Update, Feb. 19: Per Massimo Pigliucci, it seems Michael Shermer's also still swimming in the waters of Pop Ev Psych sexism. Gee, what a shock!
Here's Shermer, in an ongoing dialogue about how much science does (Pigliucci) or does not (Shermer) need philosophy to guide discussions of ethics:
Most men, for example, are much more receptive toward unsolicited offers of sex than are women.Just wow. And, as Massimo notes, simply not true!
Shermer then goes on to claim rape is scientifically shows to be immoral, ignoring that Pop Ev Psycher Randy Thornhill claimed it was evolutionarily adaptive!
Meanwhile, it's not just differences in sexual desire. Whether it's Pop Ev Psych or John Gray-type pop psychology, the whole "men are from Mars, women from Venus," is getting more and more refutation.
"Sex is not nearly as confining a category as stereotypes and even some academic studies would have us believe," study researcher Bobbi Carothers, a senior data analyst at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement.Are there differences? Yes:
Carothers, who completed the research as part of her doctoral dissertation at the University of Rochester, and her colleagues are not denying that men and women often do differ from one another. Women, for example, are known to have higher levels of anxiety than men, on average, and to react to bad news with more stress. Studies also turn up gender differences in aggression, sexuality, frequency of smiling, and body image, Carothers and her colleagues wrote.Bingo. And here's some specific issues where gender differences are an overlapping continuum:
But researchers haven't spent much time examining the structure of these differences, Carothers wrote. It's possible, for example, that men and women usually fall into distinct groups. In this categorical world, knowing someone is a man would automatically tell you that he's aggressive, interested in short-term sex over long-term relationships, good at math and bad verbally. Alternatively, gender differences could occur more often on a continuum. You might know someone is a man, but it would tell you little about his skills with math.
Which possibility is more likely might seem clear to anyone who has ever known a guy who can't figure out a tip to save his life. But humans tend toward categorical thinking, the researchers wrote, and gender is about as basic a category as you can get.
Men and women fell along a continuum on such measures as interest in casual sex, frequency of thoughts about sex, and the appeal of certain traits such as virginity, looks and wealth in a mate. The same was true of attitudes toward close relationships, empathy and other interpersonal factors.So, let's just put this "men are from horndog, women are from demure" idea on ice. It's insulting to both sexes. It perpetuates stereotypes, many of which then translate into our legal system, such as judges still occasionally admonishing rape victims about how they dress.
In other words, if told that a person is more than 6 feet tall, you would be pretty safe in guessing that they were a guy. If told that a person is very empathic, you'd be much harder-pressed to correctly guess their gender.
Oh, and women don't talk more than men, either.
Anyway, expect a separate blog post soon more specific to this issue and more specific to Pop Ev Psych. And that post is here!
That said, nth-wave feminists, to the degree they stereotype men as non-empathetic, etc., don't help on this issue, either.
And, on the psychology side of Pop Ev Psych, let's make sure that claims aren't being made on the basis of biased psychological studies, with such bias including gender bias.
I'll also counter Shermer's "scientism" with repeated recent revelations of cheating on grants, Ben Goldacre's whole new book about selective research reporting in the pharmaceutical industry, and more.
Say, Joseph Mengele? Eugenics "research" in the US? Arthur Jensen? Shockley?
Science is, to riff on Euclid, NO royal road to morality. Period. End of story.
Note: I apologize to any nth-wave feminist Atheist Plusers I failed to mention here. If you feel you need to be thrown under the bus, too, leave your name in comments. Even better, for people of minds like to mine, who more seriously think I forgot to name anybody, leave a name in comments.