Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dear Marilyn

I sent a email to Marilyn Vos Savant about her story that appeared in Parade Magazine about which was smarter men or women. Since I didn't think it would appear anywhere else, I thought I'd post it here.

Dear Marilyn,

In you article on which is smarter men or women, you did not mention a major body part difference that has bearing on the argument. Just as we start out in the womb all the same, like genitalia our brains are differentiated from then on. Men’s brains are different from Women’s brain, and this may contribute to the idea that one sex is smarter than the other.

First, you tell me exactly what smarter means, and then I can tell you if men are smarter. For example, we all know people who are consider very smart but are inept in a social situation. They are usually referred to as nerds and are the butt of many a joke. At the same time, I’m sure anyone can think of someone who can go into a room full of people and tell who is lying and who is telling the truth, who is own their side and who is not, who they could sell something and those they could not, but who can hardly open their email and are usually totally lost on a computer. Who’s the smarter one here?

Men and women may excel at the use of their differentiated brains in ways that are not comparable in any measurable way other than results. If portions of men’s brains are reserved by the presents of the “Y” chromosome to be wired a specific way that does not occur in women, then this might explain why men generally score higher in math and science and choose that as a career. Where I think society is missing an opportunity because of culture and traditions is not allowing women to use their uniquely wired brain to do what they do best ­­­­-- which may or may not be considered of higher significance than what men do with their brain.

Here’s another little word trick (I don’t know what you call these):
The best solider doesn’t always make the best commander.
The best ball player doesn’t always make the best coach.
The most talented musician doesn’t always make the best conductor.
The most gifted scientist doesn’t always make the best team leader.
The best artist doesn’t always make the best art director.
The candidate with the highest IQ doesn’t always make the best elected official.

The only question on an IQ test that is any measure of how good a President a person could be is the one asking for their name since the President does have to know how to sign his(or her) name.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Chill Until Cool

If Judith Miller’s time in the slammer will have a “chilling effect” on journalism, then that is good and sorely needed. Way too much use of unnamed sources masquerades as journalism today. Journalists who use unnamed sources deserve what they get -- be it Ms. Miller or Dan Rather

I am aware of the argument that the use of unnamed sources facilitates whistle blowers, which do provide a community service. But the practice of using information with no source also facilitates partisan spin, personal ambition, and attack and purging of rivals. Transparency in news provides the means to judge the information. How are we supposed to know if all the facts are not out there for us to see? Trust the journalists whose primary objective is print space, air time, a byline or anything to increase their income? Yea, right. Let’s see, do I go on page five with a story of just the facts or do I go front page, above the fold with a juicy bit of information the source of which I can not divulge. (And why the source can’t be named may actually be the better newsbyte.)

Miller should go to jail for printing all those lies before the Iraqi War about WMD’s in Iraq and mobile bio-labs, all from unnamed sources, and as it appears now, all spin and no news. The source and their reason for leaking is the actual news, but of course, like in the Valerie Plame case, she would probably go to jail rather than reveal her source. Judith Miller’s interest is being served more than journalism’s.

I have no problem with Novak’s story publishing the Valerie Plame’s name and position, which appeared in the editorial section of my newspaper. That is just the place for non-attributed facts -- or the columnist’s opinion since sources are not named. Editorials, Op-Ed or columnist in the editorial section is just the place for facts with no source -- either there or in the gossip section. Papers could have a political gossip section, but get it out of the hard news sections.

A good example of the abuse of unnamed sources is to compare the current investigation being run by Patrick Fitzgerald and the one run by Kenneth Starr against President Clinton. Fitzgerald’s investigation is noteworthy because of the lack of leaks. Not much has been heard from the investigation until just recently. While the Starr investigation leaked like a sieve.

And as it turns out, all the leaks from the Starr investigation were negative about Clinton. Nothing leaked that put Clinton in a good light. After the investigation was reported, it came out that Monica Lewinsky testified that she was not approached in any way by Clinton to try and influence her testimony. That’s a juicy bit of news that in a perfect world of leaks should have come out, but it did not come out until the final report. That’s why journalist should hardly ever use leaked information. They are being used. We are not being served

Journalist: Chill until cool and then serve.