Saturday, June 28, 2014

Facebook Psychology Study

Yeah, I get it. Facebook is better than Big Brother because it allows participants to freely provide their own spy-type information to a whorish corporation that supplies it all to the NSA anyway. And what do they have to do with all that time and money, and those PhDs they hired? Studies determining whether or not seeing more negative or positive posts from your friends cause you to produce more negative or positive posts yourself? Are we not scared yet?

Link here. Like all the stuff these Steven Pinkeresque idiots think up, it's irredeemably broken and dumber than a roomful of psychologists who think they're doing science. Quote:
[The study] shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology.
God, it hurts worse than watching Kerry talk about helping the people of Iraq. Well, maybe not that bad. But what makes a word "negative" or "positive"? What makes a post negative or positive? If a bunch of friends comment during the study month on a friend's funeral, is it negative, or positive? If they talk about what a great life he had in glowing terms, to cheer each other up, while being crushed inside, they read as positive--if they share anecdotes about what an idiot he was back in their service days, they read as negative, even if they're crying tears of joy for his passing. If they insult each other good-naturedly about different World Cup teams, negative or positive? If some of the people being randomly monitored are emo teenagers talking about death and failed romance, and others are Utah housewives covering God, how valuable is it to correlate their respective jargon with the researchers' interpretations of what positive and negative are? Try how hard you might, psychologists, your profession and training are irrelevant. You are a truly pitiful attempt to industrialize the sense of personality, which can only be known by knowing someone. You're priests who have never prayed; you're an Australian four-year-old who reads car magazines and believes he knows what it's like to drive an M3 on the autobahn with a delicate blonde in the passenger's seat.

Broken, wasteful, utterly stupid...and, as the proles would say, "Duh. If a bunch of people say bad stuff to you, you feel bad, too." How many millions of dollars did this study cost? How many people will read the article and be amazed? Are the evil tyrant overlords of the datamining internet truly that vacuous? My new grant application is $1.6 million for a study to determine the effects of highway rest stops on food enjoyment. Participants will be randomly selected from college students in my locality who spend their time reading bulletin boards next to the psychology building. They will be split into two groups, one of whom will eat Subway foot-longs and bags of chips in a nearby highway rest stop bathroom, and the other of which will eat their sandwiches in a sunny meadow under a red and white striped umbrella. Participants will then be asked to rate their enjoyment of their sandwich from "1" to "10," with "10" being "best sandwich ever" and "1" being "worst sandwich ever." I will punch the data into an algorithm that took my team months to develop, then deliver a report to the National Institute of Health. TED invitations will soon follow, and after my talks go viral, I'll probably be hired to head the satisfaction development team for the University of California's food services department (I'll consult for Subway on the side, of course, to pad my lush royalty income from the American Bathroom Eateries book I had ghostwritten in my name after the TED thing took off).

So, is it a fake? Are the data overlords so clever that they're publicly acknowledging faked experiments like this one in order to make us think that they're that dumb, so that they can do even more nefarious things behind closed doors? Or, are they really that dumb, and they're like the NIH wasting $175K on a study to determine the effect cocaine exposure has on the mating habits of Japanese pigeons?* I guess when you have kids as dumb as William and Harry, you're desperate to buy anything that could make them look sharp. Hey, it's just like stacking the deck to make sure that special someone wins in Candyland, except that you're spending real money while other people starve to death.

Would it be a relief to find out that they really were that dumb? Which is worse: this thing being used as a ruse to make us underestimate them, or this thing being a real study, indicating how cosmically stupid they truly are? Starfall, longing for the days when "data" was distinguishable from a recording of someone saying, "My cat's breath smells like cat food."

* Really though.

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