The science is unsettled

When I was growing up, feminism ran with the line that males and females were in all respects identical so that different outcomes were proof of sexism. And so far as I could see, unless men and women were identical in all important respects, then differential outcomes could not be sheeted home to bias but might just be how things are. And then there was Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus which basically said that men and women were different which, to my amazement, no one objected to, but which seemed to ruin the narrative. And now just today, this: Proof that girls and boys are born to be different: Controversial study finds that brain differences between the sexes begin in the womb.

In a scientific first, researchers claim to have found that differences between men’s and women’s brains start in the womb.

The conclusion is likely to be controversial, with some experts claiming social influences are more important.

But scientists who did brain scans of 118 foetuses in the second half of pregnancy to analyse the links between gender and the connectivity of a developing brain believe the differences are biological.

Well, how unexpected is that! Not the conclusion, of course, but that it was ever published.

Plus this, if common sense is your kind of thing.

To which may be added this: Denying the Neuroscience of Sex Differences which many are prone to do. From the article:

For decades neuroscience, like most research areas, overwhelmingly studied only males, assuming that everything fundamental to know about females would be learned by studying males. I know — I did this myself early in my career. Most neuroscientists assumed that differences between males and females, if they exist at all, are not fundamental, that is, not essential for understanding brain structure or function. Instead, we assumed that sex differences result from undulating sex hormones (typically viewed as a sort of pesky feature of the female), and/or from different life experiences (“culture”). In either case, they were dismissable in our search for the fundamental. In truth, it was always a strange assumption, but so it was.

Gradually however, and inexorably, we neuroscientists are seeing just how profoundly wrong — and in fact disproportionately harmful to women — that assumption was, especially in the context of understanding and treating brain disorders. Any reader wishing to confirm what I am writing can easily start by perusing online the January/February 2017 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, the first ever of any neuroscience journal devoted to the topic of sex differences in its entirety. All 70 papers, spanning the neuroscience spectrum, are open access to the public. 

I can also now see how all of this has ended up being published since not recognising that these differences exist is “in fact disproportionately harmful to women”. Without that, there is no way these conclusions could have seen the light of day, as the author notes himself.

But the remarkable and unprecedented growth in research demonstrating biologically-based sex influences on brain function triggered 5-alarm fire bells in those who believe that such biological influences cannot exist.

Since Simone de Beauvoir in the early 1950s famously asserted that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” and John Money at Johns Hopkins shortly thereafter introduced the term “gender” (borrowed from linguistics) to avoid the biological implications of the word “sex,” a belief that no meaningful differences exist in the brains of women and men has dominated U.S. culture. And God help you if you suggest otherwise! Gloria Steinem once called sex differences research “anti-American crazy thinking.” Senior colleagues warned me as an untenured professor around the year 2000 that studying sex differences would be career suicide. This new book by Rippon marks the latest salvo by a very small but vocal group of anti-sex difference individuals determined to perpetuate this cultural myth.

So, it is now clear that if you want to promote some idea, you have to show it conforms to some major cultural myth of the left. How’s this: “free markets are the most important ingredient in a socialist economy”.

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