How Twitter ruined my morning (and I hadn’t even tweeted anything)

I have been spending all morning, a morning that should have been spent writing my thesis I might add, thinking about this tweet:

I’m half Dutch and felt personally attacked by this tweet. Somebody from the outgroup is criticising my ingroup, and ouch!, it hurts.

A few possible replies that went through my head:

Tell me, what collectivistic, enlightened culture are you from where everybody cares for eachother all kumbayah?

Then I tried to find out where she was from by looking at her Twitter feed, but couldn’t. Then I figured she sounds like a native speaker and is called “mom in NL” and not “mum in NL” so it’s probably USA or Canada but statistically it’s probably the US (because more people there). So I thought about

And where are you from? Because the US went and egocentrically hoarded all their vaccines and now they don’t have to worry about how their population will respond to the summer season.


And you’re from New Zealand, are you? Because any other English-speaking country means you are a hypocrite.

Oh no wait New Zealand could be said to be rather nasty for just not letting anyone in anymore, including people who have like dying grandmothers and stuff. So scrtch that one.

Then I thought: Hypocrisy arguments are weak, because 1) everybody is a hypocrite in some form, 2) you can be a hypocrite but still do or say the right or true thing and 3) it just gets people’s backs up. Also, I’d be generalising, and that’s exactly what annoyed me with her tweet in the first place.

So I thought let’s tell her generalising is bad

Wow, generalise much? The only thing this tweet is going to achieve is getting people’s backs up and making a polarised society even more polarised.

Or is it the exaggeration that’s the problem?

Wow, exaggerate much? The only thing this tweet is going to achieve is getting people’s backs up and making a polarised society even more polarised.

But then I thought, but perhaps she’s exaggerating on purpose, to make a point and to get attention. The problem is that well-thought out, nuanced tweets don’t get a lot of attention. So perhaps I shouldn’t blame her for going this route.

I’m not sure what I think about the Dutch government’s relaxing of Covid regulations (infections are still happening, but hospital admissions are down); I’ve given up on having an opinion about Covid ever since Germany started doing just as badly as the Netherlands even though they were making better choices on paper. I don’t understand anything anymore. But I’m not against people staying at home just a little bit longer. Wait, do I agree with her?

In the end I decided I just hate Twitter, didn’t reply anything, and went back to writing my thesis.

Hi there person who has stumbled onto this website. This is my random stuff blog for random thoughts and stuff. For more randomness, follow me on Twitter:

Psychology: checking on things that seem obvious since 1879

Survey, Interview, Questionnaire, Market, Research

I have a background in social psychology and experimental psychology and the kind of research in my field that I love the most is the kind that disproves stuff that people thought of as obvious, or “common sense”. For example, you might think that unless they are being physically tortured, people would never confess to a crime they didn’t commit. In fact, false confessions are really rather common. Another example is that praising children is not good for their self-esteem.

By doing this, psychologists make a really important contribution to the world. Many things that we see as obvious now, actually weren’t seen as such for a long time, until a psychologist came along.

A classic example for this is Stanley Milgram. In his day, the common explanation for why the second world war atrocities happened was “German people are just evil. There is something specific about German people that made them do these awful things. These atrocities would never have happened in our country.” Milgram set out to prove that the basic make up of Germans was no different than that of other people, and that there was something else at work here. Most of you will know the Milgram experiments so I won’t detail them here, but here’s a link.

Another example: IQ tests, invented by psychologists, were pivotal in showing that women were no less intelligent than men, poor people were no less intelligent than rich people, and perhaps it was a good idea to let intelligent people be officers in the army rather than just any boy whose father happened to own a lot of land. (IQ tests get a bad rap nowadays and there is always room for improvement, but we are at the point of being able to give them a bad rap because we have forgotten what it was like to not have them at all.)

Of course, often psychologists check on things that seem like common sense, and it turns out that common sense was right all along. And sometimes experiments that had surprising findings turned out later to be just plain wrong; an issue that psychology is plagued with.

But as a psychology student I was instilled with the idea that checking if things that seem obvious are actually true is a good idea, because you never know, they might not be!

On this page I’m going to try to collect all the examples of common sense = not true that I can find, as an archive for myself. But if you wandered onto this page, welcome! I hope you learn something new 🙂


Wikipedia has a great list of cognitive biases

Here’s a database of all fact-checking websites and organisations in the world

I know, the list is still pretty short 😉

* If you were wondering about the year in the title, you can read about 1879 as the birth of modern experimental psychology here.

Marking by ranking: easy and reliable

I recently heard about this clever system of marking essays written by primary and secondary students in the UK. With just a few tweaks, I could easily see this system working very well for grading translations in an academic setting.

Teachers are confronted by two essays on their screen, and only have to choose which is better. The essays are anonymous and (as far as I can tell) teachers see essays from all over the country, not just their own class. The software then statistically devises a mark for each essay.

I cannot stand grading essays and this system seems so much easier on the brain. I’m all for it!

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Hattie Vs. Simpson: can you use effect size to rank classroom interventions?

I recently listened to two very interesting episodes from the Education Research Reading Room podcast; the first with mathematician/ maths teacher and educational researcher Adrian Simpson and the second a follow up with educational research legend John Hattie. The episodes were rather long (but well worth the listen if this is in your sphere of interest) but this blog post from podcast host Ollie Lovell summarises them beautifully, and gives his own honest and intelligent reflection.

The main point is this: effect size can be influenced by so many things, that when you average out effect sizes across studies, as is done in a meta analysis, you are essentially averaging apples and oranges. You are making a category error. For example because one study uses a control group with no intervention, while another uses a control group with a different intervention.

I have to say I found John Hattie quite defensive when it was his turn to respond. But after having read more of Hattie’s work and listened to him speak in later podcasts, I have heard that he himself is also trying to move away from effect sizes and speak more about the mechanisms that cause better teaching efficacy. So yay to him and yay to everyone doing education research, a very difficult subject to study and therefore all the more important that people do so!

Hi there person who has stumbled onto this website. This is my random stuff blog for random thoughts and stuff. For more randomness, follow me on Twitter: