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Are men smarter than women?

Are men smarter than women?

No. Next question.

Okay, maybe I should explain a little more. Otherwise this will be a very short blog.

First, I know how to drop a guy’s IQ by 30 points in 10 seconds. I just have to show a little skin or lick my lips. If I brush against him with my body, that’s good for at least 50 points. It works better than hitting him on the head with a vase and it doesn’t cause any permanent damage. If I were really mean and didn’t go to a women’s college, I could do it to a guy right before a test. ๐Ÿ™‚

Second, the whole question is over-simplified. Some men are smarter than some women in some areas. Some women are smarter than some men in some areas. But is one sex smarter, overall, than the other? No. Women and men have different styles of thinking and they value different things, but that’s a completely different issue.

Men obviously believe that they’re smarter than women. Historically, men have almost always run things, so they’ve taken themselves as the standard. As far as men are concerned, the right way to think is the way they think. Women don’t think like that, not exactly. Therefore, men conclude that women are stupid.

That’s just an example of how dominant groups throughout history have viewed other people. Men saw women as smaller, inferior versions of men. White Europeans saw Africans and Native Americans as inferior. The ancient Greeks saw all non-Greeks as inferior and called them “barbarians” because the Greeks thought that foreign languages sounded like nonsense, “ba ba ba ba.”

The biggest difference between how women and men think is shown by an example in The Female Brain, a book that I got for my birthday. Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard and now economic advisor to President Obama, gave a talk in which he seemed to say that, yes, men really are smarter than women. His audience was stunned:

Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard University, shocked and enraged his colleagues — and the public — when in a speech to the National Bureau of Economic Research he said: “It does appear that on many, many different human attributes — mathematical ability, scientific ability — … there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population.” … The public surmised that he was saying that women are therefore innately less suited than men to be top-level mathematicians and scientists.

Summers’ comments illustrate how men typically think. He and his defenders focus on the minutiae of “what he actually said.” He didn’t say that women aren’t smart or that we can’t do top-level science or mathematics. What he said was that men’s IQs vary more widely than women’s. As a result, proportionally more men than women are either profoundly brilliant or profoundly stupid. But that has nothing to do with the ability required to do good or even great scientific work.

An Isaac Newton is slightly more likely to be male than female, but not by that much; and the vast majority of successful scientists, male or female, are not on that level. There was, after all, only one Isaac Newton. Very few other people even come close.

And people tend to forget that the other side also applies: If a person is too stupid to function, then that person is probably male.

Summers isn’t too stupid to function, but he was completely blind and indifferent to how his comments would affect other people. As far as he was concerned, he was right (on the details, at least), and being right was all that mattered. He gave a misleading impression that hurt people, but that was not his problem.

Men are very concerned about being right and care a lot less about how what they say and do affects other people. To take the most extreme example, President Bush was so determined to prove he was right about Saddam Hussein having WMDs that he destroyed Iraq and wrecked the American economy. And I’m sure that President Bush still sees himself as a misunderstood hero. (I hate to feel sorry for him, but I do, at least a little.)

The real difference between how men and women think isn’t their intelligence, but their emphasis. Mostly, men are preoccupied with things and are less interested in people (except for fighting and sex). They’re perfectly happy to go off on a mountaintop by themselves and solve equations. Women can solve equations just as well as men, but we’re more interested in helping others and connecting with people.

So the real question is: Are men stupider than women? Well … no, not really. It just seems that way sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚


Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

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  1. shrinkingirl
    August 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Haha, another way to make an man’s IQ drop is to put him in a room with his male friends… something stupid will undoubtedly occur.

    • Rinth
      August 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm

      LOL! Totally true. Just don’t ask me to sit in the room with them while they do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Sherry
    August 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Erin, what a nice blog you have. I take it you are new? Nice writing. You should gain a nice following. I’m old enough to be your mother, and close to being your grandmother even. I appreciate your stop by today. blessings to you and hope your world is going well!

    • Rinth
      August 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Sherry! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. Yes, I have just started it. And age is just a number. We are all here for the same reason: to love, nurture, and help each other. Your blog is terrific and I look forward to reading it more.

  1. December 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  2. April 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm

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