Monday, March 26, 2012

90% Face Recognition Study was Never Published in Scientific Journal

If you had a skill or ability that worked 90% of the time and someone offered you to $1Million to merely demonstrate it - allowing YOU to set the test parameters and write the testing protocol yourself wouldn't you do it?  Naomi Tickle won't because she doesn't want to "tear apart" her body of work.  I wouldn't either if I had "written the book" on unproven science of determining personality by reading faces.

 I had a follow up email from Naomi Tickle and was trying to figure out if the best way to present her counterpoints.  This blog won't make much sense without reading the first 2 blogs.  So here is the links to my first blog my letter and her response.   She recently indicated she thought it was unethical of me to publish her emails that were private communications.  After thinking about it, I've agreed to summarize her thoughts and quote her only selectively.  My skepticism of her technique remains.  She continues to send me quotes from happy customers whose life has been changed and who agree with her insights.  I continue to point out that the Forer demonstration in 1948 explains why.

Darren: You are mentioned prominently in the article. 
Naomi replied and indicated that the comments are by someone who has no knowledge of her work and hasn't attended her workshops

Darren:  Well I have attended a workshop, and I find his comments dead on.  But in fairness I didn't get an assessment of my face either.  I don't need to jump off a cliff to know I can't fly.

Naomi indicated her charts do show she is able to distinguish personality from facial traits. She says her own blind studies and feedback from clients confirm she can read personality from looking at faces 

Darren: I’m not sure what charts you are referring to here (from your book?)  I don’t doubt your sincerity or that you are a very genuine person.  In my opinion you are just not aware how to go about scientifically verifying your theories. 
There is a difference between blind and double blind.  It involves a 3rd party to verify the results.  I've wondered and searched for scientific validation for Myers Briggs and DISC testing before, without much success.  Naomi is comparing her face reading to possibly other unproven personality testing techniques.  There was an experiment done back in 1948 called the Forer demonstration that pretty clearly demonstrates why Naomi's results seem so encouraging.  I highly recommend this quick read of the effect on Wikipedia.  An even more skeptical analysis is provided here.  The same Forer explanation goes a long way towards dismantling Myers Briggs and DISC assessments as well.  I'm not sure why she thinks her husband having a PhD leads to more rigorous analysis on her part.  I've seen educated people who believe in woo woo.

As I said, I think you’re merely deluding yourself and others.  I have seen demonstrations where the same horoscope is handed out to a group of 30 people and they are asked if they feel the horoscope is accurate.  85% of them raise their hands only to discover they’ve all been handed the exact same horoscope.  

"Naomi: I am not deluding myself and I am not a believer in horoscopes, tarot cards, hand writing or palmistry or intuition."

Darren: I wouldn’t even begin to know how to test the observations for myself.  Googling the study you reference lead me to an entry in the skeptics dictionary in which they indicate they have been unable to find any such publication in any scientific journal.  Note to Reader: During Naomi's talk in Reno she claimed studies have shown greater than 90% accuracy for face reading.  In her last e-mail she lowered that to 88%.  Now we find out that the "studies" were never published in a peer reviewed journal!  By the way the guy who started all this nonsense was Whiteside, who was a journalist, not a scientist.  Read the reviews of his work on Amazon
Naomi: she confirmed the studies were never published.  Suggested testing one trait at a time

Darren:  That seems reasonable – Again if the trait were something scientifically undeniable and testable such as a persons career or whether they got A’s in math versus C’s in math (say by looking at pictures of high-school students). 

Naomi: indicated her technique wouldn't be able to determine whether people got A's or C's in a particular subject. talked about her many happy customers who agreed with her readings.

After Naomi's talk I asked if her personality reading would enable her to, with 90% accuracy differentiate between an analytical personality such as an engineer or accountant versus say an artist or musician.   She said absolutely.  I mentioned students because I figured "analytical personality" types, which she says exist - would tend to have higher math grades than artistic types.  Now look at her back pedaling.  Her point that there are multi-talented people was (say an engineer who is also a world class musician) was why I called "B.S." on her in the first place. But there is no reason we couldn't find people like accountants who didn't have any musical or artistic skills to do the test with.

Maybe the whole $1Million thing was too much.  Maybe a simple $100 bet with Naomi that she can tell 10 math teachers from 10 art teachers with statistical level of significance?  Or whatever opposite end of the spectrum personalities we can think of that are definitive.

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