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Personal space: bring on the physics revolution

Davies, John B. (2004) Personal space: bring on the physics revolution. The Psychologist, 17 (12). pp. 692-693.

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Abstract

Some years ago a student submitted a practical assignment in which he wrote something along these lines: I collected the data on Sauchiehall Street on Friday afternoon. I asked any young-looking males (who didnt look too scary!) to fill in the questionnaire. It started to rain about four oclock so I went in Costa Coffee, and when I came out there werent so many people about, so I finished it off on Saturday morning. Colleagues felt this was inappropriate in a practical essay on a scientific subject. They objected to the use of the word I, which by definition made it a subjective account; and they suggested that a phrase such as Data were collected from a random sample of young males would have been more suitable. But I disagreed strongly, arguing that the student account was more informative, more scientific, more honest, and there was no attempt to hide behind scientific rhetoric. And obviously, the sample could not be called random.