Daily Archives: April 30, 2010

And the point of that was….?

Statistic Exam 2010.

Well this just made NO sense what-so-ever. Yes, okay I admit this post is going to be doused in a mire of bias and bitterness based on my performance in my stats exam today, but you know what? I don’t care, because at least writing it whilst still trapped behind the heavy fog of oh bollocks means this will at least be an accurate record of my feelings towards Stats on this particular day in my life.

I’m sure there have been (and will be) days when I’ve really enjoyed stats, and would have liked nothing more than to run an ANOVA, or a Multiple Regression to see if my hard work had been ‘statistically’ worth it, but today is NOT one of those days. It’s something satisfying to find nice P values on SPSS if you’ve done lots of work, not quite as satisfying as eating cake or anything crazy but a nice accomplished feeling.
When as a researcher would anyone ever find themselves at a computer unable to deduce what statistical test would be best to use and NOT be allowed to have access to any form of book/google to check their choice for analysis?

Well the answer is never, unless I dont know, you were collecting data on peoples reactions to tornados and as you go to analyse your data the same tornado you are studying rips through your study, swoops up your internet wireless hub and all your text book but kindly spares you, your desk, your laptop and electrical connection.. and you have only 2 hours to complete your work.. or else the tornado will kill again. This seems unlikely.

So why do we have these exams? Would it not be better to give us mini assignments throughout the year, to test our skills on SPSS? I know it’s good to know the background of analysis in order to be better able to make appropriate choices for running a particular test and when you have done so better understand what you can claim from results, but why give us what is at best a memory test to demonstrate an ‘understanding’?

We had two hours fifteen minutes to answer four questions with a range of 2 or 4 subquestions in each section. Not one of these had a percentage next to them either to indicate the worth of the question like our past paper/sample paper had. I had no idea how much to write for any question?!

I attempted all the questions, I definitely knew the answers to about 5 of them out of about 15, (the part a’s usually which I guess are only worth 5% each) and I definitely made up the answer to 3 of the questions (probably the 3 questions worth 20%!) But hey ho. I ended up leaving an hour and 15 minutes early… So I stayed for a whole hour.

1/4 of that hour was spent in the ‘reading time’ and I spent 2/4 of the hour writing, and 1/4 proof reading and drawing a butterfly..

Hope others have experienced a pointless feeling in an exam before. Whilst I know all of the evidence presented above suggests I’ve done badly in this paper, I also can not find it in me to feel disappointed about this. It could be the beta blockers I’m on preventing me from feeling ‘panic’ or it might just be my sense of perspective about this whole issue, statistics are not significant to me.



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Why I Love Nina and the Neurons.. yes I know it’s aimed at 4yr olds!

For anyone who hasn’t seen this show let me give you a little background:

It’s aimed at 4-6 year olds and it’s shown on Cbeebies on channel 1 in the UK. The official website for the show can be found here.

Nina is a bubbly, ponytailed, smiley neuroscientist who works at the Glasgow Science Centre. She has all the happy Scottish joy of a person from the wonderful town of Ballamory, combined with the smarts of Stephen Fry.  What more could you want really?

And I’m not implying in this that I am a regular viewer, honest…. (shhhhh) I wish only to make the point that it’s pretty awesome that a show like this even exists, (and even Pocoyo can be informative to an adult audience!). The theme tune is a great place to start with Nina and her neurons. Right away this tells us and the kids watching that there is a definite link between the neurons in Nina’s head and her ability to senses things, whilst also outlining the 5 senses. Not only does that teach the kids watching about sensory intake but the apparent friendship between the neurons implies multisensory integration.

The neurons are my favourite bit though, they live in Nina’s brain. Bizarrely she occasionally talks to them, indicate she’s suffering from delusions and other possible symptoms of schizophrenia, but beside that they rock and usually keep themselves to themselves and are observers of what’s going on from Nina’s head. You’ve got Felix the touch neuron (get it, like ‘feel’ix), Belle the sound neuron (ring ring) Luke the sight neuron (Any ideas? My guess is that’s based on LUminance, the main measure of the visual system and V1 receptive field sensitivities), Ollie the smell neuron (OLfactory I suppose)  and Bud the taste neuron (taste buds.. of course). Clever stuff already.

The neurons rather brilliantly behave in a way that is analogous to actual neurons, sending messages to different parts of Nina’s body that control her senses. (Implying that there is a one to one relationship between individual neurons and senses, something scientists might be a bit erm.. less convinced by). Still they also interact with one another showing network capabilities of the brain and emphasising its multimodal abilities to combine sensory inputs and form a unitary output.  Also the fact that Nina’s neurons learn from her experiences implies a fair amount of bottom up learning but sometimes the neurons help Nina implying a role of top down processing, wonderful. Most of the time it’s all to do with Nina trying to explain inventions, like ‘door handles’.

If anything the reason I love this show is cause it’s at least trying to give some of the basic information to children before they go off to proper big school and start learning about these things in a less fun, and more detached manner. I love how the show relates everything they do back to the neurons in Nina’s brain, making it clear that without the brain we’d be nothing!



Filed under Sciencey, television