Monday, August 14, 2006

Barres vs. Pinker (and others)

Via Swarup's comment, we get a link to this blog post where Ben Barres has a short response to his critics:

It is remarkable that any one could read my commentary "Does Gender Matter?" and conclude that I said that there are not innate differences between male and female brains. Nothing could be further from the truth. The point of my commentary was to say that there is no convincing evidence that these innate differences are relevant to women's ability to advance in science. Rather the weight of the evidence is that prejudice and social factors (like lack of child care support for instance) are responsible for the great majority, if not all, of the problem.

On Nature's News Blog, Barres has also posted a somewhat extended reply to Pinker, Lawrence and Dierker [I wrote about Pinker's response here]:

In response to Steve Pinker’s comments, as referenced in my commentary, he has repeatedly argued that innate cognitive differences hold women back in science. The main point of my commentary was that there is no convincing evidence that innate differences are relevant to the failure of women to advance but instead much evidence that profound prejudice and social factors are responsible. Alas he did not respond to this point, but rather makes repeated misclaims in his correspondence about what he (and I) have said. Given the large degree of prejudice and social forces presently at work, it is not scientifically possible to make any determination about whether there are small innate differences that are relevant. For someone who has hurled so many insults at disadvantaged groups (including his endorsement last year on the book jacket of “The Man Who Would Be Queen”, a book that called transgendered folks like me liars best suited for work in the sex trades, and in the Boston Globe he was quoted as saying that my commentary was “science from Oprah”, which is also an obvious slur upon my transgendered identity), it is remarkable what a thin skin he has.