writing lessons 1

September 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have always loved to write. I used to write fairytales and poems and hated writing scientific things because most scientific writing is boring. But it doesn’t have to be. I am of the opinion that professionals – and by that I mean businessmen, academics, lawyers, politicians, and stay-at-home parents – can and should write better. And better is best operationalized as clear, concise, and direct. Imagine how the world would change if biologists and psychologists and Senators wrote in this way. People might actually read their work.


  1. Make your subjects preform your verbs.
  2. Make your verbs actions.

Here’s an example from Style, Lessons in Clarity and Grace by J.M. Williams and G.G. Colomb.

1a. The cause of our schools’ failures at teaching basic skills is not understanding the influence of cultural background on learning.

1b. Our schools have failed to teach basic skills because they do not understand how cultural background influences the way a child learns.


Quantitative Research Key Terms #1

September 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m currently taking a graduate seminar in Quantitative Research Methods. To study, I’ve created physical flash cards with the dictionary definitions on them, but I am also experimenting using the Feynman Technique. To do so, I’ll be posting my Quantitative key terms on here with a simplified, laymen’s definition. This should help me better understand the concepts and maybe it will help you if you’re confused about what they mean.

  • Empiricism – Knowing through experience. Using your senses to observe something. E.g. smelling a rose, touching a burning stove, etc.
  • Descriptive Research – Simply gathering data without changing it. E.g. The U.S. Census gives us information about people, but doesn’t help us understand variables or relationships between data.
  • Explanatory Research – Tries to explain relationships between variables. E.g. As adults get older, their BMI increases.
  • Qualitative Research – Observing what people do and say and then compiling it without the use of numbers. Doesn’t try to generalize.
  • Quantitative Research -Uses numbers and a systematic approach and seeks to generalize human behavior. E.g. Using a questionnaire, an experiment, etc.
  • Experimental Research – When you manipulate the independent variable. E.g. If I put this Bunson burner over an open flame, what will happen?
  • Survey Research – Uses surveys  (questionnaires and interviews) to gather information.
  • Content Analysis – Looking for specific, observable content. E.g. Watching a movie and noting how many times women appeared on screen.
  • Deductive reasoning – Facts -> Facts. E.g. All oranges are fruits. All fruit grows on trees. Therefore, oranges grow on trees.
  • Inductive reasoning – Trends -> Generalizations. E.g. For the last 5 yeas, 100 more students a year at SDSU have started to ride skateboards, so I induce that in 2018, 300 more students will ride skateboards than they do now. (there’s no way of knowing if this is true)
  • Conceptual definition – The dictionary definition of something. E.g. Happiness means the state of well-being and contentment.
  • Operational definition – How are you going to measure the thing you are trying to measure? E.g. We’ll use the Subjective Happiness Scale to measure overall levels of happiness.

how to learn better

September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Most of my life I have employed inefficient and unproductive learning methods. I read the textbook (which takes me hours), make flash cards, take notes, and do everything that most people assume is effective. The only problem is this is time consuming and, ultimately, a complete waste of time.

Borrowing advice from Scott Young and his Learn More Study Less program and Peter C. Brown et. al.’s book, Make it StickI’ve revamped my studying techniques. Being my first semester of a rigorous research oriented masters degree, it’s about time I learn to study properly.


  1. Only cover information once. If your textbook is just a repeat of the lecture, ignore it or speed read the required chapters.
  2. Employe metaphors, visualization, and diagrams.
  3. Cover information once. Then do practice problems, flash cards, or quiz and recall depending upon the nature of the content.
  4. After following #3, if you need to re-read it should be very selective – i.e. pinpoint areas of weakness or insufficient understanding and cover that material again.
  5. Use the Feynman Technique.


September 2, 2014 § Leave a comment


A way of knowing or understanding the world that relies directly or indirectly on what we experience through our senses (e.g. sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch); validation through experience.

This is a radically different approach than a religious or idea driven approach to life.

What is the sand, the ocean, the expanse of billions of gallons of water moving in and out day after day? What is her hair, her laugh, the universes inside her eyes?

Save experience, you will never know the depth of these miracles.

In a world of digitialization, of status updates and edited photos, there is little room for empiricism left.

The future belongs to those willing to get their hands dirty in the mud, grime, and mystery of experience.

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