education blogs and news

Views from the whiteboard has reminded me that the Edublog awards are being decided now.

An ESL teacher inKorea seems to be nominated for Best New Blog.  Kringlish Kids.

I can’t tell if English Teacher Melanie works in Korea and there is no reason that she should feel the need to, but she is nominated for Best Resource Sharing Blog and her material seems quite useful.

Check the awards link for more details.


In other news, here is an interesting claim that might convince your students to study after the test!

Via Kottke and Why Evolution is True comes news of research that seems to defend some claims of psychic powers.

In a review of the article from new scientist, The journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Bem took well-studied psychological phenomena and simply reversed the sequence, so that the event generally interpreted as the cause happened after the tested behaviour rather than before it.”

From New Scientist:

In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.

In another study, Bem adapted research on “priming” — the effect of a subliminally presented word on a person’s response to an image. For instance, if someone is momentarily flashed the word “ugly”, it will take them longer to decide that a picture of a kitten is pleasant than if “beautiful” had been flashed. Running the experiment back-to-front, Bem found that the priming effect seemed to work backwards in time as well as forwards.

Coyne, at Why Evolution is true doesn’t immediately dismiss the research:

1.  They’re real: we have previously unsuspected abilities to detect the future.

2.  They’re fraudulent: Bem rigged the experiment or made up the data.  I’m assuming this isn’t the case.

3.  They’re wrong because of some flaw in the experiment (or in the computer programs) that made these results artifactual.

4.  The results are statistical outliers that got published simply because they represent one of those cases in which we reject the null hypothesis (i.e., the hypothesis that we have no ability to predict the future), even though it’s true. This is called a “type one error” in statistics.  When experimental results give such an error of 5% or less (i.e., exceed the “significance threshold”), scientists do reject the null hypothesis and claim that something else is going on (in this case, that there’s precognition).  But with a threshhold of 5%, you’ll make a mistake one time in twenty.  (That’s the basis of the old science joke, “95% of your experiments fail;the other 5% you publish in Nature.”)



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