Re: Gender differences

Gerold Firl (
24 May 1995 13:16:46 -0700

In article <3ptsa5$> (Mary Beth Williams) writes:

>Although I remember that a few of the responses (in the Arch-L debate)
>were reactionary, most were well thought out and very valid. The
>entire debate is archived on WWW on the Arch-L archive... I can get you
>the address if you're truly interested (the debate went on for weeks).
>In addition, if I recall correctly, most of the more viceral responses
>sprung from an unquestioning assertion by the original poster that such
>findings were along the lines of *innate, hereditary aspects of human
>capability* and thus hard, scientific facts.

I was referring to the comments posted here, in sci.anthro. I haven't seen
any of the Arch-L debate, but I can well believe that it took place on a
more objective level than what passes for debate on usenet.

Hard scientific facts need not not relate only to innate, hereditary
aspects of human capability.

Here is one of the tests reported in the article I referred to. (It was in
the special issue on the brain, of which one article was devoted to
gender-based differences. I would guess that it was september of 93 or 94;
sorry about the fuzzy reference.)

A table was scattered with small objects, and the subject was allowed to
look at the table for a few seconds. The table was then covered, and the
subject was asked to name as many of the objects as possible. Women scored
about .5sigma higher than men on this test. Women also did better when
asked to name as many words as possible starting with the letter a (or any
other letter, for that matter.) Perhaps it's a failure of my imagination,
but I tend to view these as tests which are relatively immune to
socialization. If gender-based acculturation has somehow produced these
kinds of cognitive differences, then these are very subtle effects indeed.
In fact, to claim that these results stem from cultural sex-roles requires
a major leap of faith, seeing as how we already know that there are
physical differences between the sexes which are genotypically specified.

>In addition, I would recommend that in the future, if you choose to
>cite controversial findings (or anyone else's work, for that matter),
>proper citation of sources would be in order, don't you think?

In principle, yes, but I'm afraid that in practise it would take too much
time for me to fully reference my ramblings. If I was writting for
publication, that would be different, but in this forum, where the free,
fast, and open exchange of ideas is the main benefit, such meticulousness
seems excessive. If it's important to you, I'd be happy to check however.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf