Monday, November 10, 2008

Larry Summers Mischaracterized By CNBC

Unfortunately, Larry Summers will probably never live it down. A female anchor tonight on CNBC suggested his possible appointment to Treasury Secretary could be in jeopardy because of his statement at Harvard that "males are inherently more intelligent than females."

Unfortunately, that is complete mis-characterization of what he actually said:

"It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability - there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means - which can be debated - there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population."

Bottom Line: What Summers actually said is something like "male intelligence is inherently more variable than female intelligence," which is significantly and distinctly different than saying that "males are inherently more intelligent than females."

The chart above shows the possibility that the mean of male intelligence is equal to the mean of female intelligence, but the variance of male intelligence is greater than the variance of female intelligence, resulting in more male geniuses (3-4 standard deviations above the mean), and more male idiots (3-4 standard deviations below the mean).

Shame on the CNBC anchor for not knowing the difference between the mean and variance of a distribution, and continuing the mischaracterization of Larry Summers.

See related CD post here.

21 Comments:

At 11/10/2008 11:37 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

OMG, this is bad. This stuff isn't taught in high school and hardly anybody learns it in college.

I had one year of undergraduate statistics but I'd be hally if every college student took ONE (introductory) stat class.

 
At 11/11/2008 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile over at the taxpayer funded needle excnage program.

Fed OKs American Express as bank holding company
http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSTRE4A97Z920081111

And anyone who thought the dipstick in cheif elect was different from the old dipstick in chief. Your wrong.

Obama urges Bush back fast aid for US autos-
http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN1047613020081111

 
At 11/11/2008 5:53 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Hey anon, educated in the government funded madrassas, eh?

'excnage'?

'cheif'?

 
At 11/11/2008 7:15 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I think you have to question Larry Summers’ judgment. After all, he was holding the position as President of Harvard when he made that statement, and he had to know it was controversial and would cause problems. If he didn’t realize the ramifications of his statement or that the speech would become public knowledge, he should not have been holding that job.

We can ignore whether Summers was scientifically correct or not, Presidents hold a leadership position as much for their judgment as they do their academic intellect. Summers quit. He was not fired. He was eventually replaced by a woman (he had to love that irony).

Summers also does not need a bailout. He got a year off with full pay (colleges’ idea of a jobs bank with a degree), and he still holds a highly paid and prestigious professorship as a Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard. He can speak what’s on his mind freely now with tenure protection. Let’s not feel too much remorse for Larry Summers.

 
At 11/11/2008 8:16 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Walt: I wouldn't care if people quoted Summers accurately and correctly, but the CNBC anchor, along with hundreds and thousands of supposedly educated academics, have continued to mis-characterize what Summers said.

Summers NEVER said that men were inherently more intelligent than women, which is what the CNBC anchor reported that Summers said.

Anybody with a basic understanding of statistics would have found Summers' comment completely non-controversial. It must therefore be the case that many people, including college professors, college administrators, and the media don't have a basic understanding of statistics.

 
At 11/11/2008 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe some nice libel (or is it slander if it's on television?) suits against CNBC would teach them to stop lying about people.

 
At 11/11/2008 8:30 AM, Anonymous Lars said...

"Shame on the CNBC anchor for not knowing the difference between the mean and variance of a distribution, and continuing the mischaracterization of Larry Summers."

While I agree that Summers was mischaracterized, do you really think that an anchor on CNBC would know the difference between variance and mean? Or in this case even care?

When the media talks political correctness reative to gender or racial issues, it seems to cloud over facts and reason.

 
At 11/11/2008 9:17 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Summers' problem was that he gave a speech to a targeted audience that should have understood statistics, but the speech was released to the ignorant masses. I agree that he got the shaft on that.

Sadly, the world seems to operate on emotion rather than rationality, and it's a cruel world out there. An emotional reaction is especially the case when it comes to gender--or someone’s job. If you want to see absolute emotion at work, try being a union representative at a GM plant this week :-)

 
At 11/11/2008 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The academy has done more to foster the current environment of political correctness than any other part of our society. Personally, I consider it poetic justice when an academic, any academic, is fed to the beast of grievance and victimhood they've created.



As it turns out, Walt, he actually gave the speech to the "ignorant masses". They simply responded in the predictable manner that they've have been programmed to respond by ignorati in the "cultural studies" and "feminist studies" departments.

 
At 11/11/2008 10:54 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

I don't question his judgement at all.

That it might be construed as controversial to state the facts [or the data] in the context of a scientific discussion sounds more like an inqusition than science.

Summers should not be forced to censor his speach simply to prevent others in the room from being uncomfortable.

Speaking the truth is not bad judgement.

 
At 11/11/2008 11:34 AM, Blogger rjmil04 said...

I wonder if a male anchor would have better understood statistics and, therefore, more accurately characterized Mr. Summers comments?

 
At 11/11/2008 11:53 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

bob wright said:

"Speaking the truth is not bad judgement."

Bob, I can tell that you are not married. Are you seriously going to tell your wife her ass looks fat in those jeans?

 
At 11/11/2008 12:04 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce" by Larry Suumers.

anonymous, I thought Summers' audience was esoteric and could handle his hypotheses in the manner for which he intended them to be interpreted at the conference. Apparently, some people do not appreciate an empirical approach to a problem.

 
At 11/11/2008 2:25 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

Larry Summers is one who genuinely speaks truth to power. So, of course, there will be "controversy" which you can take to mean squeals of pain from those whose power derives from being perpetually agrieved.

 
At 11/11/2008 3:01 PM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

There is a 2005 reference to Summers' statement, from which I infer that he said it in (!) 1960.

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2005/09/males_females_a.html

 
At 11/11/2008 3:21 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

OK, Walt. You got me there.

I also wouldn't speak the truth if I was a soldier caught behind enemy lines.

Perhaps this was Summers' mistake.

 
At 11/12/2008 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I no longer watch CNBC. I can't tell you how many times the anchors on that channel said something stupid.

 
At 11/12/2008 7:59 AM, Blogger libhom said...

Summers vacuous and sexist comments along with his vacuous and racist comments show someone with foot in mouth disease. The markets listen carefully to Treasury Secretaries, probably too much. Summers lack of a filter could lead to a market downturn.

Also, people forget that Summers is one of the people most responsible for the Crash of 2008. He pushed market deregulation in the 90s showing that he was too intellectually lazy and incompetent to take into account the fact that a lack of market regulation was the main cause of the Crash of 1929.

 
At 11/12/2008 8:06 AM, Blogger DB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/13/2008 12:44 AM, Blogger AK said...

so who was the anchor?

 
At 11/21/2008 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Summers didn't make a mistake. The public did. Why should someone have to assume that others are too stupid to get it. What this showed was that PC police are destroying both free speech and intellectual questions.

Shame on feminist propaganda and group think.

 

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