Wednesday, September 9, 2009

3 out of 2 people have trouble with fractions

A while back I enrolled in classes to finish my degree and God help me, I started them last week. There are two for now: Cognition, and Politics of Crime and Justice. I knew Cognition would help keep my brain limber with all that mental yoga, the other seemed like it would be "Cops" in the classroom - bound to inform future novels if I didn't actually start drafting a character or two.

I was explaining to Sam, our sophomore, how my confidence slipped like a gear on the first night when my professor made the distinction between cognitive theories and cognitive applications (one is whether to dress Barbie in a tennis outfit or a business suit, the other is why we recognize Barbie) and warned that we should all be ABSOLUTELY sure this was the course we wanted. Absolutely sure. I wanted to raise my hand and say "I give up, is it?" Sam told me that I now understand what 99.5% of ALL kids in EVERY high school go through EVERY DAY.

Note: Why do people say 99.5%? It sounds unresearched. People should say, "Now you know how 86% of students in 92% of American schools feel," but anyway.

The first forty-five minutes of last night's class was horrible. The professor talked matter-of-factly about experimental methods in psych research and everyone was nodding like they knew what that was and so please get on with it, except for me because I was having a heart attack.

Like this:

Professor to the class: recall that a within-subjects design requires exposure to a number of independent variables hence the carry-over effect.

Me to me: Recall? I knew this? When did I know that? Why am I here? I’m over my head, I don't remember this. It's a mistake. I’m withdrawing.

Then something happened and I remembered this and that and then more and then a lot from Research Methods fifteen years ago and started raising my hand (Here is where Vivaldi's guitar concerto belongs because it was the psychology class or else it would be the Rocky theme) and I was saying things like “inferential” and “sum of the squares,” and I sailed through the rest without a single other thought of quitting.

I told this uplifting little story to Sam this morning on our ride. He thought it was "awesome." And then he asked me if I knew the only other animal that cries from emotion? I said, "Dear God, don't let it be dogs," then I gave up and he told me it was the elephant.

I looked at him upset, and he read my mind. "That's right. Dumbo was real."

Ha ha ha ha.

Within subjects, 99.5% of us can have a good time with knowledge if we point our cognition in the right direction.


  1. Dumbo was real??? I might cry...that's so sad. Sigh.

    Also, did you know that 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot?

    I'm glad you're not going to be a quitter. I'm proud that you're my mommy.

  2. If this had been an assignment I would have given it a 100% or 10 out of 10. Brilliant!