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Friday Ephemera

Elsewhere (140)

Charles Murray reflects on his book The Bell Curve, and its reception, twenty years on: 

The reaction to The Bell Curve exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. The Bell Curve is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excoriated in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only word for it.

Russell Nieli on grade inflation: 

Another factor furthering grade inflation has been the self-esteem movement and the belief that having a high opinion of oneself is a prerequisite to self-confidence and high achievement. The fact that… feeling good about oneself unconnected with one’s actual striving or achievement is usually a formula for indolence and lethargy — if not actual narcissism — hasn’t diminished the appeal of the movement to many university administrators… It is also a major reason, I believe, why American students, who in international comparisons have the highest self-esteem, lag so far behind those in many Asian countries in becoming top flight engineers and scientists.

When I was a teenager taking A-levels, my class was told – ominously, several times - that the minimum grades for acceptance at university were two ‘A’s and a ‘B’. More recently, in 2011, while listening to Radio 4’s rural soap The Archers, I heard Ambridge’s teen eco-warrior Pip excitedly announce her A-level results – “a ‘B’ and two ‘C’s.” She was therefore, naturally, going to university.

Sarah Knapton on vegetarians and sperm: 

Vegetarians and vegans had significantly lower sperm counts compared with meat eaters, 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ml. They also had lower average sperm motility – the number of sperm which are active. Only one third of sperm were active for vegetarians and vegans compared with nearly 60 per cent for meat eaters.

And Amy Powell relays a tale of stalking gone awry: 

A 28-year-old woman rescued from a chimney at a Thousand Oaks home was allegedly trying to break into the home of a man she had met online. Residents reported hearing the sound of a woman crying in the area at about 5:45 am. Deputies found Genoveva Nunez-Figueroa trapped inside the chimney. Ventura County Fire Department and Urban Search and Rescue members had to dismantle the chimney in order to get Nunez-Figueroa out. She was lubricated with dish soap prior to being hoisted out… This is the second time Nunez-Figueroa was found on [the homeowner’s] roof. Two weeks ago, he spotted her and called police, but she disappeared.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.