September 06, 2005

Dark Mood. Bring a Flashlight.

Perhaps it's the non-stop 24/7 Katrina coverage that I am unable to tear myself away from: full disclosure - my job entails watching news and reading newspapers both in print and online, so it's not like I can turn this stuff off. And the position of forced voyeur into unrelenting human misery--well, it does take a toll on one's views on humanity after a while, not that I was all that impressed with my fellow man to begin with.

Perhaps it's the culmination of a bunch of minor and not-so-minor disappointments in real life, or maybe it's just an incipient mid-life crisis, but for whatever reason, I am feeling rather dark, verging on vicious.

I like to try to keep the mood around here as light as possible, preferring hyperbolic rants played for laughs over straight vitriol, but I'm finding it hard to do that lately.

So, until I get my head out of darkspace, posting will be somewhat light in this space.

Plus, no one here really needs to know what I think about men who cry EVERY TIME they address an audience. And that last bit was left deliberately vague in order to avoid uncomfortable scenes with those of you who know me and the weepy man in real life.

Then again, maybe I just need a beer and a dog who refrains from regurgitating entire rabbit carcasses onto my freshly steam cleaned carpets.

But mostly I need beer.

In the meantime, here's a really long article by Charles Murray (remember The Bell Curve controversy, anyone?) on the recently released studies into differences between male and female IQ. Read and be provoked.

Via AL Daily

Posted by Big Arm Woman at September 6, 2005 01:56 PM

I'm here to lighten the mood.

Pic of my Doberman Annie reading a comment another dog left on her blog

More Annie pics at the very bottom of covering a couple months in the life of a Doberman in a house with a brand new digital camera.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at September 6, 2005 04:55 PM

Thanks for posting this article, because I do want to comment.

"In the other hard sciences, the contributions of great women scientists have usually been empirical rather than theoretical, with leading cases in point being Henrietta Leavitt, Dorothy Hodgkin, Lise Meitner, Irčne Joliot-Curie, and Marie Curie herself."

Let me tell you about Lise Meitner. When she began her work in physics at the University of Berlin, she had to stay in the basement of the science building because she was a woman and her hair might catch on fire. So her lab was in the basement and for the first 2 years, if she had to go to the bathroom she had to go to a restaurant down the street. She was only allowed upstairs when her published work began receiving international attention. This was in the early 20th century. Now tell me why there have been so few female scientists of note. How many men would have put up with that crap?

Further, Meitner is credited with figuring out nuclear fission. There is an element named after her for this. She figured it out after she had had to flee the Nazis and her U of Berlin partner, Otto Hahn, sent her some empirical data that he could not make sense of. If that is not theoretical work, I don't know what is.

Thank you for letting me express my rant.

Posted by: Laura at September 6, 2005 07:29 PM

1)The statement about 3-D visualization capability comes up all the time. I really question how much this has to do with forms of abstract thought involving symbols: solving simultaneous linear equations, writing operating systems, etc. These really aren't inherently visual problem areas.

2)I can't find hard data, but it seems like about 25% of air traffic controllers are female. This job is very largely *about* 3-D visualization.

3)On the other hand, the ATC job also involves a lot of multitasking, and women are said to be *better* at that, on average, than men.

4)There's more than one way to skin a cat, and different individuals may use different skill mixes in doing the same job.

Posted by: David Foster at September 6, 2005 10:08 PM

It's all interests, not talents or abilities.

People don't realize how much of a obsessive delusion is required to be happy doing world-class math by yourself for years.

Paglia says it's an escape from women, which I guess is a way of saying that interests have something to do with gender.

Making measurements of brain activity is a fine example of males at work on the problem of women.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at September 7, 2005 06:03 AM

I honestly don't understand anyone's interest in the male/female, black/white/brown, or gay/straight discrimination. If we want to group people up still in childhood to propel them into their appropriate specialized spheres of activity, I suppose discrimination might be useful. But of course that concept is inhuman.

As long as the person with credentials, talent, and application gets the job, do we really care about their gender/ethnic/sexual orientation grouping? Whether Mr. Bell Curve is right or wrong doesn't seem of great significance to us, the living. It is not as though we place men or women in jobs they cannot perform, so why do we care to pursue this unless we wish to assuage some guilt over the poor hand society has dealt certain groups in the past. That sounds like a great way to spend one's grant money and talent, assuaging. Not.

Posted by: Webfoot at September 7, 2005 07:49 AM

Well, you might be interested in why there's no women willing to obsess about math with you. You might find it surprising.

Or you might find it evidence of massive discrimination and trot out a moral banner to bash males over it.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at September 7, 2005 08:31 AM

Everyone knows that there is great variation in individual personality and ability to do many different tasks. Consequently, one should expect differences in virtually every subset of individuals that you might select.

There are some consistent gender differences. Psychologists have known this since the 1940s. Males do better than females on those weird analogy questions that you only see on the GRE or SAT. If those questions were omitted ALL the high scores would belong to females. The only reason those questions are included are to "balance" the gender distribution of high scores (reduce the female scores).

The author of this article has an axe to grind: nonwhites are dumber than whites. It is dressed up racism pure and simple. Consider the impact of culture and education on most of these tests. The reality is that the large scale issue was settled with the testing of world War one soldiers and published in 1921. Black recruits from Ohio have higher IQ scores than white recruits from any of the eleven "Southern" states (Arkansas, Mississippi, N. Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, S Carolina). The pattern of scores follows the pattern of education.

There are no "pure" races in our community.

Contrary to this author, there are no large populations of humans that are less in their potential to produce scholars, or pilots, or thinkers.... If a subset is different in some fashion, they are likely to excel in some tasks and not in others. But few will excel if they don't have the training, experience, and opportunity. The group of Americans pushing the "Bell Curve" are attempting to remove those opportunities from "non-whites".

Posted by: Eric at September 7, 2005 10:30 AM

"The author of this article has an axe to grind: nonwhites are dumber than whites. It is dressed up racism pure and simple."

I got into this thread a little late, but Eric's comment deserves an answer. The order of intelligence cited in "The Bell Curve", IIRC, was Ashkenazy Jews, Asians, Whites, Amerinds and Blacks. Why this ranking should appeal to a White racist eludes me, since it puts Whites below both Jews and Asians.

Still, there's no accounting for tastes and it must be that Murray's a racist; the only other possibillity is that he's citing real data, which is of course unthinkable.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at September 11, 2005 08:54 PM

That article was fascinating, thanks very much. My thoughts posted on my site (I could send you a trackback if you provide the URL to ping).

Murray's point about the discussion needing to happen is dutifully illustrated by some of the commmenters above. When data points to a conclusion, we pretty much have to accept it whether we like it or not.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at September 15, 2005 04:53 PM