|Study Shows That Scientists Sometimes Fill Themselves Full of Bullshit.
||[May. 7th, 2005|09:35 am]
|[||In the Moment
Smart People Choke Under Pressure
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 09 February, 2005
7:00 a.m. ET
People perceived as the most likely to succeed might also be the most likely to crumble under pressure.
A new study finds that individuals with high working-memory capacity, which normally allows them to excel, crack under pressure and do worse on simple exams than when allowed to work with no constraints. Those with less capacity score low, too, but they tend not to be affected by pressure.
"The pressure causes verbal worries, like ‘Oh no, I can’t screw up,’" said Sian Beilock, assistant professor of psychology at Miami University of Ohio. "These thoughts reside in the working memory." And that takes up space that would otherwise be pondering the task at hand.
"When they begin to worry, then they’re in trouble," Beilock told LiveScience. "People with lower working-memory capacities are not using that capacity to begin with, so they’re not affected by pressure."
The findings are detailed this week’s issue of Psychological Science.
Working memory, also known as short-term memory, holds information that is relevant to performance and ensures task focus. It’s what allows us to remember and retrieve information from an early step of a long task, such as long-division math.
"In these math problems students have to perform subtraction and division, and if you’re trying to hold information in your memory and you start worrying about performance, then you can’t use your entire mental capacity to do the math," Beilock explained.
The study analyzed 93 undergraduate students from Michigan State University to determine their working-memory capacities. The students were divided into two groups, a high working-memory group (HWM) and a low working-memory group (LWM). Each person was given a 24-problem math test in a low-pressure environment. The HWM group did substantially better.
Then the two groups were given the same test, but were told that they were part of a "team effort" and an improved score would earn the team a cash reward. They were also told their performance was being evaluated by math professors.
Under this higher, real world pressure situation, the HWM group’s score dropped to that of the LWM group, which was not affected by the increased pressure.
Since working memory is known to predict many higher-level brain functions, the research calls into question the ability of high-pressure tests such as the SAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT to accurately gauge who will succeed in future academic endeavors.
The study analyzed 93 undergraduate students . . . from Michigan State University.
This is a school which offers a major in Substance Abuse . . . free of charge.
The test separated the 'smart' (HWM) kids from the 'dumb' (LWM) kids, and they did two trial runs of the same test.
Round 1 . . . tell 'em to take the test. 'Smart' 1, 'Dumb' 0.
Round 2 . . . tell 'em that it's a "team effort," and tell 'em that if they win, there's a cash prize, and the professors are watching them as part of their grade. 'Smart' 1, 'Dumb' 1 . . . but only toward their intended theory that smart people fold under pressure.
You see, in Round 2, the 'smart' kids' scores dropped to the level of the 'dumb' kids.
Michigan State University . . . I'll say it right now . . . when your daily regimen consists of a few beers before class, you're already scoring pretty shitty on everything.
I mean no disrespect to Michigan State University students and alumni. No matter what the reputation and culture of your institution of higher learning . . . if you really want to learn something, you'll be able to learn it and earn a worthwhile degree.
This study, however, is still chock full of nuts, despite my MSU commentary.
This study tries to prove that pressure affects people with larger brain capacities more than those without . . . 'brains.'
If you're the type of person that by self-assessment, would fall into the 'dumb' category . . . you would think that this is a boost to your ego.
It is not. It's an insult.
Everyone feels pressure.
A person can feel pressure to do well on a test. A person can feel pressure to make that free throw to win the game. A person can feel pressure to raise their kids. An elderly person can feel pressure to wake up in the middle of the night and make it to the bathroom in time to avoid a piddle in the Depends.
One can induce pressure with ease.
Let's take that 93-MSU-kid group, one more time.
Give them the answers. Let 'em sit there for a half hour. Take the answers away from them, hand them the test one more time . . . then tell them that if they answered more than 4 of the problems incorrectly, they would be hooked up to a machine that would shock them violently enough not to cause brain damage, but to make them lose momentary control of their bladder and bowels . . . I'll bet you every last one of them would probably freak out quite a bit.
They're all feeling . . . pressure.
Forget the "real world" simulation for a moment. This test assumes that the 'dumb' group isn't affected by pressure!
What are they trying to say, really?
Is the study trying to show that any kid in the 'dumb' group is about as aware of the pressure as a Shih-Tzu at a dog show? Are they trying to say that the 'dumb' kid has no idea and cannot grasp the feeling of pressure, much like the pedigree dog has no idea that by licking its balls, no matter how tempting, could cost its master the tournament prize money?
We're not done here yet, folks.
If you're the type of person that by self-assessment, would fall into the 'smart' category . . . you would think that this is a jolt to your ego.
It is not. It's an insult.
What are they trying to say, really?
The study proves, seemingly, that people with higher IQs become aware of the pressure and therefore take the excess brain capacity to handle the pressure. In this study, the 'smart' kids used so much that they were reduced to scores on the level of the 'dumb' group.
Is the study trying to show that any kid in the 'smart' group is going to be worth as much as any kid in the 'dumb' group . . . in the "real world?"
Ding ding ding!
I don't know about anyone else, but I notice that in a corporate world, if a person is over the age of 40 with significant experience in an industry . . . quite often, I read of them in the papers as casualties of "layoffs" and "early retirement." I notice the unemployment rates, and I talk to kids who finish school, only to hear of them finding great difficulty in landing employment, let alone the pursuit of meaningful employment.
I went to a party the other weekend. One of the people at the party works for a retailer who will remain nameless. They're doing things, like moving the company to another city. They're doing things to her, like tapping phones, in order to find anything to . . . let . . . her . . . go. Guess what, folks . . . she's had significant experience in the retail industry.
Never mind her, for the moment. Let's get back to the nitty-gritty.
If one talented individual, be it through experience and/or intelligence, is worth as much as an individual without skill and/or intelligence . . . then . . . there's no reason to pay them any more or less.
Ding ding ding!
"Oh, you went to Harvard and received honors . . . top of the class in Business . . . I think we can find you a cashier's job at Wal-Mart."
"Oh, you have 20 years of experience in the engineering department of Big Honcho Automotive . . . management for 15 years . . . we can't hire you. You'd cost too much."
Let's try to see what this study ignores, plain and simple.
1) Experience counts for something.
2) Intelligence counts for something.
3) Experience and Intelligence count for something-something.
Once again, folks, with the aid of statistics, scientists show that no matter who you are, if you're not a shareholder, then you are going to be kicked in the ass by the corporate man!
Once again, folks, scientists prove that no matter who you are, if they heap enough facts and psychological-technical bullshit on you, then you'll go bat-shit crazy under the weight!
“Study Shows That Scientists Sometimes Fill Themselves Full of Bullshit,” Consisting of “The Response” and “Final Thoughts,” Copyright © May 7, 2005 Christopher sauce1977. All other works belong to their respective owners, including the cute little image link to merchandise at cafepress.com.