Re: IQ and Testosterone?

Larry Caldwell (
Mon, 02 Sep 1996 03:18:26 -0700

In article <>,
Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
> Larry Caldwell wrote:
> > > > (Bryant) wrote:

> > > >> And MRI data show that
> > > >>men and women use different parts of their brains to do the same tasks.
> > > >>But I've also seen fine science done by female brains, and agree with you
> > > >>that telling women not to bother is unfortunate.

> > This sort of prejudice only arises from the innumeracy of the general
> > public and their inability to understand statistics. Statistical
> > knowledge of a population conveys *no* information about an individual
> > member of that population. Thus, you have Ada, Lady Lovelace single

[ ... ]

> > The individual is never bound by statistics.

> Wow, talk about jumping to conclusions! Which "prejudice" do you
> disagree with:

> * that "MRI data show that men and women use different parts of their
> brains to do the same tasks," or

Yep. That's a load of horseshit, pseudoscientific simplification foisted
upon the ignorant to justify prejudice. In fact, some men and some women
use different parts of their brains for different purposes, and the
variation can be profound within the same sex and altered by training.

For instance, I'm left handed and speak three languages, two of which I
learned after puberty. As I'm sure you're quite aware, a study of the
active metabolic centers in my brain would be much more similar to a
woman with common characteristics than to a man who was right handed and

> * "I've also seen fine science done by female brains"

Actually, I was referring to those who tell women not to bother. The
talent of an individual is not determined in any way by statistical
analysis of a population.

> Also, although this is a complete red herring as far as I can tell,
> statistical knowledge of a population *does* convey information about an
> individual member of that population -- in particular, probabilistic
> information. For example, in a race between a tortise and a hare, where
> would you put your money? You know nothing of the *particular* tortise
> and the *particular* hare, but you have a lot of information about the
> likely outcome.

Yep, the tortoise wins every time, right? In fact, you are falling into
a common fallacy. Probabilistic information about a population is only
valid if you have a statistically valid sample. An individual is not
a statistically valid sample. Therefore, statistical information about
a population conveys no information about an individual. I know, I
responded the same way when I first studied statistics. There is a
mind set that automatically leads to generalization and prejudice, but
it is wrong. I'm not just talking morally wrong, I mean it gives the
wrong results.

> BTW, in my humble opinion the historical role of Ada Lovelace in
> inventing the "science" (actually, it's an art) of computer programming
> is way overblown. I think it's safe to say that her work had absolutely
> no influence whatsoever on it's development, but is merely an
> interesting historical footnote. Grace Hopper was a far more
> influential figure.

True, the work of Ada Lovelace was discarded and discounted, but that
does not diminish the fact that she invented conditional branching,
developed mechanical algorithms for solving simultaneous linear equations
with unlimited variables, and quadratic equations. She did it all by
logical analysis without an operating computer to test and develop her
work, in a society that consigned her to the role of useless ornament.

Grace Hopper had the advantage of a computer that actually had been built,
and a military establishment that employed her full time to do the work.

Both women illustrate the utter nonsense of choosing careers based on
statistical data. Our entire society seems to act as though a small
statistical discrepancy is somehow determinant. Well, it's wrong.
Mistaken. Misinformed.

-- Larry