Thoughts on Psychology

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Archive for February 2011

Science and politics

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A bit of a storm in the science world recently, when a researcher suggested that the reason women were under-represented in scientific fields was because they’re intrinsically less capable of scientific thinking. There was uproar from those who reject the notion of essential, biologically founded gender differences in higher cognitive functioning, as you might expect. Then there was the usual response from those who are pro difference: claims that that they’re the ones doing proper science, and finding “facts”; and any refusal to accept those facts is no more than political correctness. Cordelia Fine, author of the excellent Delusions of Gender, responds to those arguments here:’s-say-good-bye-to-the-straw-feminist/

This is one instance of the usual argument, but the take home message is about the way the argument always plays out: on one side, people claim to be proper scientists who objectively find the truth, and any gain sayers are politically motivated; and on the other, there are people pointing out that the so called science is confounded by a range of social variables, and the claims that are made are unsupportable. We see the same argument in terms of race difference research amongst other areas. In terms of what we cover on the degree, the first side represent examples of what we describe as the “myth of objectivity”, claims of scientific truth being used to hide a political agenda.

Written by daijones

February 16, 2011 at 1:18 am