Re: Gender differences

Bryant (
26 May 1995 21:10:05 -0600

In article <>,
J. Moore <> wrote:
>Ge> Here is one of the tests reported in the article I referred to. (It was
>Ge> in the special issue on the brain, of which one article was devoted to
>Ge> produced these kinds of cognitive differences, then these are very
>Ge> subtle effects indeed.
>It's called "learning"; remarkable thing, you know. We do know that
>females and males are treated and taught differently from an extremely
>early age, and we know that learning and practice can produce improved
>ability in mental activities. Those tests sound like simple tests of
>memory, which you can certainly improve with practice. So it shouldn't
>take much imagination to see that it's possible for social conditioning
>to improve one's abilities at a test like that.

No, it doesn't take imagination to come up with such a reasonable
hypothesis. What disturbs me, watching social scientists from
evolutionary biology, is that such hypotheses are rarely tested, but are
rather assumed a priori (how's that for ironic wording?) to be correct.

>In fact, to claim that these results, whether cognitive or physical,
>are innate without doing that testing requires a *massive* leap of
>faith, especially when that leap appears, as in your post, to be based
>on the fact that the two human sexes have *some* physical differences.

"Innate" gets used as rather a straw man, IMHO.

Let's drop the silliness about brain and mind being separate; we know
that neurological structures influence cognitive functions. The
differences may be subtle, socially irrelevant, or important.

To assume that such effects are "innate" requires no more or less a great
leap of faith, untested, than do "learning" theories, untested. I hope
that nobody here is making such assertions. I also hope that everybody
understands that on the gross level, brain structure and behavior have
been convincingly linked. Whatever the findings, they will be utterly
irrelevant in issues of morality and/or ethics, of equality, of opportunity.