Monday, March 14, 2005

The Essential Difference

The Crimson reports that Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers faces a no-confidence vote tomorrow. In case you haven't been following the news, Summers is alleged to have made some controversial claims on January 14:

Summers says the reason there are so few women in top positions in science and engineering is because women are less capable than their male colleagues. There's a "different availability of aptitude at the high end," he said, in now-famous remarks at a conference on "Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce" in January. (Sarah Finnie Robinson)
That's what feminists claim. When one actually reads what the man said and evaluates it objectively, it's clear that he is being taken out of context. But to my mind what's more interesting than what he said, is the reaction to it ("she said").

As a recent poll shows, though 52 percent of the Aardvark-U faculty disapprove of his leadership of the University, only 32 percent think he should resign, so Summers will likely survive this vote. The fact that there is a controversy two months later is instructive.

As for most things egoists like liberals say, the protesters' histeria actually reveals more about them than about Summers.

The outburst by feminist professors simply confirms the stereotype that not only are they too emotional to handle intellectual or scientific debate, but that they seek to forbid any research that might produce facts they don't want the public to know.

When MIT Professor Nancy Hopkins rushed from the room, claiming her "heart was pounding" and her "breath was shallow," she reminded us of Miss Pittipat Hamilton in "Gone With the Wind" calling for her smelling salts before she swooned. (Phyllis Schlafly)

Academia has made throwing trantrums a lucrative business. Steve Sailer's blog featured surprising documentation of how "Academic feminism is a financial scam that works to line the pockets of its proponents. Sailer's article in The American Conservative documented how chief protester Nancy Hopkins has benefited by playing the "gender card."

Is there in fact nothing within the horizon of meaningful human activities but "men's work"? Has it never occured to feminists that perhaps women have something better to do with their time than play games with equations and gadgets?

The lamentable fact is that for modern, Western society, the ideal human being is James Bond. His life is girls, gadgets, and guns. He has no lasting ties. His sexual conquests are conveniently neutralized by the end of the film. Feminists expect women to live "up" to this standard.

Such views would have been impossible in ages past when the very existence of a community depended on the renewal of its members. Our spoiled society has lost sight of the fact that human beings don't grow on trees and they aren't born as full-grown adults (despite what Enlightenment philosophers would have us believe). We are born as defenseless infants, needing patient nurturing for decades before we are ready to replace our aging predecessors in society.

Which would more harm civilization: a decade without mathematicians or a decade without mothers? Before you answer, consider which you'd rather be absent from the world the first five years of your life.

Could it be that women are actually doing something far more important when they follow their natural calling to raise children and maintain a home?

Scientific evidence points to the fact that men and women are inherently different. Men are much better with spatial relations and visual data. Women are much better with interpersonal relations and aural data.

But research shows that many other intriguing differences are observable from birth: Female babies are more attracted to and interested in faces; boy babies prefer the movements of a mobile hanging above their cribs; little girls, in general, tend to be shy; little boys are hard-wired to be more aggressive.

Ask a girl in kindergarten to draw a picture and she'll draw three smiling people and use several crayons to color in their hair, eyes and skin tone. A boy will use one black crayon to scribble a line that shows, he says, a rocket crashing into earth.

The differences continue as children grow. Girls hear better than boys; so, when a teen-age girl complains that her father is always yelling at her, that may be the way she genuinely perceives his loud voice. (Myna Blynth)

(I've listed a number of resources below, including articles from that ever-vigilant enforcer of political correctness, the New York Times.) Does difference always imply a division of superior/inferior? The ideology of "diversity" would tell us that differences are inherently good and reflect no higher or lower value. The respective skills sets complement each other. Can you imagine a world with only men? (Imagine a planet populated by Homer Simpson and the other denizens of Moe's Bar.)

But in the PC hierarchy of goods, "diversity" is trumped by Marxist power philosophy. (Yes, I know "hierarchy" and "goods" are patriarchal concepts, but like so many liberals, feminists manage to believe what they claim to reject...with a fury.)

Feminists refuse to look at the actual scientific data that women and men have different and complimentary skills, and they refuse to admit the tremendous value of women's traditional roles. Bigotry like this is what the modern university is actually about.

One of the major intellectual crimes of the modern academy is "essentialism," that is to say, believing that the world outside our minds has a reality independent of our desires. Perhaps it was because Immanuel Kant wrote so systematically, yet so incomprehensibly that his ideas continue to fascinate intellectuals today. According to Kant, we cannot really know the world around us. The essences of things originate in our minds. Kant, among his many errors, confuses the order we come to know things with the order in which they actually exist.

(If reality is the product of my mind, I must be a masochist.)

Thinking like Kant's is behind science education's disorder. All over the country (if not the world) the first step of the "scientific method" is taught as "hypothesis," as if our thinking about the world comes before what's actually out there in the world. If we what to be truly honest, we need to observe the world before formulating any ideas about it. The opposite is called prejudice.

We men and women need to "accept who we are before arguing about what we should be" (Anne Moir and David Jessel).

Phyllis Schlafly, "Feminists Find No Solace in Science that Disagrees with Them," Human Events (March 8, 2005).

William C. Marra, "Summers To Face No Confidence Vote," The Crimson (March 9, 2005).

Sarah Finnie Robinson, "Let's change this equation" Boston Herald (March 12, 2005).

Jon McKay, "Point: Larry Summers: Summers' Hypothesis Taken Out Of Context" The Docket (March 8, 2005).

Steve Sailer, "The Education of Larry Summers," The American Conservative, (February 28, 2005)

Myrna Blynth, "Nature Matters," New York Post (March 13, 2005).

Anne Moir and David Jessel, Brain Sex : The Real Difference Between Men and Women (Delta, 1992).

Documentation of Inherent Brain Differences Between the Sexes

I'm sure there are more up-to-date resources out there, but this is what I have on hand.

"Brain studies point to differences between the sexes." New York Times, February 28, 1995, pp. C1, C7

Shaywitz, et al. "Sex differences in the functional organization of the brain for language," Nature, February 16, 1995, pp. 607-9.

Rugg, Michael, "La difference vive," Nature, February 16, 1995, pp. 561-2.

Angier, Natalie, "Sexual Identity Not Pliable After All, Report Says", New York Times, March 14, 1997, pp. A1,A18.


MC said...

On a personal note, I have often felt pressured to do something other than "being" a woman (as wife, mother, or consecrated).

Even among fellow orthodox Catholics questions that come my way are about what I do for a living, what degrees I might have, etc. So we do not escape it either.

For me the question, as a woman, has always been "How will I love?" What form of love is God calling me to? I think this is a particularly female question but I could be mistaken.

That doesn't exclude having a career or professional life but the emphasis is different and more centered on persons rather than things.

I love intellectual activities and learning but I can tell that I have a different approach than most men interested in the same topics.

The integral approach to reality, finding the quality and purpose of nature, is something I have been adding to my otherwise materialistic schooling in the sciences without being aware of it. I wonder of this is a female thing as well. Not sure.

Thanks and keep it up.

Lawrence Gage said...

Thanks for your response, MC.

Scott Ott masterfully parodies the academic stupidity that has seeped into the courts:

Judge Rules Separate Restrooms Unconstitutional

It's gotten so ridiculous these days that I can't say I'd be too surprised to read this headline in the New York Times. Defying all reasonable expectations, liberals do their darndest to outpace parody.