Since I don't want to overpost, let me just respond to all of this briefly.
Phil started this thread by posting a news story in the NYT about a paper in
Science that appears to contradict notions that women are more talkative
than men.  The news story quotes a coauthor as follows:

  --Despite flaw, says lead author, Matthias R. Mehl, University of Arizona
psychologist, "Our paper puts to rest the idea that the female brain evolved
to be talkative and the male brain evolved to be reticent.

Can we be honest and admit that because of our politics we have a tendency
to take this conclusion more seriously than if the paper had come to the
opposite conclusion, in which case many of us would have criticized it
mercilessly? Isn't that, in fact, why Phil posted it in the first place?
(with no criticism of Phil, who posts greatly relevant stuff, implied.)
Perhaps during the 60s and 70s, when there was an actual organization called
Science for the People, we could get away with dismissing the research
entirely as reflecting sexist biases on the part of the scientists who are
doing it, but that just doesn't cut it anymore. This is a very active
research field, and we can't just sit back as Jon suggests and say, "at this
stage of knowledge, we know nothing about what those [differences] mean for
issues of gender differences in behavior," when other researchers are
actively pursuing just that question and coming to their own
conclusions--just as the Science authors did, albeit to conclusions that we
might be sympathetic with. Meanwhile, other authors who also have PhDs are
coming to the opposite conclusion. We also can't assume that the authors of
all research papers we disagree with are sexists, racists or the like and
the authors of those we agree with nice progresives like us. We MUST take
the research seriously or risk the sad consequences of leftists existing in
some sort of parallel universe, where the overwhelming mass of research is
published in peer-reviewed journals and we sit on the sidelines with little
influence, little credibility, and little ability to persuade others of our
point of view.

best, MB

On 7/6/07, Yoshie Furuhashi <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 7/6/07, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Must the fight for equality between men and women be
> > based solely on the conclusion that there are no differences between the
> > sexes nor their brains?
> I don't think so, but the problem is not that there are differences.
> The problem is sociobiologists' assumption that there's a _huge_
> biological difference between "man" as abstraction and "woman" as
> abstraction which many of them then argue explains gender inequality
> to rationalize it.
> --
> Yoshie


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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