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A few weeks ago, I asked if you, dear readers would be able to tell the difference between a computer scientist and a serial killer. Now, I’ve seen the crowds at the UW computational biology seminars and I’ve also seen pictures of serial killers in the newspaper. I don’t think it would be easy to tell the difference if you had to rely on looks alone.

I also wondered if some people might be better at this than others.

A surprisingly large number of people (290!) completed the survey. Most people did pretty well and guessed correctly for 6-8 photos. I think this is a little better than you’d expect by random chance.

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The mean scores were pretty similar for all groups.

Occupation

Number responding

Mean score

Life science

IT

bioinformatics

student

 

other

79

81

31

28

 

45

6.92

7.00

6.52

6.39

 

6.58

And the biologists and IT people did about the same!

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I had thought the IT people might have a slight advantage. Surely, they would have seen some of the computer scientists in text books, and recognize them in the survey.

But maybe computer science textbooks are different than the ones we use in biology. Maybe their books are packed with code instead of history and bad yearbook pictures of famous biologists.

Whatever explanation right, the next time I go to a COMBI seminar, I’m sitting close to the door.

Comments

  1. #1 Tony P
    November 12, 2007

    Very interesting breakdown. So I.T. people and life science people are better at telling serial killers from I.T. people. I’ll admit a few of the I.T. guys did look familiar to me.

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