Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When qualitative research is better

I got several phone calls from the same market research company and finally agreed to take the survey for a technology company. They were interested in finding out how companies decide how to purchase technology products, so they asked about 20 screening questions to find out whether I have any role in purchasing and choosing technology, and wanted to follow up with an internet survey about how I choose technology. The screener questions alone took 7 minutes. Who knows how long the internet survey would take, so I turned it down.

Now my role in choosing technology at work is that I use my personal laptop at work and I bought a $150 printer at the beginning of the year and that's it. Clearly not what they have in mind. If they asked me to explain my role, I could explain the printer buying decision in 3 minutes, they could pay someone to code all the responses, and that would be all. They would get better information, and probably get better response rates.

Abstinence makes your brain stronger

"Abstinence Makes the Brain Grow Stronger" read the headline, but it turned out they were talking about abstinence from alcohol during adolescence.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Naughty, but not really abstinence

Ran across this parody abstinence (from vaginal intercourse) -only site while I was looking for abstinence-only resources for an MPP student I was advising. It's less funny than true.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Germaine Greer on abstinence-ish

At the very beginning of
this show with 1970s feminist Germaine Greer (author of the Female Eunuch which I remember really liking when I was 14 or 15), she mentions a couple interesting anecdotes about young adult/late adolescent women and sexual decision-making.

1. One of her students didn't feel ready for penetrative sex, and eventually her boyfriend left her for it. She would meet men at parties to hook up with, and say "By the way, I don't do penetrative sex." and the men would just walk away. Which is a strange anecdote. The qualitative book _Hooking Up_ describes most hook-ups as not going that far, often just kissing (at least that's what they would tell the sociologist.) Meanwhile this woman's housemates all had boyfriends and were all sexually active and having penetrative sex "because it was required of them" in Greer's words, but they were less accustomed to sexual pleasure.

2. She says Sex in the City depresses her because the characters focus so much on men and sex.

Just anecdotes, but I find it fascinating from the perspective of the earlier wave of feminism and earlier feminist sexual values.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hare-brained idea of the day

I'm a total non-biologist, but I'm just putting this idea out there.

My understanding is that a woman's sense of smell allows her to figure out who is a good immune match --- men who smell good to her have complementary immune function and she would have healthier children with them. Oral contraceptives (OCs) interfere with this function so that a woman on OCs might marry someone who isn't genetically complementary and doesn't smell good to her after she goes off them. The number of women who chose their husbands while taking oral contraceptives has increased enormously since their invention. I wonder whether this has any social or medical implications: are the children of women who met their husbands while taking OCs less healthy in some way? Are these couples more likely to get divorced?

Anyone know any research on this idea?

Friday, April 17, 2009

My high school's sex ed

This showed up in my Google alerts: My high school's sex education covered in the Daily Northwestern.

Installing WinBUGS under Mac

I'm reviewing a book on Bayesian models, and the very first thing the book says to do is install WinBUGS. I always coded by hand my Bayesian models, and maybe that's why I've only published one paper using them. So install WinBUGS on my Mac.

There's a lot out there. Three versions of BUGS: WinBUGS, OpenBUGS, and JAGS. And several windows emulators: wine, Crossover, etc.

All options require installing Xcode tools which has the following steps:
1. Put original OS X CD in, and install Xcode.
2. Go to apple developer connection website, register, download updated version of Xcode (so maybe first step wasn't necessary?) which is 1 G and took 3 hours to download, and install everything including X11 and X11SDK

Here's what I've tried so far.

1. Darwine: Theoretically easy because it comes precompiled. People claim that this works and a statistics class at Duke even had all their students do this, but I couldn't get it to work.

Nothing happens. Just get an error in the console:
err:module:DelayLoadFailureHook failed to delay load setupapi.dll.InstallHinfSectionW
wine: Call from 0x7b831fd5 to unimplemented function setupapi.dll.InstallHinfSectionW, aborting
wine: Unimplemented function setupapi.dll.InstallHinfSectionW called at address 0x7b831fd5 (thread 000b), starting debugger...
couldn't load main module (2)
Unhandled exception: unimplemented function setupapi.dll.InstallHinfSectionW called in 32-bit code (0x7b832077).
Register dump:
err:module:attach_process_dlls "gdi32.dll" failed to initialize, aborting
err:module:LdrInitializeThunk Main exe initialization for L"Z:\\Applications\\WinBUGS14\\WinBUGS14.exe" failed, status c0000005

2. Wine installed under fink. Something that looks Windows-like launches, but it's just an error box. I didn't save the message.

3. Wine installed under MacPorts had 56 dependencies and required a lot of hand intervention. I did many of the dependencies in parallel or else it would have taken even longer.

And whoo, WinBUGS actually launches, but as soon as I clicked on new to input the license key, it crashed with this error:

[Macintosh:~] janet% wine /Applications/WinBUGS14/WinBUGS14.exe
fixme:keyboard:RegisterHotKey (0x10026,13,0x00000002,3): stub
fixme:ole:GetHGlobalFromILockBytes cbSize is 13824
err:ole:CoGetClassObject class {0003000a-0000-0000-c000-000000000046} not registered
err:ole:CoGetClassObject class {0003000a-0000-0000-c000-000000000046} not registered
err:ole:CoGetClassObject no class object {0003000a-0000-0000-c000-000000000046} could be created for context 0x3
X Error of failed request: BadMatch (invalid parameter attributes)
Major opcode of failed request: 152 (RENDER)
Minor opcode of failed request: 4 (RenderCreatePicture)
Serial number of failed request: 7133
Current serial number in output stream: 8517

3b. Then within the MacPort wine I tried running OpenBUGS rather than WinBUGS, and the same thing happened.

[Macintosh:~] janet% wine /Applications/OpenBUGS/winbugs.exe
X Error of failed request: BadMatch (invalid parameter attributes)
Major opcode of failed request: 152 (RENDER)
Minor opcode of failed request: 4 (RenderCreatePicture)
Serial number of failed request: 1812
Current serial number in output stream: 2302

5. JAGS (Just Another Gibbs Sampler) installs perfectly in less than 5 minutes and even has a manual. But it says that it doesn't do everything that WinBUGS does, though it really wishes it did.

6. Crossover allows downloads of trial copies that work for 30 days but cost $50 to educational users after that. As with Darwine and Wine, people claim to have gotten it working with BUGS, but the company itself doesn't guarantee that it will work. And so far it does after I followed this hint.

The remaining problem is how to integrate WinBUGS with R now that the famous BRugs package has disappeared.