Outrageous Quotes Week, Day 3

Posted: September 7, 2010 in books, evo-psy, evolution, facts, feminism
Tags: , , , , ,

(I’m reading Introduction to Modern Mathematics right now. It’s very entertaining)

Anyway, in 1967 children were learning too:

The little girl, showing in her domestic play the overriding absorption in personal relationships through which she will later fulfill her role of wife, mother and “expressive leader” of the family (Parsons & Bales, 1956), learns language early in order to communicate. The kind of communication in which she is chiefly interested at this stage concerns the nurturant routines which are the stuff of family life. Sharing and talking about them as she copies and “helps” her mother about the house must enhance the mutual identification of mother and child, which in turn, as Mowrer (1952) and McCarthy (1953) suggest, will reinforce imitation of the mother’s speech and promote further acquisition of language, at first oriented toward domestic and interpersonal affairs but later adapted to other uses as well. Her intellectual performance is relatively predictable because it is rooted in thi early communication, which enables her (environment permitting) to display her inherited potential at an early age.

The same thing happens in boys, but to a lesser extent because they cannot so easily share their interests. Their preoccupation with the working of mechanical things is less interesting to most mothers, and fathers are much less available. Probably too, effective communication about cause and effect presupposes a later stage of mental development than does communication about household routines. The small boy may be storing a great many observations, but his conversation tends to be limited to such remarks as Train stop until he is mature enough to ask Why is the train stopping? … His language, less fluent and personal and later to appear than the girl’s, develops along more analytic lines and may, in favourable circumstances, provide the groundwork for the later intellectual achievement which could not have been foreseen in his first few years.

(Moore 1967, pp. 100-101, cited in Macaulay 1978, p. 360, cited in Eckert, McConnell-Ginet, Language and Gender, 2003)

One has to mention that while extremely creepy, biased and unquestioningly supportive of the extant social order, this sort of pseudoscientific attitude is by no means gone. One only has to smirk derisively at The Female Brain, and lo, its brainless savanna-dwelling adherents come out of the woodwork, mumbling incoherent things about “savanna ancestors”, “hunting and gathering” and “men needing to rape because evolution and also science”, desperately trying to defend the pseudoscience that validates their biases, bigotry and prejudice.

(Incidentally, having read Mark Liberman’s deconstruction of The Female Brain — and other poorly done/described neuroscience research — one has to come to the conclusion that Louann Brizendine is a fraud and a kook. There are only so many end notes that give references to research that doesn’t support her most important claims — or in many cases has nothing to do with her claims at all —  one can read without suspecting foul play(1). Or possibly, she didn’t understand a word of what she hopefully *did* read.)

(Also, there are rumours that there’s a neat deconstruction of Brizendine in Cordelia Fine‘s Delusions of Gender, which I haven’t yet read, and which was recommended on PZ Myers’ blog earlier today. The comment section of that post is, predictably, filled with angry ape-descended savanna-dwellers. For them, I have a message: guise, penis enlargement stuff can be found in the “spam” folder of your mailbox. Have fun!)

(1) Liberman never says it, repeatedly assuming Brizendine’s good will. This is because he’s a nice and also a serious person.

I am neither.

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