February 28, 2006

Safely Examining Gender Differences in Intelligence

While reading about Larry Summers' defenestration from Harvard it occurred to me that one of his cardinal sins, bringing up the possibility that there are gender differences in the distribution of intelligence, could have been examined safely had it been presented differently.

The Summers proposition was that men and women had the same average intelligence overall but that men had thicker "tails", ie more genius and more idiocy resides in the male sex than in the female. He viewed this as a possible explanation of some of the difference in elite academic faculty appointments for women v men. This launched a buzz saw of hate and invective.

But what if Summers had looked at why there are so many males of low intelligence or even better why so few women are extraordinarily dumb, it's hard to imagine that the same controversy would erupt. And if the idea is correct and study is permitted even in an atmosphere of stultifying gender political correctness, there is hope that once the twin realities of more male dummies and equal average intelligence across the sexes are well established even the most fearful will follow through to to the obvious conclusion, that the rightward (smart) tail is also thicker for men.

It's a pity that there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for a gender study of idiocy. The results might prove fascinating.

Posted by TMLutas at February 28, 2006 04:19 PM