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BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 22 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:272

Secondary analysis of six datasets collected in the United States between 1960 and 1992 has come up with some interesting findings on sex differences on mental testing (Science 1995;269:41-5). Males showed a greater variability in their score than females, which may explain why more males than females are found among people with the top 1% of scores. In most tested abilities male/female differences were small, but women had more high and fewer low scores on tests of reading comprehension while men scored higher in mathematics, science, and social studies. The results are, say the authors, “not entirely consistent with differences in opportunity to learn … because writing is a skill taught to all students.”

Africa is still the only continent where the number of children dying is continuing to rise. Its poverty, says the “Hoolet” (the Scottish magazine of the Royal College of General Practitioners 1995 June: 8-13), is due mainly to debt repayments. Uganda, for example, has foreign debt that amounts to 92% of its gross national product. Doctors should continue to press their governments to give this issue priority.

Alcohol is a vasodilator, so why should regular drinking of four or more units a day cause hypertension? Some research in Switzerland (New …

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