Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    in words perhaps

    One of my brothers didnt talk *in words* until he was nearly 5.
    As someone who reveres words, written & spoken & sung & engraved in telling pictures, I didnt find communicating a problem-

    I have a cousin who hums things - all of his family - pretty well get his gist-

    Report

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lilith __,

    I'm pretty sure the male-brain/female-brain thing is a myth. I can't Google it right now but I have read that idea being roundly debunked.

    This might help - but then again, it is a linguist's take on things, so hardly more expert on neuroscience than me. Still, googling "language log louann brizendine" turns up a lot of posts on Language Log which seem to all take the same line. And I think you can trust linguists when they say Brizendine's claim and the common myth that women talk more than men is a load of old cobbler's.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m a long way from understanding my brain, much less anyone else’s.

    I think this might the reason…..

    And i was watching QI tonight. Women use white brain cellular material. Men use the grey. Something to do with map reading...

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    This study is probably what QI were drawing from. I have some problems with the numbers as reported (6.5 times? So a woman's brain is at the most 14% grey matter (and the males nothing but)? The lack of units don't help either)
    But the general take home is that whatever differences they were finding, they could not find anything major in the way of measurable differences in thinking outcomes.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    But it does happen. Sometimes.

    Yes. But aren't we currently talking about what happens *here*? That's what I don't get about why this conversation is... turning out less well than I had hoped.

    PS "Male brain" alert: I am really good at reading maps.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Yamis,

    This is all very interesting.

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/latest-updates-on-connecticut-shooting-aftermath/?hp

    Even Rupert Murdoch has come out in support of tighter gun controls and given his media empire that could carry some influence.

    and from the NRA in another NY Times article: “The N.R.A. is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again,”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/us/states-leaders-proposing-steps-to-control-guns.html?hp&_r=0

    Could the Sandy Hook tragedy be for gun safety what 9/11 was for airport security - that one tragedy that proves so morally indefensible, that it single-handedly forces everyone to pull together?

    It also seems to have filtered out the most doctrinaire and insensitive narcissists. The ones who keep insisting on the increasingly discredited 'shoot or be shot' Social Darwinist mantra, or otherwise resorting to half-baked conspiracy theories of false flags. If Max Rockatansky hits the road, they'd likely and ironically be the roving bandits and warlords in his crosshairs - once their fallout bunker supply stashes run dry.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Danielle,

    PS “Male brain” alert: I am really good at reading maps.

    Noice one!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to David Hood,

    This study is probably what QI were drawing from.

    Thanks for the link, but gender stereotype alert:

    This, according to Rex Jung, a UNM neuropsychologist and co-author of the study, may help to explain why men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processing (like mathematics), while women tend to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language facility.

    Can't comment on the actual neuroscience that may have been done, but that passage has major alarm bells ringing.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Could the Sandy Hook tragedy be for gun safety what 9/11 was for airport security - that one tragedy that proves so morally indefensible, that it single-handedly forces everyone to pull together?

    Can I hope that this is not the case in the same way? Because as someone who flies domestically in the US a lot, what the post-9/11 airport security changes have boiled down to for me is this: the price of my admission to a plane, almost always, is someone touching my breasts. In an impersonal and bored way, whatever, but that's how it stands. There are more effective reactions than this. There have to be.

    This might help - but then again, it is a linguist's take on things, so hardly more expert on neuroscience than me. Still, googling "language log louann brizendine" turns up a lot of posts on Language Log which seem to all take the same line.

    That graph right at the end? That's the graph to keep in mind when discussing male/female differences. That's how the distribution looks for most of them, albeit maybe slightly wider apart. The bulk of both distributions is still in the same range.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to tussock,

    3: It’s not the guns. Statistically, the gun deaths are exactly what you’d expect given the number of homicides and suicides, and the number of houses which have guns. They just have a lot of homicides.

    No, it is the guns. The US homicide rate for non-firearm methods is similar to comparable countries (e.g. Canada, UK, Australia, us) at around 0.5-1.5 per 100,000 people per year. But 67% of US homicides are committed using firearms. I don't think there is any evidence to suggest that the homicide rate would be so high without the prevalence of firearms. And other countries have seen drops in homicide rates when gun control was tightened.

    Firearms are an "easy" method of suicide so it is possible that some people would not kill themselves if they didn't have access to a gun, but I think the number would be low. The US suicide rate is similar to comparable countries so it's reasonable to conclude that gun ownership levels are not having a major impact on US suicide rates.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Danielle,

    S “Male brain” alert: I am really good at reading maps

    So am I (they are __printed__things ) BUT I am ratshit awful finding my way around cities without written or e-maps…bush/beaches – cool! I know where I am, easily orient by sun (moon if necessary) – put me in a city by myself & I run*, wheezing, in ever-decreasing circles-

    * well, stagger then crawl then

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    This discussion has several points I'd like to address - James talked about arming teachers, which is a patently ludicrous idea, frankly, but I'd like to explain to him why. If guns were as freely available in NZ, as they are in the States, it is highly likely that I wouldn't be alive. We have policies for dealing with violent adults on the premises, policies I have written largely in response to having violent adults on the premises ( the premises being the kindergarten where I teach). If guns were available, hiding in the office wouldn't have sufficed now, would it? And certainly locking all the children inside wouldn't have sufficed. Not to mention the fact that teachers are there, by and large, to model positive learning (see: life) behaviours. So, no, I don't think teachers being armed is a very sensible, nor reasonable, idea.
    And then there's the whole discussion around gender (hormones!) and violence. Men are more violent than women. Except they're not. Men seem to enact violence in a very different way to women, most of the time. Which is nothing to do with testosterone, and everything to do with what behaviour society condones in each gender. As a teacher of junior citizens, I can tell you that boys are not more violent than girls - and this is anecdata purely - they simply learn that expressing it more physically is more acceptable in their world. Even if you come from a pacifist family, there is a high probability that a boy will turn a piece of lego into a gun. Parents are often confused about this, but what a child sees and hears, everywhere, all the time, is subtle, and they don't have the filters (see:life experience) to understand those messages, nor decode them. Having said that, most of our girls wear fairy dresses and carry "guns", but that's about what they see around them in our very boy- heavy kindergarten. I don't stop them - playing with a gun doesn't mean they're going to turn into murderers after all - but it's something I've thought about for the last 17 years, certainly.
    And so we come to hormones. I've fair experience of having an excess of hormones over the last couple of years. It's what happens as women age. And I don't think hormones are a reason for male violence - I'm not being funny when I say surging hormones can make you think differently, but the enactment of those feelings is everything to do with what's deemed acceptable.
    I don't know that I've added anything valuable to the discussion, but those are my thoughts, anyway.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m a long way from understanding my brain, much less anyone else’s.

    Shit we dont need a brain introduction service do we? aHa! I think I've found a gap in the marketplace.
    Well you know it where it always is haha, Unless....

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Danielle,

    PS “Male brain” alert: I am really good at reading maps.

    She also yells at her GPS, but I'm not entirely positive that's a gender thing.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    <q>Can’t comment on the actual neuroscience that may have been done, but that passage has major alarm bells ringing.<\q>
    While the quoted numbers were the first thing to ring my alarm bells, I can comment on the neuroscience, if only to the extent that this study was conducted 4 years before (so four years more primitive in methodology) than the ignoble prize winning study of brain scanning a dead salmon (as a methodological commentary).
    Wired write-up from when the study first appeared.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    To be fair, my GPS is a total bitch.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    That’s the graph to keep in mind when discussing male/female differences. That’s how the distribution looks for most of them, albeit maybe slightly wider apart. The bulk of both distributions is still in the same range.

    So if, statistically, we are more alike than different, why are we so invested in differences? Because (and I am not talking about PAS, let's make that clear) for every anti-essentialist feminist rudely shouting down a discussion on brain chemistry, there's some other... person... nattering on about "lo, my ancestors upon the fruited plain beat the shit out of woolly mammoths and shagged all the big-titted women of the land, and so it's my BRAIN and I don't need to think about this socialisation shit". (Note: I do not think that either of these extremes are good, but I do find one considerably more annoying than the other. I will leave you to guess which it is.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Hood,

    However, because brains within a population range, we cannot speak about th specifics of those differences between two individuals – Danielle could have a more masculine brain than Ben, or a more Tibetian brain.

    Oh sure, I wasn't trying to pull any Men Are From Mars stuff. But we've been discussing various pathologies and I was thinking more in those terms. I'd also read about the neurologist Sandra Witelson's work, which touches on different responses to stress. ("It turns out that chronic stress may be biologically responded to more adaptively in the female than the male brain," she says.)

    I guess I'm more inclined to see neurology as a a key to experience because of my boys. Their brains demonstrably work differently to mine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Wow Danielle, are you interested in the Serengeti too?? ;-)

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    But it does happen. Sometimes. One of the biggest problems we have in comments at The Lady Garden is people getting pissed off at men entering the discussions, or objecting to male perspectives, or male victims, being included in discussions. (Srsly, I’ve been told off for including men by a man. My brain, etc.)

    You'll also doubtless recall that the LadyGarden's predecessor blog shut down shortly after it launched -- and I was unwittingly and unhappily the cause of that, when the abuse I got after politely taking issue with part of a post became an issue that split the founding group.

    I've been abused by pros, but I felt sorry and embarrassed that it had had been such a problem for my friends, you included. And I did have a strong sense that I needed to keep my own composure, even when I was being yelled at for not retaliating in kind. It was actually then that I decided it would be simpler to just not take any active part.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I read that whole thing, and basically you were unfairly abused-via-jargon because she was embarrassed by mixing up Anika Moa and Emma Paki, and instead of doing a "my bad" she doubled down on the bullshit. I'm not really sure how that particular incident reflects on the usability or otherwise of feminist theory for blokes, though.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Danielle,

    So if, statistically, we are more alike than different, why are we so invested in differences?

    Because at the extreme ends of the graph, if you see a difference then it is very likely to be genetic. That's why I look at the tails of those bell curves and look for things that stand out. An easy physical example is the speed at which you run 100m, for most of the p[opulation whether you are male or female has very little bearing, it has almost no correlation with sex. But right at the extreme end we see all the fastest 100m runners are male, and for a biologist that like a huge flashing neon light saying hey look here something interesting is occurring probably something genetic and probably something to do with a fundamental difference between males and females.

    Now look at a graph of violent attacks and again it's a bell curve and for most of the population gender or race or culture has very little to do with your chance of commiting a violent attack. But out at the end of the curve it's all males. That's why I look at that and thing something interesting is going on here biologically.

    I have no problem with addressing most of the bell curve with other methods but if you are talking about the extreme end of the curve there is something very important occurring that is almost certainly biological and I flippantly said it was probably testosterone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sandra Witelson:

    There were fewer physicists among the women. There were fewer mathematicians. There were more administrators among the women. But I think more revealing was that when they were asked to talk about what is important in their life, what their priorities are, there were huge differences.

    For women, they are statistically more interested in having close relationships with parents, having a part-time career, living close to parents and relatives, period. Men, on the other hand, more frequently said they want to have a full-time career, and they wanted to invent and create something.

    So my point is that the kind of aspirations that men and women have may be very related to some of the biological drives and needs that we have inherited as Homo sapiens over the development of our species.

    This stuff makes me want to bite my desk, frankly.

    Also:

    No one gets upset that there is an innate difference in lung capacity between different groups of people. No one seems to be that upset when there are different motor skills and athletic skills. But when it comes to our most revered organ, namely the brain, people do not like to think that there is something innate, immutable. But the brain is an organ of the body like any other organ.

    I'm not a neuroscientist, but surely this is NONSENSE. Brains are plastic. They wire and rewire in response to the purposes for which they're used.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    why are we so invested in differences

    I tend to view pop evolutionary psychology explanations as the equivalent of phrenology in the 1800s or social Darwinism in the 1920s- a justification for the social world being as it is. To which people who believe otherwise could say I am ignoring obvious common sense evidence of their positions. Justifications tend to be pretty generational as the social circumstances that support them change (the big example of this is the shift over gay marriage in the U.S.) But in general, arguing with a justification does not get you far, as it is a symptom of a social belief rather than a cause (which is why I tend to stop at "can we all agree that x is a problem" specifics, rather than try for a "is a problem because...").
    Emphasising differences is a pretty common human trait. This is evolutionarily useful in providing social cohesion. (Of course I could just have easily have made a more or less opposite conclusion that it is evolutionary useful for recognising and dealing with difference).
    I should note I don't have a problem with actual evolutionary psychology of the level that "all apes seem to want to raise kittens and puppies, which suggests domestication may not have been a sudden, radical step"
    Less evolutionary psychologically, I would suggest humans tend to form categories, and use those categories for saving effort in subsequent thinking.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to ,

    figure out how to get the ipad to make a small q for the quotation code.

    For shame! The iPad knows best! It should not be contradicted! ;-)

    I think hitting shift works, though.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

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