So, let’s take it from the top:
Men’s and women’s brains really are different.
No they’re not. This study did not look at anybody’s brains, nor did it compare the brains of one sex to those of the other. The study recorded responses to quizzes.
Researchers say that if both sexes had access to the same levels of education, they’d expect women to do best on tests of memory – and men to excel at maths.
What the researchers actually say is: “We hypothesize that women benefit disproportionately from societal improvements [i.e. ‘access to the same levels of education’] because they may start from a more disadvantaged level.” In other words, the thrust of the finding is that equality of education helps to undo historically artificial sex differences.
The prediction comes after an analysis of how the sexes’ abilities varied across Europe across time.
Actually, the study compared cohorts of people born at different times. This is not “variation across time.” If you are better at Tweeting than your parents, this does not show that anybody’s performance at Twitter has “improved across time.”
More than 31,000 men and women aged 50-plus from 13 countries were put through three tests of brainpower.
The term ‘brainpower’ is figurative. The three very brief tests were not recognised IQ tests, nor did they involve any direct analysis of (biological) brain function. But, fair enough, insofar as (a) anything that involves people doing something involves them having the ‘power’ to do it, and (b) anything that involves life itself involves the brain, then you could loosely refer to this as ‘brainpower’.
The test of numeracy involved being given five questions, such as working out how much a cut-price car would have cost when new, while the memory test involved trying to remember a list of ten words.
That’s a fair description, but Continue reading “That story on sex differences in the brain, line by line”