Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fascinating Statistics (amazing, I know)

The Search for 100 Million Missing Women - An economics detective story. By Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt

I often claim to hate statistics, which is not entirely true. I hate DOING statistics, I hate statistics classes, and statistics textbooks. But some of the things that can be learned by combining statistics with other information--economics, demographics, even medical information--can be truly fascinating.

The article linked above is a good example. I have often heard of the "missing women" of Asia--a result of cultural ideals and prejudices that favor boy babies above girl babies. But what if it wasn't all cultural? What if it had--at least in part--a medical cause? By looking at the relationship between hepatitis B and birth gender ratios, an economics grad student named Emily Oster believes that perhaps as much as HALF of the overabundance of males in Asia is a result of hepatitis B infection. Isn't that fascinating?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Oh, wow

The Corner on National Review Online

Officials expressed outrage over the weekend that the City of Barcelona would publish a teachers' training manual comparing "the wall of shame Israel is building in Palestine" to concentration camps.

The manual was published last week and serves as a guide for high school teachers talking about the Holocaust. The specific comparison is found in the chapter dealing the imprisonment of Spanish Republicans.

"The concentration camps can be compared to two other historical events: The wall of shame Israel is building in Palestine and the (American) detention camp in Guantanamo," the manual goes.

According to Israeli diplomatic officials in Spain, the murder of six million Jews is only mentioned in passing.

I'm not sure I can believe this--but the Corner isn't really known for lying, so I guess I have to. But the idea that the concentration camps of the Holocaust can be compared to the WALL Israel is building and the detention camp in Guantanamo (filled with people taken from the field of BATTLE) is...crazy. What about Stalin? What about Rwandan genocide, the killing fields of Cambodia, etc? Couldn't they come up with a more apt comparison?