Dr. Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain (2006), will have a new book published on March 23, 2010. It's cleverly titled..............
As some of you remember, The Female Brain was roundly criticized for its inaccuracies. Foremost among them: "A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000." In a thoroughly researched series of posts, Mark Liberman of Language Log explained there was no evidence at all for that claim:
I looked through the book to try to find the research behind the 20,000-vs.-7,000-words-per-day claim, and I looked on the web as well, but I haven't been able to find it yet. Brizendine also claims that women speak twice as fast as men (250 words per minute vs. 125 words per minute). These are striking assertions from an eminent scientist, with big quantitative differences confirming the standard stereotype about those gabby women and us laconic guys. The only trouble is, I'm pretty sure that both claims are false.In anticipation of the new book, ELLE writer Diana Kapp did a nice job with her article on:
The Male BrainNeuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine on her inevitably best-selling new bookBy Diana Kapp February 12, 2010 6:30 p.mKapp also conducted a critical interview with Dr. Brizendine in which she asked some difficult questions. For instance:
You might want to try to keep your own personal pet caveman in the dark on this one, but in her inevitably best-selling new book, The Male Brain (Broadway Books), neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, MD, officially, scientifically lets guys off the hook for skirt-chasing, conking out after sex, avoiding emotionality—even spending Sundays glued to ESPN...Despite accusations leveled in publications from Nature to The New York Times that Brizendine engaged in weak science in The Female Brain, The Male Brain is, like its predecessor, a breezy and loosey-goosey girlfriend-gab take on the state of gender-based brain science. Brizendine often relies on unreplicated or small-scale experiments, studies, and surveys to draw sweeping, possibly oversimplified conclusions about gender and human nature and to spin small distinctions and differences in the data into vive la différence.
ELLE: You write that “our brains are much more plastic and changeable than scientists believed a decade ago,” yet most of your book stacks up examples of hardwired differences. You say the nature-nurture debate is dead, yet your book seems to cast you in the nature camp.And:
LB: Nature-nurture is dead because they’re really the same thing. Nature is the thing we must understand first, in terms of how things get wired in utero and the phases of brain development. The piece that used to be called nurture is genetically driven changes that come with things like stress, hormonal differences, neglect, abuse, drugs, or toxic substances. Understanding the genetics we’re born with and how they get modified by our upbringing and environment is the key.
ELLE: The journal Nature said about The Female Brain that you fail “to meet even the most basic standards of scientific accuracy and balance” and accused you of making sex differences in brain structure seem almost to make men and women two different species.Perhaps Diana Kapp should be a book reviewer for Nature. And I wonder if ELLE will be hiring neurobloggers soon...
LB: If that’s what people are getting out of my book, that’s an incorrect view. There are many more similarities than there are differences. I’m not trying to write scientific treatises. I’m writing for people who are intelligent but don’t do science. In doing honor to its complexity, I think I’ve hit the mark in some respects and missed the mark in others. Scientifically, looking at gender differences is in its infancy. It’s only really important in medicine to study diseases, for example. Gender differences per se are of less interest.
ADDENDUM: In a comment, Sanjay Srivastava has pointed to a brief 2007 Science paper (Mehl et al.) that was published after Lieberman's original critique:
Are women really more talkative than men?
Women are generally assumed to be more talkative than men. Data were analyzed from 396 participants who wore a voice recorder that sampled ambient sounds for several days. Participants' daily word use was extrapolated from the number of recorded words. Women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.
Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]