Skepchick Quickies 4.15


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Math tutor uses numbers to fight red light camera ticket

    He timed and averaged a some yellow lights, then compared to published guidelines. I feel cheated.

    I was expecting something more beautiful and elegant. Something involving the speed of neuron impulses, friction coefficients, braking force, etc.

    But good on him for not rolling over.

  2. While I was reading the evolution article, I kept feeling there must be more to the story. I still think that’s true, but the email from the then principal was insane: “I know personally that I would be challenged in leading a 10-year-old through this sort of discussion while maintaining the appropriate sensitivity to a family’s religious beliefs or traditions.”

    Really? Isn’t that exactly the reason this teacher should be the one to explore evolution with his students? I would be challenged teaching French to students, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t do it.

  3. RE: maternal death controversy

    Wouldn’t decreased numbers show that the money being spent was having a positive effect, thus justifying the cost? Inflating the numbers seems like it would be counter-productive. All they should have to do is show that continued support would result in continued success. What a bunch of beaurocratic garbage.

  4. @mikerattlesnake: Unless the money was used to teach skills and educate. I haven’t done any medical work in underdeveloped countries (which is where maternal mortality is usually highest), but I would guess that a lot of the things causing high mortality rates are infectious. Teaching how to manage labor to reduce infection risk is something that would be costly to do initially, but then low cost after implementation.

  5. Still, effects being masked leads to distrust, leads to less funding in the future. There is no good reason to inflate the numbers. If the people involved gain a reputation for solving issues using an appropriate amount of funding, they will continue to be funded appropriately. If their reputation is of endlessly throwing money at an unsolvable problem, the world will cease to care.

  6. @mikerattlesnake: I agree- there’s no good reason to inflate statistics. This is especially true if money has already been devoted to the cause- it makes it seem like the program was a waste of money. But you and I are thinking long term, and clearly these folks are thinking in the very short term- and hoping that no one is going to argue with them for fear of looking “pro-maternal death” (hey, that term makes as much sense as “pro-abortion”).

  7. If UFO studies were taught in classes, just what would be taught in those classes?
    Teacher: “Allright, class, from the physical evidence found, what do we know about visitors from outer space? Yes, Mr Qluroup?”
    Student: “That, presuming intelligent extraterrestrial life exists, it doesn’t appear to visit Earth?”
    Teacher: “Erm, correct.”

  8. Tracy King,

    The Evolution Flap was a dance the did in the late protozoic. It involved a pi/4 beat, and evolving a lot of jointed appendages. However, since it is difficult at best, to keep a beat with an irrational number, the dance lost nearly all of its popularity by the late 70’s.

    Noah, the true story.

  9. The UFO studies course could be quite interesting if it IS pursued in a scientific manner. It could introduce students to the scientific method. They could study the sleep paralysis effect that abductees report and other phenomenon related to UFOs. If done properly, it’s a chance to educate people on WHY people believe in UFOs when there is no verifiable evidence to support their existence.

  10. The Fermi Paradox would also be a good topic for a scientifically based UFO course. One could also have a humanistic course looking at what encounter narratives tell us about the social and psychological situations in which they were generated, looking at the development of UFOs in film and literature through time etc.

    However I don’t think that’s what Prof. Haseley has in mind :-)

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