Skepchick Quickies 5.10

Good morning! I’m just filling in for Jen while she mixes up some post-Mother’s Day cocktails in the Skepchick Lounge.


Chelsea is the proud mama of an amazing toddler-aged girl. She works in the retail industry while vehemently disliking mankind and, every once in a while, her bottled-up emotions explode into WordPress as a lengthy, ranty, almost violent blog. These will be your favorite Chelsea moments. Follow Chelsea on Twitter: chelseaepp.

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  1. http://www.junkscience.com/news2/womendri.html

    Driving is a practiced skill, men drive on average 74% more miles per year than women, this translates over many years into fewer crashes per mile driven compared to the group that is getting consistently less driving experience.

    Still, fatal crashes are far and away dominated by men, probably due to social pressures to take dangerous risks, and just more driving time.

  2. @jemand: I can vouch for the fact that the navigational prowess is not necessarily found in men over women. I may have zero concept of time, but I can always always always find my way somewhere. My husband is the opposite.

  3. @Chelsea: I would expect that all of these traits fall on a bell type curve for each gender, with at least some overlap between genders.
    So, while I may not have better spatial recognition than you, and you may not have a better sense of smell than me, over all, that would be the way to bet.
    That’s how I interpret it, anyway.

  4. You know, I know a Polish Mensan named Dorota… and the quote sounded like something she’d say, too. I wonder if it’s the same one I know?

    If it is… interesting. The Mensan Dorota I know is batshit crazy. I mean, that doesn’t even begin to describe it. She trawls on Mensa forums (the members-only ones), and .. I don’t even know how to describe it. Just.. wow.

    I think I’m gonna need to do some investigating :)

  5. The gender differences may be true statistically for large groups but I’m way better with colours than my wife.

    It made me think of an interesting point my brother brought up last week . He’s FTM transsexual and he’s been taking hormones for about 6 months. He says it’s really difficult to cry with the added testosterone.

    I thought that was interesting, and made me wonder what it would be like to be in a similar situation.

  6. @Chelsea: My daughter is a very good driver and has one of the more amazing directional map friendly brains I’ve ever seen. Starting when she was about ten she would be the map reader and navigator on our road trip vacations. It could be that confidence is part of the mix and giving her the early opportunity led to increased skills.

    And I’ve got the male red green color thing going and I lost any embarrassment in asking my wife, store clerks or a friendly looking fellow shopper if the color I’m seeing is really what it is.

  7. @swordsbane: “’It is clear that Doda thinks that the Bible was written by drunkards and junkies.’

    And putting her in jail for it proves her right.”

    COTW – Sad but too true. Blasphemy laws? What the hell, Europe?

  8. Question for the commenters on the thread. I’ve heard people argue that the IQ bell curves for men and women are different. Women having a higher average IQ, men having a larger standard deviation in IQ. Meaning there are more men at the extremes, i.e. slightly more male geniuses, and considerably more males with sub 70 IQ.

    Of course no one cites any sources and I couldn’t find the demographics online. Anyone know if this meme holds water?

  9. @angrymonkey: From the article below. “Furnham’s analysis of nearly 30 studies showed that in all actuality, men and women are fairly equal in terms of IQ. He claims that usually men tend to score higher on spatial tests, and women score a bit higher in language development and emotional intelligence. Neither of these things seems to make for a real difference when it comes to intelligence and gender. The studies Furnham analyzed were international, and his findings show that across the globe, men show pride when it comes to their intelligence; they seem to over-inflate it . Women on the other hand, minimize their own. ”


  10. @angrymonkey: We recently had our youngest daughter tested for placement in our school district’s gifted program. The psychologist who did the testing went on at considerable length about the differences present in IQ distribution. She did repeat and support the validity of the meme you mention. She also commented that it was essentially impossible to get funding for such studies at present because even a suggestion of the possibility of inherent IQ differences is enough to end a person’s research career.

  11. If you were given only one person’s score on an IQ test or a verbal test or a spatial test and asked to predict whether that score was from a woman or a man, you’d be hardly better than chance. Gender differences may be statistically significant when you look at p values. But you can find statistically significant differences in almost any two variables if you have large enough samples. A better way to think about gender differences is in the size of the effect of the difference- how accurately can you determine which group a score is from.

  12. “‘SciGirls,’ hoping to right the vexing science-and-technology imbalance that has left women chronically underrepresented in those fields, shows tweener girls engaged in projects that make physics, math, biology and other subjects seem fun.”

    Um, excuse me Mr. Genzlinger of the New York Times…science IS fun. It doesn’t have to SEEM fun.

  13. Science is fun in the same way rock climbing is fun. Some people love it, others think those who love it are insane, the best we can do is drag people along and let them give it a try.

  14. Group prayer protected Times Square from bomb – And here I thought it was because the guy did it wrong.”

    What…How? How do you mess this up? Did those assholes not see the giant fucking robot!?

  15. No, I’m serious…how do you see a giant erector set robot go out and work on defusing the car followed by people dressed up like the scientists who kidnapped ET and conclude that YOU did all the work. How narcissistic do you have to be!?

  16. From correspondence with Prof Sid Ecker:
    “Hi Zoe,

    Yes, we gave our presentation to 60 plus psychiatrists from the US, AU, FR, IT, EU, UK, Holland etc.

    We spoke for 2 1/2 hours on why cross gender identity was a normal inherited variation of humans. We showed how Transgender Brains think, smell, and hear like the opposite sex. We presented internationally accepted guidelines for hormonal treatment of transsexuals to be published Summer 2009.

    Here are my slides and with my participants’ permission I shall send you theirs. We are now in print in the APA Syllabus and soon in the APA Journal this summer. I am checking if we were recorded.

    My greatest personal compliment came from Frank Kruijver, from Holland, whose research of the human brain in TSs started it all. He thought we have taken his work very far in our understanding of the human brain. Hope you can do something with this.

    Sid Ecker, M.D. ”

    And yes, post-natal hormones change the brain too, that’s a separate issue. The acquisition of the ability to cry – or the loss of it – due to HRT in trans people is commonly reported, almost universal in fact.

    We just have to realise that there’s no such thing as a “male” or “female” brain. That certain parts may conform more or less to masculine or feminine stereotypes, and it varies between individuals.

    Trans women have highly feminised lymbic nuclei. Usually other parts of the brain are feminised too, that varies. But other parts may not be, and yet other parts conform to neither masculine nor feminine stereotypes, it’s more complex than a “male” or “female” brain.

    Unfortunately, research in this area has been made nigh impossible in the USA due to political, ideological, or often religious objections.

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