April 25, 2005


His Brain, Her Brain: It turns out that male and female brains differ quite a bit in architecture and activity. Research into these variations could lead to sex-specific treatments for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia (Larry Cahill, April 2005, Scientific American)

On a gray day in mid-January, Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard University, suggested that innate differences in the build of the male and female brain might be one factor underlying the relative scarcity of women in science. His remarks reignited a debate that has been smoldering for a century, ever since some scientists sizing up the brains of both sexes began using their main finding--that female brains tend to be smaller--to bolster the view that women are intellectually inferior to men.

To date, no one has uncovered any evidence that anatomical disparities might render women incapable of achieving academic distinction in math, physics or engineering. And the brains of men and women have been shown to be quite clearly similar in many ways. Nevertheless, over the past decade investigators have documented an astonishing array of structural, chemical and functional variations in the brains of males and females.

These inequities are not just interesting idiosyncrasies that might explain why more men than women enjoy the Three Stooges. They raise the possibility that we might need to develop sex-specific treatments for a host of conditions, including depression, addiction, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, the differences imply that researchers exploring the structure and function of the brain must take into account the sex of their subjects when analyzing their data--and include both women and men in future studies or risk obtaining misleading results.

The problem with the whole conversation is that it assumes that the obvious differences mean the two sexes are unequal. In reality, they are just better suited to different tasks, which is why we are only whole within a marriage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2005 8:54 AM

Differences do mean inequality. They just don't mean that superiority at specific tasks justifies claiming overall superiority. A > B doesn't necessarily mean that A > B.

Posted by: Brandon at April 25, 2005 11:43 AM

Equal to what?

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2005 11:51 AM

The left believes that the differences between men and women are social constructs rather than understanding that the mores of traditional society are in fact biological constructs developed naturally over time. According to Marx, of course, all is class war based on antagonisms and conspiracies. Non-stories will continue to be news until Marxist analysis is no more.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 25, 2005 12:22 PM

Equal to each other. My equation didn't come out right. It's supposed to be A not equal to B does not necessarily mean that A is greater than B. Nor could I determine that B is greater than A.

Posted by: Brandon at April 25, 2005 12:42 PM

Tom: That's a little unfair. Marx was nuts, but he wasn't a radical feminist.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 25, 2005 12:43 PM


Thereby disproving your own point.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2005 12:46 PM


The only resistance to common sense in the world today is Marxist analysis applied to everything. Nothing is as it seems.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 25, 2005 1:18 PM

The dogma that Tom notes, that of the tabula rasa, seems to be extremely important to the left. I wonder why that is?

Posted by: toot at April 25, 2005 1:27 PM

Tabula rasa (blank slate)is crucial to the left because it assumes that there is no such thing as human nature or innate patterns of thought. If tabula rasa is true, then liberals could easily change thousands of years of behavior (e.g. gay marriage, socialism, etc.) in one generation. Conservatives believe that change is hard and slow exactly because we assume that human nature is real and mostly constant.

Posted by: David Rothman at April 25, 2005 2:22 PM


That does not disprove my own point. I proves that if all you know is that two things are not equal, you cannot conclude that one is superior to the other.

Posted by: Brandon at April 25, 2005 2:41 PM


Posted by: oj at April 25, 2005 2:46 PM

So this pope dude is shy a few bricks?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 25, 2005 3:30 PM


Posted by: oj at April 25, 2005 3:41 PM

It is curious, isn't it, that the Darwinists ... of all people ... deny the existence of those natural differences. Amusing as hell, actually.

Remember, though, that the diffences are between two sets (female, male) and that there is considerable variation among individuals in each group. To the extent that a particular woman may be more "masculine" ... at least in some respects ... than a particular man. Obverse also holds.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 25, 2005 7:24 PM

Their reasons are both scientific and political. In the first case, no trait can be enduring. In the second, if disparities are natural then belief in Nature justifies the corresponding inequities.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2005 7:30 PM

It's the same reason most people of the Urban Darwinist Left really don't like Nature very much. They love their romanticized narrative of Nature, not the mixed bag of beauty and violence that is the reality.

"Savage" is not just a neutral noun following the adjective "noble".

Posted by: ghostcat at April 25, 2005 7:48 PM