January 24, 2010

Podcast Available

The podcast for the Skeptically Speaking on which I was a guest, on the topic of Skepticism and Race, is available here. Desiree, Girl 6 and LaVerne were great, and I've gotten a bit of feedback that I didn't suck either. Check it out.

Also, during the show, a plug was made for a new speakers bureau (contact clearinghouse) for skeptical speakers, run by the Grassroots Skeptics. I highly recommend that if you are willing and able to speak publicly or deal with the media on even one topic of skeptical interest, you sign up. If you know people who apply critical thinking to an underrepresented topic or are members of an underrepresented group, please bug them until they sign up as well. More and different voices reach more and different ears. (If that description applies to you, I'll assume you've already gotten the point and are going to sign up now.)

January 21, 2010

Skepticism and Race

I will be on the radio this Friday evening to talk about skepticism and race, along with Girl 6 and LaVerne Knight-West.

On the next episode of Skeptically Speaking, a panel discussion on skepticism and race. Is the face of modern skepticism really as monochrome as it appears? How do we make our message appeal to a broader, more diverse audience? And how do racial demographics influence belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal?

Why me? Well, the easy answer is that I'm a fill-in for someone who couldn't be on the show. The slightly longer answer is that lack of diversity isn't just a problem for ethnic minorities. It has an effect on everyone's goals, and it requires effort from everyone to get it right. I'm very much looking forward to the show.

If you're interested in the topic, please submit a question on the show's site. I'll point to the podcast when it's available.

January 13, 2010

Sure Racism Is So Over

Yup, it's entirely not a factor in politics or social outcomes.

[/choking sarcasm] And let us not forget that those are the numbers who were willing to tell a pollster their socially unacceptable thoughts on the matter.

January 11, 2010

At the Corner of Race and Class

Every once in a while, a number of discussions in my personal blogosphere converge. In this case, it's the discussion of race and IQ that I restarted and continued, and which has attempted to take over Greg Laden's Blog for the last couple of weeks, the discussion of the racist connotations of "redneck" by bikemonkey being overwhelmed by the discussion of "redneck" as a classist term, Will Shetterly's ongoing critique of the antiracist community's failure to deal with classism as an underpinning of racism, and Eric Michael Johnson's deconstruction of social Darwinism. It's time to say a few words about the intersection of race and class.

I'm taking on the light, uncontentious topic over at Quiche Moraine.

January 10, 2010

Irish Blasphemy Law, Take Two

It's really hard to miss that the Irish have a new blasphemy law that took effect at the start of the year. However, it's relatively easy to miss that there was a reason, even a moderately good reason, aside from religious prejudice that the law was made. Thers, at Whiskey Fire, isn't going to let us do that.

I am rarely happy with calling laws like this "backwards" or "medieval," because it's rarely a helpful way of understanding exactly why stuff like this gets proposed, or what the stakes are in any specific dispute. And I insist: It is always the specific dispute that matters, not how it fits into preconceived ideological frameworks, even ones I'm sympathetic to.

Go read for an interesting lesson in Irish history and modern sausage making.

I've had this open in a tab for a bit, but I believe the credit for pointing me to it goes to Bora.

January 09, 2010

Decimals Are a Girl's Best Friend

It's a lovely headline, that. It's also some fun new research.

A new study that looked at math scores for boys and girls in 69 countries corroborates her experience.

"There are no differences in girls' abilities in math," says Nicole Else-Quest, who led the study that analyzed the tests of nearly a half million students aged 14 to 16. "When they have the same resources boys have, nothing holds them back."

Her research linked individual achievement in test scores to the local status of women. In countries where men and women are perceived as equal, girls perform better in math. In Iceland, girls outperform boys; in Korea, boys outperform girls. In Canada, the difference in girls' and boys' scores is too small to be meaningful, Else-Quest said Wednesday.

Of course this means that people will step up to say, "Well, guys just have a greater range of math ability and the top mathematicians are just going to be guys." I strongly recommend they read this first.

January 06, 2010

Under Their Tenure

I'm feeling like crap for a number of reasons, including complications of the surgery and a plain old cold, so I haven't been posting regularly, but this did catch my attention today. If you've followed the long slog through the IQ arguments on Quiche Moraine, Greg Laden's Blog and here, you've caught Bryan Pesta saying that intellectual dishonesty would get anyone canned from a tenured university position.

Um, maybe not.

It’s official. Cal State Long Beach psychology professor Kevin MacDonald has made the leap from academia to racist activism, signing on with the American Third Position (ATP), a white supremacist political party established in October “to represent the unique political interests of White Americans.” As excellently reported by the O.C. Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano, MacDonald is partnering with local racist skinheads “to create a new political party” that hopes to “oppose and deport non-whites.” MacDonald is listed as the group’s director.

Until October, when ATP was established, MacDonald was better known for his anti-Semitic “research” purportedly proving that Jews are driven by a genetically programmed group evolutionary strategy to undermine and harm Western civilization. (The idea is that they do so in order to weaken “host societies” that might otherwise oppress or act out against the Jews.) In his academic works, MacDonald has suggested taxing Jews or restricting their access to university as ways of protecting white society.