Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Too Bad Our Culture Made Me Forget Japanese

Neurological Differences in Sexes May not be Biological
The president of a major university is under fire for suggesting that neurological differences have been found between men and women.
Naturally, all egalitarians have been raising a stink – the same stink raised when a book called “The Bell Curve” suggested that differences in standardized test scores between white and black people meant that whites were “just smarter.”
A similar mistake.
Psychologists and pediatricians often refer to “neuroplasticity” – the phenomenon that a newborn’s brain (any species) is practically a blank slate. For example: an infant is biologically equipped to
speak any language; it just forgets all the languages it doesn’t hear, making room for techniques like walking. Through neuroplasticity, we’ve found that almost no part of a human being is innate – rather it’s grown. What’s the first thing a little boy baby hears? “Oh, he’s so strong!” And a little girl baby? “Oh, she’s so beautiful.”
Anybody paying attention should realize that the differences in the way men and women are grown don’t stop there. Gender
roles are cultural, not biological – and as culture using animals, that deeply affects our minds. It’s no surprise there are neurological differences between men and women; our fatal error lies in assuming that those differences are natural.

Richard Hartnell

I read this piece of work today in the Bellingham Herald, my favorite newspaper in the whole world. This letter was sent in to Scott Ayers the editorial page editor for the Bellingham Herald. Why some people feel it is necessary to voice their opinions in the newspaper is beyond me?
My first problem with this piece of work is his reference to “The Bell Curve”. He quotes “The Bell Curve” as stating that white people are “just smarter” than black people. “The Bell Curve” never once said anything like that; it only stated that white Americans scored better than black Americans. The findings of “The Bell Curve” had nothing to do with Africans in Africa, Southern Indians, or any other people than American citizens.
Second, Neuroplasticity doesn’t quite mean what Richard wants it to mean. It means that the brain can form new neural connections in order to repair injury or for some other reason that no one has yet defined (except Richard). The theory of neuroplasticity does not suggest that the human brain isn’t born with genetic or innate abilities, only that it changes and has the ability to change. While I support the idea that culture can affect how one’s brain develops, I don’t in any way support the idea that a child born with Down syndrome will win a Nobel Prize such as Richard would suggest.
Also, I have a bit more faith in our culture than Richard perhaps, but I don’t believe boys or girls are raised any differently concerning math. I’ve never once encountered anyone praising boys’ math or science abilities over girls’, that doesn’t even begin to make sense. Tell me if this sounds like a normal thing to say, “Susie, you just aren’t good with science because you’re a girl.” Or how about “I don’t know why you study math so much Billy, you’re a boy, you’re naturally good at it.” Maybe I missed it when the “Super Cool Math Toy for Boys” was invented. Really, that’s all that Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, is suggesting is that boys test higher at math and science than girls and that perhaps it's physiological. If it was cultural then I’m sure Richard would’ve named the culture in which women do better with math and science. Or perhaps that culture doesn’t exist?
What poor Richard doesn’t understand is that humans are a sexually dimorphic species, meaning males and females of a species are markedly different, there is no way around this. This refers to every aspect of our bodies including our brains. In fact everyone knows that hormones affect our thinking, why else would people using steroids (male hormones) go into fits of rage. No one ever went into a fit of rage because of taking birth control pills. Everyone has known a woman who gets a little weird around that time of the month. Therefore it is simple to surmise that based on our hormonal makeup alone, men and women’s minds are different. Hormones affect thinking, why not chromosomes?
I’d like to mention that children are not grown like potatoes they are raised, and culture is not something we “use”, it is (in my opinion) the expression of a survival mechanism common to all social mammals. It is, by itself, in many ways innate. I believe we are born with culture and without anyone to imitate we would make our own personal culture.
Finally, I just don't know anyone in their right mind who would go along with this: "For example: an infant is biologically equipped to speak any language; it just forgets all the languages it doesn’t hear, making room for techniques like walking." As I've started saying, "Some people are only concerned with the dialogue, not what it means." In other words it appears that some people say things just because they sound nice and not because they mean anything at all. We'll get to that later, maybe that'll be tomorrow's post.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like you are getting into the whole envionment and biology discussion. In my opinion they are both influential to an individuals development. It kind of is a diifficult discussion to prove. I mean there aren't exactly scietfic double blind trials out there that are capable at coming at a definitive answer. So opinion plays a large role in this discussion. with opinion comes some bias. In my opinion you are biased and so am I when it comes to this topic.

Who is the dominant-most powerful group in our culture? White males. In a culture that does not value you (minorities, women,) how
is that culture a mechanism of survival to you? In many circumstances it isn't. This is the same culture that pushes women towards unhealthy extremes. In my opinion it is a form of oppression. If a woman is spending time and energy trying to be as ana as posible without dying then I do not think that she will have the health and time to devote to other pursuits,she is at a disadvantage.She has compromised her health and identity in order to be considered beutiful in her culture. This is a culture whose dictates mainly come from white males. As part of a group that has power in the culture there is a certain obliviosness( that's probably not a real word but you know what I mean,) to how that culture can affect groups that are not valued. Well i was supposed to talk about environment and biology but it all just seems like a futile exercise. An exercise in indulging the idea that my opinion actually matters. I need therapy. On the bright side I do get sex whenever I want. Also my opinion and therefore bias is shaped by the fact that I am a skinny white woman. Another thing when women start advocating for acceptance in the media there is a certain label that the majority likes to put on them. Fat Bitch. I hate fat bitches too and all but how did they get that way? There seems to be a rebelliousness from fat bitches. A search for dominance. And often they are given a dominant role b/c they take it. This role is in direct oppposition to tradiotianal values held by our culture. Well I hate fat bithces mostly b/c they scare me. I would lose if i was in conflict with one. My growth as an individual has been blunted in my opinion b/c I was always taken care of. My own passivity makes me angry, I am a passive aggressive skinny white woman. i am passive/aggressive b/c of my enviorniment. I am a skinny white woman b/c of biology. Anyway that's my opinion and bias. .

Thursday, March 17, 2005 6:17:00 PM  
Blogger Derogatory said...

In addition, I recently read a study on how estrogen and testosterone affect the absorption or flushing of minerals and heavy metals. According to the study, those who have higher estrogen levels (women in their fertile years between puberty and menopause) tend to store minerals and heavy metals, presumably so that there will be enough for a baby or also because they lose minerals through menstruation, while those with higher testosterone levels tend to shed heavy metals and minerals more efficiently and more commonly. In fact cadmium bonded with radioactive iodine was found to travel through the male and female type bodies in completely different paths due only to the hormones present. I say male and female type because these tests were carried out in males and females without testicles or ovaries, but with the testosterone and estrogen artificially ingested and the birth gender didn't affect the results only the presence of either hormone did.

Friday, April 01, 2005 5:56:00 AM  
Blogger Derogatory said...

To anonymous: I think you missed the sarcasm in the title and I think you missed the point. If you want I can delete your comment and you can rewrite and edit it.

Friday, April 01, 2005 5:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course men and women's bodies are different, that is self evident especially if you've ever had good sex. And men and women think about things differently. It's just that the qeustion- did our culture develop the way it is because of biology and therefore biology and culture are two reenforcing agents, and when the biological needs and influnces are
removed what is left to dictate social behavoir- tradition based on biology? is this a human evolutionary du claw? But some would argue that differences will always exist b/c of the necessity of procreation of the species.I wonder how procreation technologies will influence our culture. Will our society and technology evolve to the point where only the poor people bear and carry children for the rich regardless of sex? In this case inequity would be attributed to members of lesser economic means. Would sex become a mute issue if the responsiblity of procreation was made a mute point from technology?
Okay ethnicities evolved mainly from environmetal influences. Having a group of people live together tends to be a prerequisite of culture. Did that culture evolve from ethnicity? no it evolves b/c it shares common characteristics. one of which happens to be ethnicity. Some other apects of culture ,for example traditions, may have evovled from biological needs. But when those needs are removed do those traditions not help to define the culture? This is why I have trouble distinguishing between the influences of biology and culture. what points did you think that I missed (besides the sarcasm)and no I like my reply, please do not erase. I like my reply because I did think about your blog and article and it influnced me to think about biology and culture. Please enlighten me about the points that you think that I missed. uh where were you going with the mineral thing?

Monday, April 18, 2005 5:07:00 PM  
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Sunday, October 09, 2005 3:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Friday, March 02, 2007 8:58:00 AM  

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