Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 9th, 2009

Article 45

“Main errors and mistakes in controlled experimentations”

This article targets controlled experimentations investigated in the social and psychological sciences or when human participants or living subjects such as animals are used.  The natural physical science experimentations are much more immune to generating random errors or systematic bias errors because these kinds of errors are due principally to the variability of human subjects.

As a reminder, controlled experimentations study the variables/factors that may cause statistically significant effects on the behavior of a set of valid and representative dependent variables in order to validate a theoretical model that describes and defines the processes and the working of a phenomena or a concept. The basis of the analyses of the data obtained in the experiment is to sort out the various types of errors that result from the differences and variety of effects on the behavior of the system/model.  What the scientist wants is the effects of the factors under study and their interactions due to the experimental differences and this can only be done by trying to control errors generated from systematic biases and by accounting for the size of random errors introduced in the experiment due primarily to the changing behavior of the subject/participants from moment to moment, activity to activity, and trial to trial.

            The major step that can achieve this goal is a sound design for the experiment which is basically an experimental structure of the model and a milestone toward the proper direction of the investigation. This planning phase of a formal pattern for collecting observations has 3 principal objectives: first, to identify all the variables that the investigator decided to test, second to decide on the number of subjects and trials to be tested, and third to decide on the techniques for the order and schedule of the experimental trials, primarily to counterbalance the trials sequence in order to control any systematic biases.

            Systematic errors are virulent viruses that can pop up at every step of an experiment. For example, if we were testing the design of bottle lids and the subjects were consistently trying to twist lid #1 and then lid #2 we will have serious doubt if the difference in the observations are not due to fatigue from the effort of opening lid #1, the excitement to exerting more efforts with lid #2, or some other physical or psychological changes in attitudes and expectations. Selecting subjects by not considering their gender, age, skills, level of education and other differences in capabilities and limitations is a serious cause for systematic errors if these variability are not factored in the design.  Procedures and instructions may be sources for systematic errors if they were not properly tested with a different set of subjects for comprehension, clarity, and potential mistakes.  The attitude, voice, and gesture of the investigator may offer the subjects clues that generate systematic errors. The best technique to avoiding systematic errors is to counterbalance trials by using scheduled order of trials; for example the second test would start with lid #2 then lid #1. 

Frequently, counterbalancing technique might be cumbersome, impractical, or not feasible due to lack of participants then the next best technique is to randomize the order of trials or subjects by assigning test trials or the designated subjects according to a list of numbers generated from a mathematically randomized lists of numbers.

Consequently, systematic errors that are the product of biases affect the internal validity of an experiment and the expert investigator’s job is to control the introduction of these systematic biases through counterbalancing or randomization of stimuli, trials, selection of subjects, design of the experiment, testing of instruction materials and procedures. 

            Once systematic errors are strictly controlled then the design of an experiment should yield a measure of the random error (residual) in the experiment due to human variability between trials and between themselves.  The experimental error must come from the same experiment as is used to test the primary factors of interest.

Another problem that can affect the validity of the results of an experiment is when an important factor that can have a substantial effects on the dependent variables/data was not considered or the investigator failed to control its effects; for example, when the products under study are sensible to temperature and the investigator did not conduct the trials within an acceptable range of temperatures.  In such a case, it would be difficult to claim that the relationships are due to the variables manipulated in the experiment or to the variable that was not accounted for; these kinds of invalid experiments are said to have confounding effects.  The investigator has thus to know the subject matter thoroughly in order to avoid dubious results and be candid about his mistakes and offer justifications if the effects of the confounding factor is proven not be significant enough in this particular experiment.  That is why it is important to consider a post experimentation phase targeted at validating any anomalies not designed purposely in the experiment.

Once all the main factors are accounted for the investigator can control the factors that he is not interested to test in his experiment and consequently he will control them either in the setting conditions, the procedures, the instructions, and the selection of the participants.

There are two other types of errors; error of type I is when the investigator does not reject a hypothesis when he should have, and the type II error when the investigator reject a hypothesis when in fact he shouldn’t have.  The power of an experiment is represented by the level of type II error selected:  the least it is the more powerful the experiment is and that is why many subjects are employed or trials are conducted.

While a sound design for an experiment allows the statistical package to compute the various random errors such as the within and the between errors and to decide whether to reject or not reject a hypothesis at a criterion level of statistical significance, eliminating or avoiding the errors of systematic biases and confounding effects of uncontrolled variables are solely the  responsibility of a professional investigator who know the subject matter with a long an practical expertise of conducting controlled experimentations.

472.  Nomads or the transmitters of civilizations; (September 5, 2009)


473.  “The stone of patience” (September 5, 2009)


474.  “Initiate your stuttering boy to kiss with his tongue and …” (September 6, 2009)


475.  “I am hurling my deepest secrets on the magic stone…” (September 7, 2009)


476.  “Bad lovers end up warriors…” (September 8, 2009)

“Bad lovers end up warriors…” (September 8, 2009)


            The man was shot in the neck by a comrade for a stupid angry flare up.  The man was a commander in the front for many years, liberating Afghanistan from the Soviet enemy troops. The man is now in a coma; the mullah said that he will be out of coma within two weeks. The Hero, which means the absent one, is till in bed after 16 days; he lays eyes wide open; his wife is taking care of him. She washes her husband once a day, drops medicine in his eyes three times a day; and changes the serum; serum is not generally available so that she adds salt and sugar in water for serum.

            In a few cultures, people select a black stone to talk to; they pour out their complaints and miseries; the stone is supposed to absorb patiently all their worries, pains, and frustrations. Once the stone is saturated with the secret soul searching of the individual then it chatters and the person is relived and absolved.

            The wife has been reciting one of God’s names everyday; on day 16 she is reciting “Al Qahhar” (The Dominator); she has counted the many times she repeated the name, aided by her rosary of 99 beads;  she repeats the name at nausea until she goes to bed at night. The woman has counted the numbers of rosaries before the water boy knocks at the neighbor’s door; how many times she recited the rosary before the kid on a bicycle drive through chanting “Laiti, Laiti djan, djan, you broke my heart”.  Day 17 is the turn of the name “Al Wahhab” (The Donator).

            The woman has two small daughters; the kids are not to enter their father’s room: he is sleeping and resting. The kids are frequently crying of hunger and fright. The house is quickly becoming a red battle line among the belligerent factions after the Soviet troops retreated to Russia.  When fire and shells intensify this small family scrambles to the “basement” which floods during heavy rain. The father of the Hero was proud of his children while liberating the nation but now he hates them: they are struggling for power.

            The mother of the “Hero” in coma had visited the woman’s family to engage her Hero to the cadet girl; it was not the turn of the cadet to be wed; it was not a problem; the Hero’s mother agreed on the second eldest girl; anyway the man was not to be present during the engagement: he was on the front battling the enemies and he never showed up for three long years.  The eldest girl 12 of age was given to a man of forty when the father failed to win in the quail fight.  The father adored the quails that he raised for the fights and never cared for his family.

            The mother’s Hero decided that her son should be wed after a year of engagement: it was too dangerous to leave the girl free in her parent’s house.  The woman was wed without the presence of her husband; the dagger (khanjar) of the Hero replaced him.  The married girl moved to the husband family for three years until the Hero returned from the war. All the while, the wedded girl was to sleep in the same room with her mother-in-law to guard her chastity; the newly wedded girl never was to set foot outside the house or mingle with her previous girlfriends until she moves out with her husband.

            The wife saw her husband three years out of ten; she saw her man occasionally during these three years. “I am afraid of you” was saying the woman to the man in coma. “The first night I actually saw, heard, and touched you I had my period. My aunt told me not to divulge that fact. You were totally inexperienced in intercourse and you failed many times.  You were proud of my virginity and the blood that came out of me. It was supposed to be “dirty blood” but you had no idea then.  I recall one night, I was soundly asleep and you came in drunk and you violated me; I faked to be sleeping. When you retired from me you saw blood on your tail and you struck me savagely for having my cycle and not warning you!”

            “You never allowed me to touch you when not making love.  You never permitted me to kiss you on the lips as I saw in the Indian movies;” went on the wife. “Now you are all mine and I can speak to you and you have to be listening to me.  When I left last night and removed your water supply hoping that the demon Israel would come and finally fetch you I felt so relieved and sad simultaneously.  Today, I know that I am relieved to see you alive: I can now divulge to you my deepest secrets; you would have killed me if you were healthy and knew all that I did in order to keep you for me”


            “Your brothers are cowards.  They wished that you fall dead on the war front so that they marry me in good conscious according to customs.  When the battle raged in our neighborhood your brothers refrained to take me and your two daughters to safety as long as you were alive.” The wife was confiding to her husband in coma.

            “After my dad gave away my eldest sister of 12 to a man of forty after he lost his bet in quail fights I let his prized quail out of the cage while praying in the mosque on Friday morning before the quail fights. I let the cat eat the quail and watched the cat eat it all.  My father beat every member in the family, including my mother.  I told him that what happened to the quail was the proper punishment.  My father understood what I meant and that I was the culprit.  My mother and sisters had no idea of what I was saying and thought that my punishment was due to my effrontery for retorting to dad.  My father incarcerated me in a dark room in the basement for two days; he let a hungry cat inside to nibble at me; there were so many rats inside that the cat befriended with me.”

            “Your dad asked for me alone when he was dying. He said that he saw the angel Gabriel; that he finally realized that the magic stone of patience was the Kaaba in Mecca; once this black stone inside the Kaaba disintegrates from the millions of complaints and confessions of the pilgrims then it would be the Day of Judgment”


            “Three militia fighters entered my house.  The leader asked what I do. I said that I sell my body to survive. He got very angry and said “Don’t you feel ashamed saying it?” I replied “Do you mean whether I am ashamed of admitting it or practicing it?” The fighter said “They will lapidate you to death if you admit it; aren’t you afraid?” 

            The leading man recited a verse of the Koran and said “Allah, Al-Rahman! Al Mueen! In the name of Allah protect me from Satan”.  The fighters left this impure house.  “They would have raped me if I were a “correct and proper” girl.  I know these types of men.  Fucking a whore is no prize for them; it is merely a transaction.  Raping a virgin girl is like raping her honor and they go for defaming people’s honor. Yes, my husband, my stone of patience now, you may meditate what I am recounting you. Oh my syngue sabour, I had so many secrets to tell you to relieve my soul.  You never gave me an opportunity to talk to you.  You were scared of talking to me. Now you have no exit and you will listen to all that I have to say.”

            Two days later, the youngest of the fighters, the one who stutters, asked me “How much?”  I understood and his gun on my stomach convinced me to agree.  He had a terrible time removing my trousers.  I had to remove mine and his. He ejaculated prematurely on my thighs. I caressed his long hair and told him “This is not a grave matter. All men do the same the first time.” 

            I recalled our first year together.  You could not full it off.  At the time I had no experience. I thought it is in the nature of things that man enjoys and that we women are satisfied with men feeling happy satiated.  One night, I was enjoying myself and you woke up at my muffled screaming.  I told you that I have the fever and you believed me.  You told me to join my daughters in the next room.”

            I told my aunt the story of the young fighter and she said “Next time you have to initiate your adolescent boy properly; bad lovers ends up worriers.  Make sure that your stutterer kisses with his tongue and speak with his tail”


            “You forbade me to see my aunt. You are all in the wrong. You know nothing of my beautiful and loving aunt.  She was married at the age of 12 to a dirty old man.  My aunt could not give him offspring and she was sent as slave to her in-laws. Since she was sterile her father-in-law abused of her sexually, day and night, for years. One day she broke her father-in-law’s skull with an axe.  My aunt left a short letter that she committed suicide and disappeared.  I was 14 of age when I never saw her again.  I found her three years after my marriage; she is taking care of my two young daughters when all your coward brothers refused to aid me in my predicaments.”

            “You see, my adolescent boy of a lover is a quick learner. I am teaching him properly.  You never wanted to learn.  You considered me as mere flesh; you would say “Hide your flesh woman”.  If I had tried to initiate you to the proper love making you would have broken my face.  You were and still are so naïve and stupid on the matter of the flesh.  You would say “It is my soul that gives me honor; it is my honor that protects my soul”.  Well, your soul is now overhanging in that pocket of perfusion administering serum to your lousy body. Now it is your body judging your soul.”

            “You see, this eldest militia man who spit on my face because I lied to him when I said that I am a whore to avoid being raped, well he is a bastard.  My adolescent of a lover is being used as his sex slave; in the evening he shackles my lover’s feet with little bells to dance for him; this bastard is burning my lover’s body which is covered by bruises all over”


            The fighting ceased for two days.

            The dogs are howling: They are hungry.

            There are no cadavers on the streets


            My father-in-law told me a Hadith. He said “The Prophet Muhammad, before he started disseminating his message, was convinced that he is going mad. He told his first and rich wife Khadija that he was hearing voices coming out of stones and that a giant with head reaching to the sky was appearing to him. Khadija asked him to warn her when the giant re-appears. One night at home Muhammad screamed; the giant was standing in front of him.  Khadija approached Muhamad to her bosom and said “Is the giant still standing?” Muhammad said “yes”.  Khadija removed her shawl and let her long hair drop to her shoulders and said “Is the giant still around?”  Muhammad said “No, he left”.  Khadija then said “Don’t worry.  This is no demon. He is an angel.  If he were a demon (Shaitan) he would have not respected my nakedness.  My father-in-law resumed “It is Khadija that was the true prophet; she revealed to Muhammad the sense of his prophesy, cured his bewitching visions, and saved him from the satanic sham”

            “You were sterile my man; my aunt knew the Wiseman who arranged that I get pregnant twice so that I may keep you to me. The Wiseman used to be my aunt’s pimp and he selected an inexperienced young man to do the job; the man entered with a band over his eyes; he was not to see me; we made sex in a dark room and with our cloths on. I had to guide him to perform sex. Do you know my man what is the last name of Allah?  It is exactly The All Patient (Al Sabour).  You are the last of God’s names in you actual physical state and I am your prophet, revealing my secrets and sharing them with you, my syngue sabour.”


            “I have been hurling my deepest secrets on the magic stone, my husband in coma. My aunt forbade me to divulge my secrets to the spiritual Hakim (the Wiseman) or the mullah because I am pretty much normal; my talking is dictated to me from Above. The black stone of patience is disintegrating.  I am not possessed by a demon.  The voices that come out of me have been silenced for thousands of years.    I am another prophet who has been revealed many secrets and I am disseminating the message.  The All Powerful Al Jabbar, it is I.  The All Merciful Al Rahim, it is I.”



Note: I have already published four posts on the French manuscript “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by Atiq Rahimi.  I am regrouping the four book review articles in one post. The Iranian Rahimi published several books in French such as “Earth and ashes”, “The thousand houses of dream and of terror”, and “The imaginary return”.




September 2009

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