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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Links - 6th February 2013

For and against Chomsky - "Some believe—as Paul Robinson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, once put it—that there is a “Chomsky problem.” On the one hand, he is the author of profound, though forbiddingly technical, contributions to linguistics. On the other, his political pronouncements are often “maddeningly simple-minded”... In his book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, Richard Posner noted that “a successful academic may be able to use his success to reach the general public on matters about which he is an idiot.” Judging by caustic remarks elsewhere in the book, he was thinking of Noam Chomsky. He was not wrong... Paul Postal, one of Chomsky’s earliest colleagues, stresses the tendency for the grandiloquence of Chomsky’s claims to increase as he addresses non-specialist audiences. Frederick Newmeyer, a supporter of Chomsky’s ideas until the mid-1990s, notes: “One is left with the feeling that Chomsky’s ever-increasingly triumphalistic rhetoric is inversely proportional to the actual empirical results that he can point to”... He once described the task of the media as “to select the facts, or to invent them, in such a way as to render the required conclusions not too transparently absurd—at least for properly disciplined minds.” There could scarcely be a nicer encapsulation of his own practice"

Facebook comment confirms "deep fault lines" in S'pore society: K Shanmugam - ""This confirms what I had long suspected and said: there are deep fault lines in our society, based on race/religion," he wrote... Mr Tharman said her comments were offensive not only to Malay-Muslims, but to the rest who value Singapore's multi-racial spirit... Earlier today, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin wrote on his Facebook page that he "embrace(s) and celebrate(s)" Singapore's diversity... "Many are proud of this colourful tapestry that we have here. This is part of what it means to be Singaporean. The reaction of some individuals do not reflect the values that the rest of us hold on to," he said"
Funny. If only a small minority is 'racist' how are there "deep fault lines" in Singapore?

Man Flashes Feminist Pride Walk, All Hell Breaks Loose - "Marcha Das Vadias is the brazilian form of a SlutWalk"
If a woman had flashed a male demonstration...

Cognitive sophistication does not attenuate the bias blind spot. - "The so-called bias blind spot arises when people report that thinking biases are more prevalent in others than in themselves. Bias turns out to be relatively easy to recognize in the behaviors of others, but often difficult to detect in one's own judgments... a larger bias blind spot was associated with higher cognitive ability"
Smarter people are more stupid, in a way

Why We Don’t Believe In Science - "the percentage of Americans that believe in biological evolution has only increased by four percentage points over the last twenty years... science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin."

Heidi Alden's answer to Is there anything good about men? - Quora - "They are very easy & very fine company. They don't care about gossip or how your boss put you down in public - that is meaningless nonsense to them
Their sense of humour is genius
Men are brilliant at being able to cut to the chase - while we women like to bathe in our emotions, men are often far more able to go from A-Z in a flash. I have often found that a man's perspective on anything emotionally challenging is extremely insightful. Sometimes it's brutal, but it is often very refreshing to get that straight to the point point of view.
Men are far less manipulative than women; they are infinitely more black and white, straight down the line, no sides, what you see is what you get. Again. I applaud this."

Mark Harrison's answer to Colonialism: On the whole, was colonialism a good or bad thing? - Quora - "People talk of India, as if it existed before the British annexed it. People ignore the fact that the life expectancy on the sub-continent increased by 50% under British rule. People concentrate on the numbers killed by the British, and ignore the larger numbers killed by, say, the Thugee death-cult that the British helped eradicate. Ask most Indians, and they'll say that colonisation was a bad thing... ask them, however, whether they appreciate the legacy of democracy, or would rather go back to a rulership by Rajahs and Maharajahs based on primogeniture, and probably not."

Health of Scotland’s population - Diet - "Much of Scotland's poor health record can be attributed to its unhealthy eating habits. As set out in the 1993 report of the Scottish Office working party on diet, excess consumption of saturated fat, salt and sugar, and low consumption of fruit and vegetables"

Barbara Jacqueline's answer to Breasts: What is it like for a woman to have large breasts? - Quora - "It's a balance between vulnerability and power. You're constantly aware of the attention you attract... I've become more confident from the attention - you get over rude strangers, and honestly, there's worse problems to have. For me, that's where the power comes in... It's pretty interesting to see how your presence affects people"

Darigan Liber's answer to Objectification: What exactly is wrong with men objectifying women? - Quora - "The main argument taken against objectification of women (or any class of people) generally runs along the lines of: "...because it is dehumanising". With respect, this does not answer the question. This is simply substitution. Objectification is, by definition, dehumanisation. The question remains: "Is it immoral to dehumanise/objectify?" I would argue that dehumanisation is not immoral. Consider the case of a surgeon, who is about to undertake a dangerous procedure on a patient, or an emergency health professional trying to rescue an accident victim suffering from intense pain. In such circumstances, it might be necessary to dehumanise their patients, in order to better perform their tasks... dehumanisation per se is not immoral. Rather, it simply poses a perceived moral hazard, because it might make it easier for crimes to be perpetrated on the dehumanised. It is the potential effects of dehumanisation that are immoral, not dehumanisation itself... So why do we still instinctively condemn dehumanisation itself?... the group feeling dehumanised doesn't like it, because they feel that it reduces their social value. My counter-argument is simple: just because I don't like something, doesn't mean it's immoral"
I think the instinctive condemnation of objectification could go back to the Kantian categorical imperative of treating people as ends and not means

Ramzi Amri's answer to Postmodernism: How would you explain postmodernism to a ten year old? - Quora - "You see that table? Postmodernists are the people that would call it a chair"

Study sinks 'women and children first' myth - "They studied 18 different maritime disasters, including 16 previously unstudied shipwrecks, between the 1850s and 2011. Their aim was to test whether reports of chivalrous self-sacrifice during the sinking of the Titanic were exceptional. Disappointingly, they found that famous images of men giving up their lives as the ship went down were the opposite of what has generally happened... Not content with sinking one chivalrous myth, the Swedes also blow out of the water the idea that the captain always goes down with the ship. Among the 16 previously unstudied shipwrecks in their analysis, only nine captains actually died during the disaster. Overall crew members had a higher survival rate than passengers"

HPV Infections Linked to Penile Cancer

An Unexpected Briefing #airnzhobbit - YouTube

The authorities harassing workers? - "Just recently, the Minister for Manpower was laying down his “zero tolerance” stance on workers who go on strike, during the SMRT drivers’ saga... Besides Uzzal’s case, mentioned in Alex’s report, the case of Nepalese Rana Kumar too leaves one wondering whose side it is that MOM is on when clear violations of the law by employers take place"

Sharp rise in number of underweight women in Hong Kong - "The number of young women in the city who are underweight has almost doubled in the past 15 years... the proportion of Hong Kong women aged between 20 and 29 classified as having low body weight during 2005 to 2010 was nearly 40 per cent... close to four out of every 10 young Hong Kong women are at risk to osteoporosis. Although the study focused on women in their 20′s, increases are also observed across other age groups. About 30 per cent of those 80 or older were found to be underweight in the second phase"

Preference for Thinness in Singapore, A Newly Industrialised Society - "Dissatisfaction with body size and shape increased with tertile of adiposity among females, and thoughts about dieting and becoming thinner were present even among underweight girls. Unlike the females, the highest proportion of males satisfied with their body size and shape, was associated with the middle tertile of BMI. Speaking English at home, but not parents’ education, was positively associated with body dissatisfaction after controlling for BMI... Chinese Singaporean female youths have a preference for thinness as an ideal body size"

Underweight problems in Asian children and adolescents - "underweight was more prevalent in boys within the South and West Asian countries, while it was more prevalent in girls within the East Asian countries"

Relationships between indices of obesity and its co-morbidities in multi-ethnic Singapore
From 1998's National Health Survey, the mean BMI for Chinese females from 18-69 was 22.1. The mean BMI for females 18-39 was 22.3. The mean BMI for females was 23.3

Susceptibility of Singapore Chinese Schoolgirls to Anorexia Nervosa - Part I (Psychological Factors) - "Compared to a group of American undergraduates, Singaporean subjects has no significant difference on the drive for thinness scores, but had significantly higher scores on bulimia, ineffectiveness, body dissatisfaction, interpersonal distress and greater maturity fears"

Anorexia nervosa in Hong Kong. Why not more in Chinese? - "Anorexia nervosa is a geographically distinct psychiatric disorder; it is rapidly increasing in incidence in Western countries, while being virtually unreported in China, or in the Chinese community of Hong Kong. This is surprising when the Chinese preoccupation with food and their reported readiness to somatise dysphoria are considered... The rarity of the disorder in the East could be related to protective biological and socio-cultural factors specific to the Chinese, and while it may become more common, anorexia nervosa is unlikely to reach Western proportions.
This was in 1989. What a difference 2 decades makes
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