And so is PZ Myers.
This “gendered brain” quiz is making the rounds again (I’ve taken it before), and I score somewhere in the neighborhood of average for women who’ve taken the survey.
Basically, though, it appears to be for crap. Echidne notes the bias in the questions designed to test how emotional you are:
Ready? The idea is to see how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements:
I really enjoy caring for other people.
I find it difficult to read and understand maps.
It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much.
I find it easy to put myself in somebody else’s shoes.
I find it easy to grasp exactly how odds work in betting.
If anyone asked me if I liked their haircut, I would reply truthfully, even if I didn’t like it.
I find it difficult to learn how to programme video recorders.
I do not enjoy games that involve a high degree of strategy (e.g. chess, Risk, Games Workshop).
Other people tell me I am good at understanding how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
I can remember large amounts of information about a topic that interests me e.g. flags of the world, airline logos.
I am able to make decisions without being influenced by people’s feelings.
People sometimes tell me that I have gone too far with teasing.
I know very little about the different stages of the legislation process in my country.
I usually stay emotionally detached when watching a film.
I can easily visualise how the motorways in my region link up.
I can tell if someone is masking their true emotion.
Note anything funny? Notice how the emotional questions are left mostly vague but the systematizing questions have very specific examples, examples which all have to do with male roles in the society? For example, we are gently steered to think about odds in the sense of BETTING (still largely a male hobby). Then we are told to think about the ability to remember large amounts of information and the examples are FLAGS OF THE WORLD, AIRLINE LOGOS. Then there is stuff about MOTORWAYS. And references to very specific games of risk.
It would be fairly astonishing not to find the answers biased by sex even if systematizing was an equally likely characteristic of both sexes. Now think about how those questions could be changed to make the test less biased. Why not add examples which apply to hobbies women have? For example, in the statement about remembering large amounts of information, why not add an example to collections of Barbi dolls or 1930s jewelry or embroideries? And in the empathizing questions, why not give some specific examples that might apply not only to women’s traditional societal roles? Something about what a man might do when coaching children in sports, for example?
I was also annoyed to find that the tests don’t pay any attention to cultural aspects in general. For example, the little summaries one gets after completing a part of the test tell us what we should believe based on evolutionary psychology theories only.
Oh, one of those summaries? Repeats the claim that women use 15,000 words and men only use 7,000. Which has been shown to be crap, but keeps getting endlessly vomited up even by social researchers because it just sounds so right. You know, because women just can’t shut up. ‘Strue! Studies Have Shown. It’s truthy.
BTW, British readers: am I imagining things, or is the British press — in particular the Daily Mail, but also the BBC, and to a lesser extent, the Guardian — just obsessed with the gender essentialism lately?
- Anti-Feminist News Coverage Is Bad For Your Health by zuzu March 28, 2007
- Kos Gets Real by Lauren June 6, 2005
- WAATFPB? by Lauren February 21, 2005
- Men: Still Trying. Oh How They Try! by Cara July 7, 2008
- And now for your daily Misuse of Science… by Holly July 3, 2007