Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Speed Blogging August 26, 2014; Useful Information

I seem to be currently blocked about writing in depth on any particular issue.  So this post is like giving you the raw ingredients and the chopping board and the knife when you were invited for dinner.  Sorry about that.

First, this piece gives information about the racial divide among those who were killed by the police.  It also explains in detail what the data can tell us and what it cannot tell us.  The context for the link comes from recent events in Ferguson and elsewhere.

Second, two recent pieces are about the way health advice, given via media, might be a bit confusing. One is about salt intake, the other one about the importance of a good breakfast in weight control. 

In the past we were told not to eat eggs or not to drink coffee or not to consume too much salt or not to eat fats (and later not to eat certain types of fats) and so on and so on. 

It's tricky to know how to respond to such advice, in general, because sometimes the advice changes, as these examples show and other times the advice is really intended for only a sub-population, not for everyone.  But the tone of such advice can be unrelentingly demanding, even when the data is not that final.  and the people most likely to follow published nutrition and lifestyle advice might not be the people who would benefit from it.

The recommendation for moderation is a good one, of course.  But does that mean that moderation in everything should extend to moderation itself?  In any case, I refuse to moderate about chocolate.

Third, the first studies about reading on screen vs. on paper are beginning to come out.  This one is interesting (though I haven't looked at the study itself).  It compares two groups reading the same story, one group on Kindle and one group on paper:

In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers: the emotional measures were roughly the same, and both groups of readers responded almost equally to questions dealing with the setting of the story, the characters and other plot details. But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events in the story occurred. They also performed almost twice as poorly when asked to arrange 14 plot points in the correct sequence.
If this is correct my guess would be that a book gives you more concrete hints about where in the story something happened than the screen.  I often remember that some fact I'm searching for was, say, in the beginning chapters of the book, on the right side.  If I read on Kindle the feeling of more or less pages on the right vs. the left of my eyes is lost.

Fourth, one study suggests* that women and men are treated differently when it comes to the awarding of flex-time at work, and another suggests* that daughters spend much more time caring for their elderly parents than sons.  If these results are correct the reason is probably in ingrained gendered expectations about who should be doing the non-monetary work related to families.

*I have not read either of the original studies, only the summaries.