Monday, February 28, 2005
On Friday, I was crabby after blogging and Saturday too. I practically tortured that one guy who hangs out with me and even my cats were like, Hey, stop being such a bitch.
I took Sunday off and today I have renewed clarity.
Why on earth are we even having this conversation? Is it really fair that after all of this work women have put in to gain the ability to vote and own property and make their own decisions that we are being forced to defend our gender? In fact we aren't even having to defend ourselves from bigots and old men with "traditional" values. We are having to defend ourselves from science.
Women today have struggled to reach a place where they can work side by side with men as equals. Unfortunately though this is now possible it is not as common as we would like it to be. Women feel constrained by the demands of family is a commen thread in giving reasons for the "glass ceiling" (Why don't the men take some time off to raise the kids too? Why is it only the women? Good thing I hate rugrats.)
Let us go backwards oh, 50 years to 1950. How many women were working in the labor force then? This article from the BLS has a nice graph that shows us that for some age groups the proportion of women in the labor force has more than doubled. In my opinion that is not bad for 50 years work.
Going further backward oh another 50 years to when women in the US couldn't vote, in fact here is a timeline of Women's sufferage throughout the world. We were still trying to get our say in the world's governments as equals, forget the workplace.
I could go on and on about how throughout the 2000 years before this in most places women were treated as property and had no rights of their own. But I wont because we all know this already and it has only been in the last 200 years that we have reached a place even close to equality in education and opportunities. And I refuse to be told after all of the work that all of these women and more have done through the past 200 years is for naught because some scientist saw on some brain scan that I'll never be able to understand calculus as well as a man.
I hope that this breif conflict does not damage all of the work that has been done over the last 200 years. I hope that women take it as a sign that we need to work harder, and encourage our daughters to be mathematicians, physicists and engineers so that by the end of the next 200 years no man would even think to consider the idea that women are not their equals.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
(Today's headline award goes to an article on this VERY stale subject Are women cut out to be scientists? Yes we are, Asshole)
But here is a bit of good reporting from the NYT!
Dr. Ivie said the main reason fewer women made it to the top in physics was simply that fewer started at the bottom. At each job level, she said, the fraction of women matched what would be expected for women advancing at the same rate as men. And at top-tier universities, the percentage of female physics professors is low because many current professors earned their Ph.D.'s in the 1970's or earlier, when the field was almost entirely male, and have not yet retired.
Instead, the sex disparity arises earlier in the pipeline, between high school and college. Nearly half of students taking high school physics are girls, but fewer than a quarter of the bachelor's degrees in physics go to women.
So yeah, this seems like a fairly valid conclusion, at least it shows that there is no evidence to support Mr. Summer's claim that the lack of female faculty in physics is due to lack of innate ability or lack of desire to work 80 hours per week.
Unfortunately this study is not valid in all scientific disciplines, which is also mentioned in the NYT.
Dr. Ivie said the situation appeared to be different in at least some other sciences, like chemistry, where women earn a larger percentage of doctoral degrees but leave academia at a higher rate than men.
NYT, you get a gold star.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
(I would like to make a side note here and say how amazingly unreadable the information I've found on this is and that I'm sifting through it to see what I can see, but it is agonizing, I will post more detail later. The study itself isn't online yet.)
The Washington Post article has good quotes if you read the entire article. Boiling down all of the different aspects of child welfare to one number can severely skew any data simply by the different numbers that go into any given indicator. Like a survey this data is based on the judgement of a group of individuals and so some information will be lost in the attempt to make it an easy to use index. There could be very significant racial differences, or differences due to population density but we can't see any of this because it has all been wrapped up into one number. Which is pretty, and neat, but almost everbody looks okay from 100 yards away.
Well overall everything is great, that's good, now what? This study could have completely glossed over the plight of one group by saying that "everything evens out" and so now any group that actually is hurting will have more trouble drawing attention to it because everyone can site this study an prove how rosy everything is. I do think that it is about time people stopped trying to out victim the other side and find ways to help everyone regarldess of whose life is worse. (Reminds me of highschool "I have so much homework'" "NO you don't I have AP AND Calculus!" Wah) But that doesn't mean we should make it so easy for ourselves and sum everything up into a neat little package of pure joy. Chances are if things look rosy you are missing something.
But I especially like the last quote in the MSNBC article from David Sadker
"We all know the guys are going on to make more money."
No headline award yet. Maybe tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
The "study" can be read here. I found reading this document frustrating as at least the first part seems like lots of propaganda and it doesn't contain things that I would like to know. So readers I encourage your be wary. Here are some questions I would like answered. In the study they compared their results to a 1998 study.
- They compare all of this data to 1998, why 1998, was this the last time they conducted this study? If not, what did the results of the surveys in between look like?
- How did they select their sample, how was this the same or different from sample selection in 1998?
- Can I see the survey itself, Can I see the 1998 survey?
- What demographic data did they collect? (One that I would find interesting would be the DARE program, which students had participated in that and what their parent's response was.)
They seem to be making a connection between the high levels of teen drug use in 1979 and parental drug use, but I couldn't find any numbers telling me how many of these parents reported to have use marijuana and what their use statistics were. These statistics would be important to support their hypothesis that these parents are more mellow about drug use because they have used them themselves. While the data from 1979 is interesting, it is old data and their might be issues that arise in comparing it. Why not just ask the parents?
Also, in bold caps on their report it says "Only 1/3 of teens say they learn a lot about the risk of drugs from their parents." And apparently parental teaching is key. I would like to point out the word "a lot" in this phrase. Define a lot? Also, if 2/3rds of these kids have taken DARE, what are the odds that they would say they learned a lot from their parents, they might still have talked to their parents about it, but the amount of education involved in the DARE program might have skewed their definition of a lot.
- What other possible explanations are there for the significant change in parental attitudes?
- Do these changes in attitudes coincide with changes in attitudes towards sex or other similar behaviors?
- Could it be because more students are participating in anti-drug programs at school and after school programs?
- Also were there significant geographic differences in the results of this study urban v. rural etc?
- What percentage of the parents surveyed reported having ever tried marijuana themselves? How is this different from 1998?
How have these views changed on a yearly basis? (if the data is available)
I am suspicious of this survey because of its origins as well as the large amount of information that is missing from its report. I would encourage you too to be wary before feeling that you as a parent are not doing enough to prevent your child from doing drugs.
I certainly think that parents should speak openly and frankly with their children about drugs. They should speak with their children about drug use and the risks and consequences involved in the use of all of them. (for instance I'm sure if I told kids about my friend who did ecstasy and now has chronic seizures and other brain damage they would think twice) But Kids are smart, don't lie to them, be honest, and teach them to make their own decisions, they will make their own decisions anyway, all you can do is prepare them.
You can talk their ear off and they might not think that they learned "a lot" from you. At least they will have learned something.
Today's Bad Headline Award!
Survey sez: Barely half of parents care if kids try pot New York Daily News
news max.com FL (blasé, not being as lame a word as sez)
Links of the day, Ilkya is having estrogen week on her blog. Interesting highlighting of female bloggers, myself not included, that's okay though because I'd rather be known for my brilliant rhetorical stylings unlike Libertarian "Girl".
Iowahawk has an article about fundraising for the victims spotlighted in the Mommy Madness article. Absolutely fabulous, I'm going to run right out and donate.
And now I would like to plug Diet Coke with Lime! I have been adding lime to diet coke for years, but do you know how hard it is to find a lime? It is fabulous.
One more plug, The Committee To Protect Bloggers for the guys in Iran. I hope we help the people in Nepal next. (They should get some oil and I'm sure we'd be there protecting their rights already, if by protecting their rights you mean blowing things up.)
I forgot my book today, I'm reading Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. It is really interesting, I'm reading about how the Nixon administration manipulated pollsters and how it helped them push back watergate. Very cool.
I'll probably post a long summary of important points when I get further into the book so all of you people who don't want to read 300 pages about the Nixon administration (not that I blame you) can get the gist. But one of my highschool history teacher Mrs. Scarpinato recomended it and I figured it was high time I get to reading it.
hehe high. Okay, I'm going to go away now.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Thirty-seven-percent (37%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of the United Nations. That's down from 44% in a November survey.
I just want to point out this little blurb from lower down on their website.
Data from the current survey is not directly comparable to last November's results. The current survey sampled American Adults. Last November's survey interviewed Likely Voters. It is likely that the difference in samples may shift the results two to three points in one direction or the other.
Nothing personal guys, but then why did you just compare it at the top of your little article thingy? Some people might not understand why you can't compare these results. So a breif explaination of why not. (See this if the word Sample is scary sounding to you)
When they surveyed Likely Voters in November they randomly selected individuals who were listed as likely to vote. (I think these people are usually registered to vote an possibly voted in the last election but the definition varies). This time they took a sample of individuals who are simply American Adults. Well Likely Voters are a specific subset of American Adults and they may have differences from American Adults that would cause them to respond differently to questions in this survey. "But wait, aren't samples full of lots of different kinds of people? Why would it matter if you added a few more different people to the mix?" It matters because it is possible that Likely Voters are systematically different from the 40% (Guess?) of American Adults who are not Likely Voters. Maybe Likely Voters watch the news more, or maybe they are all more educated or less angry, than the rest of American Adults, I don't know, but it might have caused them to have answers to the survey that were very different.
So if the difference is 7% right now, and it might shift 3 percent that could put us at a difference of 4% or 10% and since the margin of error is 3% the difference could actually be 1% or 13%. (I should point out that both of these aren't as likely as the actual percentages they gave, I don't have enough info to give you an exact probability for both of those possible results but it is pretty low) Aren't statistics fun?
Another side note, if you look at the questions, depending on the order the questions were asked in, it might result in different answers.
If someone asked me "Do you think that Bribes from the UN Oil for Food Program caused nations to protest the US led invasion of Iraq?" I'd probably say no. But if someone asked me if I thought the bribes existed and THEN asked me the above question, I might lead myself to a logical conclusion. That could work either way depending on the knowledge that the individual had at the time. These are tricky questions and so the results aren't completely reliable.
A Small Victory and Ilyka both have posts that put mine to shame shame shame.
Also the Advice Goddess has 2 posts today that both make me want to move to Canadia.
I added a picture yesterday, obviously it is not me, it is a picture of my cat. I hope this doesn't make everyone think I'm one of those crazy cat people.... Cause I'm not... really. I just think its a good picture, and I'd rather keep as much annonymity as possible.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Please note, that this study cannot prove a causal relationship. Even with the information we have on rodents, actual experiments need to be conducted before people who are worried about liver cancer should start pounding the Starbucks.
In a study like this one, which is merely observing people and reporting on results there are very high incidents of lurking variables. Maybe individuals who tend to drink more coffee, drink less alchohol (a risk factor for liver cancer). There are all kinds of possible explainations.
The Bad Headline Award goes to:
The India Times with "A coffee a day can keep cancer at bay."
Not only misleading, but rhyming as well
Generally, I'm pretty pro women. In fact a month or so ago, my man read a very poorly taken out of context section of one of my favorite books in which someone threatens to castrate someone else. We had to have a "talk" about my attitude towards men. Which is, that they are stupid, and that women are stupid on a whole different level than them. But that as a whole women have had it bad, and we are responsible for fixing it, and that it isn't really the men's fault anymore as much as it is the whiney bitches who can't pay for their own dinner.
Take this article above. It goes on and on about Supermommies and all the work they have to do and how seriously they take their lives and how Hard it is and I almost want to cry big tears of sorrow for them. ::sniff sniff:: Or not. That's what birth control is for ladies.
Seriously about the article. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to raise a child AND have a career. I can imagine that rasing several children on your own is very tough, and that one could use some help. But wait, this article isn't about single Mom's. It is about all Mom's. This generation apparently "bred, from the earliest age, for competition" which is FORCING them to go to ridiculous lengths to 'Raise the Perfect Child.' She talks about the ridiculous hours mothers keep trying to get in "quality time" and the lengths they go for "crafts" and "snacks." And all of this results in some crazy and stressed women. (I have long been of the opinion that women who have children lose a large part of their mental faculties and this article is in line with my hypothesis) And what kinds of solutions does our dear deluded newsweek writer propose?
- We need incentives like tax subsidies to encourage corporations to adopt family-friendly policies.
- We need government-mandated child care standards and quality controls that can remove the fear and dread many working mothers feel when they leave their children with others.
- We need flexible, affordable, locally available, high-quality part-time day care so that stay-at-home moms can get a life of their own[omitted BS]
- We need new initiatives to make it possible for mothers to work part-time (something most mothers say they want to do) by creating vouchers or bigger tax credits to make child care more affordable, by making health insurance available and affordable for part-time workers and by generally making life less expensive and stressful for middle-class families so that mothers (and fathers) could work less without risking their children's financial future. Or even, if they felt the need, could stay home with their children for a while.
- In general, we need to alleviate the economic pressures that currently make so many families' lives so high-pressured, through progressive tax policies that would transfer our nation's wealth back to the middle class.
Soooooo What your saying is, the government should spend money on helping you raise your child. They should do this because you're "stressed" and because you are clearly insane. Obviously the government should take responsibility for the fact that you decided to breed. Especially since you have some deep need to raise the best child possible. In fact, I think what you're saying here is that you can't handle this. And maybe we should take your child away from you because all of this coddling is only going to raise the "perfect spoiled brat" And cause behavioral Issues which will only backfire. (I myself am a sufferer of SRGS, I'm still learning how to wash dishes, it really sucks and I wish I'd just had chores to do when I was a kid, seriously.)
And here's a thought. Why not ask Dad to do some work. I realize that if Dad isn't around this could be problematic. But he's half responsible for your demon spawn, and it probably wouldn't kill the little buggar to spend some time with someone who has a mind of his own and an ability to treat his child like it is capable of breathing on its own.Then maybe you could give your kid some soft fuzzy toys or a ball and kick them out of the house for a while, away from any pools or holes in the ground. Maybe with one of the older neighborhood kids. Then your child will go off and learn bad words and come back and repeat them, but at least they will be exposed to something besides your overprotective insanity.
The real victims from this article are not these poor mommies, they are the children of these mommies, what will they do when they have to live in the real world?
Lilek's has a much better post on this. And he calls his daughter Gnat, how freaking cute is that.
(Via A Small Victory)
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
I find this funny, because I had just been bitching to my boyfriend (I am a girl, not a gay man) about how I am so distressed that there are few female political bloggers for whom I have any respect. I am sure there Are some who Deserve respect, but somehow any of the blogs I read that are written by chicks seem to degenerate into who wore what to the grammy's and...well, other crap. (Now accepting good blog recomendations!!)
But really, I am stunned that someone would pretend to be a girl just to get traffic to their blog. I mean, the reason I like blogging is because it doesn't matter if the writer is a hottie, it matters what they say. I blog because I want my thoughts to be heard, not so some guy can oggle my pic while skimming my articles. And I think that the same can be said for any blogger. If you want traffic for being hot, start a porn site.
We finally have a chance to evaluate other people based on their thoughts and opinions, why is it always about looks? Isn't that what celebrities are for?
Speaking of hotties check out Hubris. ;-)
Monday, February 14, 2005
Happy Valentines Day.
Friday, February 11, 2005
No interesting things for me to post about except for SS, which is still too confusing and there aren't enough specifics for me to conduct a useful analysis. I'd really like to see the whole plan here sometime soon.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Research of the affects of illegal drugs is difficult because the drugs are illegal, so to conduct a controlle experiment is rare and difficult (okay impossible) to get approval for. Especially if one wanted to study the long term affects of marajuana smoking. (We'd like you to smoke 1 joint a day for the next year, and then come back and we'll study you. Uhhh..... SWEET!) So, while I am going to be highly critical of the following research we must understand that these individuals are doing the best they can.
I am going to ignore the first two parts of this blurb as I have no "studies" or information to refute and google is yeilding nothing, so I will skip to the last bit
"Effects of Heavy Marijuana Use on Learning and Social Behavior. A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours. Researchers compared 65 "heavy users," who had smoked marijuana a median of 29 of the past 30 days, and 64 "light users," who had smoked a median of 1 of the past 30 days. After a closely monitored 19- to 24-hour period of abstinence from marijuana and other illicit drugs and alcohol, the undergraduates were given several standard tests measuring aspects of attention, memory, and learning. Compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing, and using information. The findings suggest that the greater impairment among heavy users is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana.
Longitudinal research on marijuana use among young people below college age indicates those who used have lower achievement than the non-users, more acceptance of deviant behavior, more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with delinquent and drug-using friends"
Reading this, it seems pretty convincing, people who use marajuana heavily have attention problems and issues with processing, and that people who use marajuana long term have behavioral problems. HOWEVER! The actual relationship between these is yet to be determined.
This article does not state that marajuana causes these problems, and they are right not to say this. These studies do not prove a causal relationship.
To take the first issue, attention problems and processing issues. It is possible that individuals with attention disorders gravitate towards marajuana use because it allows an indivdual to relax and can aid focus. (.... so I've heard) So marajuana does not necessarily CAUSE these problems. Though the statements about the findings suggests that it changes brain chemsitry, there is no evidence of this or that the change is permanant. (By the way, smoking pot 29 out of 30 days is just a little much, moderation people, moderation.)
Also, the second paragraph which cites "those who used have lower achievement than the non-users, more acceptance of deviant behavior." Again, a worried parent might take this to mean that marajuana use can lead to lower acheive ment and deviant friends. But it is equally as likely that an individual who is prone to be accepting of deviant behavior is more likely to smoke marajuana. In fact, any of the listed "problems" could actually be factors contributing to the use of marajuana.
An older study that is still frequently cited "proved" that marajuana was a gateway drug. In this study they surveyed some heroin addicts and asked if they had ever smoked pot. Guess what, They have!!! But do you think that smoking pot caused them to do heroine? Maybe, in their search for heroine all they could afford was pot. A better study would be to ask pot smokers if they have or ever will do heroine. But that would be considerably harder.
Please Note, this blogger does not advocate the use of illegal drugs, merely the use of accurate information to support claims about the dangers of drug use.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Experiment- This is " done in a controlled environment designed to minimize biases and lurking variables. These will take a group and give them a treatment (Like a drug, or watching a video or soemthing else) and then examine how the treatment affects them.
Observational Study- An observational study merely gathers data on the world as it is. It observes the state of the world and reports on it, but does not act on it. Observational Studies cannot prove causal affects because they are affected by uncontrolable factors. A Survey is a type of observational study.
Sample- a sample is a randomly selected group of people. Assume that there are 1000 brunettes in a room that are all over 5'6" tall and you want to do an observational study of what eyecolor occurs most frequently in these tall brunettes. Rather than asking all 1000 brunettes, you could randomly select 100 of them and as long as the selection is random then you should get an approximation of the eyecolors of the whole population ( the 1000 brunettes in a room, I hope it's a big room). If these 100 people are not selected randomly then this can lead to Sampling Bias which can cause results of a survey to be wrong.
Margin of Error- every survey and experiment has a margin of error which is a number that is based on sample size and methods. This number signifies a range for the data. So lets say you found that 51% of brunettes have blue eyes and 49% had brown eyes. Well if your margin of error is 2.5% (which is pretty normal) that means that the actual % of brunettes with blue eyes is 51% plus or minus the margin of error. That is it could be between 48.5% and 53.5%. ( so this means that your results are inconclusive, so don't go running around shouting about how all brunettes have blue eyes will ya?)
Significance- For something to be statistically significant means that the probability of getting this result by chance is very low. (Usually below .05) So let's say that your survey of brunettes yeilded 25% for blue and 75% for brown. But that most other surveys of this nature have yeilded the above 50, 50 results. You can calculate the probability that you would get results this different from normal results. And this probability could be something like .01 which would mean that the results are statistically significant. So there is something about your population of 1000 brunettes that makes them special. It must be because they are all over 5'6" tall!
Correlation- A correlation is a measure of how linearly related two variables are. Like weight and height, as weight increases, so does height and therefore they are linearly correlated. HOWEVER this does not mean that one causes the other. Correlation does not imply causation, EVER!
Lurking Variable- This is a variable that causes results in a study to show up, but may not have been taken into consideration by the experimentors/ surveyors. In our study of our 1000 brunettes for example, we assumed that the results we got were different from the average population of brunettes because of their height. But have failed to take into account that this room happens to be in an italian part of town. Which means that most of the brunettes in the room have italian ancestry and therefore brown eyes. So while we may have attributed their brown eyes to their height there was a lurking variable, that was italian ancestry. This caused our study to have results that are not valid to the entire population of brunettes, but only the brunettes in our big room.
That is all I've got for now, I will add terms to this post as I get tired of defining them.
Today, I feel like venting, and so I will share with you, dear reader, the two things in the world that I have the most disdain for.
1. Religious fanatics- many of these individuals exhibit a failure to think for themselves and criticly evaluate facts that boggles the mind. While I do understand the comfort and joy that a strong faith can bring I think it is important not to let faith overcome reality. Individuals who do not have the capacity to critically evaluate the world around them and understand concepts without the aid of a pre determined world view should be culled out of society. Instead they are the only ones breeding because they don't believe in birth control.
2. Journalists-many of these individuals exhibit a failure to think for themselves and criticly evaluate facts that boggles the mind. (Sorry Pat and Pat's friends who are journalists, but it is the truth, and I don't believe in disgusing the truth!) So often I read articles from reputable magazines or news sources that completely miss the mark. And often these articles are nothing but the writer's opinion. ( please note that this blog does not purport to be full of facts, merely critical evaluation of facts portrayed in the news media) In fact, journalists have no place evaluating facts (partially because their evaluation is probably WRONG) but their job is to REPORT the news, not to comment on it. It is so hard to find out what is going on in this world without having it skewed by the tarnished lens that is journalism.
Today I have 2 examples of #2 that have seriously pissed me off, this article from Business 2.0 COMPLETELY ignores the existance of gamers as a sect of computer users and makes assumptions about the future of computing while failing to acknowledge a very major group of consumers. This is not wise. His assumption that disk space and ram are replaceable is very very wrong. For while some games are moving to a networked format (WoW) these games are A, still not the norm and B still require substantial processing power on the part of the machine and this is not likely to end in order to provide a good gaming experience. So yeah, while he may be right, his hypothesis is flawed because he has failed to evaluate the situation properly.
My other problem is THIS (Via cmu.misc.market) supposed journalist who seems to be working for Mr. Bush and softballing him on purpose so he can look good in news conferences. This, is Rather annoying. Also it takes valueable time away from the white house answering valid questions about the many many issues arising during their reign.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
The NYT does mention these things in their article (although they say nothing about controlling for other factors I foudn that elsewhere) but they do very kindly put the warning in that old ladies should not begin drinking... at the END of the article where I am so sure everyone is going to read it. Last sentance;
"The big challenge," he concluded, "is to make the recommendation in the right way."
Maybe I"m just picking on the times today because it is the first article I read. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing today (google news) and now I know why. Here is the original press release from the Wake Forest Study. Copy and paste around a bit and you got yourself an article. Unfortunately to make studies newsworthy they have to make them into amazing new claims. And while I certainly hope the claim here is true since I'd love to keep drinking into my 80s if I live that long, these studies don't prove it.