The author of this post is guest contributor Josiah Leong, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. He recently moved to Bloomington after finishing his graduate studies at Stanford University. He is excited to share insights from psychological science with his new community. Below is an unconventional commencement speech that may ring true for some students of psychology.
welcome, students and faculty
welcome family and friends
yes, psychology attracts a lot of voyeurs.
because of course people love learning more about themselves.
just look at the list of best-selling books every year.
yeah people are always copying us.
the computer scientists have been at it for decades.
they’re pleased now that robots can beat humans at games like Go and Starcraft.
but their reinforcement learning models came from behaviorism in the 30s (shout-out Skinner).
and their artificial neural networks came from connectionism in the 70s (shout-out Jay and Rumelhart).
the economists like to copy us too.
they just started trying to measure what psychologists have been measuring for a century:
do they still think humans choose rationally in life and love? how about votes?
of course we hate losing more than we like winning (shout-out Kahneman and Tversky).
so i guess if we learned one thing by studying psychology the past 4 years (more for some of us)
it’s to cite our sources.
most things we say and do have been said and done before.
proper citation is an easy way to stay out of trouble
but APA versus MLA style doesn’t matter.
citing our sources will come in handy for lots of things.
people won’t accuse us of not knowing what we’re talking about
or feel offended by omission.
and when we invent something, we won’t get sued by patent trolls.
well, the lawyers might try anyway.
also, in order to cite sources
we actually have to know sources!
which requires careful research and “deep learning”
fun and useful for their own sake.
even rappers remember to cite their sources.
they shout out to all their homies in the preamble to songs
thanking those who got them through hard times
and inspired words that flow.
kind of like the acknowledgement section of papers and talks.
citing our sources is also great for making friends.
like when we give photo credit to our friends on social media.
humans like to be seen and known.
when we connect people and bridge ideas, we build something bigger than the sum of its parts.
the physicists might call it “emergent network properties”
but it’s basic social psychology (shout-out social psychologists).
most of all, citing our sources will help us remember those who came before us.
the people who built the ground on which we stand
who helped us understand ourselves and others better
and gave us strength to shape the world.
we are in debt to all of them:
the explorers, the gamblers
the podcasters and engineers
the doctors and lawyers and business executives
even the bureaucrats and the robots
definitely our teachers
and the nerds.
always remember the nerds.
so whether we end up working at google, goldman, or the government
i hope we will remember
to remember people.