sind.
  • Kekse anbieten! Zur Not die Teilnahmegebühr erhöhen.
  • Zum Starten von PowerPoint-Präsentationen F5 drücken! Ich persönlich wurde freilich das pdf-Format bevorzugen (bzw. ganz auf Folien verzichten). Bei Adobe Reader ist Strg+L die Vollbild-Tastenkombination.
  • Wer in einer Session zuletzt vorträgt, kann sich häufig die Einleitung sparen! Eine wiederholte Vorstellung der Konstrukte und Theorien ist redundant.
  • Vielleicht wäre es eine gute Idee, beim Tagungsbüro in der Nähe einen Stadtplan auszubreiten bzw. aufzuhängen, damit die Teilnehmer sich besser orientieren können (ÖPNV, Restaurants, Kneipen, Plattenläden).

Lektüre 2013

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Patricia Highsmith: Zwei Fremde im Zug
  • Theresa Couchman: The Unmapped Lands
  • Elizabeth George: A Suitable Vengeance
  • Khaled Hosseini: Drachenläufer
  • Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach
  • Marc-Uwe Kling: Die Känguru-Chroniken
  • Greg Cox: The Bestseller Job
  • Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena
  • Bertram Job: Bis zum bitteren Ende – Die Toten Hosen erzählen IHRE Geschichte
  • Allan Pease, Barbara Pease: Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps
  • Johan Harstad: 172 Hours on the Moon
  • Robin Sloan: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookshop
  • Robert Galbraith: The Cuckoo’s Calling
  • José Carlos Somoza: Das Einstein-Projekt
  • Winston Graham: Marnie

Meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

When was the first time you heard Simon & Garfunkel? Which song was it? Did you like it instantly? Do you want to have a similar experience? Then meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. You will hear beautiful harmony vocals, nuanced lead melodies, a folky-edge, and a reckless passion for original music. You will find lyrics that venture beyond beyond the run-of-the-mill nonsense of mainstream pop music. And be warned: You will end up yearning for more even though you know very well that the duo is no longer making new music.

Just like Simon & Garfunkel, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer do not have one typical song. They have a dozen or so masterpieces. And yes, they have some weaker songs, as well. The bleak banjo of “When I Go” is a signature moment; the upbeat number “Gentle Arms of Eden” is another one. “Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love” – a haunting ballad – has been said to have attained the ever-ellusive state of perfection. And then there is “The Mountain”, an enigmatic tune that Joan Baez once played for the Dalai Lama. Personally, I would recommend their 2002 album “Drum Hat Buddha” to newcomers. “Ordinary Town”, its opening track, is the sort of simple song which takes a talented songwriter years to flesh out. Dave Carter’s songwriting, however, is effortless. Tracy Grammer’s clear voice brings the song to life and is augmented by subtle harmonies in the chorus. The second song paints a seemingly complete picture of “Tillman Co.”, mostly thanks to the catchy mandoline hookline and Carter’s poignant vocal performance. I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. The lyrics are remarkably thoughtful, yet the music is mostly positive and uplifting. This is especially true for “Happytown”, the opener of their second album “Tanglewood Tree“.

Sadly, your local record store is unlikely to carry the duo’s works. I suggest you make the effort to get the music through Tracy Grammer’s homepage, webshops, or digital downloads; regard it as an active protest against soulless mainstream plastic songs and music business politics. Or better, regard it as a treat for your ears and your heart.

The Best Van Canto Songs According to Facebook

Yesterday, Van Canto asked their followers on Facebook to name their top 5 songs (incl. at least one cover and at least one original song). I aggregated the first 337 responses (excluding those that contain less than two songs). Here is the overall hit list (along with the number of votes):

Graph with Van Canto Song Statistics

You can find some more results below.

Continue reading ‘The Best Van Canto Songs According to Facebook’ »

The Best MTX Songs According to Me

Last year I made this compilation of MTX goodness for romance, road trips and overall awesomeness:

  1. Here She Comes
  2. Swallow Everything
  3. Swiss Army Girlfriend
  4. Dumb Little Band
  5. Lawnmower of Love
  6. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend
  7. I Love You, But You’re Standing on My Foot (live)
  8. As Life Goes on You Get More and More out of It
  9. New Girlfriend (live)
  10. Sackcloth and Ashes
  11. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
  12. The History of the Concept of the Soul
  13. Semi-OK
  14. Jill (live)
  15. She’s My Alcatraz
  16. Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?
  17. I Fell for You
  18. You’re the Only One
  19. Losers Like You (Dr. Frank, live excerpt)

The Best MTX Songs According to Facebook

About a year ago, Dr. Frank asked about the best MTX songs. He never got around to post the final results, so I compiled the frequencies for your entertainment. There were 145 songs mentioned in 211 comments. Despite this diversity, there is a clear winner:

                                   Song | Frequency 
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        more than toast |         33  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                    sackcloth and ashes |         20  
----------------------------------------+-------------
           even hitler had a girlfriend |         17  
 the history of the concept of the soul |         17  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                         ba ba ba ba ba |         15  
                         here she comes |         15  
                     tapin' up my heart |         15  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       dumb little band |         14  
                               velveeta |         14  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                         i fell for you |         13  
     i wrote a book about rock and roll |         13  
                              king dork |         13  
              she's no rocket scientist |         13  
----------------------------------------+-------------
              ...and i will be with you |         12  
                         deep deep down |         12  
                      fucked up on life |         12  
            last time i listened to you |         12  
                         my stupid life |         12  
                         new girlfriend |         12  
                     swallow everything |         12  
  thank you (for not being one of them) |         12  
                            you you you |         12  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       at gilman street |         11  
                           love is dead |         11  
                                semi-ok |         11  
                     she's not a flower |         11  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                     book of revelation |         10  
          with my looks and your brains |         10  
----------------------------------------+-------------
            alternative is here to stay |          9  
                           hell of dumb |          9  
i love you, but you're standing on my f |          9  
                              you today |          9  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       i believe in you |          8  
                      she's my alcatraz |          8  
----------------------------------------+-------------
  a song about a girl who went shopping |          7  
                        checkers speech |          7  
                        danny partridge |          7  
            i just wanna do it with you |          7  
         i'm like yeah but she's all no |          7  
             institutionalized misogyny |          7  
        itching powder in sleeping bags |          7  
                  now that you are gone |          7  
                  swiss army girlfriend |          7  
                       together tonight |          7  
will you still love me when i don't lov |          7  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                   i don't need you now |          6  
                                  naomi |          6  
                            psycho girl |          6  
                     that prozac moment |          6  
                        two-minute itch |          6  
                    you're the only one |          6  
                              game over |          5  
                    how'd the date end? |          5  
                            mr. ramones |          5  
            she's coming (over tonight) |          5  
                        so long, sucker |          5  
the weather is here, wish you were beau |          5  
           tomorrow is a harsh mistress |          5  
                            up and down |          5  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                     dustbin of history |          4  
                      god bless america |          4  
                      hangin' on to you |          4  
                   hello kitty menendez |          4  
                i'd do anything for you |          4  
                    love american style |          4  
          oh just have some faith in me |          4  
                           sex offender |          4  
                some foggy mountain top |          4  
                            spy vs. spy |          4  
                              two of us |          4  
            we hate all the same things |          4  
                       we're not no one |          4  
                    who needs happiness |          4  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        dictionary girl |          3  
                          disconnection |          3  
          everybody knows you're crying |          3  
           god bless lawrence livermore |          3  
                              hey emily |          3  
                         i feel for you |          3  
                                   jill |          3  
                      lawnmower of love |          3  
                                 london |          3  
                         love manifesto |          3  
                             not guilty |          3  
                            on the team |          3  
    our love will last forever and ever |          3  
                                shining |          3  
                     somebody who cares |          3  
sorry for freaking out on the phone las |          3  
             take all the time you need |          3  
                 the end of the ramones |          3  
    the future ain't what it used to be |          3  
        there's something wrong with me |          3  
                                   zero |          3  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        all my promises |          2  
                      another yesterday |          2  
           big strange beautiful hammer |          2  
    i don't know where dan treacy lives |          2  
         i made you and i can break you |          2  
 leave the thinking to the smart people |          2  
                       marine recruiter |          2  
                          now we are 21 |          2  
                            one big lie |          2  
                              pig latin |          2  
                              self-pity |          2  
                        somebody's song |          2  
       the girl who still lives at home |          2  
   we are the future people of tomorrow |          2  
                           we'll get by |          2  
                            wearing out |          2  
                          what is punk? |          2  
                        when i lost you |          2  
                              you alone |          2  
----------------------------------------+-------------
             a mind is a terrible thing |          1  
                   a weekend in hogboro |          1  
                        a zillion years |          1  
   are you there god? it's me, margaret |          1  
as life goes on, you get more and more  |          1  
               bitter homes and gardens |          1  
                           boredom zone |          1  
                   bridge to tarabithia |          1  
                      christine bactine |          1  
                                  crash |          1  
                                go away |          1  
          i'm in love with paula pierce |          1  
                            knock knock |          1  
                                 makeup |          1  
                                 martyr |          1  
                master of the situation |          1  
                                perhaps |          1  
                         population: us |          1  
                  reactivate your heart |          1  
                           ready set go |          1  
                     send me a postcard |          1  
                                  sheep |          1  
                                slagbag |          1  
          stephanies of the world unite |          1  
                             supersonic |          1  
                   the empty experience |          1  
                          told you once |          1  
                  two martinis from now |          1  
                 unpack your adjectives |          1  
                         viva la france |          1  
                     weekend at hogboro |          1  
                        what went wrong |          1  
----------------------------------------+-------------

And here’s some album statistics:

                                  Album |  Freqency
----------------------------------------+------------
                           Love Is Dead |        136 
       Revenge is Sweet, and So Are You |        110 
                  Our Bodies Our Selves |        101 
    ...And the Women Who Love Them (EP) |         55 
                        Yesterday Rules |         54 
                               Alcatraz |         52 
      Night Shift at the Thrill Factory |         48 
                     Milk Milk Lemonade |         45 
               Making Things with Light |         35 
   Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood (EP) |         33 
Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opini |         17 
              The Miracle of Shame (EP) |         14 
   Show Business Is My Life (Dr. Frank) |          6 
----------------------------------------+------------

Replicate My Work!

Scientific work requires transparency. There is no mad genius in his/her lonely tower working for years on end on some great invention. While it may be true that professors have little time for anything but their research, they communicate their findings (along with their methods). Science is a social enterprise. Primed by Gary King‘s essay “Replication, Replication” (1995) and lectures by Rainer Schnell, I arrived at the conclusion that a scientific workflow must be a reproducible workflow. I do think that making replication material broadly available is a good thing for everyone involved.

Replication materials for my recent publications can now be found online. Maintaining a reproducible workflow is hard work but rewarding. Looking back, I could have improved a lot of things (without changing the results, mind you). It felt a bit awkward at first. Soon enough it felt even more awkward to have waited so long to put up the material. I wish I could share more of my older publications (and also raw data) but privacy laws, work contracts, and fellow psychologists who are highly skeptical of these ideas keep me from doing so.

Hopefully, the present material is just the beginning. Sadly, most psychologists do not share their materials publicly so I had to figure out most stuff on my own. I decided against third-party repositories because some focus solely on data sets whereas others are somewhat difficult to handle. So I wrote the HTML by hand hoping that a plain format allows for longevity. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Measuring the Popularity of Novels?

Apparently, the amount of ratings on GoodReads.com is highly correlated with the ratings, at least for John Green’s four novels (r = .96). But is it really ‘the more, the merrier’? I picked four more authors (in a non-random fashion), had a look at the respective correlations for their novels, and made a couple of graphs to illustrate the results.

Scatter plot of amount of ratings and ratings

Novels by John Green, Maureen Johnson, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer

The relationship is a negative one for Stephanie Meyer’s books. Two books of J.K. Rowling are outliers – her first one in terms of ratings on GoodReads, her most recent one in terms of rating. I therefore took the liberty to plot a quadratic fit (instead of a linear fit). It appears that John Green might be an exception (like the Mongols?) Also, Amazon.com ratings tend to be higher; and again, there is no clear relationship between the amount of reviews and the average rating.

And since I recently finished reading “On Chesil Beach”, here’s the data for Ian McEwan’s novels, along with a more appropriately scaled plot for Maureen Johnson’s books:

Scatter plot of amount of ratings and ratings

Novels by Maureen Johnson and Ian McEwan

By the way, the correlation between Amazon.com ratings and GoodReads.com ratings for the 40 books I used above is r = .89. The correlation between number of Amazon.com reviews and Goodreads.com ratings is r = .75.

PS: If anyone is interested in the Stata code for the graphs, let me know. I guess, I’ll add it here this weekend, anyway, but right now I should go to bed.

Null Hypothesis Significance Testing: The Fault in Our Stars

fishingboatproceeds

[...] The same is true on amazon, where the book’s average rating has actually gone up a bit in the past six months (although not in a statistically significant way). [...]

Actually, the ratings have decreased in a statistically significant way (alpha < .05). I used the two most recently archived pages from archive.org, which do not cover exactly 6 months. Still, ratings before 2013-02-03 were higher than those after that date.

  • Before (2110 ratings): mean = 4.76 (SD = 0.014)
  • After (1232 ratings): mean = 4.67 (SD = 0.021)

A t-test (two-sided, unequal variances) yields p = 0.0009 (d = -0.12); and for the non-parametric fans, the Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) test yields p = 0.0001.

Using 2012-10-19 as dividing date, yields similar results:

  • Before (1051 ratings): mean = 4.77 (SD = 0.020)
  • After (2291 ratings): mean = 4.71 (SD = 0.015)

A t-test (two-sided, unequal variances) yields p = 0.0188 (d = -0.09); the Wilcoxon rank-sum test yields p = 0.0008. Of course, significance testing might be a questionable procedure in this case – and also in general.

This is actually a census of all Amazon ratings, so there’s no need to test whether ratings differ. The sample is the population. However, the written reviews could be regarded as a subsample of the ratings of all readers.

Is it a random sample? I don’t think so. So can we draw proper conclusions from the significance test results? Nah. I won’t provide a comprehensive discussion of the benefits and problems associated with the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). I’ll just name one of my favourite objections, which Cohen (1990, p. 1308) phrased nicely: “The null hypothesis, taken literally (and that’s the only way you can take it in formal hypothesis testing), is always false in the real world.” In the present, the null hypothesis would mean, that average rating of newer readers is exactly the same as the average rating of those who pre-ordered the book etc.

Anyway, the effect size suggests that the drop in ratings is very small, so it should be safe to argue that the book keeps appealing to new readers.

PS: Sorry for nitpicking; this should in no way diminish the article, which I think is highly insightful.

PPS: I spend a good 15 minutes in R trying to beat the data into shape, but I feel much more comfortable in Stata, so I switched and had the analysis in a few minutes. Here’s the do-file in case anyone in curious. (Haha, as if!)

Continue reading ‘Null Hypothesis Significance Testing: The Fault in Our Stars’ »

Thoughts on “The Bestseller Job”

Today’s mail contained a copy of “The Bestseller Job” (by Greg Cox), a novel based on the televion series “Leverage“. I really like “Leverage” and I was sad to learn that its 5th season was going to be the last one. I’m not usually into novels that expand existing series, but on a whim I bought this one. I’m 76 pages in right now. (The book has 291 pages.) It is certainly too early for a final verdict. I just thought I’d put down my first impression, which, by the way, is positive. The writing style matches the editing of the television series; the plot fits the Leverage universe perfectly, and I’m thrilled that 3/4 of the story are still ahead of me. I like it when the summary on the back doesn’t spoil the whole first half of a book, so I was pleasantly surprised how fast “The Bestseller Job” took off. I was even more enthralled to find the crew en route to Germany. Heck, we learn that Parker once had an alias from Stuttgart. And it’s not just these nods to the country I live in, it’s the acurate transition from one medium to another that makes me really happy. Okay, back to reading!