Friday, April 15, 2005

Scientific jargon

I knew a girl once who complained about the lack of sensitivity to cleanliness that prior roommates had had, except when they were under the influence. Then, they would come back to the apartment and clean it from top to bottom, and it was the days after such behavior that kept her sane. I can identify with the surge of productivity that comes from overimbibing: here it is. I had wanted to link to the text that follows awhile ago, because my education in data analysis has made me appreciate it that much more, but was unable to find it online. I found a copy that I'd printed out way back when (yes, I am that big a dork) and finally got around to transcribing it this evening. After minoring in psych, I think it's really funny, and think that at least one other person who reads this might find it somewhat amusing as well.

So here goes, properly credited and all:


Scientific Jargon
Dyrk Schingman
OSU

After several years of studying and hard work, I have finally learned scientific jargon. The following list of phrases and their definitions will help you to understand that mysterious language of science and medicine.

“It has long been known…”
I didn’t look up the original reference

“A definite trend is evident”
These data are practically meaningless

“While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the questions…”
An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published

“Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study.”
The other results didn’t make any sense

“Typical results are shown…”
This is the prettiest graph

“These results will be in a subsequent report.”
I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded

“The most reliable results were obtained by Jones…”
He was my graduate student; his grade depended on this

“In my experience…”
Once

“In case after case…”
Twice

“In a series of cases…”
Thrice

“It is believed that…”
I think

“It is generally believed that…”
A couple of other guys think so too

“Correct within an order of magnitude…”
Wrong

“According to statistical analysis…”
Rumor has it

“A statistically oriented projection of the significance of these findings…”
A wild guess

“A careful analysis of obtainable data…”
Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer

“It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomena occurs…”
I don’t understand it

“After additional study by my colleagues…”
They don’t understand it either

“Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and to Andrea Schaeffer for valuable discussions.”
Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Schaeffer explained to me what it meant

“A highly significant area for exploratory study”
A totally useless topic selected by my committee

“It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field.”
I quit

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