Male & female brain differences – Must we keep doing this? (neurosci op-ed)

#1
C C Offline
https://cosmicshambles.com/words/blogs/d...ale-brains

EXCERPT: A recently released study from the university of Cambridge claims to show that male and female brains are clearly very different. [...] men tend to be more analytical and ‘systemic’ while women tend to be more emotional and empathetic [...] I know this, because I was on Sky News being interviewed about it earlier today (at time of writing). Those who saw my interview will probably have noticed that I am not exactly supportive of the study or its findings.

In fairness, it’s not the first study to conclude that male and female brains are different based on questionable data. Nor is this the first time I’ve argued against such efforts. And yet, here we are, caught in another press cycle that provides needless ammunition to the battle of the sexes.

So, what’s wrong with this particular study? Quite a few things, as it happens. But there are also some major issues with the ways it’s being reported. Here’s a basic rundown, from my perspective....

It doesn’t look at brains, at all [...] All the data collected was obtained via questionnaires, usually no longer than ten agree/disagree questions long. [...]

Hefty study, minimal applications [...] Basically, even if you got as many as 100 million men and women to toss a coin, you couldn’t use this data to show one sex is better with financial issues.

Nature vs nurture, again - The researchers in the press release do confirm that the data from their study doesn’t actually reveal what the cause of the sex differences demonstrated. It could be genetic, it could be hormonal, it could be influences and pressures from the culture in which we develop.

The questionable motivations [...] this study appears to be led by [...those....] responsible for both the empathising-systemising theory of brain function, and the ‘Extreme Male Brain’ theory of autism. The press coverage of this study states that it provides clear evidence to support both these theories. What an incredible coincidence! [...]

The depressing, inevitable fallout - Thing is, even if it’s proven that this whole thing was more about making headlines than any actual scientific merit, then it’s succeeded on that front. [...] very few other people are going to dig into the minutiae. They’ll just see the ‘men have more analytical brains’ headlines and soundbites and take this is proof of their existing sexist assumptions and prejudices. I’ve already seen it being presented as proving the point of James Damore, that chinless ‘Women Can’t Code’ dipshit fired from Google. The fact that women invented coding seems to escape a lot of people, so arguing that female brains aren’t good at it is like arguing the Wright Brother’s had brains that couldn’t understand flight. [...]

MORE (details): https://cosmicshambles.com/words/blogs/d...ale-brains

RELATED: https://www.scivillage.com/thread-6397-post-24854.html
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#2
Yazata Offline
This thing that CC posted completely caricaturizes what otherwise looks like an interesting article. The actual paper can be found here:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/11/06/1811032115

I've often wondered about what seems to me to be a relationship between mathematical talent and autism. And I've speculated that whatever causes autism is what, in lesser doses, produces the sort of psychological abilities that result in mathematical talent. Too much though, and you end up with the severely-disabled idiot-savant types. So arguably, there may be selective pressures both for and against these kind of mental abilities.

And much as noting it might cause uncontrollable ranting, both mathematical talent and autism seem to be more prevalent in males than females. So at least statistically, whatever might be behind it could very well be sex-linked to some degree.
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#3
Syne Offline
Wow, what I nakedly and vehemently biased op-ed.

These eggheads need to get out and just meet more people, men and women. Then sex differences might not be such a mystery and surprise.
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#4
RainbowUnicorn Offline
(Nov 16, 2018 04:31 AM)Yazata Wrote: This thing that CC posted completely caricaturizes what otherwise looks like an interesting article. The actual paper can be found here:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/11/06/1811032115

I've often wondered about what seems to me to be a relationship between mathematical talent and autism. And I've speculated that whatever causes autism is what, in lesser doses, produces the sort of psychological abilities that result in mathematical talent. Too much though, and you end up with the severely-disabled idiot-savant types. So arguably, there may be selective pressures both for and against these kind of mental abilities.

And much as noting it might cause uncontrollable ranting, both mathematical talent and autism seem to be more prevalent in males than females. So at least statistically, whatever might be behind it could very well be sex-linked to some degree.

Quote:both mathematical talent and autism seem to be more prevalent in males than females

wow !

now start discussing your ideas around male pregnancy
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#5
Secular Sanity Offline
C C has posted studies before that indicate that females with autism may be better at camouflaging and blending in than their male counterparts. Maybe females just mask their difficulties more effectively than males.

https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/de...ng-autism/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/signs-of-...rls-260304

I’m definitely not on the spectrum, but I am shy, and I do hide my interests. It’s as if you have to have a reason to be interested in physics and I don't. My books were starting to create uncomfortable social situations for me. People were even grabbing them out of my hands to see what I was reading. Nobody likes to be thought of as a weirdo. I started removing all of my dust jackets because it’s easier to hide just the title on the spine.

I’ve found a few hidden gems—used books stores in the city that I love. There’s this one guy that’s always there and I’m pretty sure he’s high on the spectrum. He’s always excited to see me to show off all the books that he scored before I got there. He loves math and he knows all about each mathematician and their personal lives. He loves that Russian one, Grigori Perelman, who refused the prize money and the eccentric Paul Erdős. He’s really stubborn, though. I’ve tried many times to convince him to trade with me, or to let me buy some of the books that he has in his hand, but he always refuses. He will talk non-stop about the things that he knows about, and he’ll answer any questions that I have, but he won’t listen to a word of what I have to say. Now, I'll agree that this little character flaw might be just pure "maleness". Wink Big Grin
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#7
Secular Sanity Offline
(Nov 17, 2018 01:16 AM)confused2 Wrote: Prison population must say a lot - actually not so much as I thought - subtract drug offences - subtract a tendency to put non-white males in prison and.. well something.
https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/sta...gender.jsp

AGGRESSION: STILL A STRONGER TRAIT FOR MALES

Why, though, C2? Testosterone?

I don’t know. I don’t think we’d attract very many males if we displayed aggressive behavior, do you? You would, though.

My father used to tell me, "There’s always going to be someone that doesn’t like you." Do you know what he told my brother?
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#8
Syne Offline
Why male aggression? Evolutionary necessity.

Aggression is not an attractive trait in women because it has no evolutionary imperative for them.
Females being more valuable to reproduction, there's just zero reason for them to ever take on such risks.
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#9
confused2 Offline
They used to say, by whom and when is not known to me, but what they said was that wars are won by women - to win a war you need soldiers - lots of 'em.

The most agressive (child) gets to lead the gang - been there - done that (I was about 10) - is this not also true of girls?

SS Wrote:I don’t know. I don’t think we’d attract very many males if we displayed aggressive behavior, do you? You would, though.
Is the entire object of female culture to attract males? I make the implicit assumption that there exists male culture and female culture and they may or may not be the same - if they are not the the same then when how and in what way do they diverge?

A randomly chosen male parent says to the girl:-
"There will always be people who don't like you."
and to the boy:-
"There will always be people you don't like."

Subtle. Is it significant?
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#10
Secular Sanity Offline
(Nov 18, 2018 12:05 PM)confused2 Wrote: A randomly chosen male parent says to the girl:-
"There will always be people who don't like you."
and to the boy:-
"There will always be people you don't like."

Subtle. Is it significant?

I think so. Self-control vs. controlling others.
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