Science denial won’t end sexism


EXCERPT: . . . Not a week goes by without yet another research study, popular science book, or mainstream news article promoting the idea that (-a-) any differences between men and women in the brain are purely socially constructed and (-b-) these differences have been exaggerated beyond any meaningful relevance. More recently, this argument has evolved to contend that (-c-) there are, in fact, no brain differences between the sexes at all. Eliot’s article appears to subscribe to a hodgepodge of all three perspectives, which not only contradict one another but are also factually incorrect.

So begins the book review, titled, “Neurosexism: The myth that men and women have different brains.” “Neurosexism,” a term coined by philosopher of science, Cordelia Fine, brands as “sexist” any claim that sex differences in the brain have a bearing on our personalities and behavior. From this line of thinking, wanting to understand these differences from a scientific point of view is inherently suspect—“bad neuroscience” and “bad research practice,” in the words of Eliot—because only sexists and those seeking to subjugate women would presumably be interested in them.

It is a tired argument that incorrectly conflates the potential for bad applications of a research finding with the finding itself. We can acknowledge that male and female brains have differences in structure and function, on average, without subscribing to the belief that one sex is better than the other.

Eliot writes, “Rippon’s central message is that ‘a gendered world will produce a gendered brain,’” but also that “conclusive findings about sex-linked brain differences have failed to materialize.” Furthermore, in an interview with the Guardian, Rippon says it is “neurofoolishness” to suggest there are any brain differences associated with sex.

[...] How anyone familiar with the neuroscientific literature can argue this with a straight face is puzzling. Even if we were to neglect the thousands of studies documenting the effects of prenatal testosterone on the developing brain, we can look no further than the largest neuroimaging study examining sex differences to date, published just last year in Cerebral Cortex. In a sample of 5,216 brains, the study found significant differences between the sexes. The amygdala, a region associated with appraising emotion, was larger in men, even when men’s larger overall brain size was taken into consideration. Another study, published last month in Nature’s very own Scientific Reports, found sex differences in grey matter volume among 2,838 participants....

Then this guy is only attempting a genetic fallacy (ad hom), where he impugns the motives of detractors in order to avoid addressing the actual science. It's anti-science, ideological nonsense.

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