Friday, 18 October 2019

“Saying that men and women have different aptitudes isn’t sexism. It’s a statement about the true nature of the world. If we keep saying that those differences are because of sexism, nobody’s going to end up happy with what they’re doing, and we’re going to keep making laws to remedy what’s actually the result of freedom.” #QotD




“Saying that men and women have different aptitudes isn’t sexism. It’s a statement about the true nature of the world. If we keep saying that those differences … are because of sexism, nobody’s going to end up happy with what they’re doing, and we’re going to keep making laws to remedy what’s actually the result of freedom.”
~ evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman, in John Stossel's post 'Gender Wars: The Difference Between Male & Female Brains'
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10 comments:

  1. And saying that different races have different aptitides isn't racism its realistic, and factual genetically.

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    1. There's plenty of evidence for significant differences between sexes, but not between races. What you're suggesting also sounds implausible from an evolutionary perspective. The different sexes have had millions of years to evolve in a way that suits their very different survival and reproduction strategies. But in racial terms DNA shows we all came from a common ancestor in Africa 60,000 years ago, which provides much less scope for divergence. Any alleged difference that evolved over that (relatively short) period of time would become increasingly irrelevant anyway with modern travel and the mixing of genes that results.

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    2. "...but not between races."

      Trivially false. For one thing, there's skin color (and the associated ability to process UV light into Vitamin D). The real issues are 1) defining race (really, populations) accurately, which racists never do, and 2) the fact that variation within any race, however defined, is much greater than variation between races.

      This is how evolution works. Populations experience some degree of genetic isolation (such as humans prior to the Age of Exploration), and thus begin to drift apart genetically. Go far enough, and you become new species. It's the start of allopatric speciation. If there are strong selection pressures this can happen remarkably fast.

      I agree that any differences will be rapidly washed out with increased travel (and the consequent gene mixing).

      "The different sexes have had millions of years to evolve in a way that suits their very different survival and reproduction strategies."

      That's not how sexes work in biology. Remember, male and female are defined by a single chromosome (in humans, the existence of a Y chromosome). We evolve in tandem. A male human has ALL the genes a female human has; "male" and "female" are more about gene expression, plus a bit of extra DNA in men. (Different animals define sexes differently, so this can't be taken as universal.)

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    3. I should also add that known genetic differences between populations of humans include things like lactose tolerance, alcohol tolerance, ability to process some medications, and the ability to make certain sounds (a clicking sound common in sub-Saharan languages but impossible for most outside that range to make). Again, it's obvious from a biological perspective that the different populations of humans have drifted apart a bit. That doesn't make any group non-human, nor does it imply any moral advantage or disadvantage to any group.

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    4. Dinwar - I'm taking about our brain, not physical differences (which of course exist). I thought this context could be taken for granted given the heading of the video - 'Male Brain versus Female Brain'.

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    5. Are you assuming that the brain is the one organ that doesn't evolve? I can cite a fair amount of evidence to the contrary.

      Or are you arguing that the evolution of the brain has no genetic component, alone among organs? If so I'm going to need a great deal of evidence--this falls squarely into the "extraordinary claims" category. (Yes, I'm aware of the Nature/Nurture debate and the plasticity of the brain.)

      If you're not making either argument, my first post stands in its entirety. Your statements are counter to the way evolution works. The second was only ever a list of examples of known variations among populations, serving to demonstrate that humans can (like most other cosmopolitan organisms) be divided into populations, something that is absurdly controversial.

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  2. Just to save us both a bit of time: If you're going to argue that brain plasticity negates the effects of evolution and allows for the sort of thing you're describing in your first post, I will respond by pointing out that such a degree of plasticity renders your post irrelevant. A brain plastic enough to allow the sexes to diverge the way you're describing would be a brain plastic enough to allow individuals within each sex to diverge as well. Your argument REQUIRES the brain to be driven by the same evolutionary forces as every other organ, but runs contrary to how evolution demonstrably works. (That is, assuming you're not exempting the brain from evolution wholesale, which is an unevidenced claim.)

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  3. Dinwar - You're overcomplicating this. All I said was that it seems implausible that significant racial differences in brain structure could evolve between members of the same sex in only 60,000 years. If you disagree, show me some examples where it's happened.

    The other thing I said (re-stating it with different words to try and overcome any misinterpretation) was that women and men have evolved differentially due to different biological pressures. That is all. What selected a woman for maximum chances of survival and reproduction are different to what selected a man for maximum chances of survival. For instance a woman predisposed to looking after children was more likely to have her genes reproduced, and a man predisposed to spreading his seed was more likely to have his reproduced. That's uncontroversial, surely?

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  4. I have 10 human brains in a lab. I need you to examine each and tell me which is male and which is female. How will you achieve that?

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