Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An update on our Islamist students, or how to study medicine without a brain

I’ve posted earlier about our Islamist students from Turkey who were outraged by Darwinism and kept missing classes on Fridays in order to attend prayers in the mosque (http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2006/08/my-turkish-student-eva-islamist.html). At that time, they were in their preparatory year, learning Bulgarian and some secondary-school-level biology. To become full-right freshmen, they had to do a multiple choice test of biology in Bulgarian in the summer. This test is a joke; it serves just to fulfill the requirement of our law that nobody becomes a university student without an entry exam. However, the Islamist girls failed it. Is it surprising? Even from purely physiological point of view, such a result could be expected. A huge and hard-working brain generates a lot of heat which could easily damage it. The need to efficiently cool the brain has shaped the evolution of head circulation (see e.g. http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/~reffland/anthropology/anthro2003/origins/bipedality.html.) What could you expect if you wrap your head in a piece of cloth and stay so all day at Celsium 30? I think that the brain will either be damaged by overheating or, to prevent damage, will switch off from intensive work and stay in a kind of safe mode, showing just a little of what it originally could do.
Yesterday, a colleague came to me to complain. She was furious, and for a good reason.
“The headscarves have come to one of my groups,” she said. “What are they doing there? As far as I know, they failed the examination. However, one of them gave her faculty number, this means she is a student, doesn’t it? It will be a scandal if the administration has enlisted them as 1st year students anyway. I gave them student files to fill. (The files are sheets where students write their names and faculty numbers and then the teacher marks their attendance and performance – M.M.) They couldn’t write their names, asked their Bulgarian colleagues to help. I am here to teach medical students, not mentally retarded people! Our University administration is making fools of us, forcing us to teach such retards!”
I think she is right. Bulgarian language is written in a Cyrillic alphabet with 30 letters, some of which are the same as in Latin and all have a fixed way of pronunciation. I think that every adult with average IQ and familiar with the Latin alphabet needs 2 to 3 days to learn our alphabet so that to be able to write his (her) name with the Cyrillic letters. If the person’s intellect is clearly sub-average but still in the normal range, the task could take a week or two. What should we think if a young person has spent a year learning Bulgarian and still cannot write her name in Bulgarian letters? Mental retardation seems a good explanation. So Turks should be careful when their fellow countrymen come from Bulgaria with a doctor’s diploma and want to treat them, because we here teach medicine to anybody who walks through the door.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is too funny..... The Turks screwed your people for what 200/300 years and this is the best you can do....headscarves and cyrillic bullshit....What about bulgarians who fail the entry exam without having the headscarves placed on their heads.... They must been even dumber if we follow your theory.... Woman...just go and find yourself a boyfriend...it will release lots of frustration that you have right now...Although looking at your photo... I understand why they avoid you... :)

Redneck

programmer craig said...

Excellent post, Maya.

Redneck,

It's people like you and Libyan Warrior who prevent me from being critical of some of the things Maya is saying. I might be suspicious of some of the claims she made, except... well... then there you are, proving her point :P

I don't know how or why the British let you into their country. I don't know how or why we Americans let LibyanWarrior into our country. Sometime soon I hope we all (all the sane people of the world) figure out a way to differentiate between people like you, and people like Highlander. I'd be proud to have somebody like her want to live in my country. Instead, we got LibyanWarrior. WTF?

Non-Blogging said...

Redneck, it's disgusting that you shoot from behind the bush at the looks of your host here. Attack Maya's opinions (which for example I mostly disagree with in this particular case) if you want, not how she looks like or if you for any reason want to do the latter, publish your own photo here for the comparison.

shlemazl said...

Why do some people use dots all the time? ... ..... .... ....?

Here is the best dotty writer I've ever come across:

http://kurgman.blogspot.com/2006/02/cool.html

Maya, to make this palatable to Non-blogging you have to use a code. Replace the word "Turk" with the word "Swede" and he'll agree with this post wholeheartedly

Maya M said...

Thank you, Programmer Craig, Non-blogging and Shlemazl!
The most important point of this post was in fact in the last sentence: the double standard of our educational system, regarding the local students as the country's future elite and the foreign ones as a mere source of revenue. I guess that a lot of countries do the same and, as a result, the good-for-nothing but ambitious young people from each country go to study somewhere else and then return triumphantly with diplomas. I'll write a separate post about this some day.
My suggestions that wearing a headscarf can decrease mental skills and even damage the brain are of course just hypotheses that could be checked using a relatively simple experimental design and, depending on the results, prove right or wrong. But who would perform such a politically sensitive study? In the biomedical literature, you'll find articles e.g. about the influence of different types of men's underware on testicular function, but I found just 1 article about headscarves - Turkish doctors describe women aspirating pins from their headscarves (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?CMD=search&DB=PubMed).
Does my opinion really sound so extreme? After all, founding fathers of modern Turkey banned headscarves in public universities! (This may be one of the reasons why those girls came to a Bulgarian university.) The logic of the ban seems clear to me. People who stick to 7th century religious taboos have no place in a school preparing professionals for 20th or 21st century. Such "students" will most likely be unteachable and will drop out at some stage, after wasting the university's resources and disorganizing the teaching process in the meanwhile. Those who do graduate will use the position given by their diplomas to force their 7th century views on other people. "Consider the gynecologist who was wearing a Hijab and instructed my maid who had six children to not adopt birth control, as it is un-Islamic" (http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/MohammadAbdullah60430.htm).
I don't find it sensible for countries with Christian background to be more tolerant to Islamism than Turkey, a country with Muslim background. I think General Ataturk knew his business.
I'm afraid that I may leave the impression that I hate Turks because they have dominated us for nearly 5 centuries. This is not true, I'm not like some other Balkan residents ready to shed blood today because of centuries-old grievances. What I disapprove in Turkey is its messing in our internal affairs and the signs that it's finally succumbing to Islamism. But of course this is not a reason for me to disapprove all Turks, I judge people, including Bulgarians, on case-by-case basis!

programmer craig said...

Thanks for clarifying, Maya... I said "excellent post" because it really was at it's heart. I was going to comment about some of the things that I thought were un-necessarily offensive, but then "Redneck" made all those outrageous personal attacks, and there is no way I am ever going to be seen taking his side on any issue, because I think he's a jerk and a bigot.

BUT... since you commented and clarified, I'll do so now :)

You didn't need to mention the hijab, it really has nothing to do with the story. You know very well that those girls didn't learn Bulgarian well enough to pass the entrance exam because they just didn't care enough to bother, as you pointed out yourself. So, the "hijab causes retardation" theory didn't need to be explored, really. You were undoubtedly just venting. I don't have a problem with you identifying them as Turks though. If that's what they are, that's what they are. That's not insensitivity, it's reality. Wouldn't do anybody any good if you brushed their ountry of origin under the carpet and acted as if the problem was common to all foreign students, if it's not.

I'm curious though... how many foreign students do you have? We have many here in the US... our Universities view ALL students as a source of revenue now, so we have imilar problems with low expectations pretty much across the board. It really is starting to seem like a problem. I've worked with recent college grads who weer hired as software engineers who kinda seemed like retards (no offense to the mentally handicaped) and I can't imagine their instructors actually believed that they were ready to work at a professional level. Kinda sucks to have to spend a year or two training people to do the job they were hired for. Especially with tuition rates being what they are at American schools.

Non-Blogging said...

Shlemazl, the Swedes' brains boil under their Viking helmets ;-).

Maya, I don't really buy the hijab causes retardness theory before there is reliable scientific evidence on that, even just because the logical conclusion then would be that Siberians and Eskimos are the most intelligent people in the world while people in the Middle East are the dumbest and people are dumber in the summer than in the winter. And besides, what makes actually your brains boil more if it's hot outside, walking with no head protection or with a head cover?

Needless to say more than I think the theory is as valid as, say, conpspiracy theories that Princess Diana killed Kennedy or the like ;-).

Personally, I don't quite understand why women voluntarily wear headscarves but it's none of my business if somebody wants to do it at the university for example. True it's an old religious taboo but then, if we were to ban or condemn all old religious taboos from the university (quoting Maya: "people who stick to 7th century religious taboos have no place in a school preparing professionals for 20th or 21st century"), we should start banning much more, for example Kosher food from Israeli university canteens, right? I mean all old religious taboos, not just those which we personally find disgusting. Which would be senseless, of course.

Knowing the general high level of education among the Jews, I wouldn't claim sticking to religious taboos causes lack of intelligence or a high drop out rate either.

Regarding Maya's main point, our debate is quite different from the Bulgarian and American one. All our universities are state universities (there used to be private ones before but I guess they weren't economically viable, so they were taken over) and there are basically no tuition fees for anybody. However, every student must join the student union which costs I guess at the maximum around € 100 per year which I'd call tuition fee because you can't study without joining the union. It's as senseless as demanding you can't get a job without joining a trade union.

Anyway, what some people see as a problem is that this free tuition applies to everybody, Finns and foreigners alike. Some advocates are for a system of study coupons or something else quite complicated for allowing fees to be charged if someone studies "too long" while some others are for charging fees for foreign students (read: non-EU citizens). The motivations vary, in my opinion, from greed and business like thinking to more relevant ones such as offering better tuition because of better financing.

programmer craig said...

we should start banning much more, for example Kosher food from Israeli university canteens, right?

Oh, no way! I always buy Kosher foods myself if I have a chocie, especially cold cuts and franks. Much heealthier! I've seen too many exposes about what kind of crap meat companies put into the grinder!

Hmmm.... well, leaving off on that one...

As you probably know, we don't have bans on headscarves here in the US. I've wokred with probably 50 muslim women over the years (there are a lot of muslims in my field) and only one chose to wear a hijab at work. I do have to say, I had a problem with her and so did every other male who had to interact with her. She wouldn't even make eye contact with me and hardly spoke to me at all except in answer to directr questions. A major problem on projects that require collobarative efforts.

But the hijab was obviously not the problem. Her attitude was the problem.

NBA, doesn't surprise me the private Universities weren't economically viable if they weren't allowed to charge tuition :)

Our Universities are about 50/50 split between state universtities and private ones. Both charge (high) tuitions. The State Schools used to be quite cheap but that was a very long time ago... like back in the 1970s. There's no such thing as cheap University Education in America anymore.

Maya M said...

Well, I must indeed have been a little carried away by my Islamophobia, after two good-intentioned readers think so! But, to be honest to the Turks, I must state immediately that they, as a whole, are not dumber than any other group of foreign students. It is the headscarved girls that are dumber than the average foreign student.
Here, the reader must ask me, "Would you prefer the Islamists to be smart?"
Of course not, they would be more dangerous if they were!
Then you have the right to say, "This is an Islamophobe - no matter how the poor Islamists perform, she dislikes 'em anyway!" Indeed.
We have had many headscarved students from different Arab countries - not one of them teachable. An interesting case were two sisters from Morocco; the younger was barehead and doing quite well for a 1st year foreign student, the older was hijabbed and saying just her name. We had never before seen headscarved students for Turkey, but there are rumours that many more are coming. It is also interesting that all of our Iranian students are barehead.
I think that the poor academic performance of the headscarved girls is a result of their personal motivation and values, similarly to Programmer Craig's colleague. However, I don't think the idea of brain overheating is so unserious. Non-blogging, you are unlikely ever to have had problems with the temperature range I am meaning :). I have had the "pleasure" of reading all day examination papers at Celsium 38-40 and I assure you that, under such conditions, it matters what you are wearing. All universities have vacation during the hottest time of the year; and I think that it's no coincidence that most civilizations have developed in subtropical and temperate regions, not in the tropical cradle of human race.
Why it is thought that I endanger my monitor if I leave it work covered, while the human brain (to be precise, the woman's brain) must endure everything? To me, hampering of heat dissipation by insulation is common sense that hardly needs proof. Do we need special scientific studies to figure out that heels increase the risk of trauma, current fashion of exposing the waist can lead to overcooling of kidneys and other organs, and the whale skeleton cages women were wearing not so long ago were deforming their chests?
The habit of men-dominated societies to impose uncomfortable and unhealthy things on women is so deeply rooted that it is rarely questioned and even realized by people of either sex.

shlemazl said...

I agree that there is no way "overheating" due to headscarves is causing braindamage. I had assumed it was a joke.

However it would be interesting to investigate whether Turks who voluntarily wear headscarfs have a relatively low IQ level to start with. Fundamentalism could well be people's way to hide and overcompensate mental deficiencies.

Maya M said...

I am sure that these girls haven't received good secondary education, haven't been encouraged to read many books or to develop their intellect in any other way. Such lack of proper stimulation is expected to have a detrimental effect on IQ (I agree that any overheating will be much less important, if at all.)
I doubt whether the choice of these 18-year-olds should be regarded as quite voluntary. They have been under pressure by their parents and community. "Censorship does not have to be directed by law. More often it is the approval or disapproval expressed by other members of society" (http://www.news.faithfreedom.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=456).
These girls most likely are a sort of victims, but when I think of their future patients if they graduate, all my sympathy goes away.

Maya M said...

An update: I heard today that an Iranian student said, "The tution fees of these Turkish girls are paid under the condition that they will wear headscarves."
If this is true, you see that not only I am "frustrated" over the headscarves - there are other people who invest thousands of dollars in these stupid pieces of cloth.

Paul said...

Why don't these Turkish women stay in their own country to be educated?

Maya M said...

There are at least two reasons for them to study abroad. First, they wouldn't be allowed to study in a Turkish university with headscarves. Founders of modern Turkey, who (unlike today's politically correct Western crowd) knew a thing or two about Islam, knew that the right of an individual to dress as she wishes cannot stay above the right of the society not to be pushed back to the Middle Ages. Second, to be admitted to a Turkish university, they have to pass a serious entry exam; and given their academic performance (or, to be precise, its absence), this is impossible, unless they pay somebody to do the exam under their identity.