Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 9.8

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Re: the Drink A Day item, I don’t drink (very strong history of alcoholism on one side of the family), but my father-in-law is convinced that I’m being stupid/silly and keeps trying to either convince me to start drinking or tricking me into drinking (such as by “spiking” my soda). So, of course, when he found an article that suggests that there may be health benefits to drinking for women, he immediately forwarded it to me.

    My response was that the fact that heavy and binge drinkers don’t do as well as moderate drinkers is pretty old news. Research on nondrinkers tends to be problematic because drinking is seen as a default adult behaviour. Therefore, there tend to be reasons why an individual isn’t drinking – often health/addiction related.

    1. Thanks for the link! My wife and I are both Physicists and found this xkcd hilarious. There’s a lot of truth to the idea that, as a class, we have the tendency to be a bunch of insufferable know-it-alls.

      Not as bad as Engineers of course, but then who is?

    1. Well, to be fair, stuff like this happens in game development more often than people would like to think. Remember “Hot Coffee” for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? I don’t defend it, but I imagine nowadays its not so much company policy to let these things slide, so much as careless, idiotic individuals thinking they’re funny (consider that hundreds of programmers work on these games). Of course, I could be giving Techland the benefit of doubt while they run a rampantly anti-woman software shop over there in Poland. I guess I just have no way of knowing.

      Also, Techland, the developer, simultaneously developed this game along with another big release (and failure) Call of Juarez, so it’s been a bit of a puzzle to the gaming media as to how they managed their resources. Apparently, somewhat haphazardly.

      If you do still end up playing Dead Island, you should wait for the multiple patches and updates to fix numerous reported gameplay issues anyway.

      1. The thing that struck me was that this was something that no one was supposed to ever see, I really think there is nothing that needs defending here.
        I would hate for someone to get a hold of one of my notebooks and take some offhand doodle out of context and then make assumptions about me because of it.
        The person who did that may very well be a misogynist asshat, but he may also have been making a joke, with himself, that he thought no one would ever see and doesn’t think, and would never say, those things out loud. To do so gets uncomfortably close to thought-police territory for my liking.

        1. “The thing that struck me was that this was something that no one was supposed to ever see.” — in game production, that can’t be the automatic response any more. Barbara Streisand wearing a dominatrix outfit and whipping Harrison Ford ( http://io9.com/5838176/weird-old-indiana-jones-footage-show-off-barbra-streisand-in-a-dominatrix-costume ) wasn’t meant to be seen because it was LEFT OUT of the film. The file name was left in likely by accident, but it was left in nonetheless. As the article says, and since the stupid “Hot Coffee” controversy, developers must realize their code will be dissected once it hits the public.

          Let me put it this way: If you wrote a novel and accidentally included your notebook doodles into the finished manuscript and it was published without comment or changes, whether it was meant to be seen or not is moot. It was included in the public package you put together, and it was your responsibility to keep them private prior to release.

          Besides, I personally am not calling whoever put it together a misogynist. I think my biggest criticism is for Techland, to tighten up their quality assurance and management standards.

        2. I agree with scribe. I don’t see this as analogous to putting this in your own private notebook. This isn’t a situation where someone’s personal stuff accidentally got exposed. The programmer in question put an offensive slur into a piece of professional material. I think it’s akin to accidentally leaving an offensive slur in a paper meant for publication or something similar. Basically I think there is a big difference between how one may conduct themselves in their private lives and how one may conduct themselves once they step foot into their professional setting.

          I am willing to buy that perhaps the programmer is just an awesome guy who is getting unduly punished for a little joke, but unfortunately his little joke was made within an industry that is struggling with ongoing problems of objectifying and dehumanizing women and with alienating women from their products because of the way women are portrayed and because women’s perspectives are mostly ignored within gaming. As an outsider it is pretty easy to think just by looking at games on their surface that the industry is full of sexism so having someone label private functions of their game in this way only adds to that perception.

        3. You know what, I’ve change my mind on this. Partly because of what scribe and violets said, but mostly because I thought of a real world analogy that really bugged the shit out of me when it happened and they used the “nobody will ever see it” defense.
          .
          Back in 2010 it was found that Trijicon was manufacturing military rifle scope in which were inscribed bible verses; they basically said “well you weren’t supposed to see that”.
          .
          It was wrong then, it is wrong here, sorry.

  2. I found the article about physicists annoying but it took me a while to figure out why. I’ve decided it is rife with logical fallacies, namely affirming the consequent and hasty generalizations. The author’s argument that physicists may assume they are experts in fields they are not due to the Dunning-Kruger effect (which he doesn’t mention directly but does link to) and the supposed superiority of Physics as the “hardest” (we use Calculus!) science, may be true in some cases, but the word some does not seem to be in his vocabulary.

    The only time he uses the word “some” to qualify who he is talking about is in the sentence The result is some physicists and engineers* who argue vehemently, and with little detailed knowledge, that Michael Mann is a moron and that global warming is bunk, but his implication is not that most physicists support the consensus of climatologists, but that this is just one of the areas in which physicists spout off about things they don’t understand.

    There is also the bizarre argument about math: Physicists use calculus, which is hard and intimidating whereas biologists and other “easy” scientists use statistics. This view of math stokes the physicists’ perception of themselves as superior to other scientists and thus able to step in and instantly (without background or any research) judge the work of scientists in other fields. But what about thermodynamics and other stochastic processes, which require both? Any physicist who has studied either of these fields or the vast amount of modern physics which is dependent on them, should realize that both calculus and statistics are hard, and applying them correctly to any field requires a careful and nuanced understanding of the field, a fact that most physicists of my acquaintance fully appreciate.

    The heart of the matter is in his second paragraph: Yet, if you let yourself be flushed down the intertubes, you will find physicists and engineers like myself expounding on topics that are far outside their field of expertise. These people are often so badly wrong that it is hard to know where to begin in any argument to counter them. He is equating the behavior of a small group of Internet loudmouths with everyone in a class. He cites absolutely no evidence that this attitude is common among physicists, nor that it is more common among physicists than other scientists in other fields, nor that it is more common among scientists than the public at large. If he acknowledged this at the beginning, I would find his argument far less objectionable.

    [*] “Dear Sirs – I abhor the implication that Physics is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we now have the problem relatively under control, and that is the Engineers who now suffer the largest casualties in this area.”

    1. My quote tags didn’t work, but in the second paragraph, “The result … is bunk” and in the fourth paragraph, “Yet, if … counter them” are quotes from the original article.

      Can we have editing, or at least previewing, back?

  3. Man. You know that’s got to be a good video game since it goes and slaps some bitches around….

    Also I’m not sure the woman protagonist is the comic is actually named Cassandra, I think the author of that article just refers to her that way.

  4. I am with you Buzz … mostly. Further, as a physicist and an engineer I find that never mind calculus, most people who think they understand statistics are hopelessly mistaken. I have even had close to knock-down fights with mathematicians who did not understand the basic statistics behind a simulation I wrote long ago and far away. I was correct, btw. ;)

    The universe constantly presents me with learning opportunities. I delight in not knowing. What troubles me about the great unwashed masses of protoplasm out there is the overwhelming lack of interest in reality. They do not know and are happy about not knowing, if you know what I mean.

    And yet, I too follow teachings of bronze age mythology. No, no, not that nut job Paul. Bodhidharma is my man. His teaching can be summed up in just a few words. “Only don’t know”. Maybe that is why I am not a completely insufferable know-it-all. ?

  5. I think it does make sense that, in general, people who are told they are in a “hard” field would logically think that they should be able to understand and solve problems within an “easier” field because, if you can do something “hard”, you should absolutely be able to do something “easy”. Of course, it doesn’t really work that way…

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