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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Why the "Male Brain vs Female Brain" question is Nonsense ---which leads to nonsense of a more mundane sort by the Press
For those who are curious about how bad logic leads to bad science...which leads to even worse news coverage: the current media inflation and then apparent deflation of the "Male Brain" vs the 'Female Brain"
Wittgenstein said way back when around 1920 that "Nonsense" is a combination of words when it cannot possibly be understood, because no sense is or can (except trivially) be accorded it.
"Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least - at least I mean what I say- that's the same thing, you know." "Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!" [Alice in Wonderland, pp. 68-69]
No matter what data or what analysis such science researchers delving into the two ideals categories of brains might come up with, the study, from the outset, only rides piggyback on the kind of nonsense that derives form a lack of training and education in logic, mathematics or history of science
Downloads available from;…/The_Male_Brain_vs_the_Female_Bra…
So from the start.. the question which is posed by the superficial sex dimorphism research which we here discuss is a silly question that can only lead to an even sillier answer. We don't comment on the 'mosaic" they find, because that is found everywhere in all such investigations.. And that too is saying nothing and making it seem like something. So, sure enough, they mean what they say. But what they say means very little
And that of course is just enough of a careless spark for the madness of a sex obsessed and "correctness obsessed" press to start a veritable forest fire of further foolishness in the media and among the medical paparazzi
The problem with the research may be that it allows itself to be promoted through their institution PR department and an almost illiterate media is that it is grounded in a glaring inability to "think logically" and makes errors in its statements that would lead to failing an introductory college "logic" course. But the buck must stop somewhere and that has to be with the researchers who allow this mad tea party to go on.
Lewis Carroll simply stated:that Logic, “will give you clearness of thought – the ability to see your way through a puzzle – the habit of arranging your ideas in an orderly and get-at-able form – and, more valuable than all, the power to detect fallacies, and to tear to pieces the flimsy illogical arguments which you will so continually encounter in books, in newspapers, in speeches, and even in sermons, and which so easily delude those who have never taken the trouble to master this fascinating Art”.
The authors actually say the following (two pieces of obviousness )
They say: (1)
"Here we show that, although there are sex/gender differences in brain and behavior, humans and human brains are comprised of unique “mosaics” of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males."
Of course, why wouldn't they? That is a truth known by anyone who has lived more than a day on our planet and in our society. But then they go on to follow a phantom connection to their "pot of fool's gold" at the end of some rainbow
They then say:
(2) "Our results demonstrate that regardless of the cause of observed sex/gender differences in brain and behavior (nature or nurture), human brains cannot be categorized into two distinct classes: male brain/female brain.""
The first statement is the stating of the ultimate obviousness and the second statement "nonsense " in the logical sense -- and a nonsequitur ---in its implications that are drawn-- from the first
So what do we get then but an avalanche in the media, unsurprisingly the just roll down wards down the path of least resistance; Here are a just of the few Headlines from the Trickel down effect way down to the Medical Paparazzi:
>>>The brains of men and women aren’t really that different, study finds
>>>Men are from Mars....and so are women! Scans reveal there is NO overall difference between the brains of the sexes
>>>Male vs. female brain? Not a valid distinction, Israeli study shows
>>>Male and female brains are the same, but people are all different – and that gives me hope
>>>There's No Such Thing as 'Male' or 'Female' Brain
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus? New brain study says not
>>>Male and female brain? Research says they're unisex
>>>Study reveals there's no such thing as 'male' or 'female' brains
>>>There’s No Such Thing as a Male or Female Brain ,When it comes to sex traits, brains are consistently inconsistent
So what is the poor beleagured man or woman in the street, who knows much better, to see this mass of hoken raining down on them from the sacred temples of the Press. Surely that is yet one more reason that the press is dying.
They might as well be out there shouting the The Earth is not Flat…but nothing more than that. A few centuries too late to be interesting and with an abrupt end and no place to go after than What is true for loaves of bread is not so for “idea”, A half of an idea is not better than a whole one.
This basic and misleading mistake in our language stumbles in the use of its own logic on the part of the authors of the study was covered in depth by mathematicians and logicians including Bertrand Russell about a hundred years ago and led to Russell's famous "theory of types".
About 100 years ago, BertrandRussell started a concerted effort by mathematicians and logicians all over the world to remediate this "flaw' in our way of speaking, which ultimately led to Godel's Proof and a further refinement by Church.
Here is what Russell said back then (It should sound awfully reminiscent of this "nonsense" by the researchers in this study:
"Suppose that we suggest the definition
A typical Englishman is one who possesses all the properties possessed by a majority of Englishmen.
It is clear that most Englishmen do not possess all the properties that most Englishmen possess.
Therefore, a typical Englishman, according to this definition, should be untypical.
The problem, according to Russell, is that the word “typical” has been defined by a reference to all properties and has been treated as itself a property.
What Russell and others who considered this roughly stated was as follows: We can say Napoleon was a great general insofar as he had the properties which go into making a great general. But we cannot say that one of the "properties" he possessed was 'THE property of having ALL the properties'.
Here is where the interested reader can see the history and impact on all twentieth century thought and science that Russell discovery of the paradoxical nonsense in our ordinary ways of speaking led to his efforts at a Theory of Types which led ultimately to Godel and more.
The inadequacy of our ordinary ways of speaking goes all the way back to the original Academy and Plato, and the very first instances of the use and dependence on what would be called “naive set theory” . For Plato, so naive in his set-building, each set comprised of the obvious aspects of everything was the outcome of our seeing the manifestation of the Ideal form. For everything we experienced or encountered in this everyday life, there was thus a perfect form of "chair" or "cat" or everything that the mind could articulate in language.
That notion stuck with us ...and even does now in thinking such as this research...and has haunted the advance of science over the years.
Indeed one of the remarkable aspects of the Darwinian handling of the problem of “species” was the brilliance in circumventing this classic Greek mode of categorizing. It is not at all coincidence that our word “species” in “(είδος”) and the word for idea) both come from the same root “to see” as in the ideal from which insight can only glimpse.
After all, how could we envision the historical or evolutionary relation of one species to another when they were all understood only in terms of an eternal form the abstraction of their surface taxonomy down into some presumed “essence”?
For Darwin, the strategy was to bypass completely the entrapment by that logic and to, instead, deal with the underlying “varieties” as causative of the emergence of what we then classified as different “species”……and not to succumb to thinking from the top down in terms of the nonsense of the “ideal form”. Indeed, the gambit of the Origins is to speak of all those varieties and how they relate to each other, competitively and selectively, and to never try to explain the origin of species themselves.
And indeed all sorts of evolutionary “sense’ emerged by working from a hidden level within, that ‘mosaic’ , of the genome,even before we know what genes were, and being to really upon events beyond the obvious realm of observation to keep our science intact, instead of being sidetracked by our ordinary language’s entrapment in naive set theory.
That is why Russell's dealing with this problem in our very way of speaking and its reliance on naive set theory changed the course of intellectual and scientific history, and made the greatest minds of our times puzzle over the very foundations of our logic and mathematics, even while it entertained with its paradoxes that stemmed from this failure of ordinary language.
So our comments on the "issue" of perfectly MALE vs perfectly FEMALE BRAIN are aimed at very much the same goal. And the goal for us all is "Not to drown" in the inept ways of speaking of the scientists which are than amplified a hundred fold by the medical paparazzi.
In terms of the discussion of sex dimorphism to which we refer above, the situation is much the same. We can surely all agree in looking at a great number of people in our society (although not all in our current modern social matrix) and say they that they are male or female since they have the properties of which we speak as going into the making of a female or a male. The person thus can be said to have a brain with aspects which makes him life male, or makes her act like a female.
There is all the difference in the world between saying a male had has brain that is generally different from a female's brain and saying that the male has a "male brain"and the female has "female brain"
We are not however inclined, if we want to make sense, even in ordinary language speak as if we were living 2000 years ago in Plato’s time and in his Academy, of an ideal Platonic form of female brain versus an ideal Platonic form of male brain, against which each of these was patterned and whose appearance on this earth was destined by some higher power.
However it is not valid in the least bit to say that he had the ‘quality of having ALL the qualities that going into making the brain of a male”. The latter is not a quality that can be ‘had” It is an instance of a class mistakenly being designated as a member of itself.
We can see how ordinary language is running roughshod over the brains of the neuroscientists studying the brain. They have a surface level which they attempt to describe in ordinary language terms…not just male and female, but ‘memory” and “decision” and “experience” , “identity” and so on.
This reliance on ordinary language notions is precisely what prohibits neuroscience from advancing at the rate it ought to, given the astounding explosion of knowledge and technology in the past few decades.
All we seem to have is more “facts”..each of them a flicker of interest, somewhat provocative, but leading only to more accumulation of yet other facts and not to any framework for understanding the brain.
Staying in a Platonic mood, let's imagine a dialog between two scholars in the old Academy:
Scholar 1: This seems to be a "chair" and that seems to be a "table". Each fully embodies the form of the eternal 'Idea", the first that of "chair" and the other, that of "table"
Scholar 2: But surely they are not so different. Aren't both made of wood, Don't both have four legs. Indeed can't I sit on the table and can't I just as easily lay out my food on a chair and eat that way? There is no such thing as a difference between chairs and tables. There is only a mosaic of shades of grey between one and the other.
Scholar 1: But something must be amiss here. We all know that there is some evident difference in the way a chair function and the way a table functions I would not want to invite you to a dinner party
Once we accept a world of false dichotomies: 'blacks and whites" and then the defeat of our efforts to truly understand by retreating to the "smart" response, we are then left with nothing but all sorts of shades of grey. On no, they say, " it's all a checkerboard of 'grays"
Yes something like a "mosaic" emoticon
So, returning to the study on "sex differences" with which we started, what can anyone do but shrug and say "so what". What did you really expect?
Two ideal Platonic forms of Brain? Each distinct from the other as two different ideas are distinct in the eyes of the Platonic Demiurge God?
Each having the property of having ALL the properties of one sex or the other?
"Whereas a categorical difference in the genitals has always been acknowledged, the question of how far these categories extend into human biology is still not resolved
Moreover, analyses of internal consistency reveal that brains with features that are consistently at one end of the “maleness-femaleness” continuum are rare.
Rather, most brains are comprised of unique “mosaics” of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males.
Our study demonstrates that, although there are sex/gender differences in the brain, human brains do not belong to one of two distinct categories: male brain/female brain."
Hmmm...indeed they say no more than "The typical male is untypical and the typical female is untypical" And then the media have a field day.
As Wittgenstein said in his Philosophical Investigations:
My aim here has been " to show you how to pass from a piece of disguised nonsense to something that is patent nonsense."