Sunday, January 17, 2016

Scientific trollage

A few days ago, we held a farewell seminar for graduating hopeful newly minted teachers. Being the last academic thing to happen, it was not the most serious or highly ambitious of seminars. The formula was simple: take your impressions from this last semester and compress them into fifteen minutes of presentation.

Seeing as this semester was all about scientifically producing a forty page monstrosity of a term paper, the general mood was one of elated exhaustion. The brunt work was done, and now the future awaited. Tired but happy, we all set out to give it our best thoughts, as our diminished levels of energy and mental acuity allowed.

Seeing that this was the last time to troll my fellow peers, I rose to the occasion and gave a rousing fifteen minutes of counterintuitive scientific method acting. That is to say, ways to (ab)use the scientific method in order to get things done that wouldn't get done otherwise.

For instance: instead of confronting the future bosses head on with demands for change and better conditions, approach them indirectly using the power of survey results. Conduct the survey, get the desired (and methodologically valid) results, and present the findings as a new objective factor that needs to be acted upon. It's not that the new chairs are uncomfortable; it's that they seem to have caused a thirty percent increase in sickdays and a corresponding loss of productivity since being installed. It's not so much a demand for their replacement as a very good scientific argument for replacing them.

Another example is to strategically do proper scientific investigations of things that have heretofore been left unaddressed. The point being not to get any particular result, but to force attention to focus on that very thing through the very act of investigating it. It wouldn't be investigated by these educated people if it wasn't important, after all. Science is never unimportant.

And so on and so forth in the same vein. It went on for a while. Fifteen minutes, to be exact.

This might seem a cruel thing to do to your peers, seeing as they'd just spent fifteen weeks extracting every ounce of science they could from their source material in order to finish their term papers. But it isn't, and it wasn't. My aim was to point out that the new scientific skillsets they'd acquired during these nervewrecking weeks had new and interesting uses, and that they could use them to troll their future peers in any number of interesting counterintuitive ways.

Just as I did them right there and then. Especially through the use of the phrase "if you want to troll [technical term] your future employers..."

I'm gonna miss 'em. Poor graduated buggers. Best course mates I ever had.

At least I got to send 'em off with a laugh.

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