Section 002, Instructor: Sezgin Ayabakan

Weekly Question #1: Complete by September 6

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on September 6.

Remember, it only needs to be three or four sentences. For these weekly questions, I’m mainly interested in your opinions, not so much particular “facts” from the class!

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Here is the question:

“Conventional wisdom” are statements people generally accept as true but are never really tested. One example is the belief that a company should avoid hiring people with criminal records. These can be supported or disproved through data – i.e., Evolv’s discovery that people with criminal records are up to 1.5% more productive than the average worker.

Give an example of a piece of conventional wisdom you’ve heard and explain what data you would collect to test it.

51 Responses to Weekly Question #1: Complete by September 6

  • One who has a lot of money is considered to be happy always. The data that I would collect is that people may spend too much money all the time, leading to a decrease in the money that they already have. They may also have a financial problem or a job problem which can lead them to being sad. They could have other outside problems that can lead to their sadness. So having a lot of money doesn’t mean you are happy all the time.

  • An example similar to companies steering away from hiring employes with criminal records would be companies avoiding people who smoke pot. Example data that would be helpful would be taking samples of work performance of employees that have the same job. The control group being the employees who don’t smoke and the other group being that of known smokers.

  • An example of a common “conventional wisdom| is the price = quality relationship. People tend to think if something is expensive, it has a higher quality than a cheaper product like clothes and fabrics for example, although it might not always true to measure quality by price. This example can be supported by studies on the relationship between price and quality and this is a study conducted by Steven M. Shugan from the University of Chicago.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is the idea that all famous people, whether they be an artist, actor/actress etc, have a great life. Society tends to think this way because most celebrities make loads of money relating to the first comment above. It is also thought this way because celebrities will be seen wearing high quality clothing, eating high quality food, and keeping a so called “perfect body image.” But what if these celebrities wish to be just like us college students. We are able to eat what we want and have free time with complete privacy. Not all celebrities have a perfect life as some do become depressed and/or begin to make poor choices.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom that has appeared in the past couple of years is that students at an elementary and secondary level learn better with one to one technology. School districts have made huge leaps in the past decade giving each student their own connected device to take notes and do assignments on. Do these really have an effect on how well a student learns? There have been contradicting studies that suggest hand writing information helps with retention of that information.

    To put this wisdom to the test, I would take the test scores (at a state/standardized level) of completely one to one schools, average them and compare them to non-one to one schools that are relatively the same in regards to the size of and demographics of the student body. The control is the standardized test scores of each state.

  • A example of Conventional wisdoms that half the people in the world believe that world is round and the other half of people believe that earth is flat. When people look at pictures in books and pictures online they mainly show the earth being a round object. You do not normally see pictures of the Earth being flat. Some data that you can use is take about 200 people outer space that believe that world is round and see what they see and then take another 200 people that believe that the earth is flat to outer space and see what they see. Also we can send professionals up to outer space where they can see the Earth fully and have them take multiple picture from different angles to show if the world is round or flat.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom that might be wrong is that to have more money you should buy cheap things. However, some believe this is bad advice and that spending like a well-to-do man will give you the mentality of a successful person, leading to actual workplace success, pay raises, and promotions. The best way to test this would be to conduct a long term study on people of similar economic backgrounds and look for a correlation between spending habits and financial success.

  • Most parents think the college is the only way to be successful, so they try their best to send their child to college. I would collect data about the people that successful after graduate from college, people that successful even though they haven’t been to college and the people that didn’t be successful after they graduate from college. I would do a survey to find the percentage of each type of person, so I can find out the how hard to be successful if you didn’t study in college. I would find out how those people didn’t study in college be successful by finds their experience and what make them successful.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom I’ve heard recently is to “Stay informed”. With the deluge of information that we have now, it is imperative to decipher what needs your attention and what needs to be tossed aside. I would collect data from money managers, institutional investors and traders. For example, when there is a headline that is perceived as negative, we can analyze how investors move their money, where they move it to and the duration in which they move it for.

  • In the large corporations, the workers with working visa are more likely to have a higher educational background than local workers. In any country, the policies usually beneficial to the local workers. Therefore, two workers with the same level of educational background, the local job seeker can find a job easier. We can test that by collecting the workers’ education and residency information companies over 200 employees.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom I have always been told is that money can’t buy happiness. While I understand that the pleasures of money are far outweighed by the other more gratifying pleasures or life, such as family or friends, there’s always a means to prove this statement. I suppose if this were to be tested, it would first require a hypothesis; Those who are wealthier are happier than those who are not. To test this, there would have to be an interviewing of a sat of rich individuals and a set of poorer individuals. The data gathered would be from these interviews, which would most likely regard the comfort of lifestyle and the overall satisfaction of life. We would then compare these results and gather enough information to either reject or fail to reject our hypothesis.

  • One of the most common conventional wisdom is that life is not complete without marriage, people should get married. Recent years there are more and more people who are don’t get married even though they have a long-term relationship with their mates, then the “Non-marriage Doctrine” came out. The data I would collect is the marriage rate over the past years or the number of married people per year. I would focus on the people who don’t get married and don’t want to get married, I would like to figure out why they stay away from marriage.

  • One conventional wisdom is most students who have high score will seat the front row of the classroom. I would collect the date which is from the back row of the classroom and the middle row of the classroom to prove this conventional wisdom. It is upside that we can use this method to test this conventional wisdom true or not easily.

  • Conventional Wisdom: Eating carrot will improve your vision.

    Although it is true that carrot has lots of vitamin A, vitamin A can also be found in other sources such as dairy foods, eggs, or oily fish.

    In order to test this statement, I would collect and read published paper on this issue from reliable university and institutes as my secondary research. This New York Times article has clearly stated that eating carrot will not strengthen the eyesight, and the data is collected from the experiment of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston:

    For primary research, I would gather a group of people, record their eyesight, and have them eat carrot for a specific time duration. After that, I would record their eyesight again in order to test to correctness of the conventional wisdom.

  • Conventional Wisdom: Money cannot buy happiness.
    People often state that money cannot buy happiness and people need to create their own happiness. I would survey people from different levels of the tax bracket. I would ask those who are living below the poverty line, middle class and upper class how happy and content they are with their lives. I would analyze their incomes and have them rate their happiness on a scale in which all subjects agree to a base statement of what happiness is. I would analyze the results and draw my conclusion.

  • An example for conventional wisdom is students, who spend more time on doing homework and review in-class lecture, have better score in their study. i will collect data from student in our class by ask them how much time they spend on doing homework and review in-class lecture to prove this conventional wisdom. moreover, i will analyze the statement and coming out with a result then I will make my conclusion

  • Generally Accepted Belief: A third of people do not like their jobs
    Many statistics often state that people who are full- time employees, about a third don’t like their jobs for a number of reasons. I would go out and survey employees a part of various work sites. During these surveys I would interview each employee briefly and understand why exactly he or she doesn’t like their job. I would then analyze the data and compare it to other statistical / data sites, to make sure any of my information isn’t biased or misleading.

  • The conventional wisdom that I had heard is that “students who can get into medical schools must have an academic success in high schools.”
    We can prove this by looking at the high school academic records of medical students if they represent the success of students. If this conventional wisdom is true, those records of medical students must show that they performed well when they were in high schools.

  • A piece of wisdom that I have heard is top companies generally hire people with undergraduate or even graduate degree to be their managers. People usually believe that the higher educational level the better business position and salary. To verify this “wisdom,” I will collect data by doing interviews on companies’ managers and chief officers to ask their opinions about the connection of college degree and business position. After that, I will do the same interview on those who work as common employees. By comparing the results from managers and employees, this “conventional wisdom” may be seen.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom that I have heard is that the majority of teenagers drink alcohol while under the age of 21. To prove this, I would collect data from across the country of high school and college students under the age of 21 and ask if they drank alcohol before. Through the gathering and calculating of the results, I would be able be able to make a relative determination of the percentage of teenagers who drink while under the drinking age limit

  • One example of conventional wisdom is that pigs as pets, they are not so popular as dogs or cats. Some people even think pigs are being porked for humans at first. However, the pig is a clever animal as a dog. According to the research, researchers listed 10 intelligent animals, in the data, the pig is eighth and the dog is seven. As a result, we can see that pigs’ IQ and dogs are almost equal. When we encountered something, finding data and doing some research instead of jumping a conclusion without any evidence.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is, “you get what you pay for”. This isn’t always true because you can buy a high-quality item on a discount or sale for the same price of something deemed cheap. For instance, medicine. A lot of times you can either buy the on-brand medicine or the generic and it will provide the same benefits. A lot of times you are just paying for the label. You can test this by buying items that are the generally the same from two different brands, priced vastly different, or two different stores. You can then perform various tests such as strength, endurance, and quality after wash or whatever is best applicable.

  • A common saying is, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This saying refers to the idea that eating nutritious and balanced meals regularly will keep you healthy and thus out of the doctors office. This of course could be a piece of conventional wisdom, a are statements people generally accept as true but are never really tested. And so to test if a healthier meals equate to less sick days or doctor visits, I would compare schools with a verity in the health quality scores on their cafeteria food and see if there may be correctional to the health quality score and amount of sick days and doctors visits of the students there.

  • One of the examples of a conventional wisdom would be not judging a book by its cover. Over the years, people were educated that they should never judge a book by it’s cover since they wouldn’t know what it actually contains. I would like to test if people actually follow that moral or not. I would gather a group of people from all age groups and make them choose one between a book with famous stories that has a really ugly cover and a book with a really nice cover but contains blank pages. I, then, would collect the results and see how many people chose the nice one over the ugly one to come up with the conclusion.

  • Companies and government always attack on immigrants and immigration laws, because it seems like immigrants are taking over the jobs, but most importantly, people believe most of the crimes are committed by immigrants. Researched by National Bureau of Economic Research and reported by Business insider, since 1990s American born crime is increasing and immigrant crimes are decreasing every other year.

  • One conventional wisdom is that students always have higher efficiency to do assignment at the library than at home. I would test it by dividing the students in the same classroom with same assignment into two groups. Half of the students do the assignment at library, and another half of students do their assignment at home. I will collect the data about the time they spend and the score they get in each group. To compare the data in each group, we will find out whether this conventional wisdom is true or not.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is to not eat an excessively large meal directly before going for a run/working out. This could be tested by comparing the amount of time a person works out and how they feel afterwards between people who eat a large meal right before working out and people who either don’t eat right before or just have a light snack. It is assumed that the people who have a light snack or don’t eat right before would be able to workout longer and feel better during and directly after the workout.

  • One conventional wisdom is that man who has more muscles is more health than man who has less muscles. For survey this point, we can do health survey to two kind of people. One group people are bodybuilders, other group people are normal people.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is that kids who play violent video games tend to act more violently. This can be tested by having two groups of kids, one group who plays violent games and one group who does not play violent games or any games at all. Then you could put these kids in certain situations to see how they react, and then you would collect the data and see if there is any correlation between violence and the games the kids play.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom one could test would be the youngest sibling of a family or the “baby” getting everything he or she wants. It is a common theme amongst families that the youngest child can get away with anything just because they are the baby. One can test this by surveying the oldest, middle, and youngest sibling in families. Survey what their parents have gotten them in in the last month or how old they were when they got something in particular. Certain restrictions may include the living situation. All the siblings may not be living under the same roof. The oldest could be in college while the youngest is still only in grade school. This would effect the data.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom is that higher grades mean higher intelligence. The way to test this idea is to give two incoming college freshman of the same major an IQ test, and track their grades until graduation. We will observe whether the higher IQ student receives better grades than the lower IQ student, or if they are worse or comparable. If they are not better, we can determine that higher intelligence does not mean higher grades in school.

  • Some conventional wisdom I’ve heard is that playing video games makes it less likely for children to excel in the classroom. This statement is believed to be true by many, but there’s been reports over the last few years that video games help develop children’s brains. I would test this by having several groups of kids play a certain amount of video games during the year. Each group will have a different time selected to play video games over the year. At the end of the year, we’ll compare how each group did during class and if the groups who played the most video games, did better in school.

  • An example of a convention piece of wisdom is that the early bird gets the worm. This can be taken for whoever wakes up early or is first for something will be the only one to get it or to benefit mostly from whatever it may be. To collect data on this I would define productivity as getting the worm, and to collect the data I would have a sample of people record the times they woke up for a short period of time, and have them record what they did that day. In my personal opinion you can sleep in or be second for something and still be as productive or benefit just as much from it.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is that most people who are good at music will not good at doing math. It is hard to be good at both of them due to arts and sciences are controlled by different parts of brain. However, in the past there are lots of famous people capable to do both of them well, such as Da Vinci is an outstanding painter, astronomer, inventor and engineer. In order to check whether this conventional wisdom is true or not, I would like to collect students’ math grades who study in Taylor and Boyer, and do the same data collection in maybe two or three more universities’ arts institute, then analyze the data.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom that I heard is students who have higher GPA would be more successful in society. It could be tested by collecting and comparing the social status and property between those two kinds of people after they graduated from college in ten years. People who only have perfect grades in college may not adapt the social community. They also need to have the flexible creativity, great relationships with other people, and steadfast willpower.

  • An example of a piece of conventional wisdom is that students that eat breakfast tend to receive better grades than those that do not. This can be tested by collecting data on people’s GPA’s and asking whether or not they eat breakfast in the morning. Allowing a survey to be anonymous could also provide as a way to encourage people to be honest with their answers.

  • The first thing I can think of is that people believe that kids who play violent video games tend to be aggressive more than the others. We can collect data from ps4 or xbox to see the games that kids are playing and then we compare it to their school disciplinary records.

  • An example of a conventional wisdom would be children who drink milk tend to be taller than children who do not drink milk. The data collected should be on how milk benefits the human body. There should be a survey on how many children are lactose and tolerant/ just dislike milk vs. children who drink milk daily and how much they drink. There should also be family history checks on heights since there is also a genetic factor to consider. Although it is known that milk has calcium and it strengthens the bones there are plenty of people who are tall and dislike/refuse to drink room. There would have to be a control study on a mix group of children who drink and don’t drink milk. This test should be repeated with many children for several years keeping in mind that other factors also affect height. At the end, the data should compare how tall each child grew and whether or not the children who drank milk grew taller than the other children who didn’t.

  • An excellent example of conventional wisdom, comes from Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish, by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” The modern day secondary education system is built to meet a benchmark, to teach every student to become a “prototype.” Making adjustments, such as creating a learning environment that is tailored to an individual rather than a group, would be my first step. Standardized testing throughout high school, actually hinders students, rather than helps them become smarter.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom I have been subjected to was that college only had people that liked to party all the time. In order to obtain data to either prove or disprove this I would conduct a random survey asking how many nights they have partied this week or if they liked to party. From this data, an analysis can be conducted to come to a conclusion.

  • The example is it is faster to drive a car through the path if the big road is in a traffic jam . It depends on the speed of traffic on the big road and the number of traffic lights. It is hard to say take a path faster, because the path is narrow and the intersections are more. If driving a car goes through the campus, it becomes much slower.

  • The conventional wisdom I thought of is; one can not become successful with a college education. This is a common perception however it is not quite the case. First one would have to consider the definition of success, because there is no one universal meaning and would vary from person to person. To conduct a study for this, one could get the median salaries of those who get a degree and those who choose another route, but the person who is looking for this information should also ask each subject if they are happy where they currently are in life because that is often overlooked when carrying out this kind of experiment.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is to save more money that one gets from his/hers salary than instead of reinvesting the money.However if one were to measure the returns one could get if they were to keep a certain amount in the bank as opposed to the investing the same amount of money in stocks.Therefore by comparing the rate of returns on the same amount of money then we would be able to prove that conventional wisdom wrong.

  • The example of conversational wisdom that I thought of is; the more you study the higher your grade is going to be in a class. Although this sounds perfectly rational, this is not always the case. One way that I would conduct this study is by asking the students how many hours a day they studied and then i would compare the grades that they received at the end of the course.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom amongst college students is that taking substances like Adderall can increase test scores. In order to test this, I would get two groups and present them with new information. After that, one group would receive a placebo and the other would take Adderall. Finally, these two groups could be tested on the new information presented and their scores could be compared.

  • My example of conventional wisdom would be that those who generally read more (fiction, nonfiction, etc.) are more intelligent. I would test this by comparing the test scores and grades of those who read often vs. those who do not.

  • Conventional wisdom says that people who excersize regularly are generally happier due to the release of chemicals in the brain that improve one’s mood while working out. To test this one could survey individuals who excersize regularly, excersize sometimes and people who excersize rarely/never on how they see their mood on several given days. This survey could further be supported by scientific data from case studies that show hormonal balances in these same individuals brains prior to working, after working or during periods of not working out and how it correlates to and individuals mood.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom in college could be that a higher amount of times you visit the library, the higher your grades are going to be. To collect data on that I could ask people walking around the library how many times they visit the library per week, and also for their current semester grades or last semester grades. Once I have the information I could just create a spread of data to see what comes out of it.

  • One example of “conventional wisdom” would be that the stereotype that certain groups of people like skateboarders or goth kids tend to be less intelligent compared to their peers. This would be an example of conventional wisdom because it has never been tested but people tend to agree that it is a true statement.

  • An example of “conventional wisdom” is that the more television children watch the more their intelligence level will decline. To test this you could make groups of different hours spent watching tv and then test all of them and find out if television really effects test scores.

  • A piece of conventional wisdom that I have heard is that if you work hard you will succeed, but this is not always true. While working hard will certainly help you, it doesn’t guarantee your success. To test this I would I will use a focus group of people and determine how successful they have been. I will then determine how hard they worked to achieve what they have, and view the data to see if there is a correlation.

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Sezgin Ayabakan, PhD (Instructor)

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