Friday, January 23, 2009

This Doesn't Seem Very Science-y to Me

From the New York Times article, "Study Sees an Obama Effect Lifting Black Test-Takers":

researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

Excuse Me? Could you repeat that, please?

Researchers in the last decade assembled university students with identical SAT scores and administered tests to them, discovering that blacks performed significantly poorer when asked at the start to fill out a form identifying themselves by race. The researchers attributed those results to anxiety that caused them to tighten up during exams in which they risked confirming a racial stereotype.

Uh-huh. So... you're saying that the consistent under-performing of Blacks on standardized tests in America is not due to socio-economic conditions like failing urban schools, high unemployment rates, and the prevalence of single-income homes, but rather of "anxiety that causes them to tighten up during exams in which they risked confirming a racial stereotype." Right. If only Black people could learn how to relax and take life so seriously, maybe they could be more successful.

But it's all fixed now! As of Noon, EST, on January 20, 2009, the problem was solved forever!

On the initial test last summer, whites on average correctly answered about 12 of 20 questions, compared with about 8.5 correct answers for blacks, Dr. Friedman said. But on the tests administered immediately after Mr. Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, and just after his election victory, black performance improved, rendering the white-black gap “statistically nonsignificant,” he said.
Thank God, now that African-American problem is taken care of. Now if only women could follow Hillary Clinton's example and start earning higher wages at work.

At least this guy seems to remember his Hume:

“It’s a nice piece of work,” said G. Gage Kingsbury, a testing expert who is a director at the Northwest Evaluation Association, who read the study on Thursday.

But Dr. Kingsbury wondered whether the Obama effect would extend beyond the election, or prove transitory. “I’d want to see another study replicating their results before I get too excited about it,” he said.

I also may name my first-born, "G. Gage Kingsbury".

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