Will the top piano student become the international star?
Being competitive, status-conscious, dedicated, single-minded, persevering — it can make all the difference to success. And these are qualities that a lot of men are far more likely to possess, often in alarming abundance.
So what you have to do for any characteristic is ask how important it is that there's much overlap, what difference it makes to the policy you're dealing with and so on. The 'differences within and between' argument somehow has a politically correct air. But it's actually useless — or downright misleading — as a guide to making decisions. I also suspect — I say 'suspect' because 'within and between' is a bit vague — I suspect that, although this is a popular argument with feminists, it doesn't always fit happily with other feminist arguments.
If there are wide 'differences within', then women aren't very homogenous — there's a wide spread of abilities and dispositions — and some proportion of women will be in the male end of the distribution. That might be for any characteristic, from hormone levels to 3D rotation being able to imagine rotating objects in space — a notoriously male trick. But how does this mesh with the idea that women who are high achievers in traditionally male pursuits — engineering, mountaineering or whatever — are 'role models' for other women?
The idea is that these women are just like the others and it's only male prejudice and self-doubt that's holding the other women back. But maybe these women are the extremes of those 'differences within' that feminists themselves emphasise — and so they're not just like the next woman? But then how can feminists confidently claim that it's only prejudice and self-doubt that's preventing any woman from achieving the same? Worse, how can anyone confidently point to these women — as anti-Darwinians often do — as evidence against evolved sex differences? And, actually, it does turn out that this confidence is seriously misplaced.
Far from undermining an evolutionary analysis, these women are probably exceptions that prove the Darwinian rule. So, for example, with 3D rotation, women exposed in the womb to high levels of androgen perform far better than normal women — indeed, almost as well as men. And with dispositions, too — women in traditionally male professions respond to challenges with a characteristically 'male' high adrenaline charge; and it seems that their job choice follows their disposition rather than — as I wrongly guessed when I first heard this — their disposition being shaped by the job.
A final example. But isn't the glass ceiling 'only' a statistical generalisation?bletiseasis.gq
What Darwinists Don't Want You to Know
There's an overlap in men's and women's jobs, particularly in middle management; some women are higher up than the average man — and so on. But is that a reason for dismissing the glass ceiling as unimportant? Statistical generalisations are exactly what many feminist issues are all about.
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- What Darwinists Don't Want You to Know on Apple Books.
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- Jerry Fodor: Still getting it wrong about evolution.
I think that the statistical distribution of male-female differences is a really interesting issue, with important implications for policy. It's one of those areas that's just waiting for the marriage of the evolutionary approach — which deals with universals — and behavior genetics — which deals with individual differences. I'm really keen to see research on this. It seems to me to be something that Darwinism, feminism and policy-makers most definitely need to deal with.
Meanwhile, 'within and between' gets us nowhere. All policy-making should incorporate an understanding of human nature — and that means both female and male nature. Remember that if policy-makers want to change behavior, they have to change the environment appropriately. And what's appropriate can be very different for women and for men. Darwinian theory is crucial for pointing us to those differences.
The Social Darwinist
I heard an American comedian the other day taking a swipe at 'creeping neo-Darwinism'. All very politically correct. But dead wrong on the differential impact of unemployment on men and women. For a woman, unemployment means loss of a job; for a man, it means loss of status. And this difference combines with other sex differences to take women and men down very different pathways once the workplace door closes on them. So, for example … A low-status man is a low-status mate; he'll have more difficulty finding a partner. And more difficulty keeping one; couples in which the wife earns more than the husband are more likely to divorce.
Domestic violence stems from male sexual jealousy; low status is a potent factor for moving the psychological machinery of jealousy into high gear. What's more, as in many other species, being low on the hierarchy has a demonstrable clinical impact on men's health and longevity. And, again as in other species, when the future looks inauspicious, males are more likely to take risks.
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- Jerry Fodor’s Enduring Critique of Neo-Darwinism.
- Darwinism - Wikipedia!
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If 'criminal genes' turn up next to 'unemployment genes' in men, it's because a distinctive male psychology is making the links. Anyone who really cares about unemployment and its appalling social ramifications shouldn't be sniping at evolutionary theory; they should be embracing it. It's absolutely indispensable for getting a handle on the relevant causal connections.
Sex-blind social policy isn't impartial, it isn't more fair — it's less so. Why, for example, assume that girls and boys learn in the same way? If you look, say, at maths — the academic area in which sex differences are most extreme — the boys' advantage apparently rests on their innate superiority in mechanical and 3D thinking.
Now, there's some evidence that girls improve considerably if they're taught in ways that circumvent this. That's the kind of thing that a fair education policy should be concerned with.
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And the same goes for the law, for the workplace, for economic planning … for whatever field social policy is being devised. We're not an androgynous species. Fair policies should reflect that fact. We're living in a rapidly changing world. There's the increase in male unemployment. There's women finally having the resources to go it alone as parents. And women finding that, as their own status rises, the pool of potential partners shrinks. There are increasing inequalities, consigning substantial proportions of men to permanently low status in a 'winner-take-all' game.
How will our Stone Age minds react to these changes? What will be significant for men and for women? Does Darwinian theory have an impact on social policy? How could it not? In fact, it should be the other way round. It's people who are prepared to talk about policy and society without knowing the first thing about human nature that should be considered controversial. CRONIN: Post-modernism and its stable-mates — they're obviously all complete balderdash, not to be taken seriously intellectually. But as a social scourge they have to be taken very seriously. Apart from the sciences, which have built-in immunity, they've taken a frightening hold on academia — on people who are influential and who are teaching future generations of influential people.
It's the resulting attitudes to science that I most deplore — the view that there are no universal standards by which to judge truth or falsity or even logical validity; that science doesn't make progress; that there's nothing distinctive about scientific knowledge; and so on. One of the reasons why so much logic-free, fact-free, statistics-free criticism of Darwinism has been able to find an audience is this attitude that science is just another view so I'm free to adopt my view, any view. EDGE: There's a lot of scientists and science writers out there communicating with the public and there's no central canon of science.
When you use the word science in public discourse aren't you trying to beat somebody over the head? First, there is a central canon — a very robust one. The disagreements — especially those that attract public attention — are rarely to do with core theories. They're usually about the elaboration of those theories — healthy disagreements about a core that's fundamentally agreed on.
But second, and more important, the canon of science, what gives it authority, is above all its method. So, when scientists have those disagreements, there are objective ways of deciding between them. Theories must be testable and then must pass the tests. On a day-to-day basis things won't always be clear-cut; it's not an instant process. Neither, of course, is it infallible. But it's by far the best we've got and it's done a breath-takingly impressive job so far. As for "trying to beat somebody over the head" … It's not individual scientists being authoritarian. It's science being an authority — and rightly so because it is indeed authoritative.
So, once people understand that there's a vast distinction between science and non-science, and the distinction lies in scientific method, they'll understand the status of current disagreements and how to assess them.
Jerry Fodor’s Enduring Critique of Neo-Darwinism | The New Yorker
CRONIN: I think he'd say the same as I'm saying, which is that there's a difference between what science tells us are our evolved propensities and the moral status of our behavior. And it's fallacious to go from facts to values. So evolved propensities don't constitute an excuse. Born into a freethinking family of English physicians in , Charles Darwin suffered from a host of conditions Roosevelt in , created Social Security, a federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantaged Americans.
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