The Sneaky Wizard

Voice Card  -  Volume 10  -  John Card Number 14  -  Fri, Nov 10, 1989 2:20 AM

This is a response to Vol 10 Roger 3 ("Mr. Wizzard")...


I did some soul searching before launching my secretive telemetry experiment last spring, and I wondered if anyone would be offended. The problem is that I wanted honest data about how people really read voice cards, and if I tipped everyone off beforehand it might affect their behavior.

This is a problem often encountered by psychologists: accurate data collection sometimes requires sneakiness. When I was a psych major my professors suggested the following ethical guidelines: it is OK to be sneaky as long as you tell all when the experiment ends. The subjects should be told what the experiment was about and why subterfuge was necessary. And under no conditions should you subject anyone to anything harmful or even troubling.

Gathering a few reading times seemed harmless enough, so I went for it with the understanding that I would reveal all and would not engage in any further experiments until everyone had a chance to approve. I would have announced my findings sooner, but I was distracted by a certain woman.

So what do you think? Should we try more telemetry experiments some day? Can any of you think of some facet of Archipelago that you would like to study in this way?