If you go to a certain park, you might notice that the culture of that park doesn’t involve people sleeping on benches. But of course, that’s only half right.
The culture here is reinforced an(d) disseminated through the built environment. These benches are part of the trend of Hostile Architecture that purposely limits certain uses; here the addition of a middle bar to the bench. People don’t lie down on the bench because the bench prevents it.
This is how culture preserves itself, and the truth is it is usually invisible to the people unaffected by it. That inability of people to spot structural elements like this is one of the reasons that recent discourse has focused on issues of privilege. Your privilege, as a person who is not homeless here, is not having to notice that middle bar is there, or that it matters. It’s the privilege of being able to say something like “Hey, homelessness in this city must be low — no one sleeps on the benches.”
In one of my current courses, some students have been struggling to understand p-values and why we do or do not use them. I stumbled across this NYT article this morning and was struck that so many scientists rushed to try to prove/disprove the original research. In my native field of education, we see few attempts at replication. I like the phrasing in this article about the ‘bump that wasn’t there.’ It seems that the original researchers admitted that there was a 1 in 93 chance that the particle they thought they had found was not really there. One in 93 equates to a probability of 0.0108, in essence, their p-value. For some reason, they went ahead with the claim of discovery when the prevailing alpha, or significance level, for their science is five sigmas – 0.00000029. Perhaps the journal in question defaults, like far too many, to an alpha of 0.05?
The Particle That Wasn’t
I have a burning interest in finding a better way to get students, particularly female students, to stop saying “I’m math challenged.” This short article gives some food for thought.
A History Lesson: When Math Was Taboo