Re: Henson on the Nazi meme

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 28 Mar 2005 - 05:14:59 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Henson on the Nazi meme"

    At 01:18 PM 27/03/05 -0800, you wrote:
    >Dear Keith,
    >>For at least ten years I though a worthwhile research project would
    >>to find the kids who were in that class and interview them and a
    >>control group to see if the experience changed the course of their
    >>lives. Now I am not so sure you would find anything useful by
    >>groping in the dark without a theory to guide such an investigation.
    >Jones taught only 1/3 of the Contemporary History classes that year. The
    >other classes could provide comparisons.

    While that's true, I had rather use the same class from a nearby high school such as Palo Alto as a control because the kids at Cubberly were exposed to the school newspaper story.

    >But, as you suggest, a hypothesis testing approach seems unlikely to
    >produce much of value.

    Especially when you don't have a theory about what happened. :-)

    >Case study methodology seems more appropriate. :-)


    The question I used to think was important was to see if the experience made the kids any less likely to be taken advantage of in their adult lives. Because the group was relatively small, it would take really careful study design to get meaningful results. What you would be looking for might be called a "gullibility index."

    I have known parents who teased children with "tall tales" when they were little. I have often wondered if a family tradition of teasing kids this way led to them building "input filters" that critically examined incoming data--even from their parents. There has been a great deal of noise about teaching critical thinking skills to school children usually at the high school level. That might be *way* too late if this skill is like language acquisition.

    On the other hand, gullibility might be largely determined by genes. It is certainly easy to come up with evidence supporting either hypothesis.

    Another thought would be to try this on current school 10th grade students, especially if a bit of study indicated it didn't hurt the Cubberly kids. Would the results be different today? I.e., was there something different about these kids born in the middle of the baby boom era?

    Questions, questions.

    Keith Henson


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