I came to wordpress or “how I learned to love the Psych course”

Erm, hello there. I was directed, nay enforced to participate in ‘proper’ (i.e. non-Myspace) blogging by another wordpress blogger, who can be found at wilkox.wordpress.com doubtlessly toting a litany of economic know-how or at least a comment on how wonderful something called “Ubuntu” is. Nonetheless I’d like to make it work here and given the stringent discipline of university right about now it would be fun to put some of my more concrete ideas on to paper (less concrete ones tend not to have words). So with this in mind I wouldn’t mind posting an example/allegory to a rudimentary concept within the scientific community and the scientific method: validity and reliability.

Validity and reliability at least from a psych student perspective is something that people just don’t get. I don’t know why this is of course, it makes sense to me. To appreciate just what these two things truly mean is to be able to critique the basics of a scientific premise and in so doing more often than not be able to seek out psuedoscience, bad experiments or false advertising. You can also do this quite well with something known as falsifiability which is equally rudimentary and equally important to science, but I don’t have a nice cultural and pertinent example for that yet so either read your text book or make one up yourself.

Validity and Reliability: Subway versus McDonald’s

Ok let’s say you are like the teeming millions who will at some point purchase a product at a fast food store. Let’s also say that you have already tried Subway a couple of times, and you’ve tried McDonald’s a couple of times but you don’t know which one is better in your quest for a fresh meal. If you’re a nerd you can use validity and reliability to alter your perception of which one will be the best choice but this test keeps variables such as cost, distance to walk/drive and so on assumed as being equal for both restaurants and this also includes what meal you think is tastier (controlling variables is yet another rudiment to the scientific method).

When I walk into a Subway to get a Subway Club foot long (on sweet, sweet Honey Oat) I  have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting. I’ll get Turkey, Ham, Beef with all the salads save jalapenos which are retarded as they totally block the taste of anything else. Nonetheless I may get a different server for my tasty snack, and depending on that alone and without anything to do with myself my order can be different. I can get more meat, less meat, more salad, less salad and that’s the gamble I play every time I walk into a Subway.

Compare to McDonald’s. My Big Mac Meal will never, ever change. The drink is a standard size, the fries are standard, the Big Mac itself is strictly regimented next to its million identitical brethren. It’s this conveyor belt system that makes McDonald’s burgers so easy to manufacture and so popular: people want something they can rely on. If you come back from a big party or you’re about to have one, a standard and utterly regular burger you can gauge yourself with- its a good thing. It is here that we can see that McDonald’s is reliable and more reliable than Subway. If you were about to do an exam and didn’t know about validity, McDonald’s would be your answer in regards to “what, on average, is the best fast food restaurant using scientific analysis?” However we have another concept to grasp before I close this post.

Let’s say that while McDonald’s is reliable, you are still going to be wanting that fresh fast food. Hang on! McDonald’s is not fresher than Subway, and that is, after all what you were interested in. If I am comparing these two fast food chains, McDonald’s can be as reliable as it damn well likes and that’s fine, but what if it’s not what I want it to be? I want a fresh subway dammit! Subway is thus more valid in our quest for fresh food.

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~ by freeze43 on August 25, 2008.

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