A 1975 study on graduate admissions at Berkeley found that male applicants had a substantially higher likelihood of being admitted, compared to women. However, upon closer examination the presence of aggregation paradoxes do not legitimize the conclusion that women were discriminated against.... Read more »
Bickel PJ, Hammel EA, & O'connell JW. (1975) Sex Bias in Graduate Admissions: Data from Berkeley. Science (New York, N.Y.), 187(4175), 398-404. PMID: 17835295
Young adults in the USA are more likely than ever before to tell pollsters that they don't see themselves as 'being' of any particular religion - they are unaffiliated. The data are clear, but the reason for this shift is not.
It might simply be their age. Maybe they will be more likely to identify with a religion when they're older. Alternatively, there could be an uptick in the numbers of people who are leaving religion - for good.
Or maybe it's a snowball effect. More than ever before, American kids are being raised in families that are not affiliated to any religion - you can see that in the graph, which shows how the percentage of kids raised in families with no religion has increased over the years. These kids don't tend to join a religion, so you can add them to the kids who drop out in each generation.
It's actually pretty difficult to untangle the statistics to work out what's going on here. Philip Schwadel, a sociologist at the University of Nebraska, has used a couple of newly developed statistical techniques to try to do just that, using data from the General Social Survey (which has been surveying Americans since the early 1970s).
What he found was that all three effects seem to play a role. He found that, across all generations since around 1990, there has been a sharp increase in the numbers of people reporting that they have no religious affiliation.
But, surprisingly, younger generations aren't more likely to drop out of religion than they were before. In fact, people born to a religious family in the 60s and 70s are no more likely to switch out of religion than were people born before 1945.
Not so for people born in the period 1945-1960. They are more likely than older generations to switch out of religion. Clearly, growing up in the Hippy generation had its effects!
About one quarter of the increase in non-affiliated young adults can be explained simply by the fact that more and more American kids are being raised in non-affiliated families. This is the snowball effect. When the Hippy generation grew up, they passed on their lack of affiliation to their kids - who were joined by other people who are continuing dropped out of religion at the normal, background rate.
The big question now is what will happen to these young non-affiliated. Based on earlier generations, you might expect a fair number of them to rejoin a religious identity as they age. But will this happen to the Millennial generation? Time will tell!
Schwadel, P. (2010). Period and Cohort Effects on Religious Nonaffiliation and Religious Disaffiliation: A Research Note Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49 (2), 311-319 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01511.x
This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.
... Read more »
Schwadel, P. (2010) Period and Cohort Effects on Religious Nonaffiliation and Religious Disaffiliation: A Research Note. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(2), 311-319. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01511.x
Most straight man, according to Prospero and Fawson (2010), must oblige when their female partners insist on sex, since to refuse would apparently be an indelible stain on one's manhood.
... Read more »
Próspero M, & Fawson P. (2010) Sexual coercion and mental health symptoms among heterosexual men: the pressure to say "yes". American journal of men's health, 4(2), 98-103. PMID: 19477760
Note: This is a modified version of a paper I did for an environmental planning course this past semester. I discussed some of the earlier stages in this project a while back. Although coal-fired power plants provide about one half of America’s electricity today, they have become increasingly controversial in the past few years for [...]... Read more »
Franco, A., & Diaz, A. (2009) The future challenges for “clean coal technologies”: Joining efficiency increase and pollutant emission control. Energy, 34(3), 348-354. DOI: 10.1016/j.energy.2008.09.012
Why do most of us assume that it is necessarily a bad thing for men to resist treatment for their alleged depression? And why is it that when Rochlen et al. (2009) call for more men to accept such treatment, I immediately respond, why?... Read more »
Rochlen, A., Paterniti, D., Epstein, R., Duberstein, P., Willeford, L., & Kravitz, R. (2009) Barriers in Diagnosing and Treating Men With Depression: A Focus Group Report. American Journal of Men's Health, 4(2), 167-175. DOI: 10.1177/1557988309335823
I try to buy organic fruits and veggies, at least the dirty dozen. Organic milk too. Pasta, once or twice. Pajamas, never. So you may not be surprised to learn I read the new study linking ADHD to pesticides as my children gobbled up grapes that were not organic, this being New Jersey and not the West Coast where I imagine pesticide-free is an achievable if not cost-effect lifestyle. After finishing the article published in the current Pediatrics, I didn't wince too much, the grapes flown in fortunately from California and not Chile. The technical language did scare me. Organophosphate Pesticides. Diethyl Alkylphosphate. Dimethyl Alkylphosphate. Get set. Here's the deal. Data taken from a large public health study. Over 1,100 kids aged 8 to 15. Urine samples taken in the same general time period their parents completed a telephone survey with questions about their impulsivity, inattention, and other behaviors and traits. Kids with higher concentrations of a couple of the chemicals in their urine were more likely to exhibit ADHD-like symptoms according to their parents. Yes, according to their parents. So not an official ADHD diagnosis.Okay study. Not great. Could have been better if we'd had independent, professional verification of the ADHD. If we'd gotten urine over a period of time, say three different times, say before the phone interview with momma. Maybe the ADHD symptoms measured over time. See where I'm going? Cue the correlational caveats. Faithful readers, I will only briefly remind you this is a correlational study with the usual directional/causal obstacles. More important, this correlational confusion is compounded by this pesky problem of pesticides often rather quickly leaving the body via pee. We gotta know they stay there and do something other than tantalize researchers. So to establish pesticides as a trigger for ADHD we'd have to have evidence that it was in not only the pee, but the body (and thus, brain) before the symptoms appear. Long before some stranger rang and asked some time-pressured mom if her child often, sometimes, or rarely had difficulty waiting for his or her turn in line at school/home/ other social situation, would you like me to repeat the question, ma'am?My other concern here involves the nature of ADHD as a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that doesn't tend to just show up overnight after a salad with a side of suspected toxins. It's not often first diagnosed in teens or even preteens, but younger kids. Thus the whole time line of the study's just not quite convincing. If pesticides promote neurological changes culminating in ADHD then that's one thing, and we'd have to assume that starts pretty early in life, prenatally perhaps, but it's a whole other hypothesis that the toxins tend to stick around in kids with ADHD or that the chemical culprits show up now and again and somehow perpetuate the disorder that we don't think of as coming and going, waxing or weaning. A jolt of diethyl alkylphosphate here and there most likely does not ADHD a make. It's not how we understand the cluster of symptoms. Hence, my nagging about the timing of the toxin. And what about that recent study showing kids who take up pesticide-free diets rid their bodies readily of the toxins? Carrying this logic further, no toxin, no ADHD. That, my friends, we know doesn't just happen with a tweak of the grocery list.We really need to better explain the presence, albeit even temporary, of the organophosophates in the urine.One more niggling nit-picky thought. I serve my kids pretty much the same foods, organic or non-organic. They're all exposed to the same toxins. As it is in many families - so how to explain same food with one child diagnosed with ADHD? Curious and curiouser....maybe those prone to ADHD are also somehow more susceptible to environmental toxins? Hmmm...Again, I buy the dirty dozen organic when I can. Mea culpa. Remember this is New Jersey, aka, The Garden State. Rich with industry and no shortage of toxic waste dumps. I try to do the organic thing but am not always sucessful. I repeat, I am no friend to the chemical companies. Not on the pesticide payroll. But, this being the real world, in my case the decidely ungarden-like garden state, I make choices and sometimes buy the pesticide-grown blueberries or whatever my child is finally agreeing to eat. After nearly a decade of parenthood, I have learned to live with some uncertainty and some level of risk, otherwise, I'd have to homeschool my children. Check out Seeking an Objective Test for Attention Disorder (NY Times, Science, May 31). Good discussion about how an objective test might impact diagnoses and treatment. Current tests include monitoring physical responses (e.g., head movement, blood flow via MRI) to boring tasks. Should you find yourself without a worry in the world, a text to return or a Tweet to retweet, by all means, read the original journal article while it's free online: Bouchard, M., Bellinger, D., Wright, R., & Weisskopf, M. (2010). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides PEDIATRICS, 125 (6) DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3058... Read more »
Bouchard, M., Bellinger, D., Wright, R., & Weisskopf, M. (2010) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. PEDIATRICS, 125(6). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3058
Prozac and suicide: what's going on?Many people think that SSRI antidepressants do indeed cause suicide, and in recent years this idea has gained a huge amount of attention. My opinion is that, well, it's all rather complicated...At first glance, it seems as though it should be easy to discover the truth. SSRIs are some of the most studied drugs in the world. We have data from several hundred randomized placebo-controlled trials, totaling tens of thousands of patients. Let's just look and see whether people given SSRIs are more likely to die by suicide than people given placebo.Unfortunately, that doesn't really work. Actual suicides are extremely rare in antidepressant trials. This is partly because most trials only last 4 to 6 weeks, but also because anyone showing evidence of suicidal tendencies is excluded from the studies at the outset. There just aren't enough suicides to be able to study.What you can do is to look at attempted suicide, and at "suicidality", meaning suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviours. Suicidality is more common than actual suicide, so it's easier to research. Here's the bad news: the evidence from a huge number of trials is that compared to placebo, antidepressants do raise the risk of suffering suicidality(1) and of suicide attempts(1) (from 1.1 per 1000 to 2.7 per 1000), when given to people with psychiatric disorders.There's no good evidence that SSRIs are any worse or any better than other antidepressants, or that any one SSRI stands out as particularly bad(1,2). The risk seems to be worst in younger people: compared to placebo, SSRIs raised suicidality in people below age 25, had no effect in most adults, and lowered it in the oldest age groups(1). This is why SSRIs (and all other antidepressants) now carry a "black box" in the USA, warning about the risk of suicide in young people.*This is very troubling. Hang on though. I mentioned that suicidality is an exclusion criterion from pretty much all antidepressant trials. This is for ethical as well as practical reasons: it's considered unethical to give a suicidal person an experimental drug, and it's really impractical to have patients dying during your trial.Indeed the recorded rate of suicidality in these trials is incredibly tiny: only 0.5% of the psychiatric patients experienced any suicidal ideation or behaviour at all(1). The other 99.5% never so much as thought about it, apparently. If that were representative of the real world it would be great; unfortunately it isn't. Yet what this all means is that antidepressants could not possibly reduce suicidality in these trials, because there's just nothing there to reduce. Even if, in the real world, they prevent loads of suicides, these trials wouldn't show it.How do you investigate the effects of drugs "in the real world"? By observational studies - instead of recruiting people for a trial, you just look to see what happens to people who are prescribed a certain drug by their doctor. Observational studies have strengths and weaknesses. They're not placebo controlled, but they can be much larger than trials, and they can study the full spectrum of patients.Observational studies have found very little evidence suggesting that antidepressants cause suicide. Most strikingly, since 1990 when SSRIs were introduced, antidepressant sales have increased enormously, and the suicide rate has fallen steadily; this is true of all Western countries.More detailed analyses of antidepressant sales vs. suicide rates across time and location have generally either found either no effect, or a small protective effect, of antidepressant sales(1,2,3, many others). In the past few years, concern over suicidality has led to a fall in antidepressant use in adolescents in many countries: but there is no evidence that this reduced the adolescent suicide rate(1,2).Another observational approach is to see whether people who have actually died by suicide were taking SSRIs at the time of death. Australian psychiatrists Dudley et al have just published a review of the evidence on this question, and they found that out of a total of 574 adolescent suicide victims from the USA, Britain, and Scandinavia, only 9 (1.5%) were taking an SSRI when they died. In other words, the vast majority of youth suicides occur in non-SSRI users. This sets a very low upper limit on the number of suicides that could be caused by SSRIs.*So what does all this mean? As I said, it's very controversial, but here's my take, with the standard caveat that I'm just some guy on the internet.The evidence from randomized controlled trials is clear: SSRIs can cause suicidality, including suicide attempts, in some people, namely some people below age 25. The chance of this happening is below 1% according to the trials, but this is still worrying given that lots of people take antidepressants. However, the use of antidepressants on a truly massive scale has not led to any rise in the suicide rate in any age group. This implies that overall, antidepressants prevent at least as many suicides as they cause.My conclusion is that the clinical trials are not much use when it comes to knowing what will happen to any individual patient. The evidence is that antidepressants could worsen suicidality, or they could reduce it. This is hardly a satisfactory conclusion for people who want neat and tidy answers, but there aren't many of those in psychiatry. For patients, the implication is, boringly, that we should follow the instructions on the packet - be vigilant for suicidality, but don't stop taking them except on a doctor's orders.Dudley, M., Goldney, R., & Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2010). Are adolescents dying by suicide taking SSRI antidepressants? A review of observational studies Australasian Psychiatry, 18 (3), 242-245 DOI: 10.3109/10398561003681319... Read more »
Dudley, M., Goldney, R., & Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2010) Are adolescents dying by suicide taking SSRI antidepressants? A review of observational studies. Australasian Psychiatry, 18(3), 242-245. DOI: 10.3109/10398561003681319
It must have sounded like a great idea at the time. Uganda’s Kibale National Park (KNP) is scenic, diverse, important for the largest bit of mid-elevation tropical rainforest remaining in East Africa it contains, with its primates — and short of cash. But it also has wild robusta coffee (Coffea canephora) in its forest, and [...]... Read more »
LILIEHOLM, R., & WEATHERLY, W. (2010) Kibale Forest Wild Coffee: Challenges to Market-Based Conservation in Africa. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01527.x
These days, Britain is one of the most atheistic countries around. It wasn't always like that, of course, but one of the problems with trying to work out how the present state of affairs came about is that there are very few statistics on religion the stretch back far enough.
Stepping into the breach is Steven Bruce and Tony Glendinning, of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. They've put together a time-series from data collected by the Methodists Churches, who have been among the most rigorous in collecting data on their membership.
If you look at the raw numbers, it looks at first sight as though Methodist membership help up quite well - at least until recent decades. But over that same period of time, the total population of the UK nearly trebled.
When you plot membership as a percentage of the total population, a different picture emerges. Methodist membership has actually been declining since records began, with the decline accelerating in the post-war period decades.
Broadly similar patterns (with a few hiccups) can be seen in many other measures of religion in the UK (although inevitably more murky because the data or more patchy). Overall church membership peaked around 1904, Sunday School enrolment peaked in the same decade, and baptisms peaked around 1930.
What caused this decline? Well, membership goes down when the churches lose members - either to death or defection - faster than they can recruit. And the evidence suggests that the major reason for the decline is failure to bind children into the religion of their parents.
This really kicked off during the Second World War. Here's another graph, showing some data for Scotland. There was a sudden surge in the numbers of people who stopped attending, which started during the war and persisted after it. This was mostly due to people who went to church as children, but who stopped attending before they turned 21.
The Second World War caused an enormous upheaval in European society, and trying to trace any one factor as the cause of the rise in godlessness is problematic. However, one clue is that a major reason for young adults to abandon Christianity is having parents from different denominations.
In other words, its much more difficult to pass on religion to your children if parents have different views - even if those differences are as minor as the differences between Anglicans and Methodists.
Now, add to this the fact that the War brought a revolution in the social mobility of women. Young women broke free from their traditional roles, and by 1943 90% of single women aged 18-40 were employed either in the armed forces or in industry.
Many women found themselves posted to areas of the country far from home, often with others - both men and women - of very different social backgrounds. And with that came not only a broadened outlook but also sexual emancipation. On 'Land Girl' working in Romney Marsh recalled:
There were troops everywhere. You could just take your pick. You didn’t know how many were married; you just had to take their word for it. . . . I had several boyfriends during the war. . . . It was a case of a broken heart one night and the next night a new boyfriend’
One result of this freedom was that women born between 1914-1924 were twice as likely to have had sex before marriage than women born 10 years before. But, perhaps more importantly, both men and women were exposed to perspectives on the world that they would never have gained previously.
According to Bruce & Glendinning, the war war weakened the community ties that help the successful transmission of any shared cultural characteristic:
With vast numbers of young men in the armed forces being moved around the country, one way or another, almost all single British women between 1939 and 1945 experienced an unprecedented degree of social mixing. A large part of the eligible population had a chance to engage in pleasant and positive social interaction with people from very different social, regional, cultural and religious backgrounds (Harris 2000: 113). Not all such mixing resulted in a broadening of horizons and a weakening of previous loyalties. The aliens – inner-city evacuees, servicemen, foreigners – could be handy scapegoats for those who saw no benefit from the disruption of old ways of life but for many of those whose children were to form the missing generation of church members in the 1960s, the war was a liberating experience.
As a result, women were less likely to marry the local lad from the same street and church. And it's the mixing together of different world views and perspectives that is fatal for the successful transmission of religion.
Bruce, S, & Glendinning, T (2010). When was secularization? Dating the decline of the British churches and locating its cause. The British Journal of Sociology, 61 (1), 107-126
This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.
... Read more »
Bruce, S, & Glendinning, T. (2010) When was secularization? Dating the decline of the British churches and locating its cause. The British Journal of Sociology, 61(1), 107-126. info:/
I’ll be straight with you: I want to write about sex – and have done so in the past – but I have absolutely no longing to titillate or talk about my own sex life. So there won’t be any pictures of me perched on a desk peering over my glasses here.
This is because I [...]... Read more »
Boynton, P. (2007) Advice for sex advisors: a guide for 'agony aunts', relationship therapists and sex educators who want to work with the media. Sex Education, 7(3), 309-326. DOI: 10.1080/14681810701448119
Boynton, P., & Callaghan, W. (2006) Understanding media coverage of sex: A practical discussion paper for sexologists and journalists. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 21(3), 333-346. DOI: 10.1080/14681990600798770
Imagine this card trick. A statistician divides a regular deck of cards into two sets: one of 20 and one of 32 cards. Then, he lets students prove that in both sets, the proportion of court cards is larger among the black ones than among the red cards. How is this possible and what are the consequences for statistical analyses?... Read more »
Simpson, E.H. (1951) The Interpretation of Interaction in Contingency Tables. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological), 13(2), 238-241. info:/
Margaret Gonsoulin and Anjeanette LeBoeuf (California State University Fresno, United States) and coworkers have investigated evolving differences in conservative Christian social thought, focusing on the effect of gender. This news feature was written on May 30, 2010.... Read more »
Gonsoulin, M., & LeBoeuf, A. (2010) Intra-group variation in conservative Christians’ gender ideologies (1972–2006). The Social Science Journal, 47(1), 225-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.soscij.2009.09.001
While we might laugh about the so-called typical ‘I will fix it’ response of some men when their partners talk about problems (when what the woman really wants is a hug), it seems that much of our research into pain behaviour, particularly verbal expressions of pain, has missed something. I’m not a major reader of … Read more... Read more »
Cano, A., & Williams, A. (2010) Social interaction in pain: Reinforcing pain behaviors or building intimacy?. Pain, 149(1), 9-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.10.010
Charles H. Logan analyzed U.S. corrections and crime data in the early 1970s, finding that longer punishments meted out to convicted offenders tended only to be associated with lower crime rates when there is a higher chance of being caught.... Read more »
In the late 1970s Mark Fishman analyzed a crime wave against the elderly in New York, finding that the news media had reported on a crime wave that official statistics suggested hadn't happened.... Read more »
Shamai and Buchbinder (2009) researched the subjective experiences of men who have participated in perpetrator groups, to find some gains but also, many paradoxes. ... Read more »
Shamai, M., & Buchbinder, E. (2009) Control of the Self: Partner-Violent Men's Experience of Therapy. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(7), 1338-1362. DOI: 10.1177/0886260509340538
Americans may talk a good game about "work-life balance," but according to this study, they're biased against working mothers. More surprisingly, those who liked working moms less also liked the children of those mothers less.
For her Master's degree, Jennifer Livengood, who graduated this month from Kansas State University, asked 96 students to rate mothers and children after hearing them interact with their kids on an audiotape and watching a brief video. The raters knew in advance which mothers worked only in the home, which ones had full-time jobs, and which ones worked part-time. As Livengood told this interviewer, she thought she'd find differences in how people reacted to each type of parent. She didn't. Instead, though, she found one consistent pattern: her volunteers rated the fully employed mothers as less competent; their relationships with their kids as more troubled; and the kids themselves as less likable.
It has long been known that "irrelevant" facts have an impact on teachers' expectations for kids. This study, for example, showed that the same academic file would get different ratings from teachers if the accompanying photo showed a nice-looking kid than it would if the child was unattractive: The teachers had higher expectations for the intelligence, popularity, and educational prospects of the good-looking pupils. And this one found that kindergarten teachers expect short boys to be less academically capable than typically-sized ones. Moreover, there's a huge body of research showing that teachers' expectations have a big impact on kids—the "Pygmalion effect" that suggests a kid expected to do well will do better than a kid expected to be dull.
All of which makes me wonder what would happen if someone were to test the effect on teachers of knowing that a pupil's mother is a "working mom" or a "stay-at-home." Livengood's study would suggest that there'd be an effect. And that, despite the lip service we all pay to hardworking mothers, that effect wouldn't be pretty.
For more on teacher-bias studies, here are the two I mentioned (one among the earliest, the other recent):
Clifford, M., & Walster, E. (1973). The Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Teacher Expectations Sociology of Education, 46 (2) DOI: 10.2307/2112099
Smith, J., & Niemi, N. (2007). Exploring Teacher Perceptions of Small Boys in Kindergarten The Journal of Educational Research, 100 (6), 331-335 DOI: 10.3200/JOER.100.6.331-335
... Read more »
Clifford, M., & Walster, E. (1973) The Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Teacher Expectations. Sociology of Education, 46(2), 248. DOI: 10.2307/2112099
Smith, J., & Niemi, N. (2007) Exploring Teacher Perceptions of Small Boys in Kindergarten. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(6), 331-335. DOI: 10.3200/JOER.100.6.331-335
An upcoming study Personality and Individual Differences links eye color to perceived dominance ratings. But there's more to the study than immediately reaches the eye...... Read more »
Kleisner, K., Kočnar, T., Rubešová, A., & Flegr, J. (2010) Eye color predicts but does not directly influence perceived dominance in men. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.011
Many people are still trying to work out exactly what twitter is good for but with more than 41 million users worldwide , the website is clearly popular with those who like to communicate via short “sound bites” of 140 characters or less. Communication is an important part of what Universities are all about, so [...]... Read more »
Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park, & Sue Moon. (2010) What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?. WWW '10: Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web, New York, NY, USA, 591-600. DOI: 10.1145/1772690.1772751
A new study in PLoS ONE by Victoria Horner, Darby Proctor, Kristin E. Bonnie, Andrew Whiten, and Frans de Waal suggests that prestige is an important factor in other primates besides humans. By employing a simple behavioral experiment these researchers demonstrated that chimpanzees, when given a choice between two nearly identical tasks, will choose the one they previously witnessed a high-ranking member of the troop perform. ... Read more »
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