Archive for June, 2012

Political ads by independent groups are not only common – they are more effective

June 29, 2012

Assessing accountability in a post-citizens united era: The effects of attack ad sponsorship by unknown independent groups

From American Political Research

According to this article the power of ads sponsored by independent groups rests not just in their sheer volume, but also in their relative effectiveness. When an attack ad is sponsored by an independent group, the authors found that the ad is far more effective than when the same ad is sponsored by a candidate.

They conducted an experiment by showing a negative state-level election ad about a particular fictitious candidate. The ad was either endorsed by the candidate’s opponent, by a nonpartisan independent group, or unattributed to either and shown to a sample of 1,500 U.S. adults. Regardless of sponsorship, researchers found that the ads were similarly persuasive regarding the flaws of the candidate who was the target of the ad. They suggest that since there is reduced potential of backlash from voters, independent groups may face incentives to produce highly controversial advertisements while facing relatively few incentives to be truthful in ads.


Interrogational torture: Effective or purely sadistic?

June 28, 2012

Interrogational torture: Or how good guys get bad information with ugly methods

From Political Research Quarterly 

While government officials have argued that “enhanced interrogation techniques” are necessary to protect American citizens, the effectiveness of such techniques has been debated. According to this study, information gleaned from interrogational torture is very likely to be unreliable, and when torture techniques are employed, they are likely to be used too frequently and too harshly. In order to assess the effectiveness of interrogational torture, this study employed game theory. The author found that under realistic circumstances interrogational torture is far more likely to produce ambiguous and false, rather than clear and reliable, information. He acknowledges that “the question as to whether—in reality—interrogational torture actually provides us with vital information we otherwise would not get—and at what human cost—is one of the pressing moral questions of our time” and conludes “The debate over this question suggests that this reality needs probing, and the probing offered here suggests that torture games have no winners.”


Is sport above human rights?

June 26, 2012

Issue: Sport on trial

From Index on Censorship

Should Syrian delegates be allowed to attend the London Olympics? Should high-profile sporting events take place in countries where free expression is repeatedly crushed? As sport and politics collide, this issue of Index on Censorship, Sport on Trial, asks: is sport above human rights?

Award-winning journalist and author Mihir Bose asks whether sporting events should be held in countries with repressive regimes. Stephen Escritt and Martin Polley investigate London 2012’s attempt to privatise the Games with threats of legal action against small businesses that use the word Olympics. Corinna Ferguson examines new threats to the right to protest and asks whether the Games are being used to roll out intrusive powers.

Also in this issue, Malu Halasa interviews Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who was awarded an Index Freedom of Expression Award earlier this year. Plus Salil Tripathi on censorship at literary festivals and reports on press freedom from Hungary, Dagestan and Mexico.


A culture of mania: A psychoanalytic view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis

June 21, 2012

Winner of the Imagination Lab Foundation Award for Innovative Scholarship

From Organization

This article draws on psychoanalytic ideas and their application to social and orga­nizational dynamics, to develop a conceptual framework around the notion of a manic culture and apply it to our understanding of the 2008 credit crisis. It recognises that there was a pperiod lasting two decades preceding the crisis of mania. This manic culture played a significant role in creating the conditions for the problems that led to the credit crisis. The study highlights that warning signs can be observed, but that they served not as warnings but as provocations to act manically in taking on more extreme risks. The paper explores history hhoping to better our understanding of our limited awareness and control to go some way to diminish the power of these forces in the future. It makes contributions both to theory and to the understanding of the credit crisis.


The importance of medical education in sports cardiology: Proposing a core curriculum

June 20, 2012

Position paper: proposal for a core curriculum for a European Sports Cardiology qualification

From European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 

Sports cardiology is a new and rapidly evolving subspecialty. Awareness of the risks for professional athletes of cardiovascular problems has been highlighted by various sporting incidents and in the UK most recently by the shocking collapse a few months ago of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba during an FA Cup quarter-final match to a heart attack.

This paper recognizes that continuous medical education in cardiology subspecialties is important. It confirms that safe guidance can be provided to all individuals engaging in sports and/or physical activity. The article provides a comprehensive curriculum for sports cardiology, which may serve as a framework upon which universities and national and international health authorities will develop the training, evaluation and accreditation in sports cardiology.


Math teachers demonstrate a bias toward white male students

June 19, 2012

Exploring bias in math teachers’ perception of students’ ability by gender and race/ethnicity

From Gender & Society

While theories about race, gender, and math ability among high school students have long been debated, this study found that math teachers are in fact, unjustifiably biased toward their white male students. The researchers analyzed data collected by the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) that consisted of a nationally representative group of about 15,000 students. Their data also included teacher surveys in which math teachers were asked to offer their personal assessment of individual students.  These  assessments ewith other data about the students such as were compared with their math GPA and their score on a standardized math test in order to determine if the teachers’ perceptions of their students’ abilities matched up with the students’ actual scores. They found that math teachers actually favored black female students, claiming that these students were more successful in their math classes than they actually were. Some explainations offered  for their findings were; since few black females were enrolled in high-level math courses, teachers may have viewed the black female students in their advanced courses as overcoming more to be successful in mathematics, thus illustrating more perseverance and academic potential. Additionally, they explained that teachers may be more sensitive to their own tendencies towards racial bias than gender bias as gender bias may be so socially ingrained that it is harder to notice and therefore harder to resist. The authors conclude that “The occurrence of bias in high school classrooms indicates that cultural expectations likely function to shape interactions and re-create inequality throughout the math pipeline that leads to high-status occupations in related fields of science and technology.”


Female sex offenders protected by the criminal justice system

June 14, 2012

Sex-based sentencing sentencing discrepancies between male and female sex offenders

From Feminist Criminology

This study highlights that female sex offenders receive lighter sentences for the same crimes than males. The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Corrections Reporting Program from the years 1994 to 2004. Sex offenses included rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, child sexual assault, and forcible sodomy. Looking at the sentences that male and female sex offenders received for specific sex offenses they found that even after the implementation of sentencing guidelines to ensure equality in sentencing, on average male sentences were between 6% and 31% longer than female sentences for the same or similar crimes. The disparity is explained in this paper by discussing the American idea that “women are weaker and, therefore, must be protected at all times regardless of their status as victims or offenders.”


Psychiatrists’ labeling practices may be desensitizing the public

June 13, 2012

The labeling paradox: Stigma, the sick role, and social networks in mental illness

From Journal of Health & Social Behavior

Does the growing number of psychiatric disorder diagnoses have an effect on people with mental illnesses? According to this study, as definitions of mental illnesses become broader, people who show signs of depression and other common mental illnesses are less likely to evoke a supportive response from friends and family members as are people with other severe mental disorders.

The author studied interviews conducted with 165 individuals with a range of mental health disorders, who were undergoing treatment for the first time. She found that those with more socially-accepted and commonplace mental illnesses, such as depression and mild mood disorders, did not receive strong reactions to their conditions from family members, friends, or others with whom they came in contact. As a result, their support networks may be less willing to take on caregiver responsibilities or to excuse them when their behavior deviates from what is considered normal. This study also found that diagnosing someone with a severe mental illness that is more outwardly recognizable such as schizophrenia and the manic phase of bipolar disorder can lead to a higher amount of rejection and discrimination by acquaintances and strangers while at the same time creating a stronger social support system among close friends and family.


Military marriages stay strong despite challenges

June 12, 2012

Comparing marital status and divorce status in civilian and military populations

From Journal of Family Issues

Despite the fact that military service means working long hours with unpredictable schedules, frequent relocations, and separations from loved ones due to deployment, this study finds that marriages of military members are not more vulnerable than civilian marriages. According to the authors, members of the military are significantly more likely to be married, but are not more likely to be divorced than civilians with matched characteristic. Additionally, the risk of divorce among military marriages has not seen a real increase since the current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began, though they have led to lengthy deployments overseas. The researchers discussed the reasons for their findings, citing the extensive benefits provided to married military members such as housing supplements, cost of living bonuses, the ability to live off-base with their families, and full spousal health care coverage.


Political blogging on the right and the left

June 7, 2012

A tale of two blogospheres: Discursive practices on the left and right

From American Behavioral Scientist

As presidential candidates from both parties gear up for the big day in November, more and more people are turning to political blogs to provide them with the latest news on the election-front. This study examined the differences among top political blogs from the right and the left and found that left-wing blogs encourage more user participation, present more opinion-related content, and were more likely to rally their readers to action. Researchers analyzed 155 top political blogs from a 2-week period in early August 2008. They first determined which blogs represented ideologies from the left and which represented ideologies of the right. They then applied a coding scheme to analyze blog structure, the incorporation of user activity, authorship, calls to action, and overall content from both types of blogs. The authors wrote, “The left is more egalitarian in opportunities for speech, more discursive, and more collaborative in managing the sites. The right is more individualistic and hierarchical, with its practice consisting more of pointing to external stories than of engaging in discussion or commentary.” They conclude “In effect, readers on the right are treated more as traditional media consumers: They play a relatively passive and marginal role in producing the primary content,” wrote the authors. “Users on the left have a more active, productive role, blurring the production-consumption distinction and, through this, increasing the probability that the left wing of the blogosphere incorporates a wider range of views than a more centralized model.”


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