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1/25/2005

 

maybe barie was right...



maybe barbie was right. math is hard, or, as president of harvard university lawrence summers recently put it, maybe math is hardwired and women simply have incompatible circuitry.

"It's possible I made some reference to innate differences," he said. He said people "would prefer to believe" that the differences in performance between the sexes are due to social factors, "but these are things that need to be studied."

He also cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls.


larry was lecturing a room loaded with female scientists and engineers--not exactly the most receptive audience--and, sure enough, he unleashed the furies of hell. and, as decades of feminist self-righteousness culminated in their highest expression, the hissy fit, several scorned women hopped up in a snit and stomped indignantly toward the exists.

"Here was this economist lecturing pompously (to) this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering," one little kitten hissed "and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day."

well tell me something, sugar, what's so bloody offensive about the idea that maybe amidst the scores of physiological idiosyncrasies differentiating men and women, a few might find their way up to the three or so pounds of grey matter lodged between our ears? i mean, we're all scientists here, right? so let's look at this thing from the standpoint of biology. it's counterintuitive to say the least that physical dissimilarities would start at the toes and end at the neck; it smacks of the sort of arbitrary, ad-hoc thinking that led to retrograde motion and the belief that maggots spontaneously grew out of rotting meet. with all the bodily differences that stand so pointedly between us, does one more really seem so far-fetched?

if i might shift more fully into a scientific paradigm and consider the problem from the standpoint of evolution, isn't it the case that modern science believes the basis of cognition and rational thought to be entirely neural? there's no soul or higher man as far as western science is concerned. our thoughts, at the end of the day, are the consequence of quantum mechanics. that being the case, it would be a remarkable coincidence had evolution winnowed and pruned the male and female brains in exactly the same way--particularly given the unique set of challenges facing each gender in the harsh struggle for survival that must have confronted early man.

simply put, there's nothing unscientific about thinking that there may be genuine cognitive differences between women and men translating into a general weakness among the former in mathematical endeavors--and that's to say nothing of the mountain of test score data which bolsters that hunch, all so readily tossed away by the hissy-fitters as the product of a sexist, patriarchal upbringing.

which brings us to the real point: the most upsetting aspect of larry's remarks to the modern feminist isn't its supposedly chauvinistic, unscientific nature, but the potential power loss it represents. gay activists want homosexuality to be genetic because they believe this would insulate them from society's moralists. feminists seek the opposite cause for the same reason--they want environmental, rather than genetic, explanations because through these, they can gain the upper-hand on a supposedly prejudiced society. if sally's math test scores are ten points lower than billy's not because billy was given a g.i. joe while she was given a tea set, then what need we feminists?

all that having been said, some of the finest scientists, mathematicians, and engineers i have ever known are women--including my wife, who used to tutor then mere acquaintance locdog through integral calculus. while there may be genetic handicaps when it comes to women and math, they certainly don't effect everyone to the same degree, nor are they the sort of thing that cannot be overcome. the real danger to feminism in what i'll call the math gene comes not from its mere acceptance, but from the logical extension stretching from acceptance to victimhood. if little girls start a few points behind on the old bell curve, and they know that and can work to overcome it, you've created stronger little girls--stronger than their lazy male counterparts who had fractions and decimals handed to them courtesy of some fortunate DNA. that's empowerment. a far more likely, and incalculably more devastating, outcome would be that feminist groups would start screaming for mathematical affirmative action, spotting girls a ten point head start on exams and an inside track on grad school at MIT.

this is the divine secret of the locdog sistah-hood