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Doctor Fox's Lecture
September 23, 2011 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Video footage of the legendary Doctor Fox lecture. "The lecture that Myron L. Fox delivered to the assembled experts had an impressive enough title: 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education'. Those responsible for running the University of Southern California School of Medicine's psychiatry department's continuing education programme had taken themselves off to Lake Tahoe in northern California for their annual conference and a continuing education program. There, Fox - who was billed as an 'authority on the application of mathematics to human behaviour' - presented the first paper. His polished performance so impressed the audience of psychiatrists, family doctors and general internists that nobody noticed that the man standing at the lectern wasn't really Myron L. Fox from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine but Michael Fox a movie actor who though having considerable experience in playing doctors in TV shows didn't know the first thing about game theory." [Via]
posted by homunculus (37 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fox's lecture was discussed in the first article linked in this post.
posted by homunculus at 11:34 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, in case you're wondering, it's not that Michael (J.) Fox. That's what I thought last time I heard this story.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:36 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there a place to watch it without the annoying intertitles and edits? I find the stream of outdated, pseudo-authoritative bafflegab much more entertaining than the didactic wrapper.
posted by RogerB at 11:42 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not the Michael Fox I ordered.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:05 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa. Wait a minute, Doc...
posted by stroke_count at 12:55 AM on September 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


That's nothing. In 1980 a movie actor was trained to say things he knew little about and was actually elected President of the United States.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:06 AM on September 24, 2011 [82 favorites]


I was seriously hoping for Michael J. Fox with like a beard and huge glasses or something, but I was also wondering how nobody would recognize his voice.
Then I watched the video, after reading the second link.

I want my money back. This "city chicken" isn't chicken at all!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:15 AM on September 24, 2011


That's nothing. In 1980 a movie actor was trained to say things he knew little about and was actually elected President of the United States.

"Ronald Reagan, the actor??? Then who's VICE-President? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady! And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury!"
posted by disillusioned at 1:31 AM on September 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


Psychology: An entire lecture
posted by Rhaomi at 2:16 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's nothing. In 1980 a movie actor was trained to say things he knew little about and was actually elected President of the United States.

"He is not cogent. He does not speak good prose. His word-use is improper. Either he is brain- damaged, or he has something to conceal."

-- Emily D. in "The President's Speech" from The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.
posted by homunculus at 2:20 AM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Doctor Fox: He's not a real doctor. He's not a real fox.
posted by Grangousier at 2:26 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ronald Reagan, the actor???

From _Death Valley Days_? You're pulling our (collective) leg(s), right?
posted by mikelieman at 3:05 AM on September 24, 2011


Dr Fox on crabs
posted by the cuban at 3:53 AM on September 24, 2011


My favorite part in the discussion section of the orignal paper:
..."it is the sign of a competent crap detector that he is not completely captivated by the arbitrary abstractions of the community in which he happened to grow up." The three groups of learners in this study, all of whom had grown up in the academic community and were experienced educators, obviously failed as "competent crap detectors" and were seduced by the style of Dr. Fox's presentation. Considering the educational sophistication of the subjects, it is striking that none of them detected the lecture for what it was.
posted by roguewraith at 4:33 AM on September 24, 2011


Why does this make me think of Ronald Raegan
posted by ElenaM at 4:39 AM on September 24, 2011


/canceling "Dr. Teen Wolf" reference
posted by benito.strauss at 5:05 AM on September 24, 2011


Interesting study, though it does seem to prove what any high school student would find obvious: a charismatic teacher with an engaging speaking style is far better than one who just drones on and on. Of course it doesn't just apply to teaching... you're likely to vote for the more eloquent candidate (Reagan, Clinton, Obama), or to buy some fantastic new gadget after watching the charismatic CEO show it off (Steve Jobs takes this to a whole new level with his reality distortion field). So if you're a teacher or a politician or a salesperson, having a great "speaker's personality" seems pretty critical to success.

From the first link: "A journalist later wrote in the Los Angeles Times: 'There are implications in this study, though, that even its instigators have not perceived. If an actor makes a better teacher, why not a better congressman, or even a better President?' Ten years after the hoax, Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House."
posted by kira at 5:10 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting piece of sociology that I've read six thousand deploring editorials about the Sokal hoax and I've never heard of this.
posted by escabeche at 5:24 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're chilling in Lake Tahoe. Are those flip-flops on the MC? My first hypothesis is that the study groups just didn't give a shit. Look at their notepads. I bet there are a lot of doodles.
posted by wobh at 5:39 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love this stuff!

1996: Alan Sokal, a professor of physics, successfully submits a paper of fabricated nonsense disguised as postmodernism to an academic journal in an attempt to show that the postmodernist journal would publish anything that looked good and "flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions".

2005: SCIgen, a joke Computer Science paper generator, has paper [pdf] accepted in conference.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:07 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi: Psychology: An entire lecture

They aren't psychologists. Did you read the post?

...psychiatrists, family doctors and general internists...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:32 AM on September 24, 2011


So, eh, was he reading a presentation that the real doctor wrote, or...?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2011


Previously on MetaFilter, and kind of related. (This guy was actually charging money for lectures.)

Also kind of related, "The seductive allure of neuroscience explanation" [pdf], an experiment that added irrelevant neurology facts to explanations psychology-related phenomena, and looked at their effect on the explanations' plausibility. The experiment compared basically sound and BS explanations, and audiences with different levels of knowledge about the subject. (An article about the paper with additional links.)
posted by nangar at 6:47 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


the legendary Doctor Fox

Isn't this the Wes Anderson movie people were talking about a couple of days ago on the blue? I still have never seen it, but linking to a torrent of copyrighted material is not cool.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:50 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't this the Wes Anderson movie people were talking about a couple of days ago on the blue? I still have never seen it, but linking to a torrent of copyrighted material is not cool.

Don't think it is, no. Maybe try clicking on link?
posted by WalterMitty at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2011


(humour, it is a thing)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:13 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't show much more than "When you ask people how a presenter did, most of them don't want to be dicks to some poor schmuck they don't know."

To do this right, you'd need to also have at least one actor or academic coached to give a terribly-presented talk that was accurate and with academically-interesting content. This would at least establish that the learners were willing to give bad ratings. If they were, anyway.

It would also be useful to have questions on the questionnaire that try to suss out whether the respondent actually remembered anything about it or had just zoned out because it was terrible nonsense. This would also help to distinguish between people actually claiming they had learned from an informationless presentation from people merely being polite.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:23 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, like ROU suggested, people zone out of med-ed lectures within the first 3 slides. For non-math people, it'd be even faster. I can not tell you how many medical department lectures I have been to where the presenter suffers Medical Expert Syndrome, wherein they believe that by virtue of having done clinical training they have become an expert in research methods, statistics, education, whatever.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2011


nangar, your PDF link is borked, but "The seductive allure of neuroscience explanation" [PDF] is now my new most favoritest paper ever, Thank you!
posted by Blasdelb at 8:48 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just not seeing a gullible audience eagerly swallowing up plates of crap, so much as a handful of people politely listening to a lecture that was presented to them in good faith by an engaging speaker on a topic that is probably beyond the audience's usual spectrum of expertise.

Doctors Ware, Naftulin, and Donnelly sound like a bunch of assholes who don't seem to care whether they're invited to speak anywhere else again.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:49 AM on September 24, 2011


> nangar, your PDF link is borked

Sorry about that. Thanks for fixing it!
posted by nangar at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2011


As twoleftfeet hinted *cough* , I actually think this had a lot to do with Reagan's success as President. He was acting. He was acting "Presidential". He knew how to do that, and he was very convincing. He knew how to play a room, what mood to express at just the right time.

This isn't a bad thing, it's what we expect of our leadership - they have to be able to capture and retransmit the collective mood, so that we understand that they understand what we are feeling. Pundits today like to use the expression of a candidate "looks Presidential" as if they knew what the hell they even meant.

Reagan took some flak during his Presidency for his practice of delegating authority. Again, this was a good thing. He wasn't a wonkish policy guy with a law degree. He was an a actor, and a surprisingly good one. He should have gotten some sort of award for the ultimate role.
posted by Xoebe at 9:22 AM on September 24, 2011


None of the questions actually asked in the questionnaire were along the lines of "did you learn much?", and of the written responses they list, only one was praise of the actual content. I have to wonder if this paper is actually an experiment in how many people can be fooled by completely avoiding proof of what you're claiming to prove.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:32 AM on September 24, 2011


qxntpqbbbqxl: "2005: SCIgen, a joke Computer Science paper generator, has paper accepted in conference."
The Heart of Research is Sick.
Essentially, it’s the publication process. It has become a system of collecting counters for particular purposes – to get grants, to get tenure, etc. – rather than to communicate and illuminate findings to other people. The literature is, by and large, unreadable. It’s all written in a kind of code, with inappropriate data in large amounts, and the storyline is becoming increasingly orchestrated by this need to publish. We all know it. We all suffer from it. I think the changes to the scientific enterprise have been inexorable and progressive. The deterioration has been so steady that people don’t really realise how much things have changed.
posted by Coventry at 10:06 AM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


As opposed to Ronald Reagan, the labor union leader and the governor of California? Must be some other guy.
Considering this lecture took place in the early 1970s, and Michael J Fox was born in 1961, I'm guessing a lot of time in the makeup trailer.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:22 AM on September 24, 2011


This is, however, the Michael Fox that cause the more famous Michael "J." Fox to register with a (fake) middle initial, so that there wouldn't be two SAG members with the same name.
posted by dhens at 3:00 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the 1970s people, and a room heavy with Californian psychs. I think I can confidently speculate that most of the (apparently small) audience was tripping balls and ready to give the benefit of the doubt to *anyone* (even someone as vacuous and tangential as those snippets). And as pointed out above, you have to basically rape a goat on the stage of a CME lecture to get a bad review.
posted by meehawl at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2011


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