Women and maths – the effect of stereotyping

18 11 2010

My attention was recently drawn to this fascinating study conducted over a decade ago now, although its findings seem to have been largely ignored.

The study at the University of Michigan, first looked at psychology students with fairly high levels of maths knowledge and skills. It was discovered that males outperformed females at difficult tests, whilst there was no difference in easier tests.

In the second part of the study, a 2 part test was conducted where half the participants were told that the questions in the first half were shown to produce gender differences, but the second half was not, and half the participants were told it was the other way around. Interestingly, the investigators discovered that where a gender difference was expected by participants, one existed, but was eliminated when they were not expecting an effect of gender.

These results were replicated in a less highly selected sample of students.

What I find most interesting is how this information is being used now, in the UK. If this ‘stereotype threat’ has the potential to impact upon performance in exams, how is this translating to the classroom. Could it that the reports every year that girls do better in school exams than boys may in fact be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Jx

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Dear news media…

25 03 2010

Sadly, not my own!

Still ever so funny though!!





Facebook linked to syphilis? Correlation does not mean causation.

24 03 2010

I have been following the aftermath of the Facebook/syphilis link all day with much interest.

Syphilis has been a twitter ‘trending topic’ – whether due to people discussing the scaryness of the initial story, or commenting on the lack of actual published data – so it seems to be a topic of interest to others as well as the sub-species I belong to, otherwise known as science geeks.

For those with a moment to spare, here is one of the articles, from the Telegraph 

“There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected.

“I don’t get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites.

“Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex.”

OK, this may be true. However, a quick Google Scholar search hasn’t shown any published research supporting this, and it is unclear where the data is coming from, how it was collected… In short, anything that might make this a real story!

I hope that real research has been done, and that given time, we will hear about it. But so far, Teeside have kept remarkably schtum.

With far greater journalists than I already having attempted contact, I shall leave it until we know more to make any further comments.

For a more in depth look at this, please check out Dr Petra’ blogpost. If nothing else, she argues, this could be an excellent route in to educating the public about this disease.

J x





remote, retroactive intercessory prayer

11 02 2010

Famous and hilarious study. Praying for people 10 years AFTER they’d been in hopsital lead to better outcomes. Maybe they repeated the study with different patient groups until they got the magic p value, maybe they just got lucky, still, shows why it’s important to ask the right question when thinking about conducting research. But lead to a lovely, controversial Chrsitmas BMJ issue!

BMJ 2001;323:1450-1451 ( 22-29 December )

Beyond science?

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial

Leonard Leibovici, professor

Department of Medicine, Beilinson Campus, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tiqva 49100, Israel

leibovic@post.tau.ac.il

Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.
Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
Setting: University hospital.
Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.
Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.
Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.
Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).
Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.





Research

10 12 2009

Well, no magic for me today, but indulging a little of one of my other passions – research.

Spent large parts of today writing a protocol for a project I’m hoping to do in Africa next year (and an even bigger part of today procrastinating doing said protocol…), been to a lecture evening this week about academic (i.e. research) career planning, and finding out some of the super cool stuff some of the medical science people are doing at my uni, and been gently progressing with my audit with a primary care trust (public health doctors that organise where money goes in the health system at a local level)…all great stuff!

Exhausted now, just emailed stuff off to relevant people, submitted things online, and generally organised my life a little!

Phew!

If only I hadn’t procrastinated so much, I should have been at training tonight… ooops once again!