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.


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
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