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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower Explained - Elephant Larry: The College Humor Years

Links - 15th November 2014

Nasi kandar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "The rice for a nasi kandar dish is often placed in a wooden container about three feet high, giving it a distinctive aroma"
Maybe the distinctive taste is air pollution

Broken Heart Syndrome (Stress Cardiomyopathy) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments - "The term "broken heart syndrome" came about after researchers noticed that many people with the condition were grieving, says Ilan Wittstein, MD, a Johns Hopkins University cardiologist who's been studying the condition for a decade. "The first several patients we saw, many of them had [just experienced] the death of a loved one, a spouse, a parent. Some people started having symptoms at a funeral," he tells WebMD. But other patients had just gone through a trauma like a car accident or a mugging. Another woman landed in the intensive care unit on her 60th birthday after being startled by well-wishers shouting "Surprise!" Wittstein says."

How You Make Decisions Says a Lot About How Happy You Are - WSJ - WSJ - "Across the board, they found that the maximizers landed better jobs. Their starting salaries were, on average, 20% higher than those of the satisficers, but they felt worse about their jobs. “The maximizer is kicking himself because he can’t examine every option and at some point had to just pick something,” Dr. Schwartz says. “Maximizers make good decisions and end up feeling bad about them. Satisficers make good decisions and end up feeling good.” Dr. Schwartz says he found nothing to suggest that either maximizers or satisficers make bad decisions more often."

One in seven young Brits have ‘warm feelings’ towards ISIS: poll - "The pro-extremist leanings suggested by the poll - particularly among under-25-year-olds – are due to anti-political sentiments and an admiration for the bravado shown by the fighters, academics quoted by the daily said."

Feminist advise women to avoid feminist men - "Jessica Valenti American blogger and feminist writer, known for having founded the feminist blog Feministing in 2004 claimed that the patriarchy is using equality to oppress women.
“Now we need a new wave of feminism to be more equal than men, I mean recently I saw this video on YouTube with over one million views and a way more likes than dislikes, at first I thought it was no big deal as the man was hiding in a store and defending himself from what I presumed from an aggressive man that was hitting him but then I saw it was a woman that was hitting him and I was terrified at how he violently abused her and literally threw her into a glass window shattering it or ‘defended himself’ as a rape apologist would put it as”"

Education study finds in favour of traditional teaching styles - "The study suggests that some schools and teachers continue using methods that cause little or no improvement in student progress, and instead rely on anecdotal evidence to back fashionable techniques such as “discovery learning,” where pupils are meant to uncover key ideas for themselves, or “learning styles,” which claims children can be divided into those who learn best through sight, sound or movement. Instead, more traditional styles that reward effort, use class time efficiently and insist on clear rules to manage pupil behaviour, are more likely to succeed, according to the report – touching on a raw nerve within the British teaching profession, which has seen vigorous debates between “progressive” and “traditional” best practice."

New Zealand On Instagram Vs. New Zealand In Reality

Pahang mufti demands probe on Muslims touching dogs event (VIDEO) - "In defence of Malaysia’s Shafi’i Islamic practice, Pahang Mufti Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Othman urged religious authorities to investigate a controversial animal awareness event in neighbouring Selangor yesterday where some Muslims petted dogs for the first time in their lives."
Malaysia Boleh!

School Told to Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’ Because ‘Boys and Girls’ Is Not Inclusive to Transgender - "“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says... it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong... Despite controversy, Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with the training documents. “We don’t get involved with politics,” he told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln radio show. “We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids . . . and we can’t be judgmental,” he said."
Apparently transpolitics isn't politics

Life Was a Roving Party Until I Grew Up - - "If you want to meet an available man who is well dressed, showered and looking good, hang around divorce court. There is one in every town. "

Rotten egg gas holds key to healthcare therapies - "It may smell of flatulence and have a reputation for being highly toxic, but when used in the right tiny dosage, hydrogen sulfide is now being being found to offer potential health benefits in a range of issues, from diabetes to stroke, heart attacks and dementia."
Someone this got reported as "Smelling farts may be good for your health "

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Bankrupt Dad? - "Kiyosaki was sharing secret money-making strategies of the wealthy with his wage slave readers. The tips ran the gamut from ridiculous to illegal and downright hurtful and included advocating for insider trading, arguing for the purchase of multiple real estate properties with little or no money down and telling followers they could purchase stocks on margin via unfunded brokerage accounts... No one has ever proven that Rich Dad, the man who supposedly gave Kiyosaki all his advice for wealthy living, ever existed. Nor has anyone ever documented any vast reserves of wealth earned by Kiyosaki prior to the publication of Rich Dad, Poor Dad in 1997"

Is reheated pasta less fattening? - "Cooking pasta and then cooling it down changes the structure of the pasta, turning it into something that is called "resistant starch". It's called "resistant starch" because once pasta, potatoes or any starchy food is cooked and cooled it becomes resistant to the normal enzymes in our gut that break carbohydrates down and releases glucose that then causes the familiar blood sugar surge... cooking, cooling and then reheating the pasta had an even more dramatic effect. Or, to be precise, an even smaller effect on blood glucose... "We've made a brand new discovery on Trust Me I'm A Doctor", he says, "and it's something that could simply and easily improve health. We can convert a carb-loaded meal into a more healthy fibre-loaded one instead without changing a single ingredient, just the temperature. In other words our leftovers could be healthier for us than the original meal.""

Literally Amazing! This Incredible Dad Loved His Family So Much He Got Eye Enlargement Surgery So He Could Look At Them More

Why Are Liberals Opponents of Israel? - "Leftists/liberals/progressives believe that the great moral drama of our era is "the rest against the West" or the "people of color" against the "white man." This has replaced poor-against-rich or worker-against-capitalist as the core idea of progressive thought. Seen through that lens, Israel (the "Western," "white" guys) is automatically wrong and the Palestinians (the "anti-colonialist" "people of color") are automatically right. On the other side, conservatives value Israel as a free country, a democracy, and an ally of the United States... In the 1960s and 1970s the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the leadership of some of the individual Mainline Protestant denominations turned sharply to the Left. To an outsider it looked as if they were replacing religious faith with political messianism. They embraced "revolutionary" forces in Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other "third world" places even though those forces were both anti-human and anti-God. And they embraced Palestinian "revolutionaries" in the same spirit."

French Muslim women creatively circumvent burqa ban - "in a number of Paris suburbs, Muslim women walk around with long scarves that cover their hair and with surgical masks originally intended for medical usage on their faces. Police say that a number of women they arrested produced documentation supporting their medical claim to wearing the mask."

What it really feels like to wear the 'burqa' - "The first thing I realise, apart from the fact that it is incredibly hot and airless under the thick black material is that I can no longer communicate with the people I pass. On a pedestrian crossing, I turn to smile my thanks at the driver who's stopped to let me cross. But black material hides the gesture... It's a tiny moment of human communication and relationship which I, in the solitude of my black tent, am wholly excluded from. No one even bothers to look in my direction. It makes me feel less than human... Lately, we've made a big fuss about hoodies, and young men wearing motorbike helmets aren't allowed into office buildings unless they remove their helmets so we can see their faces... I see someone I know very well walking towards me. I know where she works and I guess she's on her way there now. I stare at her as she approaches but, of course, I'm just a mobile black shape. I'm nobody. Then I think that if she was also dressed as I am, I wouldn't recognise her either. Two friends could pass each other by a matter of a few feet and be none the wiser... The veil is an explicit statement of separation and distance. It seems to me to be far more than a statement of religious identity. Nuns wear habits, to express their relationship to their God, but you can always see their faces. Their dress is not shouting out "don't deal with me". The burqa is different. It says, or at least to me it seems to say, "I don't want to have anything to do with you" and, at this level, it is hard not to see it as a rejection of our society and of our world, especially of the way in which women live in our world... I end up bumping into three different people because I couldn't see them from out of the corner of my eyes"

Don't be outraged for Muslim women - ""Did you wear a burqa when you lived in Saudi Arabia?" a young woman I met at a party recently asked. I responded in the affirmative, upon which she inquired again: "But weren't you outraged?" "Not particularly," I said. Fixing me with an earnest stare she declared, "Well if you weren't then I am outraged on your behalf!" It's tricky to respond to this with equanimity. The sentiment behind the utterance is undoubtedly a sincere and genuine one, free of any deliberate intent to patronise, but it was patronising nonetheless. This seems to be the initial turn-off when western feminism comes to the rescue, the blanket assumption that the victim has no volition nor can respond to adversity with the commensurate degree of outrage because she is so accustomed and desensitised to her own subjugation. It is a strange mix of protective sororal sympathy and smugness."

Isn't the viral catcalling video too short to prove that street harassment is a legitimate problem?

Gabriel Seah's answer to Isn't the viral catcalling video too short to prove that street harassment is a legitimate problem? - Quora

I have read many accounts of women experiencing street harassment and I do not doubt that it is a legitimate problem that some women face and have faced.

However, all this particular video suggests is that "street harassment" is a legitimate "problem" in some parts of New York (Harlem and Times Square).

I use the qualifiers advisedly, for more than its brevity, there are 2 main flaws of the video:

1) The definition of "Street Harassment"
2) Its geographical specificity

In turn,

1) The definition of "Street Harassment"

The most striking point here is that the bar for "Street Harassment" is incredibly low.

Certainly, some of the things the men did are problematic. For example the man who walked alongside her for 5 minutes.

Yet, many others are really innocent, like "How are you this morning?". Jon Groubert tallied all the instances of 'street harassment' (Jon Groubert's answer to Viral Catcall Video (October 2014): What was the exact path walked by the woman over the ten hours?)  and concluded:

Counting  them up, this is 20 incidents out of the supposed 108.  And if these  are the "worst", then I call BS on the other 88 incidents.  Because 3 of  them are either people just saying "How are you?" or "Have a nice  evening." or they're on they're phone.  Those other 17 incidents are the  worst they could find? 

As such, some people's takeaway from this video is that Black And Hispanic Men Should Be Banned From Chatting Up White Feminist Women (New York Catcalling Video Says More About Ms. Roberts Than The Men In The Video) (as an aside, the racial politics of the video and its response are interesting but I shall not address them in this answer)

Alternatively, the moral that I take away from the video:

Men should never talk to women in public that they don't already know.

Seriously, if telling a woman "Have a nice evening" counts as "street harassment", then it's quite impossible for me as a man to talk to new women (as in women I don't already know) on the street without "harassing" them.

Ironically this video demonstrates a view of female virtue reminiscent of Saudi Arabia, where women must be accompanied by male relatives when out in public in order to protect their virtue, which is so fragile that the slightest male attention is enough to rupture it.

2) Its geographical specificity

In science, replication is important for your results to be valid (i.e. "proof").

Attempts to replicate the catcalling experiment in Mumbai and Pune (India; Page on, Auckland (New Zealand; That Catcalling Experiment Went Very Differently in New Zealand), Sydney (Australia; Sydneysiders are a far cry from the New Gawkers) and Riga (Latvia; 10 Hours of Walking in Riga as a Woman • /r/europe) have all failed.

It is notable that large amounts of 'street harassment' didn't even happen in other parts of New York - 59% of 'street harassment' took place in Harlem, and 21% in Times Square (That Catcalling Video and Why “Research Methods” is such an Exciting Topic (Really!))

Indeed, it is even possible that if this experiment were repeated in Harlem and Times Square, one might not get the same results.

Ironically, it's a good bet that a large proportion of people who claim the NYC 'Street Harassment' video shows that 'street harassment' is a problem all women face are otherwise against 'stereotypes' and 'generalizations'.

(xkcd: Significant)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Links - 14th November 2014

Don’t blame homophobia on colonialism, cultural relativists. - "There’s more at stake here than a debate over cultural relativism. The African presidents who have signed extreme anti-gay bills into law have played upon colonialist guilt, castigating gay rights as a neocolonial attack. They claim that that LGBT tolerance is a “Western” innovation being foisted upon their countries in violation of “traditional African values.” These euphemisms are devilishly effective, painting basic gay rights as a Western swindle by lumping them into the same category as other colonialist humiliations. And they inject patriotic pride into measures like Uganda’s “kill the gays” law, turning support for such odious bills into a symbolic severing of the colonialist shackles. When we absolve developing countries for their homophobic laws and mores based on the calamities of colonialism, we risk playing right into this narrative. The merit of gay rights transcends cultural boundaries and historical fault lines; when we inject colonialism into the equation, it makes LGBT equality seem like a Western fad instead of a universal human right"

AMARE denounces woman’s forthcoming MRT antics, man’s inaction - "Local advocacy group AMARE (Association of Men for Action and Reaction) has denounced the antics of a woman on the MRT who was caught on camera being too forthcoming with the man sitting beside her. The woman, in the three-minute long video, repeatedly groped and tried to kiss the man, who she most likely did not know personally... They have also denounced the antics of the man who was being harassed. Bayday said: “This man obviously is asking for it. He could have just stood up and walked away and not subject himself to the unwanted advances of the woman.” “But he just sat there and took it. He deserves it.”"

AMARE petitions to stop violence against men’s wallets - "Local advocacy group AMARE (Association of Men for Action and Reaction) is circulating a petition to put an end to violence against men’s wallets. This after many shopping centres in the Orchard Road strip have put up Christmas decorations in the middle of November, signalling it is wallet-raping time."

Israeli MP proposes banning Islamic prayer call - "Mr Ilatov suggested that freedom of religious worship was trumped by the right to peace and quiet. "Freedom of religion and worship is a universal freedom to which everyone is entitled in every democratic state, and of course in Israel," he told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "This does not mean that additional rights can be trampled, such as the right to conduct a normal daily routine that includes peaceful and uninterrupted sleep during the night.""
Is Singapore Islamophobic?

Al-Qaeda Declares War on China, Too
Unlike liberal democracies, China does not play nice. Good luck.

Forest Service Warns People to Stop Taking Selfies With Bears

Prisoner's Dilemma In Real Life - "As for the difference between student and prisoner behavior, you'd expect that a prison population might be more jaded and distrustful, and therefore more likely to defect. The results went exactly the other way for the simultaneous game, only 37% of students cooperate. Inmates cooperated 56% of the time."

Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth - - "“Research shows when people are evaluating photos of others, they are trying to access compatibility on not just a physical level, but a social level,” said Jessica Carbino, Tinder’s in-house dating and relationship expert. “They are trying to understand, ‘Do I have things in common with this person?’”... She discovered that Tinder users decoded an array of subtle and not-so-subtle traits before deciding which way to swipe. For example, the style of clothing, the pucker of the lips and even the posture, Ms. Carbino said, tell us a lot about their social circle, if they like to party and their level of confidence."

Eleven countries studied, one inescapable conclusion – the drug laws don’t work - "The UK government’s comparison of international drug laws, published on Wednesday, represents the first official recognition since the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that there is no direct link between being “tough on drugs” and tackling the problem... “We did not in our fact-finding observe any obvious relationship between the toughness of a country’s enforcement against drug possession, and levels of drug use in that country,” it says. “The Czech Republic and Portugal have similar approaches to possession, where possession of small amounts of any drug does not lead to criminal proceedings, but while levels of drug use in Portugal appear to be relatively low, reported levels of cannabis use in the Czech Republic are among the highest in Europe."

Plants Know They Are Being Eaten - "Vegetarians and vegans pay heed: New research shows plants know when they're being eaten. And they don't like it."

Enid Blyton – not as good as she used to be - "Not only have Jo, Bessie and Fanny been renamed Joe, Beth and Frannie, and cousin Dick cousin Rick (I hadn’t remembered there was a Dick and a Fanny in the Faraway Tree as well as the Famous Five – how odd), but Dame Slap is also no longer Dame Slap! She’s now Dame Snap, which makes little sense. And she doesn’t slap any more; instead, she scolds. There’s no way in the world I think children should be slapped, but nor do I think they should be locked in cages, à la Hansel and Gretel, forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, à la Harry Potter, and I’m not even going to get into Goodnight, Mister Tom. It’s a story. Dame Slap was a good character; Dame Snap, not so much... the stories are all a bit dire and repetitive. Naughty visiting child does something silly, perhaps even something as bad as wearing a smart dress to a party. (“You’ve got bad manners, and you don’t do what you’re told, and people don’t like you,” Connie is told.) Ends up trapped or in trouble in a land at the top of the tree. Good children, who like helping their mother in the garden and wearing scruffy clothes, rescue them. Repeat."

Have Jedi created a new 'religion'? - "An ideas festival at Cambridge University this weekend will look at how new "religious movements", such as Jediism, the Indigo Children and Wicca, have expanded online. And in the case of Jedi, how they have developed ever-more complex doctrines and scriptures. What might have started as an intellectual exercise by fans adding to the movies and filling in the gaps, has become an attempt to build a coherent religious code. Beth Singler, a researcher in the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University, estimates that there are about 2,000 people in the UK who are "very genuine" about being Jedi. That's roughly the same number as the Church of Scientology... The Jedi belief system is a patchwork quilt of Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Samurai, says Singler. Often the ideas offer a simple dualism of good and evil, light and dark... 'Jedi wisdom appears to display all the worst aspects of pick-and-mix spirituality and tea-towel philosophy. It's not that the teachings are all false but without the anchoring of a systematic and deep world view they become platitudes... many of Yoda's teachings are positive thinking with a gnomic slant, or bland calls for interstellar peace'"

Jedi church founder thrown out of Tesco for refusing to remove his hood left 'emotionally humiliated' - "A Tesco spokesperson said: 'He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. 'Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood. 'If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers.'"

Singapore’s obsession with “tsap” | The Hexacoto - "Many of Singapore’s many iconic dishes: bak chor mee (minced meat noodles), chilli crab, Hokkien prawn mee, to name a few, tend to have a commonality — more often than not, they all have “tsap” (汁) or sauce/gravy in them. No matter Malay, Indian, or Chinese, Singapore dishes are sauce-heavy and gravy-generous. Singapore’s love for sauces and gravy doesn’t stop at local dishes, but extends its saucy reach to foreign cuisines localised in the country. It is hardly ever talked about, but even in “tsap” can we tease out what it means for a dish to be “truly Singaporean”."

Man revives woman with AED, branded a “pervert” for removing her clothes to apply electrode pads
No good deed goes unpunished

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

This is what happens when you give McDonald's to organic food "experts" - "see the experts verdict about how much better this organic food is than McDonald's"

NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough

Leonardo Moran's answer to How do people describe Che Guevara? - Quora - "When the rebels entered Havana at the close of 1958, Che set up headquarters in the old fortress of La Cabaña. For five months he oversaw daily summary trials and consequent executions by firing squad. He enjoyed his work. Batista's army had by then become Fidel's army; Batista's police were now Fidel's police. As Che's work proceeded apace, papa dodged pursuers and evaded capture. Had he been less able with his wits and with his fists, Che himself would have fired the coup de grace."

President Barack Obama a Homophobic Bigot? - "not too long ago, President Obama was quite vocal about his opposition to gay marriage, yet I don’t remember a single person calling him a bigot or homophobic."

Barack Obama Is a Homophobe - "I guess views about gay marriage only matter if you're in a beauty pageant and not in the White House. Or maybe these "personalities" hold different standards for blonde girls than they do for black dudes — meaning, they lower the bar for Obama — which seems to me, slightly bigoted. But I'm probably wrong. Fact is, people like Rancic and Perez are heroes. They know it's far tougher to beat up on a white Christian chick than go after the most popular president since Morgan Freeman in "Deep Impact." And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler."

Only Marx understood Hegel

"No individual did more to promulgate the dignity of the Prussian state after 1815 than Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the Swabian philosopher who took up Fichte's vacant chair at the new University of Berlin in 1818... There was a theological core to Hegel's reflections on the state: the state had a quasi-divine purpose; it was 'God's march through the world'; in Hegel's hands it became the quasi-divine apparatus by which the multitude of subjects who constituted civil society was redeemed into universality...

'Hegelianism' was not the stuff that popular identities are made of. The master's work was notoriously difficult to read, let alone understand. Richard Wagner and Otto von Bismarck were among those who attempted without success to make sense of him...

For Marx, the first true encounter with Hegel's thought was a revelatory shock akin to a religious conversion. 'For some days', he told his father in November 1837, his excitement made him 'quite incapable of thinking'; he 'ran about madly in the garden by the dirty water of the Spree', even joined his landlord on a hunting excursion, and found himself overpowered by the desire to embrace every street corner loafer in Berlin"

--- Iron Kingdom: The Rise And Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 / Christopher M. Clark

"Nietzsche, as far as I can tell, did not study Hegel's texts in any depth and relied mainly on secondary sources for his interpretation and his evaluation of Hegel's thought. Furthermore, his understanding of Hegel‘s philosophy was in my view superficial and largely misconceived. The purpose of the present chapter, therefore, is to explain how Nietzsche understood Hegel and what the sources of that understanding might have been.

In general, Nietzsche seems to have relished criticising great philosophers rather than actually reading them. He studied at first hand almost none of the major philosophers in whose tradition he followed and whose thought he sought to surpass — with the exception, that is, of the ancient Greek philosophers and of Schopenhauer. The only explicit reference Nietzsche makes to having read any texts by Hegel comes in a letter to Hermann Mushacke of 20 September 1865. However, the flippant tone of Nietzsche's comment does not suggest that he was applying himself very seriously to the study of Hegel's philosophy: ‘with coffee I eat a little Hegelian philosophy which spoils my appetite, so I take some Straussian pills such as The Wholes and the Halves. Various comments Nietzsche made about Hegel's style also imply that he read sections of Hegel's original texts, but of course Nietzsche's opinions in this matter were probably gleaned from other writers such as Schopenhauer as well. Even what seem like direct quotations from Hegel do not necessarily testify to any detailed knowledge on Nietzsche's part of the passages in which they appear in Hegel's work. In the preface to Daybreak, for example, Nietzsche cites Hegel's ‘celebrated dialectical principle . . . "contradiction moves the world, all things contradict themselves", and whereas he may well have talcen this quotation directly from Hegel's work, the very word ‘celebrated' suggests that he could have learnt of Hegel's principle from any popular source.

Although of course it is difficult to prove that Nietzsche did not study Hegel in depth, nothing in his work suggests that he accorded more than cursory attention to Hegel's texts. Nor, pace Deleuze, can we assume that Nietzsche was well acquainted with the works of Hegel's immediate successors either, except perhaps Feuerbach and D. F. Strauss. Nowhere does he mention having read either Marx or Engels; his comments on Bruno Bauer suggest that he was concerned more with Bauefs reading of his own work than with his reading of Bauer's... he only decided to read Kierkegaard towards the end of his active life and never, as far as is known, actually read him; there is uncertainty about whether he had any first-hand knowledge of the work of Max Stirner, and his only connection with Arnold Ruge seems to have been that Ruge‘s second wife was a Nietzsche. lt seems, therefore, that Nietzsche's understanding of Hegel was not founded on a close study of either Hegel's own works or of the works of those who might most obviously be expected to have known Hegel's philosophy well, but that it was derived rather from other secondary sources.

--- Hegel, Nietzsche and the Criticism of Metaphysics / Stephen Houlgate

So others who acknowledge a debt to Hegel - including, for example, Nietzsche - have little firsthand knowledge of his philosophy, preferring instead to rely on commentaries or histories of philosophy.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Darwin's Witnesses

"Hello. We are Darwin's Witnesses. May we have five minutes of your time to share with you the good news about Evolution?"

Addendum: Oops. This has been posted before.

Links - 13th November 2014

Cyclist dumps bike on car - "He was driving home with his wife along Selegie Road when he realised that the taxi ahead of him was moving slowly and hogging the road. So Mr Woo honked at him. But a cyclist who was just ahead thought he was honking at him instead and became enraged. Mr Woo said the cyclist "jammed on his brakes" repeatedly. "When he did that, I also had to do the same. He's on a bike, I'm in a car. If I hit him even slightly, it would be dangerous for him," said Mr Woo, who wanted to reveal only his surname and declined to reveal his occupation, saying he was afraid of reprisals. "It looked like he was challenging me to hit him." After a while, the cyclist suddenly stopped and got off from his bicycle. What he did next gave Mr Woo a big shock: He lifted his bicycle and dumped it onto the car's bonnet... Mr Woo claimed that when he and his wife stepped out of their car to confront the cyclist, he tried to leave. He said: "My wife grabbed onto his bicycle to prevent him from leaving. He then claimed that we were trying to steal it.""

‘World's Poorest President' Rages Against The Necktie, Calling It A ‘Useless Rag' - "The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck"

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity - "Following our 2010 debate in Billings, Montana, I asked Christopher Hitchens why he didn't try to savage me on stage the way he had so many others. His reply was immediate and emphatic: "Because you believe it." Without fail, our former church-attending students expressed similar feelings for those Christians who unashamedly embraced biblical teaching. Michael, a political science major at Dartmouth, told us that he is drawn to Christians like that, adding: "I really can't consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn't trying to convert me." As surprising as it may seem, this sentiment is not as unusual as you might think. It finds resonance in the well-publicized comments of Penn Jillette, the atheist illusionist and comedian: "I don't respect people who don't proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.... How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?""

Causes and Consequences of Child Labour in Ethiopia - "The other main cause of child labour is cultural values. The Ethiopian culture encourages children to work to develop skills. Children are considered as assets to generate income in time of poverty. Children should, therefore, be given work at home early in life and be obliged to assist parents."

The Mysterious Popularity Of The Meaningless Myers-Briggs (MBTI) - "there are psychological realities in organizational life locking-in the MBTI’s popularity precisely because it provides easy to digest truthy nibbles. The absurdity of a Myers-Briggs assessment is actually its strength . MBTI profiles give organizations the comforting illusion of understanding something important about human complexity... By reducing all this messy human complexity to 16 easy to manage categories much of the anxiety is brought under control. The organization can then function day-to-day. In what Woollen describes as the “classic exchange between an organization and an outside consulting expert” the MBTI also gives the outside consultant an easy to deploy tool... the MBTI is so popular because it provides the illusion of solution when, in reality, the problems and conflicts remains as real as ever"

PhotoMath, the camera-powered calculator, is now better than ever - "PhotoMath, “the world’s first camera calculator”"

Saturated fat has long been demonised by doctors, but evidence now suggests it could be healthy - "eating full-fat dairy products slashed the risk of type 2 diabetes... Previous research has suggested that fat affects how the body breaks down sugar. And a Canadian study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, found that eating dairy products such as cheese and cream may be associated with lower blood pressure and blood sugar - both factors linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Researchers found that people with healthier blood test results had a type of fatty acid in their blood that is associated with eating dairy food... an authoritative British study involving half a million people found that those who ate saturated fat were no more likely to develop heart disease than those who filled their trolley with low-fat yoghurts and fish. 'Saturated fats do not cause heart disease,' the researchers concluded... Indeed, the new thinking is that removing saturated fat from our diet has been the problem, as it's resulted in a major rise in our consumption of carbohydrates, especially sugar. This pushes up our blood sugar levels - and keeping blood sugar levels high for years is associated with type 2 diabetes and weight gain... our love affair with the Mediterranean diet was encouraged by the opportunities for scientists and journalists to attend all-expenses-paid conferences in luxury hotels, all funded by the olive oil industry. In fact, evidence that such a diet is heart-healthy is not so strong. More dangerous, she claims, is that the effect of demonising saturated fats has been to expose us to two far more toxic substances. First, trans fats... olive oil - a key component of the 'heart-healthy' Mediterranean diet - is not quite as wonderful as we've been led to believe. She says the positive image of olive oil owes much to $250 million-worth of European Union public relations funding... she suggests that olive oil's only virtue is that it doesn't push up 'bad' cholesterol as much as saturated fat can. Other heart-healthy claims, such as it lowering blood pressure, have not been supported. The Mediterranean diet itself comes out equally poorly in terms of heart protection: the data shows that it is merely better than a standard low-fat diet, says Teicholz. A low-fat diet has been especially damaging to women who've stuck to the advice faithfully. This is because it lowers their 'good' cholesterol more than men's"

Saturated Fat: Good or Bad? - "Even though we now have plenty of experimental data in humans showing these initial assumptions to be wrong, people are still being told to avoid saturated fat in order to reduce heart disease risk.
If saturated fat raises cholesterol (A causes B) and cholesterol causes heart disease (B causes C), then this must mean that saturated fat causes heart disease (A causes C). However, at the time, this was not based on any experimental evidence in humans. This hypothesis (called the “diet-heart hypothesis”) was based on assumptions, observational data and animal studies. The diet-heart hypothesis then turned into public policy in 1977, before it was ever proven to be true. Even though we now have plenty of experimental data in humans showing these initial assumptions to be wrong, people are still being told to avoid saturated fat in order to reduce heart disease risk... The Women’s Health Initiative was the biggest nutrition study in history. It was a randomized controlled trial with 46,835 women, who were instructed to eat a low-fat diet. After 7.5-8 years, there was only 0.4 kg (1 pound) difference in weight and there was zero difference in heart disease, cancer or death"

Scott White's answer to British Culture: What things can you do in the UK that you cannot in the USA? - Quora - "Meet lots of polite people who pretend to agree with you.
Say "I'm sorry" so often that you forget the meaning of the word."

"Ribbed for your pleasure" - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Adam Frankl's answer to Israel has been criticized recently for having a "disproportionate response" to Hamas missile attacks. Are there countries which have shown a different, proportional response in a similar situation? - Quora - "Such lopsided casualty rates are actually typical in warfare. Patton's drive across France resulted in 48,000 Germans killed, 2000 Americans killed, and an estimated 30,000 casualties from French civilians."

Influence of Extraction Method on Quality and Functionality of Broccoli Juice - "This study was performed to compare the quality and functionality of broccoli juice as affected by extraction method. Broccoli juice was extracted using method I (NUC Kuvings silent juicer), method II (NUC centrifugal juicer), and method III (NUC mixer), and the quality properties of the broccoli juices were analyzed using three different methods. Additionally, the antioxidative, anticancer, and anti-hyperglycemic activities of broccoli juice prepared by the three different methods were investigated in vitro. The broccoli juice made by method I contained the highest polyphenol and flavonoid contents at 1,226.24 mg/L and 1,018.32 mg/L, respectively. Particularly, broccoli juice prepared by method I showed higher DPPH and ABTS radical scavenging activities than those of the other samples. Additionally, broccoli juice made by method I showed the highest growth inhibitory effects against HeLa, A549, AGS, and HT-29 cancer cells. Broccoli juice prepared by method I had the highest α-glucosidase inhibitory effects. These results indicate that there are important differences in chemical and functional qualities between juice extraction techniques."
This is the only study I've found on slow juicers; the slow juicer was actually better than the hand blender

Brooks, D.: He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates. (eBook and Paperback) - "While there are far more women in public office today than in previous eras, women are still vastly underrepresented in this area relative to men. Conventional wisdom suggests that a key reason is because female candidates start out at a disadvantage with the public, compared to male candidates, and then face higher standards for their behavior and qualifications as they campaign. He Runs, She Runs is the first comprehensive study of these dynamics and demonstrates that the conventional wisdom is wrong. With rich contextual background and a wealth of findings, Deborah Jordan Brooks examines whether various behaviors--such as crying, acting tough, displays of anger, or knowledge gaffes--by male and female political candidates are regarded differently by the public. Refuting the idea of double standards in campaigns, Brooks's overall analysis indicates that female candidates do not get penalized disproportionately for various behaviors, nor do they face any double bind regarding femininity and toughness. Brooks also reveals that before campaigning begins, women do not start out at a disadvantage due to gender stereotypes. In fact, Brooks shows that people only make gendered assumptions about candidates who are new to politics, and those stereotypes benefit, rather than hurt, women candidates. Proving that it is no more challenging for female political candidates today to win over the public than it is for their male counterparts, He Runs, She Runs makes clear that we need to look beyond public attitudes to understand why more women are not in office."

Why Putin is Loving the West's Protests Against Russia's Anti-Gay Laws - "The movement is one he set out to create in order to boost his power over a country with deep conservative roots by angering Americans and making antagonists out of them. Many protesters criticize the anti-gay propaganda policy without understanding Russia's complicated relationship with homophobia. Their lack of understanding the very country they're trying so hard to vilify leads to narrow-minded and Eurocentric arguments and actions, which only fuel Russian nationalism... When Putin passed the anti-gay law as part of a line of conservative policies based on the "good Russian" mentality, Russians loved it. A poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center right after the law was passed found that 88% of Russians supported the legislation. The law's massive popularity helped Putin to finally define post-communist Russia by juxtaposing it with Western society. According to Lipman, there hasn't been this much anti-Western sentiment in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union."

Irritating Words: Neoliberalism (TA)

BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed, Work and Consumption; Neo-liberal Economics:

Laurie Taylor: "Now, I know from experience that there are certain words and phrases which when used by my guests or myself in this programme, arouse varying degrees of irritation.

'Hegemony' is on the list, as is 'social capital' and 'ontology' and 'bourgeois', but easily top of the charts is 'neoliberalism'.

Is it, asked one recent correspondent, nothing more than an all-purpose term of abuse for anyone who disagrees with Marxism"...

Philip Mirowski: There's this larger idea that people who don't care about politics at all imbibe this kind of neoliberalism from their environment and for example Ilana Gershon has a lovely set of articles showing how Facebook is a device for training youth how to be neoliberal agents.

Because it takes your information for free, sells it to others for profit and if, what you're supposed to do is you're supposed to construct a profile so you can play around with being a person who's different from who you really are. And then you get little metrics about how many friends you have and so forth and so on.

I mean, what it is is you have this sense of yourself as this weird agglomeration of parts that you can put together.


"Islamophobia" in Europe (TA)

BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism; Sociology of Sleep

Laurie Taylor: I've also been looking at some figures and there are some alarming statistics for the growth of anti-Muslim feeling within... Europe, for example.

Isn't there a possibility that what is happening now with the increasing numbers of people who appear to resent the presence of Muslims in their community. Isn't there a possibility of this developing into something not on the scale, of course, of The Holocaust, but into something which might in many terms be paralleling that in terms of hostility towards a particular group

Rumy Hasan: I think the parallels are false.

In fact I looked at statistics which show that hostility towards the Irish during the IRA bombings of the 70s and 80s is if anything greater hostility to Muslims, okay?

I'll give you a interesting statistic.

Between the census of 2001 and 2011. Let's call it the Islamophobic Decade. The population of England and Wales of Muslims increased from 3% to 4.8%. That's a 60% increase.

Now if there was rampant Islamophobia, you'd have thought people would be leaving the country.

And the same is true in Europe. They would be leaving Europe.

No, in fact the reverse is the case. Countless numbers of Muslims from these 57 OIC countries are trying to get into the so-called Islamophobic Europe.

So the facts don't add up.

Europe has changed enormously, and they don't want very significant levels of religion being injected into society.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Year Student Mistakes (TA)

BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed, Boxing in Gleason's Gym; Sport and Capitalism

"Now, when there wasn't all that much to do at York, we used to play a rather patronising game of reciting mistakes made by first year students.

You know, there were the good ole ones. There was the student who thought the criminals most deserving of punishment were the ones she called child molesters. And there was a student who said he disagreed with the Freudian interpretation of familial psychic life because "no one could ever fancy my mom".

And there were many many students who when asked to comment on a careful piece of sociological research complained, "it was a bit of a generalisation."

I did always have a bit of a sneaking sympathy for that last complaint. Of course, sociology necessarily deals in generalisations. Albeit based on often painstakingly accumulated evidence.

But it's often in the exceptions to such generalisations that one can come across unexpected insights."

Links - 12th November 2014

"Men don't dump young women for older women. Men dump young women for younger women." - from Mistresses (the show)


The Twisted World of Sexual Organs - "when the Korean woman chewed on the dead male squid’s flesh she triggered the release of his spermatophores. The sperm sacs mistook the woman’s soft mouth for a female squid and implanted themselves there instead. The dead male squid had, effectively, attempted to inseminate a human female... penises may double as weapons during violent combat, or as lassos to snag a mate - often against her will. It’s a world where semen can exert powerful mind control over a female, and vaginas can act to deliberately help or hinder the age-old race of sperm to egg... The sperm of the Norway rat, for instance, have tiny hook-shaped heads that allow them to link together in their hundreds, forming a mega-sperm with several hundred tails that can power towards the eggs faster than single sperm. This gives the sperm a vital edge in the race to reach the egg before a rival’s sperm does. Other rats play dirty. They have developed deliberately malformed ‘kamikaze’ sperm, which seem to linger behind as their peers race to the egg. These sperm are thought by some scientists to join together and form a tangled mess that ensnares the sperm of rival males - although the idea is controversial... It’s only within the last 20 years that biologists such as Eberhard and Barbosa have begun to realise just how much power females hold during mating. It’s easy to understand why this went unnoticed for so long: female control is often subtle and even cryptic compared to the boisterous displays of power and control often put on by males... Men, unusually among male mammals, lack a penis bone (some scholars think the Bible may have been one of the first texts to attempt an explanation for this puzzling fact – Adam may have lost his penis bone, not a rib, in the creation of Eve). Even so, the human penis has probably also evolved to stimulate women. It is freakishly large compared to the penises of most of our closest animal relations - the chimps, gorillas and orang-utans."
Likewise in humans: female control is often subtle and even cryptic. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist

PEOPLE WITH ‘FOREIGN-SOUNDING’ NAMES GET FEWER JOB INTERVIEWS - "Job applicants with ‘foreign-sounding’ names are considerably less likely to be invited for an interview than people with Anglo-Saxon names. That is the central finding of research by Nicolas Jacquemet and Constantine Yannelis, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2011 annual conference. This discrimination is of the same size as the often-observed discrimination against African-American names in job applications, suggesting that the discrimination may be due to a general suspicion about differences rather than a particular ethnicity... These results suggest that discrimination arises because of a general mistrust of outsiders rather than a mistrust of specific minorities. The authors argue that government policies that target discrimination against specific minorities will miss out on preventing discrimination against others: governments should turn their attention to removing the chance for discrimination of any kind by making all resumes anonymous... The extent of racial discrimination is now well established, and ranges from a 30-50% drop in the likelihood of receiving a positive answer as a result of the perceived ethnicity of the name appearing on the resume. Perhaps the most striking fact is that this result remains the same across countries, geographic regions and ethnic minorities. This may suggest that discrimination arises because of a general mistrust of any individual identified as an outsider of the dominant group, rather than a targeted mistrust against specific minorities – that is, suspicions of dissimilarities rather than differences... Once call-backs are disaggregated according to whether the employer is in the city proper or the suburbs, it appears the whole discrimination pattern comes from the suburbs, where the ‘white flight’ phenomenon – white families choosing to leave an area once black families begin to move in – has produced very high ethnic homogeneity."
Paper below
Keywords: hiring name interview, make up european sounding name cv discrimination, white made up names resume, unusual names

Indiscriminate discrimination: A correspondence test for ethnic homophily in the Chicago labor market - "Duguet, Leandri, L’Horty, and Petit (2007) observe that applicants with family names of North African origin with Gallicized first names face substantially less discrimination amongst French employers than applicants with both North African first and last names, almost eliminating the difference in call-backs... We pick names that we believe are unidentifiable to Chicago based employers using ethnic groups that are relatively unknown in the Chicago area. To accomplish this task, a set of names is first created by randomly mixing Albanian, Armenian and Georgian first names... Past experimental studies have indicated that substantial gender biases exist (see, e.g., Weichselbaumer, 2004; Booth, Leigh, and Varganova, 2012; Bertrand and Mullainathan, 2004), female applicants being more likely to receive a callback offer"
Why don't feminists talk about discrimination against men for callbacks?

French entrepreneurs launch test to detect pork in food

Mixed-race people perceived as 'more attractive,' UK study finds

Q&A: What Is Feminist Biology? - "The University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a particular kind of biologist: a feminist one. The university has set up a fellowship, administered by its women's studies department, for life sciences research. While it may sound strange for a social sciences department to host a biologist, the researchers in charge of the new fellowship are hoping to make it more of a norm... The first step is always to say, 'Does this finding replicate?' Because we've so many of these flash-in-the-pan things where a study gets tons of publicity and there's so much competition in biology to be first with your breathless finding. So that's the first question to ask, 'Has anybody else gotten this?'"
So it sounds like 'Feminist Biology" is mostly just Good Biology. Slow Boiled Frog - "Claim: A frog placed in water that is brought to a boil through gradual temperature increase will make no attempt to escape...
'The 'critical thermal maxima' of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so'"

Why Is Average IQ Higher in Some Places? - "Before our work, several scientists had offered explanations for the global pattern of IQ. Nigel Barber argued that variation in IQ is due primarily to differences in education. Donald Templer and Hiroko Arikawa argued that colder climates are difficult to live in, such that evolution favors higher IQ in those areas. Satoshi Kanazawa suggested that evolution favors higher IQ in areas that are farther from the evolutionary origin of humans: sub-Saharan Africa. Evolution, the hypothesis goes, equipped us to survive in our ancestral home without thinking about it too hard. As we migrated away, though, the environment became more challenging, requiring the evolution of higher intelligence to survive. We tested all these ideas. In our 2010 study, we not only found a very strong relationship between levels of infectious disease and IQ, but controlling for the effects of education, national wealth, temperature, and distance from sub-Saharan Africa, infectious disease emerged as the best predictor of the bunch. A recent study by Christopher Hassall and Thomas Sherratt repeated our analysis using more sophisticated statistical methods, and concluded that infectious disease may be the only really important predictor of average national IQ."

Balaji Viswanathan's answer to Tamil Ethnicity and People: Are Tamilians discriminated against in North Indian states on the basis of culture, language or skin colour? - Quora - "Teasing is not discrimination. In Delhi, we used to make fun of Sardars all the time and sometimes the Mallus, Gujjus and Bongs. So, the Tamils get no special treatment in this. In the same way, Tamil movies often make fun of Marwaris, Telugus and other Indians. There are more Sardar jokes than jokes on all other communities combined. Making fun is not bad. Humor is the antidote to hatred."

What percentage of Singapore’s total population was born in Singapore? - "I have performed a very rough calculation based on other publicly available data to arrive at a rough guesstimate that 45.8% of Singapore’s total population (residents and non-residents) was born in Singapore."

Dog owner threatens to sue kindhearted shelter worker who raised money so he could be reunited with his pet pooch - "

EXCLUSIVE: Milo, Boogie, & Baldwin Apparently Doxxed - "Earlier this evening, was provided with a pastebin that seems to include the personal information of Milo Yiannopoulos, Adam Baldwin, YouTube personality Boogie2988, Zoe Quinn’s ex Eron Gjoni, as well as another YouTuber, JonTron. I can officially confirm that at least one of the addresses are legit... At the end of the Pastebin, there is a message:
let this be a warning, don’t fuck with zoe or anita anymore or this list grows...
I can say with absolute certainty that at least one very high level supporter of GamerGate has been doxxed"
Doxxing = exposing someone's personal details as a way of attacking them
Comments: "Sure, why take into consideration legitimate criticism when you can just doxx anyone who disagrees with you? Genius!"
"If they've gone as far as doxxing people now, they've already lost. It means that their comments, and statements have lost all traction and the best they can try to do is shut people up by giving information that could cause physical harm to another."
"And this is coming from the same folks who accuse gamers of doxxing with abandon? The double standards are strong in them."

Leftovers Inspiration - Five ways to use up leftover Risotto or Paella....

SuperBrunch - The Jaw-Dropping Buffet Of The Year Is BACK at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

University of Zimbabwe Impose Student Kissing Ban - "Fourth on the list of behaviour that will result in eviction says: "Caught in intimate position (kissing or having sex in public places)". Ms Mazikana, who is the students' gender representative, said that the campus already had strict rules for those fraternising with the opposite sex. In single-sex hostels, for example, residents were only permitted visitors in the foyer and no visits were permitted after 22:00, she said... There were already strict regulations infringing the students' rights to demonstrate - introduced in 1997 - which instilled a fear of being expelled, he said. The BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says the students often accuse the university authorities of being out of touch with the young. Beer was banned on campus about seven years ago, which proved very unpopular, he says."

Black Actress Who Accused LAPD of Racial Profiling is Charged with Lewd Conduct - "Watts and her boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian Lucas, are being slapped with the charge after Los Angeles City Attorney filed the charges this week after receiving various witness statements suggesting Watts and Lucas were having sex in her car outside CBS Studios and seeing photos of Watts straddling her Lucas with her breasts exposed.Watts and her boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian Lucas, are being slapped with the charge after Los Angeles City Attorney filed the charges this week after receiving various witness statements suggesting Watts and Lucas were having sex in her car outside CBS Studios and seeing photos of Watts straddling her Lucas with her breasts exposed... When responding to the scene after receiving a complaint that “a white male and black female were involved in a sexual act inside a Mercedes” on Sept. 11, officers asked Watts for her identification. Watts did not want to comply with the mandate and instead pulled the race card, the celebrity card and the publicist card in order to wrangle herself out of the situation. And she walked away from a police officer, which could have led to her arrest to begin with. “Somebody called, which gives me the right to be here,” the officer, later identified as Sgt. Jim Parker, is heard saying to Watts. “So it gives me the right to identify you by law.” “Do you know how many times the cops have been called just for being black?” Watts responded. “Who brought up the race card?” Parker asked. “I’m bringing it up because I have every right to be here,” Watts said... Watts and Lucas then went on a public campaign against the LAPD, posting photos of the incident on social media accusing cops of racism and unlawful imprisonment on network TV... “I was handcuffed and detained by 2 police officers from the Studio City Police Department after refusing to agree that I had done something wrong by showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place,” Watts dribbled nonsensically on Facebook. Lucas suggested police “harassed” the couple because they were an interracial couple and they thought Watts was a black prostitute."

How Diversity Hurts Performance

Somehow, those who tout the benefits of "diversity" never present evidence for their claim. It does seem that on the contrary,, diversity worsens performance:

Katherine Y. Williams and Charles A. O’Reilly, III

"Most of the research that supports the claim that diversity is beneficial for groups has been conducted in the laboratory or classroom setting, instead of examining intact working groups within an organizational context. In the laboratory the results sometimes show that group diversity can improve the quality of a given decision or the creativity of an idea (e.g., Kent & McGrath, 1969; Priem, Harrison, & Muir, 1995). The research on intact working groups, on the other hand, paints a less optimistic view of the effects of diversity on group functioning. It provides evidence of the possible dysfunctional aspects of heterogeneity in groups, including increased stereotyping, in-group/out group effects, dysfunctional conflict, and turnover (e. g., Linville & Jones, 1980; O’Reilly, Snyder, & Boothe, 1993; Pelled, 1996; Tsui, Egan, & O’Reilly, 1992)...

Much of the literature that supports the claim that diversity is beneficial for groups is often based on variation in individual attributes such as personality, ability, and functional backgrounds, and not on ascriptive attributes such as ethnicity and sex (e.g., Altman & Haythom, 1967; Hoffman, 1959; Levy, 1964; Triandis, Hall, & Ewen, 1965; Zeleny, 1955). With the changes in the demography of the workforce, understanding the effects of visible attributes is even more important than it used to be. Although there is evidence from laboratory research that diversity in ascriptive characteristics can be beneficial to groups (Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991; Watson, Kumar, & Michaelsen, 1993), this is based on only a few studies when considered against the large number of field studies suggesting that heterogeneity in race and gender often have negative effects on group process and performance (e.g., Cummings, Zhou, & Oldham, 1993; Kizilos, Pelled, & Cummings, 1996; Riordan & Shore, 1997; Zenger & Lawrence, 1989)...

Similarity on attributes ranging from attitudes and values to demographic variables increases interpersonal attraction and liking (e.g., Byme, Clore, & Worchel, 1966). Individuals who are similar in background may share common life experiences and values, and may find the experience of interaction with each other easier, positively reinforcing, and more desirable. Similarity provides positive reinforcement for one’s attitudes and beliefs, while dissimilarity is seen as a punishment. For instance, similarity/attraction theory has been embedded in the principle of homophily and the effects it may have on communication in groups (Rogers & Bhowmik, 1971). In a free choice situation, when an individual can interact with any of a number of people, there is a strong tendency for him or her to select a person that is similar (e.g,, Burt & Reagans, 1997; Lincoln & Miller, 1979). Homophily has been observed in friendship and voluntary interactions (Blau, 1977; McPherson & Smith-Lovin, 1987), as well as in organizational settings (e.g., Brass, 1985; Ibarra, 1992; Mehra, Kilduff, & Brass, 1996). Several laboratory studies demonstrate that heterogeneity leads to decreased communication, message distortion, and more errors in communication (e.g., Barnlund & Harland, 1963; Triandis, 1960)...

Information and decision-making theories propose that variance in group composition can have a direct positive impact through the increase in the skills, abilities, information, and knowledge that diversity brings, independent of what happens in the group process (Tziner & Eden, 1985). Demographically diverse individuals are expected to have a broader range of knowledge and experience than homogeneous individuals. For example, the proponents of immigration argue that diversity promotes creativity in the workforce. To accomplish this, Lazear (1997) argues that new immigrants must have information that is different from the existing workforce, have information that is relevant or useful, and must be able to communicate this to others. From this perspective, diversity is valuable when it adds new information. Clearly, this positive impact of diversity can be expected when the task can benefit from multiple perspectives and diverse knowledge, such as innovations, complex problems, or product design. Researchers largely agree that functional or background diversity provides the range of knowledge, skills, and contacts that enhances problem solving (e.g., Ancona & Caldwell, 1992; Bantel & Jackson, 1989; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1997). “Members who have entered the organization at different times know a different set of people and often have both different technical skills and different perspectives on the organization's history" (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992, p. 325)...

The effects of diversity can be moderated by the situation. Since some of the potentially negative effects of increased diversity result from cognitive processes (e.g., stereotyping), it is reasonable that the same cognitive processes may offer a means for reducing the negative effects. For instance, creating a common identity or goal may, as Sherif (1936) demonstrated over 50 years ago, reduce in-group/out-group biases and promote solidarity. More recently, research has shown that strong, collectivistic cultures may reduce invidious social categorization effects (e.g., Chatman, Polzer, Barsade, & Neale, 1997; O’Reilly & Chatman, 1996). Similarly, other actions that call attention to similarities or differences may accentuate or diminish social categorization and similarity processes. Some types of diversity training may unwittingly highlight differences and create exclusive rather than inclusive categorizations (Nemeth & Christensen, 1996). Finally, other contextual influences such as technology or task design may also increase or decrease normative and informational influences on interpretations. For example, jobs may be designed that signal to people that they are interdependent or independent (Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1997). These contextual influences can act to focus attention in ways that can subtly focus interpretations on similarities or differences. As such, they may unwittingly help or hinder group process and performance...

The overall effect of increasing diversity is likely to have a u-shaped form with some increments of diversity having large positive increases in group problem-solving capability with comparatively small negative effects on group functioning. Large amounts of diversity in groups may offer little in the way of added value from unique information and make group cohesion and functioning difficult...

In general, there is strong evidence that diversity in tenure is associated with lower levels of social integration, poorer communication, and higher turnover in groups. Although under some circumstances turnover may have positive effects (Staw, 1980), the effects of tenure diversity found in the research reviewed here are considered negative; that is, those who are most different in terms of tenure are most likely to exit...

Functional background may serve as a proxy for the information, knowledge, skills, and expertise that individuals bring to a group. The research suggests that the diversity of information functionally dissimilar individuals bring to the group improves performance in terms of creativity, but not necessarily implementation. For example, functionally diverse groups are slower (Hambrick, Cho, & Chen, 1996) and have lower cohesion than homogeneous groups (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992, p. 338). However, the overall evidence strongly suggests that functional diversity is likely to stimulate task conflict and improve performance (Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, l997; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1997)...

Overall, the research on age diversity suggests that groups with higher variations in their age composition may have slightly lower levels of effective group process than more homogeneous groups. The expectation, drawn from an information and decisionmiaking theory, that age differences within a group may index differences in perspective and values that are useful for cognitive performance is not supported by the literature Instead, the literature suggests that age diversity is associated with increased turnover and withdrawal, especially of those individuals who are most different...

The results of research on gender diversity suggest that the proportion of men and women present in the sample may be an important predictor of the results. In general, gender diversity has negative effects on groups, especially on males. It is associated with higher tumover rates, especially among those who are most different. The studies also reveal that women and men respond differently, and may have different experiences as a minority. Men display lower levels of satisfaction and commitment when they are in the minority, while women appear less likely to have a negative psychological reaction. This is despite the fact that men in female-dominated groups are more likely to be accepted, less likely to be treated with hostility, and less likely to be stereotyped. Given the asymmetrical findings, future research on the effects of gender diversity needs to pay close attention to the proportions of men and women in the sample if results are to be interpretable (e,g., Ely, 1994)...

Although the issue of race-ethnic diversity is important for society and organizations, research on its impact remains inconclusive. The optimists argue, based on information/decision theory, that ethnic diversity can promote creativity and improve decision making. Paradoxically, there is some evidence from field studies that supports this conclusion, but, contrary to information/decision theory predictions, these results occur independent of group-process variables; that is, diversity improves performance controlling for group process. The pessirnists, using similarity/attraction and social categorization theories, note that ethnic diversity can, unless successfully managed, have negative effects on group process. Consistent findings show that individuals who are different from the majority race in an organization are more likely to leave, to be less satisfied and psychologically committed to the organization, and to receive lower perfonnance evaluations. Interestingly, several studies find that these effects are more pronounced for Whites than minorities (Riordan & Shore, 1997; Tsui, Egan, & O’Reilly, 1992). Overall, the evidence for ethnic diversity seems more consistent with predictions of similarity/attraction and social categorization theories than with information and decision making.

A limitation to the existing research is that most studies have only examined blacks and whites, or whites and “others.” Yet, as decades of research in cross-cultural psychology has shown, there are important differences within and across ethnic groups (e.g., Kim, Park, & Suzuki, 1990; Phinney, 1996) that may be relevant within organizations (e.gv, O’Reil1y, Williams, & Barsade, 1997; Riordan & Shore, 1997), It is unclear that Asian Americans, for instance, Will have the same experience as African Americans in majority Anglo-American organizations. Further, the effects of proportions may also have important effects on race/ethnic diversity just as it does on sex composition (e.g., Espinoza & Garza, 1985; Garza & Santos, 1991; Tsui, Egan, & O’Reil1y, 1992).

Variations in other individual differences have also been studied and found to have important effects on the process and perfonnance of groups. Some of the earliest laboratory studies conceptualized diversity in terms of variations in personality, attitudes, and values and found positive effects for these (e.g., Torrance, 1957). In 1959 Hoffman examined 30 small groups in the laboratory and found that groups that were diverse in terms of their personality characteristics produced higher quality outputs and tended to produce more inventive solutions. Hoffman and Maier (1961) found further support for the positive effects of diversity in terms of personality. Triandis, Hall, and Ewen (1965) also found that heterogeneity in attitudes, but not abilities, was associated with increased creativity.

Bochner and Hesketh (1994), using an Australian sample, found that people who were different from others in their work groups on power distance and collectivism perceived that they were discriminated against more frequently, but valued their cultural differences more highly. This finding suggests that heterogeneity in cultural values may have important effects on individual outcomes. For example, Dutch researchers found that individuals who were not Dutch tended to be less satisfied with their jobs than their Dutch co-workers (Verkuyten, de long, & Masson, 1993). Although the evidence for cultural diversity is intriguing, organizational demographers have seldom focused on this type of diversity as it affects group process and performance.

Another stream of research of potential relevance for understanding the impact of diversity are studies of the effects of “minority influence” on decision making. Charlan Nemeth and her colleagues (e.g., Nerneth, 1986; Nemeth & Kwan, 1987) have shown that when people hold strong, consistent views different from the majority, they can often have an effect on decisions beyond what their proportion Would suggest. Research suggests informational social influence may dampen some of the conformity pressures of normative social influence (Moscovici, 1985). Thus, insofar as demographic differences also index differences in information, a minority in a group may raise issues that can affect the g1'oup’s decision making...

Based on the studies reviewed here, two major findings from the research on demography and diversity appear to be well supported. First, there is substantial evidence from both laboratory and field studies conducted over the past four decades that variations in group composition can have important eflects on group functioning. These studies show that increased diversity, especially in terms of age, tenure, and ethnicity, typically has negative effects on social integration, communication, and conflict (e.g., Chatman et 211., 1997; Ibarra, 1992; Iehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1997; Lott & Lott, 1965; O’Rei1ly et al., 1989; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1997; Smith et al., 1994). Diverse groups are more likely to be less integrated, have less communication, and more conflict. Interestingly, the one exception to this pattern is with regard to functional diversity or educational background. For this variable, increased diversity has been shown under some circumstances to increase communication (e.g., Aneona & Caldwell, 1992; Glick, Miller, & Huber, 1993; Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1997). In addition to the effects on social integration, communication, and conflict, research has also linked group diversity to several other process variables such as increased in-group/out-group biases, stereotyping, and other cognitive biases that can negatively affect group functioning (e.g., Crocker & Major, 1989; Lorber & Farrell, 1991; Messick & Massie, 1989; Moreland, 1985).

It is also clear that not all of the group process variables investigated operate independently of one another. For example, Smith and colleagues (1994) found that social integration and informal communication were related. Chatrnan and colleagues (1997), using a business simulation with MBA students as subjects, found that organizational culture moderated the effects of diversity such that as dissimilarity increased conflict was seen as more beneficial for those groups with a collectivistic culture. Other studies have shown that under different conditions conflict may have positive or negative effects (e.g., Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1997; O’Reilly, Williams, & Barsade, 1997; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1997; Stephan, 1985). Studies such as these underscore the importance of contextual variables as moderators of diversity effects. Thus, consistent with the model outlined in Figure 1, there is also evidence that demographic effects may be moderated by variables such as culture, technology, and task design.

A second supportable conclusion is that at the micro level, increased diversity typically has negative effects on the ability of the group to meet its members' needs and to function effectively over time. The literature shows clearly that individuals are affected by the demographic composition of their work groups. The preponderance of evidence shows that increased diversity within a group can be associated with lower levels of satisfaction and commitment (Riordan & Shore, 1997; Tsui, Egan, & O‘Rei1ly, 1992 ), lower performance evaluations for those who are different (Greenhaus, Parasuraman, & Wonnley, 1990; Holahan, 1979; Judge & Ferris, 1993; Sackett, DuBois, & Noe, 1991; Tsui & O’Rei1ly, 1989), and higher levels of absenteeism and turnover (Cummings, Zhou, & Oldham, 1993; Jackson et al., 1991; McCain, O’Reilly, & Pfeffer, 1933; O’Reilly, Caldwell, and Barnett, 1989; O’Reil1y, Snyder, & Boothe, 1993; Pfeffer & O’Reilly, 1987; Tsui, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1992; Wagner, Pfeffer, & O’Reilly, 1984; Wiersema & Bird, 1993). In general, more visible demographic characteristics such as sex and ethnicity have larger negative effects than variables that are less visible like age (Cummings, Zhou, & Oldham, 1993; Pelled, 1993).

What is less clear from this research is precisely how and when differences in minority status lead to negative outcomes (e.g., Espinoza & Garza, 1985; Garza & Santos, 1991; Riordan & Shore, 1997). Research on gender, for example, suggests that men in the minority may react more negatively than women (Riordan & Shore, 1997; Wharton & Baron, 1987). To resolve this ambiguity, future research might productively examine not just overall measures of variation in group composition as captured by the coefficient of variation, but also consider proportional measures within groups. Using proportional measures may allow us to discover differential effects for specific minority samples.

At a more macro level, the evidence for performance effects is less clear. There is some indication that at the organizational level top management heterogeneity can be positively related to organizational performance (e.g., Bantel & Jackson, 1989; Eisenhardt & Schoonhoven, 1990; Murray, 1989). However, other studies that look directly at process variables find similar effects for top team homogeneity (e.g., Michel & Harnbrick, 1992; O’Reilly & Flatt, 1989; O‘Reilly, Snyder, & Boothe, 1993; Zajac, Golden, & Shortell, 1991). Triandis, Hall, and Ewen (1965) suggested that dissimilarity in groups, while offering the potential for more creative solutions, also led to more difficulties in group functioning. They concluded that in order to capture the benefits of diversity, groups needed to be able to resolve their differences. Over 30 years later, this conclusion remains valid. A critical determinant of the outcome is whether the diversity is having constructive or destructive effects on the process (e.g., Flatt, 1996; Iaquinto & Frederickson, 1996). Part of the reason for these differences lies in the complexity of the diversity-process-perforrnance chain and the competing effects of the added value of increased information versus the increased difficulties of communicating and solving problems in highly diverse groups. At this macro level, any causal linkages between the composition of the senior team and organizational outcomes has to be a function of a large number of other unmeasured variables (Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1997)...

Muminghan and Conlon (1991), in a Clever study of British string quartets, found that the most successful groups were those that were able to contain conflict so that it did not become disruptive. Quartets that confronted conflict were less successful. Wall and Nolan (1986) found that lower levels of conflict were associated With greater satisfaction and equity among group members. But what is the theoretical basis of these effects? If social categorization and similarity/attraction biases are the driving force behind the negative effects of diversity, what actions may be taken to address these directly? Evidence from Mullen and Copper (1994), O’Reilly, Williams, and Barsade (1997), and Gaertner and colleagues (1990) suggest that rather than emphasizing demographic differences and increasing task conflict, social categorization processes that emphasize common goals and identities and inhibit dysfunctional conflict may enhance group processes and performance.

For example, research has shown that increased cooperation can reduce categorization biases and in-group distinctions (Gaertner et al., 1990). Further, when attempts are made to deliberately promote identification with the larger group and minimize subgroup identification, intergroup bias can be reduced even more (Gaertner, Mann, Murrell & Dovidio, 1989). This may be done by identifying salient out- groups or through an emphasis on collectivistic cultures to help override the natural inclinations people have to make invidious social categoiizations (O‘Reilly & Chatrnan, 1996). These processes are consistent with the findings of Chatman and colleagues (1997) who find that collectivistic cultures mitigate the negative effects of diversity. Tushman and O’Reilly (1996) contend that for long-term success organizations and groups need to be “ambidextrous”; that is, able to tolerate diverse structures and cultures. They argue that this is done with strong, inclusive cultures that promote a common identity even in the face of differing perspectives. The use of this cognitive approach may also be seen in the Chatman and Barsade (1995) study showing how organizational cultures may be created that foster commitment and cooperation.

Another possible cause of reduced conflict and increased cooperation may stem from Gaertner and Dovidio‘s (1977) notion of “aversive racism”; that is, faced with strong normative pressures to override invidious social categorizations, group members may enhance their ability to perform by consciously overriding the propensity to differentiate in-groups and out-groups. This may improve teamwork because of the awareness of the social stigma attached to socially inappropriate social categorization. As O’Reilly, Williams, and Barsade (1997) have suggested, an important function of management may be to use the psychology of self-categorization to help employees to identify with a culture that is inclusive and not with in-groups based on characteristics unrelated to job performance like sex and race...

There is an impressive amount of high-quality laboratory and field research on diversity and demography in organizations. Overall, this research offers convincing support for the argument that variations in group demography can have both direct and indirect effects on group process and performance. Under ideal conditions increased diversity may have the positive effects predicted by information and decision theories. However, consistent with social categorization and similarity/attraction theories, the preponderance of empirical evidence suggests that diversity is most likely to impede group functioning. Unless steps are taken to actively counteract these effects, the evidence suggests that, by itself, diversity is more likely to have negative than positive effects on group performance. Simply having more diversity in a group is no guarantee that the group will make better decisions or function effectively. In our view, these conclusions suggest that diversity is a mixed blessing and requires careful and sustained attention to be a positive force in enhancing performance...

Ignoring the negative consequences of diversity is not the answer. Ironically, understanding these negative effects may provide a solution for its more pernicious effects. This is the good news from this review."

So diversity hurts group performance, and to reduce the negative effects of diversity, it is best to get people to think of themselves as the same - in other words, emphasising your diversity increases the negative impact of diversity.

One corollary of this is that identity politics is harmful when the identity group has to work with others in a larger context.

Singapore Writers Festival: Asian Feminism

"The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." - Thomas Macaulay


On Sunday, on the last day of the Singapore Writers Festival, I made "Asian Feminism" my last talk:

"Are women’s rights an absolute concept or are there other considerations in Asian societies? Writers reflect on the role of women as described in their writing and the changing ethos of contemporary times."

Leena Manimekalai லீனா மணிமேகலை
Catherine Lim

I was wondering if this was going to be the usual feminist doublespeak, but it turned out to be a great talk (I was live tweeting this instead of writing a proper review, so the following may be a bit choppy).

The talk was well-attended, and there was a surprising amount of men in the audience. When polled, maybe 10% of the audience lifted their hands to identify themselves as feminists. But as Manimekalai noted, in India they would be classified as terrorists so this poor showing wasn't so bad after all.

Catherine Lim observed that women disavow the term 'feminist' because of bellicose feminists. She evidently had distaste for this group as well, but the audience did not protest (either when this observation was made or during the question and answer session).

Lim didn't think women in Singapore had positive liberty ("freedom to") for self actualization, but they had negative liberty ("freedom from"). She linked women having rights in Singapore to their being half of our human resources, and the economic imperative. She observed that HDB discriminates against single mums (but then, doesn't it treat single dads the same? It is strange to link this to feminism).

She then spoke about one of her novels, which was inspired by a real life story of a woman who declined to pursue an affair with the love of her life at the age of 30, because she was already married. This woman's epitaph read: "She died at 30 and was buried at 60".

Manimekalai observed that in India, "The moment you talk about genitalia, the whole society, the whole hell break loose".

1/3 into the session, it was already standing room only. This was the most crowded of the 18 Singapore Writers Festival events that I attended.

Lim said that she saw jokes about men and women as contributing to healthy inter-gender relations (THAT'S NOT FUNNY!!!), and the "aggressive", "political" and "gender" kind of feminism was what she didn't want. It made her uncomfortable, and she wanted "equity" and "humanitarian" feminism.

Manimekalai then problematised feminism's patriarchy-bad-feminism-good rhetoric:

"When we keep playing this victim role, when you are placed on this pedestal you become an oppressor... We have to be self critical... See if there is equity among these women who speak about equality... When women come to power why is there still oppression against women? That is the question we must answer"

Lim observed that sexism had not impeded her in her three roles:

"I've never felt any pressure, any a a a political commentator". She did wryly observe, though, that:

"All the terms for men have gained in prestige..the reverse is true for women..bachelor/spinster..wizard/witch"

She also noted that for women of a certain age, her mother's refrain that "Don't try to be too clever or no man will want to marry you" would have been familiar. She (or Manimekalai) noted that the new generation of women weren't this way, speaking about a younger friend of hers:

"She's extremely confident... She disdain to mix with men who don't speak grammatically"

Then came the Q&A segment. Unfortunately, many in the crowd hadn't gotten the memo that the ladies on stage were not your classic feminists.

One asked a question about intersectionality, privilege and social justice, and Manimekalai replied:

"All these boxes... when I do work, it's the art that has to speak. Not my identity... I don't want to approach everything as identity politics"

Lim added that feminism was just a subset of a broader aim, and that "Feminism ought to preside over its own demise. The end goal is justice"

Another girl didn't get the memo either, and asked about casual sexism like jokes, and claimed that women got really angry but men thought they were just jokes.

Lim replied that:

"That level of exchange doesn't bother me at all" and cited "a feminist joke I would find offensive if she were a man":

"What is gross stupidity?"
"144 men in a row"

She then noted that "jokes that we women bandy at men" were "all part of the happy bantering that should go on between men and women" and that "if we know how to laugh WITH each other not AT each other, we'll all get along".

I for one hope that Catherine Lim lives a long life, for 'bellicose feminists' will likely be the next face of feminism in Singapore (you can see what AWARE has been doing since 2009 for a clue).
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