Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest Post from Bracket Challenge

We have our guest post from the bracket challenge, and I can't wait to read it. Clayton teamed up with some other law students to provide our readers with a little entertainment for their Tuesday afternoons. It seems that the post is split into two parts and I can't wait to read them both. Congratulations again to Clayton for winning our bracket challenge!

PART 1: Unspaced Text and Interferences with Cognitive Processing
By: Nick Stabile 


When presented with unspaced words, the brain handles them in multiple ways as it attempts to find syntactic meaning (the physical layout of letters on a page to make words) and cognitive meaning (the linguistic or definitional familiarity of the words).  The present study examined the role that a blog’s URL address (aroundtheres.blogspot.com) had on visitors’ perceptions of the blog name (Around The Res).

Method and Participants

The one-question survey was posted publicly on social networking websites (i.e., Facebook, Twitter).  The survey was made available from 10:00am on Sunday, April 3, 2011 until 10:00am on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.  All respondents were self-selected.  IP addresses of respondents were logged to eliminate multiple answers from the same individual.

Respondents were presented with the character string “aroundtheres” and asked to select which of two interpretations was the most instinctively natural: “Around Theres” or “Around The Res.”  Answer choices were listed vertically and the order switched for each respondent so as to eliminate any potential presentation bias.  The name or existence of the blog was not mentioned in either the posting of the survey or in the question itself. 

A total of 69 respondents participated in the study.  A preliminary survey of the same nature was taken on Saturday, April 2 to gauge effectiveness; this data is included in the results.

Figure 1.  Total responses to survey broken down by response.

Figure 2. Plot of survey responses over duration of survey availability.

As Figure 1 indicates, a majority of respondents instinctively perceived the character string as “Around Theres.“  Figure 2 illustrates the responses to the survey over the duration of its availability.  The majority of responses were collected at the outset, with participation gradually declining until the closing of the survey.


Interestingly, the “Around Theres” interpretation exceedingly prevailed despite two countervailing conditions: (1) the non-presence of the word “Theres” in the English language, and (2) a potential local bias favoring “Around The Res” from members of the BC community that may have participated in the study.  This suggests that, since “Around There” is a somewhat common phrase, in contrast to the relative obscurity of “Around The Res,” the fact that the string contained an “s” at the end did not affect perception of the latter half of the string as “There,” and, by extension, “Theres.”

A somewhat troubling issue is the erratic nature of the “Around The Res” responses over time (Figure 2).  While the majority response, “Around Theres”, exhibited a smooth, predictable rise and decline correlating with general awareness of the survey, the responses for “Around The Res” did not follow this trend.  Of particular note is the April 4 point, where “Around Theres” sharply declines while “Around The Res” sees an inexplicable resurgence.  This behavior is arguably within the realm of normal variation; however, Around The Res creators and contributors were aware of the survey and its goals, and attempted data manipulation/sample bias cannot be discounted.  These minor inconsistencies do not detract from the strength of the overall findings.

It is likely that increased awareness of “Around The Res” could be accomplished by modifying the URL of the blog to more accurately reflect the separate words.  When confronted with an ambiguous character string such as “aroundtheres”, the brain has to deal with two issues: syntax and cognitive processing.  The human mind has a natural tendency to achieve its cognitive tasks with the most minimal effort possible.  On the first issue, the brain sees one block of characters, which would otherwise be one word.  Its natural tendency, therefore, is to make sense of it by breaking it up into as few smaller words as possible.  On the second issue, the brain looks for the most familiar way in which to process the characters, which, as indicated above, is based off of the common phrase “Around There.”

PART 2: Somehow Making This Post Relevant to a BC Sports Blog
By: Molly Clayton

Now that we have sufficiently undermined the validity of this blog’s name, I have to somehow relate this post to BC sports.   I had “morning coffee” (exchanged text messages) with the following footballs players, and in their state of perplexity regarding a blog with a name that doesn’t make sense they revealed the following facts.

Things you definitely didn’t know about BC football players:

- Mark Herzlich:  He was in the Junior Paddle Tennis National Finals and played saxophone in jazz band in middle school.  (We get it, Mark, you’re good at everything.)

- James McCluskey: When he was a kid he ripped off the whole bottom of his tongue as a result of sticking it to a pole like in the movie A Christmas Story.  He also dressed up as Lenny Kravitz for Halloween and tricked his grandparents into thinking he was his mom’s new boyfriend.  Easy mistake.

- Codi Boek:  Was a BMX national champion at age 9.  At age 11 he joined the end of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and did an Irish jig for 10 blocks.  People thought he was supposed to be there.  His attention-seeking ways continued into high school when during a scavenger hunt he let a little kid kick him as hard as possible in the balls while his friends recorded it.  Great idea.  (I would like to include the fact that when Codi was first asked for an embarrassing and random tidbit about himself he responded with – “The most embarrassing thing about me is that I date Molly Clayton.” – I think that speaks wonders about my personality.)

- Chris Fox:  He has webbed feet.  If his webbed feet are any indication that he is not fully human, it may explain why he has a strange bond with animals.  He once pulled over on the side of the road to aid a wounded raccoon – which promptly bit him.

- Ryan Lindsey:  Refuses to use any run of the mill body lotion.  His preference?  Only the best of course – Johnson’s baby lotion or Cocoa Butter.

- Alex Albright:  Never let anything from his childhood go, and is still obsessed with Ninja Turtles.

- Mark Spinney:  For a very large man, he is surprisingly good at cartwheels.  He has a passion for doing multiple cartwheels in a row on the beach - the sight of a large man with such dexterity disturbing families all over the east coast.

- Damik Scafe:  Did ballet during his childhood, dressing up as a toy soldier and sailor in his recitals.  But, his ballet skills didn’t last long – he got excited when he saw his grandma in the audience and yelled hi, apparently ruining the show.

- Billy Flutie: At age 5 he rocked a mullet that not even Brett Michaels could compete with.  As a matter of a fact, he used to pretend he was Brett Michaels singing Poison songs around his house.

- Michael Morrissey:  As a child he used to ride around on a bike with a fishing pole attachment so that no matter where he was, he could always go fishing.  One time when he wasn’t fishing/pretending to be Huckleberry Finn, he cried to his mother that he never wanted to go to college because he didn’t want to leave her.  I guess that’s a little cute… maybe.  Not really.

- Mike Marscovetra:  At the age of 9 he was the only boy in a 22-person gymnastics class.  If picturing that isn’t funny enough for you, imagine this: He once ran into a furniture store at the mall because he saw a bed he wanted to jump on.  But, he didn’t see the glass wall in front of it – which he hit at full speed.

The Grand Finale…

- Jordon McMichael:  Played tenor saxophone for 12 years and used to be a Jehovah’s Witness.  If that’s not weird enough, when he was very young he used to eat his brother’s boogers.  BUT, don’t judge him too soon… he was actually an adorable child.  So adorable that he was chosen to be a child model.  The young face of Jordon McMichael was displayed prominently on a billboard in Minneapolis with the words “Not every child who skips a meal is on a diet… Feed the Need.”  If that’s not enough for you, while a junior at BC Jordon saw signs around campus for a Halo themed party in the mods.  Being an avid Halo player, he dressed up in a complete, head to toe Halo costume and showed up to the party, ready to meet some fellow gamers.  The Halo “party” consisted of a viewing of the foreign film “Halo,” and ten students looking very confused as to why a giant video game character was in their mod.  And no, I did not make ANY of that up. 


  1. Best Around Theres post to date.

  2. there's more sports in this entry than in the history of Around Theres

  3. Best inside look at BC football that BC fans have ever had

  4. Loved all the background info on the players..got more out of this blog than listening to an ESPN sports announcer!

  5. I loved this...great job Nick and Molly!

    Somehow I get the feeling Around Theres is gonna become a running joke around heres (see what I did there?)

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