Re: Genius - the evidence

Dan Fabulich (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 00:37:05 -0800

Lyle Burkhead wrote:

> Women may be discouraged from being great mathematicians, but then
> *everybody* is discouraged. The obstacles women find in their path
> are no worse than the obstacles Abel had to overcome. The fact that
> women are discouraged is not an explanation for the lack of female
> mathematicians. In fact, women do overcome obstacles. It's just that
> they don't do it on the way to becoming mathematicians.

Excuse me while I execute a counter-strike...

I put forward a premise: There are only two types of factors which
contribute to one's development as a human being: those traits which
are genetically determined at conception, and all other factors which
are imparted after that point. I put forward another premise: those
traits which are not determined at conception are NOT "fundamental"
qualities, and are therefore determined not by DNA, but by environment.

Society, clearly, is part of the latter group. Now, you argue that
whatever discouragement women might receive in becoming a mathematic
genius is at best equal to Abel's trials, and therefore negligible. It's
implicit in your argument if Abel could overcome such obstacles, anyone
with equal intellectual potential should be able to overcome similar
impediments and become a genius. "The fact that women are discouraged
is not an explanation for the lack of female mathematicians."

Well, if social conditions aren't at fault for the lack of female genius
in math, then it must be a genetic trait. If not determined by
environment, it must be determined at conception. If so, isn't it about
time that someone provide evidence that the Y chromosome imparts a gene
for hard-work or mathematic genius? Mustn't this argument move to
BIOLOGY in order to find the truth?

I will not be convinced that women share ANY fundamental traits unless I
see biological evidence to support that claim. If the trait is not
determined at conception, then the difference must not be genetic, and
therefore it is not a "fundamental" trait of women. I am assuming "the
benefit of the doubt" that women are individuals and that women can be
geniuses, but that seems perfectly obvious to me, based on my experience
with women who are, frankly, smarter than I am.

If you haven't met any women who are smarter than you are, I'd reccomend
that you either correct your self-esteem problem or get out and meet
more women, whichever applies.

-He who laughs last thinks slowest-