Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Scanner Darkly

Your problem for today: to find the right linkage between the following two items.


1. Robin Hanson wrote this, including an almost throwaway comment on feminism:
"Yes one sex may have a worse deal overall. But most of the ways in which we’ve had sex-asymmetric official rules and widely held expectations did not result from a conspiracy by one sex to repress the other. They were mostly reasonable responses to sex differences relevant in ancient societies.

"We may have failed to adapt them quickly enough to our new modern context. But many of them are still complex and difficult issues. We’d do better to roll up our sleeves and deal with each one, than to obsess over which sex has the worse overall deal."
This seems a more reasonable line to take than the moralising we frequently get. It could also conceivably generalise to other groups who once got a raw deal within one set of social relations, which they later saw a way of overcoming, once those social relations had moved on.


2. From The Sunday Times today (Jonathan Leake, Science Editor):
"Research into human IQ — long one of the most controversial areas of science — has produced a new set of suitably awkward results.

Men’s average IQ is four points above women’s because they typically have bigger brains.

Scientists used the latest scanning techniques to measure the brain volumes of 896 people, who were also subjected to a battery of intelligence tests.

“We found that the average IQ of men was about four points above that of women,” said Professor Dimitri van der Linden, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

“So if men had an average score of 100, women would score 96.”
This would mean that 40% of women would be smarter than the average man. The Sunday Times 'balances' this two month old research result with some recent moral absolutism:
"The research coincides with a new book, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong — and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story, whose author, Angela Saini, is sharply critical of it.

She said: “It is scientifically well established that there is no difference on average in general intelligence between women and men. It’s also well known that women have, on average, slightly smaller brains than men because they are, on average, slightly smaller in size. This paper does not disprove these facts.

“For more than 100 years, male anatomists and neuroscientists have sought to find evidence of women’s intellectual inferiority by comparing their brains to those of men. It’s surprising that in the 21st century those efforts haven’t ended.”
It obviously never occurred to Professor Dimitri van der Linden, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam and his team to correct for that, except:
"Men’s brains are bigger than women’s, even when controlling for bigger body size, which means they should have higher intelligence, though the evidence for that is conflicting. Most researchers find no notable differences overall, saying that different strengths and weaknesses balance each other out, but Lynn and Irwing (2002, 2004) argued that adult males are almost 4 IQ points brighter than adult females.

"The authors of the present paper have found one of the largest MRI samples available, each scanned person having done 10 cognitive tests, which is what makes this study particularly interesting."
Yes, this is not a new story: Dr James Thompson discussed it back in April.

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