Thursday, 06 October 2005

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Pegs Knocked Down, Egos Bruised; or, Tonight at Ten on Ten: No One's Perfect, Pass It On... I know y'all waited for months and months to learn exactly what John Bruce thinks of me, and well, now you've got your chance. He's "slammed" me for dangling a participle ... asserted that there's no way a hiring committee in 2008 would hire someone who dangled a participle in 2005 to teach, well, anything. Since he's obsessed with inflating his hit count (because, as you well know, the more people who laugh at your blog, the more they esteem you), I encourage all my regular readers to peruse Bruce's accusations (including his devestatingly charming habit of refering to me as "Scott Eric," as if it wasn't my name but constituted an insult) and tell them what they really think of me. Seriously. Unlike the Bruce, I have no illusions about my audience. I know y'all find me amusing and have the utmost disrespect for my intellectual shortcomings ... and I think John Bruce needs to know that Scott Eric's audience laughs at him instead of with him. Because, well, because John Bruce has "issues." Since I don't, I'm more than happy to oblige his delusions of importance by dangling participles like an agrammatical fool. Anyhow, you can read his silly bloviation here. Feel free to inflate his hit count by demeaning me in every which way you can. Because unlike the Bruce, I acknowledge my imperfections and don't think anyone not suffering the delusion of perfection will think any less of me for them. Update: Bruce has penned another "anti-Scott Eric" screed. He calls it "Two Questions for Scott Eric." But he's banned me from commenting on it. You may be asking yourself: why would you directly ask someone questions then deny them the ability to answer them? Could it be that you fear my cold hard logic? (Because you should. What with it being so cold and hard and logical.) If I were to answer the ridiculous charges he levels, they'd read something like this: Ahem. Yes, I live in a dorm. That's where graduate students live. In dorms. No, really, we do. Seriously. In dorms. I'm not kidding. We. Live. In. Dorms. Exactly. (Note to John Bruce's busted Sarcasm Detector: the preceding remarks are sarcastic. Many of the following will be too. Failure to recognize them as such will make you look awfully silly.) I threw a tantrum? For someone who prides himself on his fine ear for all things literary, you routinely miss stuff like Big Obvious Sarcasm. "Hysterical" is how I feel when the ball passes through Tony Graffanino's legs; "amused" and "desirous of having fun at your expense" is how I feel when you target me with some of your patented hard-hitting investigative journalism. You don't seem to know how names work. As I wrote, you're more than welcome to refer to me as "Scott Eric," but that'll put you in the minority of the human race. You don't mention that I've explained to you before (at least twice) the eminently practical reason I...
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The Neurobiology of Sarcasm Appropos of nothing, this evening I want to discuss an article from the May 2005 issue of the journal Neuropsychology. Shamay-Tsoory, Tomer and Aharon-Peretz's "The Neuroanatomical Basis of Undestanding Sarcasm and Its Relationship to Social Cognition" posits that the ability to understand and produce sarcasm emerge the ventromedial (VM) regions of the frontal lobes. To prove their thesis, the Israeli neuropsychologists lassoed "patients with well-defined, localized, acquired cortical legions" and subjected them to a battery of tests requiring them to identify sarcastic utterances. These patients were presented with the following stories: Sarcastic Version Item Joe came to work, and instead of beginning to work, he sat down to rest. His boss noticed his behavior and said, "Joe, don't work too hard!" Neurtral Version Item Joe came to work and immediately began to work. His boss noticed his behavior and said, "Joe, don't work too hard!" The patients were then asked a factual question ("Did Joe work too hard?") and an attitude question ("Did the manager believe Joe was working hard?"). If the subject answered the factual question correctly and the attitude question incorrectly, the research team would shake their heads, bite their pencils and note with great regret the subject's executive dysfunctions. Then they did math: Significant differences were found between the PFC, PC, and HC groups, χ2(2, N = 58) = 9.212, p <.01; between the PFC and PC groups, χ2(1, N = 41) = 4.533, p <.033; and between the PFC and HC groups, χ2(2, N = 42) = 7.135, p <.008; but not between the PC and the HC groups, χ2(1, N = 33) = 0.313, ns. I don't know what that means, but because they knew I wouldn't be suitably impressed by one paragraph full of numbers and formulae, they decided they best provide another: The differences between groups was reconfirmed by means of the Kruskal-Wallis H, χ2(5, N = 58) = 15.481, p <.008. Analysis of error frequencies using chi-square indicated significant differences between all groups, χ2(5, N = 58) = 13.709, p <.018. In addition, the right prefrontal lesion group was significantly different from the HCs, χ2(1, N = 23) = 10.729, p <.001; right posterior group, χ2(1, N = 13) = 3.899, p <.048; and left posterior group, χ2(1, N = 15) = 7.824, p <.005, but not from the bilateral frontal group, χ2(1, N = 19) = 2.328, ns. The bilateral PFC patients were significantly different from the HCs, χ2(1, N = 30) = 4.455, p <.053. I know what that means however. It signifies they knew I knew the means and standard deviations were as follows: VM = 1.45 (SD = 1.4); DL = 0.857 (SD = 1.86); MIX = 1.42 (SD = 1.9); PC = 0.19 (SD = 0.4); and HCs = 0.11 (SD = 0.33). They only wanted to be sure that I knew that they knew that I knew that they knew. Because they're thorough. After all the complicated math and arcane analysis of the one-tailed partial correlation...

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