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LJ Syndication of diffblog

Jan. 14th, 2009 | 02:27 pm

Hi LJ-folks.

The LJ-syndication service says it's checking the feed (diffblog), but is updating a good long time after the posts go up. It has been hitting 5-6 hours late for a while. Yesterday's post didn't hit LJ until this morning, and I wish I could do something about it.

As always, thanks for your readership, and your patience,

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Feed may be broken

May. 8th, 2008 | 10:26 am

I think I may have broken the main site this morning. This link should work, even if I broke the DNS settings for http://www.differenceblog.com/

Thanks for your patience.

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Feminism and Anti-Science

Mar. 31st, 2008 | 11:31 am

The syndicated feed for diffblog seems to be having trouble again. Today's post, "Feminism and Anti-Science" is posted.

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Attractiveness and Marital Satisfaction.

Mar. 24th, 2008 | 09:43 am

It looks like there might be a problem with the diffblog feed this morning. Just in case it doesn't pick it up, here's today's post: Attractiveness and Marital Satisfaction.

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today's topic: Skin tone, Gender, and Attractiveness.

Mar. 18th, 2008 | 09:39 am

Reminder: Differenceblog is now available at diffblog and Differenceblog.com.

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Differenceblog is moving!

Mar. 17th, 2008 | 08:57 am

Dear friends,

Difference Blog is moving! Please click this link to add the diffblog feed to your friends-list. You may prefer to add the Atom Feed, or visit DifferenceBlog.com.

If I see comments on the LiveJournal feed, I will respond to them, but unfortunately, they aren't emailed to me, and they're only saved for two weeks. I recommend leaving comments on the main site. Here's today's post.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

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Height and jealousy

Mar. 14th, 2008 | 09:45 am

buunk et al, fig 1 & 2
Global jealousy relationship with
height, Figure 1 (men, top) and
2 (women, bottom)
Buunk et al's (2008) article has made significant press, starting with the New Scientist, being cited as proof of "short man syndrome." For example, Marie Claire magazine (2008) is polling its readers on whether their man suffers from it. The full article, however, examines the relationship between height and jealousy for both men and women:
"male height was found to be negatively correlated with self-reported global jealousy, whereas female height was curvilinearly related to jealousy, with average-height women reporting the lowest levels of jealousy"
In Study 2, Buunk claims that average-height women's jealousy is piqued by rivals with "masculine" (his quotes) characteristics like physical dominance or high social status, while men's height/jealousy relationship is not much changed by rival characteristics (short men were not as threatened by socially successful or "seductive" rivals). Previous research from Buunk has shown that men in general are threatened by financial success and physical dominance, while women in general tended to be threatened by physically attractive rivals (see DB 7/19/07, 10/25/06)

I'd like to point out that this is at least the second "tall men are better" article covered in the New Scientist in 2008 (see DB 1/18/08). I wonder if some editor there is as touchy as I am. ;) Quick! Stop me before I complain about my height again! ;) I know, distract me with a delicious word like "curvilinearly." Yummy. I also wanted to show you a couple of the scatter plots for this relationship (click to enlarge). I find it very hard to believe that Buunk's jealousy instrument is sensitive enough for what he's trying to do with it.

One of my biggest concerns is with using identical scripts with switched pronouns for the rivals in Study 2. I don't think "physical dominance" has the same connotations for a male or female rival. The example items for physical dominance are "is more muscular, is more athletic, has a heavier build." I don't think those are gender-equivalent values (even if I'd like them to be). Nor is "slender", one of the items for "physically attractive." Buunk's theories hang on which tools are more powerful in assortative mating strategies, so the utility of slenderness or muscularity to a man or woman is fairly important. I didn't see any indication in the article that these items were varied by participant gender.

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Small changes for Big Problems

Mar. 13th, 2008 | 08:15 am

Several projects recently have suggested specific actions that could be taken in developing countries to improve the lot of women.
  • The Poverty Action Lab's ongoing project "Menstruation and Education in Nepal" is examining whether distributing menstrual cups can help Nepalese women and girls overcome cultural taboos that restrict their mobility and education.
  • The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (2008) have begun a pilot program of low-cost fertility treatments for women in Africa. A woman who does not bear children "might be disinherited, ostracised, accused of witchcraft, abused by local healers, separated from her spouse, or abandoned to a second-class life in a polygamous marriage," according to ESHRE's press release.
  • A United Nations three-agency report on gender-based violence in Nairobi (IRIN, 2008, see also Kenyan election crisis) notes that displaced women "had repeatedly expressed fears of sexual violence because of makeshift sleeping arrangements, where men and women were forced to sleep under one tent or out in the open."

Feministing.com talked about the Nairobi violence report yesterday, saying "women are not being repeatedly raped and abused because they are sleeping in one tent with men," and that's similar to my initial reaction to all three of these items. Plans like these don't change the devaluation of women that is the underlying problem. That being said, I don't think the UN report was saying that the sleeping conditions caused rape, but rather that the women expressed fear about the sleeping conditions. Another friend mentioned yesterday that the term "male sexual incontinence" was thrown around in the On Point (2008) radio show on prostitution yesterday, but I haven't listened to it, and I can't comment specifically on that. I think the idea that men can't be expected not to rape devalues both men and women, and is a load of crap.

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Physician Bias

Mar. 12th, 2008 | 08:49 am

Borkhoff et al (2008) sent two standardized (scripted) patients to visit 38 family doctors and 29 orthopedic surgeons within a 3 hour drive of Toronto, ON. The patients were scripted to have identical symptoms and circumstances related to osteoarthritis. However, the male patient had arthroplasty recommended 67% of the time, compared to only 33% recommendations for the female patient. Borkhoff concludes that the doctors may be biased, tending to treat women's complaints "less seriously."

This tendency to assume women are exaggerating is consistent with rheumatoid arthritis treatment studies examined last May (5/22/07). It may also explain why other studies find that women are far more incapacitated when they finally do present for surgery (9/26/06).

This definitely looks like a down side to the tendency of women to go to the doctor more often. Honestly, I can't tell you whether my medical concerns have been taken more seriously since transition. Doctors and transsexuals can have a very adversarial relationship as it is. I don't think I can say I've ever been treated like a man by a doctor. Hell, I still get called "miss" about half the time in the doctor's office, which I expect is pretty confusing to the other people waiting, what with my beard. I try to be reasonable and cooperative, but educating my doctors gets tiring.

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Cognition and correlation

Mar. 11th, 2008 | 08:15 am

Burman and Booth (2008) searched for brain activation differences by sex that could explain the persistent performance differences on language tasks between boys and girls. Burman and Booth's fMRI study scanned 62 children (50% male) during rhyming and spelling tasks presented in written or verbal form. They concluded that boys and girls were using different brain areas to process these types of tasks, and "greater activation of language areas in girls." Boys, on the other hand, showed greater activation of the sensory modality in which the stimuli were presented: visual or auditory. In an article about the study in Science (2008), Burman suggests that these results support single-sex education in middle school.

I have to say I'm impressed by the size of their sample: 31 subjects per group seems a lot bigger than most of the fMRI studies we've discussed. I am concerned, however, about the group analyses, which cut these groups down into much smaller samples of 5-11 subjects of a particular age and sex, and about the fact that data were excluded for 8-20 subjects for each task. I still have a lot of questions about how much we can deduce from "greater activation." I think that correlations with behavioral results are a step in the right direction. However, in terms of the behavioral results in this study, Burman and Booth report that there was no sex/task correlation on accuracy, only on reaction time. Girls answered more quickly but no more accurately.

One question not addressed in the article is the theory that girls respond more to auditory stimuli while boys are more visual. This theory does not seem to be supported by these results.

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