Archive for category Book recommendations
I know this isn’t exactly my normal sort of post, but to be fair, if every science journalist in the country read Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine,* the number of posts on this blog could probably be halved.
Delusions of Gender is a response to every “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” article and book, looking into the actual science behind them. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the time it turns out the evidence behind the claims weak or poorly thought out; relationship and parenting advice books routinely claim the existence of titanic gulfs between the sexes based on barely significant differences, while journalists will happily claim that women empathise more or that men are more logical based solely on the fact that more men than women answered “yes” to the question “Are you logical?”.
More interestingly, Fine brings out countless findings about how the mind is affected by the outside world. For example, there’s a process called “priming“, where simply telling someone that men or women are expected to do better on a puzzle affects their ability accordingly – even if the priming is entirely subconscious. Other targets of Fine’s include improperly interpreted brain scans, studies that assume children have no understanding of society, publication bias, and some frankly bizarre “science” (one study claimed that women had evolved to be homemakers because female chimps in captivity enjoyed playing with saucepans – of course, how a chimp with no knowledge of cooking would know what a saucepan was for was never answered).
A fair bit of the book feels quite specifically targeted at a few authors – Simon Baron-Cohen, Leonard Sax and Louann Brizendine (the latter two in particular are both called out for making claims not supported by the actual studies they cite) – which can make the book a bit alienating to read at times if you’re not familiar with them. Delusions of Gender is also a little more heavy going than some popular science books, as Fine sometimes sacrifices simplicity for rigour – though her dry, often wonderfully sarcastic wit will at least get you through these parts with a smile on your face. Nevertheless, it’s well worth reading when you want to read newspapers, pop-psychology books or parenting advice with a more critical mind.
* I should probably point out that despite the title, the book doesn’t actually claim gender is a delusion. In fact, Fine quotes a number of interesting studies, particularly involving transgender people, which demonstrate that gender is an actual property of the mind – but that the actual ties between sex and gender are often weak.
You are currently browsing the archives for the Book recommendations category.
Spin n. 1. A fundamental quantum property of elementary particles. 2. A bias or slant on information, a form of propaganda.
Blogging on the coverage of science, maths and anything else that catches my eye in the British media.
ContactEmail: atomicspin (at) hotmail (dot) co.uk Twitter: @atomic_spin
Accolades"sanctimonious and hypocritical" - James Delingpole
- * Science (129)
- Biology (67)
- Chemistry (1)
- Environment (31)
- Food is totally science (8)
- History of science (1)
- Linguistics (1)
- Metric and measurement (2)
- Physics (27)
- Technology (8)
- Transport (6)
- Maths (58)
- Media studies (135)
- Anonymous sources do not forgive (2)
- Astonishing lack of taste (1)
- Churnalism (45)
- Conflicts of interest (8)
- Hate our competitors! (9)
- Health and Correctness gone Politically Safe (19)
- Hypocrisy (2)
- If you tolerate this then your children will be next (15)
- Me being pedantic (7)
- Misleading headlines (4)
- Not remotely true (33)
- The Internet is not an expert (2)
- Too scientific; did not read (57)
- Total Perspective Vortex (32)
- Unpublished research (8)
- Meta stuff (9)
- Not science at all (23)
- Politics (47)
- Pseudoscience (15)
- Sport (3)
- Uncategorized (2)
- * Science (129)
- ABC Apple BBC BBC News books CBS Channel 4 Channel Five Christopher Booker CNN Cravendale Crusade for Change Daily Mail Daily Record David Cameron Economist Express Facebook FOX GMTV Guardian GWPF Hindustan Times Independent IPCC James Delingpole Lancet Mail on Sunday Metro Mirror MSN News news.com.au News of the World Newsweek Observer Opposing Views Peter Saunders Philip Davies MP Phillip Hammond polls Richard Littlejohn Roger Helmer Sky Star Stephen Fry Sun Sunday Times Supermoon TaxPayers' Alliance Telegraph the echo chamber TIME Times Today Wales Online Wales on Sunday World Cup
- How is it that the Telegraph is the only national paper to headline the Germanwings news with any kind of decency? thepaperboy.com/uk/front-pages… Tweeted 1 month ago
- Apparently I only tweet once in a blue moon... homepages.ucl.ac.uk/~ucapsj0/moon/… Tweeted 1 year ago
- Rod Liddle's being awful again? Luckily, there's only one thing he's ever said that you actually need to pay attn to: youtube.com/watch?v=CNNnCB… Tweeted 1 year ago
- And yes, "kil..." is indeed short for "kill muslims" Tweeted 2 years ago
- The topic "Muslims" is trending. This is what you see when you click on it. Charming. twitpic.com/csgl3u Tweeted 2 years ago