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Comment Social science is mutable (Score 2) 174

Unlike the hard sciences, awareness of classic social science findings can loop back to impact the phenomena in question or they can change in response to society's evolution. Take the bystander effect for example. How many thousands or millions of college students have learned about the bystander effect in Psych 101? Hypothetically, now that they're aware of it, the effect should diminish and not be quite as reproducible as it once was. Then you layer on societal changes (oblivious smartphone/iTunes users increase the effect, but ubiquitous phones may decrease barriers to reporting and responding to violent crime, etc) and the ability to reproduce an earlier effect becomes muddled.

When a physicist announces a new particle, nothing changes. All the particles keep behaving how they were behaving before the announcement, and they don't care how society changes. The findings should be reproducible 100 years from now.

Many other comments have correctly pointed out that studies in general often focus on the new and shiny and statistically significant rather than reproducing prior results or reporting null findings, but the issue of settling on "truth" is made that much more difficult in the social sciences due to the existence of moving targets.

Comment Re:My Favourite Question Of All Time (Score 1) 353

Hah hah, reminds me of high school when a friend and I started a small web hosting company (pre dot com years). One night we received a frantic call from the local dial-up ISP where our server was co-located. Turns out one of our customers had started hosting some pretty tame stuff (mostly models in swim suits or underwear, but a few nudie pics) and it completely maxed our both our server and the ISP's bandwidth. It created an interesting legal situation given that the two web host owners were also minors - needless to say we had to turn off that user's account. Good times.

Comment Difference between the problem and the symptom (Score 4, Interesting) 452

As an analyst, to me it's a question of data cleanliness. Yes, people should be able to look at the facts (i.e., crime rate) and route around a higher risk area if they so choose. Trouble is, there's a partial racial component driving those crime statistics (i.e., minorities more likely to be arrested) which probably inflates the "true" crime rates for those neighborhoods. If people are going to get all bent out of shape, they should do so up-stream. Tackle the issues that inject a racial element to crime statistics and leave the people looking for an objective measure of risk assessment alone - they're only using the best available data to make a decision.

Easier said than done of course...

Comment It's a screen, not a selector (Score 1) 358

Unless you're applying for a job that requires security clearance (no presence might be good) or a marketing/PR/public-facing position (having a presence is good), it's really only going to be used to screen people out. If a Google search turns up a red flag about someone else with the same name, you might want to create a LinkedIn profile for yourself to SEO your results and easily distinguish yourself from your negative doppleganger. Recruiters are also using LI much more frequently now to look for talent, so it can't really hurt to have a profile. You might get some leads. Other than that though, there's not much reason to go out and create a presence just for your job search. It's only going to hurt you if you post something a recruiter or hiring manager doesn't like and you're not going to get many brownie points for a post they do like.

Comment Re:Big data works for hourly applicants (Score 1) 305

Sure, one question type we use a lot is the forced-choice dyad. For example, pick between "My friends say I'm a good teacher" and "The customer is always right" (they're not actually this obvious but you get the idea). #1 might be more predictive of success for tier 2 tech support agents, #2 for basic customer service. But they can vary from company to company, that's where the big data and the specific competencies required for success kick in. So while #1 may predict for most TS agents, at a company that is truly passionate about customer service #2 may still be the best predictor. No single question is going to make or break an applicant, but in aggregate and across many hires you get very real differences.

Comment Big data works for hourly applicants (Score 1) 305

I work on the pre-hiring screening tool validations at Evolv (full disclosure: Lazslo sits on Evolv's board). I am not at all surprised that silly tech interview questions predict next to nothing. What I can tell you is that validated personality and work-style questions absolutely do predict success among entry-level workers (and if you do it right, professional individual contributors). Like they touch on in the interview, a combination of a structured behavioral interview plus some simple personality screening can be a great screening tool, but you have to balance the raw "big data" results with practical, legal, and applicant experience concerns.

Comment Aka "business opportunity" (Score 1) 403

Company gets greedy, company raises prices, opportunities become more enticing for competitors. Sure it will take the market a little while to react, but if the vacuum at the reasonable end of the price spectrum creates more competition from paid or FOSS alternatives, I'm cool with that.

Comment Re:Loaded language? (Score 1) 374

Hi there, I'm an I/O psychologist at Evolv. To dispel a few myths and FUD:

  • - I absolutely agree there are a lot of HR folks & hiring managers out there who don't do a good job of using scientifically-based, job-relevant screening criteria. And no, simple correlations are not science.
  • - We don't actually score or weight every statistical relationship our marketing team mentions to the press :)
  • - Something like this wouldn't be used in isolation as a cut-off. Good selection systems use experience, work samples, appropriate personality & cognitive testing, relevant skills tests, behaviorally structured interviews, etc to come to a holistic hire/no-hire decision, and even then there are always allowances for people who don't fit the mold but who may still do a great job.
  • - The forums seemed to take this in an anti-M$ direction, but the finding is independent of OS. Installing a non-default browser on a Windows or an Apple machine is linked to positive post-hire outcomes. Having said that, there are many other predictors that are more job relevant.

Hope that helps!

Comment Name names (Score 4, Interesting) 467

I generally exercise some degree of distrust towards computer manufacturer recommendations when my product is no longer under warranty and their legal team likely has them relatively well protected against your situation, but I'd definitely name names. Send a note to the Consumerist, find a few execs and contact them directly. It may be legal, but it's a dishonest approach for those companies to take. It doesn't cost you much time and energy to bring unwanted attention to the companies and that attention is sometimes enough to suddenly get your components replaced. It won't cause systematic change, but at least you're better off.

Not one to miss an opportunity for a car analogy: if a critical recall fix bricked your ride, I think most everyone would agree it is the manufacturer's responsibility to make things right even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Of course, there's obviously more regulation involved and a more direct correlation to physical safety in the case of cars (i.e., you are putting yourself at risk of bodily harm if you choose to disregard the recall fix).

Comment Re:life insurance (Score 1) 439

I signed up for some term life insurance a few years back and the contract explicitly permitted suicide. That surprised me but I confirmed it with the agent. I image this doesn't apply to everyone (maybe it's not allowed in whole life plans), but I have a standard plan from a major carrier.

Unfortunately my wife also read the fine print so now I have to watch my back...

Comment Re:I work at Evolv (Score 1) 245

This may be overly cynical, but I think it's the lesser of two evils. Historically, we've done an awful job of matching people to jobs. It's depressing to learn what really gets people hired and fired. As an I/O psychologist, I cringe whenever an under qualified applicant gets a job just because they know somebody. So as a field, in general, our goal is to make the process more scientific. As a field I/O is generally pretty positive, but it can definitely be used for evil. The strongest force stopping those folks are probably the equal opportunity laws and regulations.

If you want creepy though, the screening piece is just the beginning. Someday careers could be like your Netflix queue. Based on your past jobs, your performance at those jobs, your ratings of those jobs, your knowledge, skills, aptitudes, and interests, and other factors, your career queue could literally suggest new jobs for you and even line up start dates. That's terrifying for many of us, but for others that peace of mind would be a godsend. If it was mandated it's definitely Brave New World. But if it's voluntary? Then it's not so bad. You don't have to watch the movies Netflix suggests... But how would you ever break out and try something new? I think a poor implementation would be linear, single-career (which we know isn't realistic). A smart implementation which could actually enrich a lot of lives, would encourage career jumps every so many years to help keep people engaged and motivated.

Like punning, programming is a play on words.