Monday, February 15, 2016

Totilo's "Antonin Scalia's landmark defense of violent video games"

A great example using a topic relevant to your students (video games), involving developmental psychology (the effect of violent media on children), and a modern event (Scalia's passing) in order to demonstrate the importance of both research psychology as well as statistics.

This article extensively quote Scalia's majority opinion regarding Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case that decided against California's attempt to regulate the sale of violent video games to minors (the full opinion embedded in the article).

Why did Scalia decide against regulating violent video games in the same manner that the government regulates alcohol and cigarette sales? In part, because research and statistics. Of particular use to an instructor of statistics are sections when Scalia cites shaky psychological research and argues that correlational research can not be used to make causal arguments...

...Scalia also discusses effect sizes...

Why do psychologists do psychology? To answer real life problems. Why do our students need to understand research design and statistics? Because not all research is created equal and students must learn to distinguish the good from the bad. Taking statistics in college shouldn't be just about learning how to do a correlation by hand or find a p-value, students must understand the limitation of correlation as well as the role of effect size in interpreting results.