Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

A viral Delus

A viral Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference Author Cordelia Fine am Book Cordelia Fine born 1975 is a Research Associate at the Center for Agency, Values and Ethics at Macquarie University, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Autsralia Her previous book, A Mind of Its Own was hugely acclaimed and she was called a science writer to watch by Metro.. It s the twenty first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks we failed Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it And everywhere we hear about vitally important hardwired differences between male and female brains The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, nIt s the twenty first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks we failed Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it And everywhere we hear about vitally important hardwired differences between male and female brains The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is often than not a validation of the status quo Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math men too focused for housework.Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men s and women s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men s brains aren t wired for empathy and women s brains aren t made to fix cars She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men s and women s behavior Instead of a male brain and a female brain, Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much needed corrective to the belief that men s and women s brains are intrinsically different a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.. Popular Book Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference This is a remarkably good book, and anyone who's remotely interested in claims that there might be inherent differences in mental function between men and women should read it. It's insightful, carefully researched, well-written and often very funny. And if it doesn't make you change your mind about at least a few things in this area, you are either a remarkably knowledgable person or an incurable bigot.I had read a few books and articles that touched on the subject of inherent gender differences, and I'm afraid I had swallowed them rather uncritically. Without understanding any of the details, I had absorbed the vague idea that science had now established, with the help of modern neuro-imaging techniques, that there were clear differences between male and female brains. Men had stronger spatial and mathematical skills, and women had stronger verbal and emotional skills, and this all dovetailed sensibly with various biological and evolutionary stories.Fine, who works in psychology and appears to know the literature well, demonstrates that this story absolutely fails to stand up to critical examination. The science of gender differences turns out to be very bad science indeed; it seems that everyone has an agenda, and is willing to do whatever it takes to advance it. Researchers carry out poorly designed experiments with inadequate numbers of subjects, and then draw sweeping conclusions from differences which are not even clearly significant. They look at coarse measures of activation in parts of the brain whose functions are still largely unclear and mysteriously deduce general cognitive principles, relying on the fact that few people know how to interpret a brain scan. In surprisingly many cases, they flat-out lie. I am shocked, though I suppose this just shows how naive I am: I have worked for a long time in Artificial Intelligence, a field that is notorious for overhyping its achievements. Somehow, I had thought these people were better than us, but that does not appear to be true.Having read Fine's masterly demolition job, it is tempting to jump to the other extreme and conclude that there are no inherent differences between male and female minds, and that those differences we see are entirely due to social conditioning. I do not think, however, that that would be true to the deeper spirit of the book. Fine, who comes across as an admirable person, is upfront about the fact that no one is neutral in this debate, and she does not even pretend to be neutral herself; this is indeed one of the things which makes her writing so amusing. She shows how researchers, time after time, have made claims about gender differences which in hindsight have turned out to be utterly absurd. The rational response is to be as skeptical as possible about all such claims, and I will pay Fine the compliment of treating her own arguments with the same skepticism. I am indeed convinced by the way she refutes arguments that women are incapable of performing as well as men on a variety of tasks where they have traditionally been supposed inferior. (The section on the notorious spatial rotation task was particularly startling). But there are, all the same, a number of facts which I do not think are obviously explained inside the framework she describes here. With some misgivings, I will outline what they are. To begin, there is the uncontroversial fact that autism and Asperger's Syndrome are far more common in men than in women. I know a fair amount about this from personal experience; my older son is autistic, and I have spent a large part of my life interacting with chessplayers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and other groups where Asperger's types turn out to be common. It is hard to believe that this is coincidential. The highly-focused, obsessive, narrow Asperger's mindset seems to be a natural fit to these occupations, or more exactly to certain ways of approaching these occupations. I would like to make it clear that I am in no way saying that women cannot be chessplayers, mathematicians or computer scientists: I know many women who are world-class in these fields. But there is a way of doing such things which is characteristically Asperger's/autistic, and hence characteristically male. The clearest and most extreme example I can come up with is inventing a new chess opening. There are several hundred accepted chess openings, and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them have been invented by women. Why is this? Obviously, I don't know, but here are some thoughts. Inventing a chess opening is something that requires a great deal of talent and hard work, but there is something more to it than that, which is hard to pin down: the best description I have seen is in Lev Polugaevsky's wonderful book Grandmaster Preparation, which I have read many times. Basically, inventing an opening is not a useful activity in any normal sense of the word. Most strong chessplayers - most World Champions, even - have never invented an opening. It is not likely to make you more successful competitively, since most new openings are soon refuted and fall into disuse; the rational thing to do from this point of view is to use other people's openings. It is not necessarily very creative. The real reward is that it appeals to a kind of stubbornness. The person who invents the opening goes his own way, against the whole world, just to show that he can. Thinking in this way is a kind of madness that is much commoner in men. It is not so much that women can't do it; it is more that hardly any women can see why they would want to do it, which is entirely sensible. But, somehow, society as a whole seems to benefit from the existence of this small group of people who are willfully different, even if the majority of them have wasted their lives without achieving anything. Chess is a richer and more interesting game because there are all these different paths one can take.So Fine hasn't convinced me that men and women really do think alike at the deepest level; I believe it will be a long time before we understand what's going on there. But she has convinced me that the facile arguments about brain scans proving that women are inherently wired to read emotions but not to understand calculus are utter crap. If you haven't already done so, check out this book._________________________________[Postscript, about a year and a half later]I'm glad to say that I might have been wrong about women and chess openings. Looking at Bologan's book on the Chebanenko Slav, it certainly seems like there's a case for a Stefanova Variation; it goes 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. a4 e6 6. Bg5 and now Stefanova's trademark reply is 6... a5!?, reaching the following position:Bologan thinks it may be the best move and explicitly mentions former Women's World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova as the person who's done most to help make it respectable; indeed, a quick look at the Chessbase online game database shows that she's defended this position eight times, drawing seven and winning one. One of her opponents was Beliavsky, a previous top 10 player and still very strong.Go Stefanova! Surely others will follow where she has led?_________________________________[Update, Apr 20 2015]Former World Championship finalist Nigel Short enters the debate: more details here.Despite the fact that my lifetime score against Grandmaster Short is 2-0 in my favor, I would like to make it clear that I in no way consider myself more intelligent than he is. Statistics can be very misleading when taken out of context._________________________________[Update, May 30 2015]The Chessbase site today posted another piece on gender differences in chess and academia, "Women in chess: the role of innate-ability beliefs" by Wei Ji Ma. Although the paper is interesting and makes some excellent points, I'm struck by the way the participants in this debate seem to be talking past each other. Ma says early on that... the available statistical evidence indicates that gender differences in achievement are largely or entirely due to differences in participation. But this is exactly what the Howard study quoted by Short claims is not true.I think we need more actual data here. It would be particularly interesting to see the Howard analysis repeated with proper attention paid to obvious sources of bias introduced by the fact that women play disproportionately often against other women._________________________________[Update, Feb 2 2016]Nigel Short, whose comments about women and chess have been widely circulated, lost earlier this week to Harika Dronavalli, India, in the third round of the Gibraltar Masters. Despite the fact that GM Harika thoroughly outplayed him and won a good game as Black, it would be premature to draw any sweeping conclusions from a single result._________________________________[Update, Apr 15 2017]Hou Yifan, the highest rated woman player in the world, posted a disappointing loss against Vassily Ivanchuk in their recent match. But today she came back strong in the first round of the GRENKE Classic and destroyed Fabiano Caruana, who's currently World #4. She then followed up by beating Meier, a normally very solid German grandmaster, and drawing with World Champion Carlsen.Go Hou!_________________________________[Update, Apr 19 2017]From a recent interview with chess legend Alexander Morozevich:Between a man and a woman there are differences, and significant ones, but we’re all, first and foremost, people. Can I, simply looking at the notation of a game, say that it was played by a woman? I tried it a couple of times and I didn’t manage – there are no clear differences. In the results, meanwhile, there are differences, and only a few women have so far been capable of playing on the level of the men’s Top 100, and I don’t fully understand why that’s the case. In other intellectual games the proportions are more or less the same, with the very top occupied by men. It would be interesting to do research on that topic. Women in chess have one undoubted advantage: they can play in men’s tournaments, while we can’t play in women’s. I once asked a FIDE official: “Why is there such an injustice?” His answer surpassed all my expectations: “You understand, there’s a World Championship for women and a World Championship for people”._________________________________[Update, Aug 2 2017]Hou Yifan just won the Biel Grandmaster tournament, ahead of a field that included a former world champion, a former world championship challenger, and three other players currently in the world top 40. Details here.Nice going, Hou!
Delusions of Gender How Our Minds, Society Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much needed corrective to the belief that men s and women s brains are intrinsically different a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society. Delusions of Gender How Our Minds, Society, and Feb , Delusions of Gender is an enjoyably acerbic and eloquent takedown of evolutionary psychologists and their neuroscientist collaborators those practitioners of Bad Science, whose work is often repeated uncritically in tabloid newspapers or used to shape educational curricula. Delusions of Gender The Real Science Behind Sex Oct , In Delusions of Gender the psychologist Cordelia Fine exposes the bad science, the ridiculous arguments and the persistent biases that blind us to the ways we ourselves enforce the gender Delusions of Gender Cordelia Fine W W Norton Company Fine s sharp tongue is tempered with humor Read this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole issue is The New York Times , Delusions of Gender, How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender How Our Minds, Society Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much needed corrective to the belief that men s and women s brains are intrinsically different a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society. Delusions of Gender Project Gutenberg Self Publishing Delusions of Gender How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference is a book by Cordelia Fine, written to debunk the idea that men and women are hardwired with different interests. Transgender Delusion by Richard Corradi Articles First Oct , N ow consider one of our current popular delusions that gender is a social construct rather than a biological fact This is the notion that there are no biologically determined characteristics of either sex that male and female are socially assigned roles According to this worldview, a person is not simply male or female.

  1. Cordelia Fine born 1975 is a Research Associate at the Center for Agency, Values and Ethics at Macquarie University, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Autsralia Her previous book, A Mind of Its Own was hugely acclaimed and she was called a science writer to watch by Metro.

593 Reply to “Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference”

  1. This is a remarkably good book, and anyone who s remotely interested in claims that there might be inherent differences in mental function between men and women should read it It s insightful, carefully researched, well written and often very funny And if it doesn t make you change your mind about at least a few things in this area, you are either a remarkably knowledgable person or an incurable bigot.I had read a few books and articles that touched on the subject of inherent gender differences, [...]


  2. Didn t realise Cordelia was Australian This is a lovely video of her views fora 2010 10 02 Cordelia_FiLet s say you have read a couple of books on the science that explains the differences between the sexes So, just what are you likely to have been told Well, one thing would be that men have brains that are built to be logical and mathematical than women s brains this is due to men s better spatial rotational abilities that are a consequence of right brain localisation and that this helps to ex [...]


  3. A detailed but informal look at the pervasive power of gender stereotypes, backed by science Sounds good, doesn t it Not for me, though My reading of this included International Women s Day that wasn t intentional, but it felt like undeserved penance for such a day The 2 rating indicates how interesting and enjoyable this book was for me Were I rating in purely objective terms, it would be a solid 3 maybe even 4 A NUTSHELLFine debunks the deterministic views of gender that are often based on bra [...]


  4. Things I have never seen 1 A male harpist Well, alright there was this guy But in an orchestra 2 A female bishop in the Church of England3 A female angler4 A male nursery school teacher 5 A female truck driver I m not saying they don t exist, and I m certainly not saying they shouldn t exist, it s just that I ve never seen one Actually number 2 really doesn t exist, which is odd, as women may be ordained in the C of E.Things I have heard, which I really wish I hadn t 1 An Austrian mother who sai [...]


  5. I decided to take a break from being girlishly bad at math and reading people s minds with my lady empathizing skills to read this book, and I sure am glad I did Because it is hilarious And fascinating Cordelia Fine goes through all the old lines that I m sure you ve heard a thousand times I know I have that men s brains are just better at building stuff and making money while women are just natural nurturers, they just want to nurture the shit out of everything, because FEELINGS Anyways, she ta [...]


  6. Truly a brilliant book And laugh out loud funny in quite a few places It s a book so full of interesting information, it s very tempting to write a review in which one relates one s favorite experiments, factoids, or statistics But I will mostly resist What I d like to highlight are two features.We have all heard and perhaps told stories like the following I wanted to bring up my children in a gender neutral way, but at a certain point, the boy naturally took to smashing up trucks and the girl n [...]


  7. I m impressed with this book It addresses multiple points of human psychology and has 100 pages of citations, but still has an accessible and darkly witty style Fine s target in this book is what she calls neurosexism misinterpretations of modern neuroscience which supposedly justify stereotypes and perpetuate discrimination against women in society Women are supposedly empathetic, men are analytic, women can t lead, men can t raise children, etc etc The roots of these beliefs are not in inher [...]


  8. If I had a dollar for every time someone friend requested me on because of my gender a guy who reads wow I would probably have enough money to buy a new Kindle As a male who loves books and aims for a career in clinical counseling psychology a and female dominated field part of me has always wondered whether I just lack the typical male brain Are girls biologically geared toward the humanities and males toward the hard sciences Do women really empathize than men because of their brain chemist [...]


  9. Let me boil the book down for the busy reader whenever someone chooses to ignore all the documented evidence of discrimination in favor of just so stories about biology, in order to keep right on discriminating, you can take their evidence as having all the validity of the presenter s good intentions to end discrimination.Sorry, that was a long and awkward summation In justice to the book, I d prefer to be pithy, funny, and understandable Fine has tackled an immense and largely thankless task Fi [...]


  10. Cordelia Fine, a psychologist, decided to write this book after discovering her son s kindergarten teacher reading a book that claimed his brain was incapable of forging the connection between emotion and language The first section of the book was slow reading for me Fine engages in occasional snark, which was a little tiresome, followed by a lot of discussion of studies in which subjects are either told or not told statements about gender and then asked to perform certain tasks, to see if a foc [...]


  11. I really think all educators need to read this book Fine s target is the new gender essentialism, the reconstructed sexism that attempts to put women back in their traditional roles as unbenders of husbands brows and caregivers to children, and to keep them out of politics, mathematics and the sciences, by asserting that they are fitted for their place by essential female abilities and incapacities In 1869 the philosopher John Stuart Mill, in his book The Subjection of Women, was severe on this [...]


  12. 18 Sept Update some stories reading Karen s review brought to mind from my childhood.eteaalittlechat.wordpres Message on my secret diary See that lock That means if you read my diary you d dead I mean, not really dead I m a girl, it s not like I mean dead dead But.My secret diary while reading Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine Day one.I was going to read lots of this book today, but Manny said we had to go to see the History of Lingerie exhibit at the Grenoble museum Boring Why do men think w [...]


  13. We ve all encountered those pop science books, the ones that claim hardwired differences between male and female minds Cordelia Fine has seen them too, but instead of simply accepting their assertions because they sound scientific, she delved into the research, tracking down the studies that purportedly establish these claims, as well as the substantial body of research showing quite the opposite The result is this book It is not pop science there is nothing dumbed down about it, and Dr Fine s p [...]


  14. I like nothing better than to discover that I was completely and utterly mistaken about something The deeper the rotten belief sits, the satisfying the pop when it is wrenched out.This book changed my mind in ways few books ever do I had a cavalier belief that psychological differences between men and women were innate and biological I had no idea how scant the evidence was for this idea.I highly recommend this book.


  15. It can be incredibly frustrating to argue against someone who is convinced by the idea of preformed gender roles in society because they feel that scientists have proven that male female brains are different and that to think otherwise somehow flies in the face of common sesne Gender roles in society are supposedly natural and pre ordained and we should learn to like them and love them.It s so easy to believe in the myth and Cordelia Fine does an excellent job of outlining why this is a myth and [...]


  16. Nearly 20 years ago I studied sociology at a feminist, Marxist university I m pretty much disposed to accept the argument that culture heavily influences behaviour, i.e I m on the nurture side of the nature versus nurture debate So I thought reading Delusions of Gender would simply be a matter of nodding as new data supported that view.Oh boy pun intended was I deluded.Well researched, well argued, wittily written, Cordelia Fine hits hard at the wide spread and I d argue, lazy assumption of biol [...]


  17. This nature vs nurture debate is getting old.This book argues against the claim that women and men have different brains and that this difference causes women to be significantly better or worse at some things and men significantly better or worse at others As far as I knew, few legitimate scientists today make this claim, which is clearly sexist and would justify discrimination, so I was pretty surprised and somewhat skeptical to discover this immense sexist contingent among brain scientists an [...]


  18. Cordelia Fine is a scientist, feminist, and a mom Her book debunks studies that purport to be solid science, but ultimately just support gender stereotypes She discusses how gender neutral parenting is nearly impossible in today s society And how this, along with neuroplasticity, mean that brains cannot possibly be hard wired by gender Neuroplasticity brain s ability to change Many details in my review at TheBibliophage.


  19. Cordelia Fine attempts to refute the popular idea that men and women have an innate neurological difference which results in different brains I read this book after The Essential Difference by Simon Baron Cohen I recommend reading them in that order because Fine s book refutes many of the points made in Baron Cohen s Fine makes a good case that many of the differences we see in gender could readily be traced back to cultural or sociological phenomena, and that it is too early to declare that bra [...]


  20. This is not what I d call a popular science book it s aimed at an intellectual audience with some understanding of science and a willingness to deal with academic language That makes it less accessible than a lot of the talk show fodder books it s debunking, like all those ridiculous Why Men Are Insensitive Horndogs Who Suck at Housework Surprise It s Biology and Women Are Born Loving Ponies and High Heels books Fine takes on pretty much the entire field of neuroscience, or rather, that segment [...]


  21. A spirited debunking of the perennial claims that women are different and usually, it so happens that this difference is in truth inferiority from men because SCIENCE It is both amusing and infuriating to read how sexist scientists and journalists try angle after angle, and when one is debunked say, no, brain size does not actually matter , they find another, even dubious claim This is not a book without faults Firstly, the author veers to the verbose side, and secondly, the book pays almost no [...]


  22. How gratifying to find authors who know their stuff, have the necessary tools to analyse and critique, and who take the time to pick holes in the commercial follies of these pseudo scientific wanna be never could so better twist everything to please myself and make a fast fbuck simultaneously authors.Should dovetail quite nicely with Sex at Dusk Lifting the Shiny Wrapping from Sex at Dawn.


  23. God damn This book actually changed the way I see the world I shall do it justice with a worthy review Just way till I get my hands on a computer


  24. Warning ranty.I was hoping for a balanced examination of the scientific evidence of biological brain gender differences or the lack thereof What I got was, firstly a heavy handed review of the sociological and cultural explanations for gender differences in society, and second a condescending and clearly biased review of the scientific evidence for biological brain gender differences as an explanation for cultural gender differences.I did learn some interesting things One study showed a clear ge [...]


  25. Delusions of Gender is an enjoyably acerbic and eloquent takedown of evolutionary psychologists and their neuroscientist collaborators those practitioners of Bad Science, whose work is often repeated uncritically in tabloid newspapers or used to shape educational curricula Cordelia Fine examines a number of supposedly scientific studies, together with the books and newspaper articles which have popularised them for a general audience Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and their odious ilk , [...]


  26. I ve been meaning to review this book for ages, but whenever I attempt to write something, I m lost at what to include and what to leave out All of it was so important in shaping my understanding of gender and I don t know how to write a review convincing enough to get other people to read it That being said, I ve raved about this book to enough friends to know that it s made an impact on me, and so I will sit down and attempt this for the fifth time and hope that I will finally be able to get t [...]


  27. Many of the general ideas presented in this book were familiar to me claims of true neurological basis for differences between the sexes are bunk areas in which people seem to be deficient are often socially created rather than biological current conceptions of binary gender essentialism must be abandoned However, for all that the conclusions Cordelia Fine drew were hardly surprising to me, reading this book had a significant impact It felt almost like an out of body experience, to read about th [...]


  28. Just when it looked like neuroscience was justifying our current worldview that innate differences are somehow hardwired into the brains of little boys and little girls author Cordelia Fine comes along and checks out the scientific studies What she exposes and describes in detail are poorly designed experiments, blind leaps of faith and convoluted circular reasoning In scientists According to what Fine uncovered we have mutable brains, continuously influenced and changed by our cultural environm [...]


  29. In my other, non blogging life, I work as a scientist and every so often you ll see a review popping up on my blog about a non fiction book I ve read that has than likely been science y I m also a firm believer in gender equality and women s rights so Delusions of Gender seemed like the perfect mix of science and feminism which encouraged me to pick it up I found it to be a fascinating read which I learned a lot from and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the differences between [...]


  30. Delusions of Gender is an engaging read, well written and incisive Cordelia Fine makes a convincing argument that gender differences in performance assessed through various metrics are to a large extent the result of social cues, reactions to internalized stereotypes, and unconscious priming Her critique of studies of gender differences in psychological experiments is comprehensive, and her depiction of the current state of sexism is both convincing and often horrifying.Unfortunately, her fixati [...]


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