Okay, it turns out the interesting stuff starts about 22 minutes in: Simon Baron-Cohen (yes, Sacha’s cousin) describes a study on infants at the age of 1 day, which is obviously more credible than the earlier study on infants at the age of 9 months.
(I say it’s obviously more credible because I’m reminded of the old experiment, centuries ago, to discover the One True Language by avoiding all speech in the presence of a child until the child speaks its first word – you need to be strict to avoid accidentally influencing the result. The result they got iirc was the word for bread in the dialect of one of the servants in the house. which suggests there was a slip-up. You can’t really perform an experiment like that on infants with the kind of strict standard that would be necessary to make it truly objective, unless you subject them to what might be called cruelty.)
Then Anne Campbell explains the evolutionary psychology angle: hormone differences cause men and women to behave in ways that overall promote the survival of the species, e.g. more estrogen makes women avoid dangerous situations ergo they and their babies are more likely to survive.
When she extrapolates that estrogen vs. testosterone is also the reason for women who are about to be tortured to choose to spend the pre-torture waiting period with other people, whereas men choose to spend the pre-torture waiting period alone, obviously the water is murkier (i.e. it’s no challenge to find a list of socially constructed reasons for a result like that). It sounds like they did the study merely by gender and not by actual hormone levels, which don’t always match the standard levels expected for a particular gender – a phenomenon that was noted in the infant studies (the result there being that it’s the hormone levels themselves that appear to cause the behavioral differences, not the “dangly bits” as Finley would say).
Then she says (direct quotation)
I just find it hard to believe that a very, very subtle difference in the tone of voice you use or how long you make eye contact or something like that could really have such a profound effect on the interests and activities and preferences that children show.
Earlier in the program they mention studies showing that the differences in how boys and girls are treated is definitely not subtle, even in Norway. And even subtle communication strategies can have profound effects, as anyone who’s seen a proper demonstration of NLP knows.
Then there’s the gender gap in computer interest.
They don’t show the whole chart, but presumably blue = male employment in “computer jobs” (whatever those are), and red = female employment. The conclusion is supposed to be women in less developed countries choose computer jobs because they’re more desperate for money, but in developed countries people are free to take the jobs they really, truly want, deep down inside!
That doesn’t quite square with Finley’s comments in the other thread about coal miners, but that’s not the main issue. Economies develop in different ways, as the differences between countries of comparable development levels show.
What gets Jesus and Ibby so excited, it turns out, is (33 minutes in) Ms. Egeland accusing Mr. Dieseth (the guy who studied infants at 9 months) of being biased by his own expectations. Then she says biology has no effect on behavior and that there’s “no room for biology” in her theory because she’s a sociologist.
Next (35 minutes), Mr. Lorentzen asks why some people have such a “frenetic concern” with the biological origin of gender and posits that the studies in question don’t actually prove a genetic origin for gender differences beyond reproductive organs (and the miscellanea he mentioned earlier like height and weight), because there’s a “missing link” in the theoretical chain of cause and effect.
Host: You assume there are no [genetic] differences [between the genders in terms of feelings and interests] until the opposite is proven?
Then the host makes a good point: the other scientists don’t seem frenetic (unlike some of us ), and they don’t say the differences are 100% biological, but the Norwegians do say the differences are 0% biological.
Host: But most importantly, can you, as a scientist, understand the world if you don’t consider every possibility?
Baron-Cohen: It’s a very moderate proposal to say it’s a mixture of biology and culture. I’m not saying it’s all biology. I’m simply saying don’t forget about biology.
This is in harmony with what I said earlier, but I approached it from the other side: whereas Finley would almost have us believe babies are born fully clothed, with pants and skirts formed in the womb, and “skirts” for boys (sarongs, longyis, kilts, etc.) are just genetic abnormalities, I would like people not to give the womb more credit (nor less) than it deserves. Exactly how much credit it deserves is a question we’ll probably never know with absolute certainty, especially if we can’t agree on whether or not the triple helix theory is valid.
I would love to know how Finley’s oh-so-irrefutable sexology of the 1950’s and 60’s shows this all to be naÏve nonsense.