Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 6.24

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. From “Genius creates ringtone that increases breast size”

    “If you are female, if you listen to a baby crying, your breasts, naturally, enlarge.”

    Which explains why all of the female workers in day care centers are shaped like porn stars.

  2. Speaking as a former resident of Japan, and as a former enthusiast of Japanese things, they do seem to have a large proportion of Grade-A First Class Perverts that bubble to the surface. I kind of doubt that there are any more of them than in any other culture, but somehow they get more exposure.

    While living there, I was convinced that they were Not Of This World, and that the entire country was an advanced colony of aliens bent on weakening our resistance to invasion by means of mind-blowingly weird pop culture.

    Anyway, the point is that I think the “ringtone increases breast size” guy seems like someone who has watched too much anime, regardless of cultural background. Probably the pervy kind, too. I bet he’s crossing his fingers that while walking down the street, he’ll see some woman get a phone call and burst out of her top, jumblies free, and then he’ll ask her to marry him and she’ll agree because he was the one responsible for her major boobage.

    He has that kind of 11-year-old-male twinkle in his eyes.

  3. Want to read more debate about global warming? Sure you do!

    Climate change denialism in Australia has been documented at great length by Tim Lambert; Senator Fielding is a known doofus.

    Oh, and since the article on gender biases in science isn’t directly available from the press release page, here it is on the PNAS website.

    About 70% of more than half a million Implicit Association Tests completed by citizens of 34 countries revealed expected implicit stereotypes associating science with males more than with females. We discovered that nation-level implicit stereotypes predicted nation-level sex differences in 8th-grade science and mathematics achievement. Self-reported stereotypes did not provide additional predictive validity of the achievement gap. We suggest that implicit stereotypes and sex differences in science participation and performance are mutually reinforcing, contributing to the persistent gender gap in science engagement.

  4. “Woman as Tenured Scientists”

    First comment:

    Why are you making a big deal about the natural order?
    The schools in the United States do not encourage scholarship.
    Math and science are considered to be boring by most students.
    Why would you want to lower the standards to balance the sexes in a particular industry? Why is there a need to do this.

    Special!

  5. Also, the sexist pig can’t seem to use a question mark.

    And, no, the standards aren’t being lowered. He or someone like him seems to have a problem with “Current recruiting strategies don’t seem to be working, but chairing a search committee with a female faculty member is a simple step that often fills open jobs with women.”

    Apparently, adding female faculty members to a search committee is “lowering standards”.

  6. BTW, the most a crying baby ringtone will do for breasts is make them leak milk… and while some dudes are into that, I always found it was hard to feel sexy when I just peed my shirt.

  7. Well, having actually read the article after having composed that reply, it’s obvious the male chauvinist pig who wrote that didn’t really get it.

    Who or what decides who’s going to be on a “search committee”?

  8. OK fine with the breasts and all, but has anybody checked out this incarnation of subliminal sound mind-programming thing on its own, and is it science? If it is, how effective is it? Could it be useful? Dangerous? Or is this on the same level as the Satanic messages hidden in rock music that make me hate Jeebus?

  9. This was on the news yesterday here in Texas. In an effort to recruit more girls into Engineering and Science schools have been having woman engineers and scientist come to the schools and talk about what they do and it seems to be having a positive effect. It appears that seeing someone similar to yourself in a science/engineering position helps you envision yourself in that role. So good on Texas and SMU.

  10. RE: bias about women in scientific fields:

    I wonder if most jobs in general would be associated with men, because it’s more common to just think of generic people as men. Men are sort of considered the default, so people might even be biased to associate “customer” or “pedestrian” with men more than women.

  11. @catgirl: Well, unless it’s teaching, or a nurse, or some other type of job that is thought of as a “woman” job, but yes, I think that men being seen as the “default” is part of the problem, if not the whole problem.

  12. @Suppressive Person: There hasn’t been any credible scientific evidence that any kind of backwards masking/hidden subliminal messages can actually be encoded into music. Back in the 80’s it was a focus of the PMRC and several studies were done, but all came back either negative or inconclusive. Besides, given the nature of acoustics, any sound wave is distorted as soon as it is mixed with another, meaning that any subliminal message must still have an impact in its modulated form. Also, the ‘experiment’ with the the young woman was clearly not even singly blinded and I believe a woman’s chest size naturally fluctuates with her monthly cycle, which is not accounted for in the report. It is possible that certain frequencies (particularly low frequencies) can effect physiology, but a cell phone speaker is too small and weak to produce sub-audio. There is a Skeptoid episode on binaural beats, which is a similar phenomenon, and potentially worth checking out.

    The whole subliminal messages thing also assumes that just hearing a message repeatedly changes one’s behavior/beliefs. I could sit in a room for days with “invisible purple unicorns exist” playing on repeat, but I doubt that would actually change my mind.

  13. @VoxMachina:

    I believe a woman’s chest size naturally fluctuates with her monthly cycle, which is not accounted for in the report.

    You got it! Woman’s breasts don’t stay the same size. They fluctuate. Mine tend to fluctuate between a large D and a small DD. (It’s a pain to find bras, yes.) They flucuate because of hormones and weight gain/loss. It’s not abnormal for some women to fluctuate quite a bit each month.

  14. I am of the impression that the subliminal message thing was pretty much debunked. That doesn’t seem to be what he is doing here.

    Subliminal messaging seeks to change belief through language, this guy apparently is seeking to find if he can induce physiological responses to low-level sounds which convince the brain that the environment is different from the way it actually is.

    One anecdote certainly proves nothing, though his process works quite well in animation.

  15. @Skepotter: Yeah, the subliminal message thing is a little different.

    It seems his whole premise depends on whether or not just hearing a baby’s cry causes a physiological response in the first place. I’ve heard it can effect women that are pregnant or breast feeding, but it just causes lactation, as Elyse said. I haven’t heard of it actually influencing breast size, as the report states.

    It also depends on how he is ‘masking’ the sound. Mixing creates a new waveform with the composite interference of each individual wave. AM or FM modulation creates a new waveform with the sum and difference tones of each individual waveform. Either way, our ears can only perceive the new waveform, they can’t deconstruct or demodulate the waveform into its constituent parts.

  16. I thought that women’s breasts grow due to pregnancy hormones and not because of crying. Since they start growing before the baby is even born, it’s hard to see how the growth could be due to crying.

  17. In regards to gender bias in science, one huge factor that Scientific American did not mention is the financial factor. Scientists working at academic institutions don’t make a lot of money.

    Let’s examine the following scenerio. A woman has graduated from medical school with a six figure debt. She has an opportunity to pursue a career in basic science with the hurdles of limited NIH funding, possible tenure and worst of all a meager salary. Instead, she has the opportunity to go into residency after which, she will land a lucrative clinical job, pay of her loans and retire in 15 years. And she will likely have more time to devote to her family. Added to this is a stagnating economy with 8 years of cuts in NIH budget.

    And let’s add to this the politics of tenure. Only NIH grants leading to publications in a peer reviewed journal are counted. If you get a grant from an industry, no brownie points there. Furthermore, when getting published there is the negative impact of your article getting rejected over an issue that has nothing to do with scientific merit. Peer review can be as subjective as judging a piece of art or a poem.

    The harsh realities I have described are faced by both men and women in the scientific world. When trying to balance a research career with family, I think that women more so than men face greater hardships.

    Here’s a case in point. A colleague of mine is an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering and he is up for tenure. His salary is in the high 5 figures. Both he and his wife have lingering student debts, a mortgage and college savings plan for their 2 children. His wife works as a Pediatrician in Private Practice and she earns a much higher 6 figure income. She had sacrificed a research career in order to support her family financially.

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