My Book Features In UK Skeptic! (And Great Articles, Such As Women And Stereotype Threat)

It’s about 10am, the heat is enjoyably toasty already and I have an aching left arm, but I simply must write to tell you:

UK Skeptic and periodic table of nonsense

New UK Skeptic magazine! It amuses me that it’s called “Winter, 2012″. Here it’s anything but Winter…

Book review of scope of skepticism in UK skeptic

and check out the Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense poster!

Here’s my book being reviewed and it says nice things like: :

“The one thing that I can most readily conclude from the entire body of Sturgess’ interviews with grassroots skeptics and big names is her clear ability to put people at ease… you might think that any book comprising of mainly interviews would be dull and formulaic  You’d be wrong. Why not pick it up and see which of your biases and preconceptions could be blasted away?”

Waahhhh!!

There’s a number of great articles in this edition (read in between checking out my free periodic table, with definitions such as “Rolfing: A cheeky little massage from a three-legged Australian chap with a wobble board and a bad case of asthma“) – I enjoyed Dean Burnett writing on the misuse of neuroscience in ‘Neuropseudoscience‘ and the inspired title of “Catflap” for sightings of big kitties roaming the UK wilderness. But it was the great interview with Jane Goldman and the article called “Why are the Fewer Women Working In Science And Technology?” that really caught my eye.

UK Skeptic on stereotype threat and women in science

The latter article raises an excellent point – if the stereotype threat theory is true, it offers a relatively simple way to explain and fix the gender gap. Just tell women that they’re going to do well on tests and boost their confidence, right? But then doesn’t that imply that there’s a normal level of confidence is held by men, regardless of stereotype threat or not? Then what about men being overly-represented at both the high and low ends of mathematical achievement and other areas?

According to the article, “most of the studies (on stereotype threat) did not follow the basic experimental design…the foundational phenomenon needs to be demonstrated many times in independent labs before the theory is applied in other settings”. 

Also, the extent about variation amongst boys and men in mathematics isn’t global and still being tested – perhaps alternatives like a difference of interests rather than ability influences career choices?

The article referenced: Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement? and there’s a video for it as well:

For other interesting recent discussions that relate to the relevance of representation, stereotype threat and women represented in skepticism, you might also like to check out Neverending Facepalm – Virtual Skeptics 20 and feminism.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • sheila

    only the other side is influenced by emotion.I think there is a lot of emotion on both sides of this debate. And of course it’s human nature to think that only the other side is influenced by that emotion.

    It’s the unconscious assumptions that get you. Like “just” end stereotype threat?

    The experiments I’ve heard involved showing a short video before a test. Is he seriously saying that a five-minute pre-test video ought to be able to counteract decades of discouragement 100%, and anything less is proof that there was no discouragement to begin with? Did I miss something?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      “Is he seriously saying that a five-minute pre-test video ought to be able to counteract decades of discouragement 100%, and anything less is proof that there was no discouragement to begin with? Did I miss something?”
      Actually, the article was skeptical of that.

      • Kylie Sturgess

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=like-math-thank-your-moti

        Unfortunately, forcing kids to hit the books every night won’t create mini-math prodigies. External factors such as parental pressure or grades didn’t create a lasting boost in math ability.
        “It is not a good idea to force students to learn mathematics,” Murayama said.
        Instead, people who were driven by their own interest improved the most. So rather than keeping Junior’s nose to the grindstone, it may be more helpful for parents or teachers to show him how math ties to real life (for instance, understanding that two $3 candy bars cost $6 rather than just memorizing times tables), he said.


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