Energy, Armpits, and Octopodes

I had a great conversation with Maggie Koerth-Baker from BoingBoing for Science Saturday. We talked about all sorts of sciency stuff, including her upcoming book on the challenges of renewable energy, synthetic biology, the similarities between cheese and the human body, women in science/blogging, and octopus brains. I had a lot of fun chatting with Maggie and I learned a lot, and I hope you will too!

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im in love <3

As an engineering school grad, I'll add my two cents. In general, engineering is all about coming up with standards, which, once determined, will stand for a long time to come. So since, in professional work, there's always a lot of pressure for direct performance, anything that could add new complications is always met with, um, let's say a harsh and pained response. It definitely takes a mental toll over time. We'd be a better world if people were more honest about how we're changed by our personal experiences.

Also, the best response to arguments about capability in terms of gender or race or any other split is the statistical one. For almost any study out there, the difference between group capability is dwarfed (dwarved?) by the variance within each group. Just about everyone is in the overlap. As such, the case that some inherent differences should lead to wide gaps in results doesn't have a leg to stand on, even without taking any of the strong cultural biases into account. There are almost certainly some sorts of differences due to biology, if only b/c it's hard to see any kind of difference being completely isolated, but we've clearly already shown that anything that's there has no significant affect on making a prediction for any given individual. If we can't make that kind of decision, then what exactly are we looking for? Going for the belief-neutral response always makes counter-arguments sound like the biased tripe they are.

Keep doing good (and very cool) work!