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Ladybrains evolved in the Pleistocene

Dr Gijsbert Stoet thinks we should stop trying to correct gender disparities.

Speaking at the British Education Studies Association conference in Glasgow on Friday, he argued: "We need to have a national debate on why we find it so important to have equal numbers. Do we really care that only five per cent of the programmers are women?

"Well, actually, I don’t care who programmes my computers. A wealthy, democratic society can afford to let people do what they want.

"What is better? To have 50 per cent of female engineers who do not really like their work but say, ‘Yeah, well, I did it for the feminist cause.’ Or do you want three per cent or female engineers who say, ‘I really like my job’?"

I would say that if only 5% of programmers are women, we should ask why — that kind of difference represents an interesting problem. And if, while exploring the problem, we learn that many more women are interested in the profession, but find themselves actively discouraged by various elements of the field, then that means there are institutional roadblocks in the way, and we should remove them.

There is, after all, no actual known biological reason why having ovaries should interfere with the ability to program. If we can afford to let people do what they want, and it is in the interest of a democratic society to have its citizens occupied with rewarding, fulfilling work, then we should be trying to make it possible for people to do whatever they are good at, and finding evidence of extreme disparities suggests that there may be a problem that is interfering with that goal.

Dr Stoet seems to think it’s all about him — he’s happy when men program his computers, so he can ignore any injustices in the profession. But then, he’s not exactly consistent in this attitude.

The lack of women in science and technology was diverting attention from the real issue, he said, because it was boys who generally did worse at school.

He said: "Nobody seems to be that interested that boys have problems. We have, as human beings, a natural tendency to see woman as vulnerable and needing help. But if it’s a boy who needs help, he’s responsible for himself."

Oh, well then, do we really care? If women are succeeding at academics, then obviously they have a natural aptitude for it, and we shouldn’t be concerned if women naturally gravitate towards intellectual occupations. After all, what is better: to have 50% of the professoriate be men who do not really like their work but say ‘Yeah, well, I did it for Men’s Rights.’ Or do you want 3% male academics who say, ‘I really like my job’?

Clearly, men, with their testosterone-stimulated larger muscle mass, are better suited to manual labor. I actually don’t care who digs my ditches and totes my bales, so if they’re all men, I’m happy. And I’m sure they’d be happier doing the work Nature has best suited them to do.

Of course, Dr Stoet has an evolutionary argument for the difference…an evolutionary psychology argument. Prepare to cringe.

"In the face of limited resources, we should be cautious in spending money on interventions that will have no effect. Instead of focusing on equal numbers of male and female students in all subjects, I think we should strive to get boys and girls to at least perform equally good [Sic. See? Women would naturally understand grammar well; men should just shut up] in all subjects (which will be very hard in itself)," he added.

"People are often guided by their unconscious desires. In the stone age, it was useful for men to be hunters and women to look after babies, and nature has helped by encoding some of these skills in the hardware of our brain. That still influences how we think today.

Aaargh. The stupid…!

All right, let’s embrace this ‘reasoning’. In the stone age, women stayed in the cave or sought out tasty roots, and mashed things together to create flavorful food, while men went hunting and flung spears at things. Therefore, skill at chemistry is encoded in women’s brains, while ballistics is a natural male talent. Stone age men went on long walks to hunt game, so they’re better suited now to do field work in ecology, while women sat and did intricate weaving, therefore their brains are adapted to do data analysis.

I could do this all day, inventing pseudo-scientific evo-psych rationalizations for why particular stone age tasks shaped brains in a sex-specific manner, but at least I wouldn’t be doing it to somehow magically always fit 21st century Western cultural expectations. But I can’t, because it’s stupid.

Why do these people forget that stone age men had mothers and stone age women had fathers, both members of the same population and sharing the same genetics, and that novel adaptations aren’t likely to somehow be restricted to one sex or the other? I swear, these loons are always treating men and women as separate species evolving in parallel.


Double-aaargh! Now another article: If a girl isn’t interested in science, don’t force her to be.

Look, science is always going to be a minority occupation — only a small fraction of the population will have the aptitude or the interest for it. It will be intrinsically unequal, in that in the panoply of jobs required to maintain modern society, only a tiny fraction of the available positions will be for scientists. No one is suggesting that we need to frog-march girls into math and science. This is a non-problem. It is not an issue. It’s a debate no one is having. We are not planning to staff the apparatus of science with unwilling feminine slave labor. You are not a lesser human being if you’d rather study literature or history or philosophy, or if you’d rather skip college altogether and become a travel agent or a cook. There will be no compulsory science work camps.

But if you’re a woman who is interested in science (and many are!), the argument that girls like dolls and nurturing occupations is irrelevant; we are talking about individuals who ought to be given a fair opportunity to pursue a career they love, and not discouraged by some moronic writer for the Telegraph who uses stereotypes to make generalizations about half the population of the planet.

I also think he’s probably right in suggesting that females, as a whole, are not hugely engaged by science. The problem with science is that, for all its wonders, it lacks narrative and story-line. Science (and maths) is about facts, and the laboratory testing of elements. It is not primarily about people. Women – broadly speaking – are drawn to the human factor: to story, biography, psychology and language.

Jebus. Fuck you, Mary Kenny: that nonsense is not just offensive to women, it’s an affront to men and a hideously mangled distortion of the enterprise of science. She doesn’t understand women, men, or science, yet her ignorance doesn’t seem to inhibit her in the slightest in parading her stupidity for an international audience.

Comments

  1. says

    Nobody seems to be that interested that boys have problems.

    “Citation required” would be a bit of an understatement here.

  2. davidnangle says

    Hmm. None of the people murdered in the Holocaust checked any of these boxes to complain about the Nazis’ accommodations. That must mean…

  3. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    I swear, these loons are always treating men and women as separate species evolving in parallel.

    Funny, I always swear when these loons make these claims. “Men are From Mars are Women are From Venus” anyone? That damn thing had me cursing for a decade.

  4. Louis says

    Well we men, as the internet tells us, hunted the mammoth.* Recent studies have shown that mammoth blood was red, which is kind of like pink when mixed with white snow. Ergo pink is a boy’s colour.** Hands off, stinky girls.

    More than that, mammoths are fluffy, and therefore pink, fluffy things are for boys.

    More than that, mammoth babies are cute, thus cute, pink, fluffy things are manly.

    I AM NOT IN ANYWAY JUSTIFYING MY PREDILECTION FOR PLUSHIES! FUCK YOU! MISANDRY! MISANDRY!!!!

    You’ll be forcing me to sit on uncomfortable chairs next because women evolved to sit on rocks and do berry knitting or something and therefore have softer arses. It’s a feminazi campaign against man-comfort!***

    Louis

    * I know.

    ** No, seriously. I know.

    *** Yup. I know. No. Really. You don’t need to tell me.

  5. Louis says

    Also Carlie does science, which is taking man-jobs from man-people. She must be man-persecuted for feminazi-forbidding mans to use their god given just-so-evolved iMANginations in a man-propriate Man-Science way with her infiltrating uterus.

    DAMN YOU INFILTRATING UTERUS!!!

    Louis

  6. carlie says

    Louis,
    Can I stay if I volunteer to take the minutes at all the meetings?
    *bats eyelashes*

  7. Louis says

    THAT IS APPROPRIATE USE OF A UTERUS.

    Report to the front desk. Wear something pretty. Not too pretty. Distracts the Men. You may then, and only then, marry a doctor. Which is what women near scientists/medics are for in all the sitcoms documentaries I have studied deeply.

    You are also permitted a coquettish giggle every third Thursday, an allowance for pens of various colours, and full permission to collect berries when appropriate.

    You will also be expected to work very hard in the lab, have your work belittled then stolen, whereupon someone, a man, will get the Nobel prize for it.

    Louis

  8. Johnny Vector says

    I have nothing to add to what Louis said, other than INFILTRATING UTERUS is my Belly cover band.

  9. says

    Louis…that was AWESOME.

    I think. Actually, can you tell me whether it was or not? I just saw a bird that was slightly pinkish, and now my silly ladybrain has this weird urge to sit my fat ass on a rock and knit berries…

  10. twas brillig (stevem) says

    aaarrrggghhh, this is another one of those things that starts out making a valid point but then goes off the deep end with irrational justifications for the status quo.
    The valid part: We should not force the distribution of every profession to be exactly 50:50 male:female. To enforce that ratio would mean either kicking out some of the well qualified, from the majority sex or pulling in unqualified from the minority, to inflate its ratio.
    The invalid part: We should accept the current distributions as they are. Status quo, yes. Change, no.
    Irrational part: Males evolved one way and women evolved a different way. period. accept it. don’t try to compensate.
    Of that irrational part; I can’t say it is 100% wrong. There is a different mix of chemicals (i.e. hormones) in males vs females that can affect the functioning of the brain. So there may be some difference in how men think vs women, but to say those hormonal differences set behavior into particular modes is a little over the edge, especially when assigning those modes to relatively recent behaviors. ergo: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

  11. Louis says

    CatieCat,

    Calm your uterus. It is causing Wimminist Feelings that may lead you to be encouraged to do science. Never do that, disaster, for A MAN, awaits. Unless he can claim your work as his own and/or shag you. In which case, go right ahead.

    Instead, try to do sociology or wimminology or something, which isn’t Proper Work, where you can talk about feelings. I’ve heard good things about literary studies courses and/or art. However, be careful there too because as Ani Ful Noz, all the great artists are men. AND ALWAYS WERE.

    Berry knitting and/or basket weaving from homemade organic lady-treacle* are appropriate activities in between Making Dinner and Dying In Childbirth. Don’t go anywhere near Germaine Greer. She is weird and has a moustache or something.

    Louis

    * I don’t know. I don’t even want to know. It just sounded good.

  12. Amphiox says

    If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then obviously AGW is a global feminist conspiracy to make earth’s environment more suitable for women, at the expense of men!

  13. says

    CaitieCat, Louis is a Man. Therefore, anything he posts is by default and decree more Awesome than our wee little fluffy pink ladybrainz can possible ever comprehend.

  14. barbaz says

    So, this women-into-science thing works like abortions and homosexuality, ie, once established everyone will be forced to do it? I knew those liberals were up to no good.

  15. =8)-DX says

    As a programmer, I must say that my scrotum (the itchy little bugger) tends to be rather an impediment to my work than a benefit, chin-hair growth is an annoying morning distraction from work, and alas I cannot effectively type with my penis.

    What I can say, is that the all-male programming environments I have occasionally been outsourced do tend to suffer from an excess of masculinity: every time women are present in the workplace, their infiltrating uteruses seem to make work much less stressful.

  16. says

    How, well, utterly thick* that is. If the ratio between men and women in a profession is not just about equal, the first thing is to question why, not to assume that women would rather be breeding and nursing than writing code because of what was or wasn’t useful in the stone age. And lo, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a lack of interest in the work, but rather a lack of interest in being treated like crap. I’d rather have the best and brightest most enthusiastic programmers involved in the field, male or female, not just the people who are abusive or happen to have a high tolerance level for taking abuse.

    *Giving the benefit of the doubt cos it’s either thick or evil.

  17. mrjonno says

    I thought there was a clear bias towards autism and boys, and between scientists in general and autism.

    Is it not possible that being happy to work 80 hours a week in a lab for little pay on a very narrow piece of research is actually a personality ‘flaw’.

    Maybe in fact being a scientist is a ‘illness’ and women are more resistant to it?

  18. numerobis says

    Can I check the option to have roughly 50% of my programming colleagues be women who love their work? It seems better than the two options the idiot offers. I’m not sure why he assumes only 5% of programmers are women when it’s rather higher generally, nor why he assumes that half of them are only in it for the feminism.

    On the making-the-world-a-better-place end: any good pointers on how to effectively find more women candidates to become programmers? I’m not hiring today, but in the next few months, hopefully, I’d like to improve the gender ratio at my company (currently 4 males and 3 females, but 1 of the males and all 3 females are cats, so that leaves us 3:0 for men:women). If I just look around my social circles, it’ll almost certainly be all men that I hire, so I need to work harder at it.

  19. says

    alas I cannot effectively type with my penis.

    You are using it wrong. As we all know, the penis is specially adapted to press the CAPS LOCK KEY.

  20. Rich Woods says

    @PZ #25:

    As we all know, the penis is specially adapted to press the CAPS LOCK KEY.

    But we’re not slaves to our phenotype. I use mine to hold down the Alt key (which is bloody difficult to reach, given the server room’s aircon).

  21. carlie says

    Now I want a t-shirt that says “infiltrating uterus” and has a uterus all decked out in spy gear and sunglasses.

    I thought there was a clear bias towards autism and boys,

    Yes, although not quite as much as previously thought, as girls exhibit symptoms differently.

    and between scientists in general and autism.

    NO NO DANGER INCORRECT INFORMATION STEP AWAY FROM THE BIG BANG THEORY AND OTHER STEREOTYPES OF SCIENTISTS THANK YOU

    (one exercise I used to do with some of my classes was to have them “draw a scientist” on the first day of class. Invariably they all drew a guy with glasses and a lab coat and a pocket protector, as I stood there invisible in all my feminine sciencey glory)

  22. Howard Bannister says

    If Stoet thinks there are hard-wired skills that make men better programmers, why were many of the the first programmers women? He doesn’t seem to be aware of the history of of the field he’s using as an example for his biases.

    Deen@23 nails it, and rather understates it.

    Obviously what happened was all of biology inverted and evolution jumped forward so that suddenly women, previously the tech-dominant gender, became tech-subservient.

    That’s the only logical explanation.

  23. =8)-DX says

    Oh darn, I actually just managed to start a penis discussion. What if I change the subject to say that at grammar school my programming, maths and physics teachers were all women, were totally badass several times more capable at maths and computating than I’ll ever be.

    I’m not saying she was my only motivation, but my programming teacher back then tought me the basics – while all the other “computer-geeky” boys were playing FPS games during class (I played games too – but back home), my teacher would give me basic algorithm problems to programme, the rudimentaries of computing theory and inspired my to do my grammar school finals in programming (I did some simple analytical geometry and special effects demos).

    I’m not sure I thought about it at the time, but it was basically emulating my women teachers that lead me to any semblance of methodical thought, in stark contrast to the irresponsible “manly man” behaviour of my peers at the time.

    Thanks!

  24. dianne says

    I thought there was a clear bias towards autism and boys…

    There is a clear bias towards the diagnosis of autism and boys. Whether the actual condition is more prevalent in males is less clear. In fact, there is some evidence that the actual disease may be close to 1:1 but girls and women are just more likely to be undiagnosed or diagnosed with mental retardation.

    Maybe in fact being a scientist is a ‘illness’ and women are more resistant to it?

    Maybe this is just another way of saying “Oh, honey, you’re just to good and pure to go out there and struggle in this ugly world. Let me protect you instead.” Courtly sexism is sexism and possibly more damaging than overt hostile sexism.

  25. Louis says

    alas I cannot effectively type with my penis.

    {Sound of distant rumbling. Something must be coming over the hill*}

    {It’s getting closer}

    {It’s an antique joke}

    They don’t call me “Clever Dick” for nothing.

    Thank you. Thank you. Please tip your penis. Try the penis. I’m here all penis.

    Louis

    *NO! BAD! NO! Step away from the joke! No!

    P.S. Carlie,

    I stood there invisible in all my feminine sciencey glory

    DO YOU SEE WHAT HARM SCIENCE WIMMINZ CAN DO!? ALREADY THEY HAVE SUPER POWERZ FROM THEIR TRICKSY INFILTRATING UTERISUSESESI!!!

  26. twas brillig (stevem) says

    why were many of the the first programmers women?

    donchaknow? The very first computers were modifications to programmable looms, so naturally the seamstresses were the first to program the fancy patterns for those looms to make. Womenz brains have evolved to be programmers; they have to program the daily lives of their childrenz, and cooking schedules, and program in the time to do the dishes and laundry and stuff. It is the menz that are infiltrating the computerous occupations, and forcing womenz out. And Stoet is giving them a “scientific” excuse to keep the ladyfolk out of their natural proclivities.

  27. dianne says

    I actually don’t care who digs my ditches and totes my bales, so if they’re all men, I’m happy.

    But I want to use my womanly, academic skills to build and program robots to dig my ditches and tote my bales and you’re oppressing me by letting the men do these things instead!

  28. Louis says

    And, yes, I am talking about penises.

    Because penises are the only True Way to liberate women. And science. Or something.

    Look I haven’t thought it through yet, and the fact that there are millions of more qualified, more informed, more intelligent, insightful, educated, erudite and generally just better women out there who could easily illuminate this subject with data and a welter of experience is utterly irrelevant. Because penis.

    Louis

  29. mrjonno says

    Maybe this is just another way of saying “Oh, honey, you’re just to good and pure to go out there and struggle in this ugly world. Let me protect you instead.” Courtly sexism is sexism and possibly more damaging than overt hostile sexism

    Sexism is a possibility but so could be that being so narrowly focused is a personality disorder that is less common in women. Scientist (male or female) tend to poorly paid maybe its because when it comes to other jobs people enjoy doing them but not to the point they forget about getting decent pay

    Scientists lack communications skills, any university recognises this now and will spend a significant part of the course trying to improve them while in something like history or English literature you are assumed to already have them due to the nature of the course or more likely the type of people doing it

  30. Louis says

    Scientists lack communications skills, any university recognises this now and will spend a significant part of the course trying to improve them while in something like history or English literature you are assumed to already have them due to the nature of the course or more likely the type of people doing it

    Look, I know I’ve pulled a Schmucky the Clown routine in the thread, mostly because my exceedingly aberrant psychology demands that I mock clueless fuckwits like the chap quoted in the OP, but, dude! Eyebrows are raising!

    Scientists lack communication skills? Really? All of them? Generally? I’m smelling what can only be described as a very large [Citation needed] which is almost certainly accompanied by what can very delicately be referred to as a large, overflowing barrel of “Bullshit!”.

    The possibility couldn’t exist that some departments are (perhaps ahead of the curve in) taking the education of their students in transferable skills more seriously, could it? To name just one hypothesis pulled directly from my puckered posterior. Which, since it bears an uncanny likeness in nature to where your claim is apparently plucked from, I assume means it has not disparate verisimilitude.

    As we French say.

    Louis

  31. Louis says

    Also, and just because I care:

    Sexism is a possibility but so could be that being so narrowly focused is a personality disorder that is less common in women.

    Autism (and similar) =/= personality disorder(s)

    And, NO! Juuuuuust NO! Do not try to remote diagnose mental health/developmental/psychological/neurological issues over the fucking internet for millions of people with a fucking handwave. You are Pontificating Ex Posterior in a damaging way. First, hard work and focus are not the exclusive (or even necessarily at all) province of autistic or non-neurotypical people of any variety. Second, repeating pointless and barely evidenced stereotypes does no one any favours, and a few people a lot of harm. Carlie very kindly told you this. TAKE THE FUCKING HINT. You are committing Anal Assertion of the most egregious nature. Sinister Shitty-Starfish Speculation of the first water. Bad Brown-Eye Blustering of a bollock-blistering blemish-building being.

    Get the point?

    Louis

  32. marcus says

    @ 38 Louis used a lot of words that I neither comprehend nor really understand, but I find his logic (at least the bits I can follow) unassailable.
    Got penis?

  33. Louis says

    Marcus,

    Does the ad campaign come with a poster depicting someone with a white substance on their upper li…

    …I blame you.

    Louis

  34. thewhollynone says

    I sent Gijs an email informing him that we are nominating him for the Larry Summers Award 2014, and that’s since he’s a shoo-in, he should begin preparing his acceptance speech.

  35. says

    Wait.

    Louis, you’re French? That changes everything.

    *consults Manual of Liberty n Freedom n Shit*

    Yep. Says clearly here that Frenchies is opposed to Freedom (hence the name change on them potato thingies), Fraternities, Liberty, Equality, and body hair removal.

    Can’t trust a word you say now.

    French. Sheesh. And I admired you for a moment!

    ;)

  36. Louis says

    Tragically, CatieCat, I am not French. Especially if recent ham-handed efforts at revitalising my (once reasonable, now execrable) written French are anything to go by. Minor French ancestry (one great-grandparent) and a penchant for pastis are all that remain (actually there’s more, I’m a bit of a Francophile).

    I am, British(ish). As my proper spelling of “colour” will tell you. As Comedy Hatred of all things French (the Bastards), frequent mocking* of the Welsh (close harmony singing Bastards), general suspicion of all things pleasurable and deep love of cricket will demonstrate.

    Louis

    * But only during the rugby.

  37. says

    Ha, like I’d believe you now. When I grew up there in Watford, no English person would ever call themselves French intentionally, except when doing a comedy-French accent (cf. Holy Grail, Cleese, J, et al, 1976). And ‘British’ is what outsiders call English people.

    Also, all the French people I know here in Canada spell colour with the appropriate ‘u’, too, so that’s no surprise.

    Thus, you’re obviously a comedy-Frenchman trying to pretend to be English in order to have me continue to fall under your Latin-lover blandishments.

    I am wise to you, sir, wise.

    Or am I? Oh, my poor ladybrain is so confused. My uterus just keeps infiltrating my brain, and making me hysterical!

    Oh, wait, don’t have a uterus. Crap.

    This is all too much. Thinking is hard. I’m going shopping.

  38. Louis says

    I shall send round a Pneumatic Lady-DeHysterifier 3000 and a team of well oiled operatives to your bunk forthwith. If not sooner.

    Louis

    P.S. Watford? Northerner, eh? ;-)

  39. Louis says

    Also, this just in, The Church of England has just become very, very slightly less archaically fucked. It’s allowing women to be bishops. So lady-persons and assorted wimminz, no science but impressive frocks and hats.

    “Now we can swap positions”, as the actress said to the bishop.

    Louis

  40. jacksprocket says

    Lewis is definitely probably French pretending to be British. No True Englishman would missssspell “pasties”.

  41. thewhollynone says

    at #46, and I received an email anwer from Stoet pointing me to his blog post and claiming that the news article somewhat misrepresented his position on the subject. H-m-m-m, where have we heard that before? I agreed to read his blog post if he would read this Pharyngula post and all comments posted here.

    I tend to be eternally optimistic that some people are re-educable– in spite of abundant evidence to the contrary; it’s a character flaw of mine, I know.

  42. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    I always had an interest in science stuff. I liked stories too, but while I wrote a fair few when younger my taste outstripped my talent and I had too many other interests by then to try and get the talent to catch up with my taste. But science was fun. Science helped me know the world, and the universe, and even in my brief religious period (when you’re a bullied child you will tend to hang out with the people who aren’t making your life miserable and in any case it wore off when I didn’t need it any more. And CoS wasn’t exactly the most fundamentalist church anyway) I was looking to science for answers about the world. I also came to computers. We got our first computer (a little Acorn Electron) when I was ten or eleven. I forget exactly which. It had a tape drive and about 28k of RAM and I taught myself how to program in BBC BASIC on it. (it had real Procedures AND Functions). Later on I learned Pascal, then FORTRAN, C++, lpc and MUSHCODE, python and javascript, and a smidge of php. Which is to say I learned how to apply a lot of programming skills in various languages. Computing was actually my best subject in terms of marks at school. But alas, I enjoyed a mock physics exam and found myself lured to that side. I sometimes do a bit of programming on the side there but it isn’t my main occupation any more. Still, I’m not one of those whose lack of becoming a programmer was because I wasn’t interested in that sort of thing, it’s just that I went for yet another field where women are under-represented. I don’t actually remember being discouraged from either, but that might be because I was already classified in the ‘weird, not standard girl type’ category.

  43. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I thought there was a clear bias towards autism and boys, and between scientists in general and autism.

    ….son, just DON’T.

  44. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Maybe this is just another way of saying “Oh, honey, you’re just to good and pure to go out there and struggle in this ugly world. Let me protect you instead.” Courtly sexism is sexism and possibly more damaging than overt hostile sexism

    Sexism is a possibility but so could be that being so narrowly focused is a personality disorder that is less common in women. Scientist (male or female) tend to poorly paid maybe its because when it comes to other jobs people enjoy doing them but not to the point they forget about getting decent pay

    Scientists lack communications skills, any university recognises this now and will spend a significant part of the course trying to improve them while in something like history or English literature you are assumed to already have them due to the nature of the course or more likely the type of people doing it

    So, the list of things your confidence is unshaken by not understanding includes:

    -Science
    -Science culture
    -Communication
    -Autism
    -Basic-literacy-level web formatting

    *slow clap*

  45. dianne says

    I know Louis has already said it, but…Personality disorder has a specific meaning in psychiatry. Autism is not a personality disorder. There is some controversy about whether it should be considered axis I or II, but it’s not a personality disorder. Also…

    Scientists lack communications skills

    Neil Tyson. Carl Sagan. Steven Jay Gould. PZ Myers. Yep. Bunch of inarticulate losers. (And they’re not even, necessarily, the best communicators, only some of the more famous ones.)

  46. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Or am I? Oh, my poor ladybrain is so confused. My uterus just keeps infiltrating my brain, and making me hysterical!

    Oh, wait, don’t have a uterus. Crap.

    That you know of. They’re pretty skillful infiltrators, though…

    In fact, there are rumors they can *gasp* shapeshift. Are you sure that lamp was there last week? O.O

  47. dianne says

    Any scientist that can’t communicate will not get funding. Any scientist who can’t get funding will find herself out of a job very quickly.

  48. says

    Women are more social, group-oriented, etc. That’s why they couldn’t vote until much later than men could… they just weren’t interested in such things. Also why they don’t be President and senator and minister and whatever as much.

    Also, women love babies, which is why all the restrictions on abortion and why they hate birth control.

    Its also why they have a lower sex drive and don’t want to fuck around as much as men, who aren’t as much into reproduction. Evolution made them only want sex 3 to 6 times and only after marriage.

    And women are much more concerned about finding a good provider and making a stable home, which is why they only choose assholes and not us nice guys.

    and stuff.

    It’s SCIENCE. You can’t fight science.
    Not that you’re interested in all that.

    I hear wallpaper is in again.

  49. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Women also hate math.

    Thats why lower pay. Less counting.

    Also why they need birth control, so they don’t have to multiply.

  50. thewhollynone says

    This old lady needed a good belly laugh today, and you guys have given me a dozen. Tks. Oh, and I’m still emailing with the psych clown over in Glasgow about his other “research” claiming that worldwide, no less, 15-yr-old boys are better at math than 15-yr-old girls, except when they are not in certain places, you understand. His research appears to consist of manipulating other people’s datasets until he arrives at an answer that he likes. I’m becoming more and more convinced that some people should just not be allowed to play with either computers or guns until they have received serious technical training.

  51. carlie says

    Scientists lack communications skills, any university recognises this now and will spend a significant part of the course trying to improve them while in something like history or English literature you are assumed to already have them due to the nature of the course or more likely the type of people doing it

    From what my peers who teach English tell me, the worst communicators are business majors. So there.

    Most scientists do not “lack communication skills”, at least, not successful ones who remain scientists. Do you have any idea what kind of work goes into a grant application? How many types of audiences you have to know how to write for? How to distill really complex things down to the level of what the people who have the money understand, and then ramp it back up to the level of detail needed for your own peers to adequately evaluate it? Do you have any idea how many scientists give talks to grade schools, and teach in summer science camps, and oh yeah, have to communicate science to students of all ages?? The lack of communication from the science world to the lay public is a matter of time, energy, and desire, not skills.

  52. PDX_Greg says

    Of course most females hate math-y science stuff! We know because we told them so! All of their lives! Subtly, incessantly, explictly, relentlessly! How many ways have we tried to get the message through? I can’t believe some of them still don’t get it; must be their poor logic skills.

  53. says

    I hold you all responsible for snorting coffee onto the work computer. My infiltrating uterus is coming after you demanding a new keyboard. I’m looking at you Louis, CaitieCat, and Carlie. And you’ll never see it coming. You’ll be going along with your day and *boom* a demanding uterus staring at you right in the face! (makes the penis look a little wimpy, no?)

  54. says

    Dutchgirl, does your uterus sneak up and bop people with its fallopian tubes? Mine does, whap!

    Yes, I’m tired. Tired is the mind-killer, the tired leads to the silly…

  55. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Little UterusFooFoo, infiltrating offices, sneaking up on men-folk and boppin’ ‘em on the head!

  56. says

    I want my fallopian tubes to shoot lasers. Feels like it, sometimes, anyway, even at my age.

    And I’m a math geek. Been one since geometry in 7th grade. Sadly, I was not encouraged in my love of numbers, but I did work in mortgage loan servicing back before the kids. I always liked looking at columns of numbers, they make such pretty patterns. I like patterns of numbers. I’ll be over here with my calculator and slide rule…

  57. Sili says

    11.
    twas brillig (stevem),

    The valid part: We should not force the distribution of every profession to be exactly 50:50 male:female. To enforce that ratio would mean either kicking out some of the well qualified, from the majority sex or pulling in unqualified from the minority, to inflate its ratio.

    I’d like to see some evidence that that would be the case. What reason do we have to think that employment is currently based on merit?

  58. says

    Anne:

    And I’m a math geek. Been one since geometry in 7th grade. Sadly, I was not encouraged in my love of numbers, but I did work in mortgage loan servicing back before the kids. I always liked looking at columns of numbers, they make such pretty patterns. I like patterns of numbers. I’ll be over here with my calculator and slide rule…

    In high school, I suuuuuuuuuuuuuucked hard at geometry. In fact, anything above algebra was a struggle for me to understand. So, since you “get it”, and I don’t “get it”, does that disprove the whole ‘math is too hard for women, it’s a guy thing’?
    (rhetorical question, I know).

  59. says

    Tony, that, or we both have the wrong brains. Husband doesn’t like math either, he’s a paint and coatings chemist and wild experimental chef. So perhaps math is a girl thing,eh?

    I had a very good math teacher in junior high. I wish I could remember her name. Junior high was otherwise two years on the Hellmouth at a private girls school before I went back to the different but also horrible public high.

  60. Dutchgirl says

    Anne, my uterus is so awesome, its can do all sorts of things. Last year, it even grew (with help from its friend placenta) a whole human! I also loved math in school, still love it, and apparently have a knack for explaining it. I’ve tutored several math phobic kids and adults and while they may never love math, they at least get it now, and that was huge for them. At uni I ended up with a theater degree, go figure.

  61. says

    Anne:

    . Junior high was otherwise two years on the Hellmouth at a private girls school before I went back to the different but also horrible public high.

    That’s a really great way to describe what sounds like an awful experience.

  62. dianne says

    My uterus is so tough that it can bleed continuously for days and not die. What do you boys’ penises have that can match that?

  63. says

    Women aren’t into science?
    This person thinks so (thanks to Pteryxx for pointing me to this site)

    http://feministbatwoman.tumblr.com/post/91774702352/hey-shychemist-ive-been-following-your-blog-for
    Anonymous said: Hey Shychemist. I’ve been following your blog for awhile and I want to bring up something that seems dated but nonetheless holds to be accurate today. I feel like the girls who consider themselves to be on the science side of tumblr to be horribly mistaken. It’s statistically proven that women applicants struggle to get into stem doctorate programs, and rightfully so, they don’t belong there. examples- atomic-o-licious, brainsx , adventuresinchemistry, i can’t fit anymore but you get it

    But the responses? Oooooh boy. The responses shot *that* down fast:

    It doesn’t seem dated, your attitude is dated. This is the 21st century.

    Women deserve to be in STEM programs just as much as men. I’d wager they deserve to succeed in the Sciences even more than men because of the sexism and misogyny they experience.

    They struggle to get in because they’re the minority, and a lot of people who could admit them are sexist (regardless of gender) because of the society they grew up in. Its not through any intellectual weakness. These women are amazing and just as smart as the men in their fields.

    You have no right to say these things to these amazing women, many of whom I consider to be friends.

    {…}

    I’m not a well-known tumblr scientist…but I am a scientist all the same. And while I could probably obtain a more gender-appropriate occupation… I’m pretty content with the fact I’m an atmospheric chemist Additionally, I am also one of the few women who have managed to be selected to intern at NASA’s airborne research program.

    {…}

    Crap, I’m a woman biologist. I’d go get another career but I have a groundbreaking thesis on rapid evolution of reproductive isolation between seed beetle populations to finish.

    {…}

    Hey ladies! Mind if some physicists join in?

    At the CERN visiting the CMS part of the LHC where were were working for 8 months on both computational and experimental work:

    There are more responses and pics at the link.

    Yeah, not buying the whole “science isn’t for women” thing.

  64. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    It’s actually the perfect scam.

    1. Actively forbid women to enter education for centuries
    2. Bar women from STEM fields and make their lives difficult if they *do* manage to get in
    3. Point to the lack of women in STEM fields as proof that women don’t ‘get’ science.

  65. =8)-DX says

    #dianne @84

    My uterus is so tough that it can bleed continuously for days and not die. What do you boys’ penises have that can match that?

    Um, it’s almost fully retractable? Dispenses regular batches of protein-rich skin cream? Occasional towel hanger and massage tool? Has a little protective hood?

    Alright I give up. Uteri are just way cooler, at least 20% cooler.

  66. opposablethumbs says

    Of course most females hate math-y science stuff! We know because we told them so! All of their lives! Subtly, incessantly, explicitly, relentlessly! How many ways have we tried to get the message through? I can’t believe some of them still don’t get it; must be their poor logic skills.

    There are a lot of really excellent comments in this thread, but I particularly like this one from PDX_Greg @72 (“like” as in it perfectly expresses something utterly hateworthy)

  67. Rey Fox says

    Anyone who says “statistically proven” has no business telling anyone anything about science.

  68. Rey Fox says

    There’s a word for that, begins with an “m”, ends with “splaining”, makes certain people faint, so I won’t reproduce it here.

  69. David Chapman says

    There is, after all, no actual known biological reason why having ovaries should interfere with the ability to program.

    Why do these people forget that stone age men had mothers and stone age women had fathers, both members of the same population and sharing the same genetics, and that novel adaptations aren’t likely to somehow be restricted to one sex or the other? I swear, these loons are always treating men and women as separate species evolving in parallel.

    I’m mildly startled, PZ, by you expressing such views, a mere couple of threads before posting a video explaining how male and female humans are fundamentally different with regard to the expression of their genes. Stripey, in the terminology of the video. Women’s bodies are a mozaic of two different types of areas, where one X chromosome is expressed in one area, the other X expressed in the other. We males of course, only have one kind of X chromosome ( our Mum’s ), so in contrast we are genetically monolithic in this one respect.
    It is surely possible that this ( rather cool ) aspect of women’s bodies has an effect on the activities of their brains, since their brains must also be structured in this way. Or to put it the other way round, it’s surely possibe that this ( comparatively boring ) aspect of men’s bodies…etc etc.
    I don’t have any theory to propose as to how this difference in structure might have any such effects. But of course what I’m suggesting operates the other way. Given that we know that female and male brains are different in their genetic expression, it’s reasonable to expect, therefore, differences in consciousness and behaviour. Not of course that they’re inevitable, but it’s reasonable to expect them.
    ( On the assumption, of course, that some of the genes on the X chromosomes are relevant to the brain. Which is also, I think, reasonable. )
    And ( I can also hardly stress too stressly ) we are not necessarily talking about differences in aptitude, but possible differences in propensities, the idea that women and men frequently have different inclinations with regard to things such as science, being influenced by this difference in expression.

    It’s true that in the second quote there you’re protesting about the glib and superficial evolutionary explanations that people often come out with. I’ve got lots of sympathy with such disdain: we didn’t have scientific thinking as far as we know, back when we were evolving into us, and to the extent we were developing the mental abilities that underlie scientific thinking, we don’t how we were doing it. So some try to overcome this rather formidable intellectual difficulty by cheerfully substituting ‘hunting’ or ‘warfare’ ( which indeed were probably male specialities ) for scientific thought, and deduce that there are inbuilt brain characteristics that facilitate both sets of activity. It’s a bizarre argument all right, it’s hard to dispute that.
    Science being dominated by men, there is a corresponding tendency on the part of male scientists to brand science as a male thing, because that means that if they are good at it ( and they will tend to assume that they are good at it, if only on the basis that people pay them to do it ), then that makes them, by this logic, successful ‘men,’ it bolsters their sense of their own masculinity. It makes science macho — at least in the perspective of male scientists, and no doubt many of them hope, in the perspective of everybody else as well. No need to waffle on about how this mullarkey forms a vicious circle.
    There’s also the very real problem that powerful conservative elements in our society want to keep women subordinate, and one of the ways in which they can do that is by advancing the idea that women are socially located just where they should be — away from the cutting edge of intellectual scientific advance. Which is indeed just an aspect of their general scheme to convince everyone that everything is going just swimmingly and there is no need for radical change in our World.
    So, there are vested interests for both the scientific establishment and the establishment in general in approving of this gendered brain theory, that it suits the status quo to think in those terms. And in consequence, such a view must be treated with caution and concern.

    But when you start making merry with the concept of the effects of ovaries on computer programming, you are committing a very real intellectual misdemeanour. You are refusing to take the possibility of cognitive gender differences seriously. And that’s not the way to deal with this question. As I’ve just been pointing out, there are good reasons to think that the differences between the sexes go up higher than that.

    A better approach would be to point out to right-wing goofballs like Mary Kenny that our present-day education ( for want of a better word ) system is so poor that we should not be treating any of the results it throws up as scientific evidence of anything. For myself, I think that our society, very much including our dreadful education systems, has a massive effect on the way we think, and that it has a huge tendency to restrict people in generals’ interest in thinking in general. ( I’m talking about children’s education, and high schools, not universities, although that’s another story.)
    Albert Einstein complained bitterly on the smothering effect that schooling, as it is practised on kids, tends to have on what he described as ‘the delicate flower of curiosity’, and I’m afraid the situation hasn’t really improved since he made that statement. Needless to say, the society we live in is the one shaped, mentally, by this education system and in consequence tends to continue and to amplify the ugly tendencies innate to that system.
    So I’m not very impressed by statistical or anecdotal information generated by the situation as it now stands. And I’m less impressed by claims that any gender difference with regard to science has been established using such material. If we wanted to actually understand if the different genders tended to different aptitudes andor propensities in regard to scientific thinking, we would have to eliminate a whole machinery of creepy and subliminal psychological manipulation intrinsic to our human world first, starting with these fatuous fucking shit-filled schools. Then maybe we could obtain a transparent understanding of what humans are like when they’re not having their minds subtly but profoundly warped by this bewildering culture of ours.
    If these characters think women are innately genetically programmed to be better with communication and with human relationships, with nurturing babies and children, than with macho stuff like science, than I suggest that we have a complete reconstruction of the education system, with women taking the dominant role in remaking our whole approach to, theories of and social organization of education. Then let’s see if the academic establishment and the Daily Telegraph smile benignly on that particular scheme……

    But if we don’t treat the possibility that there are differences in the way that the different sexes think with the respect it surely merits, our approach not just to this question, but to the whole human phenomenon has gone seriously wrong. And this is no small matter.

  70. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You are refusing to take the possibility of cognitive gender differences seriously.

    I noticed no link to the peer reviewed scientific literature on cognitive gender differences. Ergo, why should anybody take what you say seriously?

    But if we don’t treat the possibility

    Possibility is mental masturbation bullshit. Real evidence is gold. Where is your citations????

  71. David Chapman says

    93
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I noticed no link to the peer reviewed scientific literature on cognitive gender differences.

    I suspect this translates roughly as: “I didn’t take the trouble to read what this guy wrote properly, I just glanced at it and decided what it probably was saying, and that there was no scientific evidence cited in support of what I think it’s saying. So, harhar, another easy victim to attack. No citations! Enemy of science!”

    It’s easier than thinking, I suppose. If you had read it properly, you would have realised I’m talking about something different. I don’t even have an opinion about whether there are innate gender differences with regard to science, so I’m hardly going to start talking about evidence for an opinion I don’t hold. So either try to understand what I wrote, ( to the extent of your ability ), or go away.

  72. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So either try to understand what I wrote, ( to the extent of your ability ), or go away.

    So, either show the differences are genetic and meaningful, given the plasticity of the human brain, or show that any differences are merely due to cultural biases, or shut the fuck up, as you meanderings are meaningless…..

  73. says

    David Chapman:

    I suspect this translates roughly as: “I didn’t take the trouble to read what this guy wrote properly, I just glanced at it and decided what it probably was saying, and that there was no scientific evidence cited in support of what I think it’s saying. So, harhar, another easy victim to attack. No citations! Enemy of science!”

    No, I don’t think this is the correct translation of Nerd’s comments.

    You said:

    But when you start making merry with the concept of the effects of ovaries on computer programming, you are committing a very real intellectual misdemeanour. You are refusing to take the possibility of cognitive gender differences seriously. And that’s not the way to deal with this question. As I’ve just been pointing out, there are good reasons to think that the differences between the sexes go up higher than that.

    Ok, let’s take it that this is possible. Where’s your evidence? You’re the one putting for the question. You even assert that there are good reasons to hold this opinion. What are these good reasons, and are they backed by evidence?

    But if we don’t treat the possibility that there are differences in the way that the different sexes think with the respect it surely merits, our approach not just to this question, but to the whole human phenomenon has gone seriously wrong. And this is no small matter.

    So we should remain agnostic about this possibility, rather than ask for evidence that it is a reasonable opinion to hold, and one backed by evidence?
    It sounds none too different from the agnostic position on god, which I despise. Which way does the evidence currently point? What position does it currently support?

    Since you put forth that there is a very real possibility that there are innate genetic differences between men and women and that these differences are meaningful, it’s on you to provide supporting evidence for that. So Nerd’s response to you is perfectly valid.

    It’s easier than thinking, I suppose. If you had read it properly, you would have realised I’m talking about something different. I don’t even have an opinion about whether there are innate gender differences with regard to science, so I’m hardly going to start talking about evidence for an opinion I don’t hold. So either try to understand what I wrote, ( to the extent of your ability ), or go away.

    In this case, I see little distinction between you saying “this is my opinion” and “I think this is possible”. Again, “I think it’s possible god exists, but it’s not my opinion that he/she/it does”. If it’s possible, where’s the evidence? If there’s no evidence, or insufficient evidence, then discount the possibility until such time as evidence turns up. Then reassess beliefs.

  74. says

    David Chapman (Pedants R Us) #92

    And ( I can also hardly stress too stressly ) we are not necessarily talking about differences in aptitude, but possible differences in propensities, the idea that women and men frequently have different inclinations with regard to things such as science, being influenced by this difference in expression.

    Tell you what, let’s first remove all the obvious societal barriers to women’s advancement; then, if you still feel the urge to, we can get all pedantic about any possible outliers on the bell curve which, if they exist at all, are currently being swamped by those artificial barriers.

  75. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DC, what is the difference between mentally wanking possible, and reality? Answer, hard scientific evidence. One of the severe problems with evo-psych is the inability to differentiate between genetic “adaptations” and cultural “adaptations”. Given the short history of humans, and their reliance on culture, the latter is much more likely than the former. Which is why evidence is needed to be done well enough to separate the two, and show there is a real genetic difference in thinking that it is absolutely noticeable, and not just cultural differences as many of us scientists feel is the null hypothesis, and can be cured by changing our culture.
    So links please….

  76. chigau (違う) says

    David Chapman
    That rotten PZ.
    He’s always startling, surprising, disappointing you.
    Yet you keep reading.
    And telling us what you think.
    Bless your heart.
    oh
    and
    Did you know that “sex” and “gender” are not equivalent terms?

  77. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    David Chapman, your hypothesis is that women are (through some unknown mechanism) substantially different from men in a psychological sense, and especially are less capable in the sciences.

    Okay – so your evidence is that in societies where women are traditionally barred from education (higher education or any education) in general and the scientific communities (where knowledge is discussed) in particular, women aren’t well represented amongst the scientific glitterati?

    What about societies where women aren’t denied access and where girls aren’t dissuaded – subtly and overtly – from pursuing science? What happens there?

    You kinda need that other data set to accept or reject the null hypothesis.

  78. chigau (違う) says

    And there’s always
    XX = woman
    XY = man
    and no other possibilities.
    because that’s how the RealWorld® works.

  79. dianne says

    Note that DC actually has a fairly specific hypothesis, i.e. that lyonization leads to differences in cognitive function and specifically to cognitive functions important to scientific work. Ok. It’s a hypothesis. So what’s the evidence? Which genes related to brain growth or intellectual function are carried on the Y chromosome? How do different polymorphisms affect cognitive function? What characteristics are important for an interest and ability in science? How are they affected by different polymorphisms in the identified genes? These are the sorts of questions that one asks in science and one would have to answer in order for the hypothesis to be taken seriously. So far, I can’t say that I’m impressed by DC’s response to these sorts of questions. Perhaps men just can’t do science.

  80. dianne says

    But if we don’t treat the possibility that there are differences in the way that the different sexes think with the respect it surely merits

    And how much respect does it merit? Is it an interesting or important hypothesis? If so, why? Is it highly probable? Are the presumed differences highly significant? Are the social implications important? In short, why should we care? (Yes, this is a very important question to be able to answer in science. What do you think review committees judge based on anyway?)

  81. Anri says

    No, no, you guys, you’ve got David Chapman all wrong.
    He has no opinion, no axe to grind, no point of view.* He’s Just Asking Questions™.
    Questions that need to be asked, and – more to the point – have never been asked by anyone in all of science before this!

    The fact that asking these same old tired utterly unique questions makes him sound exactly like your garden variety sexist is just a perception error on your part. And mine. And everyone’s.

    (*A real nowhere man, I’d say. …I’ll get me coat.)

  82. David Chapman says

    The trouble with you lot ( i.e., the present respondents to my post ) is that you want to think in flocks.
    I’m afraid there’s not a great deal I can add to what I replied to Nerd of Redhead’s ‘interpretation.’

    As I’ve just been pointing out, there are good reasons to think that the differences between the sexes go up higher than that.

    Ok, let’s take it that this is possible. Where’s your evidence? You’re the one putting for the question. You even assert that there are good reasons to hold this opinion. What are these good reasons, and are they backed by evidence?

    The clue is in the words Tony. In what I explicitly write in sentences, on the screen. As I have just been pointing out, I say, referring to the different genetic expression in male and female brains I have just been talking about.

    Please, just read my posted reply to Nerd. I don’t have an opinion on this matter. How difficult can it be to absorb that information? My initial post is all about the fact that it seems to me, Professor Myers is close-minded on this issue. That’s the only opinion I hold that’s related to this topic, anywhere in my conscious mind. Simple as that.

    So we should remain agnostic about this possibility, rather than ask for evidence that it is a reasonable opinion to hold, and one backed by evidence?

    Where’s the bit where I say I hate evidence, evidence is for losers, don’t show me any evidence, evidence is borrrring? By all means assess the evidence, by all means hold one opinion or another, but ( I’m saying ), don’t obscure the issue with irrelevant rhetoric about ovaries and computer programming.

    In this case, I see little distinction between you saying “this is my opinion” and “I think this is possible”.

    That doesn’t make sense. It’s a flat contradiction. The words mean different things.
    How could there be exceptions for ‘this case’?

    Again, “I think it’s possible god exists, but it’s not my opinion that he/she/it does”. If it’s possible, where’s the evidence? If there’s no evidence, or insufficient evidence, then discount the possibility until such time as evidence turns up. Then reassess beliefs.

    But in the meantime, whatever the political and social implications, don’t make one of the possibilities a non-possibility by despising it, and ridiculing it with non-scientific, rhetorical arguments, so that no-one will take it seriously.
    That sentence, immediately proceeding this one, is the essence of my entire rationale here.

    You’re seguing into the discussion of agnosticism with regard to gods, which I won’t follow you into here. Different question. Although I dare say we’ll come up again shortly. As it happens, I am an agnostic as to the existence of ‘God’ or ‘gods.’
    – Although atheist about the conventional conceptions of God, which are starkly ludicrous.
    It appears Tony! despises this. Ohno! I’ll have to hang my head in shame…..
    Alternatively he could just flock off.

    As for the brain issue: The actual situation, as you all know, and are possibly uncomfortable with, is that there are real intellectual benefits in many situations from keeping an open mind. ( Tony! appears to acknowledge this but fails to recognize that there is, ergo, room for agreement in our approaches. )

    Yes Tony! that’s exactly my position.
    I AM AN AGNOSTIC ON THIS ISSUE!
    …but since I said that in my first reply, and since I never suggested otherwise, I wonder if there’s any point in repeating myself incessantly.

    97
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Tell you what, let’s first remove all the obvious societal barriers to women’s advancement;

    Let’s remove the societal barriers to everyone’s advancement, starting with education. I believe I also wrote that the established order likes to oppress women….? Either you don’t want to go to the trouble of reading my post, or you’re counting on people reading yours in preference to my much longer one. Which is fairly crass.

    100
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    David Chapman, your hypothesis is that women are (through some unknown mechanism) substantially different from men in a psychological sense, and especially are less capable in the sciences.

    No. My point is that the physical differences between men and women are not restricted to their gonads, so why is PZ talking about the relationship between ovaries and computer programming? I’m not advancing any hypothesis in the sense you mean. I raise the example of genetic expression in the brain because it is a good example of this. Professor Myers rhetoric would seek to make the whole question a non-question, because it attempts to depict the idea that female brains are significantly different in these matters as ridiculous. That’s not a good way to find out whether they are or not.

    101
    chigau (違う)

    And there’s always
    XX = woman
    XY = man
    and no other possibilities.
    because that’s how the RealWorld® works.

    I must ask everyone to just stick to misreading what I wrote, Chigau. It gets too complicated if you all start misreading what I left out as well.

  83. David Chapman says

    104
    Anri

    No, no, you guys, you’ve got David Chapman all wrong.
    He has no opinion, no axe to grind, no point of view.* He’s Just Asking Questions™.
    Questions that need to be asked, and – more to the point – have never been asked by anyone in all of science before this!

    The fact that asking these same old tired utterly unique questions makes him sound exactly like your garden variety sexist is just a perception error on your part. And mine. And everyone’s.

    Anri, you’re running two different things into each other there.
    First type perception: Language comprehension. This lot do have puzzling problems here, in thinking that I had said hold an opinion on the initial question. I don’t, and it is genuinely odd that people kept thinking I did, even after I said explicitly I didn’t and pointed out that I had said no such thing.

    Second type perception: Does raising these tired old questions at all, make me sound sexist? In the environment of this blog, of course it does. It’s almost a truism of psychology that I’m going to sound sexist doing that.
    That’s why someone has to do it.

  84. dianne says

    It’s almost a truism of psychology that I’m going to sound sexist doing that.
    That’s why someone has to do it.

    Oh, I see. You’re taking the hit for all of us asking The Questions That Must Be Asked. Quite the martyr, you are. But have you ever considered these questions: Why do you sound sexist? And why is it that “someone has to do it”? Again, I’ll ask you: Why is this an interesting or important question? It may be either true or false that Lyonization leads to differences in brain function. So what? Many, many things influence brain function. Why must this dubious correlation be investigated exhaustively, even after good evidence suggests that the null hypothesis is correct? What makes the question so important? Imagine I’m your funding committee. How do you convince me that someone has to ask–and answer–your question?

  85. says

    David Chapman:

    The trouble with you lot ( i.e., the present respondents to my post ) is that you want to think in flocks.

    Oh gee, another assertion. Proof?
    Is it because we agree with one another on stuff? I don’t get this notion that because people agree on subjects=they think in flocks.

    That doesn’t make sense. It’s a flat contradiction. The words mean different things.
    How could there be exceptions for ‘this case’?

    This case? The one at hand? It’s about the idea that there’s a biological basis for meaningful differences in cognitive functions between men and women. That’s the case I’m talking about. And in this case, you said you don’t have an opinion on the subject, yet turn around and say “don’t dismiss it”. That’s having an opinion. Why? Because it’s your opinion that there is some value to not dismissing some biological basis for meaningful cognitive differences between men and women. You don’t provide any evidence for this possibility, yet you want to remain open to it. Why? Just because?

  86. says

    David Chapman:

    I don’t, and it is genuinely odd that people kept thinking I did, even after I said explicitly I didn’t and pointed out that I had said no such thing.

    You think that the premise there is a biological basis for meaningful cognitive distinctions between men and women should not be rejected because you think it is possible. That’s expressing an opinion.

  87. dianne says

    The trouble with you lot ( i.e., the present respondents to my post ) is that you want to think in flocks.

    Ooh, I missed this one earlier. There is an alternate hypothesis which would explain the finding, i.e. that many people wrote in disagreement with your premise and to request that you provide data to back your assertion, namely, that you’re talking complete nonsense and so, of course, “flocks” of people disagree with you. If I were to say, “The sun goes around the earth, not the other way around” then I might expect that “flocks” of people would disagree with me or, at the very least, ask for evidence to support my belief. Even if I sincerely held this belief, I must realize that it is non-mainstream and therefore expect people to challenge it. If I got insulted instead and complained that the only reason people were asking me for evidence is that they thought in “flocks” I would be pretty much abandoning any chance that I’d be taken seriously be actual scientists.

  88. says

    David Chapman #105

    Either you don’t want to go to the trouble of reading my post, or you’re counting on people reading yours in preference to my much longer one. Which is fairly crass.

    I read it. I merely found your emphasis (literally: you used the <strong> tag make that emphasis) on possible biological factors, which if they exist at all are likely to be miniscule compared to societal factors, distasteful.

    I’ll thank you not to make assumptions about my reading habits or intentions.

  89. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It is surely possible that this ( rather cool ) aspect of women’s bodies has an effect on the activities of their brains, since their brains must also be structured in this way.

    Of course it’s possible, you stupid sack of shit, now explain IN DETAIL why you think “it’s not impossible, at least not the way square circles are” is interchangeable with “it should be posited.”

    Jesus Mythical Fucking Christ I’m tired of that little slight-of-mind sleight-of-hand.

  90. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    And no, don’t even fucking pretend you’re not trying to assert it. You wouldn’t be running your mouth, at this length, at this late date, at this dearth of supporting and deluge of contradictory evidence, with this level of superciliousness, if you weren’t trying to smuggle in an assertion you know you can’t actually defend.

  91. David Chapman says

    I believe I owe everyone an apology.

    That fracas above was my fault. I thought that in the first post I wrote that I’d simply been raising the idea of the effects of genetic expression just as a notion, a thought experiment,in order to get across the argument I wanted to make. I didn’t realise untill much later that enthusiasm had got the better of me, and when I was explaining the idea I did believe in it, or at least I was wanting to believe it. And that that comes across in what I wrote.
    I should have described the possible implications of this Lyons phenomenon more carefully, and that would have damped down any enthusiasm, since I knew perfectly well even at that point that I have no way of knowing what sort of effects, if any, the phenomenon might have on cognition. I was hoping in fact some of you might have some suggestions, but the discussion didn’t turn out like that, and it’s down to me that it didn’t.

    Sorry. When I was defending myself against your criticisms, I was convinced that I was in the right of the argument, because I’d reverted to the normal attitude I have about this issue: that I’m agnostic. ( A lot of you are plainly of the opinion that this agnosticism is wrong-headed as well. I’d prefer to leave any discussion for another occasion, but I would like to know more about your reasons for holding that opinion so firmly. ) And worse, I managed to convince myself that I had expressed this neutral position when I wrote the idea down in the first place. And it seemed to me that people didn’t want to hear the idea at all and were therefore merely imagining that I thought it was likely to be true. The aberration was mine unfortunately; I imagined I was being consistent in my thinking.

    The aggressive and pompous insults I handed out were merely self-defence in my own mind, because I couldn’t understand the anger and criticism I was attracting. I would have done better to have gone back and re-read what I’d actually written, instead of abusively asserting that no-one else had read it properly. At some level I knew that I’d gone over the top in setting down the original idea, and I didn’t want to admit it.

    I can also see that people were right to be angry or offended, when someone claims plausibility for a contentious issue like that without presenting some damn good evidence that might support it. I was in denial about what my first post was actually saying, so I didn’t get that either.

    Again, apologies.

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