Saturday, December 31, 2005

Internet gender gap

First, an off-topic answer. Celal asks me about the leap seconds - why has not the Earth already stopped to rotate if there are so many leap seconds. The answer is that we are now indeed inserting a leap second in most of the years - which means that one year is longer by roughly 1 second than it was back in 1820 when the second was defined accurately enough. More precisely, what I want to say is that one solar day is now longer by roughly 1/365 of a second than it was in the 19th century; what matters is of course that the noon stays at 12 pm.

Although the process of slowing down the Earth's rotation has some irregularities, you can see that you need roughly 200 years to increase the number of the required leap seconds per year by one. In order to halve the angular velocity, you need to increase the number of leap seconds roughly by 30 million (the number of seconds per year), which means that you need 30 million times 200 years which is about 6 billion years. Indeed, at time scales comparable to the lifetime of the solar system, the length of the day may change by as much as 100 percent.

100 percent is a bit of exaggeration because a part of the recent slowing is due to natural periodic fluctuations and aperiodic noise, not a trend. However, coral reefs indeed seem to suggest that there were about 400 days per year 0.4 billion years ago. Don't forget that the slowing down is exponential, I think, and therefore the angular velocity will never quite drop to zero (which has almost happened to our Moon).

BBC informs that

While the same percentage of men and women use the internet, they use it in very different ways & they search for very different things. Women focus on maintaining human contacts by e-mail etc. while men look for new technologies and ways to do new things in novel ways.

  • "This moment in internet history will be gone in a blink," said Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at Pew who wrote the report.

I just can't believe that someone who is doing similar research is simultaneously able to share such feminist misconceptions. The Internet has been around for ten years and there has never been any political or legal pressure for the men and women to do different things - the kind of pressures in the past that is often used to justify similar hypotheses about the social origin of various effects.

People are just doing whatever they find natural to do with the internet, and a result is that there are significant differences between men and women. These differences follow primarily from the fact that we are wired differently. Everyone who is able to look around and evaluate the perceptions knows that.

Growing gender gap in computer science

Meanwhile, the gender gap grows in computer science (CS). Boston Globe describes the computer science department of Tufts University. Twenty years ago, many women were attracted to the department in order for the social engineers to produce "gender equality". The peak of this movement was in 1985 when as many as 37 percent of the computer science Bc. degrees went to women.

You have had everything you need according to the pseudoscientific theories of discrimination: a lot of female role models and good, welcoming atmosphere. Nevertheless, the airplanes don't land. The percentage of women among the new alumni dropped below 20 percent again. Something must be wrong, right? Still, many people are going to continue to propagate their patently false explanations of the observed statistics that have been falsified hundreds of times. For example, the Boston Globe article by Marcella B. wrote

  • As the popularity of computer science soared in the first half of the 1980s, many university departments became overburdened and more competitive, some professors argue. Introductory classes were taught in a way that emphasized technical minutiae over a broader sense of what was important and exciting about the field, a style catering to the diehard -- and overwhelmingly male -- techies rather than curious new recruits.

This is a completely unreasonable comment. The reality is that the field of computer science simply is a competitive field. It has been one for quite many years. And the males seem to be doing statistically better both in the technical minutiae of that field as well as in the excitement about its general features. Moreover, both of these things - general excitement as well as technical details - are necessary for the computer science people to do their work competitively. Abandoning "technical minutiae" is nothing else than lowering the standards.

I wonder how many more years, decades or centuries are necessary for the believers in various feminist religions to start to realize that something is wrong with their beliefs.

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