90% of all nurses are women, does that mean that 100% of the difference (from the 50/50 ideal-world gendersplit assumption) are men purely socialized not to do that?
I have no interest in sports, yet 90+% of men seem to, but I kinda get it, it makes sense to me that most men would be into that.
And then we get to programming, and raw interest in mechanisms... and possible correlations to gender with that, and all hell breaks loose.
Have all the “monkeys prefer gender-stereotypical human toys” studies been discredited? You can’t IMHO use the socialization argument there: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/
Happy to hear anyone out on this though.
The second, radioactive topic centers around trans people. I’m not going to touch that topic with a 10 foot pole, because online the discussion rarely develops more nuance than mysticism dressed up as science on one side, and bigotry dressed up as “common sense” arguments on the other. All told it makes for a difficult topic to discuss in good faith, absent agendas on or offline, but online it’s pure poison.
Why should politics get in the way of our accumulation of data?
Get the data first, worry about interpretations after that. The moral question should not block / impede the inquiry of a topic and quest for more data. Perhaps, with the possible exception of some superweapon or bio weapon research?
Didn't we learn anything at all from the grim history of religious authorities impeding scientific inquiry because the conclusions were uncomfortable?
What exactly is going on in the last 5 or so years that we've decided to spurn Reason?
You only have to look at the history of "research" into economics, or race and IQ, or genetics and psychology to see how this works.
It isn't even particularly dispassionate in physics. There's a huge amount of politics involved in deciding which ideas and hypotheses in fundamental physics get time, money, and PhD candidates, and which are considered "the wrong choice for a successful career."
So it is not true that if the science is bad it won't get published. A huge amount of very bad science has been published, and some of it has been used to influence public policy.
I can't think of anything that works better than science, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to treat it as a stand-in for religious infallibility.
Objective insight is a constant struggle against external influences, internal biases, and political conflicts of all kinds. It's not something you get for free from science by pushing a magic button and waiting for Revealed Truth to come out.
But it doesn't really work like that. If the results sound salacious, they'll get picked up in the science/popular press. Someone else might destroy it later, but no one's going to update every PDF, abstract and bit of news coverage to note it was destroyed. Even if the destroyal is so salacious that everyone trying to use the result as a buttress for their favorite ideological/policy positions sees it, they have to have the intellectual integrity to stop trying to use it that way. And people they're using it on have to be curious enough and capable of finding out that it's been destroyed.
(To be clear; I don't think this means we should avoid researching uncomfortable/controversial topics.)
It is inhibiting scientists from communicating with the public. Tenured professors in the field are fearful or hesitant to do this now. Some professors are being actively targeted.
Many members of the public have highly distorted views of the science. In only the past two years, I've heard more times than I can count on the digits of all of my limbs, from well educated professionals, that all gender differences are the result of a patriarchal conspiracy.
This sort of thing seems to surface every month or so now. The field of evolutionary biology seems to be targeted in particular. Many of the targeted professors report that many of their colleagues offer them support in private, but dare not speak up in public for fear of also being targeted -- even tenured ones. In some cases, it looks like unverifiable accusations of sexual misconduct are being weaponized for this purpose. Trigger warnings and microaggressions and the like seem to be a favorite weapon to be used against professors.
During the Evergreen protests, students were marauding campus with baseball bats, looking for professor Bret Weinstein. More disturbingly, he was frozen out by most of the mainstream press, who only began covering him when their silence became deafening.
In particular, there was lots of press coverage on the Evergreen event and any observer can go and read a variety of perspectives on it. It's also worth noting that Evergreen was an extremely unusual style of university, and as such already had a lot of interesting customs. Suggesting that Prof. Weinstein's protesting of white people also having a venue to participate in a longstanding tradition of a black student walkout is somehow relevant to conversation about biological gender differences is chilling, because it raises the question if in this poster's mind there are relevant biological racial differences. Is this poster asking us to take a careless leap between questioning biological differences of the sexes to biological differences between races? If not, why are nearly all examples given in reference to an issue about race relations?
Similarly, one can investigate the claim that conservative professors and students are unfairly targeted. The numbers there are interesting, but don't tell a convincing story. You can also investigate the implication that conservative and traditionalist students are treated unfairly is not well supported by the numbers.
Finally, one need only look towards the career advancements and growing department sizes of evolutionary biology to see that they're actually doing fine. Evolutionary Psychologists are having a hard time, but they're also facing many challenges actually demonstrating consistently testable predictions (as is the larger field, as statistical expertise becomes more normalized in the field).
You shouldn't trust links provided in threads like this, particularly on this website. They're often carefully selected (and I say this in a non-partisan fashion; everyone does it). You're much better off investigating these things organically.
This is typical of this sort of namecalling and sinister association. A demonstration against racial exclusion which itself uses racial exclusion is obviously problematic. What I've seen time and time again, is that the purpose of such comments is to get as many people to "move along" and not look further. People of good conscience who are passionate about the truth need to look into these things, be forthright, and not be cowed. If tenured professors effectively no longer have freedom of speech, there is something going dramatically wrong in our society.
Similarly, one can investigate the claim that conservative professors and students are unfairly targeted. The numbers there are interesting, but don't tell a convincing story
The fact that tenured professors feel trepidation about speaking out should raise serious concerns in our society. The fact that the mainstream press basically buries this stuff should raise serious concern.
Finally, one need only look towards the career advancements and growing department sizes of evolutionary biology to see that they're actually doing fine.
Bret Weinstein focuses on evolutionary biology.
Sure. Please investigate this yourself, past the facade presented to us by the mainstream media. Just investigate with this fact in mind: These events are alarming if you look into them, and they are buried by the mainstream media. This is the most significant meta-level fact, and it's an alarming one to think about.
Never heard of the controversy and the link went to a low quality video blog, which was also rather loud, so I did what you suggested and went and checked other sources since I wanted to know what the evergreen + Weinstein controversy was all about.
"Once a year, Evergreen State University (located just outside of Seattle), allows the students of colour to take a day of absence, so that their importance and contribution is felt at the University. Bret Weinstein, as a progressive, was and has been on board for this for a long time.
A year ago, they flipped the logic. Rather than telling people of colour to stay away for the day, they told white people that they are not welcome on campus for a day. Absence wasn’t compulsory, but highly recommended."
Those two paragraph tells me everything I need to know. stcredzero is commenting on the political climate in academia. Not a comment about racial differences, nor race relations, but about the politics in academia.
If this was gender politics it would look like this:
Experiment 1: A day that allows women and only women to take day of absence from daycare, so that their importance and contribution is felt.
Experiment 2: A day that declare that men are not welcome at daycare.
Could anyone imagine either of those experiment going well? Imagine for completeness if we also did the same for a male dominated profession. I could not even imagine such social experiment getting a pass of approval from an ethical board, and I can't find any reference that evergreen requested one.
There is a jarring and confusing change in character between the paragraph above and below this comment. You went from a "this is optional" clause to a "you should stay away." Your narration injected this, and did so clumsily. Is this because you're citing two sources?
> A year ago, they flipped the logic. Rather than telling people of colour to stay away for the day, they told white people that they are not welcome on campus for a day. Absence wasn’t compulsory, but highly recommended."
Firstly: nothing about this practice was compulsory and nothing about this practice was universal. Professors knew about the original walkout tradition and scheduled around it, but that was the extent of it. Not all students who were people of color participated. They were not "told to stay away."
Nor were white students told to "stay away." What actually happened was some white people asked how they could participate, and so a group of students set up a separate group of workshops. This was very small scale, but the folks involved liked it. So the next year, it was proposed that there was a possible track for this to be supported by the school. It was not a "not welcome" declaration, it was a proposal to change a tradition. Brett Weinstein took exception to it.
What followed subsequently was a series of predictable escalations by the usual extremist subjects, with non-students from alt-right groups showing up in "support" and antifa showing up to "counter" them. Because Evergreen is essentially a small non-traditional state university, they were just not prepared for this scale of action and national attention. Even with this, these were nothing like the Berkeley demonstrations. Injuries were limited, property damage was low, and actually all groups were moderated by the student body.
The attempt to tie this to "suppression" of Weinstein's academic work is absurd, because nothing about any of this relates to that body of work. He took a political and ethical position completely unrelated to his work and then got involved in a controversy about it. Being a scientist with political opinions doesn't mean your political opinions are necessarily right or immune to scrutiny. If he wants to stick to science, he should have (and could have) done that. He didn't like an optional white walkout day that was done in solidarity with PoC, and he said so, and that had consequences.
No. The character of the protest did explicitly change in this way.
What followed subsequently was a series of predictable escalations by the usual extremist subjects, with non-students from alt-right groups showing up in "support" and antifa showing up to "counter" them. Because Evergreen is essentially a small non-traditional state university, they were just not prepared for this scale of action and national attention.
It's easy to find the videos of the students holding the administration captive. Especially telling are the idiotic things they're yelling. It's easy to find the videos of the students confronting Bret Weinstein. Especially telling are the idiotic things those students are yelling.
The attempt to tie this to "suppression" of Weinstein's academic work is absurd
You're being needlessly specific, or not reading carefully. I mentioned "communicating with the public." In Weinstein's case, he started out communicating with colleagues. Effectively, he was "un-personed" with the protesting students used as muscle to make him and his wife feel unsafe. In Weinstein's case, there isn't suppression of academic work. In this case, it's the suppression of an academic.
There's one kind of person in history who goes around intimidating academics for holding reasonable opinions. (Or even correct ones, as in this case.) Those are the villains.
The whole thing however looks like a terrible idea from the start and the "change" even worse. A school should not give day of absence to people based on gender, race or skin color, nor should a school support the idea to encourage people to stay away if that was what the "group of students" suggested. A school should do everything they can do in order to make students feel like they want to be at school, and doing social experiments where they encourage/permit students to not go to school (if that was what the original concept behind the walkout tradition) is a terrible idea. This is, as I mentioned earlier, why board of ethics exist.
The thing Evergreen State University should have done is do a public statement that all students regardless of race is welcome and wanted every single day, every week of the year. End of story, end of controversy, just a plain explicit message. No walk out, no white students opting to not go to school, just plain school where everyone is welcome. Then they would not have different political media platforms giving different narratives of what did or did not happen.
Look, I don't know what was in the poster's mind. However, it seems the common theme you picked out (biological differences of the sexes and a dangerous leap to racial differences) is one common theme. If you hadn't said anything, I was assuming the poster's comparison here was to show that we're targeting academics with dissenting opinions. Whether that's correct or incorrect is worthy of debate, fine, but your interpretation was particularly ominous.
Edit: and perhaps manipulatively so. If something is ambiguous, why not ask rather than assume? There's an unfortunate epidemic of people who know other people better than other people know themselves.
This is the typical strategy. Bret Weinstein, who is Jewish and who made a potentially career-risking stand for civil rights many years back was castigated as a "sellout" and even as a "white supremacist." The truth is, that Bret Weinstein is, as far as I know, a progressive.
I was a lifelong Democratic party voter. I'm non-white. I've advocated for awareness of racism and bigotry since before there was a world wide web. If you try to tell a mob that using the word "oriental" doesn't warrant a rural middle school teacher losing her job, and suggest she's a human being who should be given the benefit of the doubt and try talking to her instead, this is enough to get you called a "white supremacist." And that is just one example among many for me, personally.
The fringe Far Left has hijacked the agenda of the political left as a whole, and is using these ominous authoritarian name-calling and scare tactics to silence dissent. On campus and in the street, this has even manifested as assault and violence -- on behalf of the left. Something is very wrong there.
We people of good conscience who have seen it need to start speaking up and calling this out. For those of you for whom this is new, then just try an experiment. Ask some reasonable but hard questions. Push boundaries, but only in an intellectual sense. See what reaction you get. See if you recognize the spoor of authoritarianism.
I am simply aware of the larger context. The reason I made that leap was because Weinstein himself has said things to this effect. But also, because of the particular framing of the Evergreen Protests (which saw arguments across the political and social spectrum) as a dangerous pack of leftists wielding baseball bats stalking the campus (which is a hotly contested claim). Faculty who were there and had their offices occupied as part of the specificallu leftist protests do not consistently report
And quite frankly? It doesn't stand out in American politics at all. We've been rioting as part of political discourse since before the Constitution's ink was dry.
But presenting the event in that way leads an informed reader to wonder if there is are other inaccuracies.
Look at the poster's responses closely for a clear and logical refutation. I think the absence of anything other than "it's name calling and that's what they do" is not a very powerful way to dismiss these concerns. Someone genuinely interested in setting the record straight would probably do it differently
Am I "the far left?" I don't know. I'm a successful fintech founder postexit, so it's pretty tough for me to look credible to that crowd. If I were, would simply naming me as such actually be a valid answer to the concern I raised?
Because the mainstream press wants the public to move along and not pay too much attention.
I'm sincerely hoping that people will look into different coverage of Evergreen. Really, it speaks for itself. Your description of "Antifa blocking" speaks to your bias. I know from personal experience that not all Antifa are toxic thugs who lack any philosophical basis apart from "might makes right." I also know from personal experience that many are, and it's very telling how those who wear those colors who know better don't call them out. I have no idea how an informed person could support them. The only thing they have going for them is that Nazis are worse than they are. As I mention above, many of them will even outright tell you that it's their guiding philosophy.
History has many examples of people trying to intimidate others politically. Some wear masks. Others think their special status shields them. Over time, we all know them as villains.
It's not just the last 5 years - if "human biodiversity" turns out to be accurate (HBD could be summarized as "almost all human traits, including intelligence, have genetic components, and different population groups may have different distributions of these traits" or more simply "some population groups are better runners, some are better swimmers, some are more intelligent") and there's a fair bit of evidence for it... Well, we've been suppressing that particular shitstorm for the past 20+ years, largely due to the repugnant conclusions it can lead to, and the kind of person trying to lead us there.
Hey, man. Insinuation/assumption. This is exactly the sort of remark that quickly toxifies the discussion. Keep it rational.
Great question. Unrelatedly, mind if I correlate your medical history and a genetic profile of you with your purchase history at three major retail chains and the contents of your inbox? I'm not intending to do anything special with it; I'm just accumulating data.
(... everything has a political dimension, including data accumulation. Because ultimately, humans use the data, and what humans do is politics).
Bad point. Violating the privacy of individuals is worlds different from studying gender differences on average.
But from that, it can't follow that we should alter the results to avoid hurt feelings. That would render the "data" no better than mythical just-so stories. Politics should be subservient to empirical data and science. We've seen what doing it the other way results in historically.
This says a lot about our world today.
Because that's how wacko some of the Far Left have become. Because some of the Far Left would like for there to be something like Lysenkoism forwarding a version of science which explicitly fits their narratives, and for this to be taught to young people. (If you look into it, they basically have a "good start.")
No, I wasn't referring to collecting your social security number or address for science. We were talking about uncomfortable conclusions in neurology research.
No. Many of the same social instincts underpinning religion are now motivating tribal groupthink.
Disclaimer: I've debated racists on Twitter, with moderate success.
I started by presuming that their correlational data wasn't invalid. Then I showed them this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Height_and_intelligence while stating that I couldn't waste time talking to any of them unless they were over 6' (for men) or 5'8" (for women) because going too far below that would be beneath my eminent intelligence as a person who towers at 6'3".
They magically shut up soon after this.
You see, there's a difference between seeing a correlation, and acting on it. Racists want to act on correlations (oppressing nonwhites), but oddly, they wouldn't think the same about oppressing short people, even though that evidence is at least as plain-as-day.
This is all besides the fact that correlational data is weak to begin with.
Whatever certain kind of non-scientific persons do politically should have zero effect on scientific output.
If X is a scientific fact, scientists are not OK to say that it doesn't hold, even if people regularly abuse X.
Why is it trolling or arguing "in bad faith" to think that there are inherent differences in gender? The vast majority of people alive today believe this. People who attempt to back up their intuitive knowledge with science seem to be the opposite of trolls. It gets tiresome to have entire swaths of mainstream opinion labeled as "bad faith" (which ironically is bad faith).
Consider the difference between seeing if your intuitions reflect science, and trying to justify your intuitions with science.
If you go looking for information that matches parts of your internal biases, can you reasonably say you would change your mind if you found information that conflicted your view? What if ten articles out of twenty reflected your view? What if one article out of twenty reflected your view? I think you should reread the portion of their comment about using science as a cudgel to see why it can be bad to consider intuition the guiding principle of research.
And yes, I would change my mind if I was presented with credible evidence.
Want to know the absolutely delicious irony, here? I saw it in James Damore's memo.
Unless you have evidence to back this up, it sounds an awful lot like a "mere belief"
Then isn't it incumbent on people to carefully consider what's being said and not knee-jerk react? As far as I can tell, all of the knee-jerk reactions in either direction simply add to the noise and outrage.
All told it makes for a difficult topic to discuss in good faith, absent agendas on or offline, but online it’s pure poison.
It makes a lot more sense to think of the whole situation as an exercise in the generation of outrage and toxicity in the service of attention and virality. Given that outrage is the easiest way to achieve virality, it doesn't take some sort of underlying conspiracy to explain this. We've created a sociopolitical milieu combined with networks which create these perverse incentives. The same combination amplifies the most toxic and nonsensical voices, and acts to disguise intelligent voices as nonsense.
The solution is for intelligent and reasonable voices to fight back against the nonsense. This means 1) calling out the excesses of one's own side and 2) uniting with voices of reason across the aisle. The opponent who values truth and with whom one can reasonably disagree with is much preferable to the sociopath no one can reason with because they are really motivated by power stemming from outrage.
Given that these assertions are unstated, they sound more like a manifestation of insecurity on the part of the listener.
Conversely, one could speculate that responses to questions of equality are frequently taken personally and met defensively, with resulting rationalizations, like the one you listed, of improper emotional reasoning.
This is only a controversial subject because people feel that there are potential negative implications to them as individuals, even though the rammifications are purely for distributions, which laymen tend not to understand, hence the personal responses.
That's the Conspiracy Fallacy.
"Look at all these people not talking about how racist they are! Clearly they're all hiding something."
The neuroscientists I used to support were very quick to acknowledge that innate effects were possible but that they hadn't been linked to anything high level and were in all likelihood weak because if there was a strong effect so many decades of studies looking for them would have found something.
There's a difference between claiming that there are no difference and critically examining specific claims to see how well supported they are by the scientific evidence. The book review you linked to appears to fall in that tradition of critically examining claims and looking at sources of systemic error.
> At the very least, no-one ever got fired for claiming there are no differences.
Nobody has been fired for relevant scientifically-supported claims, either. What has happened is that some guys have spouted off outside of their areas of competency and tried to avoid the consequences by handwaving something about engaging in science. Science is a tool for becoming less-wrong over time, not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Look at e.g. Damore's memo. It was relevant and cited peer reviewed research in support of its claims. Whether those claims were true is another matter, but they were "scientifically supported" by any sensible standard. Yet he was fired, while all the people claiming the exact opposite, even when they did not cite any research, and just as much "outside their areas of competency", were not.
In that sense, you're very much correct - if you say something sufficiently unpopular, no matter how well scientifically supported, science won't act as a get-out-of-jail-free card, and won't save you from the backlash. At best it might provide a Nobel prize you can sell for cash when things get dire.
Odd, but I saw videos of Google and YouTube execs soon afterwards talking at conferences saying some of the same things that were somehow so terrible in the Damore memo.
In particular, they stated that they were doing about as well as the education pipeline could allow, and they also speculated that there might be changes to the work environment which could make jobs more desirable to women.
Linking a study about toy preferences in monkeys (no matter its merits) is a long way from supporting the claim that Google’s management stats were just reflecting a shortage of qualified people.
That hardly strikes me as an intellectually robust summary of the memo.
Try going through it to extract a coherent thesis and then look for the citations, noting how few of them there are at all, how many are secondary sources, and especially how big the gaps are between the things being claimed and what the cited evidence actually supports. Damore is not a very good writer but he’s proficient in the Gish Gallup – if you’re not reading carefully easy easy to careen from point to point without asking how well each one is argued.
Here's an interview by James Damore by feminist LianaK:
He's not a monster or a raging sexist. He and his memo certainly didn't warrant the hysterical mass staying-home that happened shortly after the media kerfuffle. (In retrospect, I'm actually happy the whole reaction happened, though it is a shame an innocent man lost his job. This event can be preserved for future generations and studied and evaluated for what it really was -- and for how ridiculous and dishonest it was.)
I have serious doubts that my interests were given to me socially. I have always liked the color and flavor orange, I have always liked chocolate (one of my best friends does not), I have always wanted to take things apart to figure out how they worked... the latter led more or less "naturally" to programming (especially after taking my first programming class and realizing I LOVED it). What if it turned out that the "urge to take things apart and learn how they worked", at some very low level, was more of a male thing? Why would that be so bad? That doesn't mean that equivalently-interested women need be held back in any way/shape/form (because, duh, they shouldn't!)
Stop right here. You're already describing a high-level skill, an extremely high-level skill. What does grandparent have to say about this?
>high-level cognitive skills represent years of practice so even if you did find, say, a difference in the size of a brain region you would still want to study whether that's innate or simply reflecting that people who do something a lot develop capacity for it
So we see that the very question you are asking is precisely what grandparent is calling out as impossible to get some kind of direct access to in the first place. Why?
>because the brain is famously plastic
The brain, by the definition of its form, doesn't leave an audit trail, so by definition, _we cannot ask the kinds of questions you want to ask_, questions that, obviously, many many people _want_ to ask, _unless_ we somehow develop a way to backtrack the brain's _inline mutation_, which doesn't look likely. But ethical and political discourse is not designed to _wait_ until we have all the information to even make answering the questions they pose possible, questions which make _presumptions_ in the _absence of knowledge_, presumptions they can't actually cash the check for.
Science has _bounds_; ethico-political discourse does not. They are not composable types.
You ask, "Why would that be so bad? "
But we can't even begin to access the _conditions_ for even getting the presumption to be true, so what other value is there left for a question which is own shaky epistemological ground? What is the value of _supposing_ that it is true?
> What is the value of _supposing_ that it is true?
The problem is that the (calling it this for effect) "blank-slate hypothesis mafia" is assuming that it is NOT true.
If what you say is valid, then NO SIDE should be taken seriously until more evidence comes in.
Where does that raw interest come from? Humans are highly social creatures and children show signs of learning socially very early so it requires a great deal of care to distinguish between a correlation and the underlying cause. If something is social behaviour, that means that we can also question whether it's worth continuing.
> What if it turned out that the "urge to take things apart and learn how they worked", at some very low level, was more of a male thing? Why would that be so bad? That doesn't mean that equivalently-interested women need be held back in any way/shape/form (because, duh, they shouldn't!)
The problem is that the latter part is really hard to actually deliver: historically that meant that girls were actively discouraged or prevented from being interested in things which are identified as male but even without overt prevention social pressure is a real problem — maybe nobody tells someone directly “you can't do this” but if the image of programming is “you'd be the only girl” or the widespread “only nerdy boys like this” trope that's going to have an impact, and one which will probably start well before anyone is, say, picking a major in college. It doesn't even need to be conscious — maybe nobody actually thinks negatively but they just assumed that, say, a bright high school student would be more interested in biology than math or CS and never really even suggested the latter. Maybe at some point they give up after being asked again why they're doing something associated with the other gender, which is tiring even if it's not intended to be mean.
Those social factors are all around us and the only thing which seems to work is actively correcting against them so that every kid has as wide a range of opportunities open to them.
Isn't that the precise question that science is trying to answer, but which is being disputed by people who do not like the answers?
> Humans are highly social creatures and children show signs of learning socially very early so it requires a great deal of care to distinguish between a correlation and the underlying cause
Sure. And you'd also have to distinguish things like hormones... would those be categorized as "nature" or "nurture"? If you categorize them as "nurture" then it would give more credence to the blank-slate hypothesis, since there are definite, measurable changes to physique and behavior from having a higher blood testosterone level, for example.
> The problem is that the latter part is really hard to actually deliver: historically that meant that girls were actively discouraged or prevented from being interested in things which are identified as male
This is sort of a "they can't handle the truth" argument, or perhaps a "guilty until proven innocent" argument, which I don't like. But it is an argument. I guess... It's also an appeal to tradition fallacy- it's quite possible that times have changed and that, more generally, everyone is supported in whatever interests them, way more than it was in "those times", regardless of any emerging scientific info about correlations to gender.
> but even without overt prevention social pressure is a real problem
So is the Petrie multiplier: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrie_multiplier
We should then teach young people not to care about conformity, then. I didn't... My Pascal class in high school (this dates me... this was the late 80's) had 1 woman and myself, and she was awesome. (She's a doctor now.)
> Maybe at some point they give up after being asked again why they're doing something associated with the other gender, which is tiring even if it's not intended to be mean
As a guy I often meet other guys, and the usual guy thing is to talk about sports, which I have pretty much zero interest in. When I was younger, they would give me shit about it (oh jesus, having flashbacks to bad trading of baseball cards, etc.), but as an adult, guys sense when that's not your thing and move onto other topics. I don't think we'll ever completely escape the "jerky kid" element to social pressure, perhaps because part of what it means to be human seems to be to learn how not to be an asshole. :)
> and the only thing which seems to work is actively correcting against them so that every kid has as wide a range of opportunities open to them
Well that's the catch- what is the best way to "actively correct against them"? Some might say "enforcement" (quotas, etc.) but I don't think that's fair, my way would be "teach people not to care one bit what others think about their interests because they are YOUR interests."
Science does investigate all sorts of questions and there isn’t exactly a movement to shutdown neuroscience and psychology research. What there is a reaction to are people claiming to know the answer to these big field-defining questions, which conveniently says that their politics are the only right position, and otherwise claiming the mantle of science while acting contrary to how actual science is supposed to work. Sometimes that includes criticism of scientific figures but that’s when they aren’t doing good science: nobody would question that James Watson is a real scientist but the criticism he gets today isn’t for asking unpopular questions but for falling so short of the standard. Had he wanted to do real research into intelligence and genetics he’d have had no shortage of resources and collaborators but he wouldn’t have the big dramatic claims, just more slow progress chipping away at one of the hardest problems in the world.
If science is still trying to find the answers, then the people who claim to know what the science proves merely have an agenda.
And it's the agenda that people don't like, the attempt to write all differences between gender, particularly in terms of social and business roles, off as genetics.
* Interest has been conflated with ability. You can see this most prominently with the James Damore diversity memo, which was all about interest, but has been declared to be about ability by almost everyone lambasting him for it.
* Misunderstanding "average" as "all", another common misrepresentation of Damore's diversity memo.
His manifesto may have had some points, but was also rife with utter bullshit, false equivalence, value judgements, and personal biases.
Damore has also since proven himself to be an utter chode in his unwavering insistence that he is 100% right.
If you have an argument to make, you'll reach more people without mentioning that nonsense.
> Damore has also since proven himself to be an utter chode
This is the appeal to shame fallacy, pure and simple.
> in his unwavering insistence that he is 100% right
I have yet to see solid rational arguments against his assertions that do not fall into one fallacy or another (appeal to moderation, appeal to emotion, strawman, appeal to... you name it, I've seen it). Until I am shown a well-worded rational argument against his actual assertions, and not some strawman that outrage-powered anti-intellectuals chose to discredit, he is correct (so far). I read his paper, all he did was propose organic solutions to an organic problem, I didn't see what was so outrageous about that.
Critical thinking seems to be a vastly underrated skill these days.
...is exactly the sort of conversation that needs to happen
Choose any one of the (fairly unoriginal) points he was trying to make and talk about that.
Come on, dude. This is no longer a rational argument, you are making personal attacks. Jobs was also an asshole, but he also happened to be right the vast majority of the time. One of my doctors is an asshole (let's call him "Dr. House"), but he's excellent, and I have seen the studies that say "bedside manner" not only doesn't correlate with skill/patient outcomes, it may INVERSELY correlate with skill/patient outcomes.
I don't give a fuck if someone's an asshole, as long as they're right. You can call it the Walter Sobchak worldview (as in "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole!") All this kowtowing to people's feelings just encourages bullshit; the truth often does not care what you or I think about it.
> Choose any one of the (fairly unoriginal) points he was trying to make and talk about that
OK, sure. Let's go with one point from his "Concrete Suggestions" section. "Stop alienating conservatives." What is unreasonable about that? A work environment that is hostile to conservative viewpoints is a hostile fucking work environment. I'm not even conservative (I'm "left of center") and that seems plain as day to me and completely nondebatable.
There isn't evidence of an "obviously superior" thought modality for most any given task or family of tasks you can name.
What's more, it is a generally accepted fact among scientists that these values exist as distributions among the population (and even this paper demonstrates non-total values). Since we generally think that DNA and extensive physical scanning shouldn't be a prerequisite for social contexts, many of these differences aren't especially meaningful for something like a hiring committee.
There's an argument that the gap is not significant because it (mostly) disappears when accounting for gender-specific choices, i.e. taking maternity leave and not returning, or not bidding for an ambitious raise.
The common counter-argument is to say well, even if it down to choices it's an undesirable situation for society, that women are paid significantly less than men as a whole. Perhaps we can structure things so that men and women make more similar choices?
The counter to the counter-argument is that such a thing is not possible (or should not even be attempted) because of gender differences that are innate and cannot be "fixed" by socialisation. This is where the murky science regarding gender-based differences in early life gets dragged into the argument.
I've generally found people on HN to be sensitive to the nuance, but over on reddit - where the level of discourse is lower but perhaps more reflective of everyday conversation - things are very different. Some use the choice explanation to dismiss the finding as not problematic, or to push the blame onto women. Some recent examples after a quick search:
> The gender pay gap might not be a problem and it could just be the result of the choices of both men and women
> The gender pay gap has been debunked, can we move on already
> Do people still believe in the gender pay gap? Is is still being pushed as “women getting paid less because they are women”?
> It’s almost as stupid as the gender pay gap day
A gender-dependent redistribution would depend on which data we want to use. If for example carer choice is included, then we have a gap in work related injuries and death. A hard problem to redistribute. If numbers or hours at work is included we would need to redistribute that too, including overtime, and in regard to sick days women spend 50% more of that so gender-dependent redistribution model would also have to account for that.
The biggest problem I see however with a gender-dependent redistribution model is that the distribution curve is not flat. The top 1% look very different than the bottom 1%. If we look at introduction wages alone we get close to 0% pay gap in most industries, with some that overpay men and other that overpay women. A common finding in gender studies is that the bottom 10% and top 10% is dominated by men, with the top 1% being exceptional outliners, which if the same is true for income means that a gender-dependent redistribution would either need to be very dumb or be applied based on such distribution curve.
If we include pay gap to mean all income, including those with zero income, we get problems that a homeless man is treated equal to a home spouse where their partner is a millionaire. A gender-dependent redistribution should also account for this basic context.
This is why that explanation has so profound effect on the discussion. It basically makes a gender-dependent redistribution policy impossible. A bit like how crime policy in regard to gender, race and immigrant status is profoundly changed if we accept the explanation based on social economical status.
oh wow. this is a great point.
I get the sense there is a fear that concrete evidence of biological cognitive differences will give cover to discrimination, and likely broader discrimination than the evidence really "supports."
Sources? I don’t believe anyone has been using science (biological cognitive differences?) to exclude individuals from jobs, beyond the perfectly acceptable “let’s not hire the stupid and incompetent when we can hire someone less stupid and less incompetent”
If I cherry-pick 1 study out of 10 which corroborates my worldiew and use it to cudgel my oppressive point home, that is not a "science problem," the problem there is that someone must step up and point out that 9 other studies did not have results in agreement with that one person's worldview!
That was what I was responding to. Yes, people have used science as an excuse to do those very things.
Gall was taking real measurements inspired by:
- the faulty premise that there was a closer relationship between small differences in the exterior of the head and the brain than ultimately existed
- the ultimately borne-out premise that different mental faculties are closely related with different physical parts of the brain
If the science underpinning most but not all interpretations of fMRI results was debunked in the next 20 years, it seems like there would still be "actual science" behind the incorrect conclusions. How/where do you draw the line between phrenology's primitive grasp of the relationship between mental faculties and brain areas and the manifestation of the same concept in fMRI?
Fear of the truth... Always a good reason to not do something. ::eyeroll::
That you seem to think "something" should be done at all in response to this study only validates the fear.
The notion of population level differences is not good for such people because it would men that disparities of outcome may exist without bias. It's extra uncomfortable for places that engage in discrimination to rectify disparities of outcome, because it fractures the justifications for these policies. E.g. if we accept that women might make up 20-25% of engineers without societal bias, the discriminatory policies to try and hire 50% women doesn't very fair any more.
I speculate that the "blank state hypothesis" has a media footprint that's disproportionate to the number of people who actually believe it in its strongest form.
Perhaps more media attention is given to people who argue for extreme nature-vs-nurture positions, rather than more moderate nature-and-nurture positions?
For "social sciences" it's easy, they are mostly fashion.
For harder sciences, well, with enough people pushing, they will promote whatever doesn't cost them grants. It's not like most of the studies are well done or reproducible anyway.
But the problem goes both ways. There are also social justice warriors who choose to believe their intuition and feelings over cold logic.
Basically, it's an emotionally charged topic that makes objective analysis difficult due to the complexity of humans and their motivations.
Because that kind of "science" was leveraged by many as a reason, with things like "you're a woman, hence..." or "you're a man, hence...", even though the variation within a sex is enough to explain many differences for individuals.
It seems that pushing a simpler hypothesis is easier than explaining statistics to the world.
Looking at modern-day gender ratios in careers and just hypothesizing a biological cause is specious reasoning. You need so much more evidence to make that claim.
This tells me that, at least in the case of sexual preference (and possibly, all other preferences, such as in learning how things work/STEM), it seems to be significantly (but not completely; but also not insignificantly) influenced by nonsocial/biological/"root" factors.
This is of course, unfortunately, the most troublesome answer, because all it does is lead to even more questions.
But this only provides evidence of a genetic component to career choice, not sexual differences. To prove that, you'd need to isolate the genes responsible and show they are on the X or Y chromosomes. Actually, genes are a lot more complicated than that, and there would likely be a large number of interactions between a lot of different genes. So instead you'd need to use some sort of statistical model.
Also, I'd note that this doesn't rule out societal factors. Heritability scores are a measure of the interaction between genes and the environment. If we lived in a world where it was against the law for a woman to be a computer programmer, you'd see a very strong genetic component for career choice as well!
I don't think that's necessary. All you'd have to do IMHO is
1) take male identical-twin-raised-separately data about career choice
2) take female identical-twin-raised-separately data about career choice
3) do a multivariate regression analysis of both twin-to-twin and also gender-to-gender; you should be able to derive the statistical relationships between career and sex, and both of these to genetics, and that would demonstrate genetic influence.
Since the correlation between genes and career seems to be positive http://www.aei.org/publication/the-genetics-of-job-choice/, and the correlation of gender and career seems to be positive http://career.iresearchnet.com/career-development/gender-and... (although is claimed to be 100% environmental, according to the blank-slate hypothesis, which I consider a radical position), we can safely assume that some combination of all 3 is also positive, although the actual value requires math.
1. Since networks in general like to produce complex emergent behavior, and our understanding of brains and behavior and networks and emergence are still fairly limited, I deal with the uncertainty by looking for sane default positions (i.e., a position to hold in the absence of comprehensive evidence otherwise). I'm not sure if it's obvious from a distance, but in practice default positions are an exercise in intellectual humility.
2. I am working on a sort of razor. I don't know what to call it, yet. When it comes to animal-kingdom behavior, a good default position is to think of any observed behavior as being in the possibility space of the broader category until the evidence against this is overwhelming. If we see one crow use a tool, assume tool use is in the crow possibility space. If we see another corvid do it, assume it's part of the corvid possibility space. If we see some non-corvid avian do it, assume it's part of the avian possibility space. If we already know humans do it, assume this goes back at least to our last common ancestor with birds.
If all of the nurses anyone has ever seen are female humans, it is fair to think of the occupation as part of the female human possibility space. If anyone has seen any non-female human nurse, it is prudent to think of the occupation as part of the human possibility space. If anyone has seen a canine nurse, it is prudent to think of nursing as part of the mammalian or animal possibility spaces.
Once you know a behavior is in the possibility space, another good default position is: assume everything known to influence any other behavior in that possibility space is involved, until the evidence against is overwhelming. Why do humans choose to become a nurse or not? Assume family, society, friends, money, justice, punishment, education, teachers/mentors, status, media, profound experiences, mate-seeking, curiosity/interest, talent, chasing neurochemicals, instinct, charity, hormones, tradition, biology/neurology, etc. play a role.
While it's certainly possible that the male/female nursing delta is caused by genetic sexually-dimorphic destiny, the default position suggests it isn't prudent to give this any more weight than the other possibilities until some can be ruled out or sexual dimorphism is resoundingly demonstrated to be the primary causal factor.
3. As the evidence for human neuroplasticity continues to accumulate, it seems at least plausible that our brains are significantly more plastic than we currently realize.
Likewise, as the evidence for complex behavior like tool use and learning in non-human species accumulates (including fish, reptiles, and insects), it seems at least plausible that reasoning, problem-solving, plasticity, and flexibility are vastly older (and more basic/common) than we thought.
Given these, it seems like a decent default position to assume that complex/unique behavior is more likely (but not necessarily) plastic/flexible than hard-wired.
I don't personally agree with this line of reasoning (it fails to explain how people undergoing HRT often find themselves tending in personality to become more like the stereotype of their gender identity) but it does, in my view, hold water to an extent.
We never did fetal scans, but we were also studying resting state fMRIs connectivity in adults. I'm semi ashamed to admit it, but a lot of times, if your main hypothesis didn't come to fruition in the data, you could usually just fall back on some sex-difference finding. You wouldn't even need to fish very hard for it. There is probably no other single 2-way split you could make that would more reliable give you large magnitude differences.
I don't know how else to present that idea though. It's not completely unreasonable that there might be some inherent bias in the processing. There are really a handful of tools that everyone uses. It's possible that there is some undiscovered bias somewhere. But if that is not the case, then I am pretty convinced from my time there that the differences are real, and they are usually of large magnitude. At least larger than the more interesting findings researchers look for.
Pretty crazy that they did fetal scans though. We had a lot of trouble normalizing even toddler brains on one study. I can't even imagine fetal ones.
Not ITT: The logical bridge for the conceptual chasm between observing sex differences in the brain and an explanation of how these differences in the sexes somehow always end up causing women to be in an economically and politically disadvantaged position subordinated to men.
You might also find these links helpful for getting the spirit of this site:
Sex-related differences in brain and behavior are apparent across the life course...These observations confirm that sexual dimorphism in functional brain systems emerges during human gestation.
Here are some figures from this paper that illustrate what I mean:
This is not intended to disparage their work. Rather, I mean to clarify that sex is not particularly predictive of what is being measured, and differences only appear when observed in aggregate.
When the variation is cognitive, it will produce very real world statistical differences between men and women. You can't pick a random woman and a random man and assume the woman is inclined toward X and the man isn't. The statistical difference is too small to predict that. But take a thousand men and a thousand women and the percentages will bear out the small statistical difference.
Height is 0 steps removed from height.
When I started reading that they talked about sex hormones differentiating at 8 weeks and I was thinking that we'd have to throw out a lot of things we thought we knew about sexual development if they'd actually seen differences before that but, no, it was was later that this was measured.
It would be nice to have some notion of the effect size. That is, what fraction of female infants would have more FC-GA connection than the typical male. I'd bet that the dimorphism here is smaller than, say, height dimorphism but I wouldn't try guessing by how much.
- https://quillette.com/2019/03/11/science-denial-wont-end-sex... (discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19360744)
"Not a week goes by without yet another research study, popular science book, or mainstream news article promoting the idea that (a) any differences between men and women in the brain are purely socially constructed and (b) these differences have been exaggerated beyond any meaningful relevance. More recently, this argument has evolved to contend that (c) there are, in fact, no brain differences between the sexes at all. Eliot’s article appears to subscribe to a hodgepodge of all three perspectives, which not only contradict one another but are also factually incorrect."
- https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/10/23/kolmogorov-complicity-... (discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15539675)
"Did Giordano Bruno die for his astronomical discoveries or his atheism? False dichotomy: you can’t have a mind that questions the stars but never thinks to question the Bible. The best you can do is have a Bruno who questions both, but is savvy enough to know which questions he can get away with saying out loud. And the real Bruno wasn’t that savvy."
And pretty much as a side note, while some social differences ARE due to sexism, some others are because of more gender equality (and people being able to choose what they prefer, regardless of their gender):
"As women have more equal opportunity, the more their preferences differ from men" http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6412/eaas9899 (discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18379943)
The entire post-modern left worldview is deeply rooted in the blank-state hypothesis. Very few people - across all political and academic spectra - have the scientific discipline to react rationally to criticism of the scaffolding supporting the lens through which they view the world.
Not many people would argue that testosterone causes men to have increased muscle mass, for example. But they might take issue if you make the claim that men are physically superior (because that concept is much more complex and it's weird to declare superiority without more specific constraints — It's akin to saying America is the best country).
As more research like this gets out, indicating that males and females really are genetically predisposed to different psychology, what happens to a sizable chunk of leftist politics, which currently allege men and women are identical and that differences in equity are entirely cultural and sexist in nature?
What does this say of modern cultural hiring and university admittance policies that are driven by untested assumptions contradicting research like this?
Perhaps our past measures of merit have not been so skewed as some people with an axe to grind would have you believe.