Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Derring Do

A new book promises:

plenty that will upset the old bra-burning feminists who steadfastly refuse to allow biology to get in the way of ideology
according to Janet Albrechtsen.

Why? Because American neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine dares to suggest:

Girls are different from boys
Albrechsen notes that only a woman could suggest this and survive, recalling:

Last year, Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, told an academic conference that his young daughter, when given two trucks in another effort of gender-neutral parenting, treated them like dolls, calling one "daddy truck" and the other "baby truck". Some in the audience reacted with disgust to Summers' address. A biologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology walked out, later saying leaving was the only option, otherwise "I would've either blacked out or thrown up"....

In a interview later, the biologist, Nancy Hopkins, said: "It's so upsetting that all these brilliant young women (at Harvard) are being led by a man who views them this way." Summers' leadership did not last long. The uproar came when he hypothesised that genetics, more than environment, might explain the dearth of women in science and engineering. Suggesting that genes may explain why statistical distributions of men's and women's quantitative and spatial abilities are not identical, with more men coming in at the higher end of the scale, did not go down well in academe. Lawrence was eventually hounded out of Harvard.

Not everyone was hoodwinked by ideology. Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology who teaches classes on the human mind, told The Harvard Crimson: "Good grief, shouldn't everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigour? That's the difference between a university and a madrassa... People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don't get the concept of a university or free inquiry."
-- Nick

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