Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
What's the story with these ads on Slashdot? Check out our new blog post to find out. ×

Comment Re:Comments make me despair.... (Score 1) 473

Because the "science" is shaky as hell. The gender disparity in CS and engineering is both enormous and resilient to attempts to dispel it, yet we're supposed to believe these "internalized gender stereotypes" are the main cause despite those same stereotypes somehow not affecting chemistry or advertising and only barely affecting mathematics?

I'm sorry, but why do you say the science is shaky or that it barely affects mathematics? Google "stereotype threat mathematics" and there are oodles of credible scientific studies documenting the effect. From one of the articles, such as this one from NYU's Department of Psychology (http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/news/2008/1/29/Stereotype_Threat_Affects_Women_in_Highlevel_Math_Courses_Aronson_Study_Finds):

"Considerable research over the past decade has shown that women's performances on math tests are compromised by stereotypes. In over 200 published experiments, females as young as first graders and as old as 22 have been found to perform worse on math tests whenever the testing environment cues them to think about their gender, a phenomenon named "stereotype threat" by the psychologists Claude Steele and Aronson in the mid 1990s. (Emphasis mine.)

Where's the shaky research here? The studies showing that women behave worse on difficult math tests when they are reminded they are women prior to taking the test is both reproducible and fascinating.

And your choice to cite mathematics as a counter-example is particularly interesting, given that 27% of math PhDs in 2012 (drawn from a pool of U.S. Citizens) were women. (http://www.ams.org/profession/data/annual-survey/2013Survey-NewDoctorates-Report.pdf). If we look at faculty positions, the data are show that women are incredibly underrepresented in professorships (the numbers are equally striking across most STEM fields (http://www.human.cornell.edu/hd/ciws/upload/SexDifferencesMathIntensiveFields.pdf):

In the top 100 U.S. universities, only 9% to 16% of tenure-track positions in math intensive fields are occupied by women (Nelson & Brammer,2010). Among full professors, women number around or fewer
than 10%: computer science, 10.3%; chemistry, 9.7%; economics, 8.7%; chemical engineering, 7.3%; mathematics, 7.1%; civil engineering, 7.1%; electrical engineering, 5.7%; physics, 6.1%;and mechanical engineering, 4.4%. In contrast, women are much better represented in the rest of the sciences and humanities, often making up one third or more of professorial posts.

One of the things that bothers me about the responses I see here are that posters never grapple with the actual data. You cannot claim to be a nerd if your response to empirical studies showing that gender cues drive significant differences in testing is to simply ignore the data. I used to think like you, and then I started reading the research. When you do that, you discover that the human brain is amazing at internalizing external social cues. If scientists ignored inconvenient results, we'd never have discovered that the universe is actually accelerating. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerating_universe)

Comment Re:Comments make me despair.... (Score 1) 473

So I know this is a troll posting, but I'm going to respond anyway. There is actually lots of hard science behind this. For a start, read Claude Steele's "Whistling Vivaldi." While I agree that some of his conclusions are more of the social science variety, the tests that he (and others) developed are fascinating and clearly suggest that our current understanding of social cues and their impact on the human brain is imperfect at best.

Comment Comments make me despair.... (Score 1, Insightful) 473

Slashdot's commentaries on gender issues in tech read more like an Onion parody than reasoned discussion. The investment of new dollars in STEM education for poor girls is a wonderful thing. (Frankly, the investment of *any* dollars into education for low income kids is marvelous). The desire among so many here is to just analogize from your own experience and ask "I did it, so why can't X"? It's hard to describe the number of problems with that line of reasoning. But here are a couple of thoughts that maybe can elevate the discussion.

First, there is massive confirmation bias going on. The fact that the system selects people that look like you (and, frankly me) to be successful is not evidence that the system is fair for everyone. Every time some successful person says, "well, I scored well on X test,and look at how successful I am," I just want to shake them until they realize that correlation (i.e.,only people scoring well on X test get into Y job) does NOT imply causation (I am successful at Y job, therefore X test is important.) Because if the entire pool of people at Y job is comprised of good test takers, then only good test takers will become successful.

Second, the fact that you yourself (or someone you know) achieved success against overwhelming odds (whether it be poverty, lack of opportunity, gender, race, whatever) does not mean that there are no barriers to entry into STEM. How many disadvantaged people need to be turned away for every amazing overachiever before we decide that maybe the system is broken?

Third, how can everyone on a site that claims to be nerds completely ignore the scientific evidence of how internalized gender stereotypes affect the decision of women to go into STEM? Why is it that women do worse on standardized tests when you remind them of their gender? There are really fascinating issues going on here that get completely ignored in the Slashdot group think. Frankly, I can't tell if it's just the trolls winning, or if Slashdot's blind spot really is a metaphor for what goes on in tech generally.

Comment Disappointing Ruling for Civil Liberties (Score 2) 409

Yo Nerds -- you really need to at least glance at the decision before you all start condemning/praising the decision. In reality, this case is a big nothing-burger and does nothing to promote civil rights in America. The entire "meat" of the decision is in this paragraph:

The Magistrate Judge found that detention for the dog sniff in this case was not independently supported by individualized suspicion, see App. 100, and the District Court adopted the Magistrate Judge’s findings. The Court of Appeals, however, did not review that determination. The question whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justified detaining Rodriguez beyond completion of the traffic infraction investigation, therefore, remains open for Eighth Circuit consideration on remand. [citations omitted]

What does this mean? It means that the officer was honest/stupid enough to say during the original trial that he had no "individualized suspicion" about this particular vehicle or this particular defendant. All the cop had to do was "articulate" an "individualized suspicion" about why he wanted to search the car with a drug-sniffing dog, and the whole case would have turned out differently. As it is, the case just gets remanded back to the lower court to look into the issue some more. Basically, the Supreme Court is inviting the 8th Circuit to come back with a finding that the cop probably had a reason to suspect drugs, and therefore everything was fine. This is anything but a sweeping victory for civil rights.

Comment Let's Start a PAC (Score 1) 306

Seriously, how many people reading this would be interested in donating $100 each to a new Political Action Committee dedicated to mercilessly mocking candidates of both parties that revel in their technological ignorance? I am a liberal Democrat, but I just cannot fathom voting for a candidate -- of either party -- so out of touch with the world today that they eschew email -- never mind taking pride in such a shocking level of ignorance.

Are there politically-minded Millennials living in mom and dad's basement interested in taking up the challenge? I've got your first donation right here.

Comment Science Says this Change is Overdue (Score 3, Informative) 326

Like many of you out there, I never personally experienced these issues (being a white male). And I actually like looking at pretty girls. But at what cost? Folks should recognize that there's a vast literature out there about the impacts of both conscious and unconscious bias in testing, hiring and performance of minorities and women in STEM fields. Things like Booth Babes drive people away. For those of you interested, it is illuminating to read about the weird ways in which the human brain internalizes various societal cues about how women and minorities fit into STEM. Anyone who wants to comment on this topic seriously should at least read through this research:

* Book - "Whistling Vivaldi," written by Claude Steele . Professor Steele isn't the best writer in the world, but the experiments he describes are just fascinating. I challenge anyone to look at his results and not refine their views on these issue. Nice mix of pop-psychology and scientific research. http://www.amazon.com/Whistlin...

* Planet Money Podcast - "When Women Stopped Coding", very much pop-psychology, but thoroughly entertaining and I certainly found some basic truth in their theory. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money...

* Article in the journal "Nature" on what the GRE test actually measures, http://www.nature.com/naturejo... Also see a partial refutation of the initial (which I found less convincing, but I put it out there anyway): http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

* Recent pop-science article citing a meta-analysis about "Genius" in male and female professors (interesting, if somewhat anecdotal): http://www.vox.com/2015/2/12/8...

Reading this research (even at the cursory level pop-science perspective) certainly got me thinking about women (and minorities) in STEM. Personally, it turned me from a skeptic of the type of program Intel is purposing into .... well, I'm not entirely sure. Read the research and I think you'll see what I mean.

Apologies for bringing actual science to what I'm sure will turn into a flame war..... (Complete disclosure: I posed something similar a few weeks ago, but it's such interesting stuff, I posted it again!)

Comment "We also walk dogs" (Robert A. Heinlein) (Score 3, Interesting) 110

Am I the only wondering if Jeff Bezos was a science fiction fan? Robert Heinlein basically predicted an Amazon-like behemoth that did everything for everyone, called General Services. Granted, the book portrays them as less "product" and more "service," but the idea is very similar!

General Services got its start as a dog walking company, and grew from there. (Books anyone?) As a result of its humble beginnings, General Service's 's tag line is "We Also Walk Dogs." Really awesome read. I came across it in a compilation called "The Green Hills of Earth," which is chock full of other really nice little stories. And for those of you who have only read Heinlein's novels, I found the short stories a really refreshing read.

Comment EV Owner w/ Question about Plug Standards (Score 1) 229

I recently bought an i3 and have been really frustrated by the competing fast charger standards. How will GM help customers handle the three fast-charger standards (Combo/SAE, Chademo, Tesla)?

One of the reasons I did not seriously consider the Volt was that it didn't have fast-charge capability. Do you see fast charging as a core part of future GM electric vehicles, or do you think backup gas engines are a long-term solution?

Comment Scientific Research about Women & Stem (Score 1) 254

So I'm a white male that's actually done a little reading on the issue of women and STEM. Folks should recognize that there's a vast literature out there about the impacts of both conscious and unconscious bias in testing, hiring and performance of minorities and women in STEM fields. Like many of you out there, I never personally experienced these issues (being a white male), and it was illuminating for me to read about the weird ways in which the human brain internalizes various societal cues about how women and minorities fit into STEM. Anyone who wants to comment on this topic seriously should at least read through this research:

* Book - "Whistling Vivaldi," written by Claude Steele . Professor Steele isn't the best writer in the world, but the experiments he describes are just fascinating. I challenge anyone to look at his results and not refine their views on these issue. Nice mix of pop-psychology and scientific research. http://www.amazon.com/Whistlin...

* Planet Money Podcast - "When Women Stopped Coding", very much pop-psychology, but thoroughly entertaining and I certainly found some basic truth in their theory. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money...

* Article in the journal "Nature" on what the GRE test actually measures, http://www.nature.com/naturejo... Also see a partial refutation of the initial (which I found less convincing, but I put it out there anyway): http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

* Recent pop-science article citing a meta-analysis about "Genius" in male and female professors (interesting, if somewhat anecdotal): http://www.vox.com/2015/2/12/8...

Reading this research (even at the cursory level pop-science perspective) certainly got me thinking about women (and minorities) in STEM. Personally, it turned me from a skeptic of the type of program Intel is purposing into .... well, I'm not entirely sure. Read the research and I think you'll see what I mean.

Apologies for bringing actual science to a flame war.....

Comment Re:No expectation of privacy (Score 1) 405

Sorry, but this is BS. I have such an expectation of privacy.

That is so cute! YOU have an expectation of privacy -- but sadly, the U.S. government does not share your view. But why?

The reason is that the U.S. uses something called the "exclusionary rule," whereby evidence seized or derived from an unconstitutional act are suppressed. In other words, during a criminal trial, the court will disregard any evidence collected by the government in violation of the Constitution, or derived from an unconstitutional act. This is often summarized as "fruits of the poisonous tree" are themselves poisonous and shall not be used. Of course, what this really means is that many (though clearly not all) people asserting a constitutional defense during a criminal trial are guilty -- at least in the sense that they committed the crime they are charged with.

The search and seizure cases that come before the Supreme Court therefore usually involve a guilty person getting off on a "technical" violation of the 4th Amendment. The Supreme Court then bends over backwards to find some exception to the 4th Amendment to allow the police to put the guilty person away. It's human nature for the Justices to side with the cops over the robbers. But it's also enormously destructive to our social fabric.

This is where the story gets political. The Supreme Court justices most eager to surrender our freedoms in the name of punishing the guilty are overwhelmingly "conservatives" appointed by Republican presidents. I hope you will all remember this when you go to vote for the next president.

Comment Re:NRA sedition^H^H^H patriotism (Score 1) 573

"Even if you give the Armed Citizenry 100% credit, you have to ask how they'd beat the US Army today?"

Members of the United States armed forces are also CITIZENS of this land. Each of them has a home, located in some city or town, located in some state or another. Each of them (well, the overwhelming majority, anyway) has loved ones, whom they probably value more than they value the US government.

I'll remind you of General Robert E. Lee, who didn't want to see the states fight each other - but decided that if there were to be a fight, he would fight for his home state of Virginia.

If revolution should happen, you cannot rely on the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force to remain intact as fighting units, to be used against the people of the United States. Nor can you rely on the government's ability to retain control over all the hardware, command infrastructure, or much of anything else.

This. This is what I never understand about the conspiracy theorists -- from the "government covered up Roswell types" to the gun toting nut jobs in the NRA -- the part of their advocacy that I find so distasteful is their refusal to recognize that the American government is made up of Citizens. From the federal employees to the military to the police, in America, we are all citizens first. As a formal federal employee, there was never any question that my allegiance was to the people. (Don't get me wrong -- as a paper pusher, this was unlikely to have tangible form, but still....)

Do we really think that our military would do what the Chinese military did in Tienanmen Square? Yes, there have been individual incidents of government-sponsored violence against the people (Kent State, battles against Segregation, etc.) where people in uniform have forgotten that they work for the people --- but those incidents are (a) limited in scope, (b) rare, (c) generally recognized as mistakes after the fact; and (d) largely repudiated by the country as a whole. I'm not trying to whitewash American history -- it's complicated and not always pretty. But I see no evidence that some shadowy element of the federal government is going to swoop down and seize our "liberty." Our volunteer citizen military in particular is about as freedom loving as they come, and I have zero doubt that a coup would fail spectacularly as soldiers recognized what was happening.

And then we have this. *face palm* Really? I think of little of DHS as the next guy, but do we really think they are traitors laying in wait? Good grief. They are just citizen-employees, like every other federal employee.

For this reason, and others, the Department of Homeland Security was formed. The government hopes to retain control of DHS if and when the shit hits the fan. Unfortunately for the government - DHS consists of mostly incompetent buffoons, far less capable than agents from any other agency. Further, the loyalty of Napolitano's troops remain untested.

Anyone can sit around and make up scenarios about how a revolution would evolve, and the results of said revolution. History proves one thing: civil wars are fucking MESSY!!

Comment WashPo Mobile Staff SHOULD be Fired (Score 2) 108

I am a DC refuge and was a dedicated Post dead-tree reader for decades. These days, I primarily access the Washington Post through their website (which I would happily pay for, by the way). As an avid consumer of online media, I can personally attest that the Post's implementation of "mobile" content is just abysmal. Their iPad app was, until a few months ago, a total embarassment. Many of their "special" mobile features (of which I have downloaded and deleted more then one within minutes of downloading them) crash more often then they work. Frankly, if I were the editor-in-chief, I would have fired the mobile division staff for sheer incompetence long ago.

I have no inside information -- but I wonder if there's a positive take from all of this: the Washington Post has long been behind the curve in reaching out on mobile devices. Perhaps this isn't the end of their efforts to improve their web presence, but the beginning of a more serious effort. Just a thought. Time will tell.

Comment Re:The theory of gravity is under review :) (Score 1) 763

Yes. I was going to cite to Mercury as well as one of the known problems with Newtonian physics. There is an excellent little movie called Eistein and Eddington, which really does a beautiful job discussing the Mercury issue. Not great cinema exactly, but quite enjoyable for science nerds.

Comment Re:Did Stratasys open a box of worms? (Score 1) 632

That's an interesting question. I suspect that a clevel plaintiffs' attorney would suggest that this action suggests that the manufacturer in conceeding that it has a duty to the of care to the end-user. The company would argue back that it isn't appropriate to use proactive safety measures against them.

(For your reference, there are four elements of a classic tort case:
1. Demonstrating that the defendant had a duty to observe or protect the safety of the plaintiff
2. The defendant breached that duty and endangered the health and safety of the plaintiff
3. The plaintiff suffered injury in some form
4. The plaintiff's injuries were caused by the negligence of the defendant.)

I suspect the manufacturer would contest the idea that it had a duty of care, but I think the courts would infer some duties (perhaps, for example, the duty to warn) anyway. Note: I am by no means a products liability lawyer, so take my analysis with several shakers of salt.

To me, though, the really interesting question will arise when a 3D manufacturer develops internal software that physically disables the printer from being able to print potentially lethal items. I understand certain copiers already detect currency and refuse to copy it. The fun case will be when one printer company demonstrates that those controls are physically possible, but another company does not implement similar controls, and someone injures themselves.

Your good nature will bring you unbounded happiness.

Working...