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Science Denial Won’t End Sexism (quillette.com)
87 points by andrenth 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments





>> Last week, Nature, one of the top scientific journals in the world, ran a review written by Lise Eliot of Gina Rippon’s new book, The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain

For the record, I posted that article on HN 9 days ago. It was almost immediately flagged (going by the fact it collected 18 points). This one seems to have lasted at least twice as long - and I don't understand why. In terms of a controversy, an article in Nature is the definition of an uncontroversial, respected source, whereas Quillette is rather the exact opposite. If a serious debate can be had, it should be over an article on Nature, not an article on Quillette.

I don't want to put this in words like "why was my article downvoted", which would sound too much as if I'm nursing some kind of petty grudge, but the same thing has happened to other articles I've posted previously on matters of gender equality in the sciences, while, for example, articles about James Damore are left alone. Is James Damore less controversial than Gina Rippon?

I must say that I do get a strong feeling that one side of this issue is treated very differently than the other by a significant proportion of users on HN.


A lot of articles on gender get the same flagging treatment. (FWIW Damore is far from uncontroversial here on HN.) I suspect sometimes the flagging treatment is because these articles can attract heated (often emotional) debate, and this might be why some flaggers flag them, to avoid that and just stick to tech stuff.

That said I’m always interested in seeing these articles and debates myself, mostly because it’s a pretty important issue in tech and we won’t resolve it if we don’t talk about it. But it’s hard to do.

This post may have survived this long just by luck, I wouldn’t read to much into it.

But you can certainly talk about it here now since this article is in response to your article. (One question I might’ve asked about your original would be, if male and female brains are really the same then how come rates of certain mental illnesses vary so much between the sexes?)

Edit: I realized I originally wrote “far from contoversial” it should be “uncontoversial” but I think that was understandabld from the context.


>FWIW Damore is far from controversial here on HN.

Just to be clear, in what way? Anti-Google pro-Damore I presume?


From what I’ve seen (so it’s anecdotal) they seemed to attract emotional debate, and lots of downvotes, and flags, and people making throwaways before commenting, etc. In that way controversial. To my mind when you see lots of downvoted comments it’s a pretty good sign of a controversial topic because I never usually see that on purely tech topics ok HN. From which I infer on tech topics a bad comment doesn’t get upvoted and sinks because good comments rise. On non tech topics like gender comments (bad or good) can quickly be grayed out by downvotes. I suppose it might be an interesting hypothesis to test somehow if historical HN posts could be classified into topic and we had the voting and flagging data.

While this subject could be interesting, it always degenerate into culture wars (one side vs the other) which could be considered flamebait:

> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

One solution for this could be to talk about the subject at a more abstract level than an example.


Does Hacker News have enough users who are knowledgeable about neuroscience to sustain an evidence based discussion of this topic?

Quite a few of my submissions related to sexuality got flagged (e.g. the Dating for Nerds, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15372552). While I didn't like it, I understand the motivation - it attracts the wrong kind of discussion (flame wars, us vs them holy crusade, etc; certainly to kind or illuminating).

[flagged]


> Science is absolutely on the side of journals like Nature

Argument from Authority?

Anyway, this is not Quillette versus Nature: the article points out the reviewed book comes to conclusions (no sex-differences in brains) that disagree with work already published — in Nature (sex differences in grey matter volume, effects of testosterone on in utero brain growth).

> valueless rags like Quillette.

It's clearly not valueless to subscribers who fund it.


If quillette isnt valueless because people subscribe to it, anti-vax rags also have some value.

Science is an authority. It authoritatively endorses the view that climate change is happening, and that gender isn't as simple as just the binary. If you view that as fallacious, you're anti-science.


Invocations of "science" in a political debate are almost always arguments from authority. Few participants or listeners will ever examine the evidence for themselves.

And by subtly (and often not-so-subtly) blocking the careers of scientists who express a different view, politicians try to ensure that authority supports their agenda. It's a mechanism of social control that's been used by authoritarian regimes for a hundred years.

And if you think that view makes me "anti-science", you should know that I'm currently a graduate student studying science. I'm very much in favor of fair and painstaking examination of empirical evidence.

I'm against "science" as a political cudgel. I'm against supporting or rejecting theories based on ideology rather than evidence. I'm against politicians and political activists meddling in science or using selective quoting of unsettled science for political ends.


> you should know that I'm currently a graduate student studying science.

Considering you just invoked appeal to authority, does this seem the slightest bit ironic to you?

> I'm against "science" as a political cudgel. I'm against supporting or rejecting theories based on ideology rather than evidence. I'm against politicians and political activists meddling in science or using selective quoting of unsettled science for political ends.

Awesome. Considering the overwhelming evidence that gender isn't determined in a simple binary fashion, I'm sensing a contradiction here. Have you considered that perhaps you may be wielding a political cudgel of your own?


There's no contradiction because I never said and do not believe that gender is binary. That's a strawman anyway, no one claims that even sex is binary (no one who knows that hermaphrodites exist, at least). And there's no irony because pointing out that I'm studying science wasn't an appeal to authority, but an obvious disproof of your suggestion that anyone who disagrees with you is anti-science.

BTW, both "binary gender" and "climate change" are off-topic in this discussion about neurobiological differences between the sexes. You have no reason to bring them up here other than to suggest that disagreeing with you is somehow equivalent to denying climate change.

I'd find you much more convincing if you contributed some empirical evidence to the discussion instead of invoking "science" as a magic word.


Oh? So you don't think sex is binary but want to discuss neurobiological differences "between the sexes"?

Which ones do you want to discuss the differences, between?


Another strawman. The existence of biological sexes other than the two most common (male and female) doesn't negate the existence of male and female.

Biological sex isn't actually a spectrum (it's not one-dimensional), but using that analogy, it's bimodal, not binary.


Actually, it does negate the existence of two discrete categories of people that you can ascribe intrinsic biological differences to. You'll always have to delineate the categories at some arbitrary point, and since the delineation is arbitrary, you'll therefore never be sure if your categories are correct.

The usual delineation of male and female isn't arbitrary, it's based on biological mechanisms of reproduction.

Only how (or if) one chooses to include those few who don't fit these categories is fluid.

In other words, there's some uncertainty at the margins, but in the vast majority of cases, biological sex is clear.


If there is uncertainty at the margins, the category is arbitrary.

That is clearly not true, and is an example of a continuum or line-drawing fallacy.

I've not heard of that fallacy. By what authority is it derived? Source? :)

If you can't clearly define a category, any intrinsic traits of that category are not ascribed clearly to individuals. Any uncertainty, even on the margins, makes the definition uncertain. Clear definition is a lack of uncertainty.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy

The fallacy is the argument that two states or conditions cannot be considered distinct (or do not exist at all) because between them there exists a continuum of states.

In other words, your reasoning is a textbook example of this fallacy.


To those who are put off by the article, it might help to understand that, while Dr. Soh has a PhD in psychology, she is also a political commentator, writes science articles, and is a podcast host.

Like a lot of Intellectual Dark Web folks, it's best to check out a long-form discussion — like a lecture[0] or a podcast[1] — to get a better sense of the ideas they're trying to communicate.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BSb92OYA0g

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zere8WRepGo

EDIT: Add a second podcast link

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkhDZMwR9eQ


Statements like "In a world where world-class scientists’ merit is now determined by their sex and skin color—with white men’s work being dismissed in the name of promoting women and minorities" have a heavy political bias and the article isn't even concerned with supporting that point, it's just dropped in there like it's a fact.

I think I can provide evidence of this, but I'd like to use a double-crux and put both of our beliefs on the table.

If I can show you criticism of a scientists' work in a natural / mathematical science field that emphasizes the (white or male) identity of the scientist in question, would you be prepared to concede that there is progressive scientific denialism and progressivism can be at odds with scientific inquiry?


[flagged]


> she argued in favor of conversion therapy for trangender kids

Have a source for that? I don’t know much about Dr Soh but as soon as I read this it sounded exactly like the kind of intentional misinterpretation that are leveled against many to win arguments these days. Especially when it comes to trans issues and giving children drugs to prevent puberty.

Here’s an article for example in which she’s against conversion therapy: https://quillette.com/2018/10/23/the-unspoken-homophobia-pro...


Conversion therapy means talking someone out of their identity. Gay conversion therapy refers to "pray away the gay"-style camps. Dr. Soh supports trans conversion therapy, under the idea that "boys who want to play with dolls and identify as female aren't trans, they're gay", and should be forced away from their belief (that they're girls.)

HRT doesn't mean conversion therapy in any circle I've been in. Prime weasel words there.


I hope you’ll agree it is not an identity to be say a male attracted to other men. It’s a sexual orientation. To suggest it’s an identity is to suggest everyone’s sexual orientation is an identity and that undermines a huge amount of progress with made over the last thirty years accepting that you precisely can’t “pray away the gay”. So we shouldn’t conflate those two things.

> Dr. Soh supports trans conversion therapy, under the idea that "boys who want to play with dolls and identify as female aren't trans, they're gay", and should be forced away from their belief (that they're girls.)

That’s a strong assertion you’re making. You assert that she wants to force child girls who believe they are boys, and vice versa, to give up those beliefs. You also assert she thinks boys who play with dolls are gay.

Do you have a source for that?

> HRT doesn’t mean conversion therapy

I’m confused. Where is HRT said to mean conversion therapy here?


I do mean that homosexuality is an identity. I do not believe such identities can be chosen. Identities are truths about who you are. Realizing you're gay can take some soul searching, the same way as realizing that you're trans, but it's not something you choose. (Why would you choose it? Take it from me, being trans sucks.)

Your source: Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation. No mental health professional in their right mind conducts this type of therapeutic intervention anymore, because it is understood that sexual orientation is immutable from a very young age. Gender identity, however—whether someone feels masculine or feminine—is flexible in prepubescent children and grows more stable into adulthood.

Therapy that seeks to help gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their birth sex (known in the research literature as the “therapeutic approach”) has been conflated with conversion therapy, but this is inaccurate. All of the available research following gender dysphoric children longitudinally shows that the majority desist; they outgrow their feelings of dysphoria by puberty and grow up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender.

Dr. Soh's position is that unlike sexual orientation, which is immutable, gender identity is flexible, and therapy to talk people into growing up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender [direct quote from above!] is ethical.

The example she gives about the boy who plays with dolls and insists he's a girl is meant to support that point.

As for HRT meaning conversion therapy, she thinks HRT is homophobic, designed to change someone's sexual orientation from gay to straight, by changing their gender. This is laughable, as it's far more difficult being trans (largely because of people like her) and completely ignores gay trans people (like me.)


> I do mean that homosexuality is an identity. I do not believe such identities can be chosen. Identities are truths about who you are.

Homosexuality is both an identity and a truth about who you are, but the two do not always coincide, and the identity absolutely can be chosen. (Which is why the label “men who have sex with men” [MSM] exists, as a label that is less-offputting and more useful in getting messages—such as health information—to men who have the “truth about who you are” referred to as “homosexuality” but reject the identity of “homosexuality”.)

> Dr. Soh's position is that unlike sexual orientation, which is immutable, gender identity is flexible, and therapy to talk people into growing up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender [direct quote from above!] is ethical.

That's not a direct quote, it's an interpretation, and I think it's mistaken because it overlooks something that seems to me to me fairly obvious but inconvenient to both sides of the political fight over the fundamental reality or unreality of transgender identity: a substantial portion of gender dysphoria isn't a sex-trait-specific body dysmorphia, it's a conflict between ones preferred modes of personal expression/behavior and social gender images and stereotypes.

In a heteronormative social context, individuals the with homosexual tendencies and ideation are going to be prone to experience such a conflict between personal preferences and gender stereotypes, with being accepted as the opposite gender an obvious route to relieving the tension (the same would seem to be true of male bisexuals in a context more accepting of female-female attraction, whether bisexual or homosexual, than male-male attraction.)

Therapy to help children recognize whether the source of the tension with ascribed gender is really fundamentally grounded in a conflict of personal preference with heteronormative gender stereotypes will (if it is effective) make it more likely that those for whom that is the source of tension resolve it as homosexual (or maybe bisexual) members of the gender corresponding to their sex identified at birth, but that's not because the therapy is aimed at making them cisgendered gays or bisexuals, by because it enables them to recognize that that is the underlying reality producing their discomfort with societal expectations.

This isn't endorsing a kind of conversion therapy as ethical, instead it's recognizing that the way rigid gender roles are imposed by society is often its own kind of undesirable “conversion therapy” that some people need an antidote for.


Ok, so it's agreed she is against conversion therapy where conversion therapy is forced change of sexual orientation.

> Your source: ... Gender identity, however—whether someone feels masculine or feminine—is flexible in prepubescent children and grows more stable into adulthood.

This is one paragraph where she simply seems to be asserting that gender identity is more flexible during childhood and tends to solidify as we grow into adults.

This is a different paragraph from this:

> Therapy that seeks to help gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their birth sex (known in the research literature as the “therapeutic approach”) has been conflated with conversion therapy, but this is inaccurate.

Which is the crux of the issue (I think?). Therapy helping children be comfortable with their birth sex is something she advocates, but some people feel that is negative and (somehow?) forceful and are labeling "conversion therapy".

I'm lost there because we should all hope to be comfortable in the skin we're born in. I wouldn't want to deny a child therapy to help them with that. And I wouldn't want to deny an adult the same therapy. It's freedom enabling. We've been fighting that fight a long time and don't want to wind back that clock.

This reads more like anti-conversion therapy (a kind of "dude, you're cool just as you are, if you can make it work as you first"). Where the alternative is to just be uncomfortable in the skin you're in until you transition. And then that's a problem because:

> All of the available research following gender dysphoric children longitudinally shows that the majority desist; they outgrow their feelings of dysphoria by puberty and grow up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender.

This seems to be a pretty important claim if the wellbeing of the child is of concern here.

From this fairly short dive so far, it seems Dr Soh's position clearly comes from one of genuine concern for children and one based on scientific research. Based on that and a general precautionary principal she's advocating therapy to help children be comfortable with the skin they're in first, particularly before giving a child puberty blockers or hormone therapy.


> Therapy helping children be comfortable with their birth sex is something she advocates, but some people feel that is negative and (somehow?) forceful and are labeling "conversion therapy".

Well, what you're describing is therapy which is geared towards "curing" kids of their trans-ness. It's an attempt to teach kids to convince them that it's better to not transition. It's couched in a positive framing "...comfortable with their birth sex..." and I could describe sexuality conversion therapy as "therapy helping gay folks be comfortable with heterosexual partners." The reason that people are calling this "conversion therapy" is that's what it is.

> From this fairly short dive so far, it seems Dr Soh's position clearly comes from one of genuine concern for children and one based on scientific research. Based on that and a general precautionary principal she's advocating therapy to help children be comfortable with the skin they're in first, particularly before giving a child puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

I agree, it does appear that Soh's position is motivated by concern for children. However, it's heavily biased towards better outcomes for cisgender children, disregarding the outcomes for transgender children who will inevitably be traumatized by years of therapy geared at convincing them that they aren't who they know they are. For the children who do go on puberty blockers, and decide to retransition later, there isn't a ton of regret -- they drop the blockers and have puberty a little later in life. It's a middle-of-the-road option that minimizes harm across both populations.


> describe sexuality conversion therapy as "therapy helping gay folks be comfortable with heterosexual partners."

Quoting the Wikipedia definition: "Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions."

Conversion therapy has a long and ugly history and is well defined. What we are talking about here is not that. Clearly conversion therapy is expressly negative. It tells a person that their hard wired sexuality that comes from birth is wrong and that they need to change something that can't be changed. This isn't the same as the therapy being described by Dr Soh, which appears to be more akin to "you're okay as you are and do not need to change."

There seems to be an attempt to redefine conversion therapy to extend it to a different case. I think we would be better served by a new term for this kind of therapy.

This thread started because someone labelled Dr Soh as a supporter of conversion therapy, which has a specific meaning. They did this as an ad hominem attack because conversion therapy is widely felt to be disgusting. The purpose was to get people not to read or consider this article, and the article was not even on a trans subject.

We found no evidence that she supports conversion therapy.

> However, it's heavily biased towards better outcomes for cisgender children, disregarding the outcomes for transgender children who will inevitably be traumatized by years of therapy geared at convincing them that they aren't who they know they are.

You're asserting Dr Soh is advocating traumatizing children for years to convince them to be something they aren't? We have no evidence of that. We can all agree any therapy that traumatizes a child is not good therapy. That's a terrible fucking therapist. I suspect Dr Soh agrees with that too.

How do we separate a child who has gender dysphoria and thinks they need to transition but will later change their mind from a child who has gender dysphoria and really was born in the wrong body? Is it possible to provide therapy to the gender dysphoric child who later doesn't want to change, without harming the gender dysphoric child that does later want to change?

It's easy with homosexuality, because the principal we can apply is simply not to interfere and to allow the child to accept themselves and their sexual feelings as they are. No reasonable people think this is bad.

What's the equivalent safe approach for helping children with gender dysphoria? No therapy? Years of therapy geared at reinforcing that they must change their sex to be happy? This is nowhere near as cut and dry as the case homosexuality and conversion therapy.


As with many arguments on this site, and the discourse on trans issues as a whole, I doubt either of us are willing to budge enough on this issue to make debate worthwhile. I'm trans, and I've been on the receiving end of parental coercion. You're possibly a parent of a gender non-conforming child, or had a phase you grew out of as a kid, etc.

In about 18 years, if I'm right, a score of resentful GNC children forced into therapy by their parents will cut off their families and transition on their own. If you're right, a large number of children who transitioned during puberty will have major regrets.

Either way, there's no point wasting time debating this. Neither of our sides are going to convince each other. Just do what you have to, and I'll do the same, and we'll watch and wait.


> Either way, there's no point wasting time debating this.

I don't think it was a waste. As an interested onlooker, I thought your exchange was useful to read. I tend to agree with 'erentz', but I thank you for taking the time to share your expert perspective. Please keep doing so.


It was a good discussion thanks. We had some different definitions of words and terms. But we're probably broadly on the same page on about 80% of the matter.

I hope we don't have to wait 18 years, I hope we can work out how to help children with gender dysphoria sooner without harming trans kids and non trans kids in the process. Coercion is never a good thing, and I'm sorry you had that experience with your parents.


> In about 18 years, if I'm right, a score of resentful GNC children forced into therapy by their parents will cut off their families and transition on their own. If you're right, a large number of children who transitioned during puberty will have major regrets.

I think that's an excessively binary view: those aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I think the most likely scenario is that those both will occur. Here's how they could:

Suppose a large portion of childhood gender dysphoria is, let's call it, “fundamental transgender identity”, that can only be resolved durably by transitioning.

Suppose another large portion is socially-induced tension between gender stereotypes, most dominantly between heteronormative stereotypes and homosexual or bisexual orientation, that is best resolved durably by recognizing that confirming to gender stereotypes,and particularly heteronormative stereotypes, is not necessary when identifying with a gender, though it may be mitigated, especially in the short-term, by gender transition.

Suppose that there is therapy that is very effective, in children, at helping the latter resolve ideally. But suppose further that children whose dysphoria is of the first kind subjected to that same therapy often conform to the perceived pressure of the therapy by abandoning transition and conforming to the perceived expectation of identifying with their birth gender.

Suppose further that distinguishing the two kinds of dysphoria is difficult even within the context of the therapy, and suppose further that the therapy itself is controversial in a way tied largely to controversy over what the predominant (or, as many people view it, exclusive) source of gender dysphoria is, so that there is Both a large subset of gender dysphoric use that are given the therapy and a large subset that aren't, but these subsets have no particular alignment with the actual source of dysphoria.

You'd then expect, down the road, to have four large clusters (there's actually more, because you also have the atypical responded to therapy or it's absence to consider) of adults who had been gender dysphoric children:

(1) a group with fundamental transgender identity that were not treated and transitioned, resolving the dysphoria as best as is practical.

(2) a group with fundamental transgender identity subjected to the therapy and so did not transition, with issues resulting from ongoing unresolved dysphoria.

(3) a group without fundamental transgender identity that did not receive the therapy and transitioned to resolve their dysphoria, who now regret the transition.

(4) a group without fundamental transgender identity who did receive the therapy, and resolved the tension with gender norms without transition.


When did she ever argued for conversion therapy? All I’ve seen is that she was against transitioning prepubescent children as most children that exhibit gender dysphoria grow out of it.

Yeah, quite the opposite it appears she is against conversion therapy. It looks the parent poster is committing a perfect example of the kinds of things Quillette and the IDW are arguing against.


In that article she is not supporting conversion therapy. She states “The most recent scientific research shows that sexual orientation is immutable and there is no evidence to suggest it can be changed through conversion therapy or otherwise.“

She is arguing against bans that she says “incorrectly conflate sexual orientation with gender identity”.

So from reading that article she thinks it shouldn’t be illegal to offer for example a female child who is attracted to girls, and who likes doing activities everyone labels as “boy” interests, therapy that helps them accept they are a just girl who happens to like other girls, and happens to like what society incorrectly labels “boys things”.


> ...therapy that helps them accept they are a just girl...

... yes, that is called conversion therapy.


"In a world where world-class scientists’ merit is now determined by their sex and skin color—with white men’s work being dismissed in the name of promoting women and minorities"

A bit off-topic, but talking about 'minorities' when discussing world-wide topics such as science always seemed so bizarre to me. No single race/ethnicity represents over 50% of the world population, so isn't everyone a minority? Or does only the US count?


> A bit off-topic, but talking about 'minorities' when discussing world-wide topics such as science always seemed so bizarre to me.

“Minority” in many contexts of discrimination refers to power minorities, not necessarily numerical minorities (the two sometimes align); once you recognize that this is often intended, when it is intended is usually clear from context.


What/who are considered "power minorities"?

Let's call the country X. In country X, the majority of scientists are of race Y. If scientists are viewed as having more merit because they are not of race Y, that's a problem, no matter what the values of X and Y are.

But the articles (not just this one, but very nearly all of them) don't talk about X and Y - they talk about "white people" and "minorities", and stubbornly pretend the two groups are distinct.

A quick search (though I couldn't find any particularly authoritative sources) says white people are ~16% of the global population, behind both south and east asians. To keep calling everyone else 'minorities' is more than a little US/Eurocentric. Especially when they put phrases such as "In a world where world-class...", implying they're not limiting themselves to 'country X'


Oh stop it. Asian here. Discrimination happens in individual societies. The united states and Asian countries do not share societies. It is clear from the language and website of the article that it is targeted towards the USA

> It is clear from the language and website of the article that it is targeted towards the USA

Maybe, but since the author is Canadian, and the website is Australian, I'm surprised you would be so confident of this.


The discrimination isn't worldwide; it's within a country. So, since the conversation we're having is about discrimination within a country, it makes sense that the term "minority" is also to be understood as being within that country. Whether any race has a majority world-wide is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The more I read these kind of articles the more I realize that it really has nothing to do with science, or science denial. Nobody in these kinds of discussions really cares about the science. It’s all about politics and ideology.

Why aren’t these same people who are talking about science denial never speak up and make a fuss about the denial of climate change by a huge swath of the US population including the elected (e.g. POTUS)?


> Why aren’t these same people who are talking about science denial never speak up and make a fuss about the denial of climate change by a huge swath of the US population including the elected (e.g. POTUS)?

1. Fallacy of relative privation? Nobody can talk about X because Y is worse. Nobody should fix X until everybody has fixed Y first.

2. Fighting ideologically driven decision should be a good thing if you’re concerned about the ideologically driven decision making going on in our government. Don’t pick and choose. That’s hypocracy. (There’s at least one person sometimes unfortunately (mis?)labeled as being in the IDW who is terrible at this, a big gaping load of hypocracy shows up anytime religion or Israel comes into play. His name rhymes with Sen Bhapiro.)


> Nobody in these kinds of discussions really cares about the science. It’s all about politics and ideology.

So when someone speaks up to rid science of the ideological influence, then by this definition, they don't care about science either?

> Why aren’t these same people who are talking about science denial never speak up and make a fuss about the denial of climate change

Who says they don't?


"Nobody in these kinds of discussions really cares about the science"

? I think the point of the article is that we should care about science.

The author is indicating that there seems to be evidence that difference exist in the brain from a pre-natal age, and that the impetus behind the more popularly published stuff is political.

This is not an ideological argument, nor one that has the backing of major news outlets trying to promote a specific agenda - just the opposite - someone saying: "hey, look at the data, why are people being called sexist for reporting the data?"


I made a comment just a couple of days ago comparing the scientific approach of climate change with the scientific approach to pay gap. When climate change scientists get unaccounted data in regard to greenhouse gases it get put on hold until it get accounted. With pay gap the opposite happens where the unaccounted data is used as proof for discrimination.

The unaccounted data in climate change is no more proof of natural phenomenon than unaccounted data in wages is proof of discrimination, and yet scientists in those two fields reach the opposite conclusions. If we really cared about science they should follow the same standard and treat unaccounted data as just that, unaccounted.


> Why aren’t these same people who are talking about science denial never speak up and make a fuss about the denial of climate change...

Quillette published an article in January on just that: "The Right Needs To Grow Up On Environmentalism".


> Why aren’t these same people who are talking about science denial never speak up and make a fuss about the denial of climate change

This is called, in layman's terms, "whataboutism". I think each of us is free to pursue a primary interest, and the arguments need to be evaluated in themselves, not in relation to what else the person might be saying or not saying about some other topic.

Anyway, for me this is primarily about science. I can't see any validity in certain arguments and I abhor the idea (which seems to me the only possible justification for them) that we should choose our truths according to how much we like their consequences- real or imagined.

Or, let's put it this way: every time a scientist says that the study of nature provides support for one or another of our current moral values and ethical stances, I cringe.


"I don’t deny that sexism exists, but sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to."

Uh, source? Seems like the article just throws this out there without any citation, proof, or even argument. I'm not sure I can agree with such a statement.


I took that as her speaking from her own personal experience. She's a doctor of psychology who specialized in sex research — her PhD thesis was titled "Functional and Structural Neuroimaging of Paraphilic Hypersexuality in Men". She worked in academia for about ten years until she became dissatisfied with the influence that political correctness had on her ability to fund her research. So you could say that she achieved a career in science, until she no longer wanted to.

You could argue that she failed to account for the fact that readers of this article don't necessarily know who she is or what her own experience has been.


Or the fact that just because she did it doesn't mean that anyone can do it? I guess if you haven't, you just need to "want it more."

Sure, that too. Standing on its own, it's purely anecdotal.

Do you have sources that support the contrary of what she is saying?

I think the person asserting has the burden of proof, in any case, not those who reject the claim.

If it was standing in the way, no women could achieve a career in science. Since some women have achieved just that, it can be concluded that it doesn't stand in the way.

She got a PhD in science, so she's at least speaking from experience.

I stopped reading at "social justice bandwagon".

Without interacting with the central claims of this article, which seem to hark back to the breathless realm of nineties _Psychology Today_ grade neursci, I believe I can safely ignore any discussion about science that is basically just more culture war conturbations in sci-sauce.

If your concern is that science is being polticized, don't lead with your politics. It's just a food fight at this point.


That phrase doesn't appear until nearly the end of the article. It read to me as not particularly political.

I don't see how either how (a) where it occurs in the article body or (b) what flavours of politics are vivid to you, and which, in David Foster Wallace's memorable phrase, taste like the inside of your own mouth, would be relevant to whether this aricle constitutes unbiased scientific discourse on the matter at hand. I don't mean to be rude.

You said "don't lead with your politics." The author did not lead with their politics. (And IMO didn't include politics at all, other than to say politics don't belong in science.

For what it's worth, the inside of my mouth tastes like meat.

[flagged]


The side of "science should be apolitical?" Yes. But presumably that's not how you read it.

hers

how dare you assume their gender

Science doesn't take sides.

'Science' doesn't take sides, but those who choose what gets funded or gets coverage definetely do, unfortunately.

Except that the term 'social justice bandwagon' is perfectly apt in the context of the article.

It's at the very premise of the argument.

Articles declaring that 'science indicates sexes are the same and anyone who hints otherwise is sexist' are taken at face value and published in the Guardian, CNN etc..

Contrasting opinions hardly exist in the mainstream.

The author is not trying to create a culture war, they are trying to negate it.

This is not a 'brains are the same' vs 'brains are different' argument. This is a 'let's look at the material evidence' argument. The brain same/different is just an example.




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