They're Still Getting It Wrong

It is a well known fact that boys have a higher variance on high school math tests than girls. No one knows what causes this - maybe there are different social pressures on boys, maybe boys test differently, maybe boys are innately different. Anyways, the results of the latest study which, again, showed higher male variance are still being misreported:
26. Girls and boys now perform equally on standardized high school mathematics tests across North America, ending a gender gap that lasted for decades.

The source for this quote is the study I linked to, which showed that the extreme scores are more likely to be male's scores. The study showed major differences in the scores! Of the major media outlets, only the WSJ got it right the first time around. Of course the bad information was passed on.

What shocks me about all of the coverage is that no one has reported the differences between whites' scores and Asian-Americans' scores in the study. While the results from white Americans fell in line with previous results, namely that twice as many boys as girls were expected in the 99th percentile on math tests, this wasn't true for Asian-Americans. An Asian-American female was actually a hair more likely to be in the top percentile than an Asian-American male, though this fact didn't hold for the top five percent of scores. I haven't seen quantitative studies on differences in values across different racial groups, but from anecdotes and personal experience I think that Asian-Americans parents have fewer differences in expectations from daughters and sons. This is the first data (I've seen) which supports the variance difference being an environmental one. There wasn't enough data on any other group to make it into the study.


On Vacation until January 2

I'm going to take a blog vacation until January 2. I'm burned out and need a vacation from everything right now.

As a random aside, the critical Dutch phrase of the week is "praten over koetjes en kalfjes." This phrase is the Dutch equivalent of "shoot the breeze" or "shoot the $#!+," and literally means "to chat about little cows and little calves."

The Dutch word "koetje" is the diminutive form of "koe," or cow. The same is true of "kalfje" and "kalf." Diminutive words signify a smaller or more intimate form of a regular word, and in most languages these words have a common suffix. Common examples in English are doggy, baggy, piglet and duckling. The Dutch use the diminutive form extensively. I think Dutch speakers obsess over 'j'-based sounds such as je, pronounced "juh," much as Americans love the sounds of "eh" and "er".



Today I convinced myself that the central idea behind my PhD is not practical.



Life vs Securing Property

I'd never heard of Katko vs Briney, but the ruling is fascinating.

Near small-town Oskaloosa, Iowa, owners of an unused property created unmanned traps with shotguns to shoot any trespassers. The gun was aimed to injure the legs, but not kill. It was well known by neighbors, and also apparent on the property, that the property was unused.

A burglar who had previously broken into the house for antique jars came back to look for more antique jars. When the gun shot off part of his leg, he sued...and *won*. Apparently the right to life is more fundamental than the right to property; the court thought only defending the safety of an individual gave the right to risk another person's life.

I kid you not about the antique jars. Iowans are taught to use jars for everything, from jam to sinaasappelsap. Mmmmm, sinaasappelsap.



When I was in high school I used Photoshop at a web design job. I worked with an older graphics guy who taught me not only basic graphics techniques, but also random things, like how to create a fake photo with a man's head on a woman's body. He did this with one of my photographs, enlarging my nose and chin to enhance the effect. I showed this fake photo to my friends, all of whom thought it was hilarious. To impress them, I secretly put their heads on different bodies of women. When I showed them their "womanized" versions, they all freaked out. I asked them why, and they said it was cool when it wasn't their photograph.

Airbrushing isn't new, but I don't see the "behind the scenes" examples very often. While browsing around today, I came across an airbrush example I've seen a few times. The link below contains a women in a bikini but no nudity, so it might be NSFW depending on your workplace. You'll need to mouse-over the photo for the effect.


Another great example which is definitely safe for work is at:


Sometimes I wonder if most humans are like my friends in high school, only we don't know that the media plays tricks on us all day long. Or maybe we're supposed to know?

PS My face on a woman's body is hotter than 20% of women, according to HotOrNot.com. I don't think people were rating the face, though. No, I'm not going to post the photograph here. Yes, I'll close the comments on this post if I have to.


Is Cash an Incentive?

Roland Fryer claims cash motivates students. His grade payment program has expanded from NYC last year to to Chicago, DC, and NYC this year.

Dan Ariely claims monetary incentives could easily be counter-productive. He walks a fine line by making only simple assertions in the article, but the article implies big cash bonuses to be harmful.