Old 11-06-2012, 06:42 PM   #76
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Unfortunately, fans of soap operas prove this daily. The actors and the action are more real to them than their own lives.
Yep. I can remember when in high school I rode the bus to school with someone whose older sister was an actress on The Guiding Light for several months. Each morning we'd discuss what her sister was doing as we rode in on the bus--without revealing she was doing it in a role in a soap opera. After a couple of months the bus was reeeeaal quiet when we talked. The day after the actress' character was strangled and stuffed into the trunk of a car and we talked about that the gasp across the bus nearly lifted it off the pavement.
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:05 PM   #77
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Some people just need a little more zest in their lives.

So that's why we write.

Will wonders never cease.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:30 PM   #78
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This post is provided by Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University.

Hello all. I would like to start by apologizing for the original post (posted DATE), which a graduate student under my guidance posted to the website. I would also like to apologize for the delay in getting this message out to everyone in the community of Literotica. At Augusta State University, we take breeches of ethical misconduct very seriously. As a matter of fact, I am the Chair of our Institutional Review Board, so it was very disturbing to me that one of my students posted these questions without proper consent.

A short time ago, the entire IRB met and decided on a variety of courses of action to address the ethical issues at hand. The student had to:

1. Write and submit an academic analysis that included a detailed description of his actions and a careful explanation of the ethical guidelines that were breached, including issues of informed consent.
2. Attend an IRB meeting and discuss with the group his behavior.
3. Complete additional ethics training.

Also, the student will now have to wait two months before the committee will review the IRB proposal for his/her master’s thesis. In addition, I also imposed a few internal punishments for the student. One of which is to have my tape-recorded comments transcribed and posted for you all. Since part of his/her punishment is to transcribe my comments, they are quite lengthy and I have requested that each individual section be posted separately, the first of which is this apology for the action.

The additional posts will outline other comments and issues, including the inspiration for the research, the goals for the research, the outcomes of the research, as well as some additional commentary of my personal views on freedom and artistic expression. Again, each of these issues will be posted separately because it is probably too long for anyone to read in and of itself.

I hope all of you can appreciate the sincerity in which this message is conveyed.
I apologize for both the content and tone of my student’s postings.

As commented on in the thread, the research was presented at the recent conference for the Society of the Scientific Study of Sexuality in Tampa, Florida. However, none of the responses provided from individuals of this community were incorporated into our presentation given that consent was not obtained prior to your commenting, let alone the phrasing of the questions, which were a concern to both the committee and myself. With that said, we appreciate the concern over the tone of the questions, and they certainly do not reflect my perspective.

Both the other advisor and I would like to take some responsibility for the posts. We have worked very hard on this project, and as many research teams do, discussed other avenues of research that could be examined for our presentation. As stated in one of the original posts, yes, we were trying to add a more human element to the postings examining people’s motivations for writing stories. However, when this idea was discussed, I probably did not take enough care in addressing the lack of an informed consent protocol as well as the additional IRB approval. My comments basically reflected more of a desire to stay with what we had because we had plenty to discuss already. Given our design, we had plenty of data points and parameters to present in terms of scientific data so there was no reason to go that extra mile. However, the passions of researchers can supersede their judgment at times, so again, I apologize for that.

This thread will now be broken down into its variety of sub-components, the first of which is the research conducted.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:34 PM   #79
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The Research

This post is provided by Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University.

As a psychologist, I have been very interested and active in promoting a better understanding of diversity and knowledge about sexuality. Research is my passion and I try to instill that passion in all my students. I saw a lot of literature out there that examined the erotic content in video pornography and other sources of media, and I saw a big gap in terms of examining erotic literature. For a long time, I’ve suggested this project to students as a way to get involved in research. I particularly pitched the idea to the students in my human sexuality classes. I was thinking to myself that, “Hey, you get to do scientific research and read dirty stories on top of that. How cool!” but for many years no students took me up on that. Finally, I found a very dedicated team of students that would perform the research.

One of the initial problems in performing this research is that non-consensual stories run the gamut, ranging from what might be considered harlequin romance, where the woman is typically swept off her feet or reluctantly forced in to, to the more harshly extreme violent rape stories. Also, what constitutes rape varies from state to state. To address this issue we went the FBI’s definition of rape. Another one of our problems was trying to develop a set list of rape myths. To address that issue we researched rape myths through multiple sources, (journals, textbooks, and websites) and then developed a set list of common rape myths for both males and females.

After that, we developed a method to select websites in an unbiased and representative manner. We searched for different erotic literature websites via multiple search engines and we came up with a list of sites with the most hits. After that, we also used web traffic counters to determine the top sites from the list of websites, Literotica being one of them. In terms of story selection, to prevent our own biases, we used random number generators to select stories. This method varied across the websites. For example, we selected stories from alphabetically categorized websites by matching a randomly drawn number from 1-26 to its corresponding letter in the alphabet. A second random number directed the selection within that letter 1-100. For example, 100 would mean the researcher would select the 100th story. Those that were part of this selection process did not code any of the stories. Thus, all raters were also blind to the original designation of the story. We decided that 200 stories would be randomly drawn from each of the four chosen websites, of which 150 were drawn from non-consensual/rape/forced/reluctant. The remaining 50 stories drawn from each site served as a control and we tried to randomly vary the consensual stories among the various categories to ensure that we had a fair representation of what was considered to be a group of consensual stories. This also allowed us to examine the bleed-over that might occur because of story theme complexities (e.g. BDSM may be miscoded as non-consensual). Moreover, just because an author labels a story as non-consensual does not mean that it would necessarily be reviewed as such and vice versa.
We had two blind readers read every story and among our team, we constantly rotated pairings to ensure high interrater reliability among all of our readers. If anyone has suggestions for a better methodology, I am more than willing to consider them. We tried to employ as many experimental controls we could think of, but no research design is ever perfect. So story selection followed a randomized procedure, the websites were chosen based on multiple sources of evidence, the raters were constantly monitored, trained, and re-trained in terms of research a sound interrater reliability, we tried to develop clear definitions that were in concert with the most common rape myths.

Eight hundred stories is an atypical sample size in these types of content analyses.
As we stated in Tampa at the 2012 Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) conference, I like to “go big or go home.” Content analyses tend to be small-scale studies that use very limited samples that range 50 to 200 sources for their results. I agree with the comments made on this thread concerning the variability in the information you obtain is based upon where you look. There is TREMNDOUS variability in story content according to website. As such, 200 stories from four different websites seemed more appropriate to me.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:34 PM   #80
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The Results

This post is provided by Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University.

In terms of the stories we actually read, we found a much higher percentage of some rape myths than others, while some were nearly non-existent. The most prominent rape myths we found concerned the victim enjoying the sex in the end, which makes sense in some ways, given the ways the authors tend to try and write erotic material. Some as I mentioned, we did not find at all (e.g. I’m raping you because I bought you dinner, you owe me) was certainly not a common theme and virtually non-existent. With concern to the idea a spouse cannot be raped by their significant others, not only was it a rare theme, we found more evidence going against it than supporting it. In essence, when rape occurred among spouses, the sex was depicted as rape more often than not.

Not only did we go to those four websites, we also examined an additional 107 websites to examine the proportion of consensual and non-consensual stories. And again, we found a great deal of variability between those websites. While some, like Literotica prohibited specific types of stories, others also targeted specific themes. From the 107 websites, we gathered proportions, which provided us some additional data to present.

As many researchers do, through the process we found many other interesting trends in our data worth further examination, one of which was the frequency of incest. We found that incest and incest themes occurred much more often than what has been reported in other media. In addition, we found many other extreme behaviors occurring more frequently. We hope to publish these findings in 2013.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:35 PM   #81
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This post is provided by Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University.

The research was largely performed to examine the general content of erotic stories. Some of the content was obviously more extreme then what we thought it would be, but that is not to say that all stories were “extreme”. Literotica uses higher constraints, and quite honestly, were probably more palatable stories. The content of other websites ended up being a bit more extreme than even I thought it would be. We largely focused on non-consensual stories because we were examining rape myths, and you do not find rape myths in stories that do not involve rape/nonconsensual acts. Obviously, there are plenty of consensual loving stories, and many others that involve various acts that are not consider non-consensual. We tried to be very objective in our research.

More often than I expected, we ended up looking at content that tended to be rather disturbing for the students and I appreciate their efforts in reading it. However, please appreciate that there were probably stories that the students also enjoyed. But as their professor we obviously did not talk about those stories. It is not very fitting for me, to be asking about what parts of the stories made the students sexually aroused. So during our discussions we focused on some of the negative stories. We appreciate that there are very creative and very enjoyable stories written. In fact, some of the students admitted gravitating towards reading erotic literature as a result of participating in this research project.

The stories that were extreme tended to be very extreme. Those that we found to be disturbing involved instances of extreme pedophilia, including toddlers, elementary school children; rape stories including grandparents paraplegics as victims. From my own personal perspective, I have no problem with these stories being written. In fact, during the presentation in Tampa, someone asked about my thoughts on censorship and whether we should be prescriptive towards what is written. My answer at the time was that I could not go there because I have no problem with it being written. To me, its an example of any individual’s right for free speech, let alone a very interesting and engaging exercise in examining extremes which I certainly have no problem with either. Very often I ask my students to describe what Heaven or Hell would be like given it was personalized, and unfortunately, I receive very standardized responses that include white fluffy clouds, fire and brimstone, and the devil. I point out to them that they have no understanding of imagination or extremes. If Hell was personalized for you, think about the worst things you would have to endure, emotionally and physically. The point is I do not think my students suffer or are harmed by engaging in this exercise. So, I do not mind taking students there.

I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s, listening to the likes of Joe’s Garage and other Frank Zappa albums, as well as understanding his fight for the freedom of expression regarding Al Gore and others trying to restrict it. I never ended up acting out or creating negative situations from listening to Joe’s Garage. I do not think that people necessarily go out and create negative things based on what they watch, what they read, or what they see. The general public and psychologists are all too often ready to blame the media or society for things they should not. Growing up watching Road Runner Cartoons has not instilled in me an irresistible urge to drop an anvil on a person. If you look in depth at Bandura’s research on BoBo the clown, psychologists are quick to call it social modeling. What is oftentimes conveniently left out is that Bandura did not get those results until taking a toy away from a child to provoke the child to be violent. The children were told, “Only good kids get to play with the toy.” So angry, provoked children, after watching aggressive material might enact aggression, but it doesn’t mean that most children are going to model aggression, especially if unprovoked. This is not to say that no acts of aggression are a product of modeling, but I also believe that acts of aggression are also part of an inherent evolutionary process found in our species and many others. Nature/nurture at its best and worst.

For me, as I said, my passion is research. I am trying to get students passionate about research. I would never be so arrogant as to believe that there has ever been a perfect study or that I could ever design a perfect study. However, there are researchers I admire and I look at their research as you might look at a piece of art. I admire the creativity and the thought processes that go into research design as much as any other form of creativity. I also appreciate the immense amount of creativity and artistry I’ve read on Literotica. Personally, I have no artistic talent. I can hardly even draw a good stick figure. The only writing I can do is research design, which is somewhat limited as opposed to more creative avenues of writing. Therefore, I have a high appreciation for any sense of creative writing. The fact that the people here in this community can write stories that are creative, imaginative, and arousing is fabulous. As I stated in the presentation, I could not tell you why you guys write, that is up to you, but to me, I would think it is very powerful to be able to say “I got somebody off simply with the power of the pen”, or more appropriately now, “the power of the keyboard”. While I say that, the other answer to me is, “why not?” Why shouldn’t I sit there and write about erotica. I am sure it is much more interesting than writing a manual for an electronic device, a research article, or even an opinion column for the New York Times. To me, they all have value, just in their own place.
Addressing the comments about whether I think these stories are appropriate or not, or whether I believe they should be censored, I say absolutely not. I think there are very valuable contributions based on the stories written. For me, going from Joe’s Garage to Pink Flamingos to Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography, I believe all of these examples are very essential and productive towards contributing toward art and the human experience.
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:34 PM   #82
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Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University sure knows how to deliver an object lesson.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:22 PM   #83
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Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University sure knows how to deliver an object lesson.
His object lesson could turn into a NC/R story so easily.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:29 PM   #84
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I think it's all just a leg pull.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:04 PM   #85
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I think it's all just a leg pull.
My way of thinking also.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:08 PM   #86
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I think he should be drugged and when he wakes up find himself tied down and a woman with a strap on can peg him.

Then he can write all about rape from a first hand perspective.

If he were interested in that, but all he was really interested in here was trying to get people to tell him some fun dirty things.

This guy is like Zanzo except he's hiding behind some crap he copy and pasted from a lecture somewhere.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:56 PM   #87
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Quote:
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I think it's all just a leg pull.
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Originally Posted by TxRad View Post
My way of thinking also.
It's legit. I contacted Dr. Topolski on his university email address about this thread, and he indicated that he'd be responding along these lines.

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Old 12-08-2012, 12:12 AM   #88
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Well, then, I think he's grossly overestimating our interest in his project (and the soundness of the data base, variables, and metholodolgy) and it sounds to me like he should find another area of interest to study himself. I sure hope this isn't a government grant funding this nonsense.

Even after scanning through the posts from the head of the study, I get the impression of cluelessness about the writing and Web publishing of erotica.

First, what's the deal about consent to be interviewed? These are fake account names. What meaningful "consent" procedure is served by that?

Also, a big deal is made about the many rape stories that end up with the victim enjoying it. Well, yes. That's how you get past Web site limits in what they'll publish, and it has precious little to do with the writing preferences of many of the writers writing rape stories. I don't see any recognition of that.

I don't see a basic understanding of the dynamics of what they claim they are driving to "scientific" conclusions.

And, again, I hope my taxes aren't helping pay for this.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:58 AM   #89
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That's acadamia for you.

And oh damn, I wish those two clowns Ogi Oggas and Sai Gaddam had been disciplined in a similar way a couple years back.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:48 AM   #90
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Well, then, I think he's grossly overestimating our interest in his project (and the soundness of the data base, variables, and metholodolgy) and it sounds to me like he should find another area of interest to study himself. I sure hope this isn't a government grant funding this nonsense.
There were quite a few comments about the methodology, and several speculating about the motivation behind the project. Some of us thought it might be part of a moral panic campaign, so I'm quite happy to hear that it's not.

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First, what's the deal about consent to be interviewed? These are fake account names. What meaningful "consent" procedure is served by that?
When conducting human-subjects research, it's SOP (and mandatory at any respectable institution) to go through a formal process of establishing informed consent. People here may be using made-up account names, but that is not reliable protection - some are more careful than others about just how much info they give out, and something that's low-risk disclosure on a Lit talk forum could become high-risk in another context.

For instance, if I accidentally divulge too much info here, I can edit it out later and greatly reduce the risk that it'll come back to bite me. But if a researcher promptly collects that info and publishes it elsewhere, that reduces my ability to control that information. So, work of this nature has strict guidelines about what sort of info will be made public.

It's a little like firearms etiquette: even if you KNOW that a particular situation is safe (the gun is unloaded, the person you're interviewing is a privacy expert) you still follow protocol. If you don't, you look unprofessional and people are likely to question your competence and/or your bona fides - which is exactly what happened here.

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Also, a big deal is made about the many rape stories that end up with the victim enjoying it. Well, yes. That's how you get past Web site limits in what they'll publish, and it has precious little to do with the writing preferences of many of the writers writing rape stories. I don't see any recognition of that.
I think he acknowledged that here:

"Literotica uses higher constraints, and quite honestly, were probably more palatable stories. The content of other websites ended up being a bit more extreme than even I thought it would be."
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:02 AM   #91
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A consent form from a fake name is meaningless, Bramblethorn. Just as is drawing conclusions on what an erotica writer likes to write from what they actually post on the Web. A "study" built on this is worthless. An academic should know this.

Again, I hope no valuable grant money (or my taxes) are going to this nonsense.
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:43 AM   #92
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a little bit of your money might be going into it.

But I'll tell you what, if you want my tax money to go in your tax money's place, you can cover my share of one of those things I don't like, like maybe wiretapping, or a bank bailout, or something. Deal?

I'm glad and grateful that Dr. Topolski came back, updated us and shared the data with us. Some of it was unexpected and also rather heartening-- maybe. Data is always worth collecting. IMO, this study's findings have some bearing on some sociological research that i remember hearing about four years ago. it's interesting to see the same phenomenon from a different discipline's POV.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:15 AM   #93
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Dr. Richard Topolski from Augusta State University sure knows how to deliver an object lesson.
He's long-winded, too.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:53 AM   #94
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What is Truth?

No matter how well phrased the original questions might have been, the methodology would always have been dubious.

The members of the Authors' Hangout are a self-selected small minority of those posting stories to Literotica. Those responding to this thread, or to similar threads, have also self-selected themselves.

There is no way that we can be regarded as representative of the complete population of Literotica authors so any conclusions from the 'study' must be anecdotal and not statistically valid.

There are further problems: We are authors of fiction writing under assumed names. What we say in our profiles and the responses we give to the 'researcher's' questions could be as fictional as our stories.

My initial reaction to the original unedited post was that the post-graduate researcher must also be fictional. I am appalled that is not the case. I would expect a survey created by an average 16 year old to have better-framed questions because the questions would have been agreed by the teacher before the student started collecting data.

If sexReseacher IS a post-graduate student and thought that the way the questions were originally put had any academic validity then he/she has done a grave disservice to the reputation of Augusta State.

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Old 12-08-2012, 11:29 AM   #95
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I'm with Ogg. This study is built on quicksand--and if a researcher reaches the graduate level and is phrasing interview questions as the OP did, I have zero regard for whatever education he's had up to this point. I also thought the explanation of the study was patronizing--and probably a bunch of baloney. If someone wants to take comfort in the purported findings on the basis that the findings supported what they already thought, they're not too swift either.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:02 PM   #96
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I'm with Ogg. This study is built on quicksand--and if a researcher reaches the graduate level and is phrasing interview questions as the OP did, I have zero regard for whatever education he's had up to this point. I also thought the explanation of the study was patronizing--and probably a bunch of baloney. If someone wants to take comfort in the purported findings on the basis that the findings supported what they already thought, they're not too swift either.
yeah, that's a real problem with explanations of studies-- they are always patronising. I think someone could do a great service to acadamia by developing a set of protocols and phrases that could be employed to reassure laymen that they are not being talked down to.

Study groups these days, are educated enough to be resentful when they find themselves being studied. It's getting much harder to do decent field reports than it used to be. Even jungle tribes know about the internet

But the findings don't support anything yet. They are just findings.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:22 PM   #97
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A consent form from a fake name is meaningless, Bramblethorn.
Whoever said we were talking about "consent forms"? A signed form is one way to satisfy requirements of informed consent, but it's certainly not the only one.

In this sort of scenario, establishing "consent" is trivial: if you ask somebody for info and they give it to you, they've consented to provide that info. The non-trivial part, where the OP tripped up, is the word "informed".

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The members of the Authors' Hangout are a self-selected small minority of those posting stories to Literotica. Those responding to this thread, or to similar threads, have also self-selected themselves.

There is no way that we can be regarded as representative of the complete population of Literotica authors so any conclusions from the 'study' must be anecdotal and not statistically valid.
Dr. Topolski's post above makes it clear that the conclusions of the study are based on a random sampling of stories from this and other sites, not drawn from the discussion here on the AH.

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If sexReseacher IS a post-graduate student and thought that the way the questions were originally put had any academic validity then he/she has done a grave disservice to the reputation of Augusta State.
I think we're all agreed on that. From Dr. Topolski's posts, it seems clear that he feels the same way about it, and I note that he's acknowledged that the student should've had more guidance.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:33 PM   #98
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You're right that I misconstrued what he meant by "proper consent" in the first concern he posted--and maybe even in the "informed consent" he mentions in his numbered list (but not so much here). I see now that he meant consent for posting the questions in the first mention. I was wrong there. But I'm not so sure I was wrong about the mention of "informed consent" in the numbered list.

Since it was the OP questions themselves that were cockeyed, though, I would have been more interested in having him acknowledge that. Those were really, really stupid questions phrased in a highly biased way. I would be more concerned about that than anything else, if I were the professor. And I wouldn't have anyone on the project and crunching data who had expressed the bias present in the OP. The OP has been erased (but it is quoted in post #3--and I sure hope these weren't the questions formulated by the study team, because as well as being biased, they aren't too great in the grammar department either.) I didn' t see anywhere in the long-winded professor's discussion on this, though, that these were bogus questions rather than ones formulated by the study team. Perhaps I missed that.
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Last edited by sr71plt : 12-08-2012 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:02 PM   #99
oggbashan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
...

Since it was the OP questions themselves that were cockeyed, though, I would have been more interested in having him acknowledge that. Those were really, really stupid questions phrased in a highly biased way. I would be more concerned about that than anything else, if I were the professor. And I wouldn't have anyone on the project and crunching data who had expressed the bias present in the OP. The OP has been erased (but it is quoted in post #3--and I sure hope these weren't the questions formulated by the study team, because as well as being biased, they aren't too great in the grammar department either.) I didn' t see anywhere in the long-winded professor's discussion on this, though, that these were bogus questions rather than ones formulated by the study team. Perhaps I missed that.
Perhaps I'm reading more into the professor's words than you are.

I have the impression that the questions in the OP, and the idea of asking the Authors' Hangout anything, were the student's own idea, unauthorised and irrelevant to the defined study.

If my impression is correct, everything posted in this thread would, and should, be discounted from the findings.

However the professor's words have made me to think about the academic study of rape in the wider sense. For example, rape has been and still is an often used tool of oppression by military forces e.g. in WW2 and the Congo now. The limited study of rape fantasy in fiction might be of limited interest, but the history of rape as a tool of control and oppression would have far more significant application.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:10 PM   #100
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Do you see anything in that long ramble disowning the questions themselves, Ogg? I didn't, and it would influence my thinking about the study if it's there in one of those posts.

Not that my thinking matters, of course. Which is another point. This guy seems to be taking this entirely too seriously.
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