Society

Category archives for Society

The Problem with Percentages

A sort of follow-up to last week’s post about the STEM “pipeline”. In discussions on Twitter sparked by the study I talked about last week, I’ve seen a bunch of re-shares of different versions of this graph of the percentage of women earning undergrad degrees in physics: You can clearly see that after a fairly…

Social Media Are Social

I didn’t see this before yesterday’s post about Twitter, but over at SciLogs, Kirk Englehardt gets evangelical, offering a very chipper list of “Ten Reasons for Academic Researchers to Use Social Media.” I’ll just put the item headers here, though each of these has a more complete description, with links to lots of other stuff:…

Problems with the Pipeline

Via Curt Rice (or, more precisely, somebody on Twitter who posted a link to that, but I didn’t note who) there’s a new study in Frontiers in Psychology of the STEM “pipeline”, looking at the history of gender disparities in STEM degrees. You can spin this one of two ways, the optimistic one being “Women…

The Bright Side of the BICEP2 Story

I’ve done yet another piece for The Conversation, this one expanding on something I’ve been saying in interviews promoting Eureka: that knowing the process of science can help people sort good science from bad. In this particular case, I take the somewhat #slatepitch-y angle that the recent high-profile unraveling of the BICEP2 experiment’s claim to…

I’ve seen a lot of reshares of this report about the long-term effect of gender bias in elementary math, which comes from an NBER working paper about a study of Israeli schools. The usual presentation highlights one specific result, namely that on a math test graded by teachers who knew the names of the students,…

I’ve seen a bunch of re-shares of this Vox profile of a “Men’s Rights Activist” on various social media channels, with reactions varying from “This is fascinating” to “Boooo-ring.” I thought it was sort of interesting, but not really in the way it was intended to be. The thing I found most striking the way…

On Intelligence and Talent

Probably the dumbest person I’ve ever met in my life was a housemate in grad school. I didn’t do my lab work on campus, so I wasn’t living in a neighborhood where cheap housing was rented to students, but in a place where folks were either genuinely poor, or in the market for very temporary…

Some Follow-Up on Teaching

Yesterday’s Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson struck a chord with a lot of people, and has spread a good distance on social media, which is gratifying. Given the delocalized nature of modern social media, though, it means I’m having essentially the same argument in five different places via different platforms. In the interest of…

An Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Tyson: (I find the faux-familiar thing people do with “open letters” really grating, so I’m not going to presume to call you “Neil” through the following…) First of all, I should probably say “Thanks,” because I’m using some of your material in my class this term– I had them read Stick in the Mud…

Metaphors and Style

Two language-related items crossed in the Information Supercollider today: the first was Tom’s commentary on an opinion piece by Robert Crease and Alfred Goldhaber, the second Steven Pinker on the badness of academic writing. All of them are worth reading, and I only have small dissents to offer here. One is that, unlike Tom and…