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View Diary: Women-only Space: who belongs? (182 comments)

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  •  I think all the fields (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven, jessical

    have something to offer, and none have the complete answer to anything more complex than "Why are his eyes blue?"

    When it comes to something so complex as gender roles, then it seems clear to me that, not only are there effects from nature and nurture, but that these two interact, which makes it impossible to disentangle them even to say "it's 25% nurture" or whatever.  Further, nature has multiple components (e.g. parental genes, environment in the womb) as does nature.

    The 'why are they like that' questions are different when asked about groups versus individuals.  Humans, though, have difficulties understanding these differences in meaning.  Even people with statistical training (e.g me) don't always react statistically in our guts.  

    With groups, we can say things like
     "In every society studied, males commit more of the murders than females, and differences in murder rates correlate with amounts of testosterone in utero"
    "People who, as adults, are violent, are more likely to have been abused as kids than people who are not violent"

    but humans (again, even those who know better) tend to react to this with such things as
    "But what about XXXX?" naming some murderous female, or pointing to a person with high testosterone who is very gentle, or one who was not abused but is a murderer.

    With individuals, any such statements are demonstrably nonsensical.  A high level of testosterone does not 'make' you capable of murder.  Neither do any of the cultural or child-rearing practices.

    A question like "why is Peter White?" has a simple answer.  A question like "why is Peter straight?" certainly has no simple answer, might not have any answer, and might not even be a sensible question....

    Anyway, I'm rambling.  I don't agree with all of Konner - like you, I think he places too much on the genes, and looks for 'medical' answers to things.  And even he can get the individual question mixed with the group question.

    Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

    by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 07:28:09 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  yeah... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rserven, plf515

      it's an interesting ramble.  I think the whole "behavioral drift" thing -- you can teach a chicken to play ball, but not to stop scratching the plate -- is interesting.  These complexes of behavior, from which we're clearly not immune, give lie to the "it's all learned" response -- and at the same time, what sets we end up with, which sets we are occupying, and our own particular interpretation of the set, all vary and make broad generalizations difficult at best and complete crap at worst.  I think it's really useful from a political standpoint though, for the reasons elucidated in the feminisms diary last night -- we're creatures with bodies and tropes and broad, foolish instincts, and to base our liberalism on the idea of a perfectly learned, rational self is I think a terrible folly...'s fun stuff.  Personally I get the most from Lorenz and Tinbergen, but then I find the idea of sitting in a blind watching seagulls to be an utterly romantic notion in the largest sense :}

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