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The Lack of Progress in Science: Sex Differences
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The above visualization is from a Reddit thread, Almost all men are stronger than almost all women. It’s based on grip strength, and basically reiterates my post from last year, Men Are Stronger Than Women (On Average). The same metric, grip strength, is highlighted. The plot above shows that the “great divergence” occurs on the cusp of puberty, exactly when secondary sexual characteristic of males and females become much more pronounced. In my post I pointed out that the Olympic caliber female German fencers were on the lower end of the male distribution.

This came to my mind when reading this nice piece in The New York Times Magazine, The Phenom: The most dominant swimmer in the pool this summer is 19-year-old Katie Ledecky. The question isn’t whether she’ll win, but by how much:

It’s not unusual for men and women swimmers to train together, but being in the pool with Ledecky is something that many men can’t handle. In April, Conor Dwyer, a 6-foot-5, 27-year-old American swimmer who won a gold medal in the 4-by-200 freestyle relay in London, gave a revealing interview posted online by USA Swimming. In it, he talked about male swimmers being “broken” by Ledecky when they practiced together at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Ledecky’s ability to crush men in practice does not necessarily mean she would defeat them in competition. There’s a difference between imposing her will, and perhaps superior conditioning, over the course of a two-hour practice and doing it in a shorter race in which men’s generally greater strength provides an advantage. Her best chance would probably be in the 1,500 freestyle, which women race at the FINA World Championships but not at the Olympics. (The men don’t swim the 800 in the Olympics, so there are the same number of events for male and female swimmers.) Ledecky’s best time in the event would put her among the dozen or so top American men and is 25 seconds faster than their qualifying time at the United States Olympic trials — but it is much too slow to earn a medal at the Games. On the other hand, because no other woman offers a real challenge to her, she is never pushed in that event. I asked Andrew Gemmell, who specializes in the 1,500 free, a hypothetical question: What if, in some dystopian swim universe, Ledecky was told that there would be no women’s events and that she would have to try to make the American team by competing with the men in the 1,500?

His father, who trains her, had told me that he did not think she could qualify, a feat that under current rules would require her to finish first or second at the trials. Andrew, who trains side by side with her, had a different answer. “It would be really difficult, but I would never bet against her,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knows yet what she’s capable of.”

9781440838101 I’m a little surprised honestly that the term “dystopian” got in there, because there are now people with academic appointments arguing for the ending of sex segregation in sports. Often they are sociologists, who believe all things are socially constructed, and take some element of non-binary aspect to gender to meaning that the distribution of possibilities are entirely flat and arbitrary.

Katie Ledecky has preternatural gifts, as well as opportunities afforded to her by her class status. The whole piece highlights Ledecky’s exceptional physical abilities and mental attributes. But even it acknowledges she would likely not beat the top men in her events.

One of the authors of the above book, Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not Equal, Adrienne Milner, was interviewed last year on NPR about the thesis. The interviewer was polite, but a little incredulous. When he brought up biological differences, her response was illuminating, after a fashion.

First, she argued that sex segregation in sport denoted women’s inferiority, and that was a problem. The fact is that when it comes to strength, especially upper body strength, all the data do suggest that women, on average, are markedly inferior to men. This is a fact. This fact causes problems. But the fact that this fact causes problems does not entail that we literally deny the fact. At least that’s my opinion.

Second, she analogizes sex and gender as social constructs to race as a social construct. I knew she was going to go there, because this is a rhetorical nuclear option which is going to quickly defenestrate interlocutors. She observes that:

“We look at race as a social construction. It is not genetic, it is not biological, and we believe the same is [true] for sex … The male-female dichotomy doesn’t cover everyone, right? We have trans people, intersex people.”

As I said above, the reporter was incredulous, but he had a hard time responding after Dr. Milner explicitly connected race and sex, because it is the mainstream position now that race is a social construct and lacks any biological basis. The facts may not be on Milner’s side, but she has the theory and the “moral arc of history” backing her. It would take great courage to still dig in and defend reality as it is, as opposed to her preferences.

The reality is that race and sex/gender are social constructs. The atom is a social construct. Matter and energy are social constructs. Cities are social constructs. Everything is a social construct, as we look through the glass darkly. But social constructs operate on various levels of clarity and distinctiveness and exhibit different levels of pliability and utility. Dalton’s atomic model is profoundly wrong. It has long been superseded by quantum physical models, which have the utility of making correct predictions, whatever their correspondence to reality on a metaphysical level might be. But the Daltonian model is still often implicitly the one introduced to children to allow them to gain some intuition as to the nature of how matter is constituted. In contrast, the metaphysical ideas of the ancients as to the material nature of the universe are both wrong, and, lacking in utility.

All models are wrong, but there are still superior and inferior models. Their measure is in how they correspond to, and predict, reality. Not how they correspond to our ethical judgements of how the universe should be.

Many sociologists dissent from this position. They’ve marched into the academy and taken it over. Because of their ideology that all things are social, they believe they can reshape the fabric of the universe through their own normative preferences. To me this is a problem. I struggle against it. Our deep human intuitions often reject, and recoil, against fragments of reality. But to successfully grapple with reality we need to attempt to understand reality on its own terms, not our own.

I may struggle in vain. Could it be the liberal Whiggish scientific moment in history is over? History is written by the winners, but perhaps in the future science will also be written by the winners. I’m not sure that the truth will win out. Perhaps the glass will become darker, rather than clearer. There are genuine difficult empirical questions about the nature of human variation and our dispositions, and how it relates to the values that we hold to be true. The fact that we’re still discussing sex segregation in sports and how it is unjust illustrates how far we’ve come in the solipsistic and socially constructionist direction.

Imagine that in the end of days all the mandarins will be sociologists, who come not to bring illumination of the truth, but to determine the nature of the truth for us to agree upon. Perhaps this is the true end of history, as humanity returns to an equilibrium where the bracing aspects of reality are shielded from the masses, which lay indolent in their delusions, while the technocrats and artificial intelligences confront the outside.

• Category: Science • Tags: Science, Sex 
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  1. Jason Liu says:

    Indeed, social constructionists usually take the broadest definition of constructionism, that anything defined by man is a social construct, rendering their own label meaningless. Even a social construct could be (and are likely) based on real differences, something they refuse to acknowledge.

    Western academia has been taken over by a cult of niceness. Differences lead to judgment, judgment leads to unniceness. Avoid at all costs. Everything else is commentary.

    I believe the truth will win out eventually, as western culture and thought cannot remain dominant indefinitely. It could take centuries, though.

    • Replies: @Cryptogenic
  2. Tobus says:

    I’m not sure that the truth will win out

    I don’t think there’s a choice, ultimately. If they remove sex segregation in sport then the truth becomes obvious… they’d need to either handicap men or introduce male/female quotas, either one implicitly accepting that women can’t physically perform to the same level.

    • Replies: @backup
  3. Yudi says:

    This is one of the reasons I’m thankful for the rise of China. But I wonder how much of Western civilization will be ruined before people come to their senses.

    Incidentally, as a working-class white person, I want to thank you for your willingness to speak the truth to power when it comes to discussing issues with upper-class whites/SWPLs, like in the open thread above. They would never listen to a person like me.

    I’ll leave with:

    ‘If I wished,’ O’Brien had said, ‘I could float off this floor like a soap bubble.’ Winston worked it out. ‘If he thinks he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously think I see him do it, then the thing happens.’ Suddenly, like a lump of submerged wreckage breaking the surface of water, the thought burst into his mind: ‘It doesn’t really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.’ He pushed the thought under instantly. The fallacy was obvious. It presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.

    • Replies: @Roger Sweeny
  4. There’s a recent article at Social Matter which discusses how science is downstream of politics. I agree with that. At one level, the “truth” is what society says it is. This may or may not agree with the deeper material reality that exists outside of, and independent from, human society. Politics, which determines what society considers “true”, can shut down certain strands of scientific enquiry anytime it wants to. Of course, if a society’s decided-upon truth is too far removed from material reality, that can make the society go extinct over time.

    Donald Hoffman, a physicist from California has some interesting talks on the topic of how we construct reality.This is basically pragmatism, i.e the truth = whatever works. And if believing in a vengeful god who wants you to have a large family, subjugate your women and destroy the infidel works, that is what future human societies are going to believe.

    I have a hard time agreeing with all the singularity theorists and technolibertarians for this very reason – humanity is not going to irrevocably evolve into a space-faring sci-fi future anytime soon, because the men (and you know its mostly men, let’s drop the phony inclusiveness) who come up with that technology depend on an open, rationalistic cosmopolitan society to support them. Those open societies are frequently defeated and replaced by old-school, patriarchal, xenophobic communities.

    The preceding Whig era was made possible because the open societies of Europe used their rationalism to come up with the scientific method and capitalism – two social technologies that enabled Europeans to expand across the world and utterly destroy competing cultures. Unfortunately these social technologies carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction, in that they are ultimately nihilist, they do not offer meaning in the same way that traditionalist religion does. In the current scenario of pacifism, where powerful countries refuse to make war upon weaker ones, I fail to see how science and capitalism are of any value when it comes to long term survival of a society.

    And you know this, being from Bangladesh. 1000 years from now, assuming the anti-rationalist winds sweeping across Bangladesh spread to the rest of Islamic South Asia, do you think the proportion of hindus and muslims in the subcontinent will be the same as today?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
  5. @thinkingabout it

    And you know this, being from Bangladesh. 1000 years from now, assuming the anti-rationalist winds sweeping across Bangladesh spread to the rest of South Asia, do you think the proportion of hindus and muslims in the subcontinent will be the same as today?

    predictions of specific things like this 1,000 years into the future are idiotic.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  6. iffen says:

    We can’t handle the truth.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Razib Khan

    It’s meant as a figure of speech. You can change it to 100 years, or five generations, or whatever other metric you want.

    I’ve noticed that you have a tendency to nitpick tiny peripheral aspects of comments which have little or nothing to do with the rest of what is said. I initially thought it was just you being ornery, but now I feel that it may be part of how you process information. It’s a sort of aspergery trait.

    If your wife is as nerdy as you are, I’d be curious to see if you have kids on the autism spectrum. Based on the theories of Simon Baron Cohen, you’re likelier to…

    Purely speculation of course. Feel free to not publish my comment if you don’t think it’s appropriate.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
  8. @Anonymous

    people who are imprecise about details are often stupid or not well informed. i don’t like stupid or uninformed people posting comments here, but usually it is more effective to be mean to them rather than delete their comments, because they leave of their own accord. perhaps you are intelligent and well informed. i don’t know, i have no idea who you are, and you don’t comment here often. but 1,000 year projections definitely do trigger my probably-a-moron-meter.

    in any case, you have a weak grasp of what’s going on in bangladesh: assuming the anti-rationalist winds sweeping across Bangladesh spread to the rest of Islamic South Asia,. the reality is that the islamic movement is emerging because the integration of bangladesh into the world economy due to the textile sector is destabilizing the traditional order. e.g., fertility is dropping and lower class women are entering the labor force, and the rise of atheist and gay people as public figures shows the liberalization of large swaths of dhaka society, and a shift toward western world norms interposing themselves. the islamic radicals are acting out because they know that they might actually lose the battle. (in contrast, they aren’t attacking gays and atheists in pakistan, because the gays and atheists in pakistan aren’t in public, because the cultural norms are far more islamicized there than in bangladesh)

    in any case, your comment was too long and said too little that wasn’t vacuous. but perhaps you’re a genius and shit and i don’t get you. that’s fine. #shrug

  9. RKae says:

    I wish the left wing would just tell me everything they want. Just give me the whole list. Stop with this endless trickle of bizarre demands.

    • Agree: Alec Leamas
  10. @RKae


    The left does not have a list of demands or a goal that they are willing to articulate to you. They may not even be willing to articulate it to themselves. Fortunately one man knew the left well enough to articulate its inner desire, and he left us a description of it:

    The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.

    * * *

    Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but MORE merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain.

    * * *

    But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.’

    “1984” by George Orwell

    RTWT. Read It and Weep.

    • Replies: @Moe
    , @Engineer Dad
  11. Twinkie says:

    but 1,000 year projections definitely do trigger my probably-a-moron-meter.

    I am usually the commenter who urges Mr. Khan to be kinder to the less intelligent and/or more annoying commenters. But I must admit I chuckled at this line, because people, including those who are otherwise reasonably smart, assigning high confidence to long term projections is a pet peeve of mine.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
  12. @Twinkie

    to be fair, they claim they didn’t mean this literally. though still, 1000 year projections are ridiculous, outside of something like orbital mechanics. and the rest of the comment didn’t really make up for it….

  13. “Many sociologists dissent from this position.” Do they really dissent? I have studied sociology at university for some time, I have had contact to a lot of sociologist and I really doubt that many sociology at understand the point of the article above in the first place.
    Most of them repeat things they have been told without ever thinking about it at all.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  14. I have to say that even before I read your concluding paragraph I was headed in the same direction. Presuming we do, as some researchers suggest, develop super-intelligent AI some time in the next one to two generations, AI will be far better than we will ever be at developing workable models of reality.

    The question then becomes, what do humans do with themselves? I’m not merely talking about dumb humans, who it looks will be rendered mostly irrelevant to the workforce by automation. I’m also talking about smart humans, who may be cognitively more adept than 90% or more of the general population, but will never be able to compete with a properly optimized, super-intelligent machine.

    The classic thing that is imagined is in a post-work society, we will basically replace work with hobbies – spending time doing things like making crafts, doing community theater, and puttering around in the garden. But your post made me think of a darker turn. Smart(ish) people, given no useful place to pour their intelligence, may have no recourse but esotericism, solipsism, and sophism – areas where machines will never replace human beings, as producing self-indulgent garbage is perhaps one of the only intellectual tasks which AI may not be able to surpass us in.

    • Replies: @Sisyphean
  15. Moe says:
    @Walter Sobchak

    A comoarison to 1984 could just as easily be applied to the modern ‘right’ or the modern ‘left’.

    Both sides constantly revise and redefine the past, and even what they said as recently as yesterday. They both make it as hard as possible for anyone to use common language without the escape of endless loopholes, or “That’s not what I meant, you are twisting my words!”.

    Just look at the current presidential candidates. Trump is especially fantastic as just repeating obviously incorrect facts until people stop questioning and move on to something else. Hillary is also quite capable of this, but a bit less blunt in her approach.

    • Agree: Jacques Sheete
    • Replies: @AnotherDad
  16. Going off in a different direction…

    We are in the early stages of GM technology; it is currently limited largely to medicine, agriculture and aquaculture, though we hear reports of explorations in China of the technology being applied to humans.

    1) Would it be possible in the near future to develop GM humans with females as strong as males? By near future, I think I am distinguishing between a phenotype that requires tinkering with relatively few genes vs. many: something similar to the difference in number of genes involved in eye or hair color vs the number involved in height (?) or intelligence.

    2) Is there any reason to think that such women would be on average less fit — less fertile — than other women? That is, could this trait be bred into the species on a permanent basis without constant artificial replenishment of the phenotype? In most primate species, I believe most mammal species, the male is larger (and I imagine stronger) than the female. The only exceptions that I know of (so I suspect the most well known) are blue whales and hyenas.

    (Mild googling pulls up this 40 year old article* with a much longer list, though the number of mammalian species is still relatively few.)

    *See here if the previous link is gated, not sure

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
  17. @marcel proust

    i think we’re on the cusp of the post-human age. in which case all this stupid libtard vs. bible-thumper identity politics/culture war is the last gasp of the age, and will be rendered irrelevant in the coming swell.

    • Replies: @marcel proust
    , @Asher
    , @Twinkie
  18. Doug Jones says: • Website

    “Everything is a social construct, as we look through the glass darkly.”

    It’s worthwhile to distinguish between fuzzy sets, and social constructs sensu stricto. “Planet,” “mountain,” and “species” are all fuzzy sets. Is Pluto a planet? Ceres? What’s the first mountain you run into as you walk from England into Wales? Are red wolves a species? How we categorize these physical facts doesn’t change the physical facts.

    But that’s different from social constructs. With social constructs, (almost) everyone thinking it’s true makes it true. How we categorize social facts can change social facts. National borders are social constructs, and so is money. If everyone tomorrow started thinking that Hawaii was an independent country, not part of the United States, then it would be an independent country. If everyone tomorrow started thinking that Monopoly money was real money, then it would be real money. The philosopher John Searle provides a careful, un-flakey treatment of social construction, in “The Construction of Social Reality,” and other books:

    Legal rights are social constructs, but they may depend on biological facts one way or another (about which everyone can be mistaken). Maybe the true heir to the throne must be the true, biological son of the king (so everybody could be wrong thinking that some kid is the rightful heir). Or maybe this bathroom is off-limits to people with the wrong biology – race or sex – (and everybody could be wrong about whether some guy is black according to the one-drop rule).

    • Replies: @Chuck
    , @Tulip
  19. @Razib Khan

    I actually didn’t intend my questions to be rhetorical (which RK’s response suggests to me is how they appear to others). I was hoping for some elucidation from someone who knows (much) more about genetics and GM technology than I.

  20. Asher says:

    All cat3gories and measures are a social construction. So what. Would you pay your nanny to fix your car based aolely on the realization that the category of nanny was a social construction?

    How is this hard to combat? Have you ever asked a “female studies professor” if shed pay her nanny to fix her car?

    The problem with aocial constructionists is that they dont take their own positions seriously, its not about truth, its about power. If they took themselves seriously they would expect their nannies to fix their cars.

    But they dont.

    This means they are lying, that they dont even believe the things they are saying.

  21. Asher says:
    @Razib Khan

    I gotta say that im a big skeptic when it comes to the singularity – i cant seem to perceive any difference between posthumanism and the singularity no matter how i look at ot.

  22. Riordan says:

    @Razib Khan
    What’s the probability that many of those sociologists actually do grasp the underlying science, or at least its “disturbing” implications, and are simply dissembling out of their mouths because they’re afraid of the broader societal implications if these information disseminates to the lower half of the bell curve in addition to the upper half?

    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
  23. Could it be the liberal Whiggish scientific moment in history is over?

    To Mr. Khan: don’t you think that the very insistence on equality and non-discrimination, on which the social constructionists construct their edifice, is itself liberal and Whiggish? Whereas science is discrimination — not, perhaps, of people per se, but of fact and fact, truth and error, honesty and humbug.

  24. @Jason Liu

    Western academia has been taken over by a cult of niceness. Differences lead to judgment, judgment leads to unniceness. Avoid at all costs. Everything else is commentary.

    But they are decidedly not at all nice when punishing dissent.

    • Replies: @European-American
  25. @Riordan

    I don’t think that “smart” people care one whit what stupid people think of them. They care about looking good in front of other “smart” people. This holds true across the political spectrum.

    More broadly, I’m pretty sure Razib has posted GSS responses before which suggest that dumber people are more likely to believe that intelligence is mainly hereditary than smart people. This makes perfect sense in terms of human psychology, as all people generally want to believe our positive attributes are due to the choices we make while our shortcomings are beyond our control.

  26. Chuck says:
    @Doug Jones

    re: “It’s worthwhile to distinguish between fuzzy sets, and social constructs sensu stricto. ”

    Unfortunately, “socially construct” has several different specifications (in terms of degree of mind dependence). By some, entities like species are these — on account of being fuzzy sets. For instance, “social construct” can refer to the converse of “natural kind” and often does in philosophy of biology debates — regarding “natural kind” refer to the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy entry. The ambiguity is amplified because it’s often not in the rhetorical interest of social constructionists to clarify their meaning, let alone to make clear the logic of the social construction –> no “natural” different deduction. (Surely “Olympian-level athlete” is a “social construct”, but that hardly suggests no genetic advantage relative to the population mean.)

    re (Razib): “i think we’re on the cusp of the post-human age. in which case all this stupid libtard vs. bible-thumper identity politics/culture war is the last gasp of the age…”

    Can’t wait for the bioconservative /bioliberal cultural wars, then …. Will liberal-progressives drag their feet when it comes to joining the bioliberal camp?

    In the book, the authors take a more socially radical position. After analogizing sex to race and asking, rhetorically, ‘why is it different, in a boxing ring, for a women to punch a women than a man to punch a women?’, they acknowledge some physical sex differences, and suggest that the problem is that athletic competitions are structured around men’s physical excellence. Quote: “Michael Burke explains that men, though authoritative positions in sports, have defined sports excellence in ways that permit men, rather than women, the opportunity to embody excellence and continue to occupy authoritative positions, and subsequently make moral and legislative judgements in athletics…We should also point out that women’s style of basketball could also be considered more “fundamentally sound.” In the absence of a male-dominant gender bias, the more fundamentally sound style of play would likely be considered as superior.”

    So their suggestion isn’t just to desegregate the sports we have but to redesign the new gender integrated sports to make them less sex biased. They are basically emphasizing a multi-athletic ability approach (similar to a multiple intelligence approach) and arguing that sex segregation, by allowing both women and men to excel separately, covers up the gender bias inherent in the construction of athletic competitions. And that this perpetuates the idea that men are generally athletically superior. Which perpetuates social inequalities. So, if I am correctly reading between the lines, they wouldn’t expect equality, given how games are designed. Rather, they would expect that the manifest sex inequality revealed by sex integrated games would lead to a restructuring of games to emphasize the athletic superiorities of women.

    Which leads to the question: Is there a general factor of athletic superiority such that men would outperform women in most possible athletic competitions? This is what they are imagining does not exist. For them, current athletic games are culturally biased tests athletic superiority.

    • Replies: @Carl
    , @Randal
    , @MQ
  27. Twinkie says:
    @Razib Khan

    i think we’re on the cusp of the post-human age. in which case all this stupid libtard vs. bible-thumper identity politics/culture war is the last gasp of the age, and will be rendered irrelevant in the coming swell.

    Until the Butlerian Jihad then.

  28. It is possible to draw similar statistics for nations and sports. Say, for example, that Japanese are demonstrably terrible at sport X. Would they accept a segregate class just for them? No. They would prefer to lose with dignity than to accept preempted defeat. Even if it takes them 100 years of effort to move one peg up the ranking, they would refuse to be segregated to a pity class.

    Gender segregation in sports amounts to precisely that admission to preempted surrender. It’s insulting how many sports have what essentially amounts to consolation prices for children. Look at MX or enduro, for instance.

  29. Despite what a handful of sociologists might claim, the vast, innate gulf between men and women in athletic abilities is settled science. In most athletic competitions, the level of observed and measured abilities is not even close. Any high school girl knows this. Therefore, there will always be sexually segregated sports. Woman athletes wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Only in swimming abilities are women close to men. Why? Women have an innate advantage in the water: body fat. Their ratio of fat to muscle (compared to men) gives them added buoyancy. Women therefore float better than men do.

    This innate difference is also true of whites vs blacks. It explains why you will rarely see any black swimming champions. Africans are relatively lean and muscular. And while this is generally an advantage in all land sports, it is not so in water sports. Blacks are ‘sinkers’. Whites (and especially women) are ‘floaters’.

    • Replies: @Triumph104
  30. Carl says:

    “Can’t wait for the bioconservative /bioliberal cultural wars, then …. Will liberal-progressives drag their feet when it comes to joining the bioliberal camp?”

    Recipe for unlimited social control: decry inequalities as you increase them. Status, wealth, biological inequalities, it scarcely matters. The more intractable the innate differences, the more power you will acquire as the Great Leveller. Import inequality if you need to. As soon as genetic modification becomes sophisticated enough to equalize traits, the leftists will drop their wacky social constructionism and declare DNA public property in need of regulation, administration etc

  31. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It accords with human nature that humans will never really want to know their nature; knowing it with harm vanity mercilessly.
    “Reality” and “truth” can never make you feel better like views and theories you yourself shape.
    They are as anti-evolutionary as it gets.

    I read an evolutionary psychologist who sees the “triumph of sociobiology” on the horizon with a smile, a couple of days ago: a “triumph” of sociobiology would disprove sociobiology itself: sociobiology clearly says that sociobiology must be rejected, as, no doubts, it always will be.

    Many sociologists dissent from this position. They’ve marched into the academy and taken it over. Because of their ideology that all things are social, they believe they can reshape the fabric of the universe through their own normative preferences. To me this is a problem.

    Well, don’t physicists believe those smaller and smaller particles they detect (sometimes, wishfully detect) at the CERN labs are reality™?
    And what about the clergy of traditional religions (in the centuries where “traditional religions”, and not science or marketism, where the dominating cults)?

    Is the equality of Ashkenazis and blacks, males and females, less true and real than ghosts, Jove and Athena, guardian angles, the NASDAQ and DOW Jones, the People’s Will?

    It’s all about people who, like everybody, perceive themselves as the centre of the universe (is it strange, when “universe” is to each of us what our mind imagines?) and fighting facts and situations that rebel to their imagination.
    Depending upon historical and social circumstances, they will be priests, knights, scientists, economists, sociologists, bolshveviks, nazists, …
    It’s the same people: what changes is what they preach, pretend to believe, and believe.

    The motive is thirst for power, and narcissism.

    You want to struggle against the lies of today?
    Regardless of you struggling or not, they will one day be replaced. By other untruths.
    Regard for truth and facts is an interest better practiced privately: truth can’t be public, social.
    Science has always been written by the winners, and you can be sure that truth will not win out.

    Imagine that in the end of days all the mandarins will be sociologists, who come not to bring illumination of the truth, but to determine the nature of the truth for us to agree upon. Perhaps this is the true end of history, as humanity returns to an equilibrium where the bracing aspects of reality are shielded from the masses, which lay indolent in their delusions, while the technocrats and artificial intelligences confront the outside.

    Well, the word-prying clergy will have financialists and technomen to deal with: they will share power, each caring for a kind of control over the people.

    The questions are:

    1) Has it ever been different than that? Could it ever be?
    If anything, Internet is clearing the dark for the beholder who stands behind his average house’s windowpane, and from there watches the world.
    There is a wealth of things an intellectually ordinary person can come to know today, thanks to the Internet, while they could never have known at anytime in the past human history.
    Isn’t this great?

    2) If we believe in sociobiology — and we do, because of all social and mental constructs we privilege those nearer to observable facts —, shouldn’t we think that what is happening is in the best interest of humans?

    What is a disease? Is something that makes an organism less functional or dysfunctional.
    No disease is worse than truth, you trust me.
    Or haven’t you ever tried to tell to your average girlfriend that, maybe maybe perhaps possibly, humans share something with simians?
    Didn’t you see cries immediately showing in her eyes?

    Or should we tell everybody what that which they call “Love” is, what its purposes? And why the “forever” they just uttered will be forever till it lasts?

    So, Kahn, we should talk of what untruths and conceptions can make life on this planet better, maybe, instead of wishing to harm everybody with truth.

    After all, truth can still be pursued privately, by the single individual who has the (very) unhealthy will to.

  32. Randal says:

    suggest that the problem is that athletic competitions are structured around men’s physical excellence

    Seems pretty suspect. Fundamentally competitions of athletic prowess are about objective differences in fundamental attributes – who can run fastest/throw furthest/win a fight (albeit within particular style rules).

    The question for the authors, I suppose, is can they design objectively measured (ie not the likes of gymnastics) sporting contests in which women match or outperform men. And it appears this can be done, since women apparently match or outperform men in some endurance sports.

    But in a sense this invalidates their whole position – the fact is that women match men in some sports categories and not in others precisely because men and women are different, and not because of some SJW’s fantasy of patriarchic manipulation.

    • Replies: @Triumph104
  33. Tulip says:

    I believe you have said this elsewhere, human concepts have socially constructed boundaries (Stanley Fish has a famous essay where he examines the difference between a strike and a foul ball).

    However, just because boundary conditions are socially constructed and arbitrary, it does not mean that conceptual distinctions don’t pick out real empirically-measurable phenomenon. There is a difference between the ocean and the shore, even if there is no agreed upon, non-question begging line where that distinction can be made.

    Certainly, with respect to “race” I see a problem in it being overbroad. However, if you look at Americans in terms of ethnic backgrounds, you see that ethnicity correlates strongly with a number of significant socially relevant factors, such as educational attainment, income, wealth, and crime rates. Of course, there are attempts to claim that these differences are accidental *as a result of class or past discrimination* but that is a theoretical explanation FOR the difference. There is a distinction, and it points out real distinctions between populations of people, so it is useful, and thus as “real” as evolution, gravity, quantum physics, and compound interest. In fact, for the most part, it is probably more “real” than any of the insights of “critical theory”.

    If someone where to say “race is social constructed” and “the real empirical differences we observe between members of racial groups can be explained as 100% the result of environment”, I would have less issues.

  34. @Walter Sobchak

    “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    If ever there was a group of writers who exemplified this dangerous and dark mindset, it would be the writers and editors of everyday feminism.

    “So, when we seek “equal treatment” or “to be treated like human beings,” while understanding freedom and humanity through the lens of whiteness, we are often seeking only to be treated better than those who represent Blackness the most.”

    • Replies: @ogunsiron
  35. My now adult daughter was a star athlete through HS and played 4 years of D1 soccer in college. Much to my surprise, and like her 2 years older brother*, when she was 14, she was, first, finally able to keep pace with my 6-6:30 mile run and then before she was 15 outrun me (I was then 45-46).

    In HS, in addition to soccer, she ran track (mostly 200m & 400m, occasionally longer distances). I have often regaled others about how she came to me in shock at one of her first meets, having she noticed that the times of the boys and the girls – the middle of the pack boys on the varsity team were at least as fast as the fastest girls. “Did you know about this?” she asked. It had never previously occurred to her that boys were faster (& perhaps stronger as well) than girls. I felt a thrill of pride that I’d managed to keep it from her for so long, believing that it might otherwise have discouraged her from working hard to excel; of course, I knew the day would come sooner or later. She reconciled herself to the state of affairs and showed no signs of changing her (by then) long established work and training habits.

    One other related point. We lived in a small New England college town: pretty liberal (& white & affluent) in other words. One of the first odd local usages we heard was “girling” or “being girled”. This was what the HS kids called it when a boy was athletically outperformed by a girl. It was not a matter for shame, but for gentle teasing. We learned this when a girl dribbled a soccer ball around our son, and subsequently, as part of the ribbing, challenged him to tennis. What shocked me, given my experience a generation earlier, was that there really was no shame attached, and our son wasn’t ostracized or harassed, and he didn’t take it at all to heart. So the kids (other than my daughter) were well aware of the physical differences and expressed a playful attitude about them.

    *not a star athlete, though pretty good at endurance sports that required perseverance and ability to ignore pain more than hand-eye co-ordination or pure speed.

    • Replies: @Berta Arnason
    , @dc.sunsets
  36. human beings are driven to categorize the constellation of difference found in nature. categorization is one way we make sense of our environment – earth and the universe at large.
    race is just another term for a specific category: variation within a species.
    the human species adapts to diverse environments on earth, so the diversity of races. race is a neutral term. but we’ve impute a superior/inferior meme, and that’s where the devil plays.
    from observation, men are better at athletics, in general, than women. statistical data bear this out. men are about 10 percent larger than woman on average. men have greater upper body strength than women. to ignore the obvious is foolishness. and it certainly does not define one sex as being superior to the other. each sex has strengths & weaknesses.
    science should study and define the difference in the sexes to better understand who we are. gender neutral policies in society encourage fairness. that’s a good thing.
    diversity doesn’t have to be divisive.
    we celebrate diversity in nature, why not in humans? humans, after all, are a part of nature.

  37. woodNfish says:

    Sociologists, like “journalists” are among the stupidest people in society. The people who get those degrees are typically too stupid to make it in real jobs.

    • Agree: acementhead
    • Replies: @Outwest
  38. Fred Reed says:

    I am always surprised by Mr. Khan’s postings on this subject. Everything he says is true, but the note of surprise surprises. He is highly intelligent, a scientist, not at all politically correct, yet seems to be discovering the obvious. Wondering whether I could be remembering aright, I checked an older post by him, and found,

    “I’ve had friends with science backgrounds who balk somewhat when I attempt to start any discussion about sex differences with the contention that there is a difference in upper body strength. They don’t necessarily even want to concede this without dispute.”

    “Science backgrounds”? Are scientists so infected by the zeitgeist that they cannot see the inescapable? The sex differences are huge and have been exhaustively documented by the military, which then suppressed its findings.

    I don’t get it. Maybe American life has become so unphysical that the differences pass unnoticed.

    • Replies: @Ivy
    , @tsotha
    , @ogunsiron
    , @Twinkie
  39. @Yudi

    Wow. I’d forgotten that passage. I suppose “social constructionism” really isn’t that new.

  40. Forbes says:
    @Lawrence Fitton

    we celebrate diversity in nature, why not in humans? humans, after all, are a part of nature.

    We “Celebrate Diversity!” plenty. Mostly by claiming we’re all the same–equal. 😉

    And do so, right after claiming difference (diversity or non-equality) must be a result of bigotry and discrimination (a social construct). Confusing, isn’t it…

  41. Outwest says:

    Actually it’s society that has it wrong. That’s why they become sociologist (and journalists) to enlighten us as to the proper criteria for real life and jobs (and identity).

  42. Tulip says:
    @Doug Jones

    “Fuzzy sets” as you call them are concepts which lack clearly defined definitions.

    However, most discussions of “race” generally involve a clear definition of race–this is why we can empirically determine the “race” of an assailant from DNA within some margin of error. “Race” is not a particularly “fuzzy” concept on the whole, but the sophists generally focus on the fuzziness in their refutations (don’t worry about flood insurance, the ocean is socially constructed.)

    But all concepts are “social constructs”, just some are constructed with precise boundaries, and some with imprecise boundaries, and the boundary between these two being, of course, imprecise itself (precision is always a matter of degree).

    The point of saying “race” is “socially constructed” is trivial, but it is used rhetorically as if the concept of “cell” or “ATP” or “gravity” or “gross national product” is not equally socially constructed.

    What they are trying to hide is their commitment to 100% environmentalism, and they are trying to hide it in their definitions because it is not a belief system that can withstand empirical scrutiny.

    They are like Young Earth Creationists claiming the “Big Bang” is socially constructed, but real in the sense that people who believe in the “Big Bang” undertake actions which negatively affect us all based on their delusional acceptance of the “Big Bang” pseudo-science (which has been around for a shorter period of time than the psychometrics).

  43. MQ says:

    So their suggestion isn’t just to desegregate the sports we have but to redesign the new gender integrated sports to make them less sex biased.

    This really shows how the logic of forced integration can be at war with genuine diversity. It’s a call for top-down control of even games and sport so they don’t reflect genuine physical differences between two populations, but are instead narrowly limited to activities where physical differences overlap in precisely the right way. You’ve screened out a huge proportion of the possibilities for physical games that way, and made for a much more homogenous and censored world.

  44. Ivy says:
    @Fred Reed

    Those balking scientists might have two different voices telling them dissonant ideas, so they take the safe, tenure-preserving route. As scientists, they hypothesize, collect data, etc. As colleagues, students, teachers and players in other roles, they know that whatever they say or do beyond the mere anodyne may be subject to intense, often irrational criticism.

  45. syonredux says:

    Anatoly Karlin posted this over at West Hunter:

    Fun fact: Women from the strongest countries (Anglo-Germanics and Slavs) have comparable hand grip strength to men from the weakest countries (those of the Indian subcontinent).

    Is that actually true?

  46. Sean says:

    Saatchi boss (ie PR expert) Kevin Roberts resigns after giving interview.
    He said that rather than holding ambitions to progress into the higher echelons of management, many women – and men – simply wanted to be happy and “do great work”. In April 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that a transgender employee cannot be denied access to the common restrooms used by other employees of the same gender identity, regardless of whether that employee has had any medical procedure or whether other employees may have negative reactions to allowing the employee to do so. The EEOC held that such a denial of access constituted direct evidence of sex discrimination under Title VII

    The 14th is the whole of the law, but apart from saying (according to the Supremes) that boys subjectively identifying as female must be allowed into the girls’ charging room, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is also used to deem that corporations are entitled to the rights of persons
    As Latour teaches us, modernism is about the attempt to purify subjects and objects from each other. Within this paradigm, there are just two kinds of things: (1) people and (2) everything else. Nature becomes the cold realm of calculable automatic action and culture becomes merely an arbitrary projection of values with no reality principle behind it. People swing back and forth, choosing nature or culture depending what suits them at the given moment. Conservatives hold that war is a natural and ineffaceable fact but that domestic gun violence is “socially constructed” by violent movies and videogames and inadequate mental health treatment. Liberals say that the current status of women is socially constructed and thus revisable, but also say that homosexuality is a natural fact found in some people from birth and not something that can or should be changed by treatment. […] The point is that neither nature nor culture is a good concept.

  47. @syonredux

    Though he’s speaking of Gauls, ther’ve been plenty of physically strong women in history.

    Check this.:

    “…a whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one [Gaul] in a fight, if he calls in his wife, stronger than he by far and with flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, begins to rain blows mingled with kicks, like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult”.

    -Ammianus Marcellinus, The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus, Book 15, Chap 12, ~A.D. 355

  48. tsotha says:
    @Fred Reed

    Knowing something and feeling comfortable admitting to it in public are two different things. There are consequences for pointing out the obvious – unless it’s your job to grow food it’s just easier to pretend you actually believe rye can transform into wheat. Yay, we’ve become the Soviet Union without the gulags (so far).

    What makes me laugh is the cognitive dissonance of it all. How can you pretend to believe in the Campus Rape Epidemic and also that women are just as strong as men?

  49. ogunsiron says:
    @Engineer Dad

    I think I disagree with every single word at
    I even disagree with their punctuation marks.

  50. ogunsiron says:
    @Fred Reed

    He is highly intelligent, a scientist, not at all politically correct, yet seems to be discovering the obvious.
    [ .. ]
    “I’ve had friends with science backgrounds [ .. ]

    “Science backgrounds”? Are scientists so infected by the zeitgeist that they cannot see the inescapable?

    Age matters. Based on my online interactions with the “hacker News” demographics, I expect the younger smart tech/math types to be just as conforming to the zeitgeist on these matters as Razib’s circle.

  51. Sean says:

    I doubt German women, are special in the hand strength department, but Russian women have relatively superior grip according to an anecdote I read in Hardgainer weight training magazine years ago in which the author recounted being astounded while watching a Soviet woman loading shells (about 90lb each as I recall) two at a time lifting by the nose with a three finger hold on each in Murmansk during WW2 . Latvian women are the tallest in the world. Digit ratio of both sexes gets more masculine in Europe as you go East.

    Andy Kaufman was World Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion, it was joke back then. The man vs woman boxing match the other year had a black man against a Chinese girl (just kidding it was a Chinese as the man against a white woman).

    • Replies: @Eric Novak
  52. Next headline will be when a group of male volleyball players, realizing their school has no volleyball team for their gender, try out for the female v-ball team, claiming that they now identify as female. As good liberals we should allow them to try out and if good enough, make the team. And then watch them smash the ball into the faces of females who identify as females. It will be interesting.

  53. TG says:

    Yes, many excellent points.

    But if instead of grip strength, you had plotted leg extension strength, you would have had a lot more overlap. Grip strength is the single metric where males are most stronger than females. That’s true, but only one end of the continuum.

    • Replies: @Twinkie
  54. @Randal

    And it appears this can be done, since women apparently match or outperform men in some endurance sports.

    Can you name an endurance competition won by a woman over men? I never heard of that or are you talking about recreational level sports?

    The fastest records across the English Channel are all held by men. Although a woman has the record for the number of crosses.

    • Replies: @Randal
  55. @Mark Green

    Therefore, there will always be sexually segregated sports. Woman athletes wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Women don’t have any say in the matter. The NCAA lets athletes compete against the sex that they identify with — no surgery require. However, biological males are required to have been on hormone treatments for at least a year before they can compete against women. The same is true for the Rio Olympics.

    Last year the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the rules for limiting the levels of testosterone in “female” athletes. It is expected that all of the medals in the women’s track 800m in Rio will be won by intersexed athletes who were born with female genitalia but male internal organs. (Note: Male athletes (born with a penis) competing against women in Rio will have to maintain their testosterone levels under a certain limit.)

    A Thai lady-boy competed against girls at the Alaska high school state track and field championships without any surgery or hormone treatment. The lady-boy also competed in girl’s volleyball and basketball earlier in the year.

    This innate difference is also true of whites vs blacks. It explains why you will rarely see any black swimming champions. Africans are relatively lean and muscular.

    The reason you rarely see black swimming champions is that 70 percent of blacks can’t swim and most of the 30 percent who do swim are weak swimmers.

    If blacks would simply take their pre-schoolers to swim lessons then eventually sign them up with a swim club, you would routinely see black championship swimmers. Blacks come in a wide variety of body types, there are plenty who can float without sinking like a stone.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  56. WhatEvvs [AKA "Mipchunk"] says:

    TMZ waylaid Billie Jean King and asked her if Serena Williams could beat any of the top male players and she said no, Serena would get “blasted” by the top men. Why? Testosterone.

    I wouldn’t worry. You’ve got a couple of minor league academics making a splash with loony tune talk. Move along.

    BTW, is there a word “combinded”? I’ve never heard it. That’s what it says in the vertical letters at the left.

    • Replies: @ogunsiron
  57. utu says:

    If race and ethnicity is socially constructed why immigration of different ethnicities is heavily promoted to countries like Sweden? Why diversity of different social constructs would be beneficial to society?

  58. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    Okay. I say end ‘sex segregation’ in sports.

    Let men and women play in the same sports.

    Let’s see what happens.

    Of course, we know the result will be 100% men(unless some men put on wigs and pretend to be women).

    It’s like ending race segregation in sports only proved the reality of race.
    If race is just a social construct, blacks shouldn’t be doing better than other races.
    But some events, especially in track, are almost all black.
    And look at NBA.

    If both sexes are to play, we need sex segregation.

    If all races are to play, we need race segregation.

    But since the feminists are so silly, I say end sex segregation in sports.
    No more sports just for women. Let women try out in the same sports with the men.

    The result will be laughable.

  59. @marcel proust

    Well explained. Thanks for sharing the anecdotes.

  60. @Lawrence Fitton

    True. However, categorization revolves around prototyping, both of which requiring abstractions. This means that regardless of the statistical accuracy of a model, the next instance to walk through the door might defy its “given category”. The importance of outliers is nowhere more relevant than in professional sports where oddities win, not classes of human beings, but freaks of nature. In other words, Phelps won. Not men, not Americans, not whites, not the sons of middle school principals, not right-handed people. Only Phelps won.

  61. Twinkie says:
    @Fred Reed

    He [Mr. Khan] is highly intelligent, a scientist, not at all politically correct, yet seems to be discovering the obvious… I don’t get it. Maybe American life has become so unphysical that the differences pass unnoticed.

    Yet I would imagine Mr. Khan, from simply looking at the data, is probably well-aware that Mexicans make very low-performing and low-assmilating immigrants. Unlike someone else who doesn’t seem to notice the obvious differences between peoples on that topic.

  62. No diffence between the arguments of the author and the arguments of lesbians in the Pentagon who have been arguing for women in combat for decades, until their opportunity to shove through the women-in-combat policy with Obama’s administration. Their time had arrived. Unfortunately, due to the unfortunate effects of disparate impact of men-only qualifications on women auditioning for combat positions, the rules had to be changed, e.g. packs half the weight of men’s, shorter runs, fewer pull ups, and no hand-to-hand training between men and women recruits. A brain-damaged female recruit is not good propaganda for the lesbian agenda. These same adjustments will have to be made to accommodate women in men’s sports, although trying out for men’s boxing, martial arts, or any other contact sport may present major problems for women in these sports, when no girl escapes without broken bones and permanent neurological damage. Tough to integrate with that happening.

  63. Twinkie says:

    Mr. Karlin has asserted this once or twice, and promised to make a follow-up post on the topic in greater detail, including data, but has yet to produce the said post.

    I am agnostic on this until I see good data.

    From the results of the Olympics, it does seem that South Asians are not athletic peoples on average. Some of it probably has to do with genes as South Asians seem to have the gracile bone/heavy fat body type, which is not good for most athletic endeavors (although from a news article a while back about a village of Indian wrestlers who work as bodyguards, it seems there are Indians who are selected for physical prowess) and some of it is probably due to environmental factors – poor nutrition, lack of funding, lack of widespread sports programs, etc.

    I’d be interested in a scientific look into this, not just a teaser line or two from Mr. Karlin.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
  64. @Sean

    And I doubt that anecdote about Soviet women’s strength is anything but laughable propaganda.

    • Replies: @Sean
  65. Twinkie says:

    But if instead of grip strength, you had plotted leg extension strength, you would have had a lot more overlap. Grip strength is the single metric where males are most stronger than females. That’s true, but only one end of the continuum.

    Are you familiar with the expression “you punch (or throw a ball) like a girl”?

    Punching power comes from the rotation of the hips. Women are terrible at it. Their hip strength seems to be considerably weaker than that of men. I don’t think it’s just grip strength or upperbody strength as is frequently mentioned. Men just seemed to be neurologically and biomechanically wired better to generate power than women, even setting aside the muscles.

    My wife, who is German-Swedish-English mostly, was a world-class athlete in college. She used to do *sets* of ten pull-ups easily as a part of her warm-up for her sport. After we dated for a good while, she wanted to wrestle with me to see how she stacked up (now, it was very unfair to her, because I have a lot of size on her and I have trained in combat sports all my life, including as a training/sparring partner for Judo Olympians and collegiate wrestlers).

    Bless her heart, because she was an elite athlete, she thought she’d do well.

    I ragdolled her without breaking a sweat – with one or no hand (I’d use my body weight and pressure to pin her with hands up or behind my back and fling her around with one grip).

    She was just stunned (she was young and just didn’t know).

    I told her that a fight between a man and a woman would be comical, worse than man vs. boy… UNLESS:

    1. There is a very high skill disparity. A female Judo Olympian IS going to toss a normal guy with no training.
    2. The female has the element of suprise.
    3. The female has a weapon and at least minimal amount of training.

    • Replies: @Kyle
  66. @Twinkie

    Mr. Karlin has asserted this once or twice, and promised to make a follow-up post on the topic in greater detail, including data, but has yet to produce the said post.

    i see. i like karlin (i’ve met him), but if this is true i think he’s probably full of shit on this until proven otherwise, though i’m not totally sure. i hope he has data, because bullshitting on this sort of thing is going to make me more skeptical of anything else he says 🙁

    i’m south asian, and not particularly athletic by nature. but i’m much stronger than n. european females my size when it comes to upper body strength (n greater than 1). and i’m not talking about girls who are stick thin, but did a lot of sports and have an athletic build.

    (although from a news article a while back about a village of Indian wrestlers who work as bodyguards, it seems there are Indians who are selected for physical prowess)

    they were from the NW. s. asia is pretty big with large variation in physical types. people from the northwest are taller and more robust. their risk for metabolic disease is also lower than those from the east or south, so i suspect their the “skinny fat” tendency is less extreme in them.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  67. Randal says:

    Can you name an endurance competition won by a woman over men? I never heard of that or are you talking about recreational level sports?

    It’s not something I’ve researched in any depth, just the general impression I was under, so I stand to be corrected on it if better evidence can be found, but here are a couple of references from a brief net search (the ISR piece is clearly by no means an impartial opinion, so their “facts” might not stand up to investigation, in particular, and I haven’t bothered to read the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim piece itself):

    Women outperform men in ultradistance swimming: the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim from 1983 to 2013.

    CONCLUSION: The best women were ≈12 – 14% faster than the men in a 46-km open-water ultradistance race with temperatures < 20°C. The maturity of ultradistance swimmers has changed during the last decades, with the fastest swimmers becoming older across the years.

    Are men really better athletes?

    At marathon distances, twenty-six miles, women can perform identically to men—and in Boston’s 2003 Marathon the mean running time for the top 207 runners showed women’s times to be nearly five minutes faster, a mean time of 2:36:55 versus men’s men mean time of 2:41:33. But men on average have a harder time keeping up with women in ultra-endurance races of fifty-five miles or more.

    Alaska’s Iditarod, the ultimate ultra-endurance sport, an annual 1,200-mile dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, is frequently won by women. In addition to women’s capacity for greater stamina, it is one of several sports where women’s higher percentage of body fat also plays a role in providing a biological advantage.

    Greater body fat yields greater insulation and buoyancy in swimming, which also reduces drag in the water. One female swimmer, Alison Streeter, has successfully finished the perilous twenty-one-mile British Channel crossing a record forty-three times. Women also hold the record for the twenty-two-mile open water swim from Catalina Island to California’s mainland.”

  68. Sean says:
    @Eric Novak
    Everyday Soviet citizens, he figured, were more than likely filled not with militant hatred, but with “amusing and identifiable foibles that Americans could relate to.” They, too, would surely react with chagrin to someone reading a newspaper over their shoulder, or gallantly try to help a woman carry a suitcase full of concrete. […] Indeed, when[ Candid Camera’s ] Funt told the Milwaukee Journal, pre-broadcast, that he “ran into trouble in Moscow,” he was referring not to any security-related or political difficulties, but to the infamous suitcase gag. Some Russian men, when asked to help an American schoolteacher with her unexpectedly heavy burden, didn’t struggle gallantly or try to talk their way out of it. They “picked it up and breezed off with it,” Funt said. Sometimes, where there’s a will, there’s a way

    Russians, men and women, are stronger than you might think.

  69. As far as I know, the male/female disparity in strength is greatest in terms of grip strength. It’s not as great in terms of other muscle groups.

    So referring to hand-grip strength alone may give a false picture of the overall disparity.

  70. FWIW, when I was in college, in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I was in a very “PC” major. I remember one day I was in a class where a feminist student suggested that women having greater upper body strength than men was due to social construction. Basically everyone in the class, from the professor down to the students (who were all leftists of various sorts) either was glaring in disbelief or rolling their eyes at the concept.

  71. @Randal

    “Can you name an endurance competition won by a woman over men?”

    Well, “living” is the obvious endurance event that springs to mind. Are there any races/cultures where female lifespan is shorter than male?

    But open water swimming does seem to be the other event.

  72. @Berta Arnason

    the sun is a star. the earth is a planet. two categories of celestial bodies. yet, both fit into the general category of celestial bodies. and both occupy the single category of a solar system.
    any topic can be reduced to the absurd.
    i guess i’m guilty of that.

    • Replies: @Berta Arnason
  73. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I am reminded of a quip many years ago: ” mother nature is no feminist”

    Evolution and natural selection have tuned us (as well as all primates ) for optimal genetic success. Abstractions of ideological equality do no enter this equation.

  74. @Cryptogenic

    actually, as a point of fact, compared to most dissent-repressing societies, they are super nice. All you stand to lose from dissent is your reputation and your livelihood. It’s unlikely that dissent will get you jailed or killed.

  75. ogunsiron says:

    Serena Williams
    I believe that she was complaining a few days ago about the supposed “pay gap” in tennis.
    I’d totally be in favor of her and the other women playing games against the males.
    It’d then be very clear who deserves to be paid according to their tennis talent.

    Except that the whiners would find some nebulous “systemic” reason why the top human tennis players aren’t equally likely to be male and female.

    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
  76. @Lawrence Fitton

    I think your comment was generally on target. My observation is that a problem arises when the generalization (i.e., the abstraction) is confused with reality. It’s a common problem.

  77. @ogunsiron

    Given we live in a market-based, capitalist society, isn’t the most important thing when considering compensation in men’s versus women’s tennis not which group is more able, but which group gets higher ratings?

    Apparently for the last several years the audience for women’s tennis has been greater than men’s tennis. Since women make the industry more money, women in turn should be compensated more.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  78. @Triumph104

    And swimming 100 or 200 metres fast would have much more to do with fast twitch muscle strength than buoyancy would it not?

  79. @Karl Zimmerman

    Your logic also points to women’s Grand Slam matches being best of five sets like the men’s. That way they give the TV audiences more of what they apparently prefer.

  80. Jefferson says:

    “Is that actually true?”

    I live in San Francisco which has a large Indian population. Whenever I go to 24 hour Fitness Center I rarely see Indian men bench pressing weight. Not many of them are into weight lifting culture. So the stereotype must be true that most Indian men have a weak grip. Indians are the extreme opposite of Guidos.

    • Replies: @RaceRealist88
  81. @Randal

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, the world’s best women do seem to be equal to men in ultramarathon swimming. I don’t know enough about the Iditarod to comment but it would seem the use of animals complicates the debate. In racing the horse gets most of the glory.

    The 2003 Boston Marathon stat isn’t valid. The first clue is that it is only one race in one year; not the 2003 New York Marathon or the 2002 Boston Marathon. In the 2003 Boston Marathon only 16 women were in the top 207. Out of the 16, the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th place finishers were Russian and in light of recent scandals, they were probably doping. The female winner of the 2016 Boston Marathon (Ethiopian) was four minutes slower than the 2003 winner. In 2015 and 2016 there were no Russian women in the top 100 women. The highest female Russian finish in 2014 was 13th in women. Rita Jeptoo (Kenya) won the 2014 race and she is currently serving a two year ban for doping.

    But even if there was no doping, the stat relies on the fact that only a very small number of women in the competition were good enough to place in the top 207. I’m sure this happens at most math competitions.

    OT: In the Putnam Mathematical Exam there is an extreme drop off between the best and the rest.

    Among 4,275 participants from 554 colleges and universities in the 2015 contest, 57 of the top 199 scorers — nearly 30 percent — were MIT students. […]

    The highest score this year was 99 of 120 possible points, and the median score was 1, according to the recently released results. (At least half the students received a score of 1 or 0.)

  82. Anyone else seen the ads running for new TV series “Pitch”?

    Of course it’s all Grrl Power all the time, but the money quote starts at 0:43.

    “Girls will never be able to pitch as hard as boys, not as they start growin’. It’s biology and we can’t change that. That’s why we need a secret weapon. It’s called the screwball…”

  83. People believe in magic.

    Their words (magical incantations) either voiced or, more often, inscribed on paper, alter reality just like in J.K. Rowling’s books.

    Insanity is growing.

  84. @Jefferson

    There is a relationship between morality and muscular strength.

    Muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders.

  85. @Lawrence Fitton

    With the advantage of being surrounded in pool and at lunch by a large almost representative sample of fit 17 year old female European students I drew on old assumptions to be amazed at your 10 per cent for how much larger men are than women on average. (I had been accustomed to thinking of one third or more). I was about to kill two birds with one stone by asking Razib why he hadn’t taken you to task for sloppy thinking!

    Now I have searched I would say that the www tends to assert something more like 20 per cent. (Size I suppose can be equated to weight despite the different proportions of fat).

    But I still suspect you were fallaciously extrapolating from height differences without doing the maths. Mind you I am not sure of my maths but start in a rough and ready way with cubing readily available figures for average height differences. From 64 inches for women and 69 inches for men I got to cubing 1.078 and a 25 per cent greater body size. With allowances for male musculature and female fat proportion that suggests a fit weight for a female of 112 pounds and for the corresponding male of 140 pounds and I doubt if that overstates the difference.

    Back in a moment I am about to look up average weights of Olympic rowers….

    Yep, more my way: about 20 per cent more for the men.

  86. @Razib Khan

    Would you care to comment on my #87 reply to Lawrence Fitton Razib…. setting aside the temptation to answer with a monosyllable 🙂

  87. @Berta Arnason

    And your point is? That is any point that contradicts the common sense being expressed on this thread about the reality of average physical differences between male and female.

  88. FKA Max says:

    I really liked this article. Thank you.

    I don’t know if the following study will further trigger feminists, et al., i.e. toxic masculinity narrative, etc., or maybe calm them down, since us males are not bigger and stronger than them/you to fight against/dominate them/you, but to fight for/over them/you?

    Evolutionary aspects of aggression the importance of sexual selection.

    In this chapter, we focus on aggressive competition over mating opportunities, since this competition explains much of the distribution of weaponry and large body size, but also because this type of competition sheds light on the sex skew in the use of violence in mammals, including humans. Darwin (1871) termed this type of natural selection, where differences in reproductive success are caused by competition over mates, sexual selection. Not all species have a pronounced competition over mates, however. Instead, this aspect of sociality is ultimately determined by ecological factors. In species where competition over mates is rampant, this has evolutionary effects on weaponry and body size such that males commonly bear more vicious weapons and are larger than females. A review of sexual selection in mammals reveals how common aggressive competition over mating opportunities is in this group. Nearly half of all mammal species exhibit male-biased sexual size dimorphism, a pattern that is clearly linked to sexual selection.

    I miss the late, great evolution and natural selection/adaption mansplainer Christopher Hitchens:

    Christopher Hitchens: Why Women Still Aren’t Funny

  89. @Moe

    A comoarison to 1984 could just as easily be applied to the modern ‘right’ or the modern ‘left’.


    Politicians lie and spin. That’s what they do. But there’s nothing like this *continual* process of “progress”–i.e. denigration of the past–and forcing people to continually humiliate themselves by bowing and scraping before new definitions of acceptable thought, on the right. It’s a leftist thing for exactly the purpose Walter notes: the will to power.

    Basically the “left” picked the “low hanging fruit”–serfdom, slavery, industrial exploitation–with sort of mass uplift policies–universal education, industrial unions, farm to market roads, GI bill, vaccinations–of 50, 100, 200 years ago. But then … this program was sort of “done”, because everyone is not actually equal in genetic endowment. Some people are by nature fit to be doctors or rocket scientists and others to be clerks or mechanics, and others super-market stockers or floor sweepers, and others are genuinely incompetent or criminally psychopathic. And these capabilities are not distributed equally among various “population groups”–i.e. by race–nor by sex.

    So the left the last 50, has been engaged in this massive communist level denial of reality–of race and sex differences, of basic human nature, of basic biological reality–and has been demanding that everyone submit to their ever more ridiculous and stupid illusions. And as they stray further and further from reality, have been ever more vociferous in demanding compliance and self-humiliation.

    There simply isn’t anything like this going on the right. One can agree\object about this or that policy, be more libertarian or communitarian, interventionist or isolationist and so agree\disagree with the full range of modern “right wing” policies. But there’s no continual push to smoke up everyone’s ass and humiliate them by making them deny biological reality.

    Your statement about Trump’s “obviously incorrect facts” just make this point. His “incorrect facts” are establishment media nitpicking to enforce the narrative. Trump will say something like “crime is up” and the media will proceed to parrot how the crime rate has been going down since the 90s so “Trump is wrong”. But of course, Trump is pointing out the reality that Soros\BLM\Obama\Hillary\Democrats have ginned up this phony “the cops are murdering you blacks” nonsense to–very cynically–agitate their black vote bank this past couple years and since Ferguson this has indeed pushed the violent crime rate back up. Most of Trump’s “incorrect facts” are stuff like this. He’s correct on the core substantive point at issue. You might disagree with his policies, but nowhere is Trump asking people to believe a stuff that’s fundamentally at odds with reality, like the left demands people do.

    • Agree: Mark Green
  90. backup says:

    either one implicitly accepting that women can’t physically perform to the same level.

    But it’s not explicitely and hence can be reasoned away, e.g. by saying the implemented handicaps serve as a repair payment for bla bla bla. You get the idea.

    • Replies: @Tobus
  91. @marcel proust

    1. I wonder how it works out for girls whose fathers butch them up during their formative years once it’s time to find Mr. Right.

    2. I wonder what the eventual cost will be to girls who were encouraged to push their less robust joints to and beyond their limits for the sake of pleasing daddy. My guess is that many a female soccer player will require multiple knee replacement surgeries given that her joints will be shot a decade or two earlier than typical.

    Epigenetic effects on appearance (esp. masculinity & femininity) appear far greater than on musculoskeletal durability.

  92. Sisyphean says:
    @Karl Zimmerman

    This makes me wonder if a science fiction novel has been done where freedom fighters bucking the system out there trying to free everyone from the yolk of oppression… Meet the AIs in charge of it all and learn that the only change they can make would be to turn the AI off and make things much much worse for everyone… Which they would then do. Proving that some humans are willing to burn down the forest for the sake of a single tree.

    The matrix went there, freedom fighters vs AI, but the twist was just that the AI was so smart that it managed that human desire to rebel by encouraging it and successively culling the herd (I think this angle was purposely left out but it would likely be a natural consequence) in my mind, the best twist is that when you find out how the system works: if you really understand it, you start working to defend and improve it rather than destroy. Something similar happened in the first season of Shymalan’s recent TV effort, wayward pines, which I quite enjoyed.

  93. Tobus says:

    In this case the differences are very real, not marginal as with typical race and gender stereotyping – if you give black people equal education and money you end up with black academics, writers, judges and indeed, presidents… same with women (as we will see in November). The stereotypes that have oppressed them for so long aren’t based on reality, so the “repair payments” mentality made, and continues to make, a genuine difference.

    Physical performance is completely opposite though, the differences aren’t artificial and the traditional stereotypes are accurate, more or less. The push towards ending sexual segregation in sports is, I believe, caused by the momentum of the gender equality gains made in other areas. Academics encouraged by the success of positive discrimination in social issues are going to get a rude shock when they try to extend it to physical issues.

  94. @RKae

    Left-wingers are social justice warriors who can never achieve perfect social justice because then they would have no purpose in life. They can’t give you a final list because it doesn’t exist, they can only keep moving the goal posts everytime they get too close to the endzone.

  95. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Erik Sieven

    You gotta check out Dr. Layman on YouTube, my dude. Sociologist fighting the good fight.

  96. Kyle says:

    Judging by the grip strength chart, a female Judo Olympian WOULDN’T toss a normal male.

  97. Kyle says:

    I can explain this. Female swimmers are equal to male swimmers in practice. Practice is 2 to 3 hours, by the end of that time strength is irrelevant, everyone is tired, everyone is swimming with depleted strength, everyone is swimming slow and relying on their form and conditioning. Women also have narrower shoulders that men, which makes them more streamlined. Women can keep up with men in a 3 hour practice. Katie ledecky would not be able to beat Andrew Gemmell in a 1500m race, when both would be starting fully rested and at full strength. Swimming is a test of strength and conditioning. Women can condition themselves to be on par with men cardiovssculary, but they still aren’t as strong as men, if you were to test them by muscle strength to muscle mass ration. Long distance swimming is probably the sport that women are closest to being equal to or surpassing men, because so much of it is based on conditioning, maintaining perfect form, and because women’s shoulders make their bodies more streamlined in general. But men are in general stronger. Could Katie ledecky ever beat a future theoretical male 1500m champion? It is theoretically possible. But she could never beat Andrew Gemmell, he has demonstrated superior strength and conditioning to her.

    Do men have larger hearts and lungs than women? That is something that could be studied.

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