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Sunday
Mar062011

RS30 - Cordelia Fine on Delusions of Gender

Release date: March 13, 2011


Cordelia Fine joins us from Melbourne, Australia to discuss her book: "Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences." Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory, yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. That’s the reason, we’re told, that there are so few women in science and engineering and so few men in the laundry room — different brains are just better suited to different things. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, Fine sets out to rebut these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, are helping to perpetuate the sexist status quo.

Cordelia Fine studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, followed by an M.Phil in Criminology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from University College London. She is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Agency, Values & Ethics at Macquarie University, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her previous book is "A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives."

Comment on the episode teaser.

Cordelia's pick: "Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal"

Reader Comments (14)

The sound quality for the hosts is very bad, 'skippy' I would describe it as. Interesting show otherwise

March 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

The sound quality is usually great, but agree the sound is really bad. Its so poor I can barely focus on the content.

March 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I was looking forward for this episode but it's really hard to follow because of the sound. Hopefully next time will be better.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGil

It appears the file is corrupt and that this is affecting the sound quality. Suggest that when you have it fixed you post a new podcast called 'Rationally Speaking #30 - Cordelia Fine *fixed file*' or similar so that those who received the last corrupt file will automatically download the fixed file as well and have it sync to their mp3 players. This way when they go to listen to the latest Rationally Speaking podcast they'll see both versions in their list and deduce what's happened.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJesse Richardson

I second Cordelia Fine's recommendation of Heather Douglas' book. (<A HREF = "http://lippard.blogspot.com/2010/04/scientific-autonomy-objectivity-and.html">Link to my review</A>.)

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim Lippard

Hosts sound skippy. Guest sounds like she's in a bathroom.

March 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Seems to me that everybody mentions the corrupted audio file, but nobody notices the lovely picture. She looks like a 15-years-old doesn't she. I wonder whether I would have noticed her good looks if the person were male. Damn, I confess my lascivious thoughts. I got back into my old sexist habits. I pledge to ignore gender differences next time ;-)

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I could not hear a thing she said, but I tried to read her book and from the first page the book seems to be driven by ideology. It is usually the serious red flag for bias.

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrisha

I gave up trying to listen to this podcast, I couldn't make up anything the guest was saying. It was a frustrating experience. Like Massimo, I'm foreign-born (Italy) and if the English is a bit messed-up, my brain just can't keep up.

Please, re-post.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIon

I cannot hear the soundtrack, but I have read about what she wrote somewhere else.
I have to admit that I don't quite agree with some of her points.

For instance, one of her points is that baby boy and baby girl are pretty similar in their brain structure. The point is, we all know that it is fully possible for development to exert its effect later, and sex hormones play a role after all. If it is innate that the sex hormones will lead to subsequent gender difference in behaviors and cognitions, then it makes perfect sense to say that gender is NOT purely due to socialization.

Moreover, such gender difference has been observed VERY consistently across cultures, including those that have never communicate with outside world. So I don't think it makes sense to argue that no biological factors are involved.

May 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Completely acoustically unintelligible. "Omen" for empirical unintelligibility? hmmm...

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Moriarty

This is the problem "Cordelia Fine sets out to rebut these claims." I'm sorry but this is not objective research looking for the truth. This is starting with a conclusion and looking for evidence to support your view rather than looking objectively at the evidence and facts regardless of where the truth leads you. It reminds me of the religious stand point. Start with an answer.

"even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain." This is just not true. Science articles showing the biological and evolutionary differences are NOT defending inequalities. That is ridiculous. Just because something is true or a fact, does mean promoting it is followed. Should we repress or deny the truth if it is something we don't like? We can still choose how we treat each other, our values and the type of society we want. We can all think of several examples.

Some on the left hate evolutionary science and evolutionary psychology (I am a liberal). They start with ideology and try to fit reality to it. Just like the denial of human nature. Steven Pinker has wrote plenty on that subject. There are many differences between men and women and that's okay. Saying there is not, is another example of the feel-good fallacy.

I recommend a book to my fellow liberal secularist. "Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students"

February 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarson

"This is the problem "Cordelia Fine sets out to rebut these claims." I'm sorry but this is not objective research looking for the truth. This is starting with a conclusion and looking for evidence to support your view rather than looking objectively at the evidence and facts regardless of where the truth leads you. It reminds me of the religious stand point. Start with an answer."

I imagine that statement is a summary of her book, not a description of her scientific research goals. And in fact she addresses your exact complaint a few minutes into the podcast.

You can unrustle your jimmies now.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames

i can't listen to this - too bad quality! :( thanks anyhow.

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterratio_of_mind

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