October 2012 Archives

Chocolate Brains

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I enjoy skimming the New England Journal of Medicine when I process our copy at the Law Library where I work. Every now and then they include articles that are a little cheeky, a little humorous, or a little bit of a joke. In October I had my eye out for a particular article that I seen mentioned on NPR.

The concept of both articles is simple. The Swiss have the most per capita Nobel Prize winners and the Swiss also consume the most chocolate in the world! I think this study has a lot of breakthrough messages to teach all of us.

As a bit of stats junky I immediately went to that one little number that says so much: the p-value. Low and behold it was 0.0001. More than coincidence- Statistically significant. Just what every researcher dreams of.

While this is incredibly intriguing, obviously in no way does this indicate that chocolate causes intelligence (Although I think I will be justifying eating an extra piece or two now and then with these results). The discussion was particularly cheeky talking about individuals with higher intelligence being more aware of the benefits of eating chocolate and therefore causing this correlation.

I find it important to note that this article also referenced the study's own limitations. Though they measured country's intake versus Nobel winners but neglected to reflect on individual winner's consumption. It could be they are the lone countrymen not eating chocolate. I sense there will be a few researchers looking further into this topic in the future.

This article particularly reminded me of Professor Ball's post about coffee helping you live longer.

Mocha latte anyone?

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My Life is One Giant Class

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So, my life is one giant class. I am sure anyone can relate to this; I myself have been looking forward to this since roughly second grade. There is no "math time" then "reading time" it's all interrelated, connected, and pertains to my future.

Last week in Marketing 3001 our lecture title was "Research" and my professor showed this clip from the Daily Show in 2009 (I will not use this time to comment on the age of her material).

This was especially insightful on how instant result surveys administered through mobile or online devices can be skewed. Only viewers watching the program will respond, and if they are watching the program they likely have similar opinions to the other viewers. In no way are the reported results scientific.

I found this video especially insightful (in a Jon Stewart way) and had a lot of commentary similar to statistical problems discussed in class.


Jennifer Aniston Controls Your Brain

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Seriously. I have been obsessing over this study every since it came out. Not just because I love Jen's classic 90's cut turned timeless trademark, either. The idea that a part of my brain is literally controlled by Jennifer Aniston should make me uncomfortable, but as a strategic communication professional-in-training it's mind-bogglingly exciting!

First let me flash you a picture.
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According to this study by a UCLA professor a few years back, people have a neuron that lights up when it sees that hair, that face, that Jen. As the article describes, it is not just the actress on the whole that "sparks" your neuron but the "blue of her eyes" and "units of light, dark, color, shading, form." Also, your neuron isn't alone. It is powered by countless neurons below it. A lot of brain mumbo-jumbo that even after my neuroscience major roommate explained to me I still don't understand. The take away here is that your brain forms connections based on everything it has ever seen. Are your neurons as sparked as mine are right now?

I think the most fascinating implication of this study is that if branding occurs the way it should-- the way it did for Jennifer Aniston-- we could eventually develop neurons that activate when we see a particular cereal or clothing logo.

The public might see this as a Minority Report-esque scare...
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Oh wait, I think the "Tom Cruise" part of my brain just lit up... or was it the "Gap" neuron?

I Can No Longer Turn Down a Survey

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As most people in the 21st century, I am an obsessive compulsive email checker. My goal is always to have less than 100 emails in my inbox at all times (easier said than done). So, imagine how difficult it is now that I can no longer turn down a survey. Participating in this course has made me a survey fiend. They ask. I answer.

Okay, I admit it. The main goal of my life is to cook dinner for friends and family and pack lunches for picky eaters... which is why I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living. It's because of this subscription that every few weeks I get emails asking me to participate in surveys, usually for an incentive.

The majority of the questions seemed to be about my demographics:
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First of all let me just say I can't imagine a time when that is not the box that I'm selecting. Anyway, Martha went on to ask me-- with the same beautiful pictures of flowers in the background-- about my interest in crafting, baking, and entertaining (all of the above, please). These survey questions barely scratched the surface of why I read Martha Stewart, why I visit her website, or what my intentions are for future participation. Although I do believe that it was effective in that it was short and uncomplicated, perfect for an online questionnaire.

Then. Cue the music for the final question.
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That's right. I said yes again. They promptly entered me in a "sweepstakes" that I have no chance of ever winning and yet they will continue to send me email at an increased increment asking for my feedback. And yes. I will be participating.

In the end, when I win this $300 worth of Martha Stewart merchandise, it will totally be worth the ten minutes I spent checking boxes. However, will it be worth the near incessant emails I will receive for the next six months? That remains to be seen.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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