Sunday, January 24, 2010


Bad, bad science. Just...bad

From, linked to by a recent Guardian article...


We have compared your answers with people who have been diagnosed with sex addiction. Your answers HAVE MET a score on basis of six the criteria that indicate sex addiction is present. To help you understand, the graphic below plots your score in relation to the scores of others.

In addition there are certain subscales to further confirm that a problem exists. The following patterns emerged in your answers:

· A profile consistent with men who struggle with sexually compulsive behavior
· A profile consistent with women who struggle with sexually compulsive behavior

The SAST measures key characteristics of addiction. The following dimensions of an addictive disorder appeared in your answers:

· Preoccupation: obsessive thinking about sexual behavior, opportunities, and fantasies
· Relationship disturbance: sexual behavior has created significant relationship problems
· Affect disturbance: significant depression, despair, or anxiety over sexual behavior

You've taken the test and it confirmed your fears. You're probably frightened, confused, and overwhelmed. Where do you go? Whom can you trust?...."

The graph won't reproduce here, so I shall describe it. X axis is "SAST core score" from 0 to 20. Y axis is unlabelled, 0 to 0.20.

There are two curves plotted; non addicts, which starts at around (0,0.18) and goes in a wonky fashion down to hit the x axis at around (11,0) . Addicts, which starts at (0,0) and increases smoothly to reach (11, 0.05), then rises steeply to peak at (15, 0.15) and falls sharply down to (19,0).

These curves cross at around (7.5, 0.05).

I have a problem with the Y axis. The two curves both peak at around 0.15 and cover roughly the same area under each curve. Which suggests at first sight that there must be roughly equal numbers of addict and non-addict participants in the data set. But according to the webpage, estimates of numbers of addicts range from 3% to 6% of the population. So is the data set seriously skewed, or is this being plotted on two different scales?

The areas under each curve are going to approximate to roughly 1 (xthingtimesything) so I am going to conclude that the Y axis reflects the percentage of each population that record each score.

There are some tentative conclusions that one can draw from this graph, without needing to even consider whether the actual diagnoses behind the data are crap.

Firstly, the scores for non addicts fall in the range between 0 and 11. The scores for addicts fall in the range between 0 and 19. It is not therefore possible to draw any firm conclusion from a score between 0 and 11.

Secondly, the score of 6, which generates the rather exciting message above, comes out on the 0.025 point for the addicts scale and 0.08 for the non addicts scale. Which I thought at first meant that a score of 6 is three times more likely to belong to a non addict than an addict.

But it's better than that, of course. Because we are presumably dealing with very different size data sets. Assuming, generously, that there are 90 non addicts in the data for every 10 addicts (a 10% addiction rate). If there were 1000 participants, then there would be 900 non addicts, and 8% of them would score 6. Say 72 of them. Of the 100 addicts, 2.5% would score 6. Say 3.

So a random person comes along and takes this test, and scores 6. Does the website helpfully explain that while the results cannot possibly be conclusive there is only a 4% chance that someone scoring 6 is a sex addict?

Oddly enough, No.

You've taken the test and it confirmed your fears. You're probably frightened, confused, and overwhelmed. Where do you go? Whom can you trust?...."

Not a clue. But I know who you can't. Hello, Noted psychologist and author Dr Patrick Carnes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This is terribly self indulgent I know but...

To me, re online RPG,

"Hey! We hope you're feeling better.

It's getting close to the switch, and we had some concerns. You haven't messaged us to say that you're not going to be ready to resume playing, and so we have assumed you do intend to start again. But while R..... was substituting for you, she was more active and engaged than you had been prior, as a player, and we'd really like to see that level of activity continue. She frequently engaged other players - in threads, or in planning - and was active in working to move the plot forward and develop character relationships. This helped other players, who interacted with and depended upon Robin, and in turn, helped the overall game.

If you don't think that you can participate to this degree, please let us know, so that we can give the character away permanently.We don't mind giving breaks when they are needed, but we expect a certain amount of posting to be maintained, especially as Robin is such an important character. We'd like to see you interacting with other players and replying promptly in threads every few days, at least. If in two weeks, you haven't posted much, we'll talk to you again.

If you would like to return to play a different, less-involved character, you are more than welcome. Stepping down as Robin will not be counted against you should you re-apply as another character.

Please take some time to think this over before getting back to us. The switch is due to occur on November 25th, right as the Michaelmas ball is getting underway. We wish you the best of luck, and we want to support you whatever your decision.

-the mods"

The reply I should send;

"Dear Mods,

Thank you for your remarkably pompous and obviously committee-written email. Given that I know all four of you relatively well, I would suggest that you might want to consider sending future emails from a person on behalf of the Mods, unless you really find the pseudo-anonymity comforting. And those of you who consider yourselves writers- think again.

I am pleased that my substitute proved such a roaring success, particularly in view of my own inadequacies. It was clearly the right decision for you to suspend me from the game for a month on being told that I would be unable to play for a few days. Something resembling consultation might have been appreciated, but you did at least tell me after the arrangements were made.

I am somewhat surprised to hear that she has been actively moving the plot forward. I have been reading the various threads as zealously as I could stomach, given their tendency to dire sentimentality, and I have not been able to detect very much in the way of a plot to move in any direction. In the two months or so that the game has been running, in many hundreds of posts, the ever increasing number of characters have not between them been able to generate enough plot for moderate length short story, nor any sort of challenge to the players or characters. Of course the last few weeks may not be typical, as they have been taken up almost entirely with people deciding what clothes their characters should wear to the Ball , Guy almost having sex with Marian, and most players inventing a new character or two to go with the ones they already have, because more is obviously better.

However I can see that the players are entirely happy to spend the next year or so having their multiple characters meet up, talk to each other, posture a bit, fail to meaningfully engage in any way, part and meet up again in slightly different combinations. I understand that this is what you mean by character development. In my 25 years of roleplaying I have played in a number of successful, less successful and seriously experimental games but I have never encountered one which resembled a circle jerk quite so closely.

I will therefore be taking up your kind offer to throw me out. You will be pleased to know that your vague threat to "talk to me again" if I don't do it right in the next couple of weeks will be unnecessary. It is exceptionally kind of you to offer not to hold Robin against me if I wanted to play a minor character, but I suspect playing a minor character would be even less interesting than this has been so far. I seen to remember that you couldn't find a player for Robin originally, which was why I was asked to get involved, but now your game is such a raging success I'm sure you'll have no difficulty in finding someone with the right attitude, a massively overblown writing style and a healthy dose of self-obsession to take my place.

I await your support for me in my decision with interest. Please let me know what form this is going to take."

What I'm actually going to say;

"Thank you for your email. I don't think I'm going to be able to give the game the commitment that you're looking for so I will bow out,"

But I feel better for typing the first one, anyway!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



is a massive affront to my civil liberties.

Not that anyone seems to care.

Friday, April 10, 2009


So things aren't going quite so well..

Work is turning out to be more difficult than I anticipated; utter exhaustion and fuzzy head have contributed to a couple of days of giving up and going home. But I have cut down on the anti-ps and hope to sort it out. If not will have to stay off a little longer- I should not be in the office in that state because I am failing to understand what's going on.

Nice things; it was a good walk at the weekend. And I have a beautiful new phone/camera which I have had to sign my life away for but does all sorts of clever stuff that I will never remember it does so never use. But it's a much better camera than our current one and fits in a pocket so hopefully the "shall I take a camera" dilemma will not rear its head. (Sony Erikkson Cybershot, in case anyone's interested). And it picks up my emails and does web stuff which is utterly cool. I love technological advances. I'm having some trouble with the bit that only takes a picture if you smile- it's having trouble recognising me as human let along smiling.

And we are due to play Le Havre tonight for the first time, if I can get my dodgy head around the rules. And its Dr Who tomorrow AND Robin Hood.

I've finally got a decent two page synopsis for Invictus- it took months to write that! And first draft of a covering letter. Taking it all very seriously, you can see... Or at least playing along.

Thursday, April 02, 2009



Did the work thing today. BACK IN SOLIHULL HURRAH! Mainly admin but I did do one very small but important thing that no-one else understood so I feel that I earned my salary (but possibly not my salary since September. Oh well>)

Off to Northumbria tomorrow am; Spouse is throwing discs and I am walking, and we are both camping. (Son is behaving himself in the house for three days on his own. Of course) I'm still on lots of anti-psychotics after the little daffodil eating event last week so won't try to walk too far, but if I can get dropped off on the far side of the moor I can do some proper walking over the top.

Still editing. Had some really useful feedback which has improved the first few chapters no end (motivations are now clearer on one side at least.) One day I will finish with Invictus and then I shall find something else to do with my life. Read maybe- I haven't read a novel in months. I have been writing some slash, just to keep distracted, and have been assured that I do creepy better than everyone else, which I think is a compliment but which made me wonder if it was all quite right. But if that's how it turns out then one can only go with the flow.

What else have I been doing? Watching 1st series Torchwood on HD. Captain Jack was definitely better when he wasn't a people person. Had much fun with weird Robin Hood fans leading up to the new series of that, which may be good and does at least have higher production values than the previous two. Doing Rubik's cubes. Cleaning out my fishtank weekly- pH is now a reasonable 6.5. Making stuff with the breadmaker and doing more real cooking. Sleeping well (daytime) and badly (night) Completing a llama flag for Glastonbury. Playing a fair few boardgames and almost understanding the rules to Le Havre.
Eating daffodils and spending much time trying to explain why to people at NHSDirect (daffodils are not as toxic as they'd like you to think. I suspect a government conspiracy) Walking in the spring sunshine. Stuff. Saw Watchman, liked it.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The government being outrageous again...

I've just been reading up on the new Welfare Reform Bill. Apparently the Bill gives advisors the power to require some benefit claimants to engage in activities, including activity related to the stablisation of a person's circumstance, or lose their benefit.

So if I lose my job (which will happen sooner or later) I can be forced to take meds or start psychotherapy, not even by a doctor, but by some spotty oik at the Job Centre. Wonderful.

This government amazes me.

It's all irrelevant anyway because employers won't take on people with severe mental illness no matter what sticks and carrots you apply to the job seeking person. All it does is harrass people for no effect.

Oh, and we all get work related interviews. I can see how that goes- if you're depressed you just don't turn up and if you're high you persuade the interviewer that you're absolutely fine and could be working tomorrow...


Never mind. Back at work on Thurs, hopefully.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


What have I been doing?


Being ill. Being quite a lot ill, in fact. Rather more dramatically than I have been for years and with mood changes every few days for the last month or so. The medical professions response has been to put me on ever increasing quantities of anti-psychotics, which I have managed somehow to carry on being high on, although I think now I have a suitable dose for a small elephant and it is slowing me down at last. Looks like I shall have to stay on some permanently since I just get high far too often to function well at the moment. Whether this will be work-compatible we shall have to see.

Haven't been working, obviously. I did try to do some work from home last week but all outright determination produed was the sort of internal conflict which gets settled in an Emo teenager sort of way with bloodshed. So not doing that again; septicemia would just about finish me off at the moment. And it stressed Beloved out excessively, which is to be avoided. So work will have to wait, or retire me.

On the not being ill front, things have happened. My new fishtank is now up and very pretty, and full of fish and expensive artificial plants. Having the fish in the living room is wonderul; I can just watch them not dying, which is remarkably peaceful, The tank chemistry is very slowly sliding towards where I want it to be, though the fish are swimming round in something as acidic as tomato juice at the moment.

Kittens have just come back from the vets and now hopefully won't spray... They are still adorable and friendly, and Wy loves them a lot, strangely.

I've been writing some slash, having discovered the enthusiastic audience for way over the NC-17 rating fics. I did buy a book of gay erotica just to check that I was doing it right, and apparently I am, so that was reassuring :-)

My beta reader and I have reached Chapter 9 of Invictus and we are arguing about the necessity for literary artifice. He wants some, I don't. Fortunately it's my book so I win. I am playing around with rewriting it in the first person, since all that would require would be grammatical changes- I've written it so tightly one person POV that it is to all intents and purposes first person anyway. I have decided that it is a remarkable novel- no matter how many people I send it to no-on ever reports actually reading any of it. I'm sure there is a name for this phenomenon (apart from "unreadable") but I don't know what it might be.

I went to visit Stafford Castle today to tidy up on some background stuff- a beautiful spring morning and very helpful staff. The wooden keep in 1207 was apparently rather larger than I had expected.

Bulgaria! Knew there was some vaguely exciting news! Son and I are going on a trip, Sept or maybe Oct half term, the current plan is to fly to Sofia, take the train to Velika Turnovo, visit the medieval palace that also features heavily in the novel, then catch the Trans Balkan Express (sleeper service) down to Athens and potter round there for a few days, then fly home. It is very exciting and so far I have learned 6 letters of the Bulgarian alphabet (Athens should be full of English speakers but I'm not sure that random Bulgarian town is going to be quite as easy...) I haven't been to Eastern Europe and I love the idea.

I find it rather depressing when people talk about their foreign holidays and they end up talking to people who have been exactly the same place about which cafes they had coffee in. If I'm going somewhere I want it to be somewhere that other people haven't been. I'm pretty sure that Veliko Turnovo is going to fit that description perfectly (Bulgaria probably fits that description, or at least outside the ski resorts)

This will involve me having to ring Bulgaria to sort out train tickets at some point, so hopefully someone in their international rail department speaks English.. I don't think I know anyone who speaks Bulgarian.

What else? Restocked my food cupboards with a resolution to stop eating ready meals. Currently have enough food for about 90 meals. Made pizza dough in the breadmaker- wondered why i bother buying pizzas. Made choc chip ginger biscuits. Think I may end up putting all the weight I lost back on.

Robin Hood series 3 still fails to arrive but as some consolation I am going to an online CAPSLOCK RH party tonight- a load of slash-fan women all simultaneously watch Ep 1 S1 and scream in CAPS about it to each other. The twenty first century's when it all happens.... how did we live without all this stuff before?

I shall probably watch the Watchmen even though it's 20 years since I read the comic and I have no real recollection of it.

Being Human was great and is now finished. But another season is promised.

That will do.

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