Posts Tagged Sunday Times

Telegraph columnists are from Mars, facts are from Venus

Yesterday, a couple of news outlets reported that a neuroscientist, Prof. Gina Rippon, claimed in an interview with The Sunday Times (annoyingly paywalled) that the differences between the brains of men and women are overstated, and that neuroscientists are often naive about the damaging effects their research can have when hyped up by newspapers – there’s a particularly interesting debate on the subject between her and Prof. Robert Winston from the Today Programme if you’re interested. So far, so reasonable. After all, she’s hardly the only person who’s made that claim lately.

Today however The Daily Telegraph carries not one but two attempted rebuttals of Rippon’s claims: “Why would society want men to be blind to their worn socks?” by Michael Deacon, and “Do men and women really think alike?” by Cristina Odone. Who are these people? Science journalists? Renowned neuroscientists? Leading psychologists?

Err, no. Odone writes on “families and faith”, while Deacon is The Telegraph‘s TV Features editor.

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The Sunday Times wants women to be more grateful for their unwanted pregnancies

Today the media has vomited up a delightful little piece of rhetoric, twice by The Sunday Times, once under the title “IVF babies aborted as mothers lose in love” and once as “Scandal of aborted IVF babies“,* along with the The Mail on Sunday parroting the The Times‘s findings under the headline “Dozens of IVF babies aborted ‘after women change their minds about becoming a mother’“.

All the articles are based on the news that 80 abortions per year are carried out to terminate foetuses produced by IVF treatment. That’s the entirety of the factual content of the articles. The statistics that this is based on actually seem to have been released two years ago. Oddly, The Times claims it had to use the Freedom of Information act to prise these data out of the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA)’s hands, and the paper carries a snide dig from Dr. Mohamed Taranissi that the HFEA should be “much more open with the data they have” (the paper of course neglects to mention that Taranissi and the HFEA have a somewhat fraught relationship, and that he might not give the most unbiased opinion). In fact, you can download these statistics from the HFEA’s website and have a play with them yourself, although be advised they are in a rather human-unfriendly format.

80 post-IVF abortions, up to half of which are performed on women aged 18-34. Note the use of the word “up to half”, not just “half”. This will be relevant later.

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