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Why are boys and men underperforming?

In this TED video, Philip Zimbardo talks about an ongoing concern, the opting out of boys from academically and socially — boys are more likely to drop out of school, girls outperform boys at all academic levels, boys are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD. The difference also leads to many man-boys who can’t interact with women except on the most superficial and cartoonish level.

He’s talking about a real problem, but I was not convinced by his explanation. He attributes it to a phenomenon called arousal addiction, where people are hooked on constant stimulation of any kind, and he blames it on the internet, video games, and porn. I get very suspicious when anyone starts talking about the internet rewiring our brains (Susan Greenfield, anyone?) because a) I haven’t seen any persuasive data that it’s a serious and significant, let alone deleterious phenomenon, and b) everything rewires our brains — we respond to experience.

This talk has a serious flaw in that the first half is all about statistics and differences between males and females, and the second half is all about a putative general phenomenon that changes our brains…but it doesn’t say anything anymore about the differences between males and females. Women aren’t excluded from the internet — they get sucked into social media, they play video games, they even watch porn. So how does this explain the declining performance of men in schools and social situations?

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. jose says

    Within males, are there differences in performance between races? My unsupported, worthless speculation would be complacency. Unlike privileged folks, who deep down think they have half their deal done just by existing, discriminated folk would do better because they have to try twice as hard; the ones who don’t do that drop out too soon to be considered by the study and the ones who keep at it despite everything are more bright and tough than the average. Hence my question. If discriminated races ourperformed whites, it would fit nicely into the idea.

    The man-child problem is easy to fix. Look at egalitarian cultures; learn how they do it; adopt their methods. The biggest problem this solution would meet in our countries is a clash with our Christian tradition.

  2. says

    I’m suspecting that boys are getting the downside of “boys will be boys”. They are excused for bad behaviour for pretty long and once they come into a place where that is no longer tolerated, they’re busted.
    We don’t use the old punishments anymore (three cheers for that) so at some point teachers are stuck with a child who is most likely a boy who has no self-discipline, no coping skills, no empathy.
    Which means that they’ll often turn into “the problem”.
    Boys who are “the problem” get watched more strictly, get blamed more often, don’t get the benefit of doubt other kids get.
    So the teachers are looking for ways out. They don’t want to be mean to those kids, they genuinly want to help. They think they’ll be better off in a special ed class and they themsleves will be better off, too.

  3. says

    From Susan’s article:
    “I didn’t say that technology rots the brain; I would never make a value judgement.”
    Anyone else find this contradictory?

  4. honeymaid88 says

    @AJS

    I thought it would be “submission is for girls”. Because you do need to listen to your teachers/bosses/wives to learn or succeed in anything. And everyone knows, listening is just submitting!

    But that theory is only *slightly* more founded than Mr. Zimbardo’s. But I’m thinking I wouldn’t get a TED talk out of it.

  5. postmodernslavepoet says

    Obviously the reason men/boys are not being as successful as heretofore is because they are too distracted by all those strident wimmin who have the temerity to demand equality.

    Why can’t they get it through their pretty little heads that they should be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen?

    Why don’t they realise that trying to be successful will result in them having fainting fits and nose bleeds?

    And why, oh why, do I get the sinking feeling that there will be people – well, men/boys – out there who will not only take my preceding comments seriously but will actually agree with them?

  6. ChasCPeterson says

    The man-child problem is easy to fix. Look at egalitarian cultures; learn how they do it; adopt their methods.

    Yep, that’s how culture works.

    *eyeroll*

  7. nomadiq says

    Zimbardo is a one “experiment” hit wonder. He has been riding that success for years now. I don’t think he has been very insightful since. His various TED talks have all left me unimpressed. Lots of talk about psychology, little data to go with it.

  8. Querent says

    I’m sure it’s not helped by the virtual impossibility nowadays for a boy to have any sort of positive male role model, because any adult male who shows the remotest interest in or concern for boys is automatically assumed, in the phrase used very frequently here, to be a ‘child rapist’, potential or actual.

  9. says

    I’m flaking on the particulars, but i remember an NPR interview from a couple of years ago that talked about how changes to early childhood education have been heavily skewed in the favor of little girls. What we used to do in Kindergarden we now do in Preschool, what used to wait until 1st grade we now do in Kindergarten.
    Whilst girls have taken to this change swimmingly, a lot of little boys are being very frustrated and discouraged at an early age with school and that affects their entire school career.

  10. NewEnglandBob says

    I lost all respect for Philip Zimbardo when he wrote the psycho-mumbo jumbo book The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life.

  11. Riptide says

    It could partly be generational complacence–are men and boys underperforming with respect to their historical performance in schools and Universities? Assuming we could get meaningful comparisons, that is the appropriate question to answer.

    If so, then there is a “gender gap” that needs to be explained primarily in current socioeconomic terms. But if males are performing up to their historical par, then it could be that women are simply trying harder overall as a response to being allowed (back) into schools and Universities in the last couple of generations, and if *that* is true, then their own complacence may well kick in in a generation or two and the gap could close negatively.

    After all, it’s not a zero-sum game academically, in two ways. If it turns out that males are *overperforming* their historical academic achievements, but are still falling behind females on average currently, is there really such a crisis? Secondly, if someone spends all of their time on academics to the neglect of their homes and family or their own leisure, they might not be living in the most optimal way. It is possible that learning can be optimized for maximum overall benefit. Getting into a “gendered arms race” of education could wind up ruining lives for boys *and* girls (and everyone in between) as the stress of succeeding in schools causes neglect of other aspects of existence.

    Or it could be that boys on average are no longer taught to achieve success, but to expect it. Boys could be coddled more than girls and have their failures excused more often during childhood, which used to be the case with girls and might help explain their own relative historical underperformance. I know my own academic failures were excused and blamed on teachers, up until I dropped out of highschool.

    I think the entire school experience can be very traumatic for every kid involved, but perhaps especially for certain kinds of boys, boys who are too smart for “their own good” but too socially awkward to “fit in”. (Not that there aren’t girls like this, but girls are often encouraged to suppress their intelligence to “fit in”, which could help explain why there are fewer girls who might fit this scenario.) The culture of violence among schoolboys can be very intimidating for guys who aren’t good at making friends. I think male culture in academia warrants further study if this ‘problem’ is to be understood as an actual problem and then ameliorated. Perhaps the ‘public school’ model itself needs to be altered as part of the solution.

  12. King of New Hampshire says

    It’s not the internet! It’s Nintendo. No, Atari. No, arcades. No, comic books. No, TV. No, wait, radio. I mean, hold on, western novels! No, er, it’s books other than the Bible. WTF? It’s the Bible in English? Latin? Wait a minute! So whatever the new generation is doing differently than the last generation is the reason the new generation is so fucked up? So no more progress, and the world will progress nicely. Thanks, Phil.

  13. tushcloots says

    That’s it,”the opting out of boys from academically and socially.”

    It all started with the phrase, “Does our childrens lernin?”

  14. Snapp says

    If you look at children’s TV, the stereotypes might be worth considering. Male cartoon characters of any central position are often clowns. Their behaviour is foolish and their job is to entertain. Males are often stereotyped as immature, irresponsible, and if they are intelligent they’re geeky outcasts. I think it’s a symptom of having males at the main characters where the entertainment is often focused – how many programs have female Homer Simpsons? How many programs have academic and mature female side characters who look on and roll their eyes? We’re still stuck with assigned gender roles.

    I could be wrong, I haven’t taken an exhaustive survey of television, but it might be worth thinking about.

  15. danielrudolph says

    Do we have figures on how this is happening? Have boys dropped across the board or are high-performers as good as ever, but the bottom dropped out? I’m guessing boys are being taught macho bullshit about nerd bashing and that’s causing the problems.

  16. ss123 says

    Boys want to be outside, roaming the prairie, climbing mountains, shooting things, fishing, conquering the sea… Not locked up inside listening to another round of Miss Henderson’s history lesson.

  17. says

    are men and boys underperforming with respect to their historical performance in schools and Universities?

    not really. they’ve either improved or stayed the same; it’s just that women have improved so drastically that it actually looks as if boys were falling behind:

    http://resources.curriculum.org/secretariat/files/May17TruthBoysandGirls.pdf

    considering the disappearance of jobs that don’t require college degrees, that’s probably still something that should be remedied; but guys aren’t actually doing worse than in the past, just worse in comparison to women than they did in the past

  18. danielrudolph says

    Any bets on how long it will take an MRA to come in and complain that women are actually doing better than men and should stop their whining?

  19. danielrudolph says

    Theory: Girls were being held back by being told achievement is for boys Boys were being held back by being told achievement is for nerds. We solved one of these problems.

  20. Randomien says

    # 16, Snapp:

    Male cartoon characters of any central position are often clowns.

    Except for those who are, you know, superheroes.

    How many programs have academic and mature female side characters who look on and roll their eyes?

    Few? I can’t actually think of any examples from children’s TV off the top of my head.

  21. F says

    Boys want to be outside, roaming the prairie, climbing mountains, shooting things, fishing, conquering the sea… Not locked up inside listening to another round of Miss Henderson’s history lesson.

    Girls would never have any interest in these things. You must be right! QED.

  22. Shiroferetto says

    “Women aren’t excluded from the internet — they get sucked into social media, they play video games, they even watch porn.”

    That pretty much describes me! Have you been spying on me?!

    But seriously, more women than you think fit those criteria. There are actually a lot of guy gamers out there who are surprised when they come across an “actual woman” in a game. I have to explain to them quite patiently that women know that other women are there… they’re just hiding from immature dorks. (Which isn’t to imply that every male in an MMO is an immature dork. It just takes one to ruin your fun.)

  23. SallyStrange says

    I don’t understand the dichotomy being drawn between “roaming the prairie…” and “Miss Henderson’s history lesson.” Any fool can see that both are vital. And what the fuck is your problem with Miss Henderson, anyway? She embarrass you in class or something?

  24. Zmidponk says

    Hmm. He seems to have shown a lot of statistics that appear to indicate boys fall behind girls, generally speaking, in education, then asserted that the same thing is true in social situations, but doesn’t really provide any proper evidence that this is the case, then somehow concluded, through a process that he doesn’t bother to explain, that this is due to ‘arousal addiction’ caused by gaming, the internet, and porn.

    Well, Mr. Zimbardo, as my teachers used to say to me, show your working. Give us the evidence that links this ‘arousal addiction’ to male underachievement (or, as others have pointed out, perhaps it’s more the lack of male overachievement) in education. Until then, sorry, I’m afraid I will fail to be persuaded that this problem, if it is a problem, is caused by what you think it’s caused by.

  25. Psych-Oh says

    Zimbardo is off his rocker. Girls have narrowed academic gaps that previously favored boys, while other gaps that favored girls have widened, leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.

  26. nazani14 says

    Maybe it’s a combination of effects. When it comes to ADD and the autism spectrum, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the way we are pairing off to start families is affecting is tending to increase the numbers of certain types of brains.
    It’s hard to get specific about the effects of all the chemicals we ingest and surround ourselves with, but I think we are affecting our brains in that way, too.

  27. Aquaria says

    If you look at children’s TV, the stereotypes might be worth considering.

    The commercials for kids shows are worse, and it’s more likely that those have a deeper impact than the TV shows, both because they’re meant to grab your attention more and because most children will see them more often during a block of shows.

    You will never see more assholes-in-the-making than in an American Saturday morning commercial that features a boy.

  28. GG says

    Women aren’t excluded from the internet — they get sucked into social media, they play video games, they even watch porn. So how does this explain the declining performance of men in schools and social situations?

    I haven’t watched the video, so it may all be complete nonsense, but I’d be pretty confident in saying that on average males spend more time playing video games and watching porn than females. And of course, it is only on average that male performance in schools and social situations is declining.

  29. says

    @ Qurent, #10:

    any adult male who shows the remotest interest in or concern for boys is automatically assumed, in the phrase used very frequently here, to be a ‘child rapist’, potential or actual

    Yes, yes, this. Ever so much this.

    It’s got to the point now that a man would rather leave a child in obvious distress to their fate, than risk their reputation by intervening. (See also this story.)

    @ Snapp, #16:

    Male cartoon characters of any central position are often clowns. Their behaviour is foolish and their job is to entertain. Males are often stereotyped as immature, irresponsible, and if they are intelligent they’re geeky outcasts.

    This as well.

    Sometimes I wonder, seriously, whether — technology permitting — it would be better just to do away with men altogether.

  30. Tomaz79 says

    There was a piece about something similar on our national radio recently. There were some people speculating that hormones could be responsible for different development of boys and girls. Estrogen in the water and this kind of stuff. According to the piece there is a growing difference in development – boys are lagging behind more and more. You get more and more girls who are “well-developed” at 13, 14 while the boys are smaller, weaker and less mature at that age. I don’t know if this is also connected to academic performance.

  31. Snapp says

    #24

    Except for those who are, you know, superheroes.

    …who are simply more violent role models. They either beat the bad guys with lots of cool weapons or sheer strength. I don’t think they undo the clown behaviour.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10957590

    Few? I can’t actually think of any examples from children’s TV off the top of my head.

    Really? Simpsons to name a popular example (Homer/Marge contrast). Futurama (Fry/Leela). My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Twilight Sparkle/Spike). Adventure time (Finn/Princess Bubblegum). That’s off the top of my head. I’ve probably missed a lot more, and chances are my bias will have missed many counterexamples. I think there’s enough to give the idea some consideration though.

  32. Rey Fox says

    Maybe it’s a combination of effects. When it comes to ADD and the autism spectrum, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the way we are pairing off to start families is affecting is tending to increase the numbers of certain types of brains.

    What?

    It’s hard to get specific about the effects of all the chemicals we ingest and surround ourselves with, but I think we are affecting our brains in that way, too.

    Well, you’re going to have to get specific, because you’re not making any sense right now.

  33. Hazuki says

    There can’t possibly be only one single cause here. I think it’s a combination of the toxic ideas about masculinity that have always plagued us, a sharp drop in parent-child interactions in early childhood since the greedy 80s, and a lack of jobs.

    Baby and toddler boys are a lot more fragile than we’re often told; girls are tougher in a lot of ways until puberty. Yet the little boys are in some ways given less care (though the smothering and barely-hidden condescension dumped on girls is no good either). Especially in poorer homes, what I see is emotional and essential-personhood neglect, and it amazes me we don’t have more violent schizoids than we do.

    Things like this are exactly why I tell the men in my life that they should be feminists too: because the current paradigm of masculinity poisons our boys and men as surely as it outright crushes our girls and women, and it’s largely self-inflicted. What kind of upbringing are we giving them when they’re so emotionally-crippled that a high-five is as expressive as they get?

  34. What a Maroon says

    It’s hard to get specific about the effects of all the chemicals we ingest and surround ourselves with, but I think we are affecting our brains in that way, too.

    Well, you’re going to have to get specific, because you’re not making any sense right now.

    Did you know that the air you breathe these days is 78% nitrogen?

    And nitrogen is a chemical. Think of what that’s doing to our brains!

    Don’t get me started on the dihydrogen monoxide that we constantly immerse ourselves in.

  35. Dianne says

    So how does this explain the declining performance of men in schools and social situations?

    There’s a simple and obvious explanation that would appear if we were talking about women’s declining performance rather than men’s: Men just aren’t interested in school, academics, careers, and so on. They’d rather stay home and play with the internet. There’s no benefit in trying to pull them away from their natural instincts and get them into the bustle of the female world of business, science, politics, etc that they’ll never understand. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

    No, of course I don’t really believe that. But a lifetime of hearing how women are just naturally not competent at X where X is ANY situation where women were, on average, doing ever so slightly worse than men has left me bitter.

  36. says

    @5Rod Chlebek

    From Susan’s article:
    “I didn’t say that technology rots the brain; I would never make a value judgement.”
    Anyone else find this contradictory?

    Are you referring to that as a stand-alone statement or are you talking about how that sentence stands in the face of the rest of the article? If the latter, perhaps. But if the former, no, it is not contradictory. The second clause is a descriptive statement (and so is the first, for that matter). She does not say value judgements are good or bad or anything in between; she merely says she does not make them. Now, I doubt that’s true, but it is not contradictory.

  37. Dick the Damned says

    I can’t cite my experience raising girls & a boy, because that’s merely anecdotal, but come on, boys want to run around more than girls do, (on average).

    Also, it’s socially okay, (within their peer group), for boys to not be diligent at studying.

    I’m also reminded of the scientist studying animal cognition. She was working with chimps , Actually with female chimps), on self-recognition in front of a mirror. The film crew shot a chimp, in front of a mirror applying lipstick to her lips. The scientist explained that she could only work with females, & to illustrate why, the camera shot a male chimp brachiating through the enclosure like a wild thing. She then asked, rhetorically, “What can I do with that?”

  38. ChasCPeterson says

    Zimbardo is off his rocker. Girls have narrowed academic gaps that previously favored boys, while other gaps that favored girls have widened, leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.

    Four bare assertions in a row!
    Have you considered a career in trolling?

    Please explain how “gaps that favored girls have widened” is different from “boys are falling behind”.

  39. Brownian says

    the opting out of boys from academically and socially — boys are more likely to drop out of school, girls outperform boys at all academic levels, boys are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD

    So, what are we doing instead? (I say ‘we’ as an underperforming graduate school drop-out who spends his time snarking on the ‘net instead of finding a fulfilling, satisfying career—you know: the kind that nets one groupies.) Why are these other things more attractive than sticking it out in school and learning that our opinions don’t necessarily trump others’ opinions?

    What kind of upbringing are we giving them when they’re so emotionally-crippled that a high-five is as expressive as they get?

    Isn’t that itself a sit-com stereotype?

  40. Brownian says

    Of course, my first thoughts upon reading “Why are boys and men underperforming?” were:

    · [Bashfully] it’s shy when it knows someone’s lookin’ at it;
    · I swear, that’s never happened to me before. I blame the Jäger shots;
    · Have you seen how long the line ahead of you was? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised!

    Sorry, just had to get those out. Carry on, carry on.

  41. Kagehi says

    I’m suspecting that boys are getting the downside of “boys will be boys”.

    I have to wonder if, on some level, this isn’t also due to the level of non-effective praise that boys get. What do I mean by non-effective? Well, I recently read Wiseman’s “59 Seconds”, which goes into various studies, as a means of showing both what “self help” type systems, and the like, attempt to do, and why they often don’t bloody work worth shit. If you look at academia, nearly everything, from sports, to even school work, is often a) based on who wins, and b) tends to, due to cultural bias, emphasize how big a winner the “boys” are, but not necessarily the girls.

    The point? One of the studies he talks about in the book involve three sets of children, a control group, which was given no praise, a group praised for how well they performed, and a group praised for how hard they worked, in attempting to solve the puzzles. What was found was that the “you did really well” group was *far* less likely to try a hard set of puzzles, instead of opting for a simple one, far less likely to take them home, to work on them, and far more likely to do very poorly on nearly identical puzzles, to the original set they where praised for, than either of the other groups. The ones praised for how hard they worked, on the other hand, where more likely to try harder ones, more likely to take those home to try to finish them, and did better than previously, on a set similar to the original, when tested later.

    So, non-effective means, “telling them how great, wonderful, perfect, skilled, etc. they are”. Betting also that, when girls get praised, unless its for stupid shit like how they dress, or the like, its probably couched in terms of how hard they *tried*, not how well they *did*. That one, simple difference, it would seem, may have a huge impact on how much additional effort is put into later projects, learning, and even performance on the same subject boys where already praised for.

    Worse, as with most of the gibberish Wiseman talks about in his book, its become a virtual national trend to, “emphasize, especially for boys, positive self image.” Unfortunately, it may just be the wrong sort of self image being aimed for, since its based on “intuitive” assumptions about that, not factual, just like everything else in the “self help” guru market. And, as Wiseman states over and over in another of his books, the gut (i.e., intuition when unfettered by facts or skepticism) is an idiot.

  42. Brownian says

    @Kagehi, 47:

    I can’t get past the paywall from work (I’ve the dead-tree version at home), but IIRC, this article discusses the same or similar studies as the one you’re referring to.

  43. Psych-Oh says

    Chas:
    Girls have narrowed academic gaps that previously favored boys, while other gaps that favored girls have widened, leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.

    I’ll strike that sentence. For example, in 1973, for 17-year-olds, males achieved a standard score of 309 on a standardized math test. Girls scored 301. A difference of 8 points. In 2004, males scored 308, while females scored 305. A difference of 3 points. The gap was closed mostly by the girls attaining better scores over time. Looking at the trend, the males mostly stayed flat. The trend says the boys aren’t improving, but the girls are. Some people interpret this as “falling behind”.

  44. Lee Picton says

    Oh Noes! Our menz are failing! Funny, I don’t remember any kind of similar concern for girls when I was growing up (in the 1950’s), and females were way less successful than the boys. But I can remember personally when girls were denied certain types of education, and any meaningful job opportunities other than teacher, nurse, or secretary, because, you know, girls just weren’t expected to achieve – anything. So, no problem. At the end of the 50’s, a girl could get into college, not based on equality of grades or IQ scores. They had to be better, a lot better, just to be looked at at all. When I went to college, it took awhile (because it was a closely guarded secret), a boy would be accepted if his SATs averaged 1000, no girl was even looked at unless her SATs were a minimium of 1200. And the boys complained that the girls were getting better grades! Weren’t they ENTITLED to be top of everything? Now they are even entitled to get a movement of handwringing attention about why they are “failing!” Give me a break. When I was applying for my first job as a computer programmer, the (naturally male) interviewer asked me point blank (Why, honey, what do you want a job for? You have a husband to support you.”
    I was a different person then and could only gasp as his effrontery. These days, that would be grounds for a lawsuit. Men MAY be failing in certain respects, but they still run the world and it seems to me they have screwed it up pretty well.
    Women have no sense of entitlement built in and have figured out that, hey, you actually have to work at succeeding. And they are. There’s a ways to go yet, and I shall die before parity is achieved, but I can honestly say if we’ve not quite come a long way way baby, we’ve clawed our way up, one hard won step at a time. If the menz are failing, you don’t think it’s because of their male privilege being challenged?

  45. Pierce R. Butler says

    Seems to me that nearly all the speculations getting speculated here – and the small nuggets of data citations – come from those of a generation older than that of the cohort under discussion, and thus almost certainly miss the key point(s).

    Please speak up, those-whom-the-media-dub-MillennialsⓇ!

    That said, my little graybearded anecdatum: a few years back, the mother of a high-achieving daughter at a high-level college told me that it seemed to be the norm, among the women at that school, to expect that they would be the lifelong primary breadwinners of their families, and that the men they married would be dependent househusbands. So far, that appears to be how the daughter’s life has worked out.

  46. ahs ॐ says

    One of the studies he talks about in the book involve three sets of children, a control group, which was given no praise, a group praised for how well they performed, and a group praised for how hard they worked, in attempting to solve the puzzles.

    This is probably the work of Carol Dweck.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=dweck+praise

  47. Nutella says

    The discussion of childrens’ achievements is very interesting but I have to say this contention about adults is bullshit:

    “The difference also leads to many man-boys who can’t interact with women except on the most superficial and cartoonish level.”

    If young men are acting more socially awkward these days, which I doubt, it can’t be blamed on their grade school academic performance. That’s just ridiculous.

    This guy is the worst kind of pop psychologist seeing a ‘trend’ in one or two examples and coming up with a just-so story to explain it.

  48. Enkidum says

    If the menz are failing, you don’t think it’s because of their male privilege being challenged?

    No, not really. I think you’re thinking of it as a zero-sum game when it needn’t be one – just because women are doing better doesn’t mean that men have to do worse. There’s a real gender-related problem here, and one which goes in the opposite direction of most of them.

    It’s kind of funny that, like recently when PZ wrote about why male circumcision is bad, none of the MRA trolls have shown up. Look guys, this article is for you !

    Anyways, Zimbardo’s kind of a grandstanding hack, and always has been. I trust anything he says about as far as I trust the MRAs.

  49. honeymaid88 says

    @Lee Picton

    The patriarchy hurts men (& boys) too.

    This generation has done nothing to us. They don’t need to be punished. Everyone should have the support they need.

  50. Rey Fox says

    The gap was closed mostly by the girls attaining better scores over time. Looking at the trend, the males mostly stayed flat.

    Neither gap nor improvement looks statistically significant to me.

    I say ‘we’ as an underperforming graduate school drop-out who spends his time snarking on the ‘net instead of finding a fulfilling, satisfying career—you know: the kind that nets one groupies.

    What do you need groupies for when you have the Ghey Sex Queue?

  51. Brownian says

    Seems to me that nearly all the speculations getting speculated here – and the small nuggets of data citations – come from those of a generation older than that of the cohort under discussion, and thus almost certainly miss the key point(s).

    Why does it seem that way to you? How do you know the ages of all of the posters on this thread?

  52. says

    @ kagehi, #47:

    Betting also that, when girls get praised, unless its for stupid shit like how they dress, or the like, its probably couched in terms of how hard they *tried*, not how well they *did*. That one, simple difference, it would seem, may have a huge impact

    This sounds a lot like something from the first part of Fine’s book, where what was said to candidates immediately before a test influenced their performance in the test.

  53. Enkidum says

    @Marcus Ranum 57:

    You do realize that correlation does imply causation, right? It just doesn’t say anything about the direction of causality, or the presence of other causal factors. But a robust correlation does very strongly suggest that there is some causal relationship between the two variables.

    Given ethics, it’s rather hard to come up with true experiments about psychological factors that lead to serious problems. Cut us some slack.

  54. Brownian says

    What do you need groupies for when you have the Ghey Sex Queue?

    You’re absolutely right, Rey, and I meant no disrespect for my queuees—now serving 438!—but now and again a man such as myself yearns for an unruly mob rushing backstage with cocaine and STIs.

  55. ahs ॐ says

    This guy is the worst kind of pop psychologist

    Depends on the situational influences at hand, like peer review.

  56. Rasmus says

    I saw this a few weeks ago and the skeptic in me immediately suspected cherry-picking the data.

    Also: Did men in general think it was okay to report things like awkwardness and sexual inability before Woody Allen made his movies? I find it hard to believe that there has been significant change in things like one-on-one awkwardness and premature ejaculation since the stone age, let alone since the 1960’s.

  57. Brownian says

    This sounds a lot like something from the first part of Fine’s book, where what was said to candidates immediately before a test influenced their performance in the test.

    I haven’t read Fine’s book, but are you referring to the general phenomenon called priming that is a staple in psychological tests, or more specifically, stereotype threat, in which members of a social group who’ve been primed to think of themselves as members of that group before undertaking some activity will perform in that activity more like the stereotype of that group than they otherwise would?

  58. Zerple says

    Boys want to be outside, roaming the prairie, climbing mountains, shooting things, fishing, conquering the sea… Not locked up inside listening to another round of Miss Henderson’s history lesson.

    I don’t want any of those things. I want to sit in from of a monitor, writing code while Dragon Ball Z reruns from the mid 90’s play on a TV in the room. Once I’ve coded something, I want to use my disposable income to take my wife to a nice restaurant and a movie. Later, I want to join her in the kitchen, where we will make experimental candy together.

    I kind of like fishing, but my wife goes with me, and she likes it too. I go hunting in rife season, and she goes with me. Granted, she carries a camera instead of a gun, but she still follows me about a mile into the woods.

    Quit with the gender roles, they’re harmful to everyone and they’re not even remotely accurate. I’m sure everyone else in this thread could give you similar anecdotes.

  59. Mike Fuellbrandt says

    As part of a Parent Advisory Council conference up here in Canada, I had a chance to listen to Barry MacDonald. He is an educator/speaker/author with strong views on the declining performance of boys. He only had a short time to speak, but the things he talked about, the research blew me away with how closely it all aligned with what I have seen in my own boys.

    His main points are that:
    – Not all children learn the same, but we teach the same regardless.
    – Boys are predisposed to visual learning (but it’s a continuum! Some girls will be visual, some boys textual).
    – Boys will tend to fidget. (This turns out to be very important)

    His website is http://www.mentoringboys.com/. For me, it strikes far closer to the mark then this guy in the article.

  60. says

    Seems to me that nearly all the speculations getting speculated here – and the small nuggets of data citations – come from those of a generation older than that of the cohort under discussion, and thus almost certainly miss the key point(s).

    Please speak up, those-whom-the-media-dub-MillennialsⓇ!

    what the fuck am I, chopped liver?

  61. says

    just because women are doing better doesn’t mean that men have to do worse.

    they aren’t doing worse, they’re just not doing (much) better while girls have improved massively.

  62. says

    Perhaps 40 years of unrelenting propaganda that thinking sensitive men aren’t real men has had an effect.

    I saw the hippie punching and gay bash of straight men who deviated from the macho gender scheme that has been pushed so hard.

    Real men doesn’t eat quiche. Today Herman Cain “Real men don’t eat vegetarian pizza.”

    The only thing real men think about is football, beer gas guzzler cars, guns and objectified women.

    I remember the tearing down of heterosexual men who supported women’s equality and treated women as equals rather than objects.

    Then you have the bullying of intellectual boys by the jocks that went on even when I was a kid in the 50s and 60s.

    Could all this have possibly contributed to messing up men the same way a different set of gender propaganda has mess up women?

  63. Dianne says

    Boys want to be outside, roaming the prairie, climbing mountains, shooting things, fishing, conquering the sea

    I like roaming the prairie and climbing mountains AND good lectures on history. Does that make me a hermaphrodite?

    Also fishing requires the person fishing to sit quietly and wait, paying close attention to environmental cues to know when to make the next move. Aren’t those the same skills (ability to sit still and listen/look well) that are needed to enjoy and get useful information out of a class? If boys can fish then boys can sit through history lectures.

  64. Thomas says

    Sometimes I wonder, seriously, whether — technology permitting — it would be better just to do away with men altogether.

    That’s right – there are problems in our social system and culture, so let’s do away with men! In spite of our understanding that many men, as well as women, are hurt by the patriarchy. Never mind that you seem to be suggesting that half the world’s population (that is, those who have penises) would be better off if they just “weren’t around.”

    I know you’re just fantasizing, and I know you’re not advocating any sort of violence, and instead imagining some distant future where human reproduction can be achieved without a father. I know I’m making a lot of fuss about what was most likely just a throwaway “if only” comment. But, to put this in rather childish terms, that kind of rhetoric can easily lead to hurt feelings and offense (not that offensiveness is inherently a bad thing – sometimes it can be effective in fighting against bad ideas and harmful rhetoric – but in this case the only fault seems to be that we were born male.)

    I know this is going to sound like the puling of a privileged person – but I would hope more than just a few would have a problem with the idea of “wouldn’t it be nice to do away with all those men?!” I would like to think that I, and others of my gender, actually have something worthwhile to contribute to the world, regardless of our genitalia. I mean, I realize that males are disproportionately violent, and that they’re disproportionately responsible for the general shittiness of the world – but we’re not all like that, and things like violence and war affect all of us, and those of us who aren’t in positions of power don’t have much power to stop them (though we still try to fight, in the non-violent sense, against it.)

    And I’d like to believe that a lot of that is at least cultural, and that, in a better society, violence and other crime could be significantly reduced (as it seems to have been in certain more egalitarian European cultures, for instance.)

    And please don’t interpret this as some sort of MRA thing – I loathe people who get angry every time their male privilege is challenged just as much as most people here. It’s just that I’m pretty sure that most feminists wouldn’t agree that we’d all be better off without men. And this sad little rant certainly isn’t to deny all the other, far more significant ways in which women are harmed by society and the patriarchy – but this whole concept of the expendability of a gender, which I’ve seen expressed in other forms in other places, is kind of offensive, and harmful to everyone.

    In short, like to think that greater equality can be achieved without doing away with an entire gender.

  65. O. Nose says

    @#8–

    Gee, I dunno. Look at how well our adoption of japanese workplace culture when it was in American automotive factories back in the day.

    Oh, wait.

  66. Nutella says

    @Mike

    “Boys will tend to fidget.”

    Another way to put this: Girls are socialized from an early age to be submissive and boys to be active. When they get to grade school, submissive behavior (sit down, be quiet, do as the teacher tells you) is rewarded.

    I believe it is still true that girls’ classroom advantage drops when they hit puberty, probably because they are now responding to other societal pressures (math is unfeminine, you won’t be popular with boys if you do better than them in class) in addition to the earlier one of compliance with teachers’ instructions.

    This lessens the girls’ advantage but they still have better grades on average in high school (if my information is up to date).

  67. O. Nose says

    Taht should have been “look how well or adoption of Japanese work culture *turned out* when it was adopted in American automtive factories back in the day.

    Just shot that pale attempt at wit down in flames.

    I keep forgetting that Preview is Yor Friend.

  68. ahs ॐ says

    I would hope more than just a few would have a problem with the idea of “wouldn’t it be nice to do away with all those men?!”

    Yeah, I have a problem with it. I suspect it’s sufficient to abort 50% to 80% of male fetuses. 100% suggests an irrational attachment to consistency for the sake of consistency.

  69. Pteryxx says

    How did that quote go… something like

    “we don’t need to get rid of men, just douchebags. You’re the one assuming they’re equivalent.”

  70. says

    @ Brownian, #66: Yes, exactly that — stereotype threat. Convince somebody that they belong to a group who do badly in this kind of test, and they do badly.

  71. ahs ॐ says

    Following up on Kagehi’s mention of Dweck, there is what looks to be an interesting article from Hong Kong, refining Dweck’s studies. The tasks appear to be anagrams and crossword puzzles. Unfortunately it’s behind a paywall that I can’t circumvent at the moment. *cough*

    “Is effort praise motivational? The role of beliefs in the effort–ability relationship”; Shui-fong Lam, Pui-shan Yim, Yee-lam Ng; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2008.01.005

    Abstract: In two studies, we investigated how beliefs in the effort–ability relationship moderated the effects of effort praise on student motivation. Study 1 showed that the more the participants believed that effort and ability were related positively (the positive rule) versus related negatively (the inverse rule), the more they would have positive self-evaluation and intrinsic motivation after effort praise. Study 2, with participants’ beliefs manipulated by a priming procedure, showed that the participants in the positive rule condition had better self-evaluation and more intrinsic motivation after effort praise than their counterparts did in the inverse rule condition. The results of the two studies converged to indicate that the motivational effects of effort praise depend on beliefs in the effort–ability relationship.

  72. Brownian says

    “look how well or adoption of Japanese work culture *turned out* when it was adopted in American automtive factories back in the day.

    What’s the problem? It grossed double its budget and spun off a TV series, (albeit a short lived one.)

  73. CanadianChick says

    I like men, at least most of the ones in my life, so I don’t look forward to an all XX dystopian future.

    I would like to see a future that doesn’t include constant repetition of the man-child stereotype in mass media tho. I swear, I cannot watch most TV because I get tired of the whole dumbass-manchild-married-to-hot-sassy-eye-rolling-wife thing.

    I have been under the impression, as an earlier commenter mentioned, that our current educational model was created in large part to address the fact that girls were falling behind boys. Is that incorrect? If not, it is possible that a system designed to help girls may impede boys, if you accept the underlying principle that girls & boys learn differently.

    That said, as another commenter mentioned, the notion expressed in the TED talk is still nonsensical – how many 6 year olds are allowing porn consumption to interfere with their ability to master their 5-times-table…

  74. Ing says

    if you accept the underlying principle that girls & boys learn differently.

    If you accept my huge ass assertion that I don’t back up!

    Yes and to Godwin it, if you accept the underlying principle that Jews are subhuman, Hitler is reasonable.

  75. Randomien says

    # 35, Snapp: I do agree with you that children’s programs carry a lot of gender messages and that this is worth looking into. I just don’t see the “clownish man/brainy woman” as being the most widespread type of interaction between the genders in cartoons. The “heroic man/attractive female sidekick”, “bunch of men doing stuff/Smurfette” or “superhero/woman in need of saving” are just as widespread if not more. (And if I were to venture a guess on what category kids are more likely to identify with, it wouldn’t be the one containing Homer Simpson.)

    I’m not sure what conclusions can be drawn from this. After reading the article Jadehawk linked to, I don’t think the situation is so alarming (at least not for white boys/men) or so simple. It doesn’t seem that boys are going through a crisis (after most standards they’ve never done better), only that girls are moving even faster. The one problem men seemed to have was a significantly higher rate of dropping out of high school/college.

    Could messages received through children’s programs play a role in this? If we implicitly assume this is a case of the patriarchy hurting men too, then yes. Some depictions of gender (male characters being constantly portrayed as outside the norms, in a good (superhero) or in a bad (misfit, clown etc.) sense, while female characters are more likely to adhere to the rules) could influence the way kids respond to authority, in and outside school.

    @ Jadehawk, thank you for that link!

  76. StJason says

    Another thought: It could be the size of the sample.

    In almost any attribute, if you plot it on a bell curve and separate by gender, you will notice that men’s bell curves tend to be flatter. IQ, height, income… There are more geniuses and giants (and multimillionares) among men, but also more mental issues, midgets and homeless. Women are a more homogenous group.
    There is some speculation that male animals in general are more genetically diverse for this very reason… more outliers runs the risk of having that one spectacular success that benefits the whole species. And as males are reproductively more disposable, if outliers are rendered unable to reproduce (by critical genetic defects or being killed exploring Antarctica) then the species as a whole is less hurt.

  77. What a Maroon says

    The problem with looking at this sort of issue through the lens of a construct like gender is that you take a statistical difference and turn it into a categorical difference, and that ends up obscuring the issue. In this case, you can probably identify certain characteristics that make school easier for kids, and other characteristics that make it more difficult, and you can probably show that girls are statistically more likely to fit the profile of a good student than boys. But anyone who’s been around enough kids knows that there are girls that won’t sit still and would rather be roaming around outside, and end up struggling in school, and boys who are perfectly content to sit and do their work, and then go and read books in their free time and shine in school.

    The question we ought to be addressing is, how can we structure school to meet the needs of intelligent kids, boys and girls, that don’t fit the profile of the successful student?

    Unfortunately, the most common approach now is to try to tailor the kid to the school, and not vice versa.

  78. Pierce R. Butler says

    Brownian @ # 59: Why does it seem that way to you?

    Because of the very few commenters in this thread saying things like, “When I was in high school [single-digit number] years ago…”

    Jadehawk @ # 69: what the fuck am I, chopped liver?

    Oh, so sorry: this is Arguments. Identity Crises are down the hall.

    You’ve (bravo!) cited real data (in # 20), which anyone can do (though I’d like to see you address the partial disagreements from Psych-Oh @ # 49 & Rey Fox @ # 58). Now please do what only one of your generation can do, and tell us how this looks from where you – and your cohort – are.

  79. ChasCPeterson says

    that one spectacular success that benefits the whole species. And as males are reproductively more disposable, if outliers are rendered unable to reproduce (by critical genetic defects or being killed exploring Antarctica) then the species as a whole is less hurt.

    this. is. not. how. evolution. works.
    reading assignment

  80. Muse (evidently temptress of Pharyngula women) says

    So Pierce, exactly how old is too old to have an opinion here?

  81. says

    The real problem is a complete mischaracterization of what is actually going on. I was suspicious last year when people around the area started clamouring for single-sex schools because boys had special learning “needs.”

    Upon seeing the fact that women attend college in higher numbers (which has actually been going on for over 25 years now) a lot of people immediately assumed that boys must be falling behind, because? I have no clue.

    Boys, however, are doing better on the education front now then they have ever. A male in high school right now is not only more likely to graduate, he is also far more likely to go on to college and to complete his college education. Meanwhile their test scores, while maybe a little stagnant, certainly have not dropped.

    People also like to skip over the socio-economic truths of the matter. White males, middle-class and higher, attend colleges at pretty much the same rates as white females of the same economic standing. The actual differences are among the poor and especially among the Hispanic and black communities.

    So it’s pretty much the same culprit as always, poverty and a lack of opportunity with a little racism thrown in.

  82. footface says

    Read Raising Cain, by Kindlon and Thompson. It presents a lot of this information, and it sure sounds dire. They talk about cultural norms that serve to screw boys over. (They don’t deny that girls get wrecked in different ways.)

  83. KG says

    There is some speculation that male animals in general are more genetically diverse for this very reason… more outliers runs the risk of having that one spectacular success that benefits the whole species. And as males are reproductively more disposable, if outliers are rendered unable to reproduce (by critical genetic defects or being killed exploring Antarctica) then the species as a whole is less hurt. – StJason

    Evolution doesn’t work that way. Natural selection cannot select for features that benefit “the species as a whole”, nor can it look ahead. In mammals there is a possible genetic reason for males being more diverse: they only have one X chromosome, while females have two, and only one is expressed in each cell – but which one is random, so females are mosaics of different cell-types, and mutations on the X chromosome have less effect. Anyone know if the reverse is true of birds (where it is the male that has two sex chromosomes of the same type – but I don’t know if the cell mosaic system also applies)?

  84. Brownian says

    Because of the very few commenters in this thread saying things like, “When I was in high school [single-digit number] years ago…”

    So, the existence of the fields of survey design and statistical inference are great big mysteries to you, eh?

    Oh, so sorry: this is Arguments. Identity Crises are down the hall.

    Apparently this is Having No Fucking Clue That Voluntary Self-Reporting Bias Exists and Cherry-Picking Data.

  85. Ing says

    Anyone know if the reverse is true of birds (where it is the male that has two sex chromosomes of the same type – but I don’t know if the cell mosaic system also applies)?

    Drawing memory from undergrad I believe it is…

  86. Psych-Oh says

    Hypatia – I completely agree. Using the same data as before (math), for 17-year-olds, in 1973 white students averaged a standard score of 310. African American students averaged a 270. In 2004, White students averaged a 313 while African American students averaged a 285. The gap was closed from 40 points to 28. Which is probably significant, but not good enough, IMO. This is what needs to be focused on.

    Rey Fox – I could not locate a statistic that tells whether a) the change over time for either group was significant, or b) whether the gap at time 1 or 2 or was significant. But such a large number of students were measured that it could very well be. I will keep looking.

  87. slothrop1905 says

    @94, The book Raising Cain claims there are differences between boys and girls, so obviously that’s a lot of crap, nothing to see there…

    @93,

    Can you give some cites on that? All the the stats I’ve seen and all the teachers I’ve talked to (albeit here in the Midwest US) say the same thing: there is a marked downturn in the numbers of high school graduations amongst all boy populations, regardless of race or economic background. And the test scores? They’re down at both the elementary and secondary level across the board, again irrespective of racial or economic status. I’m obviously reading the wrong studies…

  88. Psych-Oh says

    Rey Fox – I found this:

    NAEP long-term trend mathematics results, reported on a scale of 0 to 500, are available for 11 assessment years, going back to the first in 1973. Average mathematics scores for 9- and 13-year-olds were higher in 2008 than in all previous assessment years. The average score for 9- year-olds in 2008 was 4 points higher than in 2004 and 24 points higher than in 1973. For 13-year-olds, the average score in 2008 was 3 points higher than in 2004 (based on unrounded scores) and 15 points higher than in 1973. In contrast, the average score for 17-year-olds in 2008 was not significantly different from the scores in 2004 and 1973. White, Black, and Hispanic 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds all had higher average mathematics scores in 2008 than in 1973. While there was no significant difference between the average mathematics scores of male and female 9-year-olds in 2008, male students did score higher than female students at ages 13 and 17.

  89. Pierce R. Butler says

    Muse @ # 92: … exactly how old is too old to have an opinion here?

    Exactly? Old enough to have forgotten what the generation gap looked like from the bottom side, back when that was an Official Issue.

    Brownian @ # 96: … the existence of the fields of survey design and statistical inference are great big mysteries to you, eh?

    Er, do you really think the answers to the questions raised here will come only from statistics?

    Apparently this is Having No Fucking Clue That Voluntary Self-Reporting Bias Exists and Cherry-Picking Data.

    Pompous Denial of Relevance of Testimony from Those Directly Involved is in the Tower, sir – just follow the ivy to the ivory, you can’t miss it.

  90. Brett says

    @Hypatia

    White males, middle-class and higher, attend colleges at pretty much the same rates as white females of the same economic standing. The actual differences are among the poor and especially among the Hispanic and black communities.

    You beat me to it. I was going to point out that race might be a big factor here, since minority boys (particularly black guys) tend to get a more raw deal in adolescence.

  91. says

    # 85 CanadianChick,
    The current model was adapted to help girls? That’s something that I’ve never heard of before, do you have a source? Apart from MRA whining, I’ve never seen any examples of how school is geared towards female learning more than it was 50 years ago.

    For example, if the person who says boys are more visual learners is correct (which I’m not convinced of), then today’s schools, where multimedia, learning through activities, and pictures are used much more than 50 years ago, with dense textbooks and rote learning, should theoretically be better for boys.

    It seems like schools have been going away from the strict lecture format, where teachers stand at the front and talk and students listen/take notes, and according to gender essentialists shouldn’t that be favouring boys, who are supposedly worse at staying still and listening quietly, and better at activities?

    I don’t have any experience in teaching or education theory, so I could be wrong and there’s lots of evidence. If you have any links that I could read please let me know.

  92. sia ias says

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/8135/

    There’s a bit towards the end about how boys are doing worse in the classroom, but does not offer any explanation. However, if boys and girls are getting subliminal hints and cues from their parents about their expected behaviours (and children are extremely quick at catching on), then this work:
    http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/babiespregnancy/babies/article/1068042–the-real-truth-about-girls-and-boys
    might have some merit. I doubt boys are truly incapable (as in, are fundamentally different somehow in a way that does not allow them to) of integrating in the sort of accepted classroom model that is in use today. But as has been mentioned previously, it is socially acceptable for boys to be active and rambunctious from an early age, and less so for girls. Rowdiness in boys is tolerated, while girls get the whole ‘sit-still-and-be-quiet’ routine early and often. And the things we learn the earliest are the hardest to un-teach, but they reflect in our behaviours all our lives, especially in areas where one type is favoured over another, as in this case (education).
    (Of course, women and girls also have goals and a heck of a lot of motivation to succeed, which just gives them that much more impetus to get out there, especially if their ‘fundamental behaviour model’ helps them get ahead – an advantage is an advantage!)

  93. NitricAcid says

    #87

    And if I were to venture a guess on what category kids are more likely to identify with, it wouldn’t be the one containing Homer Simpson.

    Then how about Bart and Lisa Simpson? I’m sure there are a lot more people who identify with Bart than with Homer.

  94. ahs ॐ says

    More Dweck-citing research. This is slightly more relevant to Kagehi‘s original point now.

    http://academic.reed.edu/motivation/docs/Corpus_Lepper_07.pdf “The Effects of Person Versus Performance Praise on Children’s Motivation: Gender and age as moderating factors“; Jennifer Henderlong Corpus & Mark R. Lepper; doi 10.1080/01443410601159852

    Abstract: Two studies were conducted to determine how gender and age moderate the long‐term and post‐failure motivational consequences of person versus performance praise. In Study 1, fourth‐ and fifth‐grade students (n = 93) engaged in a puzzle task while receiving either no praise, person praise, product praise, or process praise. Following a subsequent failure experience, behavioural measures indicated that product and process praise enhanced motivation and person praise dampened motivation for girls, but that there were few effects of praise on subsequent motivation for boys. In Study 2, a parallel procedure with preschool children (n = 76) showed that person, product, and process praise all enhanced motivation, relative to neutral feedback, for both girls and boys.

  95. illuminata says

    Interesting how, when a non-privileged group makes positive advancement, it must be because the system is magically, inexplicable and spontaneously set up to hurt (white) boys.

    It seems pretty clear that the mere fact that women are doing better equals to some people that boys *must* be doing worse – after all, they should be #1 in everything at all time!

    But, is it possible that its specifically gains in female academic achievement that * is* causing “underperformance” because of the toxic masculinity that equates anything women do well with being useless, frivolous and silly?

    If girls are doing well, then as the Poe/Troll upthread said “school is gay”.

    Is this possibly a case of men cutting off their nose to spite their face?

  96. Azkyroth says

    Sometimes I wonder, seriously, whether — technology permitting — it would be better just to do away with men altogether.

    Never mind the “external” issues with this idea. How the fuckety fuck does this follow from anything else in your comment?

  97. eandh99 says

    But, is it possible that its specifically gains in female academic achievement that * is* causing “underperformance” because of the toxic masculinity that equates anything women do well with being useless, frivolous and silly?

    There is research to support the contention that as soon as a profession has a substantial number of women in it, the prestige and the salary associated with that profession decline. Don’t have a cite offhand but could find one.

  98. eean says

    Seems rather unfair of PZ to so harshly criticize a 4 minute TED talk basically for being incomplete. I’m not familiar with the rest of his work, maybe the same fallacy extends to his papers. But you certainly can’t judge from this!

  99. Caru says

    So, this is my personal experience as a high-schooler, albeit in South Africa. For roughly the first 10 years of school, the top twenty kids in my grade (at 3 different schools) were skewed towards girls (roughly 15:5). In grades 11 and 12, suddenly the top 20 evened out. These were the years when a) we got to choose which classes we wanted to take, b) less emphasis was put on learn-off-by-heart studying and more on understanding, and c) people actually had to start thinking about their futures.

    Girls I know are very good at off-by-heart studying, highlighting, and having superneat books. I know some guys who picked up some of these skills just a bit later. I don’t think the first 10 years of superior performance benefitted girls at all when we got to grade 11 – many “organised” kids dropped and sloppy kids took over. I know several guys who, when talking about the new top twenty ratios, decided that this was evidence of what they thought all along – that boys have “natural intellect” and girls just “study hard.”

  100. Rey Fox says

    Well, I’m 31, is that young enough? I’m in graduate school in wildlife biology, and the genders are pretty evenly split at this level. I can’t really speak directly about their levels of academic success, but we all seem to be graduating (the two people I know who quit the program are both male). At the professorial level, it’s very much a boy’s club (in membership anyway, I don’t think the attitudes are too bad, but my office is in the basement, so I don’t have any direct observation of that). Over in forestry and fisheries, there aren’t as many women, probably owing to the stereotypically manly nature of these professions.

  101. crissakentavr says

    When I was in school (double-digit years ago) this was already true. More boys dropped out, and girls did better (on average) than boys in grades, and our top student was a girl. Our school also had an inverted bell curve for our grades, too.

    Is that an outlier or was my school prescient?

  102. says

    As I recall, when boys do badly in school they don’t blame themselves but declare that it’s “boring” and stop trying. Girls are more likely to blame themselves and study harder.

  103. crissakentavr says

    that one spectacular success that benefits the whole species. And as males are reproductively more disposable, if outliers are rendered unable to reproduce (by critical genetic defects or being killed exploring Antarctica) then the species as a whole is less hurt.

    this. is. not. how. evolution. works.

    No, I’m pretty sure, since tribal groups have evolved, this is how it could work. A tribe succeeds more if it has more variety, therefore a mutation which encourages variety may rise from the tribe’s offspring. You’re making the thought that evolution only works directly, and that’s not true in social animals. Heck, you can prove it’s not true by just pointing out ants, who have evolved individual diversity in a single genetic unit. Evolution doesn’t care how or what works, only that it does, over many generations.

  104. ahs ॐ says

    The impact of children’s static versus dynamic conceptions of people on stereotype formation.; Sheri R. Levy and Carol S. Dweck; doi 10.1111/1467-8624.00085

    Abstract: Recent cognitive-developmental research has contributed much to our understanding of children’s stereotyping. The present research explored how children’s basic assumptions about the nature of human attributes relate to their tendency to stereotype. In 2 studies, 122 6th graders learned about several different students’ behaviors in unknown schools. In Study 1, they judged a school characterized by mostly negative behaviors, and in Study 2 they judged 2 schools (characterized by either mostly negative or positive behaviors). Across studies, children with a fixed view of personality (relative to those with a more malleable view of personality) made more extreme trait ratings of both the “positive” and “negative” schools, generalized their trait judgments to an unknown student, perceived greater within-school similarity and between-school differences, and showed less desire to interact with students in the “negative” school. Ways in which examining these theories may broaden our understanding of the origins of stereotyping and how to lessen it are discussed.

  105. ahs ॐ says

    The scope and impact of group selection, if nonzero, appears to me a very complicated question that I am wholly unequipped to argue, except by pointing to certain papers and asking “what about this?”

    But I do know that saying “ants!” is an appeal to kin selection, crissakentavr, and certainly not a counterargument to a book largely based on the work of EO Wilson.

  106. Brownian says

    Er, do you really think the answers to the questions raised here will come only from statistics?

    Not in the least.

    However, despite your inability to follow a train of thought: do you remember when I asked how you know that everyone here is a geezer? We’re still talking about that.

  107. GravityIsJustATheory says

    This is an issue that gets brought up periodically in the UK as well.

    I don’t know enough about the issues involved to draw any firm conclusions, but one explanation that I commonly hear given, and which I don’t think has been mentioned here, is the decline in traditional working-class industries.

    The argument goes that a few generations ago, men and boys who were not academically gifted could still expect to get productive and skilled jobs in factories, or in mining, or ship-building etc etc, which gave them a sense of purpose and worth and enabled them to support a family.

    But with the decline and outsourcing of such industries, those jobs are few or non-existant, and the people who would have done them are more likely to end up either unemployed or in jobs that require less skill and pay worse wages (e.g. supermarket shelf stacker).

  108. ahs ॐ says

    The argument goes that a few generations ago, men and boys who were not academically gifted could still expect to get productive and skilled jobs in factories, or in mining, or ship-building etc etc, which gave them a sense of purpose and worth and enabled them to support a family.

    This expectation was still present 20 years ago in the USA. I recall several boys talking of their plans to forgo college, or even drop out of high school, because nepotism would assure them perfectly good jobs at the factories where their dads worked.

  109. ChasCPeterson says

    A tribe succeeds more if it has more variety, therefore a mutation which encourages variety may rise from the tribe’s offspring.

    Competing tribal groups are not “species”. The statements to which I objected were about the evolution of traits ‘for the good of the species’.

    You’re making the thought that evolution only works directly,

    nnnooooo, I was “making the thought” (who talks like this?) that evolution can never favor traits that benefit ‘the species’.

    Heck, you can prove it’s not true by just pointing out ants, who have evolved individual diversity in a single genetic unit.

    1. Do you mean it’s kin selection instead of individual selection? Are you under the misapprehension that group selection (‘tribes’) and kin selection are the same thing?
    2. Ants are not clones. There is genetic diversity within the colony.

    Evolution doesn’t care how or what works, only that it does, over many generations.

    This makes zero sense.

  110. David Marjanović, OM says

    Simpsons to name a popular example (Homer/Marge contrast).

    Ha! Watch a few more episodes, and you’ll notice that Marge is actually quite silly, too. She’s no Lisa. She’s the voice of reason only in comparison to Homer.

    Which brings us to Bart/Lisa. Lisa is usually too much of a nerd to have any impact on what’s considered normal, and Bart is no clown. He’s El Barto.

    There is some speculation that male animals in general are more genetically diverse for this very reason… more outliers runs the risk of having that one spectacular success that benefits the whole species. And as males are reproductively more disposable, if outliers are rendered unable to reproduce (by critical genetic defects or being killed exploring Antarctica) then the species as a whole is less hurt.

    Problem is, there is no such thing as a species outside our heads. Mutation and selection have never heard of species. If you can’t reword that speculation in terms of genes instead of species, you’ll have to give it up. See comments 91 and 95.

    Is that an outlier or was my school prescient?

    My experience (finished 11 1/2 years ago) and my mom’s (who teaches) is more like comment 113: girls mature earlier, so, on average,
    1) at first, they grow up enough to study hard, while the boys stay children, so the girls perform better;
    2) then (at age 17 or so – not much earlier), they grow up enough to lose childish curiosity and become interested in adult life, while the boys grow up enough to turn curiosity into interest, so they perform better.

    However, the quite neurotypical long-term female math genius in my class didn’t fall behind when 2 very nerdy male ones arose from age 17 onwards.

  111. nemothederv says

    Zimbardos speil sounds more like a stand-up comic routine than what I would expect at a TED conference. Sure, you want to keep it interesting, but content should be the real focus.

    Also, while academic performance is a matter of concern, it is not the single measure of success. Here’s a small list demonstrating this point:
    Bill Gates
    Steve Jobbs
    Mark Zuckerberg
    Gary Ellison.

    Many of the most succesful people in the world in the last 20 years dropped out of college.

    Of course, these guys did not exactly underperform academically. They just decided the degree was not the important thing
    but if you just go by the stats then they are listed among the failures.

    In short, Academic acheivement is not the measure of success that it used to be and is a very poor barometer by itself.

    As far as men not being able to talk to women, there is definitely a failing on the part of alot of guys out there but, one must remember, communication is a two way street. Not to point fingers but some(and i mean some, not all or even many) of you ladies out there are downright psychotic.

  112. David Marjanović, OM says

    No, I’m pretty sure, since tribal groups have evolved, this is how it could work. A tribe succeeds more if it has more variety, therefore a mutation which encourages variety may rise from the tribe’s offspring.

    Then how does that mutated allele become more common in the population? If it doesn’t benefit individuals who carry that allele, it dies out, no matter how many other tribe members it saves.

  113. David Marjanović, OM says

    As far as men not being able to talk to women, there is definitely a failing on the part of alot of guys out there but, one must remember, communication is a two way street.

    Well, yeah. In a culture where men are expected to approach women pretty much point blank – as opposed to, say, becoming better and better friends and see where that leads – and women are expected to shut the fuck up and wait for a man to approach them, women who can’t talk to men may not even find out themselves their whole life, while men who can’t talk to women will have bright spotlights shining on them all the time.

  114. David Marjanović, OM says

    the quite neurotypical long-term female math genius in my class

    was only the tip of an iceberg. I actually grew up believing girls are better at math and was surprised every time my mother or grandmother claimed otherwise.

  115. Brownian says

    Here’s a small list demonstrating this point:

    Not to point fingers but some(and i mean some, not all or even many) of you ladies out there are downright psychotic.

    That is some outlier fetish you got goin’ on there. You must jerk off to “World’s Oldest Person” human-interest stories in the news.

  116. says

    Now please do what only one of your generation can do, and tell us how this looks from where you – and your cohort – are.

    and how would you imagine that to look like? what the fuck do you need anecdotes for? they won’t be representative of anything

    Relevance of Testimony from Those Directly Involved

    HAHAHAHAHAAAA

    yes; I’m sure my experience of male classmates who’ve as well as female classmates and a cousin who’s a rich-ass banker, vs. a whole cohort of female cousins in high-flying careers are totally relevant to anything.

  117. Okasen says

    You know, I kinda detected a touch of misogyny in this. Just a touch though, what with the assumption that the internet, porn, and video games are all dominated by men- and that women hate men who like those things, as he seemed to imply at the end. It made it sound a bit “bitter MRA who wants us to focus on boys and not those silly girls”-like.

    But besides that, I tend to take any argument that goes after the media’s newest villain (in this case, the internet) with a grain of salt. It’s usually just fear-mongering marketed at people who don’t like change.

    As far as why boys really are under-performing, it could be a lot of things. One thing that is important to note is that there are a lot of efforts to reassure girls that they can do science/math/etc, but not a lot that I can think of for children in general who might need reassurance. I don’t think it’s so far fetched to think that a little boy might see the messages sent to girls and feel inferior himself, especially since he would be too young to understand that those messages are there to make things equal, not favor women.

  118. Sally Strange, OM says

    Not to point fingers but some(and i mean some, not all or even many) of you ladies out there are downright psychotic.

    Gee, ya don’t say? It’s almost as if women are human beings, which would naturally mean that a certain percentage of women would be clinically psychotic.

    Add “Not to point some fingers but…” to the list of things people only say when they mean the exact opposite.

  119. Okasen says

    Not to point fingers but some(and i mean some, not all or even many) of you ladies out there are downright psychotic.

    You mean like some men? Or some intersex people? Or some… anythings?

  120. Pierce R. Butler says

    Brownian @ # 121: … how you know that everyone here is a geezer? We’re still talking about that.

    If “we” are, then our esteemed host (or the dreaded Codero upgrade team) must have deleted your reply to my # 90 in which I answered your question. Pls re-post, cuz yr # 96 was a non-answer of the first water.

    Jadehawk @ # 132: what the fuck do you need anecdotes for?

    Ask, say, Rebecca Watson. Or those silly people finding anything at all of value in the “Why I Am An Atheist” series. Or those people relating their “I am the 99%” stories. Or any feminist who ever attended a “personal is political” consciousness-raising session. Or a veteran who participated in the “Winter Soldier” investigation. Or – hey, by now I bet you too could name some examples of the people actually experiencing a widespread phenomenon having something to say about it which others outside that loop wouldn’t be aware of. Why not give it a try?

    And a bonus razzberry to whichever one of you first tries to claim I’m denying any usefulness of systematic studies in illuminating aspects of this or other social problems, cuz, y’know, I never said that.

    All I (tried to) say is, when the numbers show something interesting or problematic happening in classrooms, we should ask people in classrooms what they see. Maybe even that Myers guy (the one who comments in these threads, if rarely) might have noticed something relevant through his jaundiced eye.

  121. says

    Ask, say, Rebecca Watson. Or those silly people finding anything at all of value in the “Why I Am An Atheist” series. Or those people relating their “I am the 99%” stories. Or any feminist who ever attended a “personal is political” consciousness-raising session.

    you can’t tell the difference between determining whether there is a problem, and consciousness raising for an existing problem?

    are you so stupid that you can’t tell that we’re having the exact opposite problem here from the sort of situations that require consciousness raising?

    *sigh*

    by now I bet you too could name some examples of the people actually experiencing a widespread phenomenon having something to say about it which others outside that loop wouldn’t be aware of

    this whole statement assumes things not in evidence, such as “widespread problem” and “outside that loop”. again, are you aware that this the exact opposite of an underreported problem? that it’s a panic? panics don’t need consciousness raising and personalization, they need the exact opposite of that: data and the ability to step back from anecdotes.

    idiot.

    when the numbers show something interesting or problematic happening in classrooms

    the data doesn’t, which is the whole point.

  122. says

    oh, and one more thing:

    let’s assume there IS a problem, and that it IS so hidden that it requires consciousness raising. from what we already know, whatever is happening is happening to very young children. At that point, the anecdotes of the PARENTS of the relevant cohort would actually be more useful, since they’d be able to more accurately recount the influences in their childrens’ early childhood. from what we also know, it is happening to minority communities, and has been happening for decades, so you should be asking for anecdotes from minority posters of any generation, not from millenials of all races.

    but, to get back to your original silly post:

    Seems to me that nearly all the speculations getting speculated here – and the small nuggets of data citations – come from those of a generation older than that of the cohort under discussion, and thus almost certainly miss the key point(s).

    1) the “cohort under discussion”, if we’re talking about the widening achievement gap, is all boys who started school between the 1980’s and now. that’s not the millenials alone, that’s the generation before and after as well.
    2)you actually did get anecdotes from millenials (and from gen-x’ers, the other relevant cohort), but because they didn’t bother to state how long ago they were in school, you seemed to have jumped to conclusions.
    3)again, if you want anecdotes about children, the anecdotes of the parental generation would be just as valuable as that of the cohorts under discussion

    basically, you’re wrong on any level I can think of on this issue, other than maybe considering this to be something worth talking about, which is really not much.

  123. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jadehawk @ # 137: you can’t tell the difference between determining whether there is a problem, and consciousness raising for an existing problem?

    Nice try at diversion, but weren’t you saying that anecdotes are generically & universally useless?

    When you hear a report – even from as questionable a source as Zimbardo – of a potentially consequential problem, you should (if not too busy practicing your snooty sniffing) investigate.

    are you aware that this the exact opposite of an underreported problem? that it’s a panic?

    Well gee, when someone with (pretensions to) authority tells me there’s nothing to see here, and to move on, of course I instantly squelch all curiosity about that question, now and forever. How ’bout those Nittany Lions, huh?

    when the numbers show something interesting or problematic happening in classrooms

    the data doesn’t…

    Some egghead up above posted,

    He’s talking about a real problem…

    – but why would anybody waste ~137 comments on anything that ill-reputed troublemaker says?

  124. Shibujiro says

    Seems rather unfair of PZ to so harshly criticize a 4 minute TED talk basically for being incomplete. I’m not familiar with the rest of his work, maybe the same fallacy extends to his papers. But you certainly can’t judge from this!

    This. It took me 112 comments to find someone who was thinking this. This post feels like a slightly more thought-out version of the first comment:

    yes, the argument is a non sequitur.

    Didn’t you hear how fast he was talking? They gave him four minutes to summarize an article/book. Some things are going to get cut.

    PZ, the Internet is not just another technology. If it was, you’d be just another college professor (i.e., unknown). The Internet has the power to amplify, to concentrate, to addict, like no other medium. How can you dismiss that out of hand just because girls have access to it too? There are biological and psychological differences between girls and boys and men and women. Different stimuli will have different effects and the two sexes.

  125. etameson says

    Sometimes I wonder, seriously, whether — technology permitting — it would be better just to do away with men altogether.

    Well, of course. What do you do when you don’t like a group of people? You annihilate them! Extermination for the win, baby!

    I suggest keeping your eliminationist fantasies in check.

  126. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jadehawk @ # 138: … one more thing…

    For a rather high value of 1.

    … the anecdotes of the PARENTS of the relevant cohort would actually be more useful…

    Yeah, what the fuck do a bunch of snotty-nosed kids know about the problems of snotty-nosed kids?

    the “cohort under discussion”, if we’re talking about the widening achievement gap, is all boys who started school between the 1980′s and now.

    Finally a relevant, coherent, clearly-stated point! There may be hope for chopped liver yet.

    … because they didn’t bother to state how long ago they were in school, you seemed to have jumped to conclusions.

    We should assume that undated data does apply without further question?

    … you’re wrong on any level I can think of on this issue…

    And clearly that’s all the levels there are, yup.

    Time for this geezer to toddle off for his futile superannuated attempts at erratic REM shut-eye. Meanwhile, please do stay off my lawn – my dog loves chopped liver.

  127. says

    weren’t you saying that anecdotes are generically & universally useless?

    for determining whether a problem exists? yeah, pretty much. I don’t remember saying anything about them always being useless for anything.

    When you hear a report – even from as questionable a source as Zimbardo – of a potentially consequential problem, you should (if not too busy practicing your snooty sniffing) investigate.

    I have. One investigates whether a problem exists by doing quantitative research. Once the existence of a problem is more or less established, one does qualitative research (that’s where the anecdotes come in); not the other way round.

    Well gee, when someone with (pretensions to) authority tells me there’s nothing to see here, and to move on, of course I instantly squelch all curiosity about that question, now and forever.

    Some egghead up above posted,

    He’s talking about a real problem…

    – but why would anybody waste ~137 comments on anything that ill-reputed troublemaker says?

    so let me get this straight: an Appeal to Authority is valid when said authority claims there is a problem, but not when it claims there isn’t? yeah, that makes sense.
    again, the data say that boys are not getting worse. I posted some of that data. Data is not an appeal to authority.

  128. says

    Yeah, what the fuck do a bunch of snotty-nosed kids know about the problems of snotty-nosed kids?

    I’m sure you have excellent memories of your life as a 5-year-old, but most people don’t.

    We should assume that undated data does apply without further question?

    I’m not the one who made assumptions.

    And clearly that’s all the levels there are, yup.

    yes, that’s why I simply said “all levels” rather than “all levels I can think of”. I’m sure you’re also wrong on plenty of levels I can’t think of right now.

  129. says

    also, the fact that something is a panic doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem; it just means that the tools for addressing it and creating accurate public opinion are exactly reversed from the tools necessary for the types of problems that require consciousness raising.

  130. ahs ॐ says

    you’re wrong on any level I can think of on this issue

    And clearly that’s all the levels there are, yup.

    ah HA!

    Jadehawk, you snooty thing, your implicit admission that there may be things you haven’t imagined is clearly equivalent to an explicit claim that there are no things you haven’t imagined!

    He’s got you now!

    +++++
    In other news, arrogant scientists finally admit they don’t know everything, therefore God.

  131. mikee says

    Shouldn’t the focus be on helping everyone achieve their best regardless of their gender?
    There will be boys who achieve in the current education system and girls who don’t. Why focus on “underachieving” boys when there are still girls who struggle?
    I did quite well in the education system and the whole idea that boys would perform better in everything was related to sport makes me cringe (and I’ve seen this suggested).
    Focus on the individual’s needs and helping them succeed would be much better than making stupid and sexist assumptions about how someone learns because of their gender.

    And if for some reason more women than men were to do better in education then what is the problem? I find the idea of a meritocracy quite appealing.

  132. Brownian says

    If “we” are, then our esteemed host (or the dreaded Codero upgrade team) must have deleted your reply to my # 90 in which I answered your question. Pls re-post, cuz yr # 96 was a non-answer of the first water.

    I read 90. So, you know everyone is a geezer the same way ol’ Aunt Ethel knows homeopathy works.

    Shall we talk about statistics again for the bright kids in the class? As a future ward of the state feel free to play with yourself or paint with your feces, but do it quietly.

  133. says

    *sigh*

    mikee, I’m sure you meant well, but ignoring the consequences of asymmetrical environments for different social groups in the name of illusory individualism, and then tackling what seem to be systemic problems with individualist solutions, is highly unhelpful. Certainly meritocracy won’t be achieved if we pretend such asymmetries don’t exist.

  134. Sally Strange, OM says

    This Gen Xer thinks Pierce is being both arrogant and silly–a very unappealing combination.

    All the articles I’ve read on this phenomenon point to one thing: girls are improving, while boys are staying the same or improving slowly.

    I am not convinced that there is a problem. I do think that there is sexism at play here, where the problem exists in the minds of male supremacists who are convinced that men are better than women in general, and the fact that girls outperform boys in some areas must therefore be evidence of a conspiracy again boys.

    If there were, I’d blame it mostly on toxic masculinity, which teaches boys that being interested in education is effeminate. Which is bad, of course. This tendency is heightened in low-income African-American communities, where there are fewer options for boys to express other types of masculinity besides the toxic kind.

  135. carolynmacleod says

    Sally Strange: It’s a good point – what I’ve read suggests that the “boys’ achievement crisis” is mostly a “non-white and maybe lower income boys’ achievement crisis”, and that black and hispanic boys lag behind their sisters in a way white boys don’t. I don’t have a reference for the statistics handy, unfortunately, but maybe we’re really failing some boys more than others.

    I spend a lot of time around smart, mostly male undergrads in a computer science department. I do notice that their racial breakdown doesn’t reflect the city we live in. Just an anecdote, though.

  136. says

    I don’t have a reference for the statistics handy, unfortunately, but maybe we’re really failing some boys more than others.

    the file I linked to above discusses this to some degree

  137. mikee says

    @JadeHawk

    “I’m sure you meant well, but ignoring the consequences of asymmetrical environments for different social groups in the name of illusory individualism”

    illusory individualism? I would have thought that trying to solve the problem based on gender sterotypes of learning is illusory.

    I’m not proposing that we ignore the poorer academic performance of boys compared to girls but cautioning that attempts to develop different techniques for teaching boys and girls is simplistic and will likely disadvantage boys who are achieving under the current system.
    My experience in teaching is that everyone learns differently and it is better to first understand the learner rather than judge them on the basis of their gender.

  138. says

    illusory individualism? I would have thought that trying to solve the problem based on gender sterotypes of learning is illusory.

    fallacy of the excluded middle

  139. mikee says

    “fallacy of the excluded middle”

    Care to elaborate?

    I get the sense that we both may agree on a number of points but may be talking past each other.

    In the past I have seen a number of “suggestions” for teaching boys which are based on broad gender stereotypes which my experience tells me is a mistake.
    Perhaps your solutions are more subtle and targeted?

    And I do not understand what I perceive as your objection to the idea that learning is a very individual process.

  140. Susan says

    Why are boys and men underperforming?

    They’re finally facing the competition the patriarchy has always feared?

  141. says

    And I do not understand what I perceive as your objection to the idea that learning is a very individual process.

    i have no such objection. the problem is not with the way boys learn. if there is an achievement problem at all, it is a systemic problem that’s rooted in class and racial problems that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the classroom itself.

  142. mikee says

    Ahh, I think I see where you are coming from.

    The focus needs to be on the subgroups identified in the report you mentioned above who are under performing due to “class and racial problems”?

  143. mtskeptic says

    I’m not sure about the educational problem, although I do remember reading about the differences in boys and girls aged 5-10 and that elementary school tends to be an environment that little girls find more engaging than boys. I don’t know if there’s a lot of empirical support for these assertions though.

    My hypothesis to boys becoming immature man-boys is that well it’s always been like that but two things have changed that have made the problem much more noticeable: the societal strictures about presenting an adult image to society have loosened and women have gained more choice in who they want for a mate. They no longer have to put up with an immature husband who’d rather ‘hang with the guys’ than be a good partner just for the sake of having a husband. They expect more as they have every right to and are finding that the population of eligible guys that meet their criteria is quite small in comparison.

  144. Azkyroth says

    Well, of course. What do you do when you don’t like a group of people? You annihilate them! Extermination for the win, baby!

    Still waiting for an explanation of how “men are taught to do and think things that hurt them and others” leads logically to “men should be eliminated.”

  145. Azkyroth says

    …especially with the emphasis in the original problematic OMGWTFBBQ comment having been on how the things men are taught hurt them.

  146. Ichthyic says

    I would have thought that trying to solve the problem based on gender sterotypes of learning is illusory.

    Jadehawk is talking systemic, historic, differences in teaching, you are talking specific individual differences in learning.

    You can address both issues, you know.

    take into account historical differences that HAVE been applied to groups, both sex and race, AND also take individual differences in learning into account.

    Jadehawk is saying you simply can’t ignore historical systemic differences in trying to look at treating it as if it can be addressed on an individual basis.

    In short, as much as you might want to, and know that you don’t apply gender or race stereoptypes yourself, the historic effects don’t disappear because you think differently about it.

    this is a common attitude amongst many Americans that grew up after the Civil Rights movement; many have never experienced the issues of gender or race simply because they are privileged.

    In the future, at least several generations from now, thinking in terms of pure egalitarianism will be a feature, not a bug.

    Right NOW though, it’s jumping the gun.

  147. Orion says

    I am immediately suspicious of anything that blames modern technology for social problem X.

    There seems to be endless hysteria and speculation about the ill effects of every new tech thing. Hell I can still remember the panic about “square eyes” and all the other bollocks around TV, which in the end amounted to “people finding something to do besides outside stuff”.

  148. voon says

    Of course they’re falling behind right now.
    It’s like watching the mental equivalent of learning to walk while refusing to use one of your legs because it’s deemed “feminine” and as heinous a thing as Victorian woman wanting a decent shag and university level education back in her day.

    We aren’t psychotic, “womans intuition” doesn’t exist. There’s just an awful lot of men failing to comprehend things they’re simply not encouraged to learn. Women get so raised to deem ourselves so very accountable to others it’s almost a kata for empathy. We can predict the ins and outs of a society and all that “right brain” jazz AS WELL as being afforded the opportunity to learn the mechanics and actions you plonkers keep insisting on calling “masculine”. All you lads need do is learn that accountability and voila, you’re running at a greater capacity and carving out a whole new front of mental tools.

    But yeah, it’s gonna be hard. Masculinity’s been based on being selfish, dismissive but “victorious” arsehole for a very long time… Good luck changing that.

  149. says

    CanadianChick, #85:

    if you accept the underlying principle that girls & boys learn differently

    If boys and girls learn differently (and that seems to be the case), that is still more likely to be learned than innate.

    Boys and girls are, to all intents and purposes, growing up in two different countries with two different sets of social norms. And the differences are growing, not shrinking, as society seeks to impose ever stricter and ever more arbitrary gender distictions. (Within ten years, at the rate things are going, I am sure that some self-proclaimed expert will be proposing that boys and girls be fed different foods.)

    If you don’t believe this is the case, then I suggest you perform a simple experiment. Borrow a fairly androgynous baby in a pushchair, visit a strange town, and see how people treat the baby differently depending on whether they think it is a boy or a girl.

  150. vexorian says

    I am tired of pop psychologists and just about anyone who wants to rant about the new technology that claim that men have turned into man children and it is “the internet”/”feminism”/”macho attitude”/”video games” fault.

    Case in point: Consider cross word puzzles, train models, boats, and the ever obsession with cars. I just mentioned things that were very common adult hobbies for men in the past and are just as childish as video games and Star Wars.

    The difference is just that many of the new adults in this generation are geeks and there are countless of old guard adults that somehow find it odd that an adult man would play a video game instead of solving crossword puzzles or freak out at the idea of a guy making gigantic LEGO sculptures in comparison to modding his car. Or maybe they prefer paintball over fishing.

  151. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jadehawk @ # 143: I don’t remember saying anything about them always being useless for anything.

    Jadehawk @ # 132: what the fuck do you need anecdotes for? they won’t be representative of anything

    Such a pity that neither the pharmaceutical nor herbal memory boosters seem to live up to their promises.

    One investigates whether a problem exists by doing quantitative research. Once the existence of a problem is more or less established, one does qualitative research (that’s where the anecdotes come in); not the other way round.

    The One True and Proper Way of identifying social troubles comes from the top (The Top) down. Gotcha.

    Btw: Zimbardo & others above had done yr first step; in # 51, I was nibbling away at the second.

    … an Appeal to Authority is valid when said authority claims there is a problem, but not when it claims there isn’t?

    When one Authority is named Myers, and is known to have extensive relevant experience; and the other is named Jadehawk, and isn’t known for nothing… you may be on to something there.

    … the data say that boys are not getting worse.

    You’re getting warmer. Now pls check: do all the data agree?

  152. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jadehawk @ # 144: … life as a 5-year-old …

    Funny, I thought we were discussing “all boys who started school between the 1980′s and now”.

    I’m not the one who made assumptions.

    Pls review above.

    I’m sure you’re also wrong on plenty of levels I can’t think of right now.

    Don’t worry, you’ll dream them up eventually – gotta support yr assumptions, right?

    Jadehawk @ # 145: … that something is a panic doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem…

    Jadehawk @ # 137: … things not in evidence, such as “widespread problem” …

    Whoever taught you not to present a stationary target did so quite well.

  153. Pierce R. Butler says

    Brownian @ # 148: … you know everyone is a geezer the same way ol’ Aunt Ethel knows homeopathy works.

    Don’t change yr ‘nym to Sherlock, you’ll never pull it off.

    Shall we talk about statistics again …?

    Why not start with

    … boys are more likely to drop out of school, girls outperform boys at all academic levels, boys are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD.

    ?

  154. Pierce R. Butler says

    Sally Strange @ # 150: … Pierce is being both arrogant and silly…

    It’s heart-warming to find someone who really understands me.

    Asking for first-hand reports – that’s positively Beckesque!

    … girls are improving, while boys are staying the same or improving slowly.
    I am not convinced that there is a problem.

    There is, at minimum, a change – one we might do well to try to understand. No?

    … I’d blame it mostly on toxic masculinity…

    Perhaps a more precise term would be “machismo”, or maybe “masculinism”. Would you call the counterpart to this (by which I mean self-dumbing-down to meet social demands) “toxic femininity”?
    We do seem (above, e.g.) to have some evidence that a similar self-limiting expectation may now apply to some or all young males. Perhaps somebody should ask a sample of same for their perceptions, so that people can design and conduct a survey from which Brownian can analyze statistics.

  155. says

    your lack of reading comprehension is quite impressive. i don’t even need to refute anything you’ve said, it refutes itself to anyone who actually knows how to read. what a time-saver!

  156. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Asking for first-hand reports – that’s positively Beckesque!

    No, it isn’t necessarily your request for anecdotes that makes you both arrogant and silly. It was your response to being told that these anecdotes wouldn’t be of much use. Particularly, your insistence that Jadehawk doesn’t know what she talks about when she says that quantitative research is the first step, because it helps determine IF there is a problem or not. If there IS a problem, then you take the next step, qualitative research, which includes the collection of anecdotes, which you know will be representative of a trend because you’ve already done the qualitative research.

    Right now we don’t know that there is a problem worth investigating. Note that I said IF there was a trend, then I’d put at least some of the blame on toxic masculinity… but since the question of whether this is a real problem is still up in the air, I’m not inclined to pontificate much further on it. Your arrogant and arbitrary demands are particularly de-motivating when it comes to discussing it. Really not interested in a conversation with someone who can’t just admit that he’s wrong, wrong in a very simple and obvious way, about how social sciences work.

  157. jennygadget says

    Because it can’t be repeated often enough:

    White males, middle-class and higher, attend colleges at pretty much the same rates as white females of the same economic standing. The actual differences are among the poor and especially among the Hispanic and black communities.

    So it’s pretty much the same culprit as always, poverty and a lack of opportunity with a little racism thrown in.

    (and I’d like to add – while I don’t remember the where I got the stats and have no links at the moment – the reading, etc. scores that everyone is always worried about generally break down the same way)

    But, by all means, except for a few comments and side discussions, lets continue to act as if is a (default = white) boy’s problem, rather than a problem with racism, poverty, and bigotry. Because that’s going to be really helpful in coming up with solutions.

  158. Pierce R. Butler says

    Sally Strange @ # 173: … your insistence that Jadehawk doesn’t know what she talks about when she says that quantitative research is the first step…

    How do we know where to conduct this quantitative research? Why not start with counting the granules in that crater mysteriously appearing in our esteemed host’s yard-frontage right-of-way, or analyze the changing mass and fat ratios in school lunch fish sticks over the last half-century?

    Right now we don’t know that there is a problem worth investigating.

    We do have a nice, if incomplete, pile of numbers. Somebody found something about this merited study.

    Your arrogant and arbitrary demands…

    For commentary by those closest to the question?

    Really not interested in a conversation with someone who can’t just admit that he’s wrong, wrong in a very simple and obvious way, about how social sciences work.

    I bow humbly to all those who chorus what they dutifully memorized: all worthwhile knowledge of society comes from the top. The churlish innumerati must not even mutter to each other about matters which their betters deem unsuited for their (the betters’) august contemplation.

  159. illuminata says

    I bow humbly to all those who chorus what they dutifully memorized: all worthwhile knowledge of society comes from the top. The churlish innumerati must not even mutter to each other about matters which their betters deem unsuited for their (the betters’) august contemplation.

    From annoying goofball to flat out liar in one post. Sally wins this round.

  160. Zerple says

    My own experiences with a standard, public highschool (as opposed to the boarding school I went to later), was that males were encouraged to do sports and go through a Votech program, and females were encouraged to either go through a Votech program, or go to college, either to become teachers themselves, or to get a completely useless BA degree, like English. Nobody was really encouraged to enter any of the sciences. All of the advisers, or adults you could turn to for advice seemed to believe that any science at or above the 9th grade level was some sort of incomprehensible wizardry best left to old men with long hair and lab coats.

    Making money was sort of understood to be the role of the male, but the details on how he would make money were never really filled in as many of the jobs you’d expect to get with a Votech education have moved out of the country.

    Part of that bias could be because I live in the south though, rather than some greater institutional bias across education.

  161. Pierce R. Butler says

    illuminata @ # 176: … flat out liar …

    Noticing the implicit demand from all three of my current debate opponents that the topic, phrasing, and answers to all social questions must come from Very Serious People is a lie?

  162. carolynmacleod says

    Has anyone done research on the factors that cause boys (particularly minority boys, and ones from poor families) to drop out of high school? I am thinking of something like the CMU “Unlocking the Clubhouse” research into why female undergrads dropped out of CS, going back to socialization differences in small children.

    I can’t imagine that some toxic ideas of what it’s like to be a man don’t find their way in. I volunteer with an education project in a public housing project, tutoring high school kids. One of the things the organizers mentioned is low expectations, particularly of the boys, because they’re from this neighbourhood. Maybe it’s not the whole story, but it seems like a likely feedback loop.

  163. ahs ॐ says

    repeating a distortion makes it true how?

    I’m not sure what you mean here. I indicated that’s why I think you’re dishonest. Do you understand my meaning, or not?

  164. JBlilie says

    “not really. they’ve either improved or stayed the same; it’s just that women have improved so drastically that it actually looks as if boys were falling behind”

    I think this is true, except for our dark-skinned neighbors, who seem to be doing more poorly (in general) than previously. Probably has nothing to do with TV or video games (though I think neither one is worth the precious life’s time of anyone.)

  165. pj says

    @StJason #88

    You are confusing phenotypic diversity with genetic diversity. If anything, it would mammal females that are marginally more genetically diverse because they have two X-chromosomes whereas males have one X and one measly Y (Y has much fewer genes than X).

    And as others have explained, that benefitting-the-species speculation was bunk.

  166. Pierce R. Butler says

    ahs ॐ 183: Do you understand my meaning, or not?

    What I understand is that you took my statement and gave it a parodic interpretation.

    I had thought you were doing this knowingly, but now must reconsider.

  167. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Wow, Zerple, you actually contributed something intelligent at #67! I checked out the window to see if pings were winging by. And then you reverted to form at #177: “…a completely useless BA degree, like English.”

    Yep. Learning to analyze text and write cogently are such useless skills. It’s not like English majors regularly get jobs in fields like education, marketing, advertising, instructional writing, library science, media, etc., etc. Nope, the only “real” careers are in science and technology. Even the ones, like programming, that are vulnerable to offshoring.

    Nemothederv:

    Not to point fingers but some(and i mean some, not all or even many) of you ladies out there are downright psychotic.

    Not to be mean or anything but you sound like the typical douchebag who feels entitled to women’s attention and to violate our boundaries (unwanted touching, pulling out our earbuds so we can hear you, pulling the book we’re ignoring you with out of our hands, etc.), and then makes like a whiny-ass titty baby when women don’t immediately drop everything they’re doing and suck your dick.

    This might come as a shock to you, but you’re not entitled to the attention of random women just because your penis appreciates them, and they’re not obliged to be nice to you. Google “Schroedinger’s Rapist.” Click the first link you get. Do some learning.

    Shibujiro:

    There are biological and psychological differences between girls and boys and men and women.

    Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender was linked in the second fucking comment, shit-for-brains.

    As for the subject at hand, I’m with Dianne, Illuminata, and Voon. When the boys are ahead in anything, that’s “just natural,” and the gurrrlllz need to shut up and deal. When the girls are ahead in anything, KONSPIRASEE AGINST TEH MENZ1111eleventy!

  168. changeable moniker says

    Curse you, Ms. Daisy Cutter for putting another book on my Xmas Amazon wishlist! (The costs of raising a son and two daughters …)

    General question: Have there been any comparative studies across countries which have different racial/social structures?

  169. ahs ॐ says

    What I understand is that you took my statement and gave it a parodic interpretation.

    Yes, but the intent of my parody:

    It seriously appears that you were making a statement equivalent to “you admit there may be things you didn’t think of, therefore [something].” I find this dishonest.

    On the other hand, I suppose you could have meant “you admit there may be things you didn’t think of, therefore nothing.” This would not be dishonest, just completely useless.

    I am thus at a tension between judging your commentary dishonest or useless. I’m leaning toward dishonest. If you are useless then I should apologize.

  170. Amphiox, OM says

    Few? I can’t actually think of any examples from children’s TV off the top of my head.

    In addition to The Simpsons and Futurama (and Family Guy, and King of the Hill), which could all be considered adult cartoons, I can think of The Fairy Oddparients (Cosmo/Wanda), Ben 10 (Ben/Gwen), Danny Phantom (Tucker/Sam), Kim Possible (Ron/Kim), Naruto (Naruto/Sakura), and Pokemon (Ash/Misty). And these are generally shows aimed at boys.

  171. Amphiox, OM says

    There are biological and psychological differences between girls and boys and men and women. Different stimuli will have different effects.

    But that’s not what matters.

    The question is do these differences in effects that have functionally significant differences in responses. Otherwise we are simply talking about differential predilections towards alternate behavioral strategies that are functionally equivalent – different paths to the same endpoint that are all equally effective.

    TO date the null hypothesis has never, ever, been satisfactorily overturned.

    “Differences” are just neutral variation until proven otherwise.

    Indeed, variation is to be encouraged.

  172. Pierce R. Butler says

    ahs ॐ @ # 190: If you are useless then I should apologize.

    Hey, you’re getting the hang of this parody stuff at last!

    Now go re-read # 142 with that insight in mind.

    And don’t bother to apologize – what use would that be?

  173. jennygadget says

    carolynmacleod,

    I know that research has been done with children in general (not boys in particular, that I know of) that shows that kids need to be exposed to the idea early and in concrete ways* that college, a decent job, etc are worthy and achievable goals. So, yeah, I wonder as well how stereotypes and low expectations affect boys that are not-white and/or live in poverty.

    When you consider that society: expects boys to act in hyper-masculine ways, yet fears minority men’s masculinity, often considers masculinity being about being better than women, AND has low expectations for minority boy’s success in school and life…

    yeah…that’s…a very confusing and extremely unhelpful set of expectations.

    *by which I mean: not just talking to kids about college, but stuff like taking elementary and middle schoolers on field trips to nearby colleges so that they know what they are like up close, can see themselves at one, etc.

  174. Zerple says

    Yep. Learning to analyze text and write cogently are such useless skills. It’s not like English majors regularly get jobs in fields like education, marketing, advertising, instructional writing, library science, media, etc., etc. Nope, the only “real” careers are in science and technology. Even the ones, like programming, that are vulnerable to offshoring.

    QFT.

    You don’t need to waste four years of your life, and thousands of dollars of your money to demonstrate that you can write coherently. All a degree in English really qualifies you for, is being the most pretentious patron of whatever hipster coffee house you choose to haunt. You can be the king or queen of the hipsters who feel that discussing and quoting Emily Dickinson is a useful skill.

    Meanwhile, the people with useful degrees can enjoy the nice job opportunities on this list.

    When the boys are ahead in anything, that’s “just natural,” and the gurrrlllz need to shut up and deal. When the girls are ahead in anything, KONSPIRASEE AGINST TEH MENZ1111eleventy!

    Susan #157

    Similarly, when boys are behind in anything, that’s just the competition that the patriarchy is scared of (see Susan at #157) and “teh menz” need to accept that their reign of terror is over. When girls are behind in anything, OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!! UNFAIR UNFAIR PATRIARCHY HATEZ OPPRESSES WIMINZ IS SCAERD OF THEM!!!! FUKFUKFUK POINTY OBJECT IN ORIFICES NOW!!

  175. hackerguitar says

    I tend to favor bigotry, sexism, and economic inequality as the causes of this stuff.

    Anecdata: When I was a kid, I got (and bloody well needed) a lot of attention from the excellent teachers I was lucky to have (in a relatively well-funded school system in a historically education-valuing area). I was one of the bloody literal children and generally got the methodology quickly, but couldn’t articulate the concepts.

    Other kids – both male & female, I should add – got the big picture but weren’t as good at brute-force problem-solving as some other kids. The teachers took time to figure out how to deal with the continuum of approaches this required, and had adequate time and resourcing to actually effect their plans, and so we learned via one method or another.

    It seems like there are as many approaches now, but most systems earmark one for and very little time or resources for teachers to exercise latitude to adapt to how their students learn. Good, creative, well-paid teachers, given adequate time and resources, work wonders with kids of either gender.

    I wish that education hadn’t been so gendered when I was a kid, though. I learned to to bake from a good friend while in college; I taught her essential metal- and woodworking. We both discovered aptitude for activities which were then even more heavily gendered than they are now, and we were rather disturbed by the fact that we’d been excluded by convention from learning these skills in school. To me, that indicated anecdotally that gender != aptitude – interest and motivation are way more important than the shape of one’s bits.

    And well-funded schools where kids are expected to succeed are key.

  176. David Marjanović, OM says

    your lack of reading comprehension is quite impressive. i don’t even need to refute anything you’ve said, it refutes itself to anyone who actually knows how to read. what a time-saver!

    Seconded.

    Pierce, where do you even take the claim that top-down is implied from?

    General question: Have there been any comparative studies across countries which have different racial/social structures?

    What do you mean? I’ve never encountered a claim that boys are falling behind anywhere but in the USA.

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