miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
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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Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
karohemd: self portrait (photo 85mm)
From: [personal profile] karohemd
Oooh, I like my logo. :)

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
karohemd: (Photo)
From: [personal profile] karohemd
It's the desktop image on my PC.

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
Waah, can't we be better at anything? You can have multitasking which is more useful anyway.

Seriously though, I don't doubt this study is cobblers, but does it matter? At the end of the day, when we demand equality between group x and group y, it is not because both groups are on average equally good at standing on their heads or something. If that were the justification we would be a hostage to fortune should one group turn out to be better at something than another.

Worse it would seem to justify discrimination between individuals, who clearly aren't all the same. (And I don't mean discrimination in the sense of employing somebody to do A because they are good at doing A.)

Surely the point is that people should be treated as individuals on their own merits, irrespective of what groups they belong to.

Research into whether I pick my nose better than the average white or worse than the average man wouldn't matter if idiot journalists didn't get excited about it.

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeotten.blogspot.com
True enough. But isn't prejudice ultimately about warped values rather than mistaken facts? It is easier to talk about facts, but then people tend to discount facts that don't suit their values. Being upset by reality is probably a good sign.

But I fear, what with confirmation bias and everything, that so many widespread preconceptions about "average" members of one sex, race, religion or another, are as unshakeable as they are unspeakable, studies or no. So I wonder if it might be better to beat into people's heads the point that nobody is an average member of anything.

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
featherxquill: (Default)
From: [personal profile] featherxquill

All I can say with regards to that stupid article is this: perhaps some women, like myself, really do not care about being in the centre of the lines, as long as they are between them.

Seriously, I can't think of a more pointless study. Who the hell cares how fast one parks ones car, or whether it's in the centre of the lines, so long as it's not seriously inconveniencing others?

Perhaps a better study about able-bodied people who park in disabled spots, and how well they rate on the douchebaggery scale in other areas of life?

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
telegramsam: Mister Flibble is Very Cross (Rimmer)
From: [personal profile] telegramsam
All I can say with regards to that stupid article is this: perhaps some women, like myself, really do not care about being in the centre of the lines, as long as they are between them.

THIS. Seriously, who gives a fuck if you're absolutely perfectly even as long as you're in the lines and everyone has enough room to open their door without dinging the neighbor's car? Only OCD sufferers are going to be that obsessed with parking a car of all useless, trivial things. What idiot funded this "study" to begin with anyway, wouldn't that money have been better spent on, I dunno, cancer research or something?

Perhaps a better study about able-bodied people who park in disabled spots, and how well they rate on the douchebaggery scale in other areas of life?.

I'll second that, along with a study of people driving expensive cars who think it's cool to deliberately double-park and take up two or even three spots because OMG HOW DARE ANY OF THOSE CHEAP CARS PARK WITHIN 10 FEET OF THEIR PRESHUS BAAAAYBEEEEE?!? Ugh.

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