Some stimulating debate on the sensitive subject of gender differences in specific cognitive abilities

On a difficult subject, let’s throw the conversation over to some people who know nothing about it, but who have flawless makeup on and vigorously assert mutually inconsistent propositions. If you think the first 90% of the video is exemplary, wait, there’s more – when the panelist asks whether it might not be time to talk about her again – and return to the subject of how ‘hot’ she is – and then tops it all off with a truly masterful summary of her position.

The original article that sparked the celebrities’ analysis is here.

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4 Responses to Some stimulating debate on the sensitive subject of gender differences in specific cognitive abilities

  1. conrad says:

    Reminds me of Lawrence Summers at Harvard, who also didn’t know what he was talking about in terms of gender differences. Steve Pinker then jumped in to save him, and he was demolished by Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard’s top developmental psychologist). At least a good debate came out of it all which you might fight slightly more insightful: http://edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

    • Chris Lloyd says:

      Pinker was not demolished in my opinion. Luckily his leftist credentials meant that he could at least argue the case without being sacrificed to the howling mob. Summers simply said that SOME of the difference at the top end (of maths but the same argument could apply to any field) could be attributed to higher variation in men. Men are also over represented down the bottom end (innumeracy and illiterate).

      • conrad says:

        I think the genetic contribution for the distribution for higher cognitive functions is asymmetrical, in that it’s similar for men and women at the top but worse for men at the bottom, although I think this is also vastly over stated too. I remember when I first started working on language and reading disorders about two decades ago, the standard figures for dyslexia were something like 4 boys for every one girl with problems, and everyone really thought boys were cursed with bad genetics in this area. But as it turns out, this was all based on kids in dyslexia centres and was just sampling bias. If you actually go into classrooms and test every kid, then that difference ends up like 55-45 (or similar), and so what we really learn is that boys differ on things like aggressiveness and ability to annoy their teachers and get identified. The same factors are probably responsible for some of left over difference between boys and girls, and thus the cognitive contribution is tiny.

        Also, I thought the debate wasn’t especially fair — on one side you have Steve Pinker, who is basically now a popular science writer, against someone that thinks about this stuff all day everyday. So I think the main left-bias in this case is that a fairer opponent would have been one of the high-profile biological psychology people into genetic differences, although this would have been even more contentious (although the arguments can go both ways — things like the testosterone arguments basically fail from this perspective).

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks Conrad. Looks very interesting.

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