Tuesday, February 28, 2006

So Is Research Discriminating?!

This is my QUICK random thought to maybe give you something to think about today...

[Note: "Quick" as in I'm on lunch break and we all know if that wasn't the case I could probably go on for a while about this topic, as with just about any topic]

Confession: I love research. Sick? Well, that's just in the eye of the beholder! ;)

So here is something I've thought about for a while now...

Why is it that in research, we are almost always trying to be culturally aware and racially aware, so we will test with diverse sample groups and be sure to run the statistics per race and ethnicity. Therefore, producing conclusions based on race.

Then, when we go say, "Well blacks are like this _____," or "Whites are like this _____" it is considered discriminating. Let's face it, whites have more tendencies to do some bad things and blacks have some tendencies to do some bad things too, as well as hispanics, native americans, etc.

So if we are going to do all the research to be culturally aware and be able to make statements in reference to a culture or a race, let's not view it as being discrimatory.

I suppose it comes down to what the conclusions show about whether we are going to get upset about it as a race and call it discrimination.

I believe races ARE different. Maybe not as different as some people would like to think, but we do have our differences...



julesforstenholm said...

This post highlights precisely why I choose not to engage in research. Too complicated. I think I'll just leave it to the smart people to figure that stuff out.

Research just makes me more of a worrywart!


P<.05 said...

We just can't read too much into research per say. Each person is an individual and I think that gets lost in a lot of the research out there. I don't think Alpha can mandate what we think and do. Besides, you never know if it has been tweaked or not.

julesforstenholm said...

On a side note, can you research for me how blogger.com comes up with the word verification letters? Is it totally random, or is there bias? I enjoy trying to make words out of the letters.

The most recent is pimpclown - pmpcwn!


FeedingYourMind said...

p<.05 -- You are correct, we can not read too much into research. Each case should be handled individually; however, I think research definitely serves an important purpose....

If we had no general conclusions to draw help from in life, we would all be slowed down.

Since I am unaware of your identity, I can't choose an analogy in reference to your area of interest to make my point, so I will have to resort to my area of interest, being psychotherapy.

Without research on say depression, I would have to start from scratch with each client and experiment on what I could do to help that individual. Thanks to research, I know what some of the most successful treatment plans are for depression, so I can try those immediately, without wasting the clients time experimenting on what is helpful for treating depression.

In reference to each person being an individual, you are very correct, so yes, I am fully aware that this depressed client could be completely different from the depressed client that I had yesterday, so I need to treat them in a manner that caters to them personally, but it could still be a FORM of the therapy that I used on the other depressed client. Lucky for me, I had research to tell me that that form of therapy is successful with a significant number of individuals.

That's right, I know it is significant because its p-value was less than .05; however, as your concern seems to be...I am not basing it solely on that p-value. The numbers themself will so a difference IF it is significant. That p-value will tell whether or not if that difference seems to be enough that that which was being tested really was what happened or if it was simply chance.

I would not base a decision on a mere p-value, but if you can look at the rare data yourself and see there is a difference, the p-value plays a nice, shall we say, "checks and balances" game! ;)

With research being tweaked. Yes, that could occur, and I've no doubt it probably does, but let's not doubt that tweaking doesn't go on in a lot of other areas of our life.

I greatly appreciate your comment "p<.05" and you made some very good points! Thanks.

I will end by saying this...

Research, like all statistics, can normally be viewed as you want to view them. It is easy to find some research and statistics that will back up my view on something, as well as to find some that will back of the opposing view. A statistic can be interpreted in many ways.

So yes, statistics and research are not without their flaws, but as a Christian would say, "What of this earth isn't?!" ;)

FeedingYourMind said...

Julie -- after hours of journal searching and reading hundreds of different blog-based journals, I have found that the word verification letters are randomized based on the output of a computer-based alpha-denerator system. Often compared to the randomized numeric-denerator on the TI-83 calculators that is used to give the calculator operator a list of randomly selected numbers.

Oh, and yes, the research referencing the computer-based alpha-denerator indicated that based on a p-value of less than .05, the letters used in word verifications DO in fact have subliminal messages hidden within them, such as "pimpclown" to be exact! ;)

julesforstenholm said...

Whoa! Way over my head! I think it's hilarious how ignorant I look sandwiched between you and the other commentor... sorry!

BTW... there is no subliminal message in this word verification! xgjmpmnj. :(