Education happens between individuals

“At the most fundamental level, education happens between individuals — a personal connection, however long or short, between mentor and student. Whether it’s personally answering a question raised in class, spending twenty minutes working through a tricky idea in office hours, or spending years of close collaboration in a PhD mentorship relationship, the human connection matters to both sides. It resonates at levels far deeper than the mere conveyance of information — it teaches us how to be social together and sets role models of what it is to perform in a field, to think rigorously, to be professional, and to be intellectually mature.”

(From On Leaving Academia by Terran Lane.)

Nagel on arousal and meaning

“Suppose a man and a woman, whom we may call Romeo and Juliet, are at opposite ends of a cocktail lounge, with many mirrors on the walls which permit unobserved observation, and even mutual unobserved observation. Each of them is sipping a martini and studying other people in the mirrors. At some point Romeo notices Juliet. He is moved, somehow, by the softness of her hair and the diffidence with which she sips her martini, and this arouses him sexually. […] Romeo senses Juliet, rather than merely noticing her. At this stage he is aroused by an unaroused object, so he is more in the sexual grip of his body than she of hers.

“Let us suppose, however, that Juliet now senses Romeo in another mirror on the opposite wall, though neither of them yet knows that he is seen by the other (the mirror angles provide three-quarter views). Romeo then begins to notice in Juliet the subtle signs of sexual arousal: heavy-lidded stare, dilating pupils, faint flush, et cetera. This of course renders her much more bodily, and he not only notices but senses this as well. His arousal is nevertheless still solitary. But now, cleverly calculating the line of her stare without actually looking her in the eyes, he realizes that it is directed at him through the mirror on the opposite wall. That is, he notices, and moreover senses, Juliet sensing him. This is definitely a new development, for it gives him a sense of embodiment not only through his own reactions but through the eyes and reactions of another. Moreover, it is separable from the initial sensing of Juliet; for sexual arousal might begin with a person’s sensing that he is sensed and being assailed by the perception of the other person’s desire rather than merely by the perception of the person.

“But there is a further step. Let us suppose that Juliet, who is a little slower than Romeo, now senses that he senses her. This puts Romeo in a position to notice, and be aroused by, her arousal at being sensed by him. He senses that she senses that he senses her. This is still another level of arousal, for he becomes conscious of his sexuality through his awareness of its effect on her and of her awareness that this effect is due to him. […]”

“Another example of such reflexive mutual recognition is to be found in the phenomenon of meaning, which appears to involve an intention to produce a belief or other effect in another by bringing about his recognition of one’s intention to produce that effect. (That result is due to H. P. Grice, whose position I shall not attempt to reproduce in detail.) Sex has a related structure: it involves a desire that one’s partner be aroused by the recognition of one’s desire that he or she be aroused.”

(Nagel, T., 1969, Sexual Perversion. The Journal of Philosophy, 66, 5-17.)

CBT – a flavour of psychodynamic therapy but with an almost-cognitive perspective explanation?

Rosner (2012) looks fun indeed. Here’s how it starts:

“1961 and 1962 were momentous years for Aaron T. Beck. They were the years he made a decisive break with his psychoanalytic past. He closed down his large psychoanalytic research project on depression, put to rest his application for membership in the American Psychoanalytic Association that had been rejected twice, and turned his back on the cornerstone of psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious. He took a sabbatical from the psychiatry department at the University of Pennsylvania following a destructive department-wide battle over the future of psychoanalysis in psychiatry.

But then… here’s a letter Beck wrote to John Bowlby in 1981:

“It might be a point of curiosity therefore for you to know that my psychiatric training was completely and exclusively psychoanalytic… I would consider my theoretical work as derivative from ego psychology rather than from cognitive psychology or learning theory. At the present time in fact I am trying to reformulate many of the basic psychoanalytic concepts into cognitive terms (Beck, A. T., personal collection, July 29, 1981).”


Rosner, R. I. (2012). Aaron T. Beck’s drawings and the psychoanalytic origins story of cognitive therapy. History of Psychology, 15, 1-18.

Slides from Computing for Graphical models (16 December 2011)

Slides from Computing for Graphical models (16 December 2011) — looks interesting:

Graphical models has expanded substantially over the past decade with the analysis of large data sets, in particular from bioinformatics and retail, with developments of inference in relation to causality, and with applications involving complex data structures. The ubiquitous nature of conditional independence has meant these models are applied in many different subjects. Computing for graphical models has always been difficult but recently user friendly open source software has become available.  This meeting provided a platform to review the current provision and to elucidate remaining challenges in making graphical modelling more accessible to the wider scientific community.


“There is much to be said for contentment and painlessless…”

“There is much to be said for contentment and painlessless, for these bearable and submissive days, on which neither pain nor pleasure is audible, but pass by whispering on tip-toe. But the worst of it is that it is just this contentment that I cannot endure. After a short time it fills me with irrepressible hatred and nausea. In desperation I have to escape and throw myself on the road to pleasure, or, if that cannot be, on the road to pain. When I have neither pleasure nor pain and have been breathing for a while the lukewarm insipid air of these so-called good and tolerable days, I feel so bad in my childish soul that I smash my moldering lyre of thankgiving in the face of the slumbering god of contentment and would rather feel the very devil burn in me than this warmth of a well-heated room.”

—Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (thanks to an Atelopus varius.)

Lacking ideas for new year’s resolutions?

Oldie but goodie

Fitter, happier, more productive,
not drinking too much,
regular exercise at the gym
(3 days a week),
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries,
at ease,
eating well
(no more microwave dinners and saturated fats),
a patient better driver,
a safer car
(baby smiling in back seat),
sleeping well
(no bad dreams),
no paranoia,
careful to all animals
(never washing spiders down the plughole),
keep in contact with old friends
(enjoy a drink now and then),
will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in the wall),
favors for favors,
fond but not in love,
charity standing orders,
on Sundays ring road supermarket
(no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants),
car wash
(also on Sundays),
no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows
nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate,
nothing so childish – at a better pace,
slower and more calculated,
no chance of escape,
now self-employed,
concerned (but powerless),
an empowered and informed member of society
(pragmatism not idealism),
will not cry in public,
less chance of illness,
tires that grip in the wet
(shot of baby strapped in back seat),
a good memory,
still cries at a good film,
still kisses with saliva,
no longer empty and frantic like a cat tied to a stick,
that’s driven into frozen winter shit
(the ability to laugh at weakness),
healthier and more productive
a pig in a cage on antibiotics.

Radiohead, Fitter Happier

Multiple imputation: special issue of Journal of Statistical Software

This issue looks good for folk wanting to do multiple imputation. Some goodies for useRs in particular: