Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming. Tom Bissell figuratively (and literally) knows this is t...more Vice City
Perhaps that is what your world becomes on the crack-cocaine that is video gaming. Tom Bissell figuratively (and literally) knows this is true. He presents a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical history of recent video gaming and focuses on why, if not high art, video games are something else entirely. Or maybe they are the highest art.
Bissell has serious literary chops and a voluminous knowledge of contemporary film and prose (he is a creative writing major and literary critic, after all). It's the reader of exceeding eclecticism that can digest all of his allusions to Epic Games, Nabokov, John le Carre, Braid , Cutting Crew, and David Foster Wallace (a mere iceberg tip). Every chapter is filled with fascinating interviews with adults who aren't just cynical suits piloting moneygrabbing corporations, but instead a smattering of brilliant and groundbreaking individuals who want to take gaming to an experiential height that we can't yet imagine, finances be damned. Along these chapters, Bissell recounts the games that morphed him into something other than himself, a feeling to which we might relate. Perhaps we snap at our girlfriends' temerity of a goodbye kiss during Demon's Souls (i.e. "What are you thinking!?"). Mayhaps we ignore our supposedly highbrow pursuits. Or simply lament the inordinate amount of time we have spent gaming. Bissell readily admits to 200+hrs playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion , something to which I can entirely relate (120+ playing Dragon Age: Origins and ~150 hrs (so far) with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ). Are we doing anything worthwhile with these hours?
Slate.com's Michael Thomsen tried to tackle this question in a recent article entitled "Dark Night (After Night After Night) of the Soul:Is a 100-hour video game ever worthwhile?". I would submit that Thomsen only partially gets the point in his critique of the 100+hour game. The gaming journeys he criticizes in the epics of modern RPGs aren't important to gamers because of what has actually been accomplished (breaking boxes, amassing virtual currency, having polygonal polyamory, or drubbing enemies with increasingly cool magic). It's actually immaterial if the activity is repetitive, irrelevant, or goofy, and boy are some of them goofy. Gaming matters to me, at least today, because it gives me a buzz. Demon's Souls gives me literal goosebumps and can cause a literal rage. The SNES's Final Fantasy III made me weep. Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City made the capable author Tom Bissell disappear into another world, and be thankful for the opportunity. If video games don't do anything for you, you most certainly should not be playing. But as long as they do, you should never stop.(less)
Brief treatment of Christianity and Atheism, many of which written when Shelley was 19 years old! The most effective is not the title essay, "The Nece...moreBrief treatment of Christianity and Atheism, many of which written when Shelley was 19 years old! The most effective is not the title essay, "The Necessity of Atheism" (half is translated from the French), but instead the last work, a Socratic dialogue between Theosophus and Eusebes regarding the veracity of supernatural claims. They discuss the evidence for God, the claims of Christ, and the major problems with the major monotheisms, all with a quick wit and razor-sharp reasoning that should avail all of us.(less)
“The purpose of a system is what it does.” ~Stafford Beer
It is critical that we question orthodoxy, particularly in medicine and the sciences. Steve Hi...more“The purpose of a system is what it does.” ~Stafford Beer
It is critical that we question orthodoxy, particularly in medicine and the sciences. Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts suggest that the now-dominant paradigm of experimental design in medicine, so-called Evidence-Based Medicine or “EBM” is misleading, fraught with cognitive biases, and wittingly serves a industry-centered medical culture. As someone early in a surgical career and who has published and spent time and effort conforming to the purported auspices of EBM, I approach a polemic like this one with intense skepticism. Its core tenets are contrary to everything I have been lead to believe about epistemology and the practical means by which I should be building my career. As I finish the book and reflect on my notes, I find its contents deeply troubling but surprisingly resonant. I think there is much truth in these pages.
If I design an experiment, a “high-quality” journal will mandate an a priori sample size calculation ensuring my study is powered adequately. All this means: if I want to have a certain statistical significance, and wish to detect X difference between two treatments (X is based on previous studies, other studies, etc) then I need to enroll a certain number of patients. Hickey and Roberts remind us that this changes the research question entirely. No longer is the experiment designed to detect treatment effects. Instead, it is merely ensuring, ahead of time, that my study has statistical significance. Instead my question has morphed into: how many subjects do I need to ensure my study finds something, regardless of how small, irrelevant, or expected? The authors suggest that my experiment is already rigged.
As a clinician, can I take large population averages and apply the results of large cross-sectional and longitudinal data and apply it to a single patient? Is the fact that a database of joint replacements in California predicted slightly earlier failure rates and infection for knee replacements in patients under 50 years old really clinically helpful when I speak to a patient about the procedure? Or, instead, is my first person experience and knowledge of that patient’s medical history, exam, attitude, compliance, etc., more valuable? Opponents of EBM suggest that EBM doesn’t give physicians any practical decision-making tools, since the statistically significant findings in such studies are often spurious, diluted by the number of variables being manipulated, or may be mathematically correct but clinically irrelevant. Any reader of the literature would agree that all of these are occasionally (or often) true. This is not to say that EBM is useless. I contend it provides useful background information about large populations. EBM provides something vague on which to build. It certainly does not represent our only way of knowing.
There are other troubling trends, like the axiomatic praise of peer review. Any who participate in that arena are aware of its tendency to maintain the status quo opinion, to reject overly progressive ideas, to be insular and exclusionary, and promulgate intellectual cronyism. That situation is intensely disheartening.
How could we improve this situation? By current dogma, EBM could only be challenged and marginalized if it were rebuked by the rules of EBM itself. I am intensely skeptical of any system characterized by circular logic, inherent bias towards its own superiority, imbued with mass acceptance, and which stifles nonconformity by its very nature. The authors may or may not overstate their case. Yet they are entreating medical professionals to reflect intensely at their very own epistemology, and I guarantee most of us have never done so. (less)