This post is scheduled to be published in the future.
It should not be displayed by the theme.
building CUNY Communities since 2009
This post is scheduled to be published in the future.
It should not be displayed by the theme.
On December 4 and 5, the NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness will host a conference on “Is the Brain Bayesian?”.
Bayesian theories have attracted enormous attention in the cognitive sciences in recent years. According to these theories, the mind assigns probabilities to hypotheses and updates them according to standard probabilistic rules of inference. Bayesian theories have been applied to the study of perception, learning, memory, reasoning, language, decision making, and many other domains. Bayesian approaches have also become increasingly popular in neuroscience, and a number of potential neurobiological mechanisms have been proposed.
At the same time, Bayesian theories have been controversial, and they raise many foundational questions. Does the brain actually use Bayesian rules? Or are they merely approximate descriptions of behavior? How well can Bayesian theories accommodate apparent irrationality in cognition? Do they require an implausibly uniform view of the mind? Are Bayesian theories near-trivial due to their many degrees of freedom? What are the implications of Bayesian theories for the relationship between perception, cognition, rationality, and consciousness?
All of these questions and more will be discussed at the conference. The conference will bring together both scientists and philosophers, and both proponents and opponents of Bayesian approaches, to discuss and debate a number of central issues.
Speakers and panelists will include: Jeffrey Bowers (Bristol), David Danks (Carnegie Mellon), Ernest Davis (NYU), Karl Friston (University College London), Weiji Ma (NYU), Larry Maloney (NYU), Eric Mandelbaum (CUNY), Gary Marcus (NYU), John Morrison (Barnard/Columbia), Nicoletta Orlandi (UC Santa Cruz), Michael Rescorla (UC Santa Barbara), Laura Schulz (MIT), Susanna Siegel (Harvard), Eero Simoncelli (NYU), Joshua Tenenbaum (MIT), and others.
The conference sessions will run from 9:30am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday December 4 and 5, 2015. Friday sessions will be in Kimmel Center 914 (60 Washington Square South) and Saturday sessions will be in Jurow Hall in the Silver Center (100 Washington Square East). Conference registration and coffee will begin at 9am both days. A full schedule will be circulated closer to the conference date.
Registration is free but required. Please register via the conference website at http://wp.nyu.edu/consciousness/bayesian/[wp.nyu.edu].
The NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness is devoted to foundational issues in the mind-brain sciences. For more information see http://wp.nyu.edu/consciousness/[wp.nyu.edu].
–Ned Block and David Chalmers (Directors, Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness).
CFP: Graduate Conference in Aesthetics
Sunday April 17, 2016
Independence Park Hotel, Philadelphia
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Paul Taylor (Penn State University)
Sponsored by the American Society for Aesthetics and the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium
The Graduate Conference in Aesthetics is aimed at facilitating conversations on aesthetics between philosophy graduate students and philosophers working in the fields of aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Each presented paper receives commentary from a professional philosopher.
Call for Papers: High quality papers in any area of aesthetics, in both “analytic” and “continental” traditions, are invited from students enrolled in any graduate program in philosophy. Submissions must make a useful contribution to existing literature in a subfield, but should be understandable to aestheticians outside of that subfield. Three or four submissions will be selected for presentation. Papers must be 3,000 words or less (not including footnotes), accompanied by a 100-word abstract, and prepared for blind review. Submissions must be in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf format. Please send submissions and questions to <email@example.com>. Each student whose paper is accepted will receive up to $300 to cover travel costs.
Submission deadline: January 10, 2016.
Paul C. Taylor is Associate Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author, most recently, of On Obama (Routledge 2015) and Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics(Wiley 2016).
N.B.: The American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division meeting occurs immediately before the Graduate Conference, also in Philadelphia. Graduate students are encouraged to submit papers to both ASA-Eastern and the Graduate Conference, but they must be different papers. Authors may not submit the same paper to both the ASA-Eastern and the Graduate Conference in Aesthetics.
Katie Brennan (Temple University)
John Dyck (CUNY Graduate Center)
Lindsey Fiorelli (University of Pennsylvania)
Katherine Kurtz (Villanova University)
My data set project turned into an exercise in parsing and cleaning data before all else. I knew that I wanted to look into the current climate of sexual assault on college and university campuses, but there were a number of places to look for data on the issue. I landed on the Report on the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. This report was the most recent, had the most immediately accessible data, and had been widely publicized when it was released earlier this fall. (See, for example, the NYTimes’s September article, “1 in 4 Women Experience Sex Assault on Campus.“) I contacted the AAU and made multiple attempts to access the original survey results, but in the end had to resort to the data tables as they appeared in the report.
This data table is where I began — with the percent of students experiencing different forms of nonconsensual sexual contact, organized according to their gender.
I then used the web software Tabula to scrape the data from the .pdf…
…cleaned and exported to Google Sheets…
…and cleaned and imported into Plotly.
At every step of the way I was reorganizing the data to focus on the story that I most wanted. When I first started graphing, the data looked like this:
Until I continued to manipulate it to get it to look like this:
This exercise speaks to the amount of parsing, cleaning, selection, and editing that is necessary to arrive at even the simplest of bar charts. But I appreciate it for the new pieces of information that emerge from analyzing data through this process. For example, consider the high percentage of TGQN (that’s transgender women, transgender men, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and questioning students, and those whose gender wasn’t listed) that are experiencing some form of assault on their campuses. Most media coverage of this issue has focused on the victimization of female students, but apparently there’s also a critical story here about the safety of TGQN students — something that I didn’t realize until I went through the motions of visualizing the data, and that probably a lot of other people are missing too.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book, Planned Obsolescence, and the class discussion with her last Monday, has recently become relevant in my own path through academia. Over the course of last week and over the holiday weekend, I was asked by the English Dept. for my input on their proposals to re-model the first-year comprehensive exams.
You all may know about these in some way, but let me first briefly describe how it works, esp at CUNY / the GC. This is the exam that all PhD candidates in English must take before moving on to the next stage of their program. Not every department has them, but almost any PhD program in English seems to. I can’t speak to too many programs, but I do know that at Harvard, for example, they have a “Comprehensive Exam” they dub as the “100-book” exam: you must read and know a 100-book canon (gag me) like the back of your hand, and then go into a timed room of 3-4 faculty and spit out all your knowledge.
When I looked at the GC program, I was glad to see that it used a different model, one which didn’t seem to favor any particular canon. That said, it is still a full day, 8-hr, timed “exam,” in which you speed-respond to given essay prompts on an “empty” (brainless) computer.
After reports from students about the uselessness of this exam to measure their skills as thinkers / writers / teachers, and / or prepare them for “advanced study” (not to mention the fact that it penalizes students with learning disabilities or ESL), the Department has recently decided to try to change the model.
(Don’t worry, I’m going to get back to Kathleen’s points soon).
The model now under review is a “Portfolio” in the place of a test. It would consist of: one “conference paper,” one “review essay,” and one teaching syllabus.
As someone who has tested as “learning disabled,” I was certainly happy to hear that we were moving away from the timed exam.
And yet, looking back at Kathleen’s arguments made me re-think how “great” the Portfolio model really would be. As a poet, I’m interested in creative + critical teaching and practice… in building new “forms.” I’ve never written a review essay, and I’ve never attended an academic conference. I always worried that my lack of desire to do so would prevent me from getting my degree. But maybe I’m right: as Kathleen prescribes, we should be focusing more on the “process” of research, rather than the finished “product” (the review / conference papers). Maybe those are obsolete forms – forms that work towards the obsolete academic dissertation – which in turn work toward the obsolete academic book. Or am I just screaming in my head, “Don’t make me write a conference paper! I’m just a poet! Get me out of academia now!”
I have two answers to these questions. The first is: great, I finally have some smart argumentative backing (from Kathleen’s book, and our DH discussions all semester) to encourage my program to move away from the purely academic model of scholarship that is merely required, rather than wanted or needed. The second is: rather than wasting my time worrying that “pure academia” would come to get me, I should believe that I can actually interrogate these forms to create the type of work I want to do and see.
If we are given the Portfolio model, I have options, not limits. I can write, lets say, an open-access review essay. I can work collaboratively with other thinkers, perhaps even non-academic thinkers, online. I can write a conference paper both “about” and “demonstrating” joint creative and critical practice, and thereby question the form of the “paper” itself. I can certainly be grateful that I don’t have to spend all summer sweating about “failing” a biased timed-exam, and that I didn’t go to Harvard. Most importantly, I can think about the question of whether, by fixing the broken parts of a broken machine (rather than throwing them all away out of frustration, fear, and anxiety)… perhaps the machine will eventually start running well again; running somewhere new.
I stumbled across this article the other day, which seemed like something that would be of interest to the class. It also brought me back to the workshop on User Experience with Samantha Raddatz, which I attended a few weeks ago. In her workshop, she explained a few different methods for testing programs (focus groups, randomly approaching people in coffee shops, etc.) and the way that program/site/app designers often miss the most glaring issues with their own interface, how integral it is to test everything and to be open to the possibility of having to reorganize the information architecture of the site/app/etc. in order to best serve the people using the interface. It is necessary to go through a rigorous and diverse testing phase (although the best results do actually come from the first 5 people who test an app), in order to ascertain that the interface supports user expectation, and enables a positive, simple user experience.
The linked article looks at the user experience, and questions what drives user experience—not just the experience of using an app or site, but the experience of wanting to check it, wanting to be constantly connected. Apparently the concept of internet addiction has been discussed by psychologists since the advent of the first mainstream web browser, but as our technology becomes more and more streamlined and is streaming into the palms of our hands it has become a serious issue.
Is intuitive information architecture partially to blame for this? Does the ease of use create the sort of dependence we see when, on a Friday night, half the people in a bar are on their phones rather than interacting with other people in the bar? Does the ease of use and the resulting expectation of constant accessibility cause the frustration or anxiety many people feel when they don’t have service or wifi to quickly check their social media accounts on a smartphone?
If you are collecting qualitative data:
Post #1: Research Project Topic Introduction
The topic we decided to focus on is “Child Abuse in New York City” The reason we narrowed down our topic to child abuse in NYC specifically because we plan on educating children in NYC. What we want to focus on is the fact that poverty is a contributing factor in child abuse, but what happens when it is higher income families that deal with this problem?
The issue in our topic is child abuse in New York City. We have an interest in this, because we believe that there are many conflicts with New York City that needs to be addressed to prevent child abuse. Connecting factors in child abuse can be substance abuse, because of the accessibility in lower income families. However, we want to focus on higher the income families and what the reasons would be for that abuse. If one parent is the abuser and the other finds out about the abuse, this can also cause divorce and substance abuse due to depression and stress.
We want to first figure out the issues that cause child abuse in New York, and this way we can figure out a way to try and prevent it.
The purpose of this study is to gain knowledge of child abuse; not only for ourselves; but also for our future children, and for our future careers as well. As many of us want to go into careers that have to do with the youth, this knowledge will help us better understand and access child abuse when and if we ever come across it in the future. The consequence of not knowing this information is that we allow it to go on, if we can do the research of why this is happening so much, and figure our a way we can help prevent it from happening, or at least have the knowledge to bring more awareness to the issue.
The research question we want to focus on is “Why child abuse is so high in New York City?” Sub-questions we have are:
For my data project, I have changed my mind so many times I can’t even begin to tell you where I started in terms of concept…but one idea branched off into another and finally I’m left with the idea of creating the beginnings of a thick map of terrorist activity in the US, with the intention of visualizing how our approach and classification of “terrorism” has changed in the wake of major incidents. For a final/next semester project, I think it would be interesting to focus specifically on creating a map that includes the events and that draws in the media conversations surrounding that event—for instance, mapping the Planned Parenthood shooting that occurred in Colorado last night, including the different ways people reacted to it on twitter, facebook, and in the news (if you look at #PPshooting or #PlannedParenthood on twitter, you’ll see some VERY revealing and diverse reactions to the event). I’m interested in the way that the idea of terrorism has infiltrated American culture and media, especially with relation to Islamophobia but also more generally for the scope of this project.
I really wanted to use the VisualEyes tool from University of Virginia and the NEH, however after much exploration I was not really able to learn how to use it. I like the final presentation of the data with this format, the sample projects on the visualeyes site seemed like exactly the kind of mapping I was looking for, and it is something I would like to really learn and explore in the future.
The point of my visualization, in the larger, more complex project scheme, is to map the way that terrorism and our reactions to it has changed.