Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Boy Named Sue" and disruption study: Flaws I found

I'm back again critiquing another name-related study I suspect may be biased and/or flawed. The study at this link supposedly finds that boys with "feminine" names are more likely to be disruptive or perform worse academically once they hit a certain grade. Here's some issues I found with how it was done:

1. The study was limited to one school district (the district wasn't specified). Why weren't multiple school districts across the country with varying racial and socioeconomic compositions studied?

2. Only students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 were studied. What would the results at higher grades be (such as once these kids reach high school)?

3. The grade organization between levels of schools varies between school districts. What would the results be for a district where middle school or junior high starts with grade 7? What about a school district in which elementary school goes through grade 8?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Boy playing for a field hockey team?

At the link below is a story about a boy who is playing on a field hockey team whose other members are all girls. Some people claim that it makes the team unfair, while others (like me) think that if girls can play on boy's teams, that boys should be allowed to play on girl's teams. Read my comment on the page shown below (#1,929) to learn about how (in general) I think there's a generation gap going on between Boomers and Millennials over the former's double standards and the latter's quest for true equality:

Circumcision rates and the changing practices in raising boys

A few weeks ago I posted about how the maximum "generation gap" between parents and their parents (the child in question's grandparents) varies by gender and across the saeculum. The maximum gap when it comes to raising boys usually comes during a Fourth Turning (e.g. the current era); for girls it's at the opposite point of the saeculum, during a Second Turning (e.g. the late 1960s and 1970s).

I found another piece of evidence that demonstrates my theory on Fourth Turnings being the era when raising boys is most called into question: the circumcision rate. Before I go any further, I want to point out a couple of things. First, some of the links in the rest of this blog post may lead to a page or site with pictures of penises. However, those pictures are there for educational purposes only. Second, I'll mention my own viewpoint on the issue: I am strongly against RIC (routine infant circumcision) for medical reasons. On the issue of religious circumcision (done mostly by Jews and Muslims), I'll remain silent on that for now. If you'd like to learn more about what I think with regards to circumcision, this site pretty much sums it up: Luckily, my mother is strongly against it too; mainly because when she had her first-born (a girl) she heard another baby screaming real loudly and the doctor said that he was being circumcised. At that point, she decided that she would never inflict that on any sons she had; thus I am proudly intact myself. (I prefer to use the term "intact" rather than "uncircumcised" since the latter term describes the unaltered penis in terms of the altered one.)

As shown with the graphs at this page, the rate began to increase sharply in the 1930s (i.e. the last Fourth Turning) to a peak during the Generation X birth years. Since then it has gone back down, to a rate of a bit over 50% a few years ago and now with some sources saying that less than 1 out of 3 new boys are being cut. (All these statistics are for the U.S., which has been one of the world's champions in non-religious circumcisions; in fact over 75% of the world's men are intact.) Since the steepest part of both the rise (when medical professionals began to encourage it) and the fall (when more people are learning about the benefits of having a foreskin) occur/occurred during Fourth Turning eras this further shows that those eras are the most likely to have boy-raising practices called into question.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Third post about how unusual boy's names (don't really) lead to criminals

Last year I made two blog posts on a "study" that claimed that unusual names for boys lead to them growing up to be criminals. Here is a better discussion I found on the research.

Three more points from me that show that their study doesn't really hold water, especially for a parent in the present times making a naming decision:

1. Continuing the generational points, today's most popular names - for both boys and girls - comprise a much smaller percentage of births than when most of those criminals in that study were born. This means that having an unusual name is more "normal" than back then, and thus how the study claimed that they made such children feel less accepted really doesn't apply for today's babies and children (if anything the opposite is probably true).

2. The sample size of a prison where the researchers would have obtained their stats on criminals' names is typically much smaller than a typical official popularity list based on births over a year's time. What this does is make an uncommon name that a single criminal (or two) happens to bear appear artificially high on the prison's name popularity list compared to where it would appear with a larger pool of individuals, and ignores the many more uncommon names that do not show up on any criminals in the sample.

3. The guys who performed the study are named David and Daniel; since they have very common names they probably introduced some bias into that study (since they would probably want to make themselves feel better by saying that common names are best). I don't know if this is actually true or not, but I strongly suspect it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Different Thanksgivings in 1939, Different Easters in 2019?

In 1939 due to the Great Depression and trying to boost Christmas sales Thanksgiving was moved from its (at the time) usual date of the last Thursday of November to a week earlier (that year the holiday would’ve fell as late as it could on November 30 and the change made by FDR moved it up a week to the 23rd). The move encountered opposition, leading to some parts of the country observing Thanksgiving a week apart from others (and the coining of the term “Franksgiving”).

A saeculum later in 2019 another holiday may end up being observed on different dates not just throughout the country but even within a town or neighborhood. This time the holiday in question is Easter, and it would be due to action on the various denominations of Christianity rather than the government as was the case for Thanksgiving 80 years earlier. Actually, it already frequently happens that most Western churches (Catholic and Protestant) calculate Easter with a different set of rules than most Orthodox ones do (the latter uses the old method from the Julian calendar while the former ones use the more astronomically accurate Gregorian calendar rules). However, the Orthodox in the U.S. are but a small minority so there isn’t much confusion (no more so than those from other minority religions). There is a movement between the various branches of Christianity to unify the celebration of Easter though, and the most common proposal is to abandon the formulas currently in use and determine the date astronomically (using the actual full moon rather than the approximated ones currently in use and the actual vernal equinox rather than the fixed one of March 21). More specifically, under the proposal Easter would be the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox using Jerusalem meridian time for all calculations. Since the Gregorian formula is very close to astronomical reality variances for the Western churches would come only occasionally (as opposed to the Julian formula which frequently puts Easter for Orthodox churches a week later due to lunar inaccuracy and sometimes four or five weeks later due to solar inaccuracy). The next year that Western churches would see a difference with the change would be 2019, with the Easter under the current rules coming on April 21 but astronomically coming on March 24 (the difference due to the actual full moon in March coming after the equinox but the full moon under the church formula coming before March 21).

Each denomination will have to decide if and when to adopt the changes, and since there are so many Protestant denominations in the U.S. it could very well turn out in 2019 that some might have Easter on the “traditional” April 21 date while others might celebrate it on the revised date of March 24. Furthermore, jurisdictions where public holidays are scheduled around Easter (such as Good Friday and/or Easter Monday) might have some debate over which date they’re scheduled around (just like in 1939 jurisdictions had to decide whether to celebrate Thanksgiving on the “traditional” November 30 or FDR’s November 23).

Unlike the Franksgiving controversy which continued on until 1941 when the date was statutorily fixed on the fourth Thursday of November, after the spring of 2019 the Easter controversy would be moot until 2038 when there is another similar diversion due to the “full moons” coming on different sides of the (real and fixed) equinoxes (that year the current formula puts it on April 25 while astronomy puts it on March 28).

Here's some links/sources on the Thanksgiving date controversy:

Here's some on the Easter date controversy: