Section 003, Instructor: Laurel Miller

Weekly Question #1: Complete by September 8, 2016

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on September 8, 2016. 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 disproven 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.

54 Responses to Weekly Question #1: Complete by September 8, 2016

  • My example of conventional data is “hard work pays off”. Data that I could collect to test this is have a group of students that study for a test/exam and have a group of students that don’t study for an exam. The idea is that the people that studied will get a better grade. So, to test this after the exam we would match grades to see who scored higher; those who studied or those who didn’t study. Another way to test this data is have students keep track of how many hours they spent on homework or studying throughout the semester. Once again, if hard work pays off then the students who spent the most time preparing for the class would have higher grades. All in all, this can apply to anything because you can test that if you spend more time on a certain task you will recieve better results than the person that spent less time on the same task. Thus going hand in hand with practice makes perfect.

  • A piece of convention wisdom that almost everyone agrees with is that you can get somewhere faster in a car than on a bicycle. However often correct in most places, driving down Broad Street on a Friday at 3pm you could make a lot more headway on a bike. Not just in Philly, but almost all major cities in the US. Traffic in cities is constant but bikes can avoid traffic saving them time. To collect this I would pick a certain time and city, designate a starting and ending point see who gets there first. This would be done multiple times and in multiple different cities to make sure its true.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom I’ve heard is the more time spent studying the better. To test this idea I would poll a random group of students to see if there is a correlation between the total number of hours they spent studying for a given exam and their grade on that exam. I don’t think the results would show as strong of a correlation as one might think, suggesting that the total number of hours spent studying may not be the best indicator of success on an exam. Instead I think a combination of factors including class attendance, study skills, and amount of sleep the night before might be a better predictor of exam scores.

  • Conventional wisdom says, “If you work hard you will succeed.” I’d like to test it by measuring the amount of hours certain people work and how much they make. This is to be compared with others who don’t work as much but may make significantly more money. However, the disclaimer in this case is success is define by how much one makes.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I have heard growing up is the judgment that one would catch a cold when going outside right after a shower. You are likely to get a cold by being around someone else who has a cold, or by sharing things with them, such as food or drink. Changes in the temperature are also another way that a cold is contracted.

    The data I would like to collect to test this is:

    -Sending 5 kids outside after taking a shower to see if they would get a cold.
    -Letting 5 kids interact and play with another kid who already is infected with the common cold.

  • An example of a piece of conventional wisdom that I’ve heard is people that go to college make more than those who don’t. This is a very generalized statement and I feel that it is not always true. To test this, I would collect data on the salaries of those who went to college and those who didn’t in various industries. My hypothesis would be that more often than not, people that go to college make more money. However, I personally know people that didn’t go to college and make more annually than some who did.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom that I’ve heard is that if you work hard, you will succeed. Several different types of data could be used to test this such as the amount of hours a particular person works to achieve a goal. This could be compared to how many hours other people who are pursuing the same goal have worked. After collecting this data, one could also assess the average success rates for different groupings of hours worked, such as 10-20, 20-30, and so on.

  • One conventional wisdom is that money cannot buy happiness. The first data I would collect is the amount of money that people made within a year. The second piece of data is the overall level of happiness of the people which can be collected through surveys. In addition, the surveys will ask the people how much money factors into their overall happiness.

  • “You get what you pay for” is a very popular phrase that is thrown around in society. While sometimes this can be true of people who purchase cheap versions of products and the quality is less than a brand name, often this is not the case. I would test this by collecting data on how long pairs of hunter rain boots wear out before say, a pair from Target wears out. Many people are not aware that Hunter rain boots are now made from cheap materials in China and often water seeps in through the sole, but they continue to purchase them because they are a “brand name” and quite an expensive boot. I must admit I am a softie for the Hunter brand name as well. This data would hopefully prove that sometimes a cheaper product is more durable and therefore, disprove this bit of “conventional wisdom”.

  • “If you work hard you will succeed” could be an interesting piece of conventional wisdom disproven through labor data. I would use the U.S. census to disprove this by collecting labor data and education data to determine a correlation between hours in preparing for the workforce and hours within the workforce. But after analyzing both data sets the bigger question becomes, “what determines success?” To tackle such a huge conventional wisdom with the intention to disprove it, one must ask this question in order to be successful.

  • An example of convention wisdom is “No pain no gain.” Tracking the whole body everyday workouts (ie no rest for muscle growth) vs traditional routine. Example: Upper one day and lower the next day, with 1 or 2 days rest in between. Lifting the first way without rest actually retards muscle growth and strength.

  • My example is that “seven to eight hours sleep everyday is good for health”. We can track the health condition in different groups of people divided by age and the length of sleep everyday. Then compare the health data between different length of sleep everyday in the same range of age. After that we can figure how long sleep everyday is the best for different ages.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is “Putting salt on your food is bad for you.” Some ways to test this is have a group of people with some putting salt on their food and others not using any. After a couple of weeks or a month, you can have them go to the doctor’s and see if there is a difference in health from people using salt and one’s who haven’t. Depending on the outcome from the doctor’s, we can see if adding salt really does have an effect on your body and if it reduces the risk of any health problems like cardiac arrests or high blood pressure.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I thought of was an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I’ve always heard this saying and just brushed it off as true because I figured that eating healthy would in turn keep the body healthy meaning fewer trips to the doctor. However I’ve never actually questioned if eating an apple a day really means fewer doctors visits. To test this with data I think you would have to take a simple random sample of people throughout the population (I would probably limit my population to a country) and give one portion of the sample an apple a day and the other nothing. After the experiment was over you would have to monitor the doctors visits of all the people and see if the people who ate an apple a day really did go to the doctor less.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I heard is “people’s height depends on their parents”. This is not always true because I have many friends are really tall but their parents are not . The first kind of data we can collect from randomly selected people is the height of themselves, and another type of data we can collect is their parents’ height(roughly). Then we compare those data and analyze whether this conventional wisdom right or not. Currently, many individuals’ height also depends on their amount of exercise they took, and other different sort of elements.

  • When it comes to schoolwork, conventional wisdom says that procrastination in bad. Some students, however, swear that they do their best work at the last minute. To test my theory, I would assign two groups of students the same written essay prompt. The essay will have an 8-10 page requirement. Group 1 will be required to spend 2 hours per day in the computer lab for 5 days straight. Group 2 will learn the prompt at the same time as group 1, but they will not be allowed to do any actual writing until the day before it is due. On that day, they will spend 10 straight hours in the computer lab. I will then have several teachers grade each essay and assign it a score of 1 to 5, 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The teachers will not know which essays come from which group. I will then average the teachers’ scores for each paper and calculate which group had the higher average score. I would also evaluate the essays on other metrics, like which group had longer essays on average.

  • My example of conventional wisdom is the idea that students who attend state universities for their education rather the community colleges will be more successful after schooling. The data I would collect would be from students from both types of schools and comparing the outcomes of their lives after they have graduated. The data collected could consist of the comparisons in the number of students from each school who are working in the fields they studied and the salaries they make.

  • An example of conventional wisdom I thought of was the idea that if you work hard you will succeed. To prove or disprove this idea I’d collect data from recent college graduates. I’d collect their GPA upon graduation which would reflect their overall work throughout college. Then I think I’d collect data pertaining to how many days or how long after graduation it took for them to get hired in the field.

  • My example of conventional wisdom is that money can’t buy happiness. To collect data I could measure the happiness of people from all different social classes. I could ask people if they are happy with their lives or develop a way to test their happiness. This would show what social class is the happiest and show us how much money they make. It could truly show if money does buy happiness or if it doesn’t.

  • An example or phrase of conventional wisdom that would be interesting to test would be “you get what you pay for”. My testing scenario would be strictly related to the success of jobs post graduation from university. There would be a survey for post-grad students that would include a couple different measures. For example, we would need to know the name of the university, the cost of attendance for the university over the course of the student’s academic history, what the student is doing post-grad, the title of their current position (if applicable), and the amount of income from their position (the survey would be a private and secure to ensure data integrity). By collecting this data, we can compare the cost of attendance with the amount of income that post-grad students to determine whether or not the statement “you get what you pay for” is true or not. The other information of the survey that was included would be raw data that could be utilized to to infer/imply other hypotheses and would be a basis for the metadata. For example, we could look at private institutions compared to state schools and measure the success rate to come up with hypothesis.

  • One example of Conventional Wisdom is that teachers personal appearance affect the way students will treat them and learn from them. As an education major a ran in to this Conventional Wisdom that says teacher with a more “put together” look (dressed clothes, makeup, organized hair, etc.) gain more respect and attention from their students,and therefore their students learn more. To find out if that is correct I will perform an experiment and collect data on students achievements and progress in the classrooms with the same teacher when at some classes the teacher is more “put together” than others and look for patterns and drew conclusions

  • An example of a conventional wisdom is “vaccination brings immunity”. A lot of people believe that once one gets a vaccine to prevent a particular disease, then they are immune to that particular disease. However, I believe that the whole point of vaccination is to help an individual’s body produce more and stronger antibodies to fight diseases when the body is attacked. It is these antibodies that would fight the disease or infection and prevent it from getting worse or causing death, however the case may be. A way to test this can be to study the healing process of individuals who have received vaccination and those who haven’t.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I’ve heard is that generic products are not as good as name brand products. In order to test whether this is true, we could select a number of different types of products to test and find generic and name brand versions of each product. Once we’ve gathered them, we could use test them against one another for their intended purposes and see if one outperforms the other in the task. For example, we could test generic paper towels against Bounty brand paper towels and see which paper towel is more absorbent.

  • One example would be “repetition is key to learning or practice makes perfect”. I would collect data by having an individual that rarely or has never played basketball shoot free throws with the same form every day, and see how many he/she can make each day (min. of 50 free throw attempts). I need to keep in mind that I can’t expect all the shots to go in, regardless of the player’s skills. Then I can have another individual to shoot free throws every other day. Afterwards, I would compare the stats of those two and see if this conventional wisdom is what it is said to be.

  • One example I know is that people who go to college are more successful than people who don’t. While many times this can be true, it’s not necessarily a fact because both my parents did not go to college and yet have successful businesses. People can be equally successful going to college and not going to college.

  • One example of conventional wisdom I’ve heard both supported and disregarded by various people is the idea that the enforcement of scheduled homework is necessary for an educational group’s success. It’s an idea that is disputed over in a two person debate as much as in a comparison of global communities. Since what I’m mainly looking for in this test is to see how much homework, being from 0% to 100%, gets the best results, I would look at the scale of these global communities. By testing each country through a few different levels of homework, recording the results from each country, and then integrating those results to fit this global scale, I’d have a broad look on how much homework ends in the most success.

  • Back in Saudi Arabia we have a piece of conventional wisdom that says “work makes days shorter and unemployment makes them longer”. To test it I will need group of unemployed people and other employed group to ask them what they think about their days length. In my believe unemployed would answer that they feel the days are longer because they don’t have something to do and that makes time slower.

  • One of example of conventional wisdom is studying only the night before a test will result in a poor grade. I have heard this from many teachers both at Temple and in high school. You could test this very easily, with having a certain number of students study for a test only the night before and another set of students study daily.

  • One example of “convensional wisdom” is getting a visible tattoo will hurt your job prospect. The data I would gather would be to ask different interviewers if they would not hire someone with visible tattoos over someone who has no tattoos. Even when the two people have the same credentials. You can also look at the statistics of companies who have people working there with visible tattoos. After you receive all the data you can determine if getting a visible tattoo will hurt someones job prospects.

  • My example will be people who receive higher education will get higher wage. I would collect people’s wage and seperate them by what level of education they had received.

  • One example of conventional wisdom I hear “you need to spend money to make money”. The data I would need to collect to test this statement would include seperating small businesses from large companies. This would then give the proper data of each level. There would be multiple types of specific businesses. This way you can compare it overall as well as companies similar to its own. For both small and large companies I would collect, annual spending, annual company earnings, and what are each companies spending money on, I would also collect the company’s hours open, the number of employee’s, the lowest income, the highest income, and average income.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is that “money can buy happiness”. Although, many may believe this statement is true, I believe that people need to have a balanced personal and work life to achieve happiness. I would collect data of people from all different income brackets and examine what they believe to be their level of happiness.

  • One piece of conventional wisdom I have previously heard is the quote pertaining to sports, which is, “Offenses score points, but defenses win championships.” This is a often stated quote especially in regards too almost every professional team sport played in the US, and thus there are several different statistics one could utilize to analyze this piece of conventional wisdom. The data I would seek out to test this statement would be to collect several years worth of statistics showing how many points/goals/runs given up by different teams in their respective sports. Once this information is compiled I would then look for a correlation between how effective a team’s defense is and their placement in the standings and performance in the playoffs. For example, if a team had a top three defense in their sport and won the championship this piece of conventional wisdom would be proven correct.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is if you go to college you will make more money over your lifetime than someone who does not. To test how true this wisdom is, you would have to find out the lifetime income of those who have attended college and those who have not. With that data you can compare the incomes between the two and know if you will make more over lifetime attending college or if you do not attend at all.

  • One example that I hear pretty often is that if you study a lot you will get good grades. To test this, I would survey students and ask them how many hours they study and the grades they get. However, I would assume that there would be other underlying factors that play a role in determining the grade you get in the class such as what major someone is, how efficiently they study, difficulty of their courses, etc.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I hear a lot is that soccer is a minor sport in America. Where maybe this might have been proven true at one time, the idea is still believed on a large scale today. One way to prove or disprove this idea would be to collect data on how many people watch this sport in comparison to others through television views or ticket sales, and to collect data on the number of people that play unprofessionally as compared to other sports.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is the eating more fruits throughout the day will help you lose weight. However, this may not necessarily be true for all people. Individuals lower in bodyfat who are looking to drop further could actually be hurt by the fruit sugars present in fruits. Data can be collected from two groups of people with identical body fat. One group would be fed a diet including fruits, while the other would be fed an identical diet excluding fruits. Data on the average drop in bodyfat between the two groups could be recorded and used to assess whether fruits are really a “free” snack when trying to drop fat.

  • An example of Conventional Wisdom I have heard is couples who live together before marriage have a better chance of staying together. To test this I would randomly sample married and divorced couples and see whether or not they lived together prior to marriage. After the data was collect I would compare to see whether or not living together prior made for a more successful marriage.

  • A piece of conventional I have heard is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. I would collect data by placing a superstar athlete known only for their talents against an amateur athlete who lives in a gym. For example, I will have a person who practices free throws everyday for ten hours straight challenge a person known as a natural born shooter who practices once a week. After 100 shots, I will compare makes and misses between the two athletes and test the conventional knowledge theory against my results of the competition.

  • One example of conventional wisdom that I’ve heard is that “Your baby’s hair will grow thicker and longer if you shave off all their hair while they are still an infant”. My best friend actually heard this and shaved her baby’s head right away. When I asked if she believed it, she said she only did it because thats what her mom and grandmom believed to be true.

    The data you would use to collect to test this theory is to collect data of hair growth between babies with shaved heads and babies who do not have shaved heads and see which group grew thicker and longer hair. You also would have to collect data such as what age the baby’s head was shave, and at what age has it grown to X inches of hair.

  • People say you are more likely to die in a car accident rather than in a plane crash. The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collect data for the respective types of travel, including death rates. Comparing the two numbers for the same time period will help test the hypothesis.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is “the smarter you are the more successful you will be”. We could collect data for this by sampling a random group of people and acquiring their collegiate GPA. We could analyze the data and see if there is a correlation between higher success rates with higher GPA’s vice versa.

  • One example I know of conventional wisdom is “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” Although I like the sound of it, I can see how this could be false. Even during the things I love I have to work hard and run into roadblocks along the way. To test this I would interview numerous people from many different job backgrounds.

  • An example of conventional wisdom that I’ve heard of is that “high risk jobs produce higher rewards”. High risk jobs are commonly seen as extremely competitive with a high level of danger, leading to a majority of people straying away from them and to stick with more stable jobs just because of those uncertainties. With the consent of about five research participants in each field, I would collect data by comparing the annual salaries from the participants who are in high risk occupations (ex: poker player, hedge funds worker, police officer) to occupations where the risk isn’t as high (ex: professor, accountant, registered nurses). I would also only collect data from people who have been in their job for at least 5 years and interview them about their personal experiences in those fields.

  • One example of conventional wisdom that I hear all of the time is, “if you eat less carbs you will lose more weight.” In fact, I’ve gotten into heated disputes with my girlfriend about whether or not this is actually true. Plenty of websites say carbs are indeed what you want to eliminate, but I’ve also found many sources stating how this is less important than we are generally taught to believe, so this would be something I would be genuinely interested in testing. The data I would need to collect would be the nutritional intakes and weight results of two dieting populations, with one population on a low-carb diet, and the other population that keeps carbs at a generally normal level while on a low-calorie diet. I think it would be nice to actually find out what is more effective: low-carb or low-calorie.

  • One example of conventional wisdom is the quote “money cannot buy happiness”. My testing would be to first collect a random sample of different social backgrounds, this would show the variety of income’s of individuals who make either above, average or below the normal income and how it correlates or does not correlate to ones happiness. Next would be to test and gather answers about questions pertaining to their life and financial circumstances. Many individuals without money can be just as happy or even more happy than those who are more upscale.

  • I recently heard a friend claim, “I can’t afford to take vacation because I would loss the potential revenue.” I look at vacations as the necessary time employees need to be productive. I would collect productive data from people who do not take vacation and those who do. Then I would analysis the data for information.

  • An example of conventional wisdom is “a watched pot never boils.” To test this, my hypothesis would be that observation of a pot of water does not influence time to boil. My test would include pots of water that are under constant supervision and pots of water that are not being observed. My rationale for my hypothesis is that the presence of someone does not change how the chemistry of water works.

  • One example would be “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I would collect the data by going to the doctors office and ask the patients if they have had an apple or not. I also would go out in public and ask people if they have had an apple today or not and see when the last time they had been to the doctors. I would have to then compare the stats and see if this conventional wisdom is what it is said to be.

  • My example of conventional wisdom is something that you hear a lot which is “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have heard some stories about people who loved writing code and making video games but then they got a job writing code and no longer enjoy spending their free time on it since the job makes it feel like work. The way we can collect data on this is ask people what their favorite hobbies and things were before they got a job and then see what job they got and if they still spend as much time doing it in their free time after working there.

  • Another example of “conventional wisdom” would be that if you work hard you will succeed. In order to test this I could find a student that works really hard in a class and see what their grade is at the end of the class and compare it to another student’s grade who just does what is necessary to get by, but doesn’t really work hard in the class. Generally speaking, this concept makes sense; however, sometimes people who are just naturally smarter don’t have to work as hard and can still be just as successful at the end of the day, or sometimes even more successful. For example if I did the test, the one student who didn’t work that hard still could’ve possibly gotten a better grade simply because he or she was naturally smarter and didn’t have as difficult a time understanding the concept of the class.

  • A key example of conventional wisdom that I have heard time and time again is, with particular regard to having many different tasks or objectives completed in a certain time frame, “begin your work early and often”. I believe this is the ultimate key to avoiding bottle-necks in personal work completion, and being as productive and efficient as possible. I would simply test this idea by providing two separate students a series of the same homework assignments to complete, within an assigned time-frame. One of the students would be required to do a certain amount of work each day, while the other would be allowed to complete his work at his own pace. In the end, we would compare the overall quality of the work submitted by both students.

  • My example of conventional wisdom is “No good deed goes unpunished”. Most individuals will accept this statement as true but if we look further at the statement people who are less likely to help individuals often have their actions rewarded in ways we can’t see. For instance , if you help a homeless person out at the 7eleven on campus you most likely won’t be rewarded right away. But people who often don’t help people and are less helpful tend to meet their own personal needs right away. Unlike people who are willing to give away their sneakers or money to other individuals right away to help them in the short run might have a long term problem of meeting their goal.

  • A commonly used example of conventional wisdom is when people claim “that money can not buy happiness”. In order to test this claim I would examine varying level of depression/happiness from people in different socioeconomic classes. in order to do this test I would need to find a variety of people representing different classes end test their levels of stress, their ability to get treatment, and their ability to their money to get the proper help. My thinking is that money doesn’t actually buy happiness, but money provides an avenue for people who suffer from depression the appropriate medications and help that helps them cope with their unhappiness.

  • An example of conventional wisdom would be that “TV and video games make children violent.” The easiest way to test this would be to gather a focus group of kids who play similar video games. Once the focus group has been gathered you can do various tests to measure the level of violence in kids. For example, how they play within the video games and how that affects their daily lives. This can be further tested by monitoring their interactions with other children in order to see whether or not they incorporate not only violence from the games into their lives but also mannerisms and so on. It would also be interesting to gather a group of kids who don’t play video games and only watch tv and see the level of violence, verbal or physical, within their lives.

  • I guess practice makes perfect would be conventional wisdom, We never really know if it does but in all reality it does. You become successful at the things you practice.

  • when hearing about repetition its important that you learn the skills of practicing take from guy like me for example. If temple football choose to take three days off of practice one week and practice all four days for the next week. I can easily collect date between week one verse week two to see the great different between our performance on the field. I would compare the stats of the both weeks and see if conventional wisdom is actually a great source to use.

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Office Hours
Laurel Miller (instructor) 11:00am-12:00pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Speakman Hall 210 or by appointment.
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