The Truth about Boys and Girls

by Harry on July 18, 2006

I’ve been rather enjoying the response of conservative commentators to the “girls do better in school than boys” debate. Everybody’s favourite conservative (or maybe he’s just mine), David Brooks, invokes brain science to show that boys are different from girls, but instead of concluding that girls are simply superior, he assumes that schools are doing the wrong things. It used to be that when a conservative claimed that an inequality was natural, he was defending it, but because this time it is boys that are being shown up its ok to claim that the natural difference is just a difference, and it is the fault of society that it is turned into an inequality which matters socially.

It isn’t nuts to think that the gender achievement gap is grounded in a natural inequality.

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Balko on SWAT raids

by Kieran Healy on July 18, 2006

Radley Balko’s study of the increase in paramilitary police raids by SWAT teams “is now available”: from Cato. They’ve also produced a “map of botched raids”:, using Google Maps, to show the distribution of raids that involved some kind of serious error. I’d like to see a table of that data as well (or, because I’m greedy, the whose dataset). There are a lot of things one could do with the data beyond just plotting the incidents on a map, though this is certainly an effective way to draw attention to the issue. The “monograph itself”: contains summaries of a large number of the botched raids. The rise of paramilitary policing is a serious problem in itself — just on the very narrow grounds that mistakes are common — but is also clearly bound up with larger questions of criminal justice policy in the United States, and America’s “astonishingly high”: rate of incarceration.

The gendered aspects of academia

by Eszter Hargittai on July 18, 2006

Over at academicsecret, several posts start out discussing topics in fairly general terms, but have ended up with a gender twist. For example, there is the issue of having babies while in grad school or the question of “strategic incompetence”. The latter refers to some people’s ability to convince others that they are incompetent with all sorts of inconvenient tasks (whether secretarial work or committee membership) and thus manage to get out of a lot of service work.

Neither of these posts started out as a discussion of gender differences, but in both cases a commenter suggested that the issues work differently for male vs female academics. I think those commenters are correct. Even in fields and departments that are more egalitarian less obvious differences remain. But it’s interesting to note that even people who recognize these challenges in academia don’t necessarily see the gendered aspects right away.

Carl Schmitt: War! What is it good for?

by John Holbo on July 18, 2006

The comment thread to my Schmitt post is perking along nicely. (Good poems about taxes, too.) I’m going to take the liberty of elevating some bits of that thread for discussion in this here fresh post. John Quiggin writes:

So, let me start with the observation that war is inherently a negative-sum activity and the empirical fact that, in practice, aggressive war is almost invariably a negative-return activity for the inhabitants of countries that undertake it, Germany in the first half of C20 being a striking example. Schmitt and similar thinkers manage to construct logical frameworks that insulate them from crucial facts like this.

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Ford and Sides on Gay Marriage

by Henry on July 18, 2006

Do people oppose gay marriage because they dislike gay people, or because they’re in favour of marriages with traditional sex roles for blushing brides and chivalrous grooms? Richard Thompson Ford wrote a “piece”: for _Slate_ last week suggesting that the latter is more important than people think and that opposition to gay marriage doesn’t necessarily stem from homophobia. My colleague John Sides has taken a quick look at the survey results on this – I append his findings below the line. Short version: Ford is likely right that attitudes to traditional sex roles help explain attitudes to gay marriage, but it’s a much less important explanatory factor than basic like/dislike of gay people.
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