Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trudy Schuett in the DC Examiner: Farrah Fawcett's Burning Bed Legacy.


Friday, June 26, 2009

The Art of Statisticulation

David Harsanyi has a column in the Denver Post entitled, How to lie with statistics — again:

Did you know that around 300 million Americans went without food, water and shelter at some point last year?

I am a survivor.

If you were blessed with the prodigiously creative and cunning mind of a politician, that kind of statistic — meaningless, but technically true — could be put to good use.

In the entertaining 1954 classic, "How to Lie with Statistics, "Darrell Huff writes that "misinforming people by the use of statistical material might be called statistical manipulation . . . or statisticulation."

One of the most persistent examples of modern-day statisticulation is the sufficiently true claim that 46 million (it becomes 50 million when senators really get keyed up) Americans are without health insurance.

Set loose on the public's compassion, this number is a powerful tool in the hands of eloquent orators like President Barack Obama when peddling government-run health care reform. And no matter how often the figure is debunked, no matter how many studies point to its inexact nature, it's just too politically inviting not to embrace.....

These facts does not undermine the argument for nationalized health care (history and common sense do that already). They do, however, point out that many statistics, to quote Huff again, get by "only because the magic of numbers brings about a suspension of common sense."

I think that when stats "confirm" people's worldview, it is not the numbers themselves that are "magical", but rather the magical thinking a person engages in that allows them to believe the numbers are true.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"...anxiety is much more likely to affect pitchers than position players "

A reader sends in an interesting article about athletes being treated by sports psychologists:

Mel Didier is as old-school baseball as they come.

The 83-year-old has been around the game for 58 years as a Minor League player, big league scout and executive and has seen and learned a lot.

It was Didier, for example, who told Kirk Gibson that Dennis Eckersley would throw a back-door slider with a full count and first base open and then watched one of the most famous home runs in World Series history leave Dodger Stadium.

In other words, not a lot surprises Didier, even though he has seen established Major Leaguers such as pitchers Zack Greinke and Steve Blass, catcher Mackey Sasser and infielders Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax suffer from diagnosed and undiagnosed psychological maladies that affected their play in strange and sometimes career-threatening ways.....

More and more, clubs are turning to sports psychologists to make these situations less difficult, and according to a prominent doctor in the Pacific Northwest, it's good to see anxiety disorders now being considered legitimately DL-worthy.

"It's a highly stressful situation with players these days," says Dr. Donald Smith, the director of the clinical psychology program at the University of Washington and a former roving Minor League psychology instructor for the Houston Astros (1985-96) and team counselor for the Seattle Mariners (1990).

"Anxiety is a mind and body phenomenon, and muscle tension interferes with the smooth, athletic movements we normally associate with Major League players. We tackle it by teaching stress management coping skills."

Smith says he has helped conduct studies that have shown that anxiety is much more likely to affect pitchers than position players and that even moderate muscle tension by a batter can "make an 85-mph fastball turn into 95 mph."

And for any team that has any doubts that psychological treatment can help players riddled with anxiety, Smith says clubs can go ahead and avoid it -- at their own risk.

"I met an old-school pitching coach who told me, 'I'm not here to coddle mental weaklings. It's a game of survival.'

You can read the rest of the story here.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who's Afraid of John Galt?

Do you ever wonder what some writers are smoking when they try to interpret what you say in a blog post? Today, Glenn received a copy of Mother Jones magazine at his office with a note attached that there was an article he might be interested in. The article, entitled, "And the Rand Played On" was about "Right-wingers heading for the hills" by "going Galt." Unfortunately, it does not seem to be on the web, at least I couldn't find it at their site.

Anyway, the article begins by talking about me and states that I am a blogger for the "conservative Pajamas Media network" --newsflash to the author Amy Benfer: I am a blogger on blogspot, not at Pajamas Media-- but why get bogged down with too many facts? Benfer goes on to say that I liked what Joe the Plumber had to say and this "semi-employed, blue-collar media darling" reminded me of John Galt, and this is how I came up with with the "Going Galt theme." Huh? I don't remember doing this--if you can deduce how Joe the Plumber reminded me of John Galt from my "Going Galt" post, let me know.

Most of the article focuses on attempts to discount or insult anyone disagreeing with the author's worldview. I am seen as "confused," Right-wingers are "heading for the hills" and stars such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who dare read Ayn Rand's books are "Celebrity fans of the cult of selfishness."

But I have to say that I like it that Mother Jones is so intimidated by the "Going Galt" theme that they have dedicated three pages at Mother Jones to it and seem quite put out that Rand's book Atlas Shrugged is flying off the shelves to the tune of 200,000 copies in four months. If I can tie up that much lefty attention with so little effort on my part, I'm doing pretty well!


Women Abusers on the Rise in Australia

A reader emails an article from Australia about the rise of female domestic violence there:

New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics figures show that over the past eight years, the number of women charged with domestic abuse has rocketed by 159 per cent.

In 2007, 2,336 women fronted court on domestic violence charges, compared to around 800 in 1999.

Preconceived ideas of gender roles have led a lot of people to believe it would be virtually impossible for a women to physically abuse a man.

But co-director of Men's Rights Agency Sue Price says it is exactly this stereotype that leads to battered men hiding in shame, fearful of being ridiculed, or even prosecuted.

"I've had SAS soldiers in tears because the wife is a black belt karate expert and yet they know that if they even try to restrain her he might be charged with assault and domestic violence," she said.....

"We have so many reports of people having hot liquids poured over them in bed, glasses broken, men hit over the head from the back, attacked while they're asleep, cut, burnt," she said.

Ms. Price, in the article, also points out that more and more women are engaging in violence--even murder-- because they can get away with it without consequences. This is an important point. The more we overlook female on male domestic violence, the more prevalent it becomes. The trouble is, no one cares and those of us who do are treated like pariahs or ignored. This must change--we must fight back against the stereotype of man perpetrator, woman victim--it is a matter of persistence and education.

Recently, a reader emailed to tell me he was upset that doctors and staff were asking his pregnant wife in front of him if she was "in a safe relationship." He asked me for help in finding research to give to these "do-gooders" to educate them about violence against men and children committed by women. If someone asked me at a doc's office if I was in a "safe relationship," I would have a few choice words for them. Or perhaps I would just hand them this article or this book and save myself the aggravation.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ask Dr. Helen: Does a Father-Free Home Breed Success or just Power-Hungry Politicians?

I have a column up at PJM this morning in honor of Father's Day:

Even on Father's Day, some think Dads are not just unimportant - they can even impede your drive to succeed.

You can read it here.

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