Skeptic Book Club - Gender Differences

  • February 22, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • Matt and Caroline's House

Skeptics -

February is the month where we will tackle the age old debate: are men and women really so different? There are surely differences, but are they cultural or biological? These are two sides of a debate that is very much hot right now, so this is going to be a lively discussion.

You have a nice head-start, so we strongly encourage you to read both books to get the point vs. counter-point perspective. If you select which book is correct ahead of time and only read that one, you are biased. Relax; it's just information.

As always, feel free to bring your own snacks and drinks (alcohol is fine). Space is limited so sign up today!

- Matt

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1. The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley (2003)

From Amazon:

Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture -- including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband. Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.

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2. Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine (2011)

From Amazon:

It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.

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  • Larry G.

    Car troubles :-( not going to make it

    February 22, 2013

  • suzanne w.

    Hi ganga,
    I am sorry, but I won't be able to join you tonight.
    Hope to see you soon.
    Suzanne

    February 22, 2013

  • Ryan M.

    Sorry to bail this late in the game. I really wanted to be there. But, my wife had to go out of town this weekend and I just have too much going on. Hope to make it out to something soon.

    February 22, 2013

  • Chris

    I've been reading up on some discussion concerning Rebecca Watson and Skepchick. While reading Edward Clint's rebutle to her talk, I came across two scathing reviews of DELUSIONS OF GENDER:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0...­
    and
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0...­

    I hope to read them completely by the meeting.

    February 12, 2013

  • Jignasa

    Hey Matt,

    Would individuals who are deeply interested in the subject matter but not in wasting time or money on the first book be welcome to the discussion? Call me unfair and highly biased but a quick glance at Pease International's website confirmed my suspicions and disinterest.

    BTW, Hi and long time. Regards to Skyler.

    November 28, 2012

    • Chris

      I vote against Jignasa's idea. The whole point of a book club is to have a discussion about the points made by the authors. I'm sure there's a place to discuss gender issues in other groups or events and that might be a good idea for those venues, but it seems out of place to me in this case.

      November 28, 2012

  • Caroline L.

    This bookclub meetup is a point vs. counter-point discussion, so reading both books is recommended.

    November 28, 2012

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