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.
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.