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August 21, 2006

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Wait, this is the big "gender and logic" post we've been waiting for? Women are more religious, Half Sigma thinks religion is illogical, therefore women must be less logical. That's it?

There are tests actually designed to measure logical reasoning. I remember that was part of the LSAT (and my score was perfect, BTW). How do women do on those? It seems that would be a more, um, logical way to assess a person's logical abilities.

And, why just pick on women? How did the scoring break down along racial and ethnic lines?

It may be the case that women choose to advocate for spirituality out of self-interest. For example, Christianity stresses marriage, monogamy, and duty to family. If this is in women's interest, then it is perfectly logical that they would support that belief system.

As for astrology, many people find it fun. Like sex -- another thing smart people apparently enjoy less.

And, how does this mesh with your previous observation that atheists are highly unlikely to be attractive?

I agree with Ms. Spungen. An actual test of reasoning like the LSAT would make more sense.

Furthermore, there's this whole opposition of logic vs emotion central to the West that is really rather silly. There's no purely logical reason to not want to die, after all. Evolutionary preservation of self? Well, that works through emotions like fear.

Besides, if women are empathizers instead of systematizers (a la Simon Baron-Cohen) that would help them in the marketing economy now that all the engineering jobs are going to India.

As for astrology and religion...well, irrational beliefs can sometimes be advantageous because of their effects on emotional states. Believing that you will be reunited after death with your family or that God is looking after you is relaxing and decreases overall stress level. Plus it gives you a community of people who are usually committed to prosocial acts; a good Christian avoids trouble with the law, and smoking and drinking are acts of the Devil, no? And don't forget sexual guilt; no real Christian would sleep around (and get STDs or pregnant by a man who won't take care of her). As long as your preacher doesn't tell you to strap dynamite to your chest and walk into a synagogue, you're probably better off. To paraphrase the founder of a major religion, the truth does not always set you free.

Astrology...okay, I don't know. My chart has mostly earth signs and I'm not really good at that. Notice the shift in horoscopes to focusing on the querent's personality and relationships, BTW; medieval astrology books will tell you all the right times to fight battles, go on sea voyages, and rescue prisoners.

Well, HS is right about one thing. Religion is, strictly speaking, illogical. That's sort of the point.

I think the test of poor logic should be some other nutty behavior. Like, say, investing in gold. Or, better yet, having a blog where you tell people to invest in gold.

I suspect we'd see a huge change in that gender breakdown.

Why is investing in gold nutty? It's a great way to counteract inflation, which is only going to get worse as the Social Security scheme breaks down completely.*

* - After paying for mortgage and investing in my company's 401K, I don't have much left to invest in anything else. If I had $100,000 doing nothing, putting it into gold seems to be a decent insurance measure.

That was actually a dig at Half Sigma for some previous advice that didn't work out.

But, in America, a lot of people (especially men) who invest in gold are nutty. They think that doomsday is just around the corner, and that their hoard of gold coins will save them from marauding mutants.

Can someone explain to me the connection between libertarianism and gold? I've read about this but never quite understood why.

libertarians and gold

Telling us that religion is illogical IS ILLOGICAL, since maybe religion wasn't meant to be logical in the first place. It serves an emotional and spiritual need; not a scientific need, and in serving those needs it is perfectly logical.

Why is it this society values logic and science above the emotional and spiritual needs of human beings? That seems sort of lopsided to me, and therefore illogical. LOVE is illogical; yet we all seem to need it. Kindness without expecting a reward is illogical; yet it knits society together.

I do, however, agree that generally men are more logical than women----but not always. So what? Being logical is not the only value of being human. In fact, men's logic has often led us from one emergency situation into the next. I think LOVE and KINDNESS might actually work better than logic as far as getting along with our fellow humans, and all major religions (unless perverted) stress LOVE and KINDNESS, even if it's illogical.

Besides, it's funny how the male species (just like Professor Higgins in "My Fair Lady") all too often say, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?"----and then when a woman is actually more like a man, men are bored to tears. Seems to me that nature made us the way it did so we would complement each other; not for the purpose of lording one character trait over the other.

Alas, men have done that since human time began, probably to make themselves feel superior even though they are NOT.


"Why is it this society values logic and science above the emotional and spiritual needs of human beings? "

Winner-take-all. The focus on individualism and competition. Not sure about science being valued--scientists get paid squat.

I used to believe in all that competitive BS, then I hit a brick wall in my career. I guess it really is true what they say: a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged and a liberal is a conservative who's out of work. ;)

"LOVE is illogical; yet we all seem to need it."

Very nicely put, Rose.

I'd add, a liberal is a conservative guy who couldn't get laid, and a conservative is a liberal woman who wanted to get married.

Hey, doesn't anyone else find it puzzling that Half Sigma would use such a clearly erroneous formula to make his point about women and logic? He seems too well-educated not to know better.

Did he think he could just slip it by us, due to our supposedly weaker analytical abilities? Or does he have some ulterior motive?

Or, did something cause emotion to overcome his own logic? Perhaps a bad experience this weekend with a religious woman from a "lower class neighborhood?" Just a theory.

You know, this subject has been studied fairly extensively. There are a large number of illogical beliefs (christianity, astrology, etc) that are predominately held by women and a large number predominately held by men (cryptozoology, UFO abductions, etc). In my experience it is very difficult to draw a sharp line between illogical and logical beliefs, (lots of both mainstream and alternative medicine, some conspiracy theories, etc) but easy to identify extremes. Applying a very strict standard however, I find that close to no women and probably well under 1% of men seem to hold strictly secular "mainstream" worldviews, implying that the TV consensus isn't really a consensus at all.

Michael Vassar's post reminds me that there is a difference between having the ability to think logically, the training to think logically, and actually doing so. HS didn't say whether he thinks women actually have less of this ability, or just possess certain beliefs for environmental reasons (like, society has beaten them into us, or we're less educated in logical analysis).

I would wager that the most likely reason anyone holds an illogical belief is either because they have been taught it (and, thus, may not know the real facts), or because the belief makes them feel better. It makes sense that the less powerful a person is, the more attractive a fantastic belief would be. As in, "It doesn't matter if I'm not book-smart or successful in business, because I have special psychic powers." Or, "I can't face that I have a terminal illness, so I'll pay a quack to tell me it's curable."

I've noticed that about every crime-solving psychic/medium scammer is female. I've also noticed that there aren't a lot of powerful women in law enforcement. The scam has gotten women attention and some quasi-credibility in that arena.

Men seem to feel powerless in ways that lead them to adopt illogical beliefs about conspiracies in the government and law enforcement. Men also seem more likely to believe bizarre ideas involving success in business (ie, envision money and it will come to you), and to get taken in by investment scams.

One of the most illogical people I knew was a doctoral candidate with an engineering degree from MIT. He became a New Age devotee right around the time his thesis hit a major snag. His dad was a toxicology professor - yet he gave money to a "healer" who told him he had yeast in his blood that made him tired and unfocused. He paid $20 each for Polaroids of his "aura" -- even though he knew the special aura camera was really just creating random images based upon the pressure his hands made on the metal plates in the chair. (He thought there was "still something to it.") He paid money for psychic readings, and was amazed when the reader (whom I'd given stink-eye throughout) discerned that his beliefs were causing conflict in his personal life.

I didn't think of it, but that's an excellent point: conspiracy theorists are more likely to be male! Although, IMHO, with all the sneaky things the government has done I do find some of them somewhat credible. But maybe I'm a man.

So women like to fantasize that there's a special person who cares about them and that they'll be reunited after death with their families, and men like to fantasize that they have special ways to get rich and powerful or that strange monsters and aliens exist...hmm, I guess the irrational beliefs do fall in line with the mundane desires, eh?

"I'd add, a liberal is a conservative guy who couldn't get laid, and a conservative is a liberal woman who wanted to get married."
Marriage does turn people into Republicans, Sailer's written quite a bit on this. Not sure if not getting laid turns men into liberals: a lot of men do get into liberal politics to get laid, but then they're actually successful. And men who become bitter and alienated can go either way politically, I think. Look at all the geeky libertarians.

In 1994 the GSS did give a reasoning test. And men did better.

http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/170/alikesyg0.jpg

"...Look at all the geeky libertarians."

Exactly! Libertarians hold liberal views on sex. Libertarians will never challenge, and in fact will often encourage, a woman exercising her right to do whatever she pleases with her body, especially if it involves being slutty.

As spungen said, there's a difference between having logic as a skill (such as a test would measure) and having it as a value or as a tool regularly used in life.
I also think that it's a mistake to assume that weird beliefs are necessarily illogical; a lot depends on assumptions and standards of evidence. Fundamentalist beliefs can be quite logically consistent once the underlying tenets are taken on faith, and the modern edifice of mainstream science also requires certain assumptions, albeit ones many people would consider more reasonable...

"Exactly! Libertarians hold liberal views on sex. Libertarians will never challenge, and in fact will often encourage, a woman exercising her right to do whatever she pleases with her body, especially if it involves being slutty."

You've been reading Jacqueline Passey haven't you?

Seriously, my general impression is that men who can't get laid don't increase their political liberalism, just their porn consumption. But hey, who knows.

"that would help them in the marketing economy now that all the engineering jobs are going to India."
Making such statements suggests I should never respond to, nor even comment on, your posts. Thank you.

"In 1994 the GSS did give a reasoning test. And men did better."

Jay Epstein, thanks for the link. Like with WORDSUM, men did do better than women at the highest level, while women did better than men at the low-average, average, and high scores. So, the very highest scorers are more likely to be men.

Maybe this reflects the fact that men are more likely to have scientific/engineering educations that teach one to think logically.

I stand by my assertion that women have no corner on the market for illogical beliefs. In "Travels" a memoir by Michael Crichton, he gives an overview of some strange beliefs held by otherwise very intelligent people, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll. Then he describes how a cactus once spoke to him at a retreat (or maybe it was a rock, I forget).

Or, did something cause emotion to overcome his own logic? Perhaps a bad experience

Well, considering that lower class neighbourhoods tend to have more religious people and these neighbourhoods are hot beds of small pentacostal churches that occupy valuable commercial real estate, I'd give that hypothesis some credit.

I've also noticed that there aren't a lot of powerful women in law enforcement.

Getting knocked up is a great way to not succeed in your career. Seriously though, what does happen to most of those female police officers after completing police academy?

"Exactly! Libertarians hold liberal views on sex. Libertarians will never challenge, and in fact will often encourage, a woman exercising her right to do whatever she pleases with her body, especially if it involves being slutty."

Some libertarians like the idea of men and women exercising their free choice. The others are just simply trying to get laid.

Seriously, my general impression is that men who can't get laid don't increase their political liberalism, just their porn consumption. But hey, who knows.

Actually, that's the cost effective method for getting laid. Quite frankly, I wouldn't blame them as porn is considerably cheaper than trying to have sex with a normal woman especially in these days of the woman shortage. In addition, the women in porn are much closer to sexual fantasy, and it's a great way to avoid STDs.

How can you say men are more logical?Women are clearly as logical as men.Some sort of a male shovenist.Some stupid statistics which are given on this page does not mean women are less logical.
This page is crap!!!

Kate:
Some sort of a male shovenist.

shovenist 'shuv/en/ist n [L, to shove, 6c] Man who shoves women.

Um, I just wanted to point out that your argument is illogical.

Firstly, you set out to determine whether men are more "logical" than women. I think it's clear that by "logical" you here mean "capable of reasoning and using reason in an orderly, cogent pattern" or something similar. Then, as proof, you select beliefs which you believe to be "illogical", meaning "devoid of logic"--not meaing "the opposite of my earlier definition of logic". You're using one word to take on multiple meanings at different points on your argument.

Secondly, you open your second paragraph with "I believe..." If you are trying to prove something, do not include the phrase "I believe" in your proof. I may agree with your belief that "someone who thinks logically would reject religion," but you certainly don't prove it logically.

To sum up, your argument's core is to show that women tend to follow a couple of beliefs, which you "believe" to be "illogical" (which definition again?), and therefore men are more logical than women. If I found statistics showing that men are more likely than women to believe that "bad luck affects my sports team" and "I'm a better driver than 50% of the population", and pointed out that that both of these propositions are _provably_ illogical via logic and without resorting to my beliefs, would you then agree that women are more logical than men?

Some of you seem to be making good points, but lots of you seem to forget that everything balances out in the end, this world is like a huge weighing scale and it tips from side to side every once in a while.
Before women begin to think that men's logical thinking is a threat to them, just remember this is not about scoring points against the opposite sex.
I personally belive us guys are more logical (in general, but with exceptions) than women but people forget that logic does not mean you are more intelligent. If men are more logical than women it's because we have less going on inside our heads, women have better memories so memories can influence judgement and cause biased or prejudiced decisions against another group. If women have more thoughts going on inside their heads, wouldn't that mean that there is MORE of a chance that the logic can get interupted or corrupted inside a woman's mind rather than a man's?

Here's a theory:
Women may well be as logical as men it's just the fluttering thoughts going on inside there that makes it difficult for a woman to focus. And a man's empty-headedness makes it easier for him to focus, (similar to a child learning a musical instrument. A musical instrument also operates on logic and a child has no garbage inside their heads like bills to worry about or the car expenses, meaning they are relaxed mentally and physically so they can focus more on learning the music)
what i mean here is a man's mind is younger than a woman's (immature even). So that's how we are more logical.

So as for women having skills like a better memory, could it be that men have memories or a least the potential to have memories just as accurate as women, it's just we are to lazy to use them?

But really don't think that your sex is inferior because of a survey, If women were not needed on this earth I doubt you be here. And vice-versa of course :P

Please respond if you want to challenge me.

Thanks.

While men do tend to do better at 'pure logic' subjects like math and the hard sciences, I'm not sure saying women more often believe in stupid things X, Y, and Z proves they're less logical. Couldn't you find stupid things A, B, and C that men believe in? Like, "I can drive a fast car and not get killed."

Belief in astrology and religion's pretty harmless, and they've even showed religion has positive social effects.

'Belief in astrology and religion's pretty harmless, and they've even showed religion has positive social effects.' - except for terrorism i guess.
And Islam sees women and children as property of men. I wouldn't call that 'positive social effects' Would you?
I think religion is ok in itself but when you give it to an evil species like the human race it becomes evil. But it's true it can go both ways.

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