Tuesday, December 23, 2008

La Griffe to Feminists: Men Are Better at Math. Get Used to It!

Two recent publications on the math gender gap have claimed that there is actually no math gender gap. These findings were celebrated by feminist academics and journalists, but were always suspect in that they contradicted a huge body of scientific evidence. Now perennial fact-checker and ne-er do well, La Griffe du Lion, takes a look at the two studies and declares them wanting in logic, reason, and hard facts.
In brief, we have seen tonight that the gender gap in mathematics has been stable for at least half a century; that sex differences in ability-distribution means and variance ratio are independent of race, culture and geography; that female math performance is closest to that of males in high-IQ countries; that culture plays a role in math performance, albeit small; and that the theory of Everyone accounts for all of the above. If these results are unsettling, take comfort knowing that no presentation of fact, regardless how compelling, will keep the gap buster from her noble calling. _LaGriffeduLion via Dennis Mangan
To follow the reasoning that leads to LGdL's conclusions, you will need to read his article at the link above. It is accompanied by a large array of graphs which aid an intuitive grasp of the statistics involved.

The gender gap is ubiquitous geographically and culturally, and is persistent over time. The gap is somewhat narrower in societies with higher average IQs, such as Europe, North America, East Asia, and Oceania, but still quite undeniably present and persistent.

The continuing effort of feminists in academia and journalism to deny what is obvious to anyone who looks at the issue scientifically, undermines the credibility of feminists on a wide range of issues which straddle both the scientific and political spheres.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Pre-Learning" Online: Priming the Learner

If you have ever been curious about how biological research is carried out -- or if you are considering entering a bio-medical research field yourself -- you should take a look at the research videos at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE). By JOVE, you can see for yourself how various key procedures are carried out. If you are still in high school, or earlier, you can get a definite jump on the competition by learning many of the basic, intermediate, and advanced methods of biological research.

If you are an educator or homeschooler, you will find some worthwhile teaching materials, and some tips on basic experiments you may wish to set up in your teaching environment.

JOVE is a good example of what today's web can offer to self-starting learners, and to teachers and homeschoolers.

Bonus: From the Online College Blog -- a blog for students of all ages who are seeking an online education -- here is an article looking at 100 useful tools for digging down into the deeper levels of the web than Google will usually take you. From "meta-search" to "semantic engines" to special database search tools to academic /scientific / and custom search engines, this list of tools has something for everyone.

Smart young cookies can find their way out to some quite rarefied reaches of knowledge, quite on their own. Of course it helps to have a tutor and a bit of healthy competition, along with other gentle spurs to progress.

Many people believe that the biggest deficiency of home or solitary web learning is the lack of socialisation, but that is not a big problem unless one spends all one's time at the computer. As long as the web learning is guided by a reasonable structure and sequence, the biggest shortcoming is the lack of hands-on practical doing, to accompany the mental "knowledge." Computer simulations can only go so far toward building practical competencies.

That is why bricks and mortar schools still have some life left, at least for science, engineering, biomedical, and other technical subjects that require practical hands-on competencies.

For the other topics such as philosophy, math, sociology, history, literature, and liberal arts in general, their days are numbered for on-site educational institutions. A good thing too, since other than math, those are the subjects that have been taken over by the neo-aristocracy indoctrinators. Overpaid, over pampered, cretins of the academy, whose time has just about run out.

As virtual reality improves, and as distributed technical simulation centers grow up to take the place of many failed institutions of higher learning indoctrination, the ability to train an incredibly wide range of competencies will find its way farther and farther out into the boondocks, where anyone with a mind to do so can become competent at just about anything.

Previously published on Al Fin blog