July 05, 2007

Brizendine Proposes a New Stereotype!

I tell you, the speed of modern communication is only rivalled by the speed at which people can come up with new unsupported generalizations. Alert reader Tamara Bhandari has pointed us to this article in the LA Times in which Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, responds to the paper just published in Science that demolishes the claim that women are more talkative than men as follows:

"What it really means is not that she talks too much," said Brizendine, who directs the Women's Mood & Hormone Clinic at UC San Francisco. "It's that he doesn't listen enough!"

Of course, the Mehl. at al. study doesn't "really mean" this. That is, that men don't listen enough is not a logical implication of the fact that men and women are about equally talkative. What she seems to mean is that in face of these empirical findings, the closest hypothesis she can think of to the old stereotype that is not ruled out by the data is that men don't listen enough. She doesn't cite any evidence for her new hypothesis. Indeed, it is an inferior hypothesis, from a scientific point of view (but therefore a superior one from the point of view of popular writers), in that the empirical claims that it makes are far from clear. We know what it would mean for women to talk more than men and how we can measure this. What exactly does it mean for men to listen enough, or not enough? How can you measure that?

Posted by Bill Poser at July 5, 2007 08:09 PM