The Diary of a Research Participant

[ The Happy Hour Archive | ]

I found somebody's diary in a bag they forgot when they moved this last
week.  Here's some entries that you all should find interesting. 
We'll meet at Charlie's at 4:00 Friday to go over the really juicy


Tuesday.  Tomorrow I'm going to the psycholegy building to take part in an
expiriment.  I'm so excited!  It isn't often that a Communacations major
gets to help in the relentless march of science.  I've rented "The Secret
of NIMH" to help me prepare.

Wednesday.  I felt like a rat.  I wanderred around in a dimly lit maze for
thirty minutes.  It was like the nightmare I had after reading "Chapter 2: 
Behaviorism" in Psych 111.  I reasonned that the appetitive feedback of
sunlight would be a rewarding stimulus, I found my way outside and called
the number the scientist gave me.  I explaned how I got lost in the
baisment and couldn't find the labratory, so we rescheduled for Friday. 

Thursday.  Rented "Charlie", that movie based on "Flowers for Algernon". I
wonder if they are going to give me those inteligence tests he took. 

Friday.  Found the labratory in just 10 minutes this time.  I was really
disappointed.  There were no vials bubbling, no cages with monkys or rats,
and the scientist, Dr. ______ (name deleted to protect innocent), wasn't
even wearing a white lab coat!  I read this sheet of paper that I didn't
understand--it talked about deadlines and payoffs and accuracy bonusses. 
Then they sat me in front of a computer and flashed words in front of me. 
Whenever one was miss-spelled, I hit a button.  They want me to come back
Monday for more. 

Sunday.  Rented "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" today.  It was really
scarey when they hooked electroads to McMurphy's skull and  shocked him. I
hope I never have to pretend I'm insane to get out of serving hard time.

Monday.  Found the lab in just 5 minutes today.  They hooked up
electrodes to me today. I kept remembering that scene from "Cuckoo's
Nest".  I was so nervous, because I just knew the scientists were going to
shock me, even though they said they weren't. I could hardly press the
button for the mispelled words.  Science sure is scary.

Tuesday.  Rented "Awakenings" today.  There was a patient in it
who could only read misspelled words.  It reminded me of my days as a
psychological subject.

Wednesday.  Dr. ______ called today to tell me that my "data were very
interesting" and that he wanted me to return for more study.  I asked if
there was something wrong with me, and he said no.  So I told him I
didn't want to do it, but when he offered to pay me double, I gave in. 

Thursday.  I found the lab in three minutes flat. More electrodes, more
misspelled words.  It wasn't nearly as scary this time.  Afterwards, the
scientists (there were three this time) looked disappointed, but asked me
to come back next week anyway.

Friday.  Checked Walden Two out of the library.  Its pretty good, even
though its written by a guy named Burrhus.  I'm thinking about starting a
commune of my own.

Monday.  Made it to the lab in two minutes, 35 seconds.  Those misspelled
words are getting kind of boring, but I realized that the buzz I heard
following my errors was a negative feedback that was helping me to spell
better.  I started thinking about the commune I'm going to start, and how
we can make all the kids do this experiment, so we can really kick the
other commune's butts in the spelling bee.  Then I tried to come up with
words that rhymed with the words they showed me.  I had plenty of time to
plan the commune because I realized that since I was getting paid by the
hour, I could make more money if I just slowed down.  I must have made an
extra $15 today!  My daydreaming must not have mattered much, because the
scientist was sure happy when I was done.  He said the next session is

Tuesday.  Rented "Young Frankenstein".  Funny, I noticed a lightning rod
on the roof of the psychology building.

Wednesday.  Found lab in 2 minutes, 32 seconds.  That one will be hard to
beat.  Misspelled words were really boring again, so I started trying to
guess when the next real word would appear--kind of like when you are
playing blackjack.  That got boring, too, so I started figuring out
interesting ways to misspell the correct words. I came up with a few good
ones that made me laugh.  The scientist said he wanted one more session,
and he was thinking about doing a case study on me.  I guess I have really
interesting brain waves. 

Thursday.  I got sick of psychology movies so I rented "The Lawnmower
Man".  Turns out that is a psychology movie, too.

Friday.  Got turned around near the drinking fountain and it took nearly
four minutes to get to the lab.  Had to ask directions from some dorky
grad student.  He was listening to "Oklahoma", and I got that song stuck
in my head.  The whole experiment, I was singing "Oklahoma you're
O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma you're O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A...." to myself like a
broken record.  To break the monotony of the misspelled words, I pretended
there was a war going on and the words were enemy codes.  I tried to
remember all of the incorrect letters to see if they would unscramble to
form other words--they only made other misspelled words.  Then I tried to
find all the letters of the alphabet, in order.  I got stuck on Q, and the
experiment ended.  Even though I was bored, the scientist was really
excited, so I guess it turned out O-K.

Tuesday (One year Later)  The scientist gave me a copy of the article he
wrote about me.  He called me STM, not even using my real initials in
order to protect me.  I didn't really understand the article, but it said
that spelling is not performed by just one part of the brain, but "as
demonstrated by participant STM" (that's me, although I felt more like a
subject than a participant) "Many peripheral subsystems can be recruited
to assist in identifying veridical spelling forms". I guess that means I'm
pretty smart.

[ The Happy Hour Archive | ]