brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

Bob LeChevalier lojbab at lojban.org
Fri Aug 16 08:05:30 EST 2002


Joseph A Nagy Jr <pagan_prince at charter.net> wrote:
running this country?
>>The brain size and brain cell
>> count studies all show that men have a proportionately larger brain than
>> women, 
>
>Bob, Shadow Dance, I've never heard of such a study, please point me to somewhere that ISN'T 
>christianparty.net?

Sigh.  As best I've been able to determine, back in the days of
Darwin, there were theories that the different races had different
brain sizes, and that this determined different intelligence levels.
I can't find at the moment the definitive reference to these theories,
but they fell out of favor, having failed to derail evolution.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/a_brains.html

is a summary of the results, and I think the guy named "Morton" in the
discussion is the one that matters if you want to look further.

One modern researcher, a J Phillipe Rushton, psychology professor of
the U of Western Ontario, has resurrected these theories, apparently
in support of a racist/eugenicist agenda.  He has been looking for
racial and sexual differences in brain size and IQ.  He's got people
who have used modern techniques like MRI scans to make the
measurements and claims to have confirmed the correlations.  His
critics have cogent arguments that the research is flawed.

http://www.eugenics.net/papers/rushton.html

gives Rushton's critique of Gould's analysis of IQ testing, if you
want something discussing technicalities.  The fact that Rushton
argues that Gould had a political motive in his book at the end, in my
mind merely relegates the argument from the ostensibly scientific one
that it appears to be into the realm of politics.

http://www.cpa.ca/Psynopsis/petertxt.htm
http://www.cpa.ca/Psynopsis/rushtxt.htm

give examples of the sort of debate and counter debate that have gone
on.  All very technical and inconclusive in my opinion, and the
introduction of politics into the matter means that the science is
playing second fiddle to the political spin.

The bottom line is that there is no definitive genetic basis for
racial classification, and the relationships between various ways of
determining brain size and actual brain size are suspect.

More recently, the nincompoop has dredged up some other study that has
shown a difference in the number of brain cells in different sized
brains, possibly by Rushton, leading to his oft-used reference to men
having 3 1/2 billion more brain cells than women.  Of course the fact
that brains do not work by sheer size or neuron count alone get
ignored.  Researchers have noted that whales have much larger brains
than human beings.

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/kinser/Size1.html

is a fairly nontechnical discussion of that.

>>which is consistent with the differences in intelligence and test
>> scores and incomes and earning capacity.  
>
>Of course dolphins and whales are smarter then people (as they have a language we have yet to 
>decipher, even though they seem to understand us fairly well).

Actually, it remains controversial whether dolphins and whales exhibit
true language (but it depends also on the definition of language - our
definition may be too human-centric).  I don't know that I've seen any
supported claim that they are "smarter than us", other than in
semi-humorous references to the fact that they don't partake of war
and other vices of human civilization.

>>When charted by race and sex,
>> there is a linear relationship between GRE scores and brain size (r-squared
>> = .89).  The measured differences in sports events like the Olympics show a
>> Gaussian Distribution [read: a "bell curve"] that is identical to that for
>> test scores, brain size, and incomes.  Yet more than a quarter of men and
>> almost a half of women still believe that women are more intelligent than
>> men.
>
>Okay, he lost me here.

He played around with a spreadsheet and came up with a statistical
correlation between some of Rushton's or Morton's numbers and GRE
scores as reported by sex and race.

The Olympics thing refers to the fact that men do better in sports
than women (more muscle mass, etc.), and he thinks that anything that
shows a bell curve distribution (lots of things do, like height and
weight) can be tied into this whole sex/race superiority argument.

The last sentence referred to some Gallup poll in which men and women
were asked which gender was more intelligent.  Most men said that men
were; most women said that women were.  What people think is
"intelligence" is purely subjective, so the poll has little to do with
science or reality, and more to do with psychology, sociology and
self-image.  But I see from your later comments that you know this.

>The intelligence and qualities needed for a successful run in life are taught and learned. You can 
>combine Dr. Stephen Hawkings (poor guy) and Albert Einstein's brain combined and stuffed into your 
>skull,

Mentioning Einstein will probably earn you his distracting rant on how
Einstein was a "dumb jew" who plagiarized everything he wrote.

That the people he "plagiarized" never seemed to notice and complain,
gets ignored.

>Look at Marie 
>Curie, one of the more famous female scientists of the 19th Century(?). Our present understanding of 
>X-rays is due to work she pioneered (and she was Polish to boot!).

He has a similar rant about Curie not having really done the work but
getting a Nobel prize merely due to chivalry by her husband, which is
doubly confused because she gets Curie and her daughter mixed up in
his references, bring in some stuff about how Curie's daughter a few
decades later was fired for some reason or another to do with the
Nazis.

All of the while ignoring the fact that Curie got TWO Nobel prizes,
one of which was after her husband was dead, and was shared with no
one, and her daughter got a third one 30 years later for different
work.

lojbab



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