Wednesday, November 29, 2017


OK, I admit to being a bit baffled by the abstract of this study. Skim it yourself, or I'll paste below the key part that has me confused. Basically the study examines the difference between what people know (knowledge) and what people think they know. To explain, they're not the same but they're often correlated. Knowledgeable people also think, correctly so, that they're knowledgeable. But a lot of folks think they know a lot -- and they don't. Imagine your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving. That person.

So here's part of the abstract. I'll explain, best I can, below.
An online experiment reveals that cognitive style moderates the assumed relationship. Participants with a high need for cognition (NFC) feel more competent when confronted with a comprehensible news item; for participants with a low NFC, reading a less comprehensible news item resulted in a more pronounced sense of competence.
NFC just measures how much you enjoy thinking about stuff. It's a common variable in social science research, it's roots in persuasion studies. Anyway, those high in NFC feel more competent after a news story that makes sense. OK, we all get that. But those low in NFC feel more competent after reading a news story that makes no sense. WTF? What's wrong with these people? The study suggests they build this from peripheral cues in the story itself, such as technical terms and abbreviations.

Simply put, low NFC people grasp at straws to make themselves feel competent when they're not.

Yeah, your uncle.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Boosting My Ragged Self Esteem

Sometimes to boost my ragged self esteem I like to go online and look at who's citing my work. It requires some effort, mind you, but if I did hard enough via the magic of Google Scholar I can often find a few suckers scholars who pointed to my work while building their own theoretical arguments.

Examples, you ask?

This 2017 study includes a cite of one of my older studies from, wow, 1995. The study here is about need for cognition and political knowledge.

And this 2017 study is about knowledge of nanotechnology and cites my 1995 and 1996 papers.

I could go on, but I'm bored and you're bored and it's a holiday week. I will take a second to point out my most cited works, which when compared to colleagues the numbers are not that great, but I'm the top cited person in my household. So there.

  1. By far #1 cited is my study of young people learning from late-night comedies. It's from 2005 and has triple the cites of my #2.
  2. So, #2 is that 1995 "new news" and knowledge piece discussed above.
  3. Close behind with only two fewer cites than the one above is another piece with a good title and data over time, which helped get it attention.

Fourth and fifth places are talk radio studies. I did a lot of those and they got me tenure. Sixth is maybe my favorite piece, a study of why people believe Obama is Muslim and one of the first of its kind. If I'd published it in a bigger journal is would have gotten a lot more attention, but that's the way it goes.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Slow Going

Due to health issues, I've fallen behind in posting here. Apologies to my tens of readers worldwide. Hopefully I will pick up the pace soon.

I do point to this study that says basically the greater an individual's news literacy, the less likely they are to believe in conspiracy theories. It's main flaw is it doesn't cite me.

Also there's this brilliant piece of research that everyone should read, memorize, and recite to random strangers on the street.