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.
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.
"La La La not listening!" -- is generally a symptom of a faction which is about to become the villains in the story.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
I think the more important split than left vs right is neuroscientist vs non-neuroscientist . 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 .
Surprisingly enough, that's a widely accepted hypothesis in sociology.
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.
However that doesn't excuse 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
It's not that it's necessarily wrong, but rather unfalsifiable as such.
- 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?
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...
> 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.
To clarify: yes, absolutely!
The problem (and the reason for it's unpopularity), is that the EP community, in general, produces many bad hypotheses.
The result is that neighboring academic fields are (rightly, IMHO) skeptical of EP theories.
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.
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?
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.
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.
¹humans whose eyes are using cells that are filled female hormones, to be precise
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.
I suspect the effect size is minuscule when compared to other sex differences, e.g.: strength & size.
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.
"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.
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.")
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.
“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.
As pointed out downthread, the way we get out of such wasteful (meta-)discussions is by not starting them.
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.
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. :-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is no reason at all such discussions cannot be had here.
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?
To draw on a common startup meme:
Ideas are nothing. Execution is everything.
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].
But you're right. It's a valid (and interesting!) research question.
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.