Acupuncture and Fertility

March 3, 2008

As my colleagues Rebecca Goldin Ph.D and Jenna Krall note on, acupuncture isn’t the only thing that’s prickly. Take odds ratios, the media keep confusing them with odds, which has news organizations to wildly overhype the powers of acupuncture to increase fertility.

Finally, Oil Prices Really Have Hit a Record

March 3, 2008

For those of you frustrated by several years of “oil sets new [nominal] record” news stories, the news today, is that it really did surpass the record of $39.50 a barrel set in the 1980s, once adjusted for inflation: $103.95 vs $103.76  Hurrah! Or, rather, not.

Okay, Maybe One Woman and Several Editors are Math-Challenged

March 3, 2008

The blogosphere is burning over Charlotte Allen’s opinion piece in the Washington Post’s Outlook section this weekend, titled “We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?“, for its perpetuation of stereotypes about women. According to to Outlook editor John Pomfret, the piece was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek meditation on women going Beatle-manic over Obama and what it all really means vis a vis gender differences and innate abilities. At one point, Allen writes:

Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men’s 5.1, though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women.

If you use a common denominator such as “accidents per million miles driven,” the fact that men, overall, drove more miles has already been factored in. Having said that, the idea that women are at an innate disadvantage in math is weak argument for reasons we explain here.


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