It takes scientists to be able to state the blindingly obvious and – almost – get away with it.
Having surveyed more than 650,000 people in the world’s largest study of sex differences, Cambridge scientists have concluded that men’s and women’s brains operate differently.
Any sensible person over age 10 or so could have saved them a lot of time and money by simply making this observation on the basis of everyday empirical evidence.
However, any such person making any such observation without supporting it with at least 50 pounds of research data would have his head snapped off, and possibly not just figuratively.
As it is, Prof. Baron-Cohen, who published the study results, has been accused of the hate crime of ‘neurosexism’, thereby earning my gratitude for contributing another word to the already massive English vocabulary.
But that’s not the only thing the good professor, indeed his whole family, has done to earn my gratitude. I love to see my cherished notions confirmed, and here Simon has joined forces with his cousin, the comedian Sacha.
Some 30 years ago I effectively stopped a conversation with a very proper English gentleman who had opined that most American blacks are left-wing because they’re black. “It’s the other way around,” I said. “They are black because they’re left-wing.”
My point was that race was no longer just a genetic notion, but also an ideological one. By creating his Ali G character, Sacha Baron-Cohen proved me right, albeit inadvertently.
He showed that, if he walked the walk and talked the talk, an obviously white man would be accepted as black because no one would dare acknowledge the truth for ideological reasons. It’s not so much the emperor’s new clothes as a man’s new skin, which no one is ready to see for what it is.
And Prof. Simon has heroically confirmed what is even more obvious: men and women think differently. That, however, doesn’t mean women are less intelligent – it only means they are differently intelligent.
Hence let me reassure all the women to whom I’ve ever said “Don’t bother your pretty little head” that I meant it strictly in jest. That is, their heads were indeed pretty, but they were in no way smaller than mine. Just different. So don’t get your knickers in a twist, love.
Men are more capable of structured, sequential, disciplined thought. That enables them to use careful deliberation to arrive at a truth that takes a woman a second to grasp intuitively.
However, there are fields in which structured thought is a job requirement. That’s why women en masse don’t do well there.
For example, I can’t think of too many women philosophers or, this side of Elizabeth Anscombe, a single major one. More knowledgeable people may come up with one or two more, but that’s about it.
Rigid mental discipline is also required for serious creativity, especially in music. Again, I can’t think of a single first-tier woman composer.
However, there have been quite a few first-tier women performers (I happen to be married to one). I’m guessing here, but when the task is not to build a structure from scratch but to convey its meaning, women’s sensitivity and intuitive understanding enable them to delve the emotional and intellectual depths of great music composed by men.
Language in a way provides many ready-made structures of its own, which is why quite a few women poets have achieved greatness (Emily Dickinson and Anna Akhmatova spring to mind).
However, the genre of the novel also relies on many things other than sensitivity, intuition, emotional depth and mastery of the subtleties of the language. That’s why I can’t think of a single first-tier woman novelist, although the second tier is full of them (with due respect to admirers of Jane Austen and George Eliot, I include them into that group).
However, women can be great politicians, such as Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great and Margaret Thatcher .
At a less lofty level, one can observe an interesting division of labour in the industry I know intimately, advertising.
At least half the people on the account management side are women, and many of them are extremely good. On the creative side, however, women in my experience seldom make up more than 10 per cent of the team.
That can’t be put down to discrimination because the same agencies, and usually the same executives within the agencies, hire both groups. It’s just that one area tends to suit women’s talents more than the other.
However, as any scientists researching differences among various groups have learned, and Prof. Baron-Cohen will soon find out, such research is fraught with danger.
Thus the authors of a major study analysing IQ differences among various racial groups found themselves ostracised by the academic ‘community’ (dread word). In vain did they try to claim that they weren’t pursuing any ideologically racist objectives. Theirs was merely the task of studying and analysing data, that’s all.
Well, it never is in our ideological time. Though the words ‘ideas’ and ‘ideology’ are cognates, in reality they’re mutually exclusive.
Ideas are based on thoughts giving rise to inquiry, with the latter producing facts that either prove or disprove the ideas. Ideologies, on the other hand, have nothing to do with ideas, thoughts, inquiries or facts. They appeal gonadically to base emotions, silly biases and puny minds.
In fact, ideologies are downright hostile to ideas if they go against the ideological grain. The fracas following Prof. Baron-Cohen’s study is a case in point.
Having removed God, the only true basis for equality, modernity came up with its own, bogus version. People are no longer just equal before God or the law – they’re supposed to be the same, the better to be bullied by bureaucrats towering above them all.
Before Jesus Christ became a superstar, manifest differences among races and sexes were dwarfed by the ultimate equality of all, at least in theory. If one group’s intelligence was different from another group’s, or God forbid, inferior to it, that didn’t make either group superior or inferior as human beings.
That frame of reference having been smashed to bits, the value of persons is now determined on the basis of their achievements, wealth and other practical considerations.
Since any demonstrable gap in various groups’ ability to acquire such things equally flies in the face of modernity’s totalitarian egalitarianism, it has to be explained by social factors, such as discrimination.
But then come in honest scientists like Prof. Baron-Cohen, showing, data in hand, that some differences are innate, not acquired. That’s like proving that it wasn’t Darwin who created man – the hapless researcher might as well have painted a target on his chest.
I for one have always found the difference between men and women to be a source of lifelong delight. But then I’m not an ideological egalitarian.