Datums & Dogmas

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You're invited to "DogmaCon" an evening of roll-playing fun this Friday,
4pm at Charley's - Alcohol will be served

In an effort to bring psychology to a wider audience, we've devised a
roll-playing game based on our field.  This game, much like the popular
"Dungeons and Dragons" series allows the player to develop a character who
engages in quests and adventures.  To make it more psychologically
relevant, players can choose from a wide array of real-life psychological
heroes and heroines.  Below, you will find an example adventure that was
recently played by a small group of local nerds.

Datums & Dogmas:  The Psychological Role-Playing Game (with references)

You and your wily band of adventurers emerge from the desert to the small
outland hovel Geva.  Your companions are Fodor the Elven archer, Pylyshyn
the Gnomish warrior, Pinker the Thinker--a Human mage, and a nameless
hooded holy man.  Your group enters the local inn, barters with the
innkeeper, and begrudgingly pays 10 silver pieces for a room.  Leaving your
material possessions safely in your room, Fodor, Pylyshyn and Pinker, and
you venture out to a nearby tavern.  The hooded man remains at the inn.

You spend your night carousing, and return after the moon sets for a short
night's sleep.  The next morning, fully refreshed (+ 2 hit points), your
band visits the merchants at the bazaar.  Fodor (1985) purchases a
modularity of mind potion, Pylyshyn (1973) haggles with a shopkeeper and
emerges with a talisman of propositional relations (+1 concrete thoughts).
The hooded stranger purchases a book on generalized linear models
(McCullagh & Nelder, 1983) and receives +1 statistical analysis bonus.
Pinker meets with a local literary agent and receives 1,000 gold pieces as
an advance for a book about the group's adventures.  You find an amulet of
thought control (+2 persuasion) in a dirty peddler's kiosk.

Your group enters the town square, admiring the local architecture.  Out of
the corner of his eye, Pinker (Finke & Pinker, 1983) sees a man running
from a small crowd of locals.  Your group decides to intervene.  Fodor
rolls a 2 or less on an eight-sided die, and captures the crowd's attention
with a well thrown stone, giving the hunted man an opportunity to take
cover behind your group.  

You address the crowd, "Why do you chase this man?"

"The heretic has insulted the gods!" shouts a burly man. "He must pay with
his life!"  The crowd cheers and comes menacingly close.

Thinking quickly, Pinker (Personal Appearance, 1997) casts a "crazy hair"
spell on the crowd, temporarily blinding and disorienting them.  Taking
ahold of this poor man, Fodor and Pylyshyn lead your band to the safety of
a nearby alley.

As they crouch behind an old trash-laden ox cart, you question the rescued
man.  He gratefully tells you his woeful tale.

"I have been accused," he begins, "of defying the feature gods."  Seeing your 
look of concern, he continues: "They took issue with my theory of geometric
ions (or geons as I call them).  They refuse to accept its superiority to
their simple theories of feature-based visual processing.  Despite my
ability to better explain object relations, they humiliate and threaten me.
 'What about faces?' they yell, 'There's no neural evidence!' they shout.
I have submitted many a manuscript to the local journal, only to receive
scorn and anger in return.  So, I decided to demonstrate the power of my
theory.  This is why they wish me dead."

"Pray sir," Pinker begins, "may I ask your name?"

"They call me Irv." responds the man. "I have garnered much hostility upon
showing evidence of my theory (Biederman, 1987).  I have proven their
simple theories to be flawed, and this is my payment.  It is I who should
be angry, not those wastrels!"

Pylyshyn the dwarf sagely comments, "Irv, you are a very bitter man."

After taking Irv the Bitterman back to your room at the inn, you become
engaged in a  discussion of his heretical theory.  Pylyshyn asks Irv the
Bitterman, "What is this mysterious thing you have called "geon".  As Irv
explains, you notice Fodor's elven temper boiling, and he arrogantly
challenges the embattled man.

"You mean your theory postulates we have tiny blocks, like children's toys,
inside of our heads?"  Fodor ask incredulously.  "I've split many skulls
and seen nothing of the sort!"

"Aye, it is as certain as the nose on your face!" replies Irv.

"That is an untruth.  AAAAARGHHH!!!" comes the elf's response, accompanied
by a blow to the head.  Fortunately, a roll of 1D6  causes Irv to parry and
Fodor misses entirely.  You spring into action, placing yourself between
the two men.

"I suggest you leave this land." Says Pinker, the peacemaker, to the
Bitterman.  You apparently have many enemies here.  

Bowing his head, he agrees, and leaves town quickly and quietly.

You sit in silence for nearly an hour, when a roll of 4 on a six-sided die
caused a loud scream from outside.  Your group springs from your seats and
runs to the door.  At the door, you perceive the town under attack by a
4D12 Two-Headed Beast and an army of  1D6 Backward Rotating R's.  Wreaking
havoc upon the townspeople, the beasts appear unstoppable.

"What is that monstrosity?"  Asks Fodor.

"Before us you see my nemesis," proclaims Pylyshyn, "I had hoped never to
encounter this grotesque beast again."

"Tell us, and quickly, I beseach you!" Urged Pinker.

"There stands the Two-Headed Mental Rotation Beast of the Netherlands."
Explains Pylyshyn.

After muttering something under his breath about the Dutch, Pinker asks,
"Is this not the beast which has Roger Shepard (Cooper & Shepard, 1973) for
one head, and Stephen Kosslyn (1971) for the other?  Did you not vanquish
it when it first provoked you many years ago?"

"No."  replies the gnome.  "After a valient fight, I fled undaunted.  I had
assumed that it too would grow weary of this issue, but I see now that this
is not the case."

"How can we defeat it and its rotating minions?" asks Fodor, eyeing the beast.

"I don't know," is Pylyshyn's response.

As if an answer, the hooded man removes his cowel.  Looking directly at the
beast he shouts, "You are no match for my techniques, Imager!"

The monster turns, baffled.  Its Kosslyn head grumbles, "I recognize the
gnome, but who are you?"

"I am Fred Bookstein.  I call you out," came the response from this bearded
stranger.  A split second later he rolled a 16 on a twenty-sided die and
successfully cast his matrix warping spell (DeQuardo, J. R., Bookstein, F.
L., Green, W. D. K., & Brunberg, J. A., 1996).  The spell, which has the
effect of changing the proportions of an enemy, effectively immobilizes the
giant two-headed beast.  With the monster unable to attack, Bookstein goes
on the offensive.  He quickly begins a barrage of 2D6 karate chops to the
occipital lobes of each head of the beast.  Each chop is accompied by the
stacatto cry "Bookstein!"  

While the previously hooded man continues his deadly assault on the
lumbering beast, the rest of you focus your attacks on the Backward
Rotating R's.  Many gallons of blood and sweat later, you stand victorious,
thinking of the songs, stories, and journal articles that will be written
about this day.  This thought excites you as the villagers emerge to from
their thatched huts to celebrate this joyous day.


Biederman, I. (1987) Recognition-by-components: A theory of human image
understanding. _Psychological Review_,94(2) 115-117.

Cooper, L. A. & Shepard, R. N. (1973) Chronometric studies of the rotation
of mental images. in W. G. Chase (Ed.), _Visual information processing_ New
York, N.Y.: Academic

DeQuardo, J. R., Bookstein, F. L., Green, W. D. K., & Brunberg, J.
A.(1996). Spatial relationships of neuroanatomic landmarks in
schizophrenia. _Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging_ 67(1) 81-95.

Finke, R. A. & Pinker, S. (1983). Directional scanning of remembered visual
patterns. _Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, &
Cognition_, 9(3), 398-410.

Fodor, J. A. (1985). Precis of The Modularity of Mind. _Behavioral & Brain
Sciences_,8(1) 1-42.

Kosslyn, S. M. (1981). Research on mental imagery: Some goals and
directions. _Cognition_10(1-3), 173-179.

McCullagh, P. & Nelder, J. A. (1983).  _Generalized Linear Models_. Chapman
and Hall: London.

Pylyshyn, Z. W. (1973). What the mind's eye tells the mind's brain: A
critique of mental imagery.  _Psychological Bulletin_,80(1), 1-24.

(with special thanks to Shane Mueller)

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