Friday, October 27, 2006
It does if women expect it to. When Lawrence Summers speculated
that innate ability might explain why there are fewer women in
math and science, it cost him the presidency of Harvard. A study
reported in Science by researchers at the University of British
Columbia found that women exposed to bogus scientific theories
linking their gender to poor math skills performed more poorly on
subsequent math tests. Uncertainty over whether they could do it
presumably affected how hard they tried. Professors over 70 also
have a notorious stereotype, but I can't remember what it is.
The world is riven by religious war. It always has been. We
live now in an age of science, but it is ancient, unfounded
religious beliefs that are central to national disputes over the
teaching of evolution, stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia
and same-sex marriage. A Harvard curriculum committee has
therefore recommended that every Harvard student be required to
take one course on the interplay between religion and science.
It must be framed in the context of social issues. This seems
certain to influence other universities. Scientists had better
start getting involved before the zealots take over.
In June, we mentioned the World Trade Center conspiracy theory of
physics professor Steven Jones at Brigham Young University
(WN 23 Jun 06) . He believes
the Trade Center was rigged with explosives on 9/11, with the
connivance of the U.S. government. BYU suspended Jones pending a
review of his 9/11 theories, but Jones has now agree to retire.
This isn't his first trip into delusion. Seventeen years ago his
delusion of geologic cold fusion got Pons and Fleischmann at the
U. of Utah started on a cold fusion delusion of their own.
If they're not attacking sperm, ban them anyway. But there is
not a chance that the reported low sperm counts among heavy cell
phone users, reported at the American Society of Reproductive
Medicine Conference in New Orleans on Sunday, had anything to do
with cell phone radiation. The wavelength is far too long to
have any direct chemical effect and the microwave heating from a
cell phone is easily handled by the body's temperature regulating
mechanism. It's too small to affect sperm, even if you put the
phone in your underpants. Ashok Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic
in Ohio, studied 364 men at a fertility clinic in Mumbai, India.
The real question is what they talk about for four hours a day.
The Shadow knows. Researchers were able to deflect microwaves
around a copper cylinder, if you happen to see with microwaves.