I know I recently shared a cartoon about whether men and women were different. I found it amusing in how it acknowledged and poked fun at common gender stereotypes. Whether or not each stereotype applies to you doesn’t undermine the idea that such stereotypes apply to a lot of people – including my wife and I.
Today’s post is a little more serious, because it talks about something that is unique and dangerous in our partisan post-fact world: the idea that beliefs about how the world should work are more valid than facts about how the world actually does work.
There is nothing wrong with being a feminist. Hell, I’m a feminist because I believe women are equal and they deserve 100% equal rights and opportunity…
Witness this article in the LA Times, which poses a very challenging question: “Are gender feminists and transgender activists undermining science?” Now, to be clear: there is nothing wrong with being a feminist. Hell, I’m a feminist because I believe women are equal and they deserve 100% equal rights and opportunity (a stance I don’t even know one can argue with). Similarly, there is nothing wrong with being transgender. The reason this piece was written is that their respective political beliefs fly in the face of science as much as a belief in creationism flies in the face of evolution.
“Gender feminists – who are distinct from traditional equity feminists – refuse to acknowledge the role of evolution in shaping the human brain, and instead promote the idea that sex differences are caused by a socialization process that begins at birth. Gender, according to them, is a construct; we are born as blank slates and it is parents and society at large that produce the differences we see between women and men in adulthood…
But group of researchers…found that brains could be correctly identified as female or male with 69% to 77% accuracy. In another study, published in 2016, researchers used a larger sample in conjunction with higher-resolution neuroimaging and were able to successfully classify a brain by its sex 93% of the time.”
Feelings don’t override facts.
I don’t have any stake in the outcome of this. If women’s and men’s brains are exactly the same, I’m fine with that, too. I’m just looking for facts to help us better understand the world. Scientists use the scientific method and either eliminate theories or affirm theories to educate the general public. Vaccines don’t cause autism. Natural supplements don’t work. Climate change is real. Women’s fertility plummets after 40. And yes, women and men are different biologically. Whether you want to hear this or agree with this doesn’t change that this is the scientific consensus. Feelings don’t override facts.
The author of the LA Times piece, Debra W Soh, continues, “In my experience, proponents touting the “blank slate” view are willing to agree, in private conversations, that neurological sex differences do exist, but they fear that acknowledging as much publicly will justify female oppression. This is backward. As it stands, female-typical traits are seen as inferior and less worthy of respect. This is the real issue the movement fails to address: Nobody wants to be female-typical, not even women.
Distortion of science hinders progress. When gender feminists start refuting basic biology, people stop listening, and the larger point about equality is lost.”
Do you know anybody whose beliefs are anti-science and will not be changed by overwhelming evidence? Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.