Curtis Clark | 5 Jul 19:50 2003

Re: FW: [evol-psych] The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain

Thom Quine wrote:
> What do people think?

Here goes:

> The Essential Difference: 

Science has been fighting against essentialism for over two centuries, 
and the battle continues.

> Baron-Cohen argues that there are three kinds of normal human brain:
> "empathising" (type E), "systemising" (type S), and "balanced" (type B,
> which
> is a meld of types E and S). 

Let me guess: Baron-Cohen is Type S.

 > With a reader friendly style and using
> fascinating
> data, he states his central claim that, on average, men have a type S brain,
> while the female brain is predominantly type E. There are exceptions, 

The exceptions are called "variance". "On average" has been the root of 
much evil. The arithmetic mean (or any other measure of central 
tendency, such as the mode, which is the only appropriate measure for 
non-ordinal data such as his "types") is a statistical device, not a 
moral one, and it alone tells nothing about a population.

> (what he calls the "extreme male brain"). 

Sounds like a new series on TNN.

> Some of the data that Baron-Cohen presents are depressingly deterministic.

I might say "inappropriately deterministic". Correlation is not causation.

> Baron-Cohen rightly concludes his exploration of this contentious subject by
> considering the ethical implications. We now contemplate a future where
> prenatal sex hormone levels could be altered, so as to avoid the possibility
> of
> autism or even a child with a "systemising" brain. Would this serve
> humanity?

We are already doing this, in a haphazard way, with environmental 
estrogen-mimics, the same pollutants that change the sex of fish.

> Our difference is essential.

This is perhaps the key phrase for ID. When all is said and done, people 
differ, and a *measure* of a target audience is always better than a 
guess (the latter is of course "prejudice" in the literal sense).

> Yet underlying these subtle differences, Simon Baron-Cohen
> believes,
> there is one essential difference, and it affects everything we do: Men have
> a
> tendency to analyze and construct systems while women are inclined to
> empathize. With fresh evidence for these claims, 

I wonder if he will next address rhythm in African-Americans?

> Simon Baron-Cohen shows that, indisputably, 

To a scientist, nothing is indisputable, at least in the context of 
science. Science works by disputability.

I wonder how much of this is the misunderstanding of the reporters, and 
how much goes back to the author.


Curtis Clark        
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