Case Closed

A few days ago we remarked on a CNN item about the differences between men and women. Might some of these differences be innate (as I think is almost certainly the case), or are they all just the result of cultural conditioning? This has has been an enormously contentious issue of late, so it would be an tremendous relief if we could settle the matter once and for all, and move on.

In service of that aim, therefore, here are two compelling pieces of evidence: Exhibit A, and Exhibit B.

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  1. LT says

    first of all: TEE! HEE!! HEE!!! -those two clips were HILARIOUS …BUT, one must remember that “conditioning” begins in utero at the cellular level (at the very least, perhaps even earlier) …AND that conditioning is occuring within the environment of the mother’s body …AND the mother’s body exists within a culture …AND that unborn baby is receiving messages via both the placenta & its developing organs …SO, is it even possible to make a distinction between nature & nurture? …are the two EVER separate?

    Posted July 26, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi LT,

    Good point. We can, however, point to some heritable traits that are pure “nature” (i.e., entirely undetermined by culture or even the uterine environment) — perhaps hair color is a good example — and other traits that are, one would imagine, entirely a matter of “nurture”, such as, let’s say, preferring the Yankees to the Red Sox.

    Most traits, though, are likely the result of both — and it is up to us to arrive at an understanding, for a particular trait, of what the effect is, in what proportion, of the two influences.

    What is utterly unsupportable is to assert, as an article of dogmatic political faith, that complex traits such as intelligence, sex roles, etc., are entirely the product only of either heredity or acculturation. It is as preposterous when a Harvard professor of women’s studies insists that there can be no innate cognitive differences between male and female brains as it is when a Christian politician from the Midwest says that homosexuality is nothing more than a “lifestyle choice”.

    Posted July 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Kevin Kim says


    Welcome to Malcolm’s blog. He’s one of the coolest folks I’ve never met.


    Posted July 26, 2009 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Awwww… thanks, Kevin! The feeling’s mutual, amigo.

    Posted July 26, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  5. LT . . . you mean that the male embryo would do THAT even in utero! Gad, we males are shameless!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:19 am | Permalink