Emily Willingham Criticizes the Binary Brain, Or: Why the Brain Is like an Elephant

Today I want to share Emily Willingham’s excellent article “The Non-Binary Brain.” The subhead makes the article’s politics clear: “Misogynists are fascinated by the idea that human brains are biologically male or female. But they’ve got the science wrong.”

There’s much more to this article than debunking the myth that there are male and female brains. For instance, Willingham connects the ideology of the binary brain to sexist theories about autism, and she compares doing neuroscience to being a blind person who only explores one part of an elephant—the trunk or the foot or the ear. Most importantly, the post features one of my greatest heroines: Daphna Joel.

I suggest you read it if you get a chance. Although I’ve long been familiar with each individual argument, I found the combination of topics and epistemological critiques refreshing.

Must Read: Article in The CUT on Science and Sexual Stereotyping

When I was still sleeping this morning, Melinda Wenner Moyer published a spot-on article in The CUT, “These Ideas About Sexual Attraction May Be Based on Shoddy Science.” Moyer traced the controversy around French psychologist Nicolas Guéguen’s questionable research on social interactions between men and women. She did an excellent job at connecting evolutionary biologists’ tendency to sexual stereotyping with the current conversation around sexual harassment and other forms of sexualized violence. You should definitely read for yourself, but here’s a little teaser:

We are finally, as a country, publicly acknowledging that men have been treating women like shit for ages. Now, even the science that lends support to our iconic gender stereotypes—the science that reinforces the idea that men are biologically programmed to be sex-crazed and that women are basically sex objects—is coming crashing down, too.

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There WAS Plasticity in Brain Sex Difference Research!

JAS-Med 2014 at Baltimore was a fantastic conference. The papers were of really high quality, the talks engaging, and the attendees kind and curious.

As you may have assumed already, I presented parts of my research project on the intersection of adult neurogenesis (ANG) research and the neuroscientific quest for sex/gender differences in brains. As mentioned earlier, it is puzzling to read the standard account of ANG history—or, more broadly, of brain plasticity—and then realize that none of these ideas of malleable brains have had influence on rigid neural and social sex/gender classifications, as Rebecca Jordan-Young, Catherine Vidal, Cordelia Fine et al., and others argue. Continue reading

What Kind of Sex Do We Need in Neuroimaging?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/2835588174

Overlap.
(”Like Dancers in a Line” by Viewminder, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Four members of the NeuroGenderings network, Gina Rippon, Rebecca Jordan-Young, Anelis Kaiser, and Cordelia Fine, recently published a fabulous piece on “Recommendations for Sex/Gender Neuroimaging Research: Key Principles and Implications for Research Design, Analysis, and Interpretation” in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience.

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SOS: Help with Digital Humanities Project Needed

"Weltmeisterschaft 2014" by Jürgen Lousberg (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Weltmeisterschaft 2014” by Jürgen Lousberg (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The World Cup is over, Germany gets the fourth star, and I get back to work.

My investigation into the extent to which cerebral plasticity researchers and brain sex/gender difference researchers talked to each other over the course of the 20th century is a bit challenging. I’ve been reading and thinking and emailing people and writing and thinking and reading and attending a Digital Humanities (DH) conference—and suddenly I realized that what I’m doing here is totally a DH project. More importantly, it’s one I need help with. Continue reading

Posts on Experimental Fallacies and Pics Proving Plasticity Project Progress (O RLY!)

I want to draw your attention—again—to some fabulous work of others: an incredibly cute owl I encountered on one of the books I’m reading for my summer project, and two remarkable recent weblog posts on experiments in the life sciences. Continue reading

Don’t Freak out about the Weird Header …

… I’m doing enough of that already!1 Only a few more days of maintenance at hypotheses.org, and we’ll hopefully have the neuroscience-y header back:

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-Header1.pngBut let’s distract ourselves with research content and let me introduce my current summer project to you: Continue reading

  1. Congratulations to you if you’re reading this in your RSS inbox and don’t know what I’m writing about. []