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The Media Science

Pink, Blue, and Bad Science 236

DocDJ writes "Ben Goldacre writes an excellent column in The Guardian called Bad Science, which regularly demonstrates how poor the mainstream media are at reporting science. He recently pointed out the flaws in the reporting of research that purported to show the evolutionary basis of 'blue for boys, pink for girls'." Another Guardian writer, Zoe Williams, has an even more acerbic take on the research.
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Pink, Blue, and Bad Science

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  • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:31PM (#20467545) Homepage
    Reservoir Dogs quote:

    JOE: Okay, let me introduce everybody to everybody. But once again, at the risk of being redundant, if I even think I hear somebody telling or referring to somebody by their Christian name... you won't want to be you. Okay, quickly. Mr. Brown, Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Orange, and Mr. Pink.

    MR. PINK: Why am I Mr. Pink?

    JOE: Cause you're a faggot.

    MR. PINK: Why can't we pick out our own colors?

    JOE: I tried that once, it don't work. You get four guys fighting over who's gonna be Mr. Black. Since nobody knows anybody else, nobody wants to back down. So forget it, I pick. Be thankful you're not Mr. Yellow.

    MR. BROWN: Yeah, but Mr. Brown? That's too close to Mr. Shit.

    MR. PINK: Yeah, Mr. Pink sounds like Mr. Pussy. Tell you what, let me be Mr. Purple. That sounds good to me, I'm Mr. Purple.

    JOE: You're not Mr. Purple, somebody from another job's Mr. Purple. You're Mr. Pink.

    MR. WHITE: Who cares what your name is? Who cares if you're Mr. Pink, Mr. Purple, Mr. Pussy, Mr. Piss...

    MR. PINK: Oh that's really easy for you to say, you're Mr. White. You gotta cool-sounding name. So tell me, Mr. White, if you think "Mr. Pink" is no big deal, you wanna trade?

    JOE: Nobody's trading with anybody! Look, this ain't a goddamn fuckin city counsel meeting! Listen up Mr. Pink. We got two ways here, my way or the highway. And you can go down either of 'em. So what's it gonna be, Mr. Pink?

    MR. PINK: Jesus Christ, Joe. Fuckin forget it. This is beneath me. I'm Mr. Pink, let's move on.
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:32PM (#20467559)
    A slashbot article on misrepresentation. The ironing is delicious.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:33PM (#20467573) Journal
    I long ago learned never to use science journalists as primary sources of information. First of all, these guys are part of an infrastructure that needs to sell advertising (whether via TV, newspapers, web sites, whatever), so the more sensationalistic they can make things the better. Secondly, and most importantly, they often don't understand what it is they're reporting. It's rather like having a reporter covering Congressional sessions who doesn't understand any of the rules of the house, or what Constitutional powers and limits it has. You wouldn't accept financial reporters who didn't understand the essential concepts of stock exchange, and yet it seems people who don't understand the fundementals of science are given the "science journalist" hat and sent off to report on new data and new theories and hypotheses.

    There's nothing that makes me angrier than "New fossil rewrites human evolutionary history" and then when you actually go and read the source, it does not such thing.
    • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:47PM (#20467779)
      About 6 years ago, I was working in a virology lab, where one of the post-docs was doing some anthropological virology and investigating the possibility that one of the last extinctions was the result of a pandemic.

      Discovery Channel did a 30-minute segment about this, which I decided not to participate in, and will be happy not to have done so till the end of my days. When I saw the final product a couple months later, I just sat with my mouth open for about 20 minutes... because I couldn't figure out whether I've been an idiot and couldn't figure out what my colleague was doing until I saw the segment, or the editors/journalists massacred the subject to the point that the research was rendered unrecognizable within the mounts of selectively quoted pseudo-science bullshit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ajs ( 35943 )

        Discovery Channel did a 30-minute segment about this [...] the editors/journalists massacred the subject to the point that the research was rendered unrecognizable

        This isn't even unique to science. Every company I've worked for has had multiple articles in trade magazines where someone called up the CEO, got lots of quotes, and proceeded to write an article that said things that had no connection to reality.

        My current company has one article that we've framed and hung on the wall that says we've written all of our code in one particular programming language. What's really funny about that is that we're best known for using another programming language entirely, and

    • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:48PM (#20467789)

      It's rather like having a reporter covering Congressional sessions who doesn't understand any of the rules of the house, or what Constitutional powers and limits it has.

      Well there's an interesting tangent! But wait, it could get worse! We could also have congressmen who don't understand any of the bills they're voting on, or serving on committees without having any knowledge of the field they represent.

      I'm glad that'll never happen.

      • Our congressmen don't need to understand those bills, they just sell their votes on most of them to states that care and do understand in exchange for those states' votes on issues they don't care about but our congressman does.
    • Agree. I have some first-hand experience. A local 'science reporter" (whom I know) for a local newspaper in my area recently reported on the the evil government institution (for which my wife worked for at the time) that didn't properly dispose of its waste that may contain prions. It was very interesting to me to here about what was actually going on within the institution versus what the reporter was telling the public. I am pretty certain that this particular reporter would be capable of sensationalizing
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      There's nothing that makes me angrier than "New fossil rewrites human evolutionary history" and then when you actually go and read the source, it does not such thing.
      So it wasn't a fossilized time machine?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:35PM (#20467601)
    On the one hand, the media is definitely at fault for overhyping every burp and gurgle coming from medical research. An old amino acid causes an unexpected hypertrophy of T-cells? OMFG! It's teh cure for cancer!

    On the other hand, grants seem to awarded to any post-doc with an itch to scratch. The problem is that most of those idiots (for want of a better term) can't tell the difference between the itchiness caused by an ingrown ass-hair and the ass-hair itself. That's what Zoe's ripping on in her article.

    There's something to be said for "pure research" which theoretically expands our collective knowledge. Without pure research, we wouldn't have found penicillin, US America, or bread-yeast. However, I can't even begin to understand what kind of expectations the grant awarders had when they supported "Boys like blue, Girls like pink" research.

    For a couple bucks, the researchers could have just as well satisfied their itch with a tube of Preparation H.
    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:59PM (#20468757) Homepage
      I can't even begin to understand what kind of expectations the grant awarders had when they supported "Boys like blue, Girls like pink" research.

      There are a couple interested parties:

      1. Those who for various religious and political reasons look for essential gender differences, to justify very stable, often traditional gender roles.

      2. Businesses who produce goods that are marketed to gender-based expectation, and who dislike it when their markets diverge too far from the behavior that is expected of them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by turing_m ( 1030530 )
        There is another interested party, although they would pay for/conduct such research in order to prove the opposite.

        3. The same PC advocates who attempt to "prove" with fabricated research that men and women are the same, that nature has a small influence wrt nurture, the myth of the noble savage, etc etc. See Boaz, Mead, Freud, Gould et al.
        • by Sleepy ( 4551 )
          >There is another interested party, although they would pay for/conduct such research in order to prove the opposite.

          I would say that's a bit of a stretch. From an economic point of view, and understanding the profit motive, the GP's post makes perfect sense.
          Those interested points of view have stockholder obligation to continue the march toward uniformity. In the US, the balance of power between people and corporations is about what it was in 1775. *shrugs*

          If you are trying to imply there's some sort of
    • Along those lines (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      I've seen a real problem with researchers seeming to always want to report the results as though it supports their hypothesis, probably in the interest of continued funding. My experience with this is mainly limited to the behavioural sciences, mostly as related to cognitive psychology but man, you want to talk about some SHITTY papers that get published. They'll gloss over large portions of their methods, consolidate hundreds of points of data in to 3 numbers and not provide the originals, write conclusion
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:37PM (#20467625)
    Because everyone here drives on the left there must be a genetic predisposition.
    • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:42PM (#20467713)
      Well, yeah, it is due to Evolution. All the people predisposed to driving on the right are quickly removed from the gene pool.
    • by Tribbin ( 565963 )
      Can you imagine that from an alien standpoint?

      Alien observers must have boggled their minds over this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2short ( 466733 )
      Who modded this off-topic? That's the most spot-on analogy I've ever seen on slashdot (OK, that's not saying all that much...)

      But that's essentially the "researchers" argument: it's a really strong correlation, so it must be genetic, not societal. Bollocks.
    • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
      I drive on the right, because the left is where the incoming traffic is and I have a genetic predisposition to keep alive.
      I write with my left hand, though...
    • A genetic predisposition - I'd use the stronger word instinct, even - to mimic the creatures that look like you do is a good one to have for survival.
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:37PM (#20467635)
    That's a study I'd like to see done.
    • by Tribbin ( 565963 )
      Global warming leads to rise of waterlevel.

      Rise of waterlevel leads to 'Waterworld-scenery'.

      You've seen the movies; lots of pirates.

      A [mutual stimulating] outcome in this research.
      • by Kazymyr ( 190114 )
        No, I submit it's the other way around.

        Increased number of pirates -> more ppl urinate in the oceans. Piss is warmer than ocean water, thus the average temperature of the ocean rises -> global warming.

        Q.e.d.
    • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:08PM (#20468081)
      While I was in college I happened to notice the following posted on the door of the office of my statistics professor.

      "My dear friends, I am here to warn you of a tremendous crisis we are facing today. We all remember times when we could go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that our homes and lives are safe. But today, this is no longer so!

      Here are two charts, one showing the violent crime rate in our fair town as it has increased in the past decade, as reported via calls to 911!

      The second chart shows the rapid proliferation of telephone poles that have been placed in our fair community!

      Clearly, you can see that as the number of telephone poles goes from zero a decade ago to the dizzying heights we have today, the rate of crime being reported via 911 has drastically risen as well!

      The answer is clear! To protect our town we MUST cut down the telephone poles!"
      • by lgw ( 121541 )
        Well, assuming this was a few years ago, cutting down all of the telephone poles would have resulted in a *dramatic* reduction in the number of 911 calls. Hard to argue with that conclusion! :)
  • I remember (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:38PM (#20467639)
    Getting up at 4:00 AM or so to watch the first shuttle launch.
    Dan Rather, new at the job of anchoring liftoffs, said: (I am not making this up)
    "The skies are clear this morning, so we should be seeing some spectacular entrails...."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:38PM (#20467647)
    I think see misses the target. Knowledge is cumulative, knowing that there's a gender specific preference for color could be useful to researchers in other fields. The problem is the mainstream media which publishes such trivial research while managing to ignore scientific discoveries of far greater importance.
    • Following Williams's reasoning, we should shut down all fundamental Astronomy research, effective immediately. According to her, research that to her won't "come in handy" should not be done. Furthermore, according to her, if you are trying to answer non-PC questions, you should be academically ostracized, as your field is turned into taboo.

      In short, her article is a disgusting display of ignorance about the value of science, evidence, and knowledge.
  • by middlemen ( 765373 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:40PM (#20467687) Homepage
    Maybe it is because pink might have a higher wavelength than blue since it is closer to red. So males can see a woman, if dressed in pink, from far away and get ready to show off or think of instant one-liners, whereas if men are dressed in blue, then women cannot see men approaching from far away and might not have their guard up on time to hear the shitty one-liner from the guy...
    • by jpetts ( 208163 )
      What dickhead modded this insightful? It's funny, really funny. But insightful? Says all you need to know about the moderation system...
      • I would consider it somewhat insightful, since "pure guesswork" is the same method the researchers in TFA used to come up with the whole "easier to find berries" thing. Illustrates the stupid, kind of thing.
      • by MrHanky ( 141717 )
        Yes, the "funny" mod doesn't give karma. So if you really like a joke, mod it something else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Actually, males (if old enough) want to see females naked, while females don't seem to have the same desire to see males naked. Observe the dress of the sexes in Western cultures: the standard formal male dress leaves hands and head (not including neck) exposed, and everything else covered; females normally expose more skin, and sometimes much more. In business casual wear, a woman can expose quite a bit of leg, while men are required to wear long pants. Women can have lower necklines than men, too.

      A

  • It's fun to read and think about these things even if they are not true.

    It's not as troublesome as plain lies from governments presented to you over and over again from all 'respected news networks' to gain support to nullify amendements, for example.
    • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:06PM (#20468053)
      Really? There's officially 163,000 homeless households in the UK and this research like virtually all research in the UK is government funded.

      Of course, that's nothing compared to the 6 billion pounds we've just spent upgrading our Channel Tunnel rail system so that wealthy commuters between London and Paris can shave 20 minutes off their journey.

       
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Really? There's officially 163,000 homeless households in the UK and this research like virtually all research in the UK is government funded.
        Homeless - sans house
        Household - with house

        Me thinks you need to stop with the conspiracy theories.
      • by mccalli ( 323026 )
        Of course, that's nothing compared to the 6 billion pounds we've just spent upgrading our Channel Tunnel rail system so that wealthy commuters between London and Paris can shave 20 minutes off their journey

        The link isn't to shave off 20 minutes. The link is to go through St. Pancras - a station linked to the north of London. At Waterloo the link was useless for both passengers but more importantly freight which came from the midlands, the north or Scotland. Now it's on its way to being useful again - thi
      • There's officially 163,000 homeless households in the UK

        Hmm...

        Okay, somebody has to ask...

        WTF is a homeless household?

      • Yes, but a civil works project can employ people and cut down on the amount of unemployment so more people can afford housing. And a more efficient infrastructure will make the country as a whole wealthier, so there is more wealth to redistribute to the poor. "Let's stop doing anything else until we've ended poverty" is a great way to create more poverty.
  • by BobNET ( 119675 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:45PM (#20467757)
    Blue! No, pink [SPROING] Aarrgghh!!
  • It's all arbitrary anyway. That said, I like pastel black and the number eleven.
    • by Tribbin ( 565963 )
      Uhm, that is what it is about yes.

      Arbitrary is not random; it is chosen.
      • I looked up arbitrary just to be sure.

        Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle
        Yep, just what I thought it meant.
        • by Tribbin ( 565963 )
          The extended Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 version didn't get through because of junk characters, but was fairly similar.

          Wordnet 2.0:

          arbitrary
          adj : based on or subject to individual discretion or preference
          or sometimes impulse or caprice; "an arbitrary
    • "That said, I like pastel black and the number eleven."
      Personally I am a man who likes pink and the number 69. I also like women who have the same preference.
  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:55PM (#20467909) Journal
    It isn't just science. The media screw up everything: Law, medicine, politics, sports of course since sportwriters all all nerds, you name it. We don't notice it in other fields because nobody is an expert in every field. As a lawyer, I notice how bad they screw up the law. I'm sure doctors, scientists - anyone who is an expert - notices it in their field. A degree in journalism doesn't teach you much about the real world.

    I have an extremely low opinion of journalism, and when I hear the term "journalistic ethic" I cringe. In addition to the reporter's biases we also have to account for their stupidity and laziness. Meanwhile, reporters run around and act like journalism is some sacred religion, exempt from the law, to be placed above God and country. Nonsense.

    • Wait...

      A degree in journalism doesn't teach you much about the real world.


      You mean a liberal arts degree doesn't have anything to do with the real world?

      I'm shocked... SHOCKED I say!

      Well ok. Not that shocked.

      [snicker]
    • >>Meanwhile, reporters run around and act like journalism is some sacred religion, exempt from the law, to be placed above God and country.

      It's amazing how many reporters are like that. It is particularly sad because of how lousy reporters generally are. Everybody I know that has been interviewed or questioned by reporters were misquoted. Often the reporter was trying to dress up a statement and ended up twisting what the person was actually saying, but they were too stupid or arrogant to realize it.
    • It isn't just science. The media screw up everything: Law, medicine, politics, sports of course since sportwriters all all nerds, you name it.

      And since, in a democracy, the majority of people who vote at all base their vote on what the media presents to them, the entire system of government is also screwed up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AvitarX ( 172628 )
      and when I hear the term "journalistic ethic" I cringe.

      And coming from a lawyer it really drives the point home how bad journalists are.
    • Journalistic ethic is a bit like computer scientists' ethic - both have the power to screw up things in a horrible fashion (they misinform people by doing their work badly, we kill jobs by doing our work well) and both more or less follow a certain thic to keep us from abusing said power (they try to monitor themselves, many universities tell first-grade CS students that developing the control systems for cruise missiles is somewhat unethical).

      In the end we booth can do what we want - if you want to help
    • by rmckeethen ( 130580 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2007 @12:03AM (#20474959)

      It isn't just science. The media screw up everything: Law, medicine, politics, sports of course since sportwriters all all nerds, you name it. We don't notice it in other fields because nobody is an expert in every field. As a lawyer, I notice how bad they screw up the law. I'm sure doctors, scientists - anyone who is an expert - notices it in their field. A degree in journalism doesn't teach you much about the real world.

      You're absolutely right -- a degree in journalism doesn't teach you much about the real world. It's not designed to. A journalist's *sources* are supposed to teach readers about what's important in science, technology, medicine, politics, legal affairs, etc. Journalists' own thoughts on any given subject should never be apparent in the finished product, specifically because journalists often do not know the first thing about science, technology, medicine, politics, legal affairs, etc. A degree in journalism isn't supposed to educate on any of these subjects; the degree teaches you how to write well, how to interview sources and, most importantly, how to get out and find news that's interesting to the average reader.

      I have an extremely low opinion of journalism, and when I hear the term "journalistic ethic" I cringe. In addition to the reporter's biases we also have to account for their stupidity and laziness.

      Interestingly enough, many journalists I know also have an extremely low opinion of today's mainstream media too. Over the past couple of decades, most working journalists have witnessed a strong shift in their organizations, from a previous focus on high-quality news gathering and journalistic integrity towards a profit-centered business structure that leaves little room for in-depth and/or investigative reporting. While I won't argue the stupidity comment -- but do keep in mind that it takes time to educate yourself in a subject, and time is a commodity few working journalists have much of these days -- I think you're dead wrong that today's journalists are simply 'lazy' in their efforts to report the news. Most modern newsrooms I know of have sharply reduced the number of reporters on staff from what they enjoyed a few decades ago, yet these organizations continue to churn-out the same number of news stories in a given period of time. See this recent memo [penpressclub.org] from a Bay Area news organization to get a first-hand look at newsroom consolidation in action. Consolidation certainly doesn't speak to lazy reporters; is speaks to journalists who are, in almost every case, overworked, poorly-paid and under constant stress to produce something on deadline, anything that will help fill the daily news-hole. If you want to point the finger and place blame for the increasingly piss-poor reporting in newspapers, magazines and on television these days, you might want to try aiming your mark a little higher in these news organizations. I guarantee you that the problem is a lot more complex than the shoddy work of a few 'stupid' or 'lazy' reporters.

      Meanwhile, reporters run around and act like journalism is some sacred religion, exempt from the law, to be placed above God and country. Nonsense.

      Sadly, the 'sacredness' of their religion is just about the only thing left to motivate modern news reporters, so don't knock their faith; they sure as hell aren't in it for the money, and they definitely aren't in it for the respect. At least in my area, starting salary for teachers is higher than the starting salary for reporters, and I don't see too many teachers threatened with legal action or bodily harm just for doing their jobs.

      You may not like how today's reporters do their jobs, but keep in mind that their job is still an important one. I'm glad that someone is still willing to do that job. I don't think it's an easy one. But before you pop-off on the poor journalist, do yourself a

  • Most media stories (carried by commercial media conglomerates) are motivated by a desire to sell products, and contain little to no actual science! (shock)

    "Caveat Emptor" applies to just about everything you see, read, or hear as well. Be (at least) skeptical of everything you hear, and you'll be just fine.

  • Just look at mainstream media portrayal of global warming. They make it sound as if global warming is a contested theory in the scientific community. As was mentioned in _An Inconvenient Truth_, of the hundreds of journal articles on the subject, there was not a single one that disputed that global warming existed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Straif ( 172656 )
      Using "An Inconvenient Truth" as a basis for chastising the media coverage of Global Warming (or cooling, or climate change, or whatever it's being called today) when the very study they used was already 4 years out of date and was based on a survey of reports that are now up to 15 years old (the search was done on papers covering from 1993 to 2003) and done at a time when climate studies were really just starting to get real funding does not give you a very stable ground from which to throw stones.

      The fact
    • of the hundreds of journal articles on the subject, there was not a single one that disputed that global warming existed.

      Saying that the climate is getting warmer is just a matter of comparing temperature readings to historic ones. What people argue over is why this is. Is human activity a factor in this trend? A major one? The predominant one? The sole thing driving temperature variations? This is the part you'll see theories being contested about.

  • She seems to be saying "I don't see why anyone should ask a question like this, therefore everyone should stop". That's not acerbic, that's obscurantist.
  • As the article points out, the speculation that the color preference was to help women gather berries was on the part of the scientists who wrote the paper, not the journalists. And of course, if men had preferred the redder colors, they would have said it was an evolutionary adaptation to give them sensory reinforcement when spearing a woolly mammoth. I agree with the article, and I always get annoyed reading the circular, baseless speculation on the evolutionary causes of whatever is discovered. It has
  • I have a vague notion that it was the other way around in Western culture about 200 years ago. I could be wrong.
  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:20PM (#20468255) Homepage Journal
    Whenever I watch a news story about something which I know something about, I find that they are inaccurate or misrepresentative. Interestingly, I find that even though I KNOW they have facts wrong on every single occasion that they reported on something I had knowledge of, it doesn't seem to shake me from accepting as accurate the items they report on of which I have NO knowledge. I believe this to be the case with most people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kebes ( 861706 )
      Michael Crichton calls this the "Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect"--people tend to continue to trust mainstream media even though they consider mainstream reporting on any subject they are knowledgeable about to be imprecise or outright erroneous.

      In this essay [michaelcrichton.com], Crichton writes:

      Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. ... You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist h

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:20PM (#20468259) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows that men prefer blue because it stands out against the red Martian landscape.

    Women prefer pink because the thick Venusian atmosphere blocks the higher wavelengths of light.
  • Matt Drudge links to the Guardian all the time.
  • One interesting thing about these studies is they always point out the difference between men and women. Perhaps because that is something that people can giving a knowing chuckle about over their morning tea, because everyone knows that women are naturally more sophisticated and men are naturally the hunters.
    Notice how none of these evolutionary geneticists are writing about how black people got a sense of rhythm because of some remnant of their stone age past, and that the Chinese aren't good at math beca
    • Notice how none of these evolutionary geneticists are writing about how black people got a sense of rhythm because of some remnant of their stone age past, and that the Chinese aren't good at math because the proto-Chinese used math in their mammoth hunts, etc.

      Not to forget that the proto-Germans hunted animals by running over them with early cars and the proto-Swiss killed mammoths by covering them in liquid chocolate.
      • Now I am imagining rosy-cheeked, blond-pigtailed Swiss misses drowning mammoths in floods of chocolate...

        And just when we think every type of porn has been invented on the internet!
  • Quite simply, basic research does need to be done to test hypotheses about whether behaviors are based on biologically inheritable traits or cultural environment and to what extent each has a role. Both extremes, "culture has nothing to do with evolutionary biology" vs. "human behavior has nothing to do with culture", are, of course absurd. So why is this research in any way contentious? Why would anyone be afraid of the idea that, horrors!, some behavioral tendencies are either genetic, sex differentiated,
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The problem is not that they decided to do the research. The problem is the utter bullshit way they did it and the absolute bollocks they concluded.

      What they said was was girls are genetically predisposed to like red, and boys are genetically predisposed to like blue. Now there is a problem with this because of one small fact. Their study does not show that at all! The British and Chinese group showed different results, and they were the only 2 cultures they tested, that doesn't eliminate cultural bia
  • a professor i work with on autonomous modular robotics was interviewed a couple years back on the future implications of his research. generally our goals are search and rescue missions and possible space missions (reconfigurable robots are just so much more space-friendly) and the majority of our work has been towards these two milestones. the journalist, however, arrived at the interview with the fantastic vision of shrinking down these robots to nanoscale sizes and continuously (about a dozen times) aske
  • by Pluvius ( 734915 ) <pluvius3.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @05:22PM (#20471065) Journal
    It describes exactly why the research isn't saying what the scientists claim that it's saying. Zoe Williams' article, on the other hand, is a piece of anti-scientific trash. She seems to think that research is pointless unless there's money to be gained out of it, and cowardly pulls out the race card on anything that looks into the differences between groups of people.

    Rob
  • I prefer blue because I can see it. Like 10% of the male population, I'm red-green colorblind.

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