Meanwhile, uni is back, and it appears that this time round they've upped the ante on the workload.
Means no exams, so instead I have to write an essay exploring the theory of research methods, in three weeks. Cue Tats sitting in the lecture theatre having an attack of "WTF am I doing here, I know nothing of this topic!" And my usual essay style isn't going to work this time because I don't have time to spend cogitating. However, it took about 5 mins to realise that the reason I shelled out ~$700 for this course is because I want to learn about this topic and I'm not supposed to know it all in the first lecture*. And then the lecturer showed a short film in which various researchers talked about their research, and I realised that I don't 'know nothing'. I do research all the time, and the practical application of research methodologies is not new to me. What is new is the theory behind them, and the analysis of data. And I have people all around me who are experts in that stuff, so the moment of panic was brief.
And then there's the part of the assessment where we gather and analyse data, and the other part where we do critical reviews of other people's research. And read. And read. And read. This course has course readings that are too bulky for the spirally holdy-together thing to really handle, AND a textbook. In the textbook, the authors describe themselves as 'devout methodology pluralists'. I am not going to hold this against them.
I am wondering about their bit on illogical thinking, where they use the saying 'the exception proves the rule' as an example. They say:
"Told it always rains in Auckland over Labour Weekend, someone might dismiss last year's wonderfully dry and sunny holiday by claiming that 'the exception proves the rule'. Think about this a little more - the argument is that it always rains at that time of the year; the argument, thoroughly disproved by the fact there was no rain last year (making a nonsense of any claim to 'always'), descends into the nonsensical claim, 'well, the fact that you've shown I'm wrong proves I'm right'."
Which is all fine and works in my head. Except for the bit where the way I learned this saying, it's not 'the exception proves the rule' - it's 'That's the exception that proves the rule' and the rule is 'there's an exception to every rule.' Taken in this different semantic setup, it might still be silly and you might still be wrong to say "It always rains in Auckland on Labour Weekend", but to follow refutation with "That's the exception that proves the rule" would not be illogical. Recursive, maybe, if you think about it a bit. And bloody-minded. But not particularly illogical.
So that bit bugged me. PH3AR MY OCD! And why yes, I do get paid to be anally retentive. Maybe they learned a different meaning for the saying..
La la la, anyway, It seems we'll be reading this textbook from cover to cover. Luckily it's pretty accessible, style-wise. The readings for this week took about an hour last night, which isn't ridiculous. But - essay in three weeks! On something I currently know nothing about! *meep*
Last night we went to Ignite Wellington. There were many great talks, on topics ranging from Realising Your Ideas, to What Goes Through Your Head When Running Up The Empire State Building, to The New Shape Of The Music Industry - but two stood out in my mind. One was Lance Wiggs talking about how Failure Is The Best Option in the context of his motorcycle travels, and how his best adventures happened due to things going wrong. He was funny and interesting and he made a very good point. The other was Mark Harris talking about the problems with ACTA (for those who don't know, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). The biggest problem according to Mark is the secrecy in which it's being negotiated - there is no avenue for public input or debate. He spoke about what this might mean for New Zealand in the context of pharmaceuticals - if generic-brand pharmaceuticals were declared to be counterfeit under this agreement, patients may be forced to use Prozac instead of fluoxetine for example, at quite considerably more cost. And nobody knows what is being discussed, and apparently this is a 'won't not can't' situation in terms of sharing information.
That's pretty scary to me. I admit I know little about ACTA but I do know that plenty of people I respect think it's The Bogeyman, and that the next round of negotiations are happening here, and that our government is a willing participant. Maybe I should find out more.
Anyway, Ignite was better than I expected it to be. I recommend it, and I really like the community/public nature of it. In fact I think some of you should speak at it, next time they have one. dreadbeard, happyinmotion, beagl and ferrouswheel spring to mind.
* Of course now I've been to the first lecture I know all about it. My research shows that 2/3 US sociologists have bad teeth. From a sample size of 3. The two in the movie we watched, and rivet (who is the one with the good teeth).