Old T-Rex

I’ve just finished Testosterone Rex, by Cordelia Fine. In this book, she argues against the existence of innate psychological differences between the sexes. She does not want her readers to believe that men and women have different natures – apparently because such differences, or belief in their existence, would prevent social equality of the sexes. Personally, I think the more important question is whether it’s true. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

Rather than talk much about differences between the sexes, which would do her case no good at all, she talks about testosterone’s role in creating such differences. Testosterone is a strawman theory, here. Sex differences might be caused, in part or in whole, by biological factors other than testosterone: would disproving an incorrect testosterone-based theory make the differences go away? On the other hand, it might confuse people enough to reduce or eliminate belief in such differences. People are fairly easy to confuse.

Sex differences can be pretty big. Men are about 8% taller, but they have 90% greater upper body strength (about three standard deviations) and 65% greater lower body strength. They run faster, jump higher. Teenage boys routinely beat professional female athletes, as when the Newcastle Jets U-15 team recently defeated Australia’s national women’s soccer team 7-0.

There are psychological differences as well. Boys prefer rough-and-tumble play, girls prefer ‘intimate theatrical play’. Boys and girls have different toy preferences: boys like trucks, while girls prefer dolls. Interestingly, we see similar sex differences in play in other young primates, such as vervet and rhesus monkeys. Young chimpettes are known to carry a stick around, sticks that seem to be stand-ins for future babies – like dolls. Since other primates that are not exposed to anything resembling human socialization [they can’t talk] show similar play preference patterns, socialization is unlikely to be the driver of those patterns in humans, no matter how much Fine would like that to be the case.

Girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are exposed to high levels of androgens before birth: their play styles are more like those of boys, and they (like boys) are better at spatial rotation tests than other girls. Fine suggests that CAH girls are socialized differently [due to their medical condition] , and that this may account for their boy-like play preferences. The female offspring of rhesus monkeys treated with testosterone during pregnancy also show male-shifted play preferences, such as rough-and-tumble play. Similar effects are seen in rats. Socialization is powerful !

Men are far more violent than women, far more likely to commit murder [and suicide], in every society. Obviously, if we see it everywhere and everywhen, the cause must be … climate change.!

Men take more risks, especially after puberty. Fine attempts to talk this away, as she often does. Her argumentative approach sometimes has a certain mad charm, as when she mentions her baby son rolling across the room to a power drill, juggling knives, and trying to plunge a running hair dryer into the cake mix. I guess that no truly educated person could believe in anything so obvious, so… She also steps up to ” No true Scotsman “. She defines what must be the only correct definition of a risk-prone personality – someone that tends to embrace every possible risk – and if those correlations aren’t perfect, how could there be such a thing as a risk-prone person? She reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld, trying to define away the insurgency in Iraq by explaining that real guerrillas must have a unified doctrine and central command, which would have been a surprise to the raggedy-assed Spaniards fighting Napoleon, the men that gave us the word.

But crypts don’t lie. Teenage boys are twice as likely to die in accidents: you don’t see girls climbing down into the bear pit on a dare. To be fair, you don’t see boys do it twice. Young men are more likely to get killed making nitrogen tri-iodide, climbing Half Dome, or stealing copper from power lines. They can do it in a car, they can do it in a bar.

Almost all men are sexually interested in women, and the overwhelming majority of women are sexually attracted to men. I’ve heard that there are parallels in the animal kingdom. When you think about it, it makes a twisted kind of sense. Isn’t that a psychological difference?

Moderate differences in the average value of a trait can drive big differences out in the tails of the distribution. Men are only four or five inches taller than women, but all the tallest human beings are male. Men have a moderate edge in spatiovisual processing, but are overwhelming dominant – 100-1 – in the uppermost reaches of mathematics and science. Not just due to visuospatial differences, but that’s part of it. This also shows up in pool, which is not very dependent upon strength, but where the top men are much better players than the top women. Men’s advantage in spatiovisual skills likely plays a part in this. Jeanette Lee, when she was the top women player, said that there were ‘dozens of male players who could wax me.’ And, probably, even more that would have liked to.

Sexual differences are driven by selection favoring changes in one sex that lead to increased reproduction. This must explain men’s strength advantage, a product of competition with other males. Selection is the ultimate cause of psychological differences between the sexes, as well.

Generally, sexual selection is strongest in the sex with the greater reproductive variance. Usually, that means males – some have many offspring while others have few or none. Female reproduction varies less. Fine discusses a series of experiments by Angus Bateman [published in 1948] that led to claims of higher reproductive variance in male fruit flies. There were problems in those experiments – mistakes, technical problems and limitations. Some of the mutations used to trace paternal identity interfered with fitness and thus buggered the statistics. We wouldn’t have to use such a sloppy procedure today, but hey, it was 1948 – they didn’t even have the human chromosome count right. Yet similar studies have been done more recently on many other species – without those problems – and Bateman’s principle, that females are the limiting factor of parental investment, is generally true. Male reproductive variance is generally higher. So how does criticism of errors in a pioneering study refute a now-proven idea? That would be like claiming that Otto Lilienthal’s glider crash, where he died saying “sacrifices must be paid for” [which makes no sense at all] proves that Man will never fly. Fine’s fruit fly chapter is completely pointless. This lawyerly rhetorical technique, criticizing an early experiment in order to snipe at a well-established contemporary theory, was also used by S.J. Gould in The Mismeasure of Man, when he argued that Samuel Morton had skewed his measurements of skulls to fit his preconceptions. Which was untrue – but it wouldn’t have mattered a rat’s ass if Morton had screwed up, because the art has advanced very far since Morton’s time. Today we use MRI and CAT scanners to image skulls to millimetric precision.

Fine takes a stab at showing that there’s isn’t much point [in terms of extra evolutionary fitness] in men getting extra mates. She comes up with an unphysical and absurd example – mentioning how unlikely it would be for 100 one-night stands to generate an extra 100 babies. That’s totally irrelevant: all it shows is that she’s innumerate. Here’s the practical example: suppose some dude has a wife and a girlfriend next door. Suppose he has intercourse 50 times with each of them over a year – both are probably going to have a kid, while with just the wife , he would have had one. 2 > 1. Am I getting too abstract here? By the way, if sexual selection doesn’t really happen, what could explain men’s huge strength advantage? Eating Wheaties?

Fine seems to think that only producing a horde of extra kids could have any evolutionary significance – but she is wrong. One more kid is a big deal, fitness-wise. On average, over most of the human past, people only managed to raise two children to adulthood. In real life there are always other factors to consider, of course. Does he have enough resources to feed one more child? Is his girlfriend married, and will her husband be duped into raising someone else’s kid? Or will her husband get wise and clobber our protagonist?

Fine is inspired here by some work by Dorothy Einon, who attempted to show that a famous case, where Sultan Moulay Ismail (“the Bloodthirsty”) is said to have fathered 888 children, couldn’t possibly have happened. Einon was wrong: careful simulations show that it was possible, although Ismail did show real dedication. Fine manages to misunderstand Einon’s mistakes.

If you make a math model whose results that completely contradict common knowledge – if it predicts that the Saudi royal family does not exist, or that Miles Park Romney didn’t father 30 children – you would be well advised to recheck it. Just sayin’.

Fine goes on to criticize the ‘man-the-promiscuous-horny-hunter/woman-the-choosy-chaste-gatherer. It can’t be the case that men want sex more than women – why, if that were true, prostitution would exist. Ba-dum-bump. Among foragers, are men really the hunters, almost always? Of course they are: men have much greater upper body strength. Spears and arrows don’t launch themselves.

it is possible to argue against a too-simple version of that narrative. For example, in populations of European descent – the ones we’ve looked at – the rate of false paternity is low, around 1-2%, and has been for centuries. It is not the case that many women have children by alphas and trick betas into paying the bills.

Another approach would be looking at brains, trying to identify sex differences (or the lack of them) in brain structure. If men’s and women’s brains were indistinguishable, surely men and women couldn’t be psychologically different. But that notion is a bit treacherous, since it assumes that we can detect all functionally relevant differences in the brain. We can’t – certainly not in living subjects, but not even in studies after death. How do you detect memories? Can we see the differences in the brains of border collies that make them want to herd sheep? Not yet. Fine discusses some work by Daphna Joel, a behavioral neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University. Joel thinks that there really aren’t differences between male and female brains. Oddly enough, other people, like Larry Cahill, can reliably identify a brain’s sex: no single currently measured feature is definitive (other than presence of a Y-chromosome) , but statistical approaches exist that can make that distinction almost perfectly. Women’s brains are smaller (even after adjusting for body weight), connectivity patterns are different, white/grey matter percentages differ, gene expression patterns in the brain are different, etc., etc. Daphna Joel is a bad source: she sees what she wants to see, and disregards the rest. Psychology seems to have a bad case of that, which is why we’re hearing about the “replication crisis”. Michael Inzslicht, a dealer in stereotype threat and ego depletion [and unicorns] , said ” As I said, I’m in a dark place. I feel like the ground is moving from underneath me and I no longer know what is real and what is not.”

The incidence of mental illness is not the same in the two sexes: dyslexia and autism are much more common in males, depression more common in females. Sex differences in brain structure ( could be differences in gross anatomy or down at the molecular level) must be responsible for these differences in disease incidence.

In talking about the effects of testosterone, Fine mention a kind of cichlid fish where dominance influences gonadal events – causation ( in part) goes from behavior to hormones, instead of hormones to behavior. Interesting. But is there evidence of a similar pattern in humans? No. Are humans so evolutionarily close to fish – in particular, cichlid fish – that any pattern we see in cichlids is an immediate heads-up, something that might be happening in humans? Christ no. Then what’s the God-damn point? If we’re talking logic and inference, there is none: Fine seems to think that random unconnected facts are just fine for confusing her audience, and of course she’s right about that. Or, more charitably and probably more accurately, they’re good at confusing her. Makes me miss ye olde-fashioned steel-making, pistol-packing, Cheka-loving Commies: one of them could write an entire book explaining how humans are really vernalized naked mole rats while still sounding intelligent.

If, in this book, Fine had at some point conducted a sharp analysis and found the hidden causal pattern in a web of data, or had a sound mathematical model that answered the key question, or even casually tossed off a few accurate thoughts about the central limit theorem or Simpson’s paradox, I’d have to think that she was a bad person – dishonest. I see no sign of that.

At the end of her book, Fine says that we’re all for sex equality. I can think of at least a billion exceptions to that statement – but let me say this: I’m for what works. Listening to Cordelia Fine is not going to make things work better.

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203 Responses to Old T-Rex

  1. spottedtoad says:

    Girls are better readers, on average, in every country and at every age (https://www.brookings.edu/research/girls-boys-and-reading/ ). Verbal differences (girls talk better https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22276678 ) seem to be mediated by testosterone, and my guess is that males’ advantage in some forms of mental rotation end up being a disadvantage in learning to read (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02201.x ). Dyslexia is 2 to 3 times more prevalent among boys than girls. My guess is that differences in IQ variance are a relatively small part of that- most is due to actual differences in how boys and girls think/perceive rather than more boys being at the low as well as high extremes for general cognitive function.

    • David Pinsen says:

      Men seem to be better writers at the right tail of distribution though. I can’t think of a female novelist writing on the level of an Updike, Pynchon, or Franzen, for example.

      • reiner Tor says:

        I think a big part of the problem is motivation. Men, on average, seem to be just way more motivated to excel in things than women are. This will result in more male masterworks than expected.

        They are also more willing to take risks, as we know from the post above, so they will probably choose less obvious plot lines, characters, or topics, tend to use words in more original ways. The results are probably disastrous in most cases, but in the case of the select few, they result in works of genius. I’d bet that woman writers are more predictably dull and mediocre than male ones.

        • Frau Katze says:

          That’s a good point. Many women want a family and are prepared to accomplish less at work in consequence. That holds for me, my sister and my daughter.

          My daughter was told she couldn’t be cardiac surgeon if she wanted a family (they said you need to give it most of your life). She settled for general surgeon plus two children.

          • reiner Tor says:

            In my experience, even women who don’t want families don’t much strive for excellence. Part of the reason could be that being the best in a field will tend to make a guy more attractive to ladies. It does very little for a woman.

          • benespen says:

            I work with cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, and this holds true. They work ridiculous hours, and spend years and years training and building up a practice. The few women I know in this field are childless.

        • CarMar says:

          Look at Phillip K Dick, wrote some genius books, but a lot of his works seemed brilliant in the first half, and seemed to degenerate into incoherence in the second half. i.e. a scanner darkly.

      • syonredux says:

        “Men seem to be better writers at the right tail of distribution though. I can’t think of a female novelist writing on the level of an Updike, Pynchon, or Franzen, for example.”

        Yeah, but Steven Goldberg (in WHY MEN RULE) points out that literature is pretty much the one cultural/scientific field where the achievements of the top women (Lady Murasaki, Jane Austen, George Eliot, etc) are close to being commensurate with those of the top men. That’s not true in painting, mathematics, philosophy, physics, etc.

      • Broseph Walsh says:

        I’d give you Pynchon (how do you say his name??) and maybe Updike but Franzen wouldn’t even rate in my top 100. Plenty of women authors better than him.

      • Franzen? Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

    • My great-aunt Gladys taught children for 40-50 years. She said, ” Girls are better at English, boys are better at math.”

    • namae nanka says:

      The majority of the research done in the field of reading has been conducted in the United States where girls have been found to excel in reading; however, cross-cultural studies have provided evidence that female superiority is not a universal phenomenon. In one of the earliest cross-cultural studies, Preston (1962) found that although girls outperformed boys in the American sample he tested, the reverse was true for the German students. German boys outperformed girls on every measure of reading achievement except speed. Subsequent investigations supported the contention that female superiority is not universal. When Johnson (1973-1974) investigated sex differences in reading among pupils of four Englishspeaking countries, he reported that in Canada and the United States girls outperformed boys, but that was not the case in either England or Nigeria. Other countries where girls were not found to be superior in reading were Denmark, Japan, India, and Finland (Downing et al., 1979; Downing, May, & Ollila, 1982).

      I think that the reading gap is smaller than maths gap even though PISA results are the other way round with the reading gap favoring girls around thrice the maths gap.

      While feminists talk a lot about how girls are disadvantaged and hence their full potential is not realized and otherwise they would match or surpass boys, preferably the latter, the reality is, of course, a total 180 from their narrative.

      Girls get better grades even in maths, it’s the tests where they falter at. It’s just that boys are that much better at maths that the current environmental disadvantage they face(reading also affects maths scores) is smaller still.

      Another example of how it’s boys who perform way behind their potential in schooling,

      As shown in Table 8, girls earned significantly higher final
      grades in Algebra II, English, and social studies than did boys.
      Girls also earned higher final grades in Algebra I, though this
      difference failed to reach statistical significance. The effect sizes
      for the female advantage in course grades ranged from .25 for
      Algebra I to .80 for Algebra II and was .54 for overall GPA. Girls
      also outperformed boys on the standardized achievement test, but,
      in contrast, the difference was small (d = .15) and did not reach
      statistical significance. Surprisingly, boys earned significantly
      higher IQ scores than did girls, t(158) = 3.03, p = .003, d = .48.

      I’d put the gender differences in reading at 0-0.1sd, maths at 0.4-0.5sd and spatial rotation around 0.8-1sd, if there was even tenth as good an effort at bettering boys’ condition in schools that has been done for girls despite schooling being favorable for them for a very long time.

      What is worth remembering is that boys used to be the group considered shortchanged by the schools. The idea that the schools shortchanged boys was part of the common wisdom through the 1970s. As Brophy (1985) reminds us:

      “Claims that one sex or the other is not being taught effectively in our schools have been frequent and often impassioned. From early in the century (Ayres, 1909) through about 1970 (Sexton, 1969; Austin, Clark, & Fitchett, 1971), criticism was usually focused on the treatment of boys, especially at the elementary level. Critics noted that boys received lower grades in all subjects and lower achievement test scores in reading and language arts. They insisted that these sex differences occurred because the schools were ‘too feminine’ or the ‘overwhelmingly female’ teachers were unable to meet boys’ learning needs effectively.”

      What changed during the 70s?

      • spottedtoad says:

        the link i included goes to PISA 2012 results, which are well administered international assessments. i don’t think it’s all cultural. i think boys have a harder time learning to read and write.

        • namae nanka says:

          I know about PISA, there used to be an interesting Iceland ‘anomaly’ where girls outdid boys in mathematics back in 2003 and often made the rounds in gender equality camp. There was a follow up of the students themselves for this monumental achievement,

          When introduced to the possible relationship between reading comprehension scores
          and math scores in the PISA 2003 assessments the theme of peer pressure and the gendered
          discourse became prevalent. The all agreed that boys were more likely ridiculed for their
          passion of reading then girls. Most of them agreed that “a boy that likes to read is more likely
          to be looked at as being weird rather than girl and therefore they might not spend as much
          time of reading as girls”. One girl’s view added and interesting look on why boys might not
          have scored as high as girls on reading comprehension. She believed that the content of the
          text the student had to read might be a factor.
          “I don’t remember any reading comprehension text about like soccer. It is always
          about people and emotions and girls are usually better to like analyze people and
          emotions then boys so it easier for girls to understand …Girls can see the like tiniest
          differences between emotions but for boys it is black or white.”

          The excerpt I posted before regarding the reading gap not being universal comes from a study where the genders differ in what they read far more than they differ in ability.

          And a PISA based study found that the maths gap is negatively correlated with verbal gap and that girls do around 20% more maths homework than boys.

          The conclusion, girls can be equal to boys in math.

          I don’t think the gap is all cultural as well, but there is a far stronger case for that to be made than in the case of maths and it’s important that it’s not overlooked just because sexual differences have to be defended from loony feminists.


          Between 1963 and 1979 SAT-verbal scores declined 50 points. This is often attributed to change in the demographics of test-takers, a much broader segment of the population now takes the SAT tests. However, Cornell University researchers Donald P. Hayes, Loreen T. Wolfer and Michael F. Wolfe point out inconsistencies in that explanation, and suggest that simplification of school textbooks lies behind the decline in student’s reading comprehension and verbal achievement.


          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Simplification of the textbooks may be part of a whole process where K-12 schools tried to reach the less successful students. Part of that was simplifying the textbooks. Part of it was telling them, “You can go to college; you should go to college (and thus you should take the SAT).”

            I doubt there was any order from on high, “Dumb down the texts.” But I’m sure there was market pressure on the publishers. “We don’t think this textbook is appropriate for the wide range of students we have.” Etc. And seeing market share go to the simpler texts.

  2. Space Ghost says:

    “If, in this book, Fine had at some point conducted a sharp analysis and found hidden causal pattern in a web of data, or had a sound mathematical model that answered the key question, or even casually tossed off a few accurate thoughts about the central limit theorem or Simpson’s paradox, I’d have to think that she was a bad person – dishonest. I see no sign of that.”


    • I think Greg’s being genuinely benevolent here.

      Gould and Kamin and Lewontin were arguable bad people, being deliberately dishonest in self-conscious ways, while Cordelia is not. The distinction is one worth making. Cordelia is not acting in bad faith, out of a malignant, natural character, like Gould et al appear to be. She appears to be just (self-)confused. I wouldn’t feel compelled to shoot her in the back of her evil head, but to sit down and patiently repeat things for her until she got it. Or make an AI to do it for me.

  3. Your-Momma says:

    Next book: “The Y-chromosome Hoax”

  4. baloocartoons says:

    When our kids were young, I had a set of chessmen of the anthropomorphic kind — the queen looked like a queen, the pawns looked like foot soldiers, the knights were actual mounted knights, etc. — and our daughter played with them constantly. The kings and queens were dads and moms, and all the rest were the children, and they had dinner and went to bed and did all the usual stuff a family would do. Our son, two years younger, inherited custody of the chessmen when our daughter went on to other things. They ceased being family groups and, as they were originally intended, became instead opposing armies, who fought and fought and fought. The battles stopped only when he decided to play with his truck instead.

    In a related matter, our son is way grown up now, and he brought his female doberman to town for a visit. It turns out that we’d so socialized our 11-pound male Lhasa apso/poodle crossbreed to be macho, that he had the Doberman intimidated and kowtowing in short order.

  5. RCB says:

    My impression a few years ago was that Hanna Kokko was doing the best work on theoretically sophisticated sexual-selection-from-the-ground-up, turning some of the old theories on their heads. Not sure how this stuff is received now.
    A useful paper:
    Box 1 is quite entertaining.

  6. reiner Tor says:

    A very good review, well worth the money. Thanks!

  7. Jim says:

    All this nonsense never seems to end no matter how often it is refuted.

    My guess is that socialization almost certainly reduces behavioral sex differences in modern cultures as opposed to accentuating them.

    • another fred says:

      Bookmarked for future reference.

    • Frau Katze says:

      True enough. No one is suggesting a return to the era when women couldn’t attend university. IMO, feminism was necessary to create an equal opportunity. And I’d say it has succeeded and is this an worn-out cause. It’s like the feminists won’t take “yes” for an answer.

  8. “Here’s the practical example: suppose some dude has a wife and a girlfriend next door. Suppose he has intercourse 50 times with each of them over a year – both are probably going to have a kid, while with just the wife , he would have had one. 2 > 1. Am I getting too abstract here? By the way, if sexual selection doesn’t really happen, what could explain men’s huge strength advantage? Eating Wheaties?”

    This is the part that bugs me the most. The elite, respected reviewers who buy this kind of dreck from people like Fine are almost always incapable of thinking in terms of mathematical models as a sanity check for their arguments.

    • albatross says:

      In some sense, it seems like a lot of the ruling class are selected for being verbally smart and innumerate. This is especially true for lawyers and journalists, who have an outsized impact on the public discussion. And you can see the consequences of this in almost every mainstream media article about anything–almost never does the writer bother digging up the relevant numbers, statistics, etc., even when it’s literally one Google search or one trip to Wikipedia to get the information.

      • jd016 says:

        The hypothetical reviewer would have to be able to detect the strawman in her argument (1 man has 100 one-night stands and creates 100 pregnancies), and then think “actually, isn’t the argument just that promiscuous men can pass their genes on more often than the average male?”. That would take knowing a little bit of evolutionary theory.

      • vzeman79 says:

        This is definitely true about most journalists.

  9. Jalfrezi says:

    So men and women are different after all.

  10. Gauss says:

    Yeah, we made NI3 in high school. I didn’t see any girls around while we were doing that. We all survived, btw.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Be interesting to hear from those that didn’t.

      • emdriveisnonsense says:

        NI3 has both very little brisance and almost no energy, 100 g could explode next to your feet and you’d be OK (if you took shower, held your breath + ear plugs). My father had 50 g of it explode right next to his fingers with no injuries apart from scrathes and bleeding. It’s not a normal explosive like gunpowder, TATP or RDX

        Even 50 g of powerful explosive like RDX can not seriously injure your hands from more than 25 cm away and LD50 for shockwaves is about 600 g of TNT/1m (charge to chest/head distance)…with the LD reaching 100 closely behind that..at maybe 800 g.

    • caethan says:

      We used to blot it on the filter paper and leave little pieces in the hallway for the lunch rush.

      We also used to chain folks from the Van de Graff generator out to the hall to zap people as they went by.

      • Gord Marsden says:

        We left the crystals on the slates in the hallway, invisible with the dark background.dumped mercaptan in the AC vent. It all felt as natural as a fight at the bike racks

  11. Abelard Lindsey says:

    Sex differences were obvious in high school just by listening to conversations. Guys talked about what they did last weekend or what they were planning to do next weekend. Girls talked about previous conversations they had with other people (e.g. I said…, then she rolled her eyes and said….).

  12. Burl Horniachek says:

    Fine suggests that CAH girls are socialized differently [due to their medical condition] , and that this may account for their boy-like play preferences.

    This always struck me as batty, ever since I read Fine’s earlier book Delusions of Gender, which is actually somewhat useful, if, in the end, completely wrongheaded.*

    Let’s say that CAH girls really are socialized differently because the societies they are raised in are sexist in some way. That would mean that sexist societies don’t actually universally socialize girls to act girly(!), but (for reasons that are never explained) somehow pick up on the rather subtle cues (what these are is, again, never explained, at least that I recall) that distinguish CAH girls (and, remember, these can’t be behavioral tendencies resulting from CAH) and then they then socialize these girls to become more boy-like. Seriously, WTF?

    *Figuring out why the book is wrong can be a useful way of getting the evidence straight in your own head.

    • Yes, you pound certain lessons into children for 21 years that they still don’t get, but somehow they are unable to resist subtle cues from the environment that socialise them and install prejudices while they are still toddlers.

  13. syonredux says:

    “Jeanette Lee, when she was the top women player, said that there were ‘dozens of male players who could wax me.’ And, probably, even more that would have liked to.”


  14. Angus Bateman, not Alan.

  15. I’ve noticed that the usual suspects assert that the brain is a “mosaic,” as if that’s somehow an argument against male-female difference. If I understand why this statement is supposed to serve as an argument at all, it looks like an attempt to pretend that correlations among characteristics of the components of the “mosaic” that would differentiate male from female brains are not to be acknowledged. Resembles Lewontin’s fallacy???

  16. whyteablog says:

    “By the way, if sexual selection doesn’t really happen, what could explain men’s huge strength advantage? Eating Wheaties?”

    Socialization, Greg. Stereotype threat. Sexism. It’s that powerful. A voodoo priest told me so.

  17. ursiform says:

    You should post this on Amazon. The apoplectic comments would be fun to read …

  18. Yudi says:

    “Michael Inzslicht, a dealer in stereotype threat and ego depletion [and unicorns]”

    “At the end of her book, Fine says that we’re all for sex equality. I can think of at least a billion exceptions to that statement”

    Funniest lines. Like others here, I want to see you take on Jonathan Marks next.

  19. MawBTS says:

    Fine takes a stab at showing that there’s isn’t much point [in terms of extra evolutionary fitness] in men getting extra mates. She comes up with an unphysical and absurd example – mentioning how unlikely it would be for 100 one-night stands to generate an extra 100 babies.

    Full passage below. You want to take these calculations to a rape crisis center of some sort.

    Consider that a man can produces as many as 100 offspring by indiscriminately mating with 100 women in a given year, whereas a man who is monogamous will tend to have only one child with his partner during that same time period. In evolutionary currencies, this represents a strong selective pressure—and a potent adaptive problem—for men’t mating strategies to favor at least some desire for sexual variety (…) So what’s the likely return on this exhausting investment? For healthy couples, the probability of a woman becoming pregnant from a single randomly timed act of intercourse is about 3 percent, ranging (depending on the time of the month) from a low of 0 to a high of nearly 9 percent. On average, then, a year of competitive courtship would result in only about three of the one hundred women becoming pregnant. (Although a man could increase his chances of conception by having sex with the same woman repeatedly, this would of course disrupt his very tight schedule.) This estimate, by the way, assumes that the man, in contradiction with the principle of “indiscriminately mating,” excludes women under twenty and over forty, who have a greater number of cycles in which no egg is released. It also doesn’t take into account that some women will be chronically infertile (Einon estimates about 8 percent), or that women who are mostly sexually abstinent have long menstrual cycles and ovulate less frequently, making it less likely that a single coital act will result in pregnancy. We’re also kindly overlooking sperm depletion, and discreetly turning a blind eye to the possibility that another man’s sperm might reach the egg first. In these unrealistically ideal condition, a man who sets himself the annual project of producing one hundred children from one hundred one-night stands has a chance of success of about 3.4e-36

    Scientific notation is mine. In the book she just types a pile of zeros, I guess because it looks impressive.

    Obviously there’s problems. She stacks the dice in favor of the dad by allowing the cad to mate only once with each of his partners. Are these numbers even accurate? This 2000 study seems to show a 25.5% chance of fecundity over a peak daily period. And like Greg says, what happens if I’m both a dad and a cad? What if I raise a family but also pursue sexual opportunities on the side?

    She keeps referring to this as “exhausting” and “unrealistic”. Infidelity is the third most common cause of divorce (implicated in 55% of cases), so it can’t be too exhausting or unrealistic.

    Also the way she writes is smug and infuriating. “We’re kindly overlooking,” and “discreetly turning a blind eye,” apparently. UH OH, HERE COMES CORDELIA FINE TO UPSET OUR APPLE CART! I wish her infant son all the best in his future assassination attempts.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I was just talking to a friend whose parents had to get married in high school after they had sex once.

    • In these unrealistically ideal condition, a man who sets himself the annual project of producing one hundred children from one hundred one-night stands has a chance of success of about 3.4e-36

      That’s apparently very tiny change of (if her math and description are correct) producing ONE HUNDRED babies.

      I’m not sure if that’s as clean an indicator of dishonesty as being able to recognize Simpson’s paradox.

      • j says:

        The above thought experiment is so impossible, twisted, biased, etc. that you can be sure that she IS dishonest. As well as ignorant of how evolution operates. And no sense of proportions. One child more per generation, as Greg said, makes a tremendous evolutionary difference, but one hundred from one hundred different women is a pervert fantasy.

        • reiner Tor says:

          One hundred from one hundred different women was the reality for a small number of powerful males, like some Chinese or Mongol emperors and similar rulers. I wouldn’t totally rule out that such males still do exist, perhaps in Africa.

          • reiner Tor says:

            Of course, no such luck for the rest of us.

            • j says:

              If the probability of impregnation of any chance encounter is 3%, the overworked fellow of her imagination may have had three children that year. Elemental. One has to be an idiot to propose that he may have 100 children and then refute it. Classical straw man argument. Dishonest.

              • reiner Tor says:

                I didn’t dispute that. Just mentioned that the “one hundred children from one hundred women” scenario did exist in reality. It was fairly rare.

              • j says:

                Tor, Think again. She sets up a “straw man argument” (“Consider that a man can produces as many as 100 offspring by indiscriminately mating with 100 women in a given year”) which is absurd and she knows it; then refutes it (” the probability of impregnation of any chance encounter is 3%”) and concludes that male promiscuity is evolutionary impossible. Obviously, she does not understand how evolution works, and cannot make out the numbers that 3 children (3% of 100) is much more than the one engendered by the monogamous male.

            • silent_bob says:

              nypost dot com/2017/05/27/hamptons-bachelors-are-getting-vasectomies-so-golddiggers-cant-trap-them
              “Scott — who describes himself as “Tarzan with light eyes” — typically beds up to 10 different women per summer and estimates that 20 percent of the single ladies he encounters are looking to trap a rich guy with a baby.”

        • I still don’t know whether someone just helped her with the math, or she’s trying to be both clever (to us) and persuasive (to them). I’d probably defer to the person who read the whole book and weighed all the evidence.

      • Jim says:

        She says that the hyper-promiscuous man will average 3 children a year compared to one child per year for the monogamous man. If the children of the hyper-promiscuous man have equal chances of survival as the child of the monogamous man that seems like an enormous reproductive edge.

        (.03)^100 is approximately 5 x 10^(-153). 3.4 x 10^(-36) as the probability of the promiscuous man having 100 children corresponds to a probability of about 44% not 3%.


    • RCB says:

      It therefore follows that every man has exactly the same number of offspring.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      if behavior is partly genetic then current behavior is based on conditions in the past – there’s a time lag

      so changes to selection pressure e.g. contraception, will only show up after a few generations

      as 100 one night stands would have been more effective in the past and as current behavior is based on the past then her counter argument is bogus


      i think one of the problems with feminists is they have a rational opinion of what they should want under modern conditions but what they actually want is based on the genes they got from their ggggggreat-grandmothers which evolved to suit conditions in the past – and the two wants are in conflict.

    • amac78 says:

      [Ms. Fine] stacks the dice in favor of the dad by allowing the cad to mate only once with each of his partners. Are these numbers even accurate?

      Stipulate that her stated numbers are correct. Only one further assumption: how often does the pasha have intercourse with a member of his harem? I’ll project it’s every other day — exhausting and unrealistic for Ms. Fine, not so much for most reasonably fit men.

      Thus: 182 matings over a 365-day year, 1 female per episode, 3% chance of conception per event, no shortage of partners (100 is Fine’s number).

      Turning to Excel:
      cell A1 =RND() ‘random number between 0 and 1
      cell B1 =IF(A1>0.97,1,0) ‘pregnancy is “1”, otherwise “0”
      Copy and paste to form a 100×2 column
      cell B201 =SUM(B1:B200) ‘number of pregnancies for that year’s run
      Record cell B201’s number in cell C1
      Refresh; record cell B201’s number in cell Cn+1
      40 iterations
      cell C41 =AVERAGE(C1:C40) ‘mean
      cell C42 =STDEV(C1:C40) ‘standard deviation

      40 runs, (5.8 ± 2.1) children. High of 11 and low of 1.

      I’m no expert in either statistics or Excel (obviously), and it took me 10 minutes to conceive and execute the exercise, and another 10 minutes to write it up. Something that a less lazy Ms. Fine could have figured out, if she was going to include a discussion of the subject in her book.

  20. MawBTS says:

    This lawyerly rhetorical technique, criticizing an early experiment in order to snipe at a well-established contemporary theory, was also used by S.J. Gould in The Mismeasure of Man, when he argued that Samuel Morton had skewed his measurements of skulls to fit his preconceptions. Which was untrue

    Apparently some of Morton’s measurements actually were wrong, but in the opposite direction Gould thought. He’d measured a few Amerindian and African skulls as having a larger cranial capacity than they actually did. Or so I’ve read from Trivers.

  21. Frau Katze says:

    I have read in numerous places that women in general (in our society) tend to succeed at what they choose to do than men do.

    Certainly men have the right tail advantage in some fields, but most men aren’t in the far right tail!

    It seems females are on the whole more mature. That makes good sense: the babies of immature women would be at a disadvantage. And raising children requires a lot of patience and deferring your immediate wants to take care of the children.

    So some people are saying that left tail men are now at a disadvantage. Our society is running out of well-paying jobs for them.

    So this writer adds confusion over something that shouldn’t even be an issue. Talk about, say, the fact that Fortune 500 CEOs are mostly men is pointless. They’re right tail men. And they are few and far between.

    Why focus on the far right tail? There are so few people there.

    Women on the whole are doing fine in our society. But significant numbers of men are not. We need to think about that problem.

    • Jim says:

      That women tend to succeed more at what they choose to do may be generally true in most cultures. It would be expected to be this way if men pursue more high-risk activities. The point of high-risk behavior is that while it often will fail the payoff is high when it succeeds. So high-risk male behavior would be expected to result in some spectacular successes eg. Alexander the Great conquering the world but many more failures. Most men who set out to conquer the world are going to fail.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Yep, we do need the risk taking men, although most won’t succeed.

        But that’s just the way evolution works. So it’s neither bad nor good per se.

        I was talking about the problem of the left tail (IQ) men in our society. They’re becoming increasingly irrelevant. That is a social problem. (But not a problem Cordelia Fine wants to get involved with.)

        (Obviously our society is not the same as the one our ancestors lived in.)

    • benespen says:

      I’ve heard this too. Here is an example from a family physician in Australia:

      In my experience, women today seem to have more “balls” than men do. They seem more driven, more ambitious and can make stuff happen. They seem to cope better with adversity than many of my male patients. With most women, life goes on. The kids need to be fed, the uniforms washed and the bills paid. Many men flounder. My readers may not like this but they are my objective observations.

      This matches my impressions interviewing college graduates in the United States. I see an awful lot of well-composed young women with their stuff together. On the other hand, it would be worth checking up on some relevant numbers on employment, addiction, educational attainment and so forth. I only see the successful ones.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Yes it would be worth someone checking into. Maybe someone has. I’ll check to see if I can find something on it.

      • SteveRogers42 says:

        The “adversity” he’s citing deals with cooking food and washing clothes. Nesting activities that women have been responsible for for the last 100,000 years. Now, let’s take a look at a simulation of actual existential adversity:

        Or this… a 3-to-1 numerical advantage, armed with tasers, and a 5-7 fat man (who is only escape-oriented, not combative) as the target:

        Once the West begins experiencing true adversity on a large scale, reality will re-assert itself and this sort of debate will seem ridiculous. Paradoxically, all the female-friendly societal innovations that have arisen since the passage of the 19th Amendment make the return of large-scale adversity inevitable.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think what it comes down to is how women seem to get a lot more out of boring everyday things than men do, and that’s what most of life is. Many men find there’s not a lot out there to motivate them.

  22. Chuck1809 says:

    Best Greg post ever.

    Nearly had Cherrios milk out the nose laughing at this jewel:
    “Almost all men are sexually interested in women, and the overwhelming majority of women are sexually attracted to men. I’ve heard that there are parallels in the animal kingdom. When you think about it, it makes a twisted kind of sense. Isn’t that a psychological difference?”

  23. misdreavus says:

    If there were a bioweapon that could erase all gender gaps in performance (e.g. physical, mental, etc.), one which worked solely by decreasing male ability, I’m sure Cordelia Fine would not hesitate to unleash it immediately upon the wider population. To quote our POTUS, “what a nasty woman”.

    How far can she go with her propaganda? Well, Americans now accept and tolerate a demographic of people who have recreational sex with each other’s rectums. Support for aforementioned group has gone up after they unleashed a third world plague that has killed over half a million people in the US, including over 70% of hemophiliacs (who are dependent upon blood transfusions). If you dare criticise this group in any way, you will be attacked, villainized, and treated like a carrier of a leprous contagion (oh the irony). In whackier parts of this nation like San Francisco, there is an annual festival where people indulge in these graphic sex acts in public, and at one point, young children used to be in attendance. (Not sure if they still are now — I hear the organizers of the Folsom Street Fair have gotten stricter about security.) The former Democratic Speaker of the House, whose congressional district is host to these canal rituals, has openly defended them to the media.

    The former CEO of Firefox was fired from the company he himself created, after it was discovered that a few years prior, he had donated to an organization that lobbied for for “civil unions”, not “full marriage” (even though these are legally identical, for all intents and purposes). The horror!

    So yeah, I guess it can get a hell of a lot worse. I can’t wait until I am hospitalized after catching one of the seven new strains of ultra-antibiotic-resistant MRSA that originated in West Hollywood (publicized by the Lancet in October of 2028), the team of genderqueer EMTs accidentally drops my stretcher on the way to the ambulance (mandated by the Supreme Court, as per Ramirez-Goldenberg vs Alabama Dept. Public Health), thereby breaking my ribs, the affirmative action MD from Kinshasa promptly diagnoses me with “bad juju in the upper forelock”, I am force fed a foul-tasting herbal concoction that sends me into anaphylactic shock, and I wake up a month later convered in bed sores and cockroaches, wondering what exactly I have done to deserve living in this timeline.

    Or. There might be a violent, public counter-reaction against this sort of nonsense. Think of the end of Weimar Germany. That won’t be good for me, either. But the lunatics might make this inevitable, in the long run.

    • misdreavus says:

      Continuing on the note of insanity, the IOC and the UFC now allow dudes in dresses to participate in women’s sporting events.

      According to their panel of experts (or (((experts))) ), the “latest scientific research” suggests that autogynephiles fall “within the normal range of female performance” after taking androgen blockers and female hormones, and cutting off their “three precious gifts”.

      Wtf is that supposed to mean??? Wtf is a “normal range” for a tranny? Do people get off by watching dudes like Fallon Fox beating up women on live TV? Why even have a separate female division for sports, to begin with?

      • Burl Horniachek says:

        I guess it’s a good thing no one really cares about women’s sports.

      • Yudi says:

        Welcome back, but wow Misdreavus, you’ve become frighteningly redpilled at this point. Calm yourself a little, buddy.

        We all hate the rut the left has fallen into, but they ultimately were reacting to a lot of crazy shit the right started. Remember Terry Schiavo? Both sides have radicalized each other at this point, to the detriment of decent people.

        My only hope at this point is the presumable Chinese adoption of CRISPR-based genetic engineering. Only when a powerful non-Western country has adopted this technology and used it to become a greater threat will our civilization be forced to emerge from its self-imposed Dark Age.

        • Your counterpoint to leftist nihilism dangling normalcy over Popocatepetl is … Terry Schiavo?

        • misdreavus says:

          How is Terry Schiavo remotely in the same league as the Folsom Street Fair? Did Jerry Falwell try to masturbate her into consciousness, or something?

          It’s not even as crazy as young earth creationism.

        • gcochran9 says:

          It is not the case that contemporary lefties have been driven crazy by right-wing extremism.

          • Yudi says:

            What’s your explanation? They clearly got galvanized by the Bush presidency.

            Although, the long term demographic decline of whites and Obama’s presidency proved tempting bait for the crazies among them too.

            • Thursday says:

              Crazy lefties have not exactly been an uncommon thing over the past 250 years.

            • Jim says:

              The term “looney left” goes way back before the presidency of George Bush. As for “young earth creationism” how many leftists could even tell you the age of the earth to the nearest billion years?

            • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

              Ever heard of the “Diseases of affluence”?

              People mainly focus on the physical effects of living in a rich society when they talk about them.

              I think there are clear mental consecuences for suddenly (a few generations) being affluent.

      • A Erickson Cornish says:

        Misdreavus is second only to Greg historically in terms of reasons to browse the comment section here, and the caustic wit and writing style in these comments is definitely evidence that this is the true Misdreavus. But adopting dumb Neo Nazi signaling devices from Twitter (when the IOC expert panel seems more Scandinavian than Jewish-heavy on quick glance anyway) seems a bit out of character, no?

        • misdreavus says:

          1) I’m not that special.

          2) You think I’m a bigot because I used the triple parentheses? Wait till you hear what I got to say about dykes!

          3) In case you haven’t noticed, Ashkenazi Jews are vastly over-represented among “experts” and “authority figures” at the forefront of this insanity. Is it wrong to point that out? I don’t hate any particular group of people.

    • MawBTS says:

      In whackier parts of this nation like San Francisco, there is an annual festival where people indulge in these graphic sex acts in public, and at one point, young children used to be in attendance. (Not sure if they still are now — I hear the organizers of the Folsom Street Fair have gotten stricter about security.)

      I’m not involved with this subculture at all, but my impression was that the problem was less the gay community qua the gay community, and more the crazy fringe groups coming along for the ride.

      NAMBLA’s a classic example. They’ve always branded their cause as a mainstream (and inseparable) part of gay liberation. “man/boy love is by definition homosexual” / “man/boy lovers are part of the gay movement and central to gay history and culture”

      The gay community isn’t alone in this problem. In the 90s there was a brief hysteria linking the spaying/neutering of pets to health risks. Maybe they had innocent motives at first. Sadly, zoophiles need intact animals for their purposes, and soon their membership rosters were largely made up of animal molesters. It’s also the reason any sort of genetically informed candidate is going to attract the support of David Duke. One of the first things any group needs is a good memetic immune system.

      • Misdreavus says:

        Can’t speak for lesbians, but ephebophilia is common and widespread in the gay community.

        Gay activists have actively tried to reduce the age of consent everywhere they have power and influence. Peter Tatchell, prominent LGBT leader in the UK, tried to reduce it to 14 when he was MP, and is even on record praising sex with kids as young as eight. Nobody seems to care, at all.

        Gay men, as a group, are hyper-promiscuous and have off the charts levels of every STD you can imagine. (And they are probably carrying new diseases, right now. that scientists haven’t even discovered yet.) According to the Center for Disease Control, a whopping 82% of syphillis cases, over 50% of HIV, over 65% of gonorrhea, etc. Parasites like shigella (transmitted through contact with fecal matter) are also common, and periodic outbreaks can be frequently traced to gay circuit parties and the like.

        All despite being less than 2% of the population.

        That’s not just a “subset of the population.”

        • Maciano says:

          Are gays, on average, slim bc they carry so many diseases? Immune systems need a lot of calories.

        • Bob says:

          It seems to have gotten Milo shunned. Though in our American past in the more common relationship type these were called wives. As the father of three daughters I encourage them toward the right half of the bell curve in this statistic.


        • Nomen Est Omen says:

          Peter Tatchell, prominent LGBT leader in the UK, tried to reduce it to 14 when he was MP…

          I think he’d prefer it lower than that, but Tatchell was never an MP: he campaigned in OutRage for that age. When he stood as a candidate for Labour in 1983, his Liberal opponent Simon Hughes used “homophobic” propaganda against him (it was a “straight choice” between Liberal and Labour, etc):


          Hughes later admitted “homosexual experiences” himself. Not surprising in Parliament, particularly in the Liberal / Liberal-Democrat party. For Labour, Blair, Brown and Mandelson are rumored to have formed a love-triangle at one time. If so, it was useful knowledge for GCHQ, the NSA, Unit 8200, the Russians, et al.

          This is from a quote by Tatchell from his Wikipedia page:

          The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.


        • Mark F. says:

          There is no serious movement in the U.S. to lower the age of consent, and NAMBLA has now been banned from every gay event.

          I’ve been to Folsom recently, and they are officially no longer tolerating open sexual activity (not to say they can control everyone).

          Doesn’t a small percentage of gay men really skew the averages? I’m gay and average about 6 or 8 sexual encounters a year and I’m not into anal sex. And most gay men have nothing to do with drug fueled circuit parties and such.

          • 1) if you start at age 18, that amounts to 150-200 partners by age 43.

            consisting that the average for a heterosexual male is less than ten per lifetime

            2) no need to lie about Folsom.

            3) for gay men, the whole distribution is shifted in the direction of Gomorrah. That’s like saying only a few blacks score retarded on IQ tests.

            • reiner Tor says:

              for gay men, the whole distribution is shifted in the direction of Gomorrah

              And it’s obvious why. OK, being gay might be a mental illness that actually makes them behave that way, but I’d wager heterosexual men would also shift at least somewhat in the Gomorrah direction, if

              1) they had no chances of having children, and

              2) they could find that many willing female partners

              I mean, once there’s no chance of starting a family, the meaning of life changes to having fun. And if you have many willing partners, then why not have sex with all of them?

          • benespen says:

            That kind of sexual activity is probably below the median for homosexual men, and above the median for heterosexual men. Which is kind of the point.

            Looking at GSS data up through 2012 will demonstrate my assertion.

      • Misdreavus says:

        So, when is that vaccine coming?

        Probably never, at this rate.

        • Gardenofaleph says:

          I read “faggots” by Larry Kramer, I think because of an offhand comment of your’s, and it blew my mind.

          Pre-HIV gay life was, at least in the cities, non stop sex of increasingly crazy variety. Really shows where male sexuality goes when unconstrained by females or childbearing.

          • misdreavus says:

            I couldn’t even finish “Faggots”. Made me want to claw my eyes out.

            • Frau Katze says:

              How accurate did you find “And the Band Played on?” The author seemed to try to show both sides (the promiscuous and the more cautious).

              I note that amazingly enough Larry Kramer is still alive (although he does have HIV),

              • Misdreavus says:

                Certain segments are now dated (e.g. nobody knows if Gaëtan Dugas was “patient zero” in America — not that it really matters, anyway). But overall, it’s a valuable read. Shilts seems to do a good job reporting the facts as they are, in spite of his political bias.

                His attacks on Reagan, for instance, are not very compelling — according to the facts in his own book, gay men pretty much fucked themselves to death, and nothing that Reagan said or did would have made a big difference. Try to read between the lines.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Reagan could have imposed quarantine. They would have thanked him later.

                Molecular phylogeny indicates that the US epidemic started significantly before Dugas – early 1970s. Probably from Haiti, before that.

              • misdreavus says:

                “Reagan could have imposed quarantine. They would have thanked him later”

                I dunno about that.

              • misdreavus says:

                I mean the “thanking him later”, not the quarantine

              • gcochran9 says:

                Of course. But at least they would have been able to thank him.

              • Mark F. says:

                Well, Kramer was responsible for pointing out the crazy excesses of the 1970s, but he still can’t help partially blaming Reagan for AIDS. I think that’s a requirement to be in good standing with the left.

              • sthomson1971 says:

                I thought “And the Band Played On” was terrific. IIRC he waited until he finished the book to be tested…he was positive. His next book, “Conduct Unbecoming” (about homosexuality and the military) was a lot more shrill. He died about a year after it came out.
                As for the larger topic, I don’t know what to think. I know some absolutely lovely couples that have been together 30 years, in love the whole time, which is more than I’ve ever managed. Two guys spent 15 years together in a studio apartment — I don’t think I could do that for two weeks.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            unless promoting promiscuity is the primary purpose of a bug that produces homosexuality as a side effect?

      • Rosenmop says:

        “In the 90s there was a brief hysteria linking the spaying/neutering of pets to health risks. Maybe they had innocent motives at first. Sadly, zoophiles need intact animals for their purposes, and soon their membership rosters were largely made up of animal molesters”

        There are really people like that?

        • MawBTS says:

          If you want to pollute your soul, look up “Loving Your Beast” by Ebon Lupus. Probably best if you don’t read it at a work computer. Or around children. Or at all.

          Surprisingly, zoophilia’s still legal in 9 US states. It’s like prison rape. So “out there” that everyone treats it like a joke.

    • Jim says:

      And it was only a few years ago that Hillary Clinton was opposed to gay marriage. Now the slightest reservation about gay marriage is anathema.

    • dain says:

      Are you gooky from MPC?

    • Mark F. says:

      I have a question. Since you don’t believe in free will, why do you always seem angry that people do crazy things? Isn’t that sort of like being angry that cats kill mice?

  24. AlanL says:

    Here’s an actual data point. It’s unusual to see women and men competing directly against each other in world class sport for all the obvious reasons. But last weekend was the Climbing Works International Festival in Sheffield, which isn’t part of the world cup bouldering circuit, but is the biggest pre-season event and always attracts a world class field.

    The format is unusual in that there is an open qualifying round that everybody has to get through before separate male & female semifinals. The highest placed woman in qualifying – who also happens to be the reigning world champion – was 35th overall.

  25. Anon says:

    Men and women aren’t different, but having a woman on your team makes your team more effective than it otherwise would be.

    • Jalfrezi says:

      Race don’t exist but the white race is the most evil race of all.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The left is filled with illogical ideas like that. But they don’t worry, just plough on, saying the same old things, over and over. Don’t agree? You must be hater, a bigot, a Nazi, blah blah blah.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      So let’s abolish officially sex-segregated sports teams. The soccer teams with five or more women will, presumably, be much more effective at scoring goals than the all-male teams.

  26. Allan says:

    What’s sad is that this book will now be a primary text in gender studies departments.

  27. Maciano says:

    I always get a kick out of wiki-checking these logic and evolution-denying academics, politicians and writers, who then turn out to be a product of good breeding/assortative mating. Fine’s mother is a successful children’s book author, and her father is a philosophy professor. Her sister turned out quite well, too; well, qua status, I mean.

    Let’s hope she chose her husband’s genes wisely, because in this case I fear nurture will help her sons much

  28. ziel says:

    Great review, definitely got our money’s worth, with some shout-outs to The Who, Simon and Garfunkle, and Shakira to boot (and I suppose I might have missed some others along the way..)

  29. reiner Tor says:

    Here’s another review. Cordelia is dishonest as well as stupid. I just finished Telling Lies About Hitler by Richard J. Evans. Well, David Irving used similar tactics with uncomfortable (to his theories or political views) evidence.

  30. seppia says:

    I think the problem is. There are also some smart girls who want to study and disciover something. If we say: women have less brain on the average it could trigger some political action towards preventing girls from study etc. As it already happened before.

    Female selection in practice: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12215138 (male beauty contest in Mali)

    • reiner Tor says:

      As opposed to telling them that they have equal talents in everything (except where they are better), which carries zero risks. There’s no chance that it will, for example, lead to demonization of males, discrimination against males in favor of less talented females (costing a lot of resources for society), etc. It also will never lead to dysgenic trends and lower fertility (and, ultimately, lower happiness) in intelligent females pursuing futile careers in cubicles instead of having children.

      • seppia says:

        Dysgenic trend is not caused by intelligent women having to little children. It is the other way around: humanity is having too many children. Most inteligent people on the Meyers-Briggs scala are found in the INTJ/INFJ/INTP … typus. Those are also the people that are currently most concerned about environmental issues, peak water/oil, overpopulation. That is mostly the reason why this group of people (male and female) are having few children.

        • Ziel says:

          “Those are also the people that are currently most concerned about environmental issues, peak water/oil, overpopulation. That is mostly the reason why this group of people (male and female) are having few children.”

          So they’re crazy.

        • Frau Katze says:

          If more intelligent women have fewer children than the less intelligent, it’s clearly dysgenic.

          Why they’re doing it (as they appear to be) is a separate and complex issue. You could write a whole book on it. There are no doubt a variety of reasons. One would have to conduct a study to find out the reasons. Or several studies. It’s a huge area.

          Maybe Cordelia Fine would like to tackle it. But I don’t think so: she’s a classic leftist and would find the the topic distasteful. Why? Because the left doesn’t even feel comfortable acknowledging that that people in general vary in intelligence.

        • How many people a given area of land can support – such as, say, the earth – is entirely dependent on what technology is available. There is no solid ground underneath the claim of “having too many children,” that is not more aesthetic and philosophical than real. Also, Meyer-Briggs is unstable. You can test differently in April than you did in March. It’s useless.

          You like theories.

      • In summary, there is no chance that it will lead to an attempt to destroy everything that the evil oppressive patriarchy has ever created.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      right – the problem is people not understanding average group differences

      no women are suited to x
      all woman are suited to x
      only some women are suited to x

      i appreciate women wanting to dispute the first argument but the feminist argument is equally wrong and probably more damaging (as it effects the majority)

    • Frau Katze says:

      Well, it didn’t stop my mother from attending law school in the late 1940s. Not very common, but there were a handful of women in the class. Her mother encouraged her.

      I find your argument unconvincing. For example, if one had a talent for math one soon discovers that high school math is interesting. And one gets good marks. If one is female (like me!) the good marks and interest level make is easy to ignore the odd negative comment.

      Obviously women need equal opportunity. But people must understand that there need not be equal results.

      I always give this example: women are shorter than men, on average. But some women are fairly tall.

      If you’re a women that is 6′ tall, you’re the same height as a 6′ man.

      The only thing is that in a crowd of people of 6′, women will be the minority.

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  32. Bo says:

    Jerry Coyne: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/when-ideology-trumps-biology/ (relevant to discussing the issues with the number of offspring as calculated by her; check out the link/reaction by PZ Myers and his commenters!)

  33. namae nanka says:

    From the horse’s mouth,

    From an early age, I was incapable of reading Enid Blyton books (which I adored) without offering up a scathing feminist critique to anyone within earshot: “Oh, yes. Of course the boys go first! In case it’s dangerous.” I vividly remember coming across a sentence that so outraged me – a boy telling his companion that she couldn’t take part in some adventure because she was a girl – that I stopped reading and spat on the offending lines.


  34. Aidan Kehoe says:

    Wow, what a terrible book. I now half-regret paying towards the review, because, well, that was a waste of your time. (James Thompson’s point!) On the other hand, you went into it eyes-open, and you’re 600$-ish richer, I think you’ll be OK.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I thought someone reasonable should look at and respond to that book, but I dreaded having to read it. But if you guys held a $500 carrot in front of me, I could stand it.

      Perhaps I could stand some more such tasks. Now and then, not a steady diet.

  35. Ivan says:

    Pretty funny, this, too:

    “Laurel Hubbard, 39, won the women’s over 90kg division at the Australian International competition in Melbourne on Sunday”

    “It’s testosterone levels which is a much more scientific way of measuring male gender, female gender than anything else that is currently known.

    “And Lauren has passed all of those tests over the last 12 months,” he said.


  36. Greying Wanderer says:

    technology has changed or reduced the reason for a lot of male/female genetic differences but genetic differences change slowly

    to a certain extent feminism is a rage at this disparity, like – male upper body strength is much less important than it used to be (even if still critical in some areas) but feminists get annoyed at still getting turned on by bodice ripping (signalling brute strength) cos their gggggreat-grandmothers had evolved to be attracted to physical strength

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  38. sainchuck says:

    great read doc, but you might have opened pandoras box with this experiment. now people will be throwing money at you for doing the thinking for them. how soon before you are sitting in tv studios arguing with pretty ladies? i would watch that

  39. Florida resident says:

    Dear Dr. Cochran: you wrote
    “Makes me miss ye olde-fashioned steel-making, pistol-packing, Cheka-loving Commies: one of them could write an entire book explaining how humans are really vernalized naked mole rats while still sounding intelligent.”
    Apparently you meant some particular “Commy”.
    Who was that subject ?
    Disclaimer: I do not like commies.

  40. Norbert Bourbaki says:

    Greg’s review has been posted at Amazon, by “homeowner”, who I’m guessing is not Greg.

    It was remarked here above that all previous customer reviews were 4-5 stars. Also interesting, in a disturbing way, is the long list of glowing “Editorial Reviews” of this idiotic book, starting with “Amazon.com Review: An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: Fine knocks it out of the park with her smart and eye-opening investigation….”

    • Frau Katze says:

      I didn’t post it, but it does credit Greg Cochran in the title.

      It was the top review, with 28 people finding the review “useful”. I added the 29th “useful”. Others should do the same!

  41. tonyhoskin says:

    “Testosterone is a strawman theory, here. Sex differences might be caused, in part or in whole, by biological factors other than testosterone.”

    Since it appears that the Y chromosome has few genes, doesn’t that imply that testosterone (T) would explain much of the sex differences due to biology? Are you thinking male sex hormones other than T might be important? Or perhaps female sex hormones?

    • reiner Tor says:

      I am a total layman, but it seems obvious to me that the rest of our chromosomes contain two different programs, a male and a female program, and it depends on the presence or absence of a Y chromosome which one gets executed. I don’t quite understand why it would be necessary for testosterone to be the only or even the primary agent of all this (though I actually suspect that it does play a substantial role, and I think that the debunking of its role might turn out to be bogus).

    • gcochran9 says:

      Of course testosterone plays a big role. But the point of her argument, if indeed there is one, is that there are no biologically-driven psychological differences between
      the sexes. Arguing against a particular theory of the cause of those differences doesn’t make the differences go away.

      Suppose that I said that the Mid-Ocean Ridge was really the Midgard Serpent. Even if someone successfully attacked that explanation, the Mid-Ocean Ridge would still exist.

      In reality, the only argument Fine has is that she wants things to be a certain way . But they aren’t that way. Personally, I would like Mercury to have a dark side and a twilight zone, Venus to have jungles and dinosaurs and busty native princesses, Mars to have canals and a dying yet advanced civilization [ with busty native princesses[ , with the asteroid belt the remnants of an exploded fifth planet.

      But wishing doesn’t make it so.

  42. Frau Katze says:

    It would great to stop reading these stupid articles: “Gender Gap Persists at Largest Museums”

  43. Rexie says:

    I did not read Fine’s book but I watched an hour of her seminar and only skimmed through the long 8 hours audio-book.

    It seems that Fine was trying to argue that sex roles are social constructs and as such the effects of testosterone are also social constructs. For example Fine claimed that the mother mice was more attracted by the male baby mice’s testosterone to lick their anuses that stimulated the generation of more testosterone and hence that was a social construct. She did not explained through social construct how the male baby mice have more testosterone in the first place before the mother mice licked their anuses. And isnt the initial excess testosterone is the primary factor and the licking is the secondary response?

    Fine related a situation where a male fish located in a pool with females developed more male characteristics and concluded that maleness is a social construct. If so then why none of the females had similar development?

    Fine is suppose to be the expert to recognize socially constructed situations. She related the fascination her son had for a dog testicles key-ring from their neutered pet dog. Most men will cringe with empathy (which is usually innate except for those with psychopathic tendency) when thinking about neutering dogs.


    It is strange that Fine could not recognize that her son’s behaviours is similar to her own fantasy about testicles key-ring. Could it be a possible socially constructed case of her own son’s behaviours right in front of her? Incidentally it is usually not the testicles that are used, it is the scrotums that can encase the keys are used, similar to the Australian kangaroo scrotums key-ring,

    Fine is also promoting the thesis that inadequate experimental proofs means that observable phenomina are illusions. She is also excessively attacking the so called ‘popular authors’ especially those writing on parenting, self improvement or management practices, as if they convey the latest and absolute truths. By doing so she also might be in the rank of ‘popular authors’ or lower level cherry pickers.

    • Rexie says:

      Although Fine recognized that the female body oddly enough also manufactures testosterone from ovaries and adrenal glands she did not explain how through social construct that biologically estrogen is manufactured from testosterone/androstenedione but not the other way round.


      “””All of the different forms of estrogen are synthesized from androgens, specifically testosterone and androstenedione, by the enzyme aromatase.”””

      Thus it can be speculated through evolution the androgen/testosterone appeared first before the emergence of estogen, sexual differences, sex roles social cultures or social constructs, and that estrogen and sexual differences appeared about the same time before the appearance of higher organisms, T Rex, sex roles social cultures or social constructs. It appears that Darwinian evolution determines the asymmetric distribution of testosterone, way before the appearance of sex roles social cultures or social constructs.

      Fine claimed that testosterone in amniotic fluid did not equate to testosterone in the fetus plasma, ignoring that whether this is true or not does not change the observed latter gender-typed play.


      Hence it is a puzzle when Fine did not question the effects of testosterone and she only questioned about sex roles, why then she titled her book “Testosterone Rex”? I wonder if Fine is aware that in nature there are living equivalent of “Testosterone Rexona” which might contradict her claims.

      In nature there are exclusively high testosterone pregnant alpha females who pass extra testosterone through blood to both the male and female fetuses and only these grow up to be the alpha males or females, e.g. in spotted hyena.


      “””While in the womb, male and female fetuses alike are exposed to extraordinarily high levels of male hormones, particularly testosterone. The hormones originate in the mother’s ovaries and pass through the placenta, and they have a dramatic effect on the developing cubs. As a result of the androgen bath, both sexes end up with masculine-looking genitals, the male bearing the standard equipment, the female having an extremely enlarged clitoris that resembles a penis and fused, protuberant vaginal labia that look like a plump pair of testicles. Both sexes can and do get erections at the slightest provocation — when sizing up a stranger, when greeting a friend. But though the two sexes look equal, they are not: the female is in charge.“””

      “”” “The hierarchy is astonishingly stable,” said Dr. Frank. “The great grandchildren of the matriarch I saw in 1979 are themselves at the top now, and those descended from the (low testosterone) hyenas at the bottom are still at the bottom.” “””

      If female hyena can rise to the top, is Fine a case of pseudo-penis envy turning to hostility? Testosterone Rexona she is not.

      Fine asserted that the financial crisis was caused by testosterone filled aggressive men. Does she know that the technology that caused the problems and enable the easy movement of the crisis across borders, i.e. CDS was modernized, systematized and popularized by a woman and CDO was invented by another women in her department?


      “””Masters is widely credited as the creator of the credit default swap as a financial instrument.”””

      It looks like Fine is not in their league. Fine’s lack of mathematical finesse apparently came from Australia’s “feminized school curriculum”,


      “Top scientist Professor Michelle Simmons uses Oz Day address to rail against ‘feminised’ school curriculum”

      It is indeed very strange that a camp follower like the Guardian which gave a very positive review of the book yet in that article of all things displayed a picture of a Chinese female weight lifter who might be really a social construct.

  44. Jay says:

    To anyone who denies sex differences, I offer the following challenge. I’ll go into the farmer’s field and round up the cows. The skeptic can go round up the bull.

  45. Jamesjw says:

    Not sure if “exposed to high levels of androgens” is an accurate way to describe the mechanism of congenital adrenal hyperplasia, given that this is a genetic disorder affecting the baby’s production of testosterone rather than being related to the mother’s own hormones, but I’m just being pedantic.

  46. Cloudswrest says:

    “Here’s the practical example: suppose some dude has a wife and a girlfriend next door. Suppose he has intercourse 50 times with each of them over a year – both are probably going to have a kid, while with just the wife , he would have had one. 2 > 1.”

    Perfectly encapsulated in this scene. https://youtu.be/YwZ0ZUy7P3E?t=1m26s

  47. Frau Katze says:

    From Vox: The March for Science is forcing science to reckon with its diversity problem

    The March is supposed about funding cuts but the SJWs are trying to make about diversity.


  48. Allen says:

    Decent write-up, but not worth $600. It’s rushed and sloppy, full of typos, and there aren’t any citations. Instead of skimming through the book (or reading reviews) and copy/pasting a bunch of your stock material, you could’ve taken a little extra time to produce something more thorough and definitive. But then that’s a problem affecting this whole blog.

  49. Bruce says:

    the 65% greater lower body strength, 90% greater upper body strength estimate seems to hold at the highest levels of powerlifting. Interestingly, female lifters very often squat more than they deadlift – I suspect it’s the difference in grip strength which has been discussed at this site. http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/records/raw/women-world

  50. Bruce says:

    that’s WITH female use of steroids which I assume provides a greater relative advantage for women.

  51. 27chaos says:

    I liked Inzlicht’s work on ego depletion. He offers a strong rebuttal to the glucose model of will power.

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  53. Peripatetic commenter says:

    For example, in populations of European descent – the ones we’ve looked at – the rate of false paternity is low, around 1-2%, and has been for centuries. It is not the case that many women have children by alphas and trick betas into paying the bills.

    It seems to me that one would expect this on simple selection grounds in the same way that one would expect obligate homosexuality to be low.

    Those males with genes that allowed them to be easily cuckolded should die out pretty quickly. Of course, women could up their game, but it leads to an arms race …

    • gcochran9 says:

      In birds with high paternal investment, the false paternity rate is often much higher. So you shouldn’t expect this on simple selection grounds.

  54. reiner Tor says:

    Greg, I never understood the example of hyenas. How is it that their females have higher testosterone levels and are bigger and stronger and more aggressive than the males? I would think it makes little evolutionary sense. With birds, it can be explained: the female quickly after fertilization tosses the tiny eggs to the male, who then is stuck with it and has to provide for the little bird. But hyenas?

  55. Edward Teach says:

    I think there are legitimate criticisms of Fine’s book, but much of this post is uncharitable / could do with some epistemic humility. The vast majority of ‘obvious’ evidence cited here against her she responds to in her earlier book, Delusions of Gender. If you’re going to accuse someone of not looking for contrary evidence or interpreting it correctly, make sure you don’t do the same.

    • gcochran9 says:

      She’s full of shit. How’s that for charity?

      Look, she argues against the very existence of sexual selection. Which is insane: every bull, every stag, every peacock is irrefutable evidence.

      She tries to argue it away by citing imperfections in a study from 1948 – which makes as much sense as citing some error of Democritus to prove that atoms don’t really exist. It’s a lie, a clumsy, dishonest rhetorical trick, the sort of crap that may work on a reviewer for the New York Times but would be received with contempt by anyone worth his salt.

      She tries to argue that a man couldn’t really have significantly greater reproductive success by having 1, 2 , or N women in the side: that’s utterly false. Every Mormon knows better, every Saudi knows better. Even a few percent extra reproduction would be a big payoff, in a population-genetics sense – enough to sweep through the human race in a few thousand years. She says that the odds are highly against 100 one-night stands producing an extra 100 babies – so what? If I said that Warren Buffet had an effective investing strategy, and you argued against that by pointing out that he couldn’t double his money in 15 minutes, that would only show that you were an idiot. And that’s what she does. She demonstrates that she can’t count.

      Her book is studded with nonsense. She talks about evolutionary biology & population genetics , but she doesn’t know anything about either. I do: I read Fisher, Maynard Smith, Bill Hamilton, Charlesworth and Charlesworth, Crow and Kimura.

      She tries to argue away high risk-taking among teenage boys. Of course, in order to do that, she has to ignore everything that has ever happened in the history of Man. I mean, we’re talking the age-class dog soldiers of the ancestral Indo-Europeans. But then she’s never heard of that, either.

      She doesn’t know anything.

      If you want me to read Delusions of Gender, I’ll do it ( for $$$). And if she made sense, I’ll say so: but I have to say that I doubt that she did. If Delusions of Gender makes sense, then she had a stroke between finishing it and beginning Testosterone Rex.

      The world is suffused with nonsense and someone needs to stomp out every fucking bit of it. Am I suppose to not hit her because she’s a girl?

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  59. 8ucky says:

    Nice read, certainly gave me something to think about tonight

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