Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
So, like all good geeks, I have the Bad Science book and read the sainted Dr Ben's blog regularly. I also have a slightly rusty A-level in Statistics, and a penchant for picking holes in things. So when I see bobbins like this trumpeted as proof that men are better than women, I start wondering if David Tennant's little misogynist organisation from the new St Trinian's film* is real. I'm not even linking to the Daily Fail's version, which proudly trumpets that because the study was done by a woman it must be totally gospel.

Here are the things that occurred to me when reading that news report:
  1. 65 volunteers; self-selecting sample; 5% difference (not statistically significant on such a small sample). This study is not scientifically rigorous enough to prove anything.

  2. who was paying for this study? The paymaster often has an influence on the conduct of the study - after all, (s)he who has the gold, makes the rules...

  3. It says there were 65 volunteers. It doesn't say what the gender split was. What if only 5 of them were women?

  4. How familiar were each of the volunteers with the car? An Audi A6 is a big expensive saloon. Were the male drivers more familiar with driving big saloons than the women? Were the male drivers less worried about damaging an expensive new car than the women? Could this be an explanation for their differing performance?

  5. There is research shown that both men and women will play up to stereotype when under scrutiny - was some sort of control put in place to account for this?
I'm sure that there are other holes pickable. I'm also sure it's possible to pick holes in my holes. Do feel free to do so, BTW. Learning is good :)


* the new St Trinian's film is well worth seeing, by the way. It's very silly, and doesn't have as much naked Colin Firth in as the first one, but it's a lot of fun, and made me giggle lots. And it passes the Bechdel test. And it has a very feministy-yet-fun message. I approved.



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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.



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