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Sex Differences in Visual Motion Processing (cell.com)
96 points by jessaustin 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

It’s improtant to remember that this study isn’t being done just to prove that men and women have different brains. It’s primarly designed to help understand neurological phenomena like Autism which are sex differentiated.

Also, this study seemed to do a good job avoiding sexist stereotyping. This is an example of the right way to do research about neurological differences between men and women.

I wasn't going to say anything, but since you brought it up:

There is evidence that autistic girls tend to go underdiagnosed and tend to be more required than boys to simply figure out the social stuff. So there are some confounding social elements there.

Having said that, I think there are gender differences and we do ourselves no favors to try to pretend they don't exist at all. Granted, it's a minefield in terms of gender politics and the like. However, I don't think "La La La not listening!" gets us safely and effectively to the other side. That minefield seems to exist anyway, whether we discuss it or not.

However, I don't think "La La La not listening!" gets us safely and effectively to the other side.

"La La La not listening!" -- is generally a symptom of a faction which is about to become the villains in the story.

It seems really strange to me to say that you can push autistic children to act non-autistic just by requiring them to figure out social stuff. I don't really know much at all about autism treatment but I had thought that it was much more involved than that. Do you have a link? I would have guessed that just pushing kids wouldn't work and that parents would be more bothered to autism-spectrum behaviors in boys than girls.

So signing th autistic community pretending to be non-autistic is called masking and it is certainly possible for lots of autistic people. However, it is exhausting. It makes it hard to get work done and leaves you totally drained at the end of the day. It’s not a fun way to go about life.

Meanwhile not participating in normal life and shutting off from the rest of the world is not fun way either. I'll take living at 80% any day over pretending to be a unicorn and shutting off from the world.

It's sort of like some people pretending being blind or death is their "culture" and thus has to be cherished. No, it's not. It's a deficiency and learning to work around it is damn nice.

Source: I'd probably be on the spectrum if I was a kid nowadays and have eye sight issues.

Autism is a spectrum. The unfortunate ones are much more delicate. But those affected less definitely can learn social stuff and get around by rationally reading other people and imitating expected/appropriate behaviour. Sort of not curable, but manageable.

Just one I pulled up and skimmed a bit:


It's not something I keep at my fingertips. I don't have any daughters.

There is always a grey zone of some bandwidth between "I simply can't do it at all" and "I just don't want it bad enough." Expecting people to just want it bad enough can do them a lot of harm, but sometimes it can (also) be the push they need to force themselves to do the hard thing and make it work, though it tends to really cost them.

When there is too much pressure to perform combined with inability to perform and lack of support for helping them perform, this can go really bad places. But, there is some truth to the idea that if you just insist X is not okay, you get more compliance, even though it is harder for some people to comply than others.

I personally think that a very large factor in the so-called autism epidemic is that society has changed. Rather than recognizing that element, we blame individual children as being defective.

Functional adults are made, not born. Humans raise our children for many years. If you don't intuitively just know social stuff works this way, some of it can be learned. It helps enormously if there is a sympathetic adult giving instruction instead of being all "And the beatings shall continue until morale improves."

My dad was nearly 41 when I was born. He was literally old enough to be my grandfather and, like most people of his era, he grew up on a farm with no TV and general lack of modern noise makers that simply didn't exist back then.

My parents both simply expected the house to be quiet so they could sleep. I moved home during my divorce and I was very struck by this.

No one diagnosed my parents with "sensory issues." No one labeled them because they expected quiet in the house. They weren't determined to be excessively sensitive noise and in need of getting over it for the convenience of other people.

They were just old and things being quiet was their norm and it was their house I was living in, so it was their rules. You have to respect that.

Life has gotten a lot noisier. People tend to live in larger cities instead of smaller communities where they need to interact with a great many more people, plus moving around is much more the norm. Life has sped up a whole lot. Etc. Etc.

But we don't go "Wait a minute. Kids used to grow up with a smaller number of social contacts in quieter surroundings with much less overall pressure. Maybe we don't simply have some unexplainable epidemic of socially defective children. Maybe the world has changed in ways that children weren't designed for."

Nope, we just assume that the ones who can't take the noise and can't rapidly adapt to high levels of change and can't cope with a jillion different people are missing something and are a nuisance requiring special accommodation.

I've made a lot of lifestyle changes to accommodate my needs and the needs of my adult sons who still live with me. I forget how impaired my oldest can be in noisy, crowded settings because we've arranged our lives where he almost never has to spend time in such settings. And he's vastly more functional than he's supposed to be capable of because I've never told him he's defective for not being a social butterfly and preferring his peace and quiet and only wanting a strong connection to close family members.

You know, kind of like his grandparents that no one thought had anything wrong with them for having such preferences.

I feel that more and more people feel that the existence of the minefield becomes a problem in itself, and that disarming these mines is an important part of the process that makes progress possible. If we avoid conversation or make it one-sided, what kind of result can be achieved?

It's critically important to admit that there ARE differences in the first place. Something that inexplicably has become taboo to many on the left.

I don't think anyone is arguing against the idea that there exist biological differences between the sexes. What people question is the conclusions people draw from those differences, such as that men or women must as a consequence be superior or inferior at a given task when the differences are so small that they would easily be overcome by many other more salient ones like training, upbringing, or simply the fact that one person does not represent the average and is not necessarily subject to differences described by it.

Just below in this thread someone was thinking this perceptual speed difference might explain men being dominant in e-sports. The amount of confounding variables there is astronomical and the suggestion is that we should set them aside in order to accept that men are biologically just better at games. That's the kind of thought process people disagree with.

(I don't mean to throw this other person under the bus, it was likely just an idle thought, but idle thoughts can turn into convictions if not challenged.)

But men ARE better at games and they ARE stronger physically and they ARE faster and they DO have better reaction times. We can debate the reasons all day and I'm happy to do so but the problem is that people are denying the basic measurements.

I'm just not sure how relevant Usain Bolt's top speed is to whether women can serve in ground combat roles, to pick a long-standing gender discrimination based more or less on the sentiments of your post.

> someone was thinking this perceptual speed difference might explain men being dominant in e-sports

And i was imagining it to be the other way around. A stronger focus in male youth on sport, games and other competitive activities might produce better reaction times. That, ofc, is just my first thought as armchair scientist without access to that work beyond the summary.

I just want society to let scientists actually figure out all the details before we use that knowledge to drive policy and not just use it in whatever way satisfies our internal desires.

> I just want society to let scientists actually figure out all the details before we use that knowledge to drive policy

Science doesn't work like that. Our understandings constantly change, and most of the time that change is an improvement. But there never is an end point where scientists have figured out all the details.

Also, policy needs to be implemented continuously. Policy makers use (or disregard) the current state of knowledge, whatever that state may be.

> Something that inexplicably has become taboo to many on the left

I think the more important split than left vs right is neuroscientist vs non-neuroscientist [0]. It's absurd to think that there would be no gender-related neurological differences, but also unlikely that there are large differences. The answer lies somewhere in between, and the more you learn about the brain, the more you realize how limited our scientific understanding of it is.

Also, seeing as how this article is pay-walled and not available on any mirror sights, I suspect that almost no one commenting here has read the article in full. Which brings us yet again to [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

> It's absurd to think that there would be no gender-related neurological differences

Surprisingly enough, that's a widely accepted hypothesis in sociology.

Well, they wouldn’t be gender related because gender and biological sex are different ideas. To many people, anyway.

Since gender and biological sex are extremely strongly correlated, stating that there are no gender-related neurological differences it's substantially equivalent to saying that there are no biological sex-related neurological differences.

... no it isn’t. It’s saying the differences that do exist are related to sex, not gender - any statistical relationship to gender is mediated through the relationship to sex because gender is often correlated to sex ... but there are many people for whom this is not the case. So gender can’t be responsible for physical differences. Only sex, which is physical, could be correlated with physical/neurological differences.

You used the word 'related', implying statistical correlation.

My point is: a feature which is statistically correlated with gender is also statistically correlated with sex, since for the vast majority of people sex and gender coincide.

Honestly I think much of the problem lies here, the definitions people are using for Gender and Sex have shifted and for many, on the right certainly, they mean the same thing while they are distinct to the left.

However that doesn't excuse arguments like men being physically stronger and faster solely due to upbringing and not biology.

> arguments like men being physically stronger and faster solely due to upbringing and not biology.

Is that a real example? It seems obviously untrue and I’d be surprised if people really think this. Especially the word solely.

There definitely are differences. A lot of them.

In what way do you see this as taboo on the left? Among U.S. progressives, the complexity of sex differences seems to be very important; whereas my experience with U.S. conservatives is the opposite.

For example, given the following two statements:

"If you have a penis, you are male. If you do not, you are female."

"If someone has a female brain but male genitalia, that person should be free to align their gender appropriately."

Is your experience really that conservatives are more likely to agree with the second statement? If so, I'd be curious to know where, from a sociological perspective.

You can look up countless instances of Social Science professors and students saying unironically that for instance superior Male performance in sports is entirely due to social upbringing. These people are overwhelmingly on the left politically. James Damore was fired from Google for publishing a relatively straightforward reading of sexual difference research. So yes it is a taboo.

I don't think your example demonstrates my point at all. Accepting that there are sex differences has little to do with acceptance of Trans people.

> Among U.S. progressives, the complexity of sex differences seems to very important

The problem is that (some) progressives tend to have the extreme opinion that all differences are due to societal influence, the so-called blank slate theory.

Do you mean 'female brain' as in physiologically female? Or chemically? Or psychologically?

Please don't turn that into politics.

> just to prove that men and women have different brains

Well, we do have different brains. I don't think it's a problem and I'm sorry this fact is offending to some, but there is a whole branch of science related to that. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_sex_difference...

Yup. There's a wide variation within all people as to how each brain processes perception. For example, some dudes can't remember what a car looks like or are bad with directions.

I believe gender related traits are on a spectrum just like autistic traits. This means between individuals you can't make any assumptions about how they compare on specific behavioural traits or abilities, but as whole groups some of these are clustered enough make some assumptions.

I also think that just like people on the autistic spectrum can develop coping strategies to help 'fit in' and appear 'normal' to neurotypicals, so can people develop coping strategies to make them fit in better with people of the opposite gender or in a generally more gender neutral society. These coping strategies means it's harder work for them than just acting on instinct and inherit passion, but the results can appear the same. That said I think it's quite good for society to have such a variety of different mechanisms, natural or developed, around specific traits, behaviours or activities.

Does this have implications for user interfaces in any way? I would guess that for women it could be harder to find fast moving objects (mouse cursor) or make sense of quick transitions on a screen.

Interfaces should probably avoid working on the threshold of human perception.

check out this paper by danah boyd from 2000, for discussion of more or less this issue in virtual reality. https://www.danah.org/papers/sexvision.pdf

I would guestimate the answer is yes. Having an animated or visual affordance to locate the cursor might be helpful to many people.

This stuff matters for VR technology and the "uncanny valley". Early versions of the technology that crossed the uncanny valley for men did not necessarily cross it for women, and so women still get motion sick.

Some people have tried to study this with transgendered people who are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. There is enough of a difference to warrent further study.

I didn't know the uncanny valley had anything to do with motion sickness. Interesting.

For most of human history, men were pretty much forced to be the warriors and primary defenders of a village. Thus, there was strong genetic pressure to react quick (or die). But women seem better at "find Waldo" kind of tasks, so perhaps there's a tradeoff. We are tuned for different specialties.

It's worth mentioning that the cognitive science community generally shuns evolutionary arguments, as they tend to be "just so" assertions.

It's not that it's necessarily wrong, but rather unfalsifiable as such.

A "just so" story like this is certainly unfounded, I think, but I wouldn't call it unfalsifiable. You could search for supporting evidence by investigating, for instance,

- Do we see this effect in species other than humans?

- Is this effect more pronounced in individuals descending from ancestors who were more prone to hunting?

>Do we see this effect in species other than humans?

You can always find a difference between humans an the other species that explains the absence in the latter.

>Is this effect more pronounced in individuals descending from ancestors who were more prone to hunting?


Evolutionary psychology is ... not popular with cogsci depts...

Good evolutionary hypotheses generate testable predictions about the trait being examined. This can lead to other predicted (testable) effects, and so on, building evidence (or lack thereof) for an idea. Just because we can't draw definitive conclusions doesn't mean there is not strong evidence for many evolutionary theories.

> Evolutionary psychology is ... not popular with cogsci depts...

That's a shame. It seems there is a lot to be gained from a comprehensive approach to understanding.

You may have heard the phrase “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Dobzhansky). Well, this is true for the human brain and psychology, too. We can't correctly address major behavioral issues without a deeper understanding of the evolved functions of our brain.

>Good evolutionary hypotheses generate testable predictions about the trait being examined.

To clarify: yes, absolutely!

The problem (and the reason for it's unpopularity), is that the EP community, in general, produces many bad hypotheses.

But authorities closed down my human breeding lab.

Who is “the cognitive community”, and does it include the evolutionary psychologists?

The way you do evolutionary psychology scientifically is that you think about which physiological traits ought to have been produced by selective pressure and then check your predictions. Coming up with a post hoc justification after the evidence is in just isn't science.

So the distinction is post hoc reasoning, not evolutionary explanations? I interpreted the OP’s comment as condemning the latter.

The vast majority of people making evolutionary psychology arguments in Hacker News threads or newspaper op-eds or such are also doing the later so the bad associations are understandable, even if they're not really the fault of evolutionary psychology the academic field.

My point (albeit awkwardly stated) was that evolutionary psychology is fraught with post hoc reasoning. The post to which I was replying is one such example.

The result is that neighboring academic fields are (rightly, IMHO) skeptical of EP theories.

That's the parent posters point. There's no such thing as "evolutionary psychologists". At least so far as academics within psychology and neurology recognize it.

These disciplines examine behavior from two different angles, one looking at more proximate causes while the other looks at ultimate causes.

You can dismiss evolutionary psychology as irrelevant to other social or neurological cognitive sciences (which I would argue is also wrong), but it doesn't mean interesting and useful research is not being done.

Paleontologists and archaeologists can do research by looking at old things and comparing them to other old things and also to current things. They can be very precise. "This process of this bone was so many millimeters wider, probably indicating a stronger attached muscle." "The clay in these pots comes from this particular remote river valley, indicating a trade network between these locations." Etc.

How does a psychologist do anything like this? Mental processes of living things and how those respond to environment can be observed. How can mental processes of millennia ago be observed?

Not sure about psychology, but the comparative method is also used in linguistics to reconstruct dead languages.

That's true, and this linguistic work is in some sense "between" the hypothesized evopsych work and the rigorous work we see with genetics. When the geneticists tell us that a particular population underwent a bottleneck at a particular point in time, they're probably correct about that. Linguistics is like genetics in that, because of writing, experts have something physical they can study to infer how languages have evolved over time. Perhaps something similar might someday be used to see how non-linguistic mental processes have evolved over time, but at this point it's difficult to imagine what that might be. Psychology itself is on a fairly tenuous footing as a science, so it's hardly a sufficient foundation for whatever has been envisioned by evopsych enthusiasts.

Evolutionary arguments are complementary to work done in other cognitive sciences. Both are important to understand the complete picture of how we behave.

Many evolutionary explanations begin as 'just so' assertions, but so does anything in science, really. Evolutionary arguments can be very difficult to test because our knowledge is incomplete. There are many interacting variables at play and we can't go back in time. It's doesn't mean we can't test hypothesis, though, and there is a huge body of evolutionary behavior research that shows how much we can do.

The important part is how well tuned.

In formal terms, how big is the overlap and effect size.

If overlap is big or effect size is small, the difference will be irrelevant for most tasks.

The question on thresholds for these values requires further major study. Such as devising a wide set of tasks and comparing performance in real tasks that putatively use it vs these measured motion detection differences. I'd start with catching a thrown ball. Avoiding getting touched by a moving object. Matching speed by movement. Etc.

Additionally, it has to be seen if specific training can change those values and to what extent.

Women¹ are also much better at seeing slight color variances. E.g. differentiate between two similar red berries.

¹humans whose eyes are using cells that are filled female hormones, to be precise

It's nothing to do with men being "forced" to do anything, it's simply that in every sexual species the selective pressures on males and females is very different. In mammals the females have to be strong enough to carry a baby until birth. While the males have to be stronger than all other males; long term health is much less important.


Like the whole James Damore fiasco at Google earlier late last year.

No. James Damore jumped from “there are differences between the sexes” to “women are less capable of my job”.

I think his position can be better paraphrased as: There are preference differences between the sexes which we might want to take account of when we are organizing and designing technical workplaces. Oddly enough, this was the same position taken by YouTube and Google executives speaking in public shortly afterwards.

Incorrect. Damore's paper was focused on why women _choose_ not to go into tech, not that those women who go into tech are worse at it. Please do not promulgate this misrepresentation.

Come on. What is the point of exaggerating his argument so? There are some holes in it without having to resort to an utter strawman.

The holes in his argument didn’t justify his termination, however. Not sure if some folks are too attached to that outcome, but the accusations against Damore are beyond parody.

I’m not saying he should be fired. I’m saying that it’s a misrepresentation to say that he only claimed that there are differences between the sexes in aggregate.

I wasn't actually speaking about you specifically, but where did Damore "go beyond claiming that there are differences between the sexes in aggregate" and specifically "women are less capable of [Damore's] job"? And how do you square that with the memo's disclaimers that he's speaking about population level differences? I think I've read that thing a dozen times now to try to find anything that resembles the claims Damore is accused of making, and I can never seem to find them...

Would you be so kind as to quote any part of his paper that says this?

Could this lower motion perception threshold explain male dominance in e-sports?

That's the first thing I thought of, granted, there must be so many factors involved in that one ... FYI it wouldn't just be 'e-sports' - it would be 'all sports'. Everything from football to downhill skiing requires that kind of hyper aware processing.

I agree, there will be many other factors, like fine motor reaction time, and the most important is probably being able to outguess one's opponent. But a small gender-specific edge could well be sufficient to make the top ranks homogeneous.

I don't know that it would apply to all sports. For soccer, more inertia and bigger muscles at play might mean that that edge is insignificant.

>Everything from football to downhill skiing requires that kind of hyper aware processing.

I suspect the effect size is minuscule when compared to other sex differences, e.g.: strength & size.

It could, but I suppose that the biggest factor here really is social. I could be wrong obv, it's not like I had researched the subject


Unless someone starts a professional Candy Crush or Farmville league, women aren't going be dominating any kind of esport, motion perception or not. 90% of moba players are male, for example.

Men are probably more likely to get their 10,000 hours (or multiple thereof) of deliberate practice playing games, than women due stigmas / social pressure that doesn't encourage or support them gaming (at least traditionally - I'm sure the tides are changing and gaming is becoming more inclusive everyday).

This study shows that video games activate reward regions of brain in men more than women.


"Reiss said this research also suggests that males have neural circuitry that makes them more liable than women to feel rewarded by a computer game with a territorial component and then more motivated to continue game-playing behavior. Based on this, he said, it makes sense that males are more prone to getting hooked on video games than females."

I don't think this is to say women don't get rewarded or hooked--I know quite a few women hooked on games--but I could see this giving men an advantage in terms of being more easily motivated.

Men are probably more likely to get their 10,000 hours (or multiple thereof) of deliberate practice playing games, than women due stigmas / social pressure

From what I've seen, female League of Legends players on YouTube and Twitch are well regarded. I may be getting skewed data, as I've only managed to subscribe to a few of the more popular streamers/content creators. (These creators aren't playing solely on their sex appeal for their popularity. If anything, their talents are as game players, musicians, and as commentators. They're also all "cute.")

I can't tell much from only reading the summary, but I would think that any differences might be environmental, rather than genetic.

My general take is that there has been so much bad science throughout history around sex differences, I need very hard evidence that something is not environmental before I will buy into it.

dubya23 5 months ago [flagged]

Yeah the sexes are exactly identical. Males lack ovaries because of environmental effects... /s

If you won't stop trolling we'll ban the account.


Why all the wasteful discussion about gender politics? Read the last sentence of the abstract —

“Overall, these results show how sex differences can manifest unexpectedly, highlighting the importance of sex as a factor in the design and analysis of perceptual and cognitive studies.”

...which implies that some studies in the past may be in error because they didn’t take into account otherwise innocuous differences in behavior between the sexes.

This is cool and interesting, right? Good, then take the gender politics chat back to reddit where it belongs.

> Why all the wasteful discussion about gender politics?

As pointed out downthread, the way we get out of such wasteful (meta-)discussions is by not starting them.

This is cool and interesting, right? Good, then take the gender politics chat back to reddit where it belongs.

A part of the point of such discussion is precisely that such ideas and questions are cool and interesting, and that anxiety and ideological extremism is unnecessary, counterproductive, and an overreaction.

Let's all just be moderate and nuanced in our views of complex and nuanced fields of study, like biology.

I’m pretty much just trying to say, “Let’s talk about the science.”

Of course here I am, with the top post at the moment being a non-accretive meta-discussion about gender politics. I guess I’ll go upvote all the people who are talking about cool science stuff. :-)

I’m pretty much just trying to say, “Let’s talk about the science.”

Generally speaking, if you would like there to be discussion of the science, it works vastly better to lead by example and think of something meaty and meaningful to say about that instead.

You may not have meant it as such but -- Good, then take the gender politics chat back to reddit where it belongs -- may have been taken as a call to sequester undesirables and thereby censor unwanted opinions.

"Why all the wasteful discussion about gender politics? Read the last sentence of the abstract"

Other comenters seem to be making wild statements about gender differences, extrapolating from a small result, and using this to support their other unsubstaiated biases.

It's interesting. Take all new results with a grain of salt. Replication needs to happen before trusting this result, let alone understanding what it means.

That quote doesn't seem to be particularly political. It's just saying including sex is important. Even the implication you read into it is not particularly political.

Sorry if I wasn’t clear — “gender politics” is the discussion of the societal role of gender, it doesn’t imply politics in the sense of government and leadership.

What I’m getting at is that there’s a perfectly interesting article which my have revealed a tiny croute about study inaccuracies — a pretty big discussion for the last few years — and for some reason almost all the comments so far are about the comparatively uninteresting realm of gender politics.

>Good, then take the gender politics chat back to reddit where it belongs.

How about taking your superiority complex elsewhere? I'm willing to bet that 90% of the HN audience uses reddit in some capacity.

Would it shock you to learn that there are other communities on the internet that have great discussion? Some even make fun of HackerNews for the misperception that the discourse here is superior.

Reddit has https://www.reddit.com/r/genderpolitics , HN doesn't. Ergo Reddit seems to be a better place for gender politics chat.

It is a social truism that people tend to want to talk to their current social circle, regardless of topic. Telling people to take it Reddit because it has a subforum for the topic amounts to saying "The reputation and relationships you've spent years building in this community are irrelevant. Go start over with learning the culture etiquette and people over there." It ignores the reality that jumping into a new forum to spout off on a highly controversial topic typically goes south in short order. It isn't generally well received and doesn't generally result in meaty meaningful discussion.

There is no reason at all such discussions cannot be had here.

This line of thinking leads for example to studies on differences in risk-taking behavior between genders, which then leads to people saying "of course most companies are run by man, because men being more risk-taking start more companies". This kind of sexist thinking has no place in academia.

It leads to that only if your agenda is to go there. If your agenda is to figure out how to make life better for people generally, it can lead to discussions of "Given that women tend to have this trait or circumstance that hinders their performance in our current cultural paradigms, what might work better to help them accomplish X, Y or Z should they so desire it?"

The solution is to fix bad conclusions (preferably by showing them to be bad, with data), not to restrict inquiry to subjects that could be interpreted in ideologically unfavorable ways.

In that example we should take issue with the conclusion that it justifies the prevalence of male founders rather than taking issue with the study in the first place.

Interesting. I'd like to know why I can't remember people's names but can/have identified faces reverse aligned with path of travel with a glimpse (anecdotally; the brother of a roommate).


I'm sure this wasn't your intention, but this kind of comment is a flamewar starter in the same way as it would be to make a call for the end of the author's career. We can all fare much better here if we stick to thoughtful, informative discussion. Easier said than done, but we have to try!


Why? It's already well known that there are some big sensory difference between males and females. Both in the animal kingdom and for humans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_sensory_sys...

That’s an odd thing to say.

Why would this end someone’s career?

Is it “wrong” to identify and test for neurological differences between men and women? Or am I completely missing something?

I believe OP was remarking on the likelihood that the authors of this paper will be attacked for the nature or conclusions of their research, by people from a certain ideological perspective who don't like the results.

Ironically, making the observation in question, rather than discussing the actual science in earnest, tends to fall under "Being part of the problem, not part of the solution."

Just to provide a counter-perspective, I am actually happy every time I see someone drawing attention to this problem. If enough people draw attention to it, rather than trying to ignore it and hope it goes away, maybe society will start trying to solve the problem.

Drawing attention to the problem and making the observation in question aren't identical behaviors. I frequently engage in meta discussion on such topics.

To draw on a common startup meme:

Ideas are nothing. Execution is everything.

But execution before the "market" is ready for the "product" can lead to failure when better timing would've led to success. Perhaps we could look at drawing attention to the problem as a sort of "demand generation" or "marketing", preparing the market so when a product (solution) is offered it is more readily embraced? Maybe we could think of it like moving people from looking at the solution as a "vitamin" to looking at it as a "painkiller"?

A. You are missing my point.

B. Generally speaking, I don't take painkillers. Studies suggest that, in most cases, they drag out the problem.

So, to try one more time to communicate, how you comment on it matters. Comments like Welp, somebody is tired of their career... de facto agree that it is reasonable for society to react by destroying someone's career for asking such a question.

I get the impetus there. I'm highly prone to that same impetus. But long experience suggests it is counterproductive.

It's much better to make more reserved observations, such as noting that this is a controversial topic, people have had their careers ruined for trying to talk about it, etc.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to shoot you down and [additional polite noises].


Nah, it’s just highlighting a different problem. Off topic, sure. Problematic, definitely not.

Studies that examine differences between groups commonly held to be in a "oppressor/oppressed" dichotomy are frequently used as political cannon fodder.

Just a couple of comments below yours is why anything gender-related is such a third rail these days: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18186650

It's increasingly (esp. in the US) a touchy subject that paints a target on your back.

But you're right. It's a valid (and interesting!) research question.

I've recently seen people on this site saying that if the results of your research are going to offend someone, you shouldn't perform the research, and that choosing to do such research means that you are sexist/racist/etc because you could have chosen to not do the research.

No it is not wrong but according to the current popular opinion there is no such thing as biological differences in the sexes.


Should we run them through the censor as well? Just because your beliefs conflict with the outcome of a study or you don't like it's author's gender isn't reason to strike it from the record.

Stating there is or is not any difference in brains based on gender seems an exceptionally hard fiat statement to make at all. Brains are complicated.

Umm... but there are measurable differences, to the point that we can measure that Trans-folk tend to have have an intermediate brain compared to Cis-folk

I am not a brain scientist (I don't even know the correct name for a brain scientist). That being said isn't it true that there are chemical (e.g. hormonal) differences in male and female brains? So if the "hardware" (brain structure) is the same but the "software" (chemicals) is different doesn't that invalidate the argument that sex should be ignored when studying the brain?

So, don't publish research results that are counter to our research, because our research results are "the accepted truth"?

So you're saying that males are incapable to run studies without help from women (majority of gender studies students are women)? Wouldn't that confirm males and females differences?

cronz 5 months ago [flagged]

Troll or retard?

If you keep breaking the guidelines we'll ban the account.


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