0385: "How It Works"

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ironiridis
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ironiridis » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:04 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:(T)hat comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

I disagree; it seems with a high likelihood that women aren't physiologically different from men in a significant way. Sure, their brains function somewhat differently, but your implication that the brain evolved differently seems to fall short when you consider that men and women both get their DNA from the same place. The vast majority of behavioral differences come from social stimulus. As they say, it takes a village to raise a serial killer.

Take your typical effeminate gay guy. Chances are he's not a mathematician. But he has all the same parts you and I do. (Assuming you're male, and I think that's a reasonable guess.)

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Spoffin
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:06 am UTC

antonfire wrote:
Spoffin wrote:Its okay to do it for the lolz though.
not really

Yeah, I know, I said THAT for the lolz.

Hence use of the word "lolz"
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby the_nexus_p » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:08 am UTC

ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

I believe the genders were in equal positions during the hunter-gatherer era (women may have even had a little more going for them than men) but the trend was towards men dominating women during the agricultural revolution, due to unequal division (i.e. specialization) of tasks due to biological differences.

I think.

I will decline to elaborate on this, as I (being a guy, clearly!) do not remember much from my world history classes, and anything I say beyond this point will be straight up BS.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:10 am UTC

ironiridis wrote:
Izzhov wrote:(T)hat comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

I disagree; it seems with a high likelihood that women aren't physiologically different from men in a significant way. Sure, their brains function somewhat differently, but your implication that the brain evolved differently seems to fall short when you consider that men and women both get their DNA from the same place. The vast majority of behavioral differences come from social stimulus. As they say, it takes a village to raise a serial killer.

Take your typical effeminate gay guy. Chances are he's not a mathematician. But he has all the same parts you and I do. (Assuming you're male, and I think that's a reasonable guess.)

Well, the whole point is that they're brains function somewhat differently, actually, because they serve somewhat different purposes. Just think about an average society: generally the male will be the one doing the hunting/raising the money, right? To do that he needs to solve problems. To do that he needs more logical components of his brain.

I really don't want to sound like a sexist here, 'cause I'm not. It's just that... when I look at how the vast majority of societies have women raising the children, and men providing from the family, including many isolated ones which developed independently, I think that there must be something hard-wired into our brains which causes this.

the_nexus_p wrote:
ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

I believe the genders were in equal positions during the hunter-gatherer era (women may have even had a little more going for them than men) but the trend was towards men dominating women during the agricultural revolution, due to unequal division (i.e. specialization) of tasks due to biological differences.

I think.

I will decline to elaborate on this, as I (being a guy, clearly!) do not remember much from my world history classes, and anything I say beyond this point will be straight up BS.

Oh, well that's interesting. Couldja maybe provide some source citation or something?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:13 am UTC

ironiridis wrote:
Izzhov wrote:(T)hat comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

I disagree; it seems with a high likelihood that women aren't physiologically different from men in a significant way. Sure, their brains function somewhat differently, but your implication that the brain evolved differently seems to fall short when you consider that men and women both get their DNA from the same place. The vast majority of behavioral differences come from social stimulus. As they say, it takes a village to raise a serial killer.

Take your typical effeminate gay guy. Chances are he's not a mathematician. But he has all the same parts you and I do. (Assuming you're male, and I think that's a reasonable guess.)

Alan Turing and John Nash are two gay guys in the maths/engineering field that I can think of just off the top of my head. And that's after limiting the sample size to mathematicians famous enough that I've heard of them. I probably named 50% of all the people in that sample right there.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby mountaingoat » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:14 am UTC

I would show this to my math teacher because she constantly reminds us of this (obviously), but she'd probably think it was sexist.

Spoiler:
Teacher: How can you have fractional people?
Me: Women?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:16 am UTC

sean22190 wrote:I would show this to my math teacher because she constantly reminds us of this (obviously), but she'd probably think it was sexist.

Well, it pretty much is sexist, unless you're really just cutting the women in half or something. Come to think of it, that's still sexist, because you're singling out women. :P

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:20 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
the_nexus_p wrote:
ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

I believe the genders were in equal positions during the hunter-gatherer era (women may have even had a little more going for them than men) but the trend was towards men dominating women during the agricultural revolution, due to unequal division (i.e. specialization) of tasks due to biological differences.

I think.

I will decline to elaborate on this, as I (being a guy, clearly!) do not remember much from my world history classes, and anything I say beyond this point will be straight up BS.

Oh, well that's interesting. Couldja maybe provide some source citation or something?

I don't know what it was called, but I saw a BBC documentary that said roughly this. Archaeologists noted routine deformities in the toebones of female skeletons that weren't common among remains of an earlier era. The time period corresponded to the change from hunter-gatherer communities to living in cities and relying on agriculture. They explained it by suggesting that the deformities were caused by the uncomfortable way the women had to kneel while grinding the grain into flour.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Zifna » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:22 am UTC

This is true in videogames as well.

I play World of Warcraft in a high end raiding guild. If a guy dies due to say, not moving out of a fire fast enough, he sucks. If I don't, I suck AND girls aren't very good at movement-based fights.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:23 am UTC

Baalthazaq wrote:You guys are all being too specific to the case in point.

Sure this is how it works for sexism and math. This is also how it works for everything related to generalization.

If the "perpetrator" is the same as you: "You suck at X"
If the perpetrator is different, the difference is blamed. "You suck at X, because you are a member of Y".

With Y being in this case "Women", and X being "Math".
It can be Blondes, blacks, Arabs, Jews, Muslims, democrats, republicans, geeks, jocks, whatever.
It can be a stereotype about sexuality, intelligence, skills, peacefulness, whatever.

With problems of scale (the problem of envisioning 3 billion people), means that when we see 1.5 billion people who are bad at math, we find it hard not to generalize. In theory, ~1.5 billion women should be below average at math. That's normal. Even if you meet hundreds of women bad at math, it's potentially hard to work out the real picture because of the scale.

The only reason the same stereotype doesn't exist for another group is that often, you have a firm standing point in yourself. "Men can't suck at math, I'm a guy, I don't suck at math". That is enough to offset meeting hundreds of thousands of men who are bad at math.

It's just the way the human mind draws pictures of the world around it.


I don't think this generalization works to explain why the particular stereotype "girls suck at math" is entrenched rather than "boys suck at math" or "girls are awesome at math".

If you are a boy and are good at math, sure you might figure that girls suck at math since the average girl is worse at math than you are. But most people aren't boys that are above average at math. Girls that are good at math might mistakenly believe that boys suck at math, girls that suck at math might mistakenly believe that boys are especially good at it and boys that suck at math might believe that girls are better at it.

This is assuming that there is no inherent difference in the math aptitude of boys and girls and there is an equal playing field.

There are obvious genetic differences between boys and girls, so it wouldn't be completely unreasonable to imagine that might translate to brain differences that cause difference in math aptitude. However, I think this is a bad idea to hold such an idea with particular fervor because there isn't enough data to support it.

Firstly, being good at math isn't just one thing. There are a lot of mental skills that go into math. I think what data there is on the subject shows girls being better at some of those skills, boys being better at others and no difference in many of them. So to translate that into a conclusion about which sex is better at math is pretty hard.

Secondly, it's nearly impossible to remove the effect of socialization. If this "girls suck at math" stereotype is out there, I'm sure many girls have heard it and had less interest in math. And with lack of interest breeds lack of competence, and then you get bad data.

Maybe girls are worse at math. Maybe boys are. But I think it is much more harmful to teach a set of children than they are bad at something that they are not actually bad at than it is to teach kids that it is their individual math ability, not their sex, that determines how good they are at math, because that's going to be true regardless.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:24 am UTC

Spoffin wrote:
Izzhov wrote:
the_nexus_p wrote:I believe the genders were in equal positions during the hunter-gatherer era (women may have even had a little more going for them than men) but the trend was towards men dominating women during the agricultural revolution, due to unequal division (i.e. specialization) of tasks due to biological differences.

I think.

I will decline to elaborate on this, as I (being a guy, clearly!) do not remember much from my world history classes, and anything I say beyond this point will be straight up BS.

Oh, well that's interesting. Couldja maybe provide some source citation or something?

I don't know what it was called, but I saw a BBC documentary that said roughly this. Archaeologists noted routine deformities in the toebones of female skeletons that weren't common among remains of an earlier era. The time period corresponded to the change from hunter-gatherer communities to living in cities and relying on agriculture. They explained it by suggesting that the deformities were caused by the uncomfortable way the women had to kneel while grinding the grain into flour.

Huh, well that kind of throws a wrench in my previous theory, then. :/
Maybe it does have more to do with societal pressures than biology; it's just that the schism between the genders in society occurred early on so that most societies which developed afterwards shared the same trait.

GodShapedBullet wrote:Maybe girls are worse at math. Maybe boys are. But I think it is much more harmful to teach a set of children than they are bad at something that they are not actually bad at than it is to teach kids that it is their individual math ability, not their sex, that determines how good they are at math, because that's going to be true regardless.

Yeah, that's what I think. Even if there are small biological differences between the brains of the two genders, societal pressures simply make them worse, and that is probably the crux of the issue.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Brooks » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:27 am UTC

Definitely a good and thought provoking comic, as we can see from the comments here.

But I think it only addresses half the story. The comic itself is fair, and like many others here I've seen this kind of thought process in person. But I think it has more do do with gender stereotypes than with gender-specific assumptions.

Consider if the comic were somewhat reversed: a woman ruins dinner, and someone says "wow, you suck at cooking." A guy ruins dinner, and someone says "wow, guys can't cook." * It seems just as plausible to me. In one instance someone is bad at something that stereotypes say they should be good at, and the assumption is that it's a personal failing. In the other, someone is bad at something that stereotypes suggest they *should* be bad at, and it's seen as a confirmation of the stereotype.

So, yeah, a fair point. But really a second example showing the gender roles reversed would have made a more complete and stronger point, in my opinion.

-Brooks

* I'm a guy. I suck at math. I'm a great cook. And I like it that way. So don't get on me about my example here.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:31 am UTC

SilentSnow wrote:As a female majoring in math and computer science, I must admit that this stereotype is seen often enough- and I so enjoy beating it down at any given opportunity.

But at the same time, I can see where people are coming from. Far too many girls I know seem to think that they can't be good at math, even if they're in high level math courses, while guys never seem to have a problem with it. And, given any math competition or math department, you're going to find far more guys than girls. It is, sadly enough, a fact. But hopefully, this will just encourage all those other lovely females in math to keep on proving that we can be scientific, too.

(It's probably sad that I created an account just to post this, seeing as this is xkcd, and there will be plenty of other girls who share my situation. Well, the more the merrier!)


I don't know if it is a socialized difference or a biological one, but I think boys are less inclined to admit not knowing something than girls are. This probably helps add to the illusion that "guys never seem to have a problem with [math]".

I'm not really that down with the math scene since I left Calc alone in high school, so I'm wondering, how does the prevalence of the "girls suck at math" stereotype change as you climb higher up the math ladder. Do people in higher academia believe it more, less, the same?

I imagine female mathematicians might be especially able to answer this question, though male mathematicians would probably be pretty good at it too (a socialized difference, I am sure).

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby darwinwins » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:32 am UTC

i suck at math and i have a dangling participle. plus, i'm asian so that doesn't help matters either. c'est la vie.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:35 am UTC

I'm an Indian and I decided to go to medical school and I always feel a little guilty that I'm not fighting against stereotypes by going into something like art or good stand-up comedy.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby rs180216 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:38 am UTC

wow Robin that was a great observation
I didn't even think of that :)

maybe it was d(pi/(x^2))
can you do that if you treat x as a constant?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:39 am UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:I'm an Indian and I decided to go to medical school and I always feel a little guilty that I'm not fighting against stereotypes by going into something like art or good stand-up comedy.

That's kind of a dumb thing to be guilty about, in my opinion. Who cares what other people's stereotypes of you are?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:43 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
GodShapedBullet wrote:I'm an Indian and I decided to go to medical school and I always feel a little guilty that I'm not fighting against stereotypes by going into something like art or good stand-up comedy.

That's kind of a dumb thing to be guilty about, in my opinion. Who cares what other people's stereotypes of you are?


Well, duh. I do.

I don't feel very guilty about it because being a doctor is what I wanted to do and so there's nothing wrong with me doing it. The reason I feel a little guilty is because I know that I'm contributing to the "Indians become doctors" stereotype. Even though that stereotype isn't really getting in the way of what I want to do, it's going to hurt some other kids.

The thing with fighting stereotypes is you can't really do it by being something you aren't. I guess guilt isn't the right emotion. I just wish that while I was pursuing my vocation I could have the added bonus of dispelling some preconceived notions about what Indians do.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby visel » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:49 am UTC

I miss calculus.... :cry:

sorta :wink:

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby K^2 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:49 am UTC

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that equation. All you need to prove it is to differentiate both sides.

Integral[x^2] = Pi
dIntegral[x^2] = dPi
x^2 = 0
x = 0

Note that this equation works regardless of the du, where u is arbitrary function with arbitrary dependence on x, being left out. 0*du=0. So Integral[0*du]=Integral[0]=Constant, in this case Pi. It is a perfectly valid integral equation.

Now the question I have is whether or not the author was aware of this, and left it as so intentionally, or was it supposed to be a "x^3/3 =/= Pi, har, har."?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby rs180216 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:52 am UTC

and now for some reason a whole second page of responses has appeared

I have some input on the more recent discussion beyond that of what we are integrating with respect to :)

I think we can't entirely dismiss biology. Biologically speaking, men and women are different. You may be thinking now "Congrats RS you have made a ground breaking discovery...not" but I will continue. Who is to say that these biological differences don't extend into brain. Here is my reasoning. Men and women produce different hormones and have different body chemical balances as far as normal levels of certain chemicals such as thyroid hormone in the body at any given time. What is to say that these chemicals, as they traverse int he blood stream and enter the brain, don't have different effects on cognitive ability pertaining to certain hemispheres of the brain. Maybe estrogen manipulates some neurotransmitter that I can't necessarily name atm to the extent that her quantative ability is less than if that part of the brain were not exposed to such a large amount of estrogen. Or maybe testosterone is what enhances math skills and giving a female steroids would make her better at math. I don't know how much research has already been done in this filed this is just my thoughts on a possible scenario.

Regarding John Nash I was not aware he is openly homosexual, just that he experimented with/got caught performing homosexual activity.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:54 am UTC

rs180216 wrote:I think we can't entirely dismiss biology. Biologically speaking, men and women are different. You may be thinking now "Congrats RS you have made a ground breaking discovery...not" but I will continue. Who is to say that these biological differences don't extend into brain. Here is my reasoning. Men and women produce different hormones and have different body chemical balances as far as normal levels of certain chemicals such as thyroid hormone in the body at any given time. What is to say that these chemicals, as they traverse int he blood stream and enter the brain, don't have different effects on cognitive ability pertaining to certain hemispheres of the brain. Maybe estrogen manipulates some neurotransmitter that I can't necessarily name atm to the extent that her quantative ability is less than if that part of the brain were not exposed to such a large amount of estrogen. Or maybe testosterone is what enhances math skills and giving a female steroids would make her better at math. I don't know how much research has already been done in this filed this is just my thoughts on a possible scenario.

That's pretty much my take on it, but the whole point about them being equals in society in the hunter-gatherer state kind of threw me off.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:55 am UTC

Fuck it, a doctor's worth being.

I'm a white guy, I'm studying philosophy. Despite the fact that a party of famous philosophers would be roughly as diverse as a ballroom in Maine full of the Husbands of the Daughters of the American Revolution Coalition to Elect Pat Buchanan, I don't really feel I perpetuate a stereotype with my degree. I'm aware its not quite the same, but still.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Spoffin » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:57 am UTC

rs180216 wrote:Regarding John Nash I was not aware he is openly homosexual, just that he experimented with/got caught performing homosexual activity.

Jesus knows that he's a sausage smuggler, and that's good enough for me.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby rs180216 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:00 am UTC

The way I rationalize the hunter gather age equivalence: hunting and gathering isn't the same as math necessarily. Yeah maybe they provide an equal role in society but that doesn't mean that their quantitative skills were the same. It would be hard to prove this obviously because standardized test scores from back then seem to be missing.

A guess a proof by example for my case in general: You can introduce certain chemicals into the human brain and in some cases it can diminish quantitative ability. What's to say certain hormones don't have the same effect on perhaps a significantly less exaggeratedly but more permanent level.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby GodShapedBullet » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:03 am UTC

Spoffin wrote:Jesus knows that he's a sausage smuggler, and that's good enough for me.


I think what really made this comment for me was I just listened to NPR's examination of Cookie Monster, so my mind immediately when to "C is for Cookie" when you said "that's good enough for me."

The alt text is pretty funny today. "People forget to add c" is a pretty reliable go to punchline.

I don't want to live in a world where it isn't funny.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby tWoolie » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:04 am UTC

Sausage Smuggler? how does that mean homosexual? i mean i've heard of speedos being called budgie smugglers but...

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby lizz612 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:08 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
the_nexus_p wrote:
ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

I believe the genders were in equal positions during the hunter-gatherer era (women may have even had a little more going for them than men) but the trend was towards men dominating women during the agricultural revolution, due to unequal division (i.e. specialization) of tasks due to biological differences.

I think.

I will decline to elaborate on this, as I (being a guy, clearly!) do not remember much from my world history classes, and anything I say beyond this point will be straight up BS.

Oh, well that's interesting. Couldja maybe provide some source citation or something?


I just finished reading a book that talked about this and other places where sexism influences what we normally think of as objective science. Its called Science and Gender by Ruth Bleir. In chapter 6 she talks about how extant hunter-gatherer groups don't value men's work hunting over women's work gathering, that men also gather and that gathered food makes up 40-90% of their diet. I wish I could give you a citation to something easier to find, but I can send you a scan of her bibliography for that chapter if you are really curious.

Izzhov wrote:Well, yes, there's also the factor of many people conforming to their stereotypes (because, at heart, everyone's a conformist), but I still think that, if the societal pressures didn't exist, boys would do better on average than girls in math, 'cause of the way our brains evolved. But there are quite a few exceptions (yourself included), so it's silly to apply it to all girls.

No, no, no. First of all, where is the "math" part of the brain that is different in men and women? There isn't one. The difference between the math scores of men and women is due to society. The influence starts young, girls aren't given the same pressure to succeed in math that boys are. Being good at math or science is seen as nerdy, and no Prince Charming likes a nerd. The pressure increases with puberty; to be feminine is at odds with being good at math or any science.

Things have changed; as women were allowed to become doctors, biology became an acceptable field for women because it deals with nature and caring about nature. Chemistry has been thawing slowly, but math, physics and engineering are still good ole boy fields right now. See"Reducing the gender gap in the physics classroom".

Oh, and to give you some idea how I know all this, a friend and I started WiSH, the Women in Science House, on campus my senior year and I was immersed in this for months and months.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby xorm » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:12 am UTC

Did ANYONE else notice that the stick-people writing on the board are apparently left-handed?

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:14 am UTC

Humans are very complex mechanisms... something as base as genetics goes through several levels of chaotic emergent behavior before you get something like "predisposition to mathematical aptitude".

Certainly, it's possible that some sex-linked gene sequence could have effect math skills. It's also possible that being a sickle-cell anemia carrier effects math skills. Indeed, with how complex the system is, then (with no detailed information about how the genome actually works) then it's even likely that there's some effect.

However, it's also likely that the effect is small, and is greatly dwarfed by the variance from person to person through other genetic factors. And though I'd enjoy reading a good study on the subject (though it'd be a challenge to do one reliably), I'd consider it a reasonable assumption that genetic factors in toto are dwarfed by societal factors, how good the maths teachers are, how much attention the students pay in class... none of which are affected by gender except by the fact that the stereotype exists, and is acting as a self-fulfilling (and self-sustaining) prophecy.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby cephalopod9 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:16 am UTC

People need to shut up about "evolutionary differences".

You cannot seperate people from societal forces. There are no unsociallized people. There is no way of looking only at genetic influence.

Even in the event that there some predestined descrepency between male and female brains and the resulting cognitive abilities, the idea that from birth the predisposition to certain brain structures and particular chemicals has more impact than the collective influence of everything we do or experience is just unbeleiveably pessimistic.
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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby lizz612 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:17 am UTC

rs180216 wrote:I think we can't entirely dismiss biology. Biologically speaking, men and women are different. You may be thinking now "Congrats RS you have made a ground breaking discovery...not" but I will continue. Who is to say that these biological differences don't extend into brain. Here is my reasoning. Men and women produce different hormones and have different body chemical balances as far as normal levels of certain chemicals such as thyroid hormone in the body at any given time. What is to say that these chemicals, as they traverse int he blood stream and enter the brain, don't have different effects on cognitive ability pertaining to certain hemispheres of the brain. Maybe estrogen manipulates some neurotransmitter that I can't necessarily name atm to the extent that her quantative ability is less than if that part of the brain were not exposed to such a large amount of estrogen. Or maybe testosterone is what enhances math skills and giving a female steroids would make her better at math. I don't know how much research has already been done in this filed this is just my thoughts on a possible scenario.

Sure its possible, but when girls are put in situations where their math skills (and skillz) are allowed to develop without pressure from the patriarchy (usually in an all girls school, shockingly enough) they are just as good as their male peers.

There are plenty of details of brain chemistry that we don't know, but societal pressure is a better explanation for most of the differences we see between groups on intelligence tests. Usually the difference is socio-economic that people try to twist to support racist statements. The same applies to the differences we see between genders, it could be brain chemistry, but society is the more likely culprit.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:19 am UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:People need to shut up about "evolutionary differences".

You cannot seperate people from societal forces. There are no unsociallized people. There is no way of looking only at genetic influence.

Even in the event that there some predestined descrepency between male and female brains and the resulting cognitive abilities, the idea that from birth the predisposition to certain brain structures and particular chemicals has more impact than the collective influence of everything we do or experience is just unbeleiveably pessimistic.

But this raises the question: where on Earth does this particular societal force come from? It's everywhere. Since the vast majority of societies have this kind of structure to them (i.e. with men doing the labor and women raising the children), I must conclude that some biological predisposition is involved.

Now, I'm not dismissing society as a factor; in fact, I think societal forces are the main factor (as they are what magnify the differences—in a balanced society, I think the differences would probably be minimal); it's just that, when looking for the origin of all of these societal forces, I can think of no other explanation than biology.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby ACEfanatic02 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:27 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

Exactly. And that comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

Um, no.

Actually, to the degree it matters, women are generally better at analytic thought than men. But that distinction is largely irrelevant.

-ACE

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:32 am UTC

ACEfanatic02 wrote:
Izzhov wrote:
ironiridis wrote:Well, it seems that women have been in a position of being "non-thinkers" for some thousands of years, up until the 17th century or so. Though, that may be my penis-bias talking.

Exactly. And that comes from the evolution of the brains of the different genders.

Um, no.

Actually, to the degree it matters, women are generally better at analytic thought than men. But that distinction is largely irrelevant.

-ACE

See my previous post. Also, cite your sources, please.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby lizz612 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:34 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:
cephalopod9 wrote:People need to shut up about "evolutionary differences".

You cannot seperate people from societal forces. There are no unsociallized people. There is no way of looking only at genetic influence.

Even in the event that there some predestined descrepency between male and female brains and the resulting cognitive abilities, the idea that from birth the predisposition to certain brain structures and particular chemicals has more impact than the collective influence of everything we do or experience is just unbeleiveably pessimistic.

But this raises the question: where on Earth does this particular societal force come from? It's everywhere. Since the vast majority of societies have this kind of structure to them (i.e. with men doing the labor and women raising the children), I must conclude that some biological predisposition is involved.

The physiology of fetus carrying has lead to most societies to give women more time with the children. But that biological predisposition has no effect on the potential math skills (skillzzzzzz) of either gender if they are given an equal chance. But its nearly impossible to give the children an equal chance because somewhere along the line "spending more time with the children" became "barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, cookin me my dinner biatch, and don't you think too hard cause if you do the blood will rush away from your baby-makin organs and you'll be of no use to anyone".

But even if all societies ever thought that women couldn't do math or couldn't find new elements or cure diseases, that doesn't mean we should be constrained by that past. We know that women can, because we have, and we will continue to do so. F*ck the misogyny of the past, we make our lives and we make the future.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby UnderRock » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:35 am UTC

<disclaimer: it's late, and I'm only in an AP psychology class... I can't even spell psychology without the spell-checker correcting me>
Ok, from what I've learned in psychology so far, men are generally better at math due to our society.

Let's take a look at how boys' and girls' minds are molded while they're growing...
Boys: get legos (great for spacial skills, ie: helpful with geometry), toy guns (teaches aggression?), science kits (notice how the boy/girl category of "science toys" has no girls category), etc.
Girls: Get Barbies, toy babies to take care of, toy vacuums, E-Z bake ovens... etc.
To quote a quote in my psych book (which I can't find),
"Math is hard!"
-talking Barbie doll
(if I remember correctly >.>)

<Edit: ok, maybe I shouldn't have spent so much time (unsuccessfully) looking up that quote>

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby Izzhov » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:40 am UTC

lizz612 wrote:The physiology of fetus carrying has lead to most societies to give women more time with the children. But that biological predisposition has no effect on the potential math skills (skillzzzzzz) of either gender if they are given an equal chance. But its nearly impossible to give the children an equal chance because somewhere along the line "spending more time with the children" became "barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, cookin me my dinner biatch, and don't you think too hard cause if you do the blood will rush away from your baby-makin organs and you'll be of no use to anyone".

But even if all societies ever thought that women couldn't do math or couldn't find new elements or cure diseases, that doesn't mean we should be constrained by that past. We know that women can, because we have, and we will continue to do so. F*ck the misogyny of the past, we make our lives and we make the future.

Ah, so I guess the origin is biological, then; it just didn't have to do with the brain so much as the sexual organs.

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby EnterTheBowser » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:44 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:...

Well, the whole point is that they're brains function somewhat differently, actually, because they serve somewhat different purposes. Just think about an average society: generally the male will be the one doing the hunting/raising the money, right? To do that he needs to solve problems. To do that he needs more logical components of his brain.

...


The relevant passage is "To do that he needs to solve problems." Is this meant to imply that women, in whatever stereotypically female capacity they were engaged in, did not have to solve problems?

Regarding the "society vs genes" topic. The only reasonable answer is that they are both influences, both historically and presently. That is to say: humans are social animals. Over the course of evolutionary history, our genes have influenced how our societies work, and as we might expect, the workings of our societies have influenced our genes. Disregarding history, both genes and society influence how individuals develop. They are not even notionally separable: can we imagine a person without genetic influences? (A person with no genes?) Can we imagine a person with no social influences? (A starving baby, perhaps?)

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Re: "How It Works" Discussion

Postby lizz612 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:47 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:Ah, so I guess the origin is biological, then; it just didn't have to do with the brain so much as the sexual organs.

Yes, the fact that our bodies are needed to continue the species is very important, but somewhere along the line it was decided that it was the only thing we could be good at and we've been trying to get back out from under that since.

It doesn't do men any favors though either, it puts a pressure on them to conform to a set of things that are masculine just as surely as it pressures women to conform to "feminine." And while what is masculine and feminine may change over space and time, there are always people that wish they could do some of the things on that other list.


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