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Stanford Research on Sex Differences Reveals a Leftist Rejection of Science

Research on sex-based cognitive differences from Stanford University’s magazine on medicine published this week indirectly highlights the “anti-science” attitude that runs throughout modern progressive thought.

Bruce Goldman, a science writer for Stanford University Medical School’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs, wrote about the sex-based cognitive differences in the Spring 2017 edition of Stanford Medicine magazine. In a June 5 blog post, Goldman highlighted the findings of research on the different ways male and female brains function.

Progressives have been somewhat successful in convincing the public that the Democratic Party is the party of science. But research into sex-based cognitive differences seriously brings this into question by confirming that the human mind does, in fact, have static and innate properties that influence behavior.

Consider Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s 2002 book, The Blank Slate. Pinker, who is politically moderate, argues that the denial of innate human instincts runs deep and pervasive in modern society, despite significant scientific that the mind has static properties that shape our behaviors. The mind isn’t a blank slate waiting to be shaped by society, Pinker argues.

The denial of human nature has spread beyond the academy and has led to a disconnect between intellectual life and common sense. I first had the idea of writing this book when I started a collection of astonishing claims from pundits and social critics about the malleability of the human psyche: that little boys quarrel and fight because they are encouraged to do so; that children enjoy sweets because their parents use them as a reward for eating vegetables; that teenagers get the idea to compete in looks and fashion from spelling bees and academic prizes;that men think the goal of sex is an orgasm because of the way they were socialized. The problem is not just that these claims are preposterous but that the writers did not acknowledge they were saying things that common sense might call into question. This is the mentality of acult, in which fantastical beliefs are flaunted as proof of one’s piety. 

Goldman points to research on rhesus monkeys, which revealed that to a significant degree that there are real differences in the wiring of male and female brains. In the study, male monkeys strongly preferred toys with wheels, while female monkeys gravitated towards soft, plush, toys. Goldman argues that because these monkeys weren’t molded by their parents or simian society to enjoy specific toys, their interests were shaped, in part, by the gendered nature of their brains. 

Nirao Shah, a Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurobiology, argues “They’re innate rather than learned — at least in animals — so the circuitry involved ought to be developmentally hard-wired into the brain. These circuits should differ depending on which sex you’re looking at.”

Diane Halpern, the former President of the American Psychological Association, admits that she originally believed in the “blank slate” understanding of the human mind. But after “reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles” she changed her mind. Halpern was largely swayed by the research on the rhesus monkeys and another study on boys and girls age 9 to 17 months old, which revealed them to have “differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys” even though they had yet to achieve a socialized understanding of gender as it pertains to American society.

Halpern claims that many sex-based cognitive differences are visible within 2 and 3-month-old infants. She cites a research example that concluded that infant girls respond more readily to faces and begin talking earlier than do their male counterparts.

Infant girls respond more readily to faces and begin talking earlier. Boys react earlier in infancy to experimentally induced perceptual discrepancies in their visual environment. In adulthood, women remain more oriented to faces, men to things.

The blind adherence to the “blank slate” runs pervasively throughout the progressive ideology. Young boys are often treated like defective girls when they have a harder time sitting still in class. Gender theorists in academia promote the notion of non-binary genders based upon the belief that the concepts of “male” and “female” are almost entirely socially constructed. Left-leaning economists promote policies such as the $15 minimum wage and widespread redistribution efforts because human self-interest is merely a reflection of American’s capitalistic society, rather than innate instincts.

Consider the words of Mao, whose belief in the infinite malleability of the human psyche led him to construct a totalitarian society that claimed 45 million lives: “A blank sheet of paper has no blotches, and so the newest and most beautiful words can be written on it, the newest and most beautiful pictures can be painted on it.”

Pinker argues that a belief in the “blank slate” has already done harm to the lives of Americans. He cites several examples, including cruel parenting regimes that resulted from the belief that parents could mold their children like clay. He argues that it has distorted the choices faced by mothers as they chose between raising their children full time or entering the workforce. Finally, he cites the reigns of totalitarian states, like Mao’s China, which inflicted horrors upon their citizens based on faulty understandings of the human mind.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com

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