The Tyranny of Tiny Differences

The Y Files: Hyping sex differences
Cathy Young of the Y Files has a fantastic post on the way that tiny sex differences discovered in research get inflated, by the media and often by the researchers themselves, into essentializing characterizations of men and women. “[T]he truth,” she writes, “is that on the popular level — and also among the anti-PC set — talk about sex differences often tends to lapse into unwarranted generalizations and rather egregious stereotyping.” These generalizations and stereotypes often tell us more about the political goals of the people describing the research than the research tells us about men and [Continue reading]




Cuteness and Culture

The Cute Factor, Natalie Angier
Angier struggles to find some deeper biological meaning in our responsiveness to “the cute”, ostensibly evolved as a means of assuring adult human responsiveness to defenseless and oh-so-cute human babies.

Cuteness is distinct from beauty, researchers say, emphasizing rounded over sculptured, soft over refined, clumsy over quick. Beauty attracts admiration and demands a pedestal; cuteness attracts affection and demands a lap. Beauty is rare and brutal, despoiled by a single pimple. Cuteness is commonplace and generous, content on occasion to cosegregate with homeliness.