The Internet has already fundamentally changed the way that people communicate, shop, and even date, but now it is poised to revolutionize psychological studies by enabling researchers to quickly and easily recruit thousands of study volunteers from around the world, and by changing the way the public interacts with researchers.By conducting experiments online, researchers have been able to enlist as many as 65,000 volunteers to take part in studies of cognition, a number far larger than they could bring into the lab. Such studies, however, have been dogged by questions about whether anonymous, unpaid volunteers tested online can produce data that is as high quality as that gathered through in-person lab testing.New research conducted by Harvard scientists may put those questions to rest.A team led by Laura Germine, a postdoctoral research associate in Harvard’s Psychology Department, and made up of Ken Nakayama, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology, Jeremy Wilmer of Wellesley College, and Christopher F. Chabris ’88, Ph.D. ’99, assistant professor of psychology at Union College, has shown that data gathered through online volunteers can be just as good as that from in-person experiments. Their research is described in a forthcoming issue of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.“What this says is that people shouldn’t be afraid of the Web as a way of conducting their research,” said Germine, the paper’s first author. “Despite the cost advantages, despite the time advantages, researchers continue to worry that data from Web volunteers will not be as good as data from paid lab participants. We’ve shown that data from self-selected Web volunteers can be very good. The thing I like to say about using the Web is that it’s fast, it’s cheap, but it’s not dirty. In experiments like ours, what you’re getting is good, reliable data.”To test whether Web studies are as valid as those done in the lab, researchers recruited thousands of volunteers through Germine’s site, TestMyBrain.org. The volunteers, who navigated from search engines and social networking sites, took part in a handful of tests to learn more about themselves and contribute to scientific research. These tests were designed to assess everything from facial recognition ability to a person’s capacity for remembering a long string of numbers. Researchers then compared the results of the online tests with those done in the lab.“We looked at three basic metrics,” Germine explained. “We looked at mean performance, we looked at variation in performance, and we looked at internal consistency. In some ways, I think, the third measure — the consistency, or internal reliability — is the most important, because it allows you to look at how someone’s performance on one part of the test predicts how they will perform on another part of the test. If they stopped paying attention or started watching YouTube videos halfway through a test, that would be reflected in lower reliability.”On each measure, Germine said, the results from studies conducted with Web volunteers were the same as those done in the lab. The only variation researchers found came when they compared the average, or mean, performance of the general public with that of elite college students from Harvard and Wellesley on IQ-based tests.“For tests based on visual recognition and perception that are less related to IQ, average scores were the same for Web and lab,” Germine said.While it has simplified the process of gathering data, the Web has also changed the relationship between researchers and those they study. By forming communities online, Germine said, people who suffer from a particular disorder have been able to raise awareness — and drive research in areas that might otherwise not be studied.“The other benefit that comes from using the Web is that people can offer insights about themselves we might not think to ask,” Germine said. “The best example of this is with the selective developmental disorders.”Arguably the most prominent example of such a disorder is prosopagnosia, also known as “face blindness,” in which individuals have difficulty recognizing people, sometimes even in their own families. Although the condition was occasionally reported following a stroke, when people claimed to have had the disorder from birth, they were often dismissed by doctors and researchers. As tests for facial recognition were made available online, researchers began to realize that the disorder was far more common than previously thought.“As a result, we learned a great deal,” Germine said. “Because we had these tests available online, and because people were able to participate in this exploration online, the knowledge they gained validated their own experience, which encouraged them to get in contact with a researcher. So there was this circle of knowledge that became very beneficial to everyone involved.“I think psychology, as a field, is unique in that the research questions can be made fairly accessible to the public,” she added. “The Web offers us another avenue to take advantage of that, and to engage people in our science in a new way. I think there’s a great opportunity for collaboration between scientists and ‘citizen scientists’ to advance scientific knowledge.”
Gazette should not endorse in electionsAs the upcoming political elections draw near, I would like to request that The Daily Gazette refrain from endorsing any candidate or issue that is on the ballot.In our country, the news media, including The Gazette, is under extreme pressure to justify its existence as a legitimate and unbiased news source.In many cases, it fails to make that justification. While any newspaper has every right to express its opinion, endorsing any candidate or issue reinforces the perception that it backs one candidate or political party over another and reduces the credibility of The Gazette as an unbiased reporter of the news.Rather, I would encourage The Gazette to identify the candidates and initiatives on the ballot, provide their positions on each of the major issues, provide the strengths and weaknesses of any initiative, and let the voter or reader decide for him or herself.Ken MooreSchenectady Tell officials to vote no on 5G wirelessEveryone is concerned about climate change, which I think is a hoax. The Bible says there will always be the sunrise and sunset.People will continue to go on living as usual until God decides to come back to Earth and make changes.A 5G crisis summit was held recently and free online from Aug. 26 through Sept. 1. It had many knowledgeable speakers. 5G stands for fifth generation cellular wireless, which is very harmful to people, animals, insects, plants, etc. There are thousands of independent studies concluding that wireless radiation causes biological harm.According to these professional scientists, physicians and engineers, we should be very worried about the placing of 20,000 high-frequency radiation-emitting satellites, starting with Space X’s newly FCC-approved 4,425 they want to put into orbit over the next few years. This means we will have more cell installations near our homes and in every neighborhood.Meteorologists issued a statement in June of this year. They are worried 5G will disrupt their ability to sense the weather.So don’t worry about the climate change hoax, but do worry about 5G radiation. Call your elected officials and tell them we do not want this. What we have now is bad enough.Audrey SaltsmanJohnstown Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionPoliticians should pass sensible lawsThe math is simple.There are nominally 8,760 hours in a calendar year.Our wonderful politicians are proposing limiting flavors in vaping products because five individuals this year died from the assumed use of those products.This amounts to one person dying from a self-inflicted addiction every 0.0006 hours. On the flip side 14,542 people were murdered in 2018 with guns. This amounts to 1.7 murders per hour from guns where the victims often had little say about their unfortunate demise.Ignoring a cause of one of death being 180,000 times greater than the other shows the pols have taken the easy way out claiming the crisis they are solving for us is vaping while keeping contentious gun regulations at a distance.I support the Second Amendment, but it was written when the state of the art was muzzle-loading flint locks, and we did not have a permanent standing army.The state of the art has evolved beyond what our forefathers could have imagined and needs to be revisited.We did not require registrations and insurance for a horse and buggy, but we now do for an automobile. Now that might be appropriate to firearms given their proliferation. Wouldn’t it be nice if the politicians could use their thinking ends instead of worrying about their legislative seating end and do something meaningful? The foundation of a democracy is the ability to compromise, which seems to be fading.R. Jeffrey WarrickSchenectady More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will continue to work “every day” to fulfil his “personal ambition” of playing in the Champions League. Press Association Lloris admits with Euro 2016 on the horizon, like any player, he is determined to test himself at the highest level. In an interview with RMC Sport, Lloris re iterated his desire to get regular Champions League football. He said: “This is the case for everyone, not because it is the season of the European Championships . It is a goal and a personal ambition. “The Champions League remains an important competition, where the level is the highest in Europe, so obviously we want to participate and to rub shoulders with the biggest European teams. We work every day for that.” Lloris, however, accepts he can only fulfil his ambitions with Les Bleus if he was number one for his club, something which would be open to interpretation where he to move to Old Trafford. The Spurs captain added: “Dialogue and choices are important, but the most important thing is to have the ability to play lots of matches in order to put in the best performance possible and continue to be selected for the national team. “I assume that the choices come naturally, so I am staying calm and seeing how things develop.” France international Lloris was one of the stand-out performers for Spurs last season, who rallied to end the campaign in fifth place and so qualify again for the Europa League. However, with David de Gea appearing set to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, the 28-year-old Spurs skipper has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford for next season.