Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ah, journalism.

In today's news I find two items that seem to be worth remarking upon.

First, as reported in the Mirror, two psychologists have demonstrated that men are smarter than women. Well, that their I.Q.'s are greater anyway. No, seriously! Does this mean that we at Total Drek were too hard on good ole Larry Summers for his speech a while back? My vote is no. See if you can figure out why:

MEN are more intelligent than women, new research claims.

Two leading scientists - both men - say male IQs are 3.63 points higher than females.

Psychologist John Philippe Rushton said this explains the "glass ceiling" phenomenon why men get promoted over women.

He said the study proves more men reach the top of their careers because they are smarter - and not because of sex discrimination.

Prof Rushton's team analysed 100,000 aptitude tests taken by 17 and 18-year-olds of both sexes.

And he said men were more intelligent "throughout the entire distribution of scores, in every level of family income, for every level of fathers and mothers' education, and for each and every one of seven ethnic groups".

He also claimed that girls only did better than boys at school because they "mature faster".

Got it yet? If you said "Because the magnitude of the effect is microscopic," you're right! See, IQ tests are normed to a mean value of 100, and most often a standard deviation of 15. If we assume that 1/2 of the 100,000 participants in the study were female, and calculate the mean of the female sample in relation to the population mean (100-3.63= 96.37) then we can determine the value of a z-score test* fairly easily. This yields:

z= (96.37-100)/0.067082039= -54.1128

This will easily pass even a stringent two-tailed test at the .01 level (cutoff= 2.58**) and so we can consider it to be a statistically significant difference. Of course, if we convert 96.37 into a z-score:***

z= (96.37-100)/15= -0.242

We find a VERY small z-score. As a result, we can tell using a simple z-score table that 9.48% of a normally distributed population (and IQ scores are normally distributed) exists between that z-score and the population mean. Put another way, 40.52% of all members of a population will have a z-score as small or smaller than -0.242. So, put bluntly, the difference is utterly miniscule and only appears significant because the sample size is godawful large. Speaking personally, I think it's a bit early to start talking about "explaining" the glass ceiling.

The second piece of news that bears repeating is word from Columbia. Specifically that the wives and girlfriends of gang members are refusing them sex until they lay down their arms:

Gang members in one of Colombia's most violent cities face an ultimatum: give up guns or give up sex. In what is being called a "strike of crossed legs", supported by the Pereira mayor's office, the wives and girlfriends of gang members have said they will not have sex with their partners until they vow to give up violence.

"We want them to know that violence is not sexy," said Jennifer Bayer, 18, the girlfriend of a gang member. She and at least two dozen other women have said the sex strike will continue until their men hand over their weapons to authorities and sign up for vocational training offered by the mayor's office.

Now, I want to just come right out and say here and now that I am totally in favor of this. I mean, it's a Greek comedy made flesh. I think we can stand to bring other works of Greek theatre into the real world. In fact, I think it may have been going on for some time now. The Clouds have certainly appeared in the real world. I think that Plutus has been attempted, although there were some definite kinks to work out. I dunno about Oedipus the King, but this picture makes me wonder if we aren't on our way to a lesbian version. So, yeah, I think the world could be made much more interesting by a wider inclusion of Greek theatre.

On a more serious note, however, I am a little concerned about this story.**** Sure, the media is running it for humor value. Sure, I even did a little of the same but, lemme ask you this: given that these women are witholding sex from men who may be killing other men, how do we think that they (the men) will respond? More bluntly: how many of these women do we think are going to be raped and/or beaten for participating in this strike?

Answer: Entirely too many.

* Yes, technically a two-sample t-test would be more appropriate, but I don't have the sample dispersions.

** Approximately, anyway.

*** The difference (for those who don't know already) being that in the first case I'm comparing a sample to a known population and, in the second case, treating the mean as a single score in a known population.

**** And I'd lay dollars to donuts that Plains Feminist is having some of the same thoughts.

As a side note: This post was updated to correct a mistake in the cutoff value. It doesn't make a difference, but I do like to be accurate. Sorry it wasn't right the first time but, hey, I was in a hurry.


Blogger jeremy said...

An effect of .24 SD in this context, if real (a big if), is not trivial.

Saturday, September 16, 2006 6:00:00 AM  
Blogger Fred Vincy said...

Very elegant. Let's add that IQ, while not valueless as a measure, is hardly a perfect quantification for intelligence, and the notion that that an intelligence test designed by men might be [slightly] skewed doesn't seem very farfetched. This guy's agenda is all over the place....

Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with this post, which I hardly understand, but I just this by author Gregg Easterbrook in Slate, and I thought you might be able to chew on it:

"Today if a professor at Princeton claims there are 11 unobservable dimensions about which he can speak with great confidence despite an utter lack of supporting evidence, that professor is praised ....If another person in the same place asserted there exists one unobservable dimension, the plane of the spirit, he would be hooted down as a superstitious crank."

Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:09:00 AM  
Blogger Plain(s)feminist said...

Actually, I'm still reeling from the first story (which, being a chick, I'm probably not smart enough to understand, anyway)...

Saturday, September 16, 2006 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sunday, September 17, 2006 2:24:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter