Differences - was Re: >H gender apartheid and transhumanists

Bernard Hughes (bjhughes@istar.ca)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 19:00:02 -0330

Joe E. Dees wrote:

> >Bernard Hughes wrote
> >
> >
> > Seems to me the significant word is "significant". I would consider someone a
> > racist who believes the differences in races are sufficient to stereotype
> > individuals behavior. e.g..
> >
> > "You are Asian, you must be good at Maths". "You are black, you must be stupid".
> >
> > I think few racial differences are significant in that sense. Only one case
> > springs to mind where it might be valid to treat individuals differently based on
> > race. That is in testing for certain heritable genetic diseases. I'm hard pressed
> > to think of racial differences that are not swamped for the individual by
> > environmental factors and personal genetic variation.
> >
> > Bernard
> >
> Does this also hold for gender differences (verbal vs. visuo-spatial
> cognitive styles, etc.)?

I can think of plenty of cases where gender does make a difference. But on many traits, the differences seem overrated. For example, height. Males are on average slightly taller than females. But if I were to tell you "You will shortly meet two people. One is a native Thai adult male, raised in Thailand. The other is a native Masai woman, raised in East Africa". You would lose money (on average) betting that the male will be taller. Other factors swamp the gender bias.

It seems our brains amplify the significance of small average differences. We go from, "men are on average taller than women" to " men are taller" to "couples in which the man is shorter are weird". This kind of social logic may have had some survival value to our ancestors. However, I think it makes the kind of diverse society I would like to live in less likely, so it is a thought process I try to resist.

Bernard J Hughes   bernard@timedancer.com
Timedancer Systems http://www.timedancer.com
 -- Creative Laziness at its best --