How Can This Be?

The CBS program 60 Minutes reported tonight, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, on a recent, and heretofore completely unsuspected, scientific discovery.

The context was specific — differences in the effect of the sleeping pill Ambien on men and women — but it appears, shockingly, that the scope of the problem might be far more general, with truly horrifying implications.

I won’t sugar-coat it for you, readers; we are all grown-ups here, and I’m just going to give it to you straight: these profoundly disturbing new findings suggest that men and women might actually be quite different.

In a clip from this evening’s show, reporter Lesley Stahl interviews UC Irvine neuroscientist Larry Cahill. Ms. Stahl explains that Dr. Cahill “used to share his field’s assumption that males and females, outside the reproductive system, were fundamentally the same.”

One can almost feel the ground shifting beneath their feet as the interview continues. Asked by Ms. Stahl if this problem of sex-based differences might be bigger than just Ambien, Dr. Cahill confirmed her darkest fears:

“Once you see this difference — and that difference — and that difference — and that difference — and that difference — and that difference — and you see this thing’s everywhere, you go ‘wait a minute!’ So the assumption we’re making, that it really doesn’t matter — sex — is not a valid assumption!”

Later, in a panel discussion, Ms. Stahl was asked: “what surprised you most of all the things that you found out?”

She replied: “I guess the big thing is how pervasive the differences between men and women are.”

Yes, it’s surprising, all right — unless, of course, you have any acquaintance whatsoever with literature, history, folklore, human nature, human societies, actual men and women, the real world, the theory of evolution, or simple common sense.

As bad as this is, folks, it gets even worse. Our pal Mangan has more.

21 Comments

  1. This ‘science’ must be WRONG because if it were true, there would have to be innate differences between the ‘genders,’ and we KNOW that there are no real differences because there are no ‘genders’ except insofar as the socially constructed ‘male gender’ oppresses the socially constructed ‘female gender,’ an oppression that began when the socially constructed ‘male gender’ overthrew the matriarchy ruled by the socially constructed ‘female gender’ and established a socially constructed ‘male gender’ rule of PATRIARCHY, so this ‘science’ is WRONG!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Your caricature is all too real, Jeffery.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink
  3. Dom says

    Talk about gender as a social construct always reminds me of this horrible story. You may have heard of it before, but it should be repeated:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dr_money_prog_summary.shtml

    According to the Wiki entry on John Money, he believed that criticism of his work was due to a right-wing, anti-feminist backlash.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  4. Betty Friedan, call your office!

    One moment, please …

    She’s turning in her what?

    Never mind.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  5. The hell you say!

    2Q==

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    60 Minutes recently had to apologize for a poorly researched and thoroughly inaccurate report on Benghazi. What credibility do they have?

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Their credibility isn’t the point here; it isn’t as if the factual content of the story is suspect.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  8. the one eyed man says

    I doubt that the vast majority of those who practice neuroscience operate with the assumption that “males and females, outside the reproductive system, were fundamentally the same.” Nor is Lesley Stahl likely to be confused with Hannah Arendt.

    60 Minutes is an entertainment show which thrives on sensationalism and has a history of getting their facts wrong. They twist the truth in order to make a good story. Hence they lack credibility, and should be viewed as entertainment and not serious analysis.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    I doubt that the vast majority of those who practice neuroscience operate with the assumption that “males and females, outside the reproductive system, were fundamentally the same.”

    What’s on display here is the near-hegemonic prevalence of exactly that assumption. Every single person on the screen is absolutely gobsmacked to see it called into question. Were it NOT as prevalent as it is among the communities in which these people live their professional and social lives, their reactions — and the whole tone of the 60 Minutes piece — would have been completely different.

    This would all be just an amusing curiosity, were not the belief that “males and females, outside the reproductive system, are fundamentally the same” — which is not only an assertion about the empirical facts of the world, but also has a very strong ideological and moral component — the central principle of a great deal of public and academic policy. Just ask Larry Summers.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    It shouldn’t be necessary to spell this out, but the implications of results such as this are not only startling, but threatening to those deeply marinated in modern liberal universalism. If men and women are “pervasively” different — if, as Dr. Cahill said, the differences are “everywhere” — then where does it end? If the differences between males and females are vastly more than just genital-deep, mightn’t other human differences also be less superficial than we insist they must be?

    This sort of thing is not just surprising, it’s dangerous. As this sort of research gains territory it approaches, and imperils, the central citadel and innermost keep of dogmatic universalism: behavior and cognition.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  11. Dom says

    if, as Dr. Cahill said, the differences are “everywhere” — then where does it end?

    With Hillary Clinton losing the presidency at the next election.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    From your lips to God’s ear, Dom.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  13. Caricature? I’ll have you know that even genitals are socially constructed! Even among animals! Not that animals are to blame — they also suffer under Patriarchy’s horrible, disfiguring power. Pity the poor porcupine, disfigured by a thousand pricks!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  14. JK says

    Hence they lack credibility, and should be viewed as entertainment and not serious analysis.

    How would you “view” your bus driver’s taking the larger male-appropriate dose of Ambien the night before?

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  15. the one eyed man says

    The innate differences between men and women are so profound that they could not possibly be missed by anyone who has had a wife or a daughter, or pretty much anyone else who is not insensate. They echo through popular culture, from screwball comedies to pop psychology books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I can only imagine that 60 Minutes picked numbskulls for their segment, or perhaps they edited it to make for a better story. Neuroscience attracts brainiacs who devote years to rigorous training, and it’s doubtful that many of them are unaware of this essential fact of human (and animal) life.

    Girl: “I played Barbies today with my friend.”

    Boy: “Who won?”

    I am a big Larry Summers fan, and I think he was wrongly maligned. If women are less gifted in math and science, then it would be intellectually dishonest to forego a promising line of inquiry, simply because some people’s feelings would be hurt. You can’t tell if the cause is nature or nurture without looking at both. Ditto for ethnicity: if there are quantifiable differences among the races, then that’s just the way things are. (Having said that, I’m not sure what you can actually do with that information. If you could prove that the median intelligence of Chinese is higher than that of Eskimos, it’s not an actionable datum that you could do something useful with.)

    Regarding Hillary: while your pleas to God are sincere and heartfelt, I doubt that She will grant your wish. Hillary is the most popular politician in America, by a large margin. If she decides to run, you’ll have another eight years to kvetch about the horrors perpetrated by a Democratic President on an unsuspecting nation.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  16. JK says

    If she decides to run, you’ll have another eight years to kvetch …

    Been past your proclamations on guns and Duck Dynasty, care to make it five bucks whether it’d be a clean sweep?

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  17. Loki says

    Ditto for ethnicity: if there are quantifiable differences among the races, then that’s just the way things are. (Having said that, I’m not sure what you can actually do with that information. If you could prove that the median intelligence of Chinese is higher than that of Eskimos, it’s not an actionable datum that you could do something useful with.)

    No, One-Eye,that’s got it upside down. It’s what you do if you rule it out upfront that matters. Because then the only way to explain all those ‘gaps’ is racism & sexism.

    And then you get to do all kinds of things. You get to blame people for things they didn’t cause. And you get to make them pay.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink
  18. the one eyed man says

    JK: I don’t recall what predictions I made regarding guns or Duck Dynasty, but I am sure they were thoughtful, astute, and prescient.

    I would be happy to bet that if she declares her candidacy, Hillary Clinton will be elected President. But why only $5? I would like to at least get a nice sushi dinner from my winnings. Make it $50.

    Loki: you miss my point. Suppose that you could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the median intelligence of blacks was two points higher than whites, Latinos were two points higher than Chinese, and Christians were two points higher than Jews. Or vice versa: it makes no difference. Suppose you did this in a manner which eliminates any cultural bias in the testing, or any inherent advantage well schooled people have over poorly schooled people in taking tests. Let us further stipulate that you have eliminated the sort of person who would take SAT tests for less gifted students to earn a few bucks.

    From a policy perspective, what exactly do you do with this information?

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  19. Dom says

    The innate differences between men and women are so profound that they could not possibly be missed by anyone who has had a wife or a daughter, or pretty much anyone else who is not insensate.

    And yet many do deny it. Judith Butler, commonly called a genius, has built a reputation on little else than the denial of innate gender differences.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  20. Loki says

    Loki: you miss my point. Suppose that you could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the median intelligence of blacks was two points higher than whites, Latinos were two points higher than Chinese, and Christians were two points higher than Jews. Or vice versa: it makes no difference. Suppose you did this in a manner which eliminates any cultural bias in the testing, or any inherent advantage well schooled people have over poorly schooled people in taking tests. Let us further stipulate that you have eliminated the sort of person who would take SAT tests for less gifted students to earn a few bucks.

    From a policy perspective, what exactly do you do with this information?

    No, One-Eye, you miss MY point. It’s not what you do, it’s what you STOP doing. You STOP blaming racism & bad schools & oppression and racial-sexual ‘privilege’ for the fact that some groups don’t have the same numerical outcomes as others. You STOP lowering standards & passing ineffective laws & wasting money & shaming innocent people as racists just to make the numbers come out in just the right proportions. You STOP assuming that men and women are 100% interchangeable in every social role (especially the military). You STOP making women feel like losers just because they want to be moms and not have a career outside the home. You STOP pretending that every single person ought to go to college- which just sets so many people up for failure and is making college more and more like grade school.

    You START treating people as individuals- not just as members of identity groups. Like I thought we were supposed to.

    Reading your comment again, I think maybe you actually agree with this. But you don’t seem to be getting the point.

    Posted February 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  21. “I think maybe you actually agree with this. But you don’t seem to be getting the point.”

    He gets the point, alright. But he’ll be damned it he admits it. According to his friend, Malcolm, he really believes all the crap he mouths. But I don’t buy it.

    If he is as smart as Malcolm assures us he is, he is simply trolling this site because he couldn’t deal with the admission that he and his Leftist cause is full of shit.

    Posted February 11, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

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