Race equality

As if it wasn't bad enough how precious little science coverage there is in the media, we are now treated to the following:

BBC: Women 'may outsprint men by 2156'
Women sprinters may be outrunning men in the 2156 Olympics if they continue to close the gap at the rate they are doing, according to scientists. An Oxford University study found that women are running faster than they have ever done over 100m. At their current rate of improvement, they should overtake men within 150 years, said Dr Andrew Tatum.

Have you ever heard such nonsense in your life?

When I was born, I was less than 2 ft tall. My father was over 6 ft. I am now well over 5 ft tall, but my father is the same old 6 ft. By the same logic as the tosh quoted above, if I continue to close the gap at the rate I have been, I should be taller than my father in a few years' time, and should be at least 35 ft tall by the end of the century. Similarly, we can expect to drive to the 2156 Olympics in our solar-powered cars at speeds well in excess of the speed of light (although how the solar light will ever manage to catch these cars once they get going is anyone's guess).

Yes, I'm sure the gap between the best male and female athletes will continue to narrow for a while at least, but what possible reason is there for assuming that it will continue to narrow at a constant rate? Both sexes have already reached the stage where sprinting world records are broken by mere hundredths of a second; something tells me that male athletes are not going to be standing round, kicking their heels, while the women knock whole seconds off their own records.

Having said all that, to be fair:

…Dr Tatem said: "We are not saying categorically that women will overtake the men but we think there is a chance and we have put this up for discussion.

Thanks, Dr Tatem. For what it's worth, please accept the above as my contribution to the stupid discussion.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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