Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pesky facts about women and mathematics

Was Larry Summers right about women and science, after all? As the mother of two girls, I hope not. In fact, Summers himself said in his infamous comments about intrinsic differences between the genders, "I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong." But Summers may have been on to something, recent research suggests. Math and science test data, he noted, show gender differences at each end of the performance spectrum. In other words, men are overrepresented at the very top and bottom.....

A group of researchers (all women, as it happened) looked at annual math assessments required by the No Child Left Behind law from 10 representative states that supplied details about gender and ethnicity, a total of 7 million students. Their study, published in the July 25 issue of Science, found no differences between girls and boys in average performance -- not even, as earlier studies had found, once they entered high school. The gap between girls and boys on math SATs, they said, could be explained by the fact that more girls than boys go to college and therefore take these tests.

But, echoing Summers's point, there was small yet significant variance between the genders -- the degree to which the scores of girls or boys differed from the average. At the very highest level, the 99.9th percentile, the difference meant 2.15 males for every female. This difference was large enough that, in an occupation requiring math skills at that level, the job ranks could be expected to be filled 68 percent by men, 32 percent by women -- enough to explain, as Summers suggested, part of the gender gap.

Studies comparing girls and boys in different countries add to the puzzle, both underscoring gender differences and suggesting that the influence of cultural factors may be greater than Summers thought.

In performance on a standardized math, science and reading test given to 15- and 16-year-olds in 40 countries, girls in every country performed far better than boys in reading. Conversely, boys in all but three countries did better, but by not nearly as much, in math. In all but three countries -- Britain, Thailand and Iceland -- more boys than girls scored in the 99th percentile in math.

Yet this study, published in the May 30 issue of Science, also showed a correlation between girls' performance on math tests and countries where there is more "gender equality," as measured by things such as the share of female elected officials or women's participation in the workforce.

Summers was boneheaded to say what he said, in the way that he said it and considering the job that he held. But he probably had a legitimate point -- and the continuing uproar says more about the triumph of political correctness than about Summers's supposed sexism.



IQ in early adulthood and later risk of death by homicide: cohort study of 1 million men

By G. David Batty et al.

Background: Risk factors for homicide are emerging; however, the predictive value of IQ, for which there is a strong prima facie case, has yet to be examined.

Aims: To examine the association between IQ and risk of death by homicide.

Method: A cohort of 968 846 men, aged 18-19 years, were administered an IQ test battery at military conscription and then followed for mortality experience over two decades.

Results: There were 191 deaths due to homicide during follow-up. In age-adjusted analyses, a high total IQ test score was associated with a reduced rate of homicide (hazard ratio (HR) per standard deviation increase in IQ score=0.49, 95% CI 0.42-0.57). A step-wise gradient was apparent across the three IQ groups (P-value for trend <0.001). After adjustment for indicators of socio-economic position and illness at conscription, this gradient was marginally attenuated (HR=0.57, 95% CI 0.49-0.67).

Conclusions: High IQ test scores in early adulthood were associated with a reduced risk of death by homicide.

The British Journal of Psychiatry (2008) 193: 461-465.

In other words, it is dummies who are most likely to get murdered. Not terribly surprising but it shows once again how far-reaching are the effects of IQ. Leftists who try to trivialize IQ have a mountain of evidence against them



Hooray! L.A. Slimes in trouble: "The owner of the Los Angeles Times and other leading US newspapers, Tribune, filed for bankruptcy overnight in the latest blow to the struggling newspaper industry. The Chicago-based media giant said that it was forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of a sharp drop in revenue and a heavy debt load but has enough cash to sustain operations while it restructures. "This restructuring will bring the level of our debt in line with current economic realities and will take pressure off our operations, so we can continue to work toward our vision of creating a sustainable, cutting-edge media company," he added. Tribune is the second largest US newspaper publisher in terms of revenue and the third in terms of circulation. Besides the Los Angeles Times it owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant and several other papers. It operates 23 television stations. According to media reports, Tribune is carrying some $US12 billion ($18 billion) in debt and cash flow is not enough to cover $US1 billion in interest payments due this year. A $US512 million debt payment is also due in June. Like many US newspapers, the Tribune has been grappling with declining circulation, a loss of readership to online media, and a steep drop in print advertising revenue."

NYT in trouble too: "The New York Times Company plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits. The company has retained Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm, to act as its agent to secure financing, either in the form of a mortgage or a sale-leaseback arrangement, said James M. Follo, the Times Company's chief financial officer, the Times reports. The Times Company owns 58 percent of the 52-story, 1.5 million-square-foot tower on Eighth Ave., which was designed by the architect Renzo Piano and completed last year."

Zogby Interactive: McCain Wins Wal-Mart Shoppers, But Obama Prevailed at Target, Macy's, Costco & JC Penney: "John McCain won the biggest battle of the 2008 electoral war for retail consumers by taking voters who most prefer to shop at Wal-Mart by 17 points. However, that was not nearly enough to overcome Barack Obama's advantage with the most loyal shoppers of other national retailers. That's the bottom line of how shoppers and the U.S. electorate made Obama our 44th President. Obama scored big increases over what John Kerry polled in 2004 at JC Penney, Sears, Kohl's and Target. We asked respondents: "If you could only shop at one of the following department stores for the rest of your life, which would you choose?" Using a different measure, weekly shopping at Wal-Mart, we found that Obama did much better than Kerry with that store's most frequent shoppers."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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