I am fairly busy until some time after Easter, so don’t expect neither massive blogging nor a banner from me until then. In the meanwhile, here are some links to articles, blogposts etc. that I think are worth reading.
A new study from researchers at Cornell University found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. In fact, another study shows, when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.
This is something which has been suspected for a long time (with earlier studies indicating the same), but it is good to have new studies demonstrating it. This means that men can’t just dismiss the pay-gap as a symptom of different career choices. I will probably blog more about this study at some stage.
One of the most intriguing storylines of the 2016 election has turned out to be one of the most underreported. Every candidate for President hopes to not only enter the White House, but do so with a congressional majority in hand. Although Hillary Clinton is the clear frontrunner and is likely to win the election, republican gerrymandering means that her odds of having a democratic House and Senate are questionable. But she’s spent the past six months trying to rectify that by essentially funding the congressional races of 2016 democratic candidates herself.
This seems like a very smart move. If there is one thing that the GOP has shown us under the Obama presidency, it is that they are not going to work with a Democratic president. This means that it is important to get as many Democrats into the congress as possible. This is a sound tactic, no matter who wins the Democratic primary, and if the GOP should somehow win the presidential race, it is vital that the Democrats hold real power in congress (a note: comments about democratic candidates and the merits of the one or another are not welcome, and will be deleted – I am not interested in getting my blog involved in the internal politics of the democratic party).
One of the more frequent claims of antivaccine activists often comes in the form of a disingenuous question. Well, maybe it’s not entirely disingenuous, given that many antivaccinationists seem to believe premise behind it. The question usually takes a form something like, “If your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about my children? They don’t pose any danger to you.” Of course, the premise behind that question is, ironically, one that conflicts with many of the beliefs behind antivaccinationism, in particular the belief that vaccines are ineffective. Yet, the premise behind this question is that vaccines are so effective that there’s no reason for the parents of a vaccinated child to be concerned if that child comes in contact with another child with a vaccine-preventable disease. Of course, no one ever accused antivaccine activists of being consistent in their beliefs.
Once again, Orac does great work taking on the anti-vaccination crowd and their claims.
Index on Censorship calls for the immediate release of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was arrested on Monday 14 March 2016 with her one-year-old son Abdulhadi.
“Zainab Al-Khawaja is facing retaliation for exercising her right to freedom of expression,” said Index’s senior advocacy officer Melody Patry. “Bahraini authorities have been harassing her and her family for years and this arrest — based on absurd charges — further shows Bahrain’s determination to silence its critics.”
I stand fully behind the call from Index on Censorship, and hope that the US, the EU and the rest of the democratic world will put pressure on the Bahraini authorities for the release of Zainab Al-Khawaja and other jailed critics.
I think most of us are with Tony on this one.
Firearms are the most common method of suicide among young men in Switzerland. From March 2003 through February 2004, the number of Swiss soldiers was halved as a result of an army reform (Army XXI), leading to a decrease in the availability of guns nationwide. The authors investigated the patterns of the overall suicide rate and the firearm suicide rate before and after the reform.
Using a naturalistic study design, the authors compared suicide rates before (1995–2003) and after the intervention (2004–2008) in the affected population (men ages 18–43) and in two comparison groups (women ages 18–44 and men ages 44–53). Data were received from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Interrupted time series analysis was used to control for preexisting temporal trends. Alternative methods (Poisson regression, autocorrelation analysis, and surrogate data tests) were used to check validity.
The authors found a reduction in both the overall suicide rate and the firearm suicide rate after the Army XXI reform. No significant increases were found for other suicide methods overall. An increase in railway suicides was observed. It was estimated that 22% of the reduction in firearm suicides was substituted by other suicide methods. The attenuation of the suicide rate was not compensated for during the follow-up years. Neither of the comparison groups showed statistically significant changes in firearm suicide rate and overall suicide rate.
The restriction of firearm availability in Switzerland resulting from the Army XXI reform was followed by an enduring decrease in the general suicide rate.
I couldn’t really see a way to include it in my last post about Swiss gun laws, but it is an interesting study, which shows limiting access to guns will lead to a decrease in suicides.
Imagine all the poor transhumanists who were born in the 19th century. They would have been fantasizing about all the rapid transformations in their society, and blithely extrapolating forward. Why, in a few years, we’ll all have steam boilers surgically implanted in our bellies, and our diet will include a daily lump of coal! Canals will be dug everywhere, and you’ll be able to commute to work in your very own personal battleship! There will be ubiquitous telegraphy, and we’ll have tin hats that you can plug into cords hanging from the ceiling in your local coffeeshop, and get Morse code tapped directly onto your skull!
Alas, they didn’t have a Ray Kurzweil or Aubrey deGray to con them with absurd exaggerations.
If it isn’t clear, PZ Myers is not the greatest fan of transhumanism and the ideas pushed by people like Kurzweil. I am completely in agreement with him on this.