Monday, January 24, 2005

Evolution and social policy

This remark by Kos is typical of a particular type of reaction to the Summers controversy -
I suppose it could be true or it could be false. I'm skeptical that actually knowing the answer, if it knowable, will really provide much benefit anyway. What effect would it have on social policy?
Consider, for example, the fact that boys are currently doing badly compared to girls at High School. This is a consequence of biology. Knowing this gives us the opportunity to intervene to redress the situation.

To present "perhaps we can't know" as an argument for not attempting to find out is remarkably short sighted.

The whole issue reflects the fact that for many liberals talk of innate sexual differences remains taboo and that anyone who has an interest in this area must be sexist or racist. But as Olivia Judson says in The New York Times
...there was a time not so long ago when I would have balked at the whole enterprise: the idea there might be intrinsic cognitive differences between men and women was one I found insulting. But science is a great persuader. The jackdaws and spoon worms have forced me to change my mind. Now I'm keen to know what sets men and women apart - and no longer afraid of what we may find.

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