Re: Differences

Bernard Hughes (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 16:17:25 -0330

Joe E. Dees wrote:

> >Bernard Hughes wrote
> >
> > 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.
> >
> There are other differences less politically incorrect to note, such as
> the ability to lactate, inseminate or gestate. There do seem to me
> differences of cognitive style, also, which was the thrust of my
> previous post and which you failed to address. Joe

Gender makes a big difference in sexual reproduction, by definition. I chose height as a gender difference that has a commonly accepted measure. Cognitive style is much more difficult to measure. The measurements proposed naturally include assumptions that may be disputable - hence, I think, the political nature of such measurements.

As soon as a system becomes at all complex, measurements imply assumptions and world views, and hence politics. Even something as "technical" as measuring the performance of web servers (my current area of expertise) can generate a lot of political heat. My theory is that it is the unacknowledged changes in points of view that hobble the discussion. I am trying to develope tools to translate one persons point of view into anothers, at least in this limited domain.

Hence my interest in this "differences" thread. Seems to me another case of a lot being lost in translation. We are all using the same words but with a different implied context. Mechanically translating the implied context would be a useful piece of intelligence amplification, I think, and a suitably extropian project.


Bernard J Hughes
Timedancer Systems
 -- Creative Laziness at its best --