Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » Intellectual Crack-Pots...

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08/26/2005: Intellectual Crack-Pots...

A while back (in April) I was commenting on the “Lawrence Summers” "flap" and musing about Guy Things and Sports Trivia and IF these DNA differences between the sexes *mean something* on a statistical basis. I was posing that IF there really was a reason few women *pursue* math at the advanced levels as men that "Why" is the question...as to "what makes this the case" if it is indeed the case?

I sent a query to Alan Schwarz (Senior Writer at Baseball America) and did get back this reply:

I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. Work has been incredibly crazy this season. Hope you understand.

I think you are correct, though I would phrase it all a little differently. I would say that people who grow up liking baseball, and specifically scorekeeping and box scores, etc., wind up with greater instincts and facility for arithmetic (I would not necessarily say mathematics). Whether they are boys or girls, I don't think makes any difference. It just that more boys have grown up baseball fans than girls, at least until recent years. I think if all of a sudden baseball became the Next Big Thing among girls, they would catch up or pass the boys.

Not exactly a scientific argument, but I think a logical one. Strange, given how I grew up with George Steinbrenner's 1970s Yankees, that I would have any idea what logic means, huh?
Hope that helps. Have a great rest of the 2005 season...


--Alan Schwarz.

But, this sort of reverses the problem (or the question) in that Mr. Schwarz is basically saying people do well in chosen fields of intellectual endeavor when they “Like” it and are predisposed for it in the first place.

My real inquiry, however, was to ask whether that seeming “predisposition” is culturally created or enhanced across the board of the entire spectrum of males in most societies that places so much emphasis on the “Guys and Sports” modeling for social behavior and bonding among males (either participating or watching.)

I got all excited today -- to come across this article The Inequality Taboo.

That is until I realized it was written by Charles Murray.

Here’s a brief cite to one Charles Murray Bio where it is reported his infamous book “The Bell Curve” was completely debunked as:
"…It reveals mathematical errors, logical errors, and the misuse of statistics (i.e. the purported "IQ" test actually has questions on subjects as involved as Trigonometry, thus measuring educational attainment, not innate intelligence).

Stephen Jay Gould, author of the 1981 bestseller "The Mismeasure of Man," added a chapter in the 1996 reprinting of his book, specifically dedicated to critiquing The Bell Curve. Anyone seriously interested in Murray should read this book. To get a flavor of what Gould has to say, take a look at the outline of his critique [as stating it was]:

• Disingenuousness of content
• Disingenuousness of argument
• Disingenuousness of program

Sheesh – Can’t anyone with any intellectual integrity take investigating a few of these issues?? Why is always the crack-pots on the Right who use their thinly veiled (screamingly biased) agendas as the centerpiece and theory behind their “work.”

Oh, well still hoping to find the study that comes closest to answering these (and other) questions out there.


Karen on 08.26.05 @ 11:30 AM CST

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