Quora can be an awesome resource, a place where rational, intelligent people come together to have in-depth discussions about important and stimulating topics. However, like anywhere else on the web, it has it’s fair share of pretentious and arrogant contributors who can’t seem to get over themselves, like this “budding mathematician” for example.
The poor woman, obviously doing the superior science, found herself stuck with a boyfriend studying something as lowly as psychology, the science of the human mind and behavior. “I’m planning to be a mathematician and I can’t take his interest seriously,” she wailed. “It’s a joke compared to mine. We have chemistry but his profession/interest in that pop junk is annoying. I prefer intellectual discussions not junk talk.”
Now, whether this was a genuine post, or just a wind-up trying to get a reaction is open to question, but get a reaction it did, in the form of a glorious put down. Using pinpoint logic to defend the complexity and importance of psychology in relation to mathematics, the response eloquently describes the OP’s shortcomings, while suggesting that her psychologist boyfriend could find her as a useful subject for study, if nothing else.
She will no doubt learn, with time, to respect others choices and passions in life, even if they are different to her own. But for now, such a superior attitude is probably not going to stand this student in good stead for the duration of her studies, or her love life for that matter. Scroll down below to read how it unfolded for yourself, as well as see how others reacted to the post. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
A “budding mathematician” took to Quora to share her embarrassment at her boyfriend’s choice of study, psychology
Psychologists have tried to plumb the depths of human motivation to make sense of our behaviour. But our inner mental world is a fiction, sustained by constant improvisation
At the climax of Anna Karenina, the heroine throws herself under a train as it moves out of a station on the edge of Moscow. But did she really want to die? Had the ennui of Russian aristocratic life and the fear of losing her lover, Vronsky, become so intolerable that death seemed the only escape? Or was her final act mere capriciousness, a theatrical gesture of despair, not seriously imagined even moments before the opportunity arose?
We ask such questions, but can they possibly have answers? If Tolstoy says that Anna has dark hair, then Anna has dark hair. But if Tolstoy doesnt tell us why Anna jumped to her death, then Annas motives are surely a void. We can attempt to fill this void with our own interpretations and debate their plausibility. But there is no hidden truth about what Anna really wanted, because, of course, Anna is a fictional character.
Suppose instead that Anna were a historical figure and Tolstoys masterpiece a journalistic reconstruction. Now Annas motivation becomes a matter of history, rather than a literary interpretation. Yet our method of inquiry remains the same: the very same text would now be viewed as providing (perhaps unreliable) clues about the mental state of a real person, not a fictional character. Historians, rather than literary scholars, might debate competing interpretations.
Now imagine that we could ask Anna herself. Suppose the great train slammed on its brakes just in time. Anna, apparently mortally injured, is conveyed in anonymity to a Moscow hospital and, against the odds, pulls through. We catch up with Anna convalescing in a Swiss sanatorium. But, as likely as not, Anna will be as unsure as anyone else about her true motivations. After all, she too has to engage in a process of interpretation as she attempts to account for her behaviour. To be sure, she may have data unavailable to an outsider she may, for example, remember the despairing words Vronsky has left me forever running through her mind as she approached the edge of the platform. However, any such advantage may be more than outweighed by the distorting lens of self-perception. In truth, autobiography always deserves a measure ofscepticism.
A new study found that young U.S. girls are less likely than boys to believe their own gender is the most brilliant.
While all 5-year-olds tended to believe that members of their own gender were geniuses, by age 6 that preference had diminished for girls a difference the researchers attributed to the influence of gender stereotypes.
“We found it surprising, and also very heartbreaking, that even kids at such a young age have learned these stereotypes,” said Lin Bian, the study’s co-author and a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“It’s possible that in the long run, the stereotypes will push young women away from the jobs that are perceived as requiring brilliance, like being a scientist or an engineer,” she told Mashable.
A growing field
The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, builds on a growing body of research that suggests gender stereotypes can shape children’s interest and career ambitions at a young age.
A global study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that girls “lack self-confidence” in their ability to solve math and science problems and thus score worse than they would otherwise, which discourages them from pursuing science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) fields.
A 2016 study suggested a “masculine culture” in computer science and engineering makes girls feel like they don’t belong.
Thursday’s research looks not at specific skills but at the broader concept of high-level intellectual abilities. In short, can girls be geniuses, too?
Sapna Cheryan, a psychology professor at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study, said the results were “super important” because they’re among the first to show us how young children not adults or high-schoolers respond to gender stereotypes.
But she said the findings are just as revealing for young boys as for girls.
“It’s not that girls are underestimating their own gender it’s that boys are overestimating themselves,” she told Mashable. Cheryan was the lead author of last year’s masculine culture study.
“What we want as a society is for people to say boys and girls are equal,” she added.
Stereotyping starts early
Andrei Cimpian, a co-author of Thursday’s study, said his earlier research with adults showed that the fields people associate with requiring a high level of smarts also tend to be overwhelmingly represented by men.
“Across the board, the more that people in a field believe you need to be brilliant, the fewer women you see in the field,” Cimpian, an associate professor of psychology at New York University, told Mashable.
This same idea burrows itself into our brains as children, the study suggests.
Researchers worked with 400 children ages 5, 6 and 7 in a series of four experiments for the new study. (Not every child participated in every experiment for the study.)
In the first experiment, the psychologists wanted to see whether children associate being “really, really smart” with men more than with women.
To answer that question, a researcher told each child an elaborate story about a person who was brilliant and quick to solve problems, without hinting at all at the person’s gender. Next, the children looked at a series of pictures of men and women and were asked to guess who from the line-up was the character in the story.
During a series of similar questions, researchers kept track of how often children chose members of their own gender as being brilliant.
Among 5-year-olds, boys picked boys a majority of the time, while girls picked girls.
“This is the heyday of the ‘cooties’ stage,” Cimpian said. “It’s consistent with what we know about in-group biases in this young age group.”
But among 6- and 7-year-olds, a divide emerged. Girls were significantly less likely to rate women as super smart than boys were to pick members of their own gender.
The age groups were similarly split in a second prompt. Researchers asked kids to pick from activities described as either suited for brilliant kids, or kids who try really hard.
Five-year-old boys and girls both showed interest in the smart-kid activities. But by age 6, girls expressed more interest in the games for hard workers, while boys kept on with the “brilliant” games.
Why is this happening?
Researchers said it’s not entirely clear how these stereotypes form. Certainly marketing towards children lab sets are for boys, dollhouses are for girls plays a role.
And history books are filled with the achievements of white men who, generally speaking, did not face the same systemic discrimination that kept women and people of color out of classrooms and laboratories.
Cimpian and Bian said they are planning a larger, longer-term study to explore how these stereotypes form and stick, and how we can correct them.
In the meantime, they suggested a few ways that parents and teachers of young children could work to dispel the biased idea that men are inherently more prone to brilliance than women.
Bian noted that previous research has shown that girls respond better to what psychologists call a “growth mindset” the idea that studying, learning and making an effort are the key ingredients for success, not a stroke of genetic luck.
“We should recommend the importance of hard work, as opposed to brilliance,” she said.
Sharing and touting the achievements of women can also help counter the stereotypes that genius is reserved for men. Cimpian cited the book and movie Hidden Figures, about the women scientists who helped NASA astronauts get to space for the first time, as a prime example.
Cheryan, the UW psychologist, said including young boys in such efforts is critical.
“There’s a societal message that if there’s a gender gap, it’s the girls we need to fix,” she said. “We have to be careful with that message, because it just reinforces the similar hierarchy that the boys are always doing the right thing. In reality, there’s probably things that could happen on both sides.”
BONUS: 5 Gender Stereotypes That Used To Be The Opposite
Psychologists believe they can identify progressive changes in the work of artists who went on to develop Alzheimers
The first subtle hints of cognitive decline may reveal themselves in an artists brush strokes many years before dementia is diagnosed, researchers believe.
The controversial claim is made by psychologists who studied renowned artists, from the founder of French impressionism, Claude Monet, to the abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning.
While Monet aged without obvious mental decline, de Kooning was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease more than a decade before his death in 1997.
Alex Forsythe at the University of Liverpool analysed more than 2,000 paintings from seven famous artists and found what she believes are progressive changes in the works of those who went on to develop Alzheimers. The changes became noticeable when the artists were in their 40s.
Though intriguing, the small number of artists involved in the study means the findings are highly tentative. While Forsythe said the work does not point to an early test for dementia, she hopes it may open up fresh avenues for investigating the disease.
I dont believe this will be a tool for diagnosis, but I do think it will trigger people to consider new directions for research into dementia, she said.
Brexit is just the latest instance of politicians bending figures to match their agenda
I love numbers. They allow us to get a sense of magnitude, to measure change, to put claims in context. But despite their bold and confident exterior, numbers are delicate things and thats why it upsets me when they are abused. And since theres been a fair amount of number abuse going on recently, it seems a good time to have a look at the classic ways in which politicians and spin doctors meddle with statistics.
Every statistician is familiar with the tedious Lies, damned lies, and statistics gibe, but the economist, writer and presenter of Radio4s More or Less, Tim Harford, has identified the habit of some politicians as not so much lying to lie means having some knowledge of the truth as bullshitting: a carefree disregard of whether the number is appropriate ornot.
So here, with some help from the UK fact-checking organisation Full Fact, is a nine-point guide to whats really going on.
Use a real number, but change its meaning
Theres almost always some basis for numbers that get quoted, but its often rather different from what is claimed. Take, for example, the famous 350m, as in the We send the EU 350m a week claim plastered over the big red Brexit campaign bus. This is a true National Statistic (see Table 9.9 of the ONS Pink Book 2015), but, in the words of Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, it is not an amount of money that the UK pays to the EU. In fact, the UKs net contribution is more like 250m a week when Britains rebate is taken into account and much of that is returned in the form of agricultural subsidies and grants to poorer UK regions, reducing the figure to 136m. Sir Andrew expressed disappointment that this misleading claim was being made by Brexit campaigners but this ticking-off still did not get the busrepainted.