Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well my computer says you're an idiot so it must be true

At work, in order to see research participants (i.e. "human subjects") you have to be certified. So when I was hired, I was certified. Certification lasts for three years, and in that time you have to receive 12 continuing education credits in order to be recertified. There is an on-line system where you can track your progress, and I log in to check every once in a while and last I checked I was at 9 credits. On Tuesday, I logged in because I was realizing I only have two months before my three years are up and I need to have earned the total 12 credits. So I'm looking at the list of seminars they offer and I happen to glance up and then get all confused because the system seems to be indicating that I have earned NO continuing education credits. None. In three years. Like I said, this was confusing to me because, a) I was with me when I went to previous seminars, so I know I went to them, and b) I have checked this system over the years, and previously the number had been less like zero and more like 9. Which is greater than zero. And closer to 12.

So I call the lady in charge and she's just a real sweetheart; competent and willing to help. But it is CLEAR that the most she is willing to believe is that I went to some seminars and forgot to sign in. She's going to help me get my credits for the ones I attended (assuming I can remember that seminar on informed consent I went to in February of 2007) but REPEATEDLY reminds me that from now on I need to remember to sign in.

I understand. It's her system. She believes in her system. But I know me. I went with myself to the seminars. I reminded myself to sign it. I watched when I checked the on-line system. So I believe myself when I say, the system is wrong. That's not what happened. Not only did I go, and sign it, but it was entered into the system and reflected in the count . . . until it wasn't. But the lady can "tell me for a fact" that there is no way that there were ever any credits entered into the on-line system. She tells me this for a fact and I want to push her off a cliff. Or a tall hill. Because, like I said, she is helping me, quickly and pleasantly. But she doesn't BELIEVE me.

And maybe you don't either. I mean, we are all kind of inclined to believe the system, aren't we? You're probably sitting there thinking, well, I'm glad it worked out for Beth, she seems like a nice person and I'm glad she's not going to lose her certification. But next time she should sign in like everybody else.

Someday computers are going to take over. And we are so going to lose that fight. Because somebody will be all like, hey, "I used to have money and a family and a home and the computer TOOK it all!" And we'll look it up on-line and it will say, "Computers have never taken families or money or homes. Don't worry about it!" and then will tell the first dude, "sorry dude, I googled it and that didn't happen."

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