Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Notes of the Day

  • Women don't do well in math because....women don't do well in math. I know, it is circular isn't it (and not even true!)? But I think there's something true in there. I think young women tend to be shaped by the expectations of their parents, peers and teachers (who tend to encourage the belief that math is boring or lame or hard). More evidence of that here, where researchers found that women teachers tend to pass on anxiety about math to students. I don't have a daughter, but if I did, I'd probably be buying her this book.
  • This article is interesting. The head of the IPCC has been accused of conflicts of interest, which this article tends to think stands in place of substantial debate (i.e., there is not a lot of substantial debate to be had on climate change, and therefore the critics are left to attack the people who have done the research). Although I agree that's what is happening, I don't like dismissing the importance of conflicts of interest to decision-making. If you talk to the scientists who do research for Monsanto that demonstrates the non-toxicity of Roundup (for example), you understand that those people have often convinced themselves that they are doing everything right. Whether they think that because they work for Monsanto or whether Monsanto hired them because they think that is irrelevant: The work is skewed towards certain perceptions. The same is true, to a greater or lesser degree, for everyone. The potential biases should be obvious.
  • There's still a lot of oil from the Exxon Valdez up in Alaska. But hey, Exxon had to pay all those damages right? Right? Hmmm. Ok, so maybe they payed $380 million of a $5 billion dollar decision. Whatever.
  • Did you know the Valdez is still in service? Yeah. It has been renamed the Dong Fang Ocean.
  • There's really nothing that isn't cool about slime molds (except their appearance...there's actually a variety called 'dog vomit'). Apparently, they can even solve complex problems.

No comments: