Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I have a headache

Normally I would blame said headache on being asked to process irrational and ludicrous propositions. But, no, according to some, it's because my smaller, inferior brain just can't handle the truth (cue Jack Nicholson).

Here is the interesting thing to me: it's well known that black and Hispanic teens, on the whole, score lower than do white and Asian teens on standardized tests like the SAT, which was used for this study. This has (in part) led some to question the SAT's efficacy as a predictor of collegiate aptitude. You'd have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the controversy surrounding the impact of cultural factors on "intelligence."

And I think this approach is largely a smart one. For one thing, intelligence is notoriously difficult to define, and even more difficult to accurately measure.

And yet, when the exact same approach is used to determine how males and females measure up in terms of "intelligence" (again, the definition of which could very easily be just as culturally determined as its measurement -- if the definition of "intelligence" is geared toward a heterosexual male WASP view of reality, then of course heterosexual male WASPs will be more "intelligent." That's as ridiculous as me saying I'm "prettier" than Ben Stiller. Says who? What's "pretty"?), the immediate response is, "see, this proves men are smarter than women!"

I'm calling bullshit. I would like to see these very same people make identical claims about the racial disparity in SAT scores. I would then like to see them get beaten up in an alley by the inner city minority thugs, because we all know that minorities raise thug kids.

Jesus. Anyone who thinks we don't live in a sexist society need only look at the ludicrous conclusion-jumping that our scientists engage in.


At October 11, 2006 at 3:36 PM, Blogger Lazerlou said...

1. Ever read the Bell Curve? Thos scientist already have been beaten up. It was a very unpopular book.

2. even if the median woman is not a smart as the median man, it says nothing about individuals.

larry Sumners got booted form harvard for saying less: just that the snadard deviation for womens intelligence is smaller than mens. Which means the normal curve is skinnier, i.e there are more women clustered around the median, while atthe fringes, ther are fewer women, thus explaining in part why there might be fewer women at the upper upper levels of science.

The fact is that correcting for cultural factors, Black and Hispanic kids to far far worse on the SATs. Rather tha having a knee jerk reaction, perhaps the better reaction is to question why some forms of intelligence are valued more in our society than others.

In the end, ratehr than disputing hard to refute facts, one should instead question why someone should be paid/valued more becuase they can do multivariable calculus, whereas someone with extreme emotional intelligence, like many of our teachers, are paid less.

Phenotypic differences would not be so offensive to you if the concomintant value assignement wasn't correlate dto those differences.

At October 11, 2006 at 5:13 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

I already tangentially raised this point in my post, I simply said it a different way:

"if the definition of "intelligence" is geared toward a heterosexual male WASP view of reality, then of course heterosexual male WASPs will be more "intelligent.""

I'm familiar with the Bell Curve, though I've never read that tripe. And my point was not that this has never been done, as history is chock full of examples of people pointing to "scientific" proof of the "inferiority" of other races. It would just be interesting to see the reaction to something like that stated so baldly, TODAY, about race. I was just pointing out that people barely blink at sexism even though it's just as bad and just as insidious (or perhaps moreso) in society as racism.

At October 11, 2006 at 6:59 PM, Blogger Micah said...

Well, you are prettier than Ben Stiller.

At October 11, 2006 at 7:16 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

micah, you sure know how to make a girl blush! ;)

At October 11, 2006 at 8:42 PM, Blogger odderie said...

For some reason, it seems like there should be a point that, even IF men's brains are supposedly larger, humans, male or female, don't use all of its potential, anyway.

At October 11, 2006 at 8:48 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

odderie, and *that* makes me wonder if a lot of women aren't discouraged from developing all of our potential... hmmmm...

At October 12, 2006 at 7:13 PM, Blogger Quinn said...

I don't know... Ben Stiller was ridiculously good-looking in Zoolander.

At October 13, 2006 at 8:06 AM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

To combine the individual efforts of lou, LF and odderie, there may be something to a more simple statement that we just aren't developing our minds to their true potential.

Why that happens? Gender roles, social expectations that differ depending on where you live and how you were raised, etc.

In other words, we're placing (possibly) an artifical cap on the development of individuals (male or female), and then holding each of them up as equals for purposes of testing and admissions (you can probably expand this to the workplace as well).

There are ways to try to right this wrong, and for the most part the US has tried one approach that favors minorities over women (institutionalized sexism if you will - our civil rights movement was better than yours :P).

At October 13, 2006 at 8:30 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

quinn, wasn't he, in fact, really, really, really ridiculously good-looking? ;)

drew, I absolutely agree that socialization holds us all back. It teaches us to unfairly stereotype and leads to an inefficient and unfair distribution of resources.

I also agree that you got the better civil rights movement. You guys get strict scrutiny and everything!

Dammit. I want strict scrutiny :P

At October 15, 2006 at 9:15 AM, Blogger Drewcatt said...

Want strict scrutiny?

Get a couple of those silly activisit judges, and I'm sure they'll find some way to apply strict scrutiny despite it not really being the standard...


At October 16, 2006 at 2:07 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

drew, stop taunting me! ;)

Hmmm, maybe Alito could be the turning point for women's rights!!




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