Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Psychiatric Hospitals

The Rosenhan Experiment is a must-read for everyone. It basically shows that one cannot distinguish between sane or an insane in any community setting, in particular a psychiatric hospital.

Rosenhan's study consisted of two parts. The first involved the use of healthy associates or 'pseudopatients', who briefly simulated auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in 5 different states in various locations in the United States. The second involved asking staff at a psychiatric hospital to detect non-existent 'fake' patients. In the first case hospital staff failed to detect a single pseudopatient, in the second the staff falsely detected large numbers of genuine patients as impostors. The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Science Fridays and rapper at Google

We have a lot of amazing people at Google. At one extreme we have Turing Award winners like Ken Thompson (co-inventor of UNIX) and Vint Cerf (co-inventor of TCP/IP). At other extremes we have people with other amazing attributes. For example, take our summer intern Monzy who is a nerdcore rapper straight from the hills of Stanford (listen to his major hits: So Much Drama in the PhD and kill -9).

His blogs also describe a cool tradition in our NY office: Science Fridays. It looks like a lot of fun. I love the microwave experiment. It also reminds me of antigravity experiments done by a friend (and fellow Googler) JJ Furman.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Schools in Bay Area are Banning homework!

I am all for getting Type-A parents to chill out about their children's education, specially in the early years. But this article is going too much in the other direction.

Oak Knoll Elementary in Menlo Park has mostly banned homework — except reading, special projects or catch-up work. Palo Alto's Addison Elementary and the Berryessa School District in San Jose are discussing the issue.
...
Not all homework at Oak Knoll has been eliminated — for example, third-graders will still practice their multiplication tables at home.

A researcher from Duke proudly adds the following obvious fact: Harris Cooper tells CBS News his research has shown that homework does help learning.

More on slashdot.