Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A few good links

Twisty, of I Blame the Patriarchy, talks about aggregating harvestmen.

Science Daily summarizes a psychology experiment wherein women who are told that there is a genetic explanation for women's lack of ability to do math perform worse on math tests than women who are told there is no difference between how men and women perform on math tests.
Between 2003 and 2006, Dar-Nimrod and Heine conducted their research with more than 220 female participants. Their study provided participants with bogus scientific explanations for alleged sex differences in math.

Some women received a genetic account of inborn traits to explain the difference while others received an experiential account -- such as math teachers treating boys preferentially during the first years of math education. Other participants were reminded of the stereotype about female math underachievement, or were told that there are no sex differences in math.

Heine and Dar-Nimrod found the worse math performances belonged to women who received a genetic explanation for female underachievement in math or those who were reminded of the stereotype about female math underachievement. Women who received the experiential explanation performed better -- on par with those who were led to believe there are no sex differences in math.
The Times Union posts a news story about airport screeners failing to detect bomb-making materials in carry on luggage (published July 4, 2007):
The unannounced inspection by TSA officials took place [at Albany International Airport] early last week. The airport's security measures failed in five of seven tests, most of the problems occurring at the passenger checkpoint, the sources said.

In one test, TSA inspectors hid the components of a fake bomb in carry-on luggage that also contained a bottle of water. Passengers are prohibited from carrying containers holding more than three ounces of liquids, gels or aerosols through airport checkpoints.

The screeners at Albany International confiscated the water bottle but missed the bomb. In all, the inspectors slipped four banned items through the main checkpoint during the test, sources said.

The New York Times has an article on how the ability of the Surgeon General to be an independent office is being compromised:
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.
The Independent has an article by a reporter who traveled on a cruise ship packed with readers of the National Review. Read it for a view into the mindset of a few American conservatives.

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