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Excersus CXV: But What About TORTURE?!


For those of you who heard the title of today's episode in the voice of Joel Hodgson, I am virtually nerd-fiving you right now. As a teenager, I had thirty or so MST 3K tapes that I'd made from the Comedy Central broadcasts, and when I did my math and science homework they were on in the background so that I saw each of those episodes easily ten times. As a result, I cannot hear the word "torture" without thinking of Teenagers From Outer Space.

On a less jolly note, yeah, torture isn't great. I think of it a good deal like the way the statistical analysis behind pedagogical studies. In too many studies of new pedagogical techniques, the method forces responses of a certain type to the questions, and those answers are then used statistically as a proof that Learning Happened. Tests and questionnaires are built around the method to the point that it is the ability to pick out the method's talking points that ends up getting proven, rather than the learning of the students. Just like whipping a guy after every time you ask the question "Are you a sorcerer?" telegraphs Pretty Clearly the idea that that guy is looking for "I'm a sorcerer" as the answer, so is much statistical analysis in Slightly Mathematical fields slipping slowly into the chasm of Questions Forcing Answers.

- Count Dolby von Luckner

Hate mail and notes of luscious thanks may be sent to The Count at CountDolby@gmail.com.