Monday, October 24, 2011

SPSS: Stupid Package for Stupid Students

Okay, this is not what SPSS actually stands for but for the purpose of the now, let's just go with it.
SPSS actually stands for Statistical Package for Social Sciences which, in my opinion, sounds pretty lame. And with my new experience in SPSS, it IS pretty lame. It's this weird program for analyzing data and, according to my teacher- Dr Rebecca Lee (who incidentally insists we call her DOCTOR LEE because she's got a goddamn PhD in who knows what. Oh, and she's very VERY white)-SPSS is actually very useful for analyzing data.
That is, of course, if you're going into the social sciences and dedicating your life to research.
Which I am not.
Basically, you open the program, make your codebook (where you program codes for each of your variables so that you can type in your data later and make sure you can extrapolate meaning from incomplete data:
You'll understand what I'm talking about once you watch this)
And the reason the data is incomplete can be answered with 4 words:
The dumb fuck pile.
We did a test run of the survey for which we are currently analyzing data and well, we got some normal looking answers....
and some completely ridiculous answers. Allow me to illustrate.
Our survey begins with some pretty normal questions: the participant's age, ethnicity, neighbourhood, university of choice, etc...
Now, most people would just say "to hell with it, it'll only take me five minutes. I'll dash off my answers and book it." However, some people decided "Well I don't give a shit. I'm gonna be spontaneous and ridiculous because I'm SO ORIGINAL."
Yeah that's right. I just dissed the dumb fuck pile people.
So, to get to the point, somebody for their age wrote 40 years old.
We're in CEGEP. The oldest person I know is 22. (for all you non Montrealers out there, CEGEP is like grades 12 and 13. A sort of in-between High School and University). Next, for gender, said person wrote "Neither" and finally, for ethnicity, the same person put:
I kid you not. We were slightly shocked, horrified, yet amused at the same time. Needless to say, that survey is NOT being used. There were about 6 out of 30 surveys that were slightly less ridiculous and they all went into what we now call the Dumb Fuck Pile.
But anywaffles, a funny thing happened. I was halfway finished the codebook for our actual project when I asked DR LEE how to code a question and she tells me
"You're supposed to be copying (she said COPYING) the example codebook in the textbook and then entering the given data"
It was 5:30. Class ended at 6.  I spent most of the period actually using my brain...and those 20 minutes I spent copying a codebook and colums of numbers basically turned me into a zombie.
Everyone left that class with a permanent eyes-glazed-over expression.
Not to mention it was possibly the most boring thing I've ever done on a computer and that's saying something because copying data into tables when doing HTML is pretty boring.
So I'm going to go and continue to zombify myself by watching NCIS reruns and crocheting and eating chocolate.
Tomorrow I need to go rowing.


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