Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split — UPDATED WITH IMPORTANT CORRECTION

VERY IMPORTANT CORRECTION: It looks like I was mistaken about the global gender breakdown of atheism. Details here. I still think the bulk of my criticism of Harris was correct and fair — I think his remarks were sexist, even if you do recognize a global gender split in atheism (which I now do), and even if you do accept some degree of innate gender difference between women and men. But when it comes to the specific question of whether there really are more male atheists than female atheists worldwide, it seems likely that I was mistaken, and that the study I was citing was an outlier. My apologies.

Sam Harris is just factually wrong. Globally, there is no gender split in atheism. Globally, women and men are religious, not religious, and convinced atheists at about the same rate. In fact, globally, women are slightly more likely to be atheists than men (although that difference is small, probably too small to be significant).

In case you haven’t already heard this: Sam Harris recently gave an interview to the Washington Post. When asked why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, he said this:

“I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.”

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? cover
There are a lot of possible responses to this. The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.” The second response that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Do you think that maybe — just maybe — the fact that not that many women read your books might have something to do with the fact that you say horrible sexist bullshit like this, and we’re sick of it, and we don’t want to hear it, or anything else from you, ever again?” And the third response, from me in particular, is, “Do you seriously not know that the person who literally wrote the book on angry atheism — Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless — is me, a woman? Have you seen the cover art for that book? Would you really not describe the woman standing on the soapbox labeled ‘REASON’ with her fist in the air as, quite literally, a critical posture?”

But it’s also very, very important to say this, since it’s something that even a lot of feminist atheists don’t know: The gender split in atheism is not universal. It seems to be an American phenomenon. It may exist in some other countries as well — but globally, women and men are religious, not religious, and convinced atheists at about the same rate. According to the WIN-Gallup International “Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism 2012,” August 6, 2012 (PDF, Table 8, page 20 of 25), when asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”, 60% of men and 57% of women said “A religious person.” 23% of men and 23% of women said, “Not a religious person.” 12% of men and 14% of women said “A convinced atheist.” (“Don’t know/no response” got 5% from men and 6% from women.)

Those responses are almost identical. If anything, women are slightly more likely to be atheists (although again, that difference is negligible, and probably not significant).

This may come as a surprise to many. The “fact” that more men than women are atheists gets pondered a lot, with an assortment of speculations as to the answer: assorted social pressures and expectations on women to be religious, sexism and misogyny in organized atheism, standard evo-psych bullshit about manbrains and ladybrains.

But “Why are there more men atheists than women atheists?” is the wrong question. And this crummy, half-assed, evo-psych crap about how atheism doesn’t fit with ladybrains because we’re so nurturing and coherence-building with all that extra estrogen — it’s crap. It’s just simply and flatly not true. If there are local differences between the genders in how likely we are to be atheists, it’s just that — local. Cultural. It has nothing to do with estrogen or ladybrains.

So Sam Harris, and anyone else who says this sexist, patronizing bullshit — knock it the hell off.

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Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split — UPDATED WITH IMPORTANT CORRECTION

180 thoughts on “Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split — UPDATED WITH IMPORTANT CORRECTION

  1. 2

    I think that you are too quick to get angry at Sam Harris for talking about statistical differences. Certainly in general the men I know are more likely to have fun debating each other than the women I know. (yes, I know that it is just my experience I am basing this on. Anyone who disagrees with me is basing it on their own experience too. But my experiences give me a hint about how the world works. While it is possible that my view of the world is wrong (we really are in the matrix!) generally it is more likely that the world you see with your senses is right rather than someone wrong. But to be sure we do scientific surveys)

    Women care about politics and other important issues, but they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way. That doesn’t mean every woman is like that. I can think of plenty who love to have debates. But if we were to take a statistical poll of Americans or humans worldwide, I would not be surprised if it found that men are more likely to enjoy confrontational debate.

    Just because Sam Harris says that there may be a statistical difference between how much men vs women enjoy confrontational debating does not mean that he said anything sexist. There may be a statistical difference. Certain activities are done more by one gender than another. He isn’t trying to suggest why that statistical difference exists, just that it does.

    Greta, I tend to find you a little more reserved when it comes to making accusations than some others on Freethought blogs, but I think that this post is another case where it is important to try to understand what Sam is saying rather than immediately jumping to the belief that it must be misogyny. Any accusations should be proven. Accusing misogyny should not be the first suggestion.

  2. 3

    I think that this post is another case where it is important to try to understand what Sam is saying rather than immediately jumping to the belief that it must be misogyny. Any accusations should be proven. Accusing misogyny should not be the first suggestion.

    Sam Winston @ #2: How much clearer does sexism have to be before we call it sexism? Harris’s notion that criticizing ideas is intrinsically male is incredibly sexist, and it has a real effect — it’s a big part of what creates the glass ceiling in academia, politics, journalism, and other fields where criticism is central. And the idea that there are fewer women in atheism because of innate gender differences — this is hugely sexist. It is a major way that people defend gender imbalances in atheist groups, organizations, etc., and shirk responsibility to do anything about it.

  3. 4

    ” too quick to get angry at (yet another prominent philosophy dudebro that has been offending the piss out of reasonable people for years on end)” ~~ Naw, I think peeps are gettin’ angry at about the correct rate.

  4. 5

    I think that you are too quick to get angry at Sam Harris

    You must be new. Sam Harris has proven himself time and again to be a racist, a misogynist, and in general a bigot. Also a sloppy thinker.

  5. 6

    Greta:

    “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.”

    That was my response. Almost verbatim.

  6. 8

    Sam Winston @1:

    Women care about politics and other important issues, but they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way.

    I hope you’ll be returning with a citation to back this up. Otherwise, it’s going to be dismissed.

  7. 9

    There do seem to be fewer women in a position to be called spokespeople for the atheist movement. I expect it is for the very same reason why where are fewer women in a position to hold corporate boardroom seats, Nobel prizes in physics, and senior professorships at leading universities: privileged ass-hats like Harris, Shermer and Dawkins are doing everything they can to drive women away and keep them away.

  8. 10

    Sam Winston @ 1,

    To test your thesis we would need a level playing field. Come back in a couple of centuries when we women and a few allies have created one because it is clear that you are not going to lift a finger. Also, William of Ockham might have something to say about both the vagueness and the complexity of it.

    In the meantime, though, we have vast numbers of atheist women arguing furiously and advancing all sorts of rational cases against what Harris just said. Don’t we count? And if not, why not?

  9. 11

    Can I just say…

    fuck you to everyone named Sam on this page?

    thanks ever so.

    apologies to anyone else named Sam that has not been talked about up through comment number 8.

  10. 13

    Sam Harris couldn’t think his way out of a wet paper bag. It’s people like him, and Dawkins, and Penn, and Maher and . . ., which make me NOT want to identify as atheist. No wonder there is a popular perception the atheist = asshole. 15 years ago “atheist” was my first response, not I’m more likely to say progressive or humanist. I can only imagine that is amplified for women who don’t believe. These privileged white dudebros don’t speak for me and my atheism, but because they are white and rich everyone thinks they do.

  11. 14

    Just because Sam Harris says that there may be a statistical difference between how much men vs women enjoy confrontational debating does not mean that he said anything sexist. There may be a statistical difference. Certain activities are done more by one gender than another. He isn’t trying to suggest why that statistical difference exists, just that it does.

    ( Baffled ) What the hell did you think Sam Harris was trying to convey when he said, and I quote:

    There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.”

    Emphasis added to assist the reading process.

  12. 15

    So Harris never took so much as a moment to consider the possibility that if most of the people buying his books are men, that could be because his books are written in male voice, with the perspective of a male lens, which appeals to what is bound to be primarily a male audience. Whadda skeptic!

  13. 16

    globally, women and men are religious, not religious, and convinced atheists at about the same rate.

    Thanks for linking to this poll. Most interesting.

    when asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?” […] those responses are almost identical. If anything, women are slightly more likely to be atheists (although again, that difference is negligible, and probably not significant).

    It would be fascinating to see the classification by countries, but at the same time with gender differences taken into account. (I don’t see it in the document linked by you.) Given that gender turns out to be a significant factor in the West, I can only wonder where this difference is compensated, so that global results can be similar. I don’t think it’s an idle question. In particular, it has a lot to do with the issue of what it means to be religious/not religious/atheist in various parts of the world. E.g. do people in China treat such a question in the same way as the Westerners do? Would a traditionally minded Chinese, following family customs, describe himself/herself as religious or not? In general, how sure can we be that the question means the same for people in different cultures?

    At the moment I’m not able to say what these data really tell us. It’s far easier to interpret findings in a culturally more uniform setting! But I’m really curious.

  14. 17

    Just as I was wondering a) What the hell is wrong with this guy? and b) I wish that Greta would write something, but how would she have time while on her book tour?…You DO weigh in and I’m so glad you did! Thank you for providing us with some actual facts.

  15. 18

    Now, I’m going to make a bet that at some point Harris will claim that he has been misrepresented. It’s his usual approach after getting criticised for saying stupid things.

  16. 19

    Sam Winston @ 1

    Just because Sam Harris says that there may be a statistical difference between how much men vs women enjoy confrontational debating does not mean that he said anything sexist. There may be a statistical difference. Certain activities are done more by one gender than another. He isn’t trying to suggest why that statistical difference exists, just that it does.

    Can you even read? He didn’t say there is a statistical difference between how much men vs women enjoy confrontational debate (how would you even measure enjoyment anyway?) he said that a critical posture is intrinsically male and that atheism lacks an extra estrogen vibe. We have the quoted passage right up there in the OP. He said a bunch of crap that is predicated upon sexist cultural attitudes.

  17. 20

    Greta, thank you so much for pointing to that study. Needless to say, my reactions to Sam Harris’ comments were much like yours. Yet weirdly, I take comfort in the idea that atheists have no saints or sacred cows. When prominent atheists say something inaccurate or are just plain asshole-ish, we can call them on it.

  18. 21

    Greta,
    let me just tell you that with your silly suggestions that Richard Dawkins is somehow sexist, racists, and whatever, I’ve thought you hit kind of a rock bottom, but apparently you managed to top it off with moronic stuff like the following:

    The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.” The second response that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Do you think that maybe — just maybe — the fact that not that many women read your books might have something to do with the fact that you say horrible sexist bullshit like this, and we’re sick of it, and we don’t want to hear it, or anything else from you, ever again?”

    which not only lost you virtually all the respect (not that you had that much to begin with) from the atheists who are actually fans of Harris and Dawkins, but WORSE, you and yuor little ‘freethought blog’ clique began to be seen for the envious little bunch that hoped to achieve the fame and cash in on the success of the New Atheists such as Dawkins and Harris.
    P.S: Do you really think many atheists give a hoot why *you* think atheists are so angry? Get a life?

  19. 22

    Ariel @15:

    It would be fascinating to see the classification by countries, but at the same time with gender differences taken into account.

    I agree. I would love to see the breakdown by gender by country. Given the numbers in the poll, I would guess that women are disproportionately atheist in China and Japan to make up for the male skew in the U.S. and Western Europe. It could very well turn on how they define Buddhism and Taoism. (But I have to say, after looking at the weird graphics in the report, I’m kind of wondering about the accuracy of the poll results in general.)

  20. 23

    galin banev @20:

    Do you really think many atheists give a hoot why *you* think atheists are so angry? Get a life?

    *I* care what Greta has to write. That’s why I read her blog.

    In fact, I’ve found her writings to be consistently more thought-provoking than either Harris or Dawkins’ works. They’re both sharp writers, but they’re not really saying anything new about atheism. Greta has a lot of unique insights, particularly about the connections between TBLG activism and atheism.

    you hit kind of a rock bottom, but apparently you managed to top it off

    I really enjoyed this mixed metaphor. How does one top off rock bottom? Presumably you add a few more rocks so it’s rockier. Rockier bottom.

  21. 25

    Women care about politics and other important issues, but they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way.

    Yep, you obviously have a lifetime worth of experience of “having a confrontational debate” as a woman. After, of course, having had a lifetime worth of socialisation as a girl and woman.
    Here’s the Moon Goddess Law: With increasing length you will get asked if you have your period. Whether you currently have or ever had a working uterus.

  22. 26

    Yes, but not all Sams are sexist.

    Seriously though, always nice to see someone getting demolished by data. Thanks for putting some facts out there in front of Harris’s bloviating!

  23. 27

    Women care about politics and other important issues, but they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way.

    Why, it simply gives us the vapahs and we have to loosen our stays and recline upon a deevan until we have regained our ladylike composah. Too much confrontation is bad for the complexion, you know? We ladies avoid it instinctively because of biotruths. *snaps open fan and fans herself casually*

    j/k
    Fuck you.

  24. 28

    Galin banev – I note that you actually have nothing to say about what Greta has actually written. “You’re just doing this because you’d jealous” is not an argument. Can you put aside your hero worship for ten minutes and try and refute the article with facts and logic?

  25. 29

    galin banev @ #20: I can’t help but notice that, with your comment that this post is “moronic” and that me and my “little ‘freethought blog’ clique” are an “envious little bunch that hoped to achieve the fame and cash in on the success of the New Atheists such as Dawkins and Harris,” nowhere did you actually state where and how this post was mistaken.

    As for this:

    Do you really think many atheists give a hoot why *you* think atheists are so angry?

    Why, yes. Yes, I do. The YouTube video of my “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” talk at Skepticon 4 currently has over 210,000 views; my “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” book is selling well enough that I was able to quit my day job, and have been working full-time as a writer and speaker for over two years. So yes, I’m fairly certain that many atheists do care why I think atheists are angry.

    Sexist troll is sexist. And sexist troll is banned. Goodbye.

  26. 30

    j/k
    Fuck you.

    Jackie @ #26: Actually, can you please not do that? My comment policy says that it’s okay to aim personal insults at public figures, but not at other commenters in the blog. (In fact, if Harris decided to get into this conversation, I’d ask people to stop swearing at him.) Thanks.

  27. 34

    they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way

    The torrents of abuse often aimed at women who are confrontational.. do you think that might have anything to do with why they are less likely to enjoy it?

  28. 35

    @Greta: No, Sam Harris does not say that criticizing ideas is intrinsically male. He says that men are more likely to enjoy confrontational “angry” arguing. That was the point of both the second and last sentences in the quote. And I think he is probably right about that.

    Quote: “And the idea that there are fewer women in atheism because of innate gender differences — this is hugely sexist”

    THIS I think is one of the fundamental misunderstandings. The idea that saying that there are any differences between the sexes is blasphemy. It very well may be that gender differences help explain what groups are attractive to each gender. Perhaps the values of each gender explain why there is a higher percentage of female Democrats than male Democrats for example. Or maybe it is entirely cultural. But science doesn’t care what you think is sexist. Science only cares what is true. Men on average are stronger physically than women. Cis women have wombs and cis men don’t. I hope that you wouldn’t consider either of those sexist. They are just facts. The same way it is not racist to say that whites and blacks have different skin colors.

    It would be sexist to suggest without proof, that women as a group will always lag men in being Atheists because of biology. However it is NOT sexist to suggest that (in the words of Harris) the different rates “may have to do with” the influence of biology. Maybe your worldwide survey may disprove him, but don’t accuse him of sexism just because he suggested that there possibly might be a difference between the sexes. The sexes are not carbon copies on one another and science should be able to explore if there are differences. Again, science doesn’t care if you call it names.

    @Great American Satan: Perhaps the people who are offended aren’t as reasonable as you think.

    @Flewellyn: I’ve only heard of one other controversy involving Sam Harris. In order to stay on topic, I’ll stick to the issue at hand for now.

    @Tony!: I have been searching for a scientific study on this issue without success. It is difficult to come up with the keywords that would find what I want but not get buried in other studies that aren’t relevant. I do applaud you for at least being open to the idea of testing this question via the scientific method. I don’t think it is so good, however, that you and others will dismiss it completely until such proof is offered. I think letting ideology (that there is no or almost no biological differences between the sexes) bind your views doesn’t help critical thinking. What I am suggesting would not be that outrageous to most people. Yes the ultimate test is science, but I would argue that your ideology just makes you drag your feet more than perhaps is necessary.

    @Gregory: Harris isn’t talking about the gender make up of Atheist spokespeople. He is talking about the gender make up of people who buy his books (and perhaps other Atheist books). While there could be other explanations besides what Harris said, saying that the glass ceiling is stopping women from buying books doesn’t make sense.

    @Maureen: I understand that my theory may be difficult to test. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And it certainly doesn’t mean we should assume it wrong just because it is difficult to test.

    You are making negative assumptions without proof. Why wouldn’t I lift a finger (or do much more) to help get more women in the movement? There are plenty of women who enjoy having confrontational debates and there are other ways of being an Atheist besides having confrontational debates. Having a diverse movement will help attract a larger number of people to Atheism because they can see people like them in the ranks.

    Women who disagree with Harris count, but the ultimate decider is a scientific test.

    @Ichthyic: You produced the worst comment I’ve read so far on this page. If you insist on screaming insults at anyone who disagrees with you, no one is going to want to talk to you.

    @Sambarge: We aren’t talking about rational dialogue. We are talking about angry confrontational debate.

    I won’t side track this conversation by asking you to provide proof of the fact that you were treated differently than your male peers or that your experience is the norm. But I will say that the debate above is not saying “all women don’t like angry confrontational debates”. We are just talking about statistics.

    @HappyNats: Your comment is nothing but insults and the racist and sexist desire to judge Harris’s comments based on his race and gender.

    @David: just because you highlighted those portions of the statement does not change the meaning. Harris is still suggesting that women are less likely to enjoy angry confrontational debate.

    @Onamission5: The “male voice”, “male lens”? Now you are sounding more like Harris by suggesting that talking about Atheism could be done in a male voice somehow. No we are talking about type of debates, not the “male lens” of Atheism, whatever that is.

    @Ariel: Good point. Does everyone across the world have the same idea of what it means to be nonreligious? If not, how does that affect the survey?

    @dereksmear: That is because Harris HAS been misrepresented. He was talking about angry confrontational debates, not any discussion of issues at all.

    @Seven of Mine: Wrong. He said that critical books “can sound very angry to people” which is what he was suggesting the women are more likely to avoid. It is clear from the quote that his term “critical posture” refers to “angry” debate (a word he used in the sentence before), not any discussion what so ever.

    @Giliell: I don’t need to have been a woman in order to understand how they feel. All I have to do is talk to them, which I have. My experiences with talking with women and with seeing women in culture suggests that women on average are less likely to enjoy angry debate. Science will be the ultimate judge, but it doesn’t make sense to say that you can’t know anything about someone else unless you are them. No one would say “well I guess we have to throw out all of those political polls because we aren’t them so we can’t be sure how they feel even after we asked them.”

    @Jackie: I think a lot of the women I know (including my mother) would be insulted by the idea that just because they don’t enjoy angry debates that this somehow means that they are Dixie conservatives.

  29. 36

    @Marcus: Maybe you are right and the reason women don’t get into as many confrontational debates is because society criticizes them for it. But there are too many people on this thread that are angry that I suggested at all that women are less likely to enjoy getting into confrontational debates.

  30. 37

    Certainly in general the men I know are more likely to have fun debating each other than the women I know. (yes, I know that it is just my experience I am basing this on. Anyone who disagrees with me is basing it on their own experience too.

    No, people may disagree with you on the basis that your personal experience is a laughably insufficient data set upon which make any type of meaningful conclusion. #falsedichotomy #nullhypothesis

  31. 38

    @Mr. Fire: So you think that yours is better? How could people disagree with me unless they were using their personal experiences to do it? I haven’t seen any scientific papers listed on this thread concerning gender and confrontational debate. Yes science is important, but this whole “you can’t trust your own experiences” is ridiculous. My experiences may not be science but they do give me a good start on which way the truth may be. If I can’t trust my experiences, why should I trust the experiences of any woman (or man) who disagrees with me?

  32. 39

    I’ve just done the lazy, quick, scroll down to put in my two cents:

    First:
    WHAT TERRIFIC NEWS FROM WIN-Gallup!
    Even if the sample turns out to be skewed, the data shows that the ‘chicks are all woo-addled new-agers’ cliché is false. Or has a damn’ good chance of being false, which is nearly as uplifting.

    Second:
    The question is raised about how the notion that reason/skepticism/atheism are ‘guy things’ gets spread and perpetuated. I have to report that my *subjective* experience is that women are far more likely to be consumers of astrology-tarot-orthorexic eating-etc. etc. But then, I’m not asking men about such stuff. Maybe its the dating culture at fault?

  33. 40

    too many people on this thread that are angry that I suggested at all that women are less likely to enjoy getting into confrontational debates

    And how many of them are women, confrontationally debating with you, precious?

  34. 41

    Sam Winston @34:

    @Tony!: I have been searching for a scientific study on this issue without success. It is difficult to come up with the keywords that would find what I want but not get buried in other studies that aren’t relevant. I do applaud you for at least being open to the idea of testing this question via the scientific method. I don’t think it is so good, however, that you and others will dismiss it completely until such proof is offered. I think letting ideology (that there is no or almost no biological differences between the sexes) bind your views doesn’t help critical thinking. What I am suggesting would not be that outrageous to most people. Yes the ultimate test is science, but I would argue that your ideology just makes you drag your feet more than perhaps is necessary.

    Do you know who else has beliefs not backed by evidence? Theists. You know, all those people who believe in gods. They have absolutely no evidence to back their beliefs, yet they believe in deities anyway.
    It’s one thing to hold an opinion about what your favorite ice cream is. That has no bearing on the way the world around you works. It’s quite another thing to assert things about the nature of reality that are not in evidence.
    If I told you that I can walk on water, would you believe that, or would you ask for evidence?
    If I told you that all 500 women gave birth without ever being pregnant, would you believe it?

    Is it a good idea to have beliefs about the nature of reality that are not based on evidence? Worse, it is a good idea to share those beliefs with others as if they’re true?

    In the end, assertions about the nature of reality or human nature presented without evidence can be and ought to be dismissed.

    Incidentally, I never said there is no, or almost no difference between the sexes. You’ve attributed that to me, and that’s highly dishonest.

  35. 42

    Sam Winston @35:

    But there are too many people on this thread that are angry that I suggested at all that women are less likely to enjoy getting into confrontational debates.

    Unless you’re a mind reader, you have no way of knowing the emotional state of the commenters in this thread. You cannot base your knowledge of people’s emotions on their comments on a blog.
    People have called you out bc you have no evidence to back your assertion up, yet you treat it as if it is true. You are refusing to verify if your biases (which you are attempting to apply to an aspect of how the world works) are actually reflective of reality.
    You need to ask yourself “Are women less likely to enjoy getting into confrontational debates” and then research that question before reaching a conclusion.

  36. 43

    Sam Winston @37:

    Yes science is important, but this whole “you can’t trust your own experiences” is ridiculous. My experiences may not be science but they do give me a good start on which way the truth may be. If I can’t trust my experiences, why should I trust the experiences of any woman (or man) who disagrees with me?

    You can trust them…to a point.
    But you’re exceeding that point. You’re generalizing your experiences. You’re treating your beliefs as if they accurately reflect reality, but you have no evidence to support them. You just assume they’re true. That’s not how reality works, and if you were honestly interested in determining whether your opinions were true, you’d do the necessary research to determine that.

    Also, people who disagree with you are not required to present evidence. Only the person making the assertion must provide the evidence. The burden of proof is upon you. You’ve made a claim. Now back it up.

  37. 44

    @John the Drunkard: Absolutely no one believes that “chicks are all woo-addled new-agers”. That would mean that new agers would make up half the population, which is obviously false.

    Atheism was viewed as a guy thing because most of the people in it were guys. I think it is an important to shed this view because it limits who would join the movement. However saying that angry confrontational debate turns women off is not the same thing as saying women shouldn’t be part of the movement.

    @Tony!: I didn’t say that I didn’t have any evidence. A lifetime of interacting with men and women gives me good reason to believe what I said. It isn’t as good as a scientific study, but it is good reason to consider it the best theory for me so far. If there is no scientific study, then it makes sense to use the evidence I see around me to make a tentative belief. If you think there should be more evidence, then you shouldn’t dismiss my ideas. You should instead seek out more evidence. Without a scientific theory, my theory is as good as any other. We reject Theists because they seek to add something on top of reality for which there is no evidence. What I wrote about does have evidence even if there is not a scientific study yet and it is a possible answer for something that exists (fewer women readers of Atheist books). You just seem to be dismissing the theory because it goes against your ideological views, not for any logical reason.

  38. 45

    Sam Winston, what Sam Harris said can be boiled down to “women don’t do critical thinky”. Why are you so determined to defend that? Do you think women don’t do thinky?

    And I, as a woman who uses her critical thinking skills and who also happens to be an open atheist, say “Fuck that and the sexist stereotype it portrays.”

  39. 46

    “you can’t trust your own experiences”

    Confirmation bias. You can trust your experiences, mostly. You can also trust that you will not notice, forget, or dismiss things that don’t fit your worldview.

    Speaking of which, you can also trust this experience. You do know you are commenting in a thread in which a woman is posting something angry and confrontational about sexism in the atheist and skeptic communities, don’t you? A topic in which hundreds, maybe thousands, of angry women have been angrily confronting people like Sam Harris? For years? Maybe decades?

    Claim women don’t like confrontation based on your experience, and then conveniently dismiss the women angrily confronting you. While they are angrily confronting you.

    *headdesk*

    Let me guess, next stop: feminism, the annoying sounds angry women make and why I tune it out.

  40. 47

    leni (#45)

    Claim women don’t like confrontation based on your experience, and then conveniently dismiss the women angrily confronting you. While they are angrily confronting you.

    Men’s anger is actually Vulcan-like objective reasoning, and women’s anger is irrational hysteria. When men get confrontational, it’s a valiant evisceration of bad ideas, and when women get confrontational, it’s premenstrual bitchiness. There’s simply no way to disprove nonsense like Harris’ or Winston’s by example because of the circular definitions and begged questions underpinning it.

  41. 48

    However saying that angry confrontational debate turns women off is not the same thing as saying women shouldn’t be part of the movement.

    Yes, it kind of is. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but angry women don’t get treated very well in this culture.

    In a culture where angry debate is kind of the gold standard, women are in a no-win situation. If we get angry, we’re feminazis or bitches who need to be targeted with years of threats and abuse as punishment. If we aren’t angry enough, we’re ineffective and deficient and probably only good for fucking at meet-ups and for helping people like you feel like you deserve a fucking prize for not being Michael Pearl. Do you think women leave the sexism of their churches only to have it thrown at them from a slightly more to the left and with a psuedo-science veneer of narcissistic bullshit?

    Look, women can hear that shit any day in pretty much any church they might stumble into. For free. They don’t need to buy Sam Harris books to hear it again with a slightly different spin. So they are leaving churches. They just aren’t flocking to the atheist and skeptic movements, and for fucking once, maybe we should consider that the problem isn’t women and our genetic inability to be as awesome as men. Maybe it’s really just people like you.

  42. 51

    I may come back to comment more later when I have time, but I had to point out the sweet irony that I have Mr. Fire dismissing my theory because he feels that a lifetime of experience should be considered the same as no evidence whatsoever and at the same time I have sambarge angry because I suggested that it would be good to get more evidence because her personal experience may not necessarily be the same as that of most women’s (the same way that I said that it would be good to get more evidence for my theory).

    So what I have learned here is that men’s experiences can’t be trusted, but women’s experiences can be taken on faith that they represent society. Thanks for clearing that up, guys!

  43. 52

    Also, people on this thread like Leni dismissed me when I said that women were less likely to enjoy confrontational debate, but then in her very next post she says that society looks down on women who argue, thus providing reasons why women may not enjoy confrontational debate! Arguing against me in one post, giving evidence to support my theory in the next post, all while clueless that she was doing so.

    The lesson again, people: Don’t make negative assumptions about others just because it fits your ideology. Try to respond to what people ACTUALLY say.

  44. 53

    The timing on this post is fortuitous because I am currently reading the book Society Without God by Phil Zuckerman, in which he investigates how Denmark and Sweden became the most irreligious countries on Earth. (He does talk about and present data from many other countries as well, but most of his in-person research was in Scandinavia).

    Just after reading this blog entry I returned to reading the book, and the very next section was on “Working Women”, in a chapter in which he reviews several theories on how these countries became so irreligious. One of these theories is that as women become less involved in religion, their husbands and children follow, and as these Scandinavian countries now have very high rates of gender equality (compared to the rest of the world), more women are highly educated and working outside the home, and may have less interest in religion as a result.

    But more to the point of your blog – In this section he says “If there is one thing we know about religion, it is this: women are more religious than men, on all measures. Whatever indicator one wants to look at – whether in terms of church attendance, frequency of prayer, or faith in God – women always score higher than men. And that seems to hold true in all societies, including Scandinavia.”

    To back up the above claims, he cites studies from the British Journal of Sociology, American Journal of Sociology, and a couple of other sources; I have not personally reviewed these sources yet, and I neither endorse nor reject any conclusions the author has made (especially as I haven’t finished reading the book yet!).

    Greta, have you read this book? I’m very curious what you think of it if so.

  45. 54

    …Leni dismissed me when I said that women were less likely to enjoy confrontational debate, but then in her very next post she says that society looks down on women who argue, thus providing reasons why women may not enjoy confrontational debate!

    Right, but you seem to be arguing about innate (biological) differences between sexes, while Leni is talking about learned behaviors. The argument you’re presenting seems to be “Women intrinsically dislike confrontation and debate”, while Leni is saying “Women who get into confrontational debates tend to be dismissed, condescended to, or threatened because of their gender. Therefore, many women end up disliking debate due to previous experience.” See how those are different?

  46. 55

    Also, I’m sorry, but I don’t really trust your judgement, Sam Winston, when you say that your experience is that women aren’t very interested in debate and confrontation. Look at all the women debating you right here in this thread. Reread the OP–Greta can be quite confrontational herself. Are you noticing those things right now, or are you throwing out all this evidence that’s right in front of you due to confirmation bias?

    No, no single person’s experience is representative of all aspects of our society. We have to average across many people’s experiences in order to come up with some sort of aggregate. So, unless someone here can find a more scientific survey, we should be listening to everyone’s experiences and averaging them together. Your experience is yours, but it doesn’t count any more than mine or sambarge’s, or anyone else’s.

  47. 56

    So what I have learned here is that men’s experiences can’t be trusted, but women’s experiences can be taken on faith that they represent society. Thanks for clearing that up, guys!

    Well, what you claimed to “learn” and what you should have learned are two different things.

    That link you just dismissed was Cal Sagan saying:

    I’m frequently asked, “Do you believe there’s extraterrestrial intelligence?” I give the standard arguments- there are a lot of places out there, the molecules of life are everywhere, I use the word billions, and so on. Then I say it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial intelligence, but of course there is as yet no compelling evidence for it.
    Often, I’m asked next, “What do you really think?”
    I say, “I just told you what I really think.”
    “Yes, but what’s your gut feeling?”
    But I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble. Really, it’s okay to reserve judgment until the evidence is in.”

    As long as we are all good with thinking with our guts*, please tell us, what is your gut’s explanation for the under-representation of brown people in the atheist and skeptic communities?

    Do they also have more lady genes that make them super nurturing and conflict averse??

    Seriously this could be a huge scientific breakthough. Science needs you!

    *relevant part begins at ~1:30 🙂

  48. 57

    Also, people on this thread like Leni dismissed me when I said that women were less likely to enjoy confrontational debate…

    cactusren beat me to it. Sorry I was enjoying watching Colbert angrily confront Bush and laughing about the gut thing. But it’s true. My lady genes cried the whole time and I just hate that mean Colbert! Probably I just need to ovulate or something already.

    No, I dismissed your lazy, psuedo-scientific, self-serving “reasons” for why some women don’t want argue about religion as self-serving bullshit that conveniently lays the blame on everyone else.

  49. 58

    The post does not start off on the right footing.

    GC said: ” In fact, globally, women are slightly more likely to be atheists than men (although that difference is small, probably too small to be significant)”.

    Atheist census does not agree with this claim.

    http://www.atheistcensus.com/

  50. 59

    m0fa: Look at where the data for the atheist census come from: about 1/3 of respondents are from the US, and very few are from China or Japan. Whereas in the study Greta linked to, the sampling was even between the different countries. But the OP explicitly states that there is a gender skew in atheism in the US, and points out that this isn’t universal. So there’s no conflict between the surveys–what’s shown in the atheist census is exactly what you would expect when the data is largely drawn from the US and other western nations.

  51. 60

    So, Sam Winston, what’s your opinion on why the majority of atheists* are white?

    What is inherent about white people that makes them more likely to be atheists?
    Any thoughts?

    (*By this I mean visibly active folks in the atheist movement – I’m not trying to read minds here.)

  52. 61

    Re Sam Winston: Ordinarily, I might have more patience for Sam Winston’s comments here. I might have more patience with his willful ignorance of extensive evidence on how women are pressured to be non-confrontational and non-critical; with his willful ignorance of extensive evidence on how the stereotypes of women as innately nurturing and men as innately critical do damage to both women and men; with his refusal to pay attention to basic points that get made over and over again; with his insistence that Harris didn’t say what he has been quoted as saying in actual words; and with his condescending attitude towards people who are much better informed about these issues than he is.

    But I’m on a book tour. I don’t have access to my computer for most of the day, and I’m not able to moderate this discussion closely, or to participate in it fully. Plus I’m very tired, and I don’t want to spend the two or three hours of down time I have each day paying attention to this ignorant, condescending, sexist bullshit.

    Sam Winston has been placed in comment moderation. Any future comments from him will have to be approved by me before they get posted. That approval (or lack thereof) will be less prompt than usual — again, I’m on the road. I apologize for that inconvenience.

  53. 63

    m0fa @ #58, cactusren @ #59

    Furthermore, data collection for the atheist census relies on individuals a) being aware of it and b) being willing to participate (and have online access) all which can further skew the numbers. The Gallup report, on the other hand, is considerably more rigorous in its recruitment methodology, using multiple methods and probability sampling/weighting its data. This means that, while not perfect, the Gallup poll is likely to be more accurate.

    If this is going too far off topic, I apologize. I just wanted to add my two cents on the subject, in case others had similar concerns as those noted by m0fa.

  54. 64

    Sam Winston:

    I may come back to comment more later when I have time, but I had to point out the sweet irony that I have Mr. Fire dismissing my theory because he feels that a lifetime of experience should be considered the same as no evidence whatsoever and at the same time I have sambarge angry because I suggested that it would be good to get more evidence because her personal experience may not necessarily be the same as that of most women’s (the same way that I said that it would be good to get more evidence for my theory).

    Hrm… But you’re not talking about your personal experience. You’re talking about your observations of what other people “enjoy.” Where as Sambarge is talking about events that happened to her and things people told her directly. Do you really really really not see the difference?

    Also, people on this thread like Leni dismissed me when I said that women were less likely to enjoy confrontational debate, but then in her very next post she says that society looks down on women who argue, thus providing reasons why women may not enjoy confrontational debate! Arguing against me in one post, giving evidence to support my theory in the next post, all while clueless that she was doing so.

    See, here is your whole problem. You seem to think all end results are equal, regardless of the cause. A woman may very much enjoy confrontational debate, but if each time she does, she is not debated, but is dismissed and discouraged, she won’t do it. You are equating “not doing” with “not enjoying.” Sam Harris said “critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women.” Intrinsically. That is saying it’s internal without external pressures. So pointing out discouragement is not evidence for your theory, or else your theory in no way supports what Sam Harris said because he stated it was an intrinsic part of maleness.

    His statement perpetuates the discouragement.

  55. 65

    Radioactive Element (#64)

    Sam Harris said “critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women.” Intrinsically. That is saying it’s internal without external pressures.

    To recycle what I just said on another thread, this breaks down the second one realizes that feminism has been critical posture turned up to eleven since it came into existence. Harris is indulging in some particularly idiotic special pleading here.

  56. 66

    @ Sam Winston

    @Seven of Mine: Wrong. He said that critical books “can sound very angry to people” which is what he was suggesting the women are more likely to avoid. It is clear from the quote that his term “critical posture” refers to “angry” debate (a word he used in the sentence before), not any discussion what so ever.

    I didn’t say “critical posture” referred to ” any discussion what so ever” either. If you’re going to address me, kindly read my actual words first, please and thanks.

    It very well may be that gender differences help explain what groups are attractive to each gender.

    Yes, it may be. And ya know what? As soon as you find a large group of people of all genders who are in no way influenced by their culture or any kind of socialization, then it will actually be possible to test theory. In the mean time though, it’s nothing but a lot of sexist assumptions.

  57. 67

    I’ve been shocked at the failure of reading comprehension on these blogs and comments, and stupified at how much disrespectful, pointless argument is going on between what ought to be fellow liberal atheists. Greta, you seem to have completely missed the subtlty Sam put into his choice of words, and so this whole blog post is a disfunctional waste of time – including all the commenters that almost seem to make an emotional living off bashing any commenters that disagree with the bloggers. I’ve often wondered why research has been showing that within the people who read newspapers daily – or post/comment obsessively – is an odd peak of people that are not well-informed. Well, PZ, you, and your comment-police have shown be precisely why that is. You people are spending an astounding quantity of time misinterpretting PEOPLE WHO YOU BASICALLY AGREE WITH ON ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS TO ALL OF US (I’d put the disagreement at around 1-5%, on average) when there is a whole world of complete bastards for whom we all disagree on almost everything – and they vote, too. The energy you are putting into these divisive posts and comments is creating a kind of FOX NEWS polarization effect that is leaving everyone more stupid than if we were being civil and careful in our communications – AMONG ALLIES – and fostering deliberate consideration rather than chains of knee-jerk judgement dominos that are stunningly often based on misinterpretations. I mean – that’s the functional definition of what’s so wrong about FOX news!

    So before I hit delete on following anything that continues to be so discordant as these blogs and commenters, I will just say 2 things – commenters on PZ’s posts said I should read the book Delusions of Gender. I started it today, but if that author doesn’t get to any of the twin studies that have allowed us to actually quantify the impact of nature and nurture, my head is going to explode. It boggles my mind that anyone can be cognizant of the concept that injections of a sex hormone induces clinically measuarable and significant personality effects, that twin sutides show the impact of all “nature” factors (including genes and gene-culture/environment feedbacks) show about a 40% significant on identity, and yet the notion that SOME *FRACTION* of the “pay gap” or the gender differential in Sam Harris’ fans could POSSIBLY be related to a few extremely subtle yet fundamental differences between men and women – some of which are products of our current culture, sure – but others which are truly exogenous factors that neural plasticity and whatever kind of “free will” / “individual choice”you believe in can overcome – WITHOUT CREATING YET ANOTHER DIFFERENCE-INDUCING FEEDBACK. Since reading comprehension is so bad around here, let me clarify that – I am saying that our society is still sexist, the pay gap really is due to some degree of cultural sexism, and Sam Harris allegedly has a gender differential among his fans – which ought to be sufficient evidence that there exists some set of factors that induce men to like Sam a bit mroe than women.

    I’m avoiding the “local” atheism demographics topic because I simply don’t know what the demographics are, other than your survey.

    But I think you’ve missed a key detail in the very data you cite to make the case for “local” fluctuations being caused by culture – If American culture can have have that effect on the demographics of the US, how do you dis-entangle the nature-vs-nurture biases in the global statistics?

    How would you ever KNOW that gender is 100.000000% a non-factor in formulating individual identity? How can you assume that, in a perfect world, gender demographics related to… everything…? will be 50.0%/50.0%, and any deviation from that is proof of cultural oppression of women?

    Most importantly, how do you ever know what comprises a truly gender-neutral culture? How do you presume to know that? Because we’re talking about the formation of a culture that is then imparted on children – like religion has been. You had better get it absolutely right if you intend to master-plan culture this way. How do you know you aren’t just creating a new form of oppression – especially since you will inevitably be pushing some number of women to change their lives so as to balance out the gender demographic statistics? How is that even indistinguishable from methods of oppression that have used smiling-pushes to siubtly influence individuals?

    Again – I’m not saying we lack for sexism to uproot. We can do a lot. But I’m saying that your confidence seems to overstep what you can ever possibly know – IN PRINCIPLE – and so if left unchecked, will grow to become another kind of oppression.

    To use the pay-gap as a proxy for all of this – suppose we get the pay gap down to a level where women on average make about 5% less than men in equivalent jobs, with a survey sample error of 3%. WIll we have solved sexism? How would you ever know?

    I personally don’t think we will ever solve sexism because, even if you could erase knowledge of our historuy (which by itself would tend to convey some sexist perspectives to some number of individuals, if we are talking about a “free” society) sexism (and stereotyping, generally) arises as an artifact of the cognitive biases of the human brain. We can work to educate people on their brains and help them see their biases – but individual thought freedom inevitably means that some will disagree with you and your goals – and the harder you push, the harder they will push back – all in the name of anti-oppression! Will you excute all Amish people, to take just the most glaring example? Is ideological genocide moral? And how could you make such decisions in a universe where we, all of us here, agree that there is no absolute meaning to live, and no way to declare in absolute terms what is “good” or “bad”, among the things that stable sub-cultures choose for themselves, over and over again, generation after generation, even after being exposed to your ideas?

    This disagreement on what a non-sexist culture looks like is not one that arises as a failure of one or the other side to understand some facet of sexism. We get it. We’re with you. Some of us are even women – about half, I think! But we are telling you that we disagree with you about what a non-sexist culture looks like, how you would measure it, and what it would take to create it, once we’ve elliminated all the obvious sexism that still exists today. That’s all. There is a fundamental tradeoff between individual liberty/identy, and the molding of an optimal culture. Once you get close to an optimal society, increasing one starts to diminish the other. Perfection – 100% random demographic equivalence – is impossible – and believing it is is religious thinking – a belief unsupported by evidence. Stop the infighting over pointless shades of perfection.

  58. 69

    @ Jared Hansen

    How would you ever KNOW that gender is 100.000000% a non-factor in formulating individual identity? How can you assume that, in a perfect world, gender demographics related to… everything…? will be 50.0%/50.0%, and any deviation from that is proof of cultural oppression of women?

    This right here is a perfect summary of how utterly vapid your criticisms are. Nobody is assuming everything will be 50/50. What we’re doing is actually understanding how science works and admitting that culture and socialization exist. Nobody is immune to it. Everyone is infused with their culture and socialized to behave a certain way. Until and unless someone finds a way to control for that, nobody has any business claiming anything to be intrinsically male or female. That’s how science works. Before you can study whether X causes Y, you have to first acknowledge that A, B, C and D may also cause Y and you have to devise an experiment wherein you’re absolutely certain that A, B, C and D aren’t at play. If you haven’t done that, you have no business claiming X causes Y. In this case, on this particular subject, there Is. No. Way. to isolate socialized behaviors from biologically inherent behaviors because nobody exists in a vacuum. What Sam Harris is doing and what you’re defending is making a claim that X causes Y without first controlling for confounding factors which is Study Methodology 101.

    And that’s why people are “beating up on you”, you poor precious little thing. Because you’re not even wrong. You’re “if we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys” wrong.

  59. 71

    #59, #63
    I am highly skeptical of the WIN-Gallop Study findings…China’s data does cause an exaggerated finding…China is so large and its ‘weight’ does skew findings. Take China out of the study and then see what results. In China the definition of ‘Atheist’ is different to the rest of the world.

    From Wikipedia:

    “A survey was conducted in 2012 by the Chinese Family Panel Studies in 25 Han-majority provinces, representing 95% of the total population of China, excluding the autonomous regions of Hong Kong, Macau, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Ningxia, and the provinces of Qinghai and Hainan.[64] The results show that only around 10% of the population of these provinces belongs to organised religions: 6.75% are Buddhists, 1.89% are Protestants, 0.54% are Taoists, 0.46% are Muslims, 0.41% are Catholics, and 0.40% has declared adherence to another religion.[64] Although about 90% of respondents self-identified as “irreligious”, the authors estimate that only 6.3% of all respondents are truly irreligious (as in they neither believe nor worship gods or spirits). The authors hypothesize that many of the respondents might have a biased understanding of religion and what it means to be religious.[65] “

  60. 73

    m0fa says

    Atheist census does not agree with this claim.

    The results of the Atheist Census (which isn’t a census) only show the composition of the self-selecting group that visited the website. Given that it was largely promoted within the atheism movement, the results only confirm (so far as shoddy methodology can confirm anything) the uncontested fact that the atheist movement is male dominated. It says nothing about atheism in general.

  61. 75

    m0fa @ 71,

    Just pop up to the OP for a minute and click on the link. You’ll see that numbers quoted are percentage of whatever in each population, whether that population is large or small. There is no way the fact that there are more people in China could possibly skew a percentage. Is there?

    When they extrapolate from individual countries to global population they will be using the tried and tested methods of weighting which ensure that neither size of population nor number sampled there can distort the end result.

    This is, after all, Gallup who have been refining their methodology since the 1930s and it says in several places in that summary that the weighting method is explained in the full paper. Statistics 101, I think.

  62. 76

    Jared Hansen @ #67: See #61 above. Jared Hansen has been put into comment moderation, for the same reasons Sam Winston has been put into comment moderation. (With a side note of “Seriously? This? Again?” for the “divisive” argument.) Any future comments from him will have to be approved by me before they get posted. That approval (or lack thereof) will be less prompt than usual — I’m on the road. I apologize for that inconvenience.

  63. 77

    From the WIN/Gallup link:

    The global average has been computed according to the share of the covered adult population of the surveyed countries.

    Wouldya lookit that? WIN-Gallup knows how to statistics without m0fa’s help.

    Also, the study m0fa is referencing in 71 isn’t the same study. The links in the footnotes are all in Chinese so I have no idea what, if anything, it says about the study’s methodology.

  64. 78

    Well, in a different universe, people would notice that there’s a gender disparancy in atheism in pretty much of the west, that there’s a race disparancy in the USA, etc. and then they would ask people from those groups why they think that this is, what obstacles are and so on.
    Women might tell them that they often feel uncomfortable in a boys club, about harassment and violence. They might also mention factors outside the atheist “community” like the fact that the less economically independent women are, the more they need to rely on social support that is provided by religious institutions, about the extreme penalties they face for leaving religion. In a different universe people would then say “let’s fix this, especially those things that lie within our own community!”
    In our universe women still tell all these things, they talk about socialisation, they show you actual research done on the subject. As a reaction they get rape and death threats and prominent figures speculate about innate differences and lack of estrogen vibe.
    If it weren’t for the rape and death threats we might think we had only imagined saying something….

  65. 79

    Note to people following this comment thread: A commenter has requested that their comments in this thread be deleted. I rarely do this, but am doing so in this case. Comment numbering and references to other comments may be garbled because of this. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

  66. 81

    Mr. Fire dismissing my theory because he feels that a lifetime of experience should be considered the same as no evidence whatsoever

    Of course, I said no such thing. I said:

    your personal experience is a laughably insufficient data set upon which make any type of meaningful conclusion.

    Do you have the intellectual depth to discern the fundamental difference between my quote, and your Strawman Fallacy? Do I need to continue to keep score of all the logical fallacies that you seem determined to accumulate ?

    Or are you simply as committed to being as lazy and as sloppy a thinker as Sam Harris?

  67. 82

    Sam Winston @42:

    @Tony!: I didn’t say that I didn’t have any evidence. A lifetime of interacting with men and women gives me good reason to believe what I said. It isn’t as good as a scientific study, but it is good reason to consider it the best theory for me so far. If there is no scientific study, then it makes sense to use the evidence I see around me to make a tentative belief. If you think there should be more evidence, then you shouldn’t dismiss my ideas. You should instead seek out more evidence.

    The burden of proof is not upon me. You have these views you’re sharing with the world. You treat these views as if they’re an accurate reflection of reality. You provide no evidence that this is the case. I reject them because as Hitchens said:
    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

  68. 83

    Also, Sam Winston:

    You just seem to be dismissing the theory because it goes against your ideological views, not for any logical reason.

    Has nothing to do with ideology. I reject your opinion because you’ve given me no reason to think it accurately reflects reality. You’ve merely made an assertion. I have no reason to believe what you say without the evidence to back it up, and it’s not my job to seek out that evidence. Yet you cling to your ideology like a theist clings to their unevidenced claims about a god existing. Just like them, you respond to criticism by saying “the evidence is out there, go find it”. I dismiss their claims about reality just as I dismiss yours.

  69. 85

    It’s understandable why he would assume most atheists are men, not that he should’ve talked about his assumptions, as if they were fact. I mean most people don’t yell out and argue their religious affiliation, but those who do, seem to be men. Of course that is just another assumption. But on the topic of angrily arguing, I’m disappointed that it appears you (Greta) haven’t responded to that message I sent you on Facebook, (the second one is more important than the first) I know you probably have plenty of messages and replies to everyone of your posts, and it might seem slightly ridiculous to expect you to read mine. However if you do get a chance to read it, I want to say I wish I made revisions. Like how, I shouldn’t’ve tried to explain my reasoning’s for not reading your book, despite only discovering you the day before. I’m sorry to say that if you were someone who got insulted because one person didn’t read all of your books, you wouldn’t be much worth talking to, plus out of all the hundreds of messages you get I know you haven’t read mine, so were even! Period.

  70. 86

    P.S. In the article you talked about you also being a women, are you really at liberty to speak on behalf of women? Or at least from what I’ve heard some gays are basically people born into the wrong gender period, and the others are some were in between thinking like a man and thinking like a women. I guess your trying to say your brains wiring is completely female except for who you are attracted to… Or I’m just plain wrong :-p.

  71. 87

    P.S. In the article you talked about you also being a women, are you really at liberty to speak on behalf of women? Or at least from what I’ve heard some gays are basically people born into the wrong gender period, and the others are some were in between thinking like a man and thinking like a women. I guess your trying to say your brains wiring is completely female except for who you are attracted to… Or I’m just plain wrong :-p.

    You are not even wrong.

    (I can say that, can’t I?)

  72. 88

    #76
    “Women might tell them that they often feel uncomfortable in a boys club, about harassment and violence”…
    What an interesting theory.

    But ‘violence’? Really? Endemic violence in atheist meet-ups? Maybe a touch of hysteria here?

    If one was to go to a yoga class, or a Les Mills Body Balance Class, one is more likely to find far far more women than men…

    Why?

    Girls and boys like different things!…often have different interests…are drawn toward different areas of human endeavour at times…sure they share common interests of course but you will find more men at motor sport stadiums and more women in fashion shops.

    Dr. Money proved to us all, when his (ignorant, arrogant) ‘experiment’ went terribly wrong, that boys and girls are different. There is a 70/30% split in the Western Societies when it comes to atheism…Women in the West are more religious than men…one of the sexes had to be (nothing ever is exactly 50/50).

    #75
    “Also, the study m0fa is referencing in 71 isn’t the same study.”

    I never implied that it was the same study! But I agree with what this second study is saying. The majority of Chinese and South East Asian people that I know, have studied with, have worked with, and have met over the last 30 years are highly superstitious…most of them believe in ghosts and spirits. I believe that the majority of the Chinese population that have been classed as ‘atheist’ by the WIN-Gallup study would not qualify as atheist to us in the West if a more rigorous questionnaire had be used by Gallop.
    I am therefore dubious about the findings and conclusions of this study. I am more confident in the Atheist Census findings…and so we don’t have much input from China in the AC study…so what?
    The Atheist Census involves many many countries and when you look at each individual countries data there is a consistency in regard to the gender split…take a look at Australia, Germany, Greece, NZ, UK etc and you will find a consistent 30/70 or 25/75 split…this tells me more than a poll done by Gallup where they count the majority of China as being atheist (when a majority of these people believe in ghosts, and spirits and demons and burn (pseudo) money for the ghosts of their ancestors and put silly cats with waving paws on shopfront counters to bring customers into shops, allow feng shui to affect their daily lives, put such importance on the luck of number ‘8’ and the colour ‘red’ etc.)
    Where the Gallup study and the AC differ in their findings could be a result of ‘bad’ survey design or to liberal a definition of who counts as an atheist by Gallup.
    Just a little musing by me, I am not in a position to have the answer…but my suggestion is far more likely than the suggestion that women in the West have a fear of ‘violence’ at atheist meetups!

  73. 89

    @ m0fa

    but my suggestion is far more likely than the suggestion that women in the West have a fear of ‘violence’ at atheist meetups!

    Crap m0fa made up is more likely than the actual testimony of actual women who actually feel unsafe at atheist meetups because….? Why, because m0fa says so, of course!

  74. 90

    m0fa,

    You are the perfect illustration of the very problem you claim does not exist.

    As for violence, well, assault is a crime of violence and touching someone sexually without their active agreement is sexual assault. In the UK (and many other places) the maximum sentence for sexual assault is life.

    I think you need to recalibrate your definitions to incorporate both the law and the reality of people’s experience.

    And do stop using words like hysteria – they reveal your idleness about new questions and, quite possibly, your malign intent.

  75. 91

    M0fa, feng shui and belief in ghosts are no more religion in the East than psychokinesis and belief in ghosts in the West.

    Thank you, Greta, for putting the brakes on Sam Winston’s motorized goalposts.

    Sam Harris’s jump from “I don’t see many women buying my books” to “women must be intrinsically different” is not supported by evidence.

  76. 92

    Interesting that Jared Hansen didn’t bother answering the uncomfy question he was asked:
    If he is willing to ascribe the difference in rates of atheism based on gender to an inherent gender difference, what does that say about a similar racial divide?

    To put it another way, if there’s something inherent about women that makes atheism a ‘man’ thing, what is it about POC that makes it a ‘white’ thing?
    And if you can attribute the latter to environmental rather than inherent factors, why not the former?

    This question didn’t go away just ’cause you ignored it.

  77. 93

    Women care about politics and other important issues, but they are less likely to enjoy confrontational debates with people than men are, even if it is done in a consensual diplomatic way.

    Just to pile in:
    Have you ever noticed how often women are interrupted by men in debates?
    Have you ever considered experiences of male violence or agression might condition women to avoid confrontation?
    Have you never heard a man loudly proclaiming his ignorant opinion to surrounding women in nondiplomatic ways?
    Have you ever tried examining you own biases when talking to women?
    Have you yourself felt at risk during “intellectual” debates?
    Have you ever listened to how often women get ignored when they venture opinions?
    Have you ever seen women approached by stuck up men starting up nonconsensual conversations?

    If not, have you asked any women with experience of this. I’ve tried asking these questions myself: it’s still difficult but I think I can see many of the reasons women don’t tend to love those “diplomatic” debates. Privilege. Door. Check it.

  78. 94

    m0fa:

    But ‘violence’? Really? Endemic violence in atheist meet-ups? Maybe a touch of hysteria here?

    If one was to go to a yoga class, or a Les Mills Body Balance Class, one is more likely to find far far more women than men…

    Why?

    Girls and boys like different things!…often have different interests…are drawn toward different areas of human endeavour at times…sure they share common interests of course but you will find more men at motor sport stadiums and more women in fashion shops.

    Question for you m0fa, are you saying these differences are intrinsic or do you think there are complex sociological reasons that create a public perception of what women and men (and boys and girls) should be interested in? Like the kind of pushback or general atmosphere difference a man or women receive when they step out of the spheres they should be within. Have you ever seen a parent take a “wrong gendered” toy away from a young child because it’s not “for boys” or not “for girls”?

  79. 95

    mofa

    But ‘violence’? Really? Endemic violence in atheist meet-ups? Maybe a touch of hysteria here?

    Well, some women might have gotten raped, some women might have been sexually assaulted, and yeah, the authorities took those reports and ignored them, but don’t you think that calling rape and assault violence takes it a bit too far?
    Bonus points for the use of “hysteria”. Thank you very much, my uterus is in good condition and in its supposed location.

    Girls and boys like different things!…often have different interests…are drawn toward different areas of human endeavour at times…sure they share common interests of course but you will find more men at motor sport stadiums and more women in fashion shops.
    And your evidence that this is actually intrinsic and not the way society limits all people to a whoomping number of two artificially constructed sets of identity is?
    Funny, 200 years ago horses were for boys, now they’re girly. I never knew evolution happens that fast in slowly reproducing species and that there’s such an advantage for girl-deemed people to like horses.
    Also, ever since my daughter watched brave she is very interested in swords. May, the movie probably triggered her second X chromosome to she an arm…

  80. 97

    But on the topic of angrily arguing, I’m disappointed that it appears you (Greta) haven’t responded to that message I sent you on Facebook, (the second one is more important than the first) I know you probably have plenty of message

    cass @ #82: I do, in fact, get huge numbers of emails and messages, and can only reply to a small number of them. If I replied to all of them, I would never have time to do anything else. Most people who contact me understand that.

    from what I’ve heard some gays are basically people born into the wrong gender period, and the others are some were in between thinking like a man and thinking like a women. I guess your trying to say your brains wiring is completely female except for who you are attracted to… Or I’m just plain wrong

    cass @ #83: You are just plain wrong, and horribly homophobic. Get yourself educated about this before you say one more word in my blog, or you will be banned.

  81. 98

    But ‘violence’? Really? Endemic violence in atheist meet-ups? Maybe a touch of hysteria here?

    Re m0fa @ #85: I have no patience in my blog for denialism of sexual assault and harassment. m0fa has been put into comment moderation. Any future comments from them will have to be approved by me before they get posted.

  82. 99

    Harris responds: “I started by claiming that my readership seems more male than female. And when I shifted to speaking about atheists as a group, I was referring to active atheists—that is, the sort of people who go to atheist conferences, read atheist books, watch atheists debate pastors on YouTube, or otherwise rally around atheism as a political identity. I was not talking about everyone on Earth who doesn’t believe in God.”
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/im-not-the-sexist-pig-youre-looking-for

  83. 100

    Way to miss the point, Samwise. People are mad at you because of a belief you espoused and have not repudiated – U done biotruth’d. Fuck that gender essentialist horseshit, regardless of where you’re drawing the limits of who you’re talking about.

  84. 101

    I thought these people were deep thinkers. Can they not think of any other reason why we might not read their books or watch their lectures. Really? Usually the simplest answer is the one you should go with, is it not?

  85. 103

    There are a lot of possible responses to this. The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.”

    I know I’m late to the party, but I just want to say: You should just go with the first thing that springs to mind in this case. 🙂

  86. 104

    Well, first of all, Mr. Harris did NOT say “that women don’t take a critical stance.” Obviously, women do take “critical” stances on LOTS of topics. Ms. Christina, you seem to be attempting to rely a “seemingly credible” source here, but, for me, your attempt is a giant FAIL. Look closely at the PDF link offered and notice America is NOT listed within the Tables on pages 3 and 4. It is VERY CLEAR that Sam Harris is referencing AMERICANS. Even so, the percentage disparity on the matter is much larger than this source implies. Further, on page 5, I’ve no clue whether this data includes American college graduates or not. I highly doubt it, since, I believe it has also been proven that college graduates are the most likely to be “non-believers.” More specifically, Ms. Christina, do we even need to go into the fact that there are piles and piles of data proving – without question – that more men (MALES) than women (FEMALES) self-identify as Atheist. Like it or not.

    On a related note: it is possible to skew or present data one way and the other in order to “validate” our own stances, but that’s neither here nor there, because, in my view, you lose ALL CREDIBILITY when you begin your argument by spouting off like a rabid animal with, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole.” Really? That’s the best way to further your ’cause?’

    Harris’s statements: “There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” and “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men” are both actually backed up by some pretty convincing data: http://www.livescience.com/7689-women-religious-men.html

    From the above linked article, “A mountain of Gallup survey data attests to the idea that women are more religious than men, hold their beliefs more firmly, practice their faith more consistently, and work more vigorously for the congregation,”

    The article goes on to present some possible reasons for this “ranging from traditional mothering duties to the tendency of men to take risks — in this case the chance they might not go to heaven.”

    From what I’ve read and experienced, it appears, in large part, women holding fast to religious beliefs and being staunchly involved in a church congregation is fueled by empirical factors, relational factors, and emotional factors rather than scientific data (or lack thereof, as in the cases of most men). Generally, it is the woman who has friends at church, and it is generally the mother (woman) who is encouraging or ‘demanding’ that their children become and remain faithful to the church, and generally it is the woman who is most willing and desirous to share her emotions and who also ‘needs/wants’ to lean on others (or as some might say, “use religion as a crutch.”)

    This guy, Rodney Stark (http://www.rodneystark.com/bibliography/) – no slouch, mind you – relays more data on the matter as he says, “Studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males than females have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills,”

    Seems to me, MS. Christina, that biology plays a pretty big role here in the notion of being “religious” or not. Men (egotistical and driven, in large part, by testosterone) don’t give a shit about going to heaven or hell, and women (nurturing and driven, in large part, by emotion) are – irrationally – worried about matters not rooted in reality (such as the after-life) for themselves and for their children.

    Again, like it or not: Mr. Harris is, in fact, absolutely correct (NOT “factually wrong” as you asserted) when he states that identifying and posturing as an Atheist “is to some degree intrinsically male.”

  87. 105

    Just Me @ 100

    On a related note: it is possible to skew or present data one way and the other in order to “validate” our own stances, but that’s neither here nor there, because, in my view, you lose ALL CREDIBILITY when you begin your argument by spouting off like a rabid animal with, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole.” Really? That’s the best way to further your ’cause?’

    I applied your standards and concluded that you’re not credible because you started your argument with “spouting off like a rabid animal.”

    No really though, I concluded that you’re probably not credible because you used the phrase “spouting off like a rabid animal” in the same sentence that you scolded Greta for insulting Sam Harris.

    Your credibility was further damaged by your announcement that the actual substance of one’s argument is “neither here nor there” while tone is enough to completely discredit them.

    Last but not least, your link to Rodney Stark is just a bibliography. It doesn’t give any indication of what he’s basing his “studies of biochemistry imply…” comment on and it certainly isn’t data. Seriously. You just called a bald assertion “data.”

  88. 106

    G. C., great response to Harris’ comments. Far too many of us who claim to be reasonable give a free pass to those who are considered “celebrities” within the freethinking community. It’s good when someone like you takes the time to call B.S. what it is. Maybe you’ve heard this joke: You know what B.S. stands for? Yes. So, what does M.S. stand for? More of the Same. And what does PhD. stand for? Piled Higher and Deeper. Keep up the good work!

  89. 110

    Lane Greene @ 103

    Can you point to the passages in Harris’s books that are so obviously sexist that that’s the reason women don’t buy them?

    Not that your question isn’t transparently obvious gotcha bait, but can you point to where anyone said that the sexist things Harris has said are necessarily to be found in his books?

  90. 113

    This all makes me very sad.

    I love Greta’s book. And I love (most of) The End of Faith. I love both Greta and Sam, and it’s like seeing your parents argue. It’s horrible.

    And it seems to be so unnecessary. Firstly, the statement that Sam Harris is factually wrong is factually wrong. There’s plenty of survey evidence (some quoted in another post, I think) showing that generally there are more male atheists than female ones. But this is irrelevant, because this isn’t what Sam was talking about.

    He was talking about atheist ACTIVISTS, as he explained in his post “I’m not the sexist pig you’re looking for”. He wasn’t saying that women are less capable of rational thought than men, just that he believes that women are less attracted to confrontational debate than men. That may or may not be true (I suspect it is), but that is what he said, so people should be debating that, not what he didn’t say. He was careful to say that he’s talking about on average, and that the bell-curves for men and women will overlap, which is entirely consistent with the existence of Greta, who wonderfully and persuasively does do that sort of debate.

    (Although one criticism of Greta – I’m pretty shocked at putting commenters into pre-moderation for what looks like the sin of disagreeing with you.)

    So, to repeat, this all makes me sad. We have so much in common, and a common enemy in the non-rational. Please can we get back to that (while at the same time working to make atheist conventions and organisations less hostile to women)?

  91. 114

    peejay @ 105

    This was a response to the original statement, not Harris’ later clarification. So your criticism is pointless on that front.

    Aside from that, whether he’s talking about being atheist in general or atheist activism, he’s still claiming something to be intrinsically male and, by implication, intrinsically not female. He’s doing this completely sans evidence, completely without reference to culture and socialization. His clarification is simply more of the same. He, at one moment acknowledges culture, but then soon after demonstrates that he doesn’t see a difference between sexism on the one hand and the expectation that women be the ones to give up their careers in order to have families. Harris was wrong to say what he said, regardless of which atheists he was actually talking about.

    The real problem with what Harris said is in claiming anything related to behavior is intrinsically male or female because there is simply no evidence to back that up. And this is something Harris should know. The man has a Ph.D. in neuroscience for chrissakes.

    Finally, don’t ask people not to criticize other self-identified rational people just because we’re mostly in agreement about things. Rational people are supposed to care about the truth and whether their beliefs track with reality. Rational people should welcome being corrected when they’re wrong.

  92. 115

    Me @ 106

    demonstrates that he doesn’t see a difference between sexism on the one hand and the expectation that women be the ones to give up their careers in order to have families.

    This should read more like “demonstrates that he thinks the expectation that women give up their careers to have families is a result of something other than sexism.”

  93. 116

    @Seven of Mine, Harris says that he has more male than female readers. Greta replies that “it might have something to do with the fact that you say horrible sexist bullshit like this.” Harris’s main atheist books came out in 2004 and 2006, so he’s had 10 years to judge the gender balance of his readership. (Authors do tend to notice these kind of things; from signings and readings I’d guess about half the readers of my only book are women, if not more.)

    As far as I know, Harris hasn’t been criticized as a sexist for 10 years. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    So only one of the statements here can be correct:

    1) Harris is wrong, and his atheist books are read by a 50-50 gender split
    2) Harris noted correctly that his readership is male-tilted long before he was derided as a sexist (which requires some explanation or other.)
    3) Harris’s atheist books are notably sexist, and that’s why there is a male tilt in their readership.

    I’m honestly confused by the chronology Greta is implying. The only one that can’t be true is “Harris came out recently as a sexist, and women went back in time and un-bought his books.”

  94. 118

    I decided to check out Patheos, the Friendly Atheist, I haven’t in ages. I was curious if there was anything about these recent events over there. Mostly, no. I didn’t see any mention of Shermer, for example.

    However, there was this guest post about global atheist statistics.

    I haven’t looked into the studies cited (or their methodology), but it claims that most studies show a gender difference, and that the one Greta cited is an outlier.

  95. 120

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 106

    The real problem with what Harris said is in claiming anything related to behavior is intrinsically male or female because there is simply no evidence to back that up. And this is something Harris should know. The man has a Ph.D. in neuroscience for chrissakes.

    Sure there is. Women engage in the behavior of breastfeeding; men don’t.

    Not only that, but there is evidence that male and female brains differ anatomically on average, and there are studies of non-human mammals that clearly show behavioral differences between the sexes. These are things that a person with a Ph.D. in neuroscience should know.

    Your challenge here is two-fold. First, you must conclude that anatomical differences in brains have zero correlation with behavioral differences. Second, you must believe that humans are privileged from the rest of biology, where every other sexually reproducing species exhibits behavioral differences between the sexes. I think the most acceptable neutral stance is that there exist behavioral differences between males and females that are intrinsic to our genes (and of course, this carries the standard caveat of statistics, averages, and distributions). We just only have a very vague idea of what they are.

    Sam Harris has since penned a very well thought out response to the sexism claims on his blog, in which he does a lot of throat-clearing that I don’t think needs to be done. And in light of his entry, I think that Greta’s three responses are now directed at something that don’t correctly represent his beliefs. I’d like to know if she is willing to amend any of them.

    Anatomical differences in brain by gender: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-mens-brains-are-wired-differently-than-women/
    Behavioral differences in mice by gender: http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/02/11440/male-and-female-behavior-deconstructed

    The Scientific American article cites the study published in PNAS, and the UCSF article cites the study published in Cell.

  96. 121

    dondon151 @ 110

    Sure there is. Women engage in the behavior of breastfeeding; men don’t.

    This is dishonest equivocation. That’s a physiological difference, not a behavioral one. If male bodied humans lactated, they’d probably breast feed. That makes about as much sense as pointing to shaving one’s face, wearing a bra or using tampons as a behavioral difference.

    Your challenge here is two-fold. First, you must conclude that anatomical differences in brains have zero correlation with behavioral differences.

    Nobody has made that claim.

    Second, you must believe that humans are privileged from the rest of biology

    Or this one.

    , where every other sexually reproducing species exhibits behavioral differences between the sexes.

    The existence of differences that can be observed and, to some extent, measured is not evidence that those differences are intrinsic to any particular sex. Even non-human animals have behaviors that they learn from others in their local populations. No matter what living thing you’re studying, you have to make sure that the behavior you’re observing is not learned if you want to talk about it being intrinsic to anything.

    I think the most acceptable neutral stance is that there exist behavioral differences between males and females that are intrinsic to our genes (and of course, this carries the standard caveat of statistics, averages, and distributions). We just only have a very vague idea of what they are.

    Or denied this.

    What we’re saying is culture and socialization exist and we know they affect behavior and you therefor have to account for them if you’re going to talk about causes of behaviors. This is basic science and I’ve explained this multiple times in this thread. If you want to say X causes Y, you first have to control for everything else that could possibly cause Y. If you say X causes Y before you’ve done that, you’re talking out of your ass. Nobody exists in a vacuum. Everyone is influenced by culture and socialization. Even if we knew everything there is to know about how biology affects behavior, you would still have to account for culture and socialization. If you’re talking about behavior and only talking about biology with regards to causes, you are, of necessity, wrong. If you happen to be right, it’s by accident, in the manner of a stopped clock being right twice a day.

  97. 122

    So, are any of Harris’ defender going to try to defend the claim of an intrinsic difference or are they just going to keep waffling around pretending he didn’t say that?

  98. 123

    Demonstrating one difference doesn’t make any other claim of a difference automatically likely, especially since we have a long, long history of men making bullshit claims about how women think, act and what they’re capable of.

    We know that, historically, most claims made about women’s psychology, abilities, tendencies and general nature have turned out to be wrong. Now another dude comes along, making another claim, which just happens to fit perfectly with ingrained cultural stereotypes and we’re supposed to just ignore how well this fits the pattern of gendered bullshit?

  99. 124

    Harris didn’t say that being an out and argumentative atheist is intrinsic–nobody on earth is born with any religious beliefs, or even language. Good god, there’s no “atheist gene”, much less an “activist atheist gene” that lives on the Y chromosome.

    He said that an aggressive style correlates with sex differences. The sexes differ in hormones, including a certain well-known hormone that puts hair on your face and body, supports muscle growth and tends to make you angry and look for risks and fights.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/02/magazine/the-he-hormone.html?pagewanted=all

    “Late last year, mere hours after a T shot, my dog ran off the leash to forage for a chicken bone left in my local park. The more I chased her, the more she ran. By the time I retrieved her, the bone had been consumed, and I gave her a sharp tap on her rear end. ”Don’t smack your dog!” yelled a burly guy a few yards away. What I found myself yelling back at him is not printable in this magazine, but I have never used that language in public before, let alone bellow it at the top of my voice. He shouted back, and within seconds I was actually close to hitting him. He backed down and slunk off. I strutted home, chest puffed up, contrite beagle dragged sheepishly behind me. It wasn’t until half an hour later that I realized I had been a complete jerk and had nearly gotten into the first public brawl of my life. I vowed to inject my testosterone at night in the future.”

    “Estrogen vibe” was silly of Harris to say, partly because he should know how it could be misunderstood or misused. But men and women are not indistinguishable, not in their genes, not in their hormones, not in their physiologies and not in their behaviors, not in any society on the face of the earth.

    OF COURSE socialization plays a role, as Harris said clearly in his follow-up. OF COURSE sexist stereotypes are stupid and wrong, and what’s “intrinsic” has been misunderstood and misused for centuries. (That doesn’t make today’s much more sophisticated science automatically wrong.) OF COURSE every individual is different, as my six-foot wife is taller about 80% of men and 99% of women. Greta may well be more aggressive than 99% of men. BUT OF COURSE men and women differ on average, in both gross anatomy and neurophysiology and chemical balances, and it would be very strange if these didn’t show up in average behavior (and get reinforced by socialization and sexism).

    None of these things is fixed. Testosterone levels go up in fight situations, and go down after losing a fight. (People even have lower testosterone after watching their sports team lose, for FSM’s sake). Winners in fights, and even in financial trading, often take stupid and dangerous risks after victories, influenced by soaring testosterone levels. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-10/what-traders-testosterone-tells-us-about-markets.html) Individuals vary over their life spans systematically – no 50-year-old man produces as much testosterone as he did when he was 20. Menstruation and menopause affect hormones in women. Teen boys are the most dangerous drivers on earth, and young men commit the vast majority of the world’s violent crime. And the differences in how boys and girls interact with each other show up in toddlerhood, with girls more likely to sit facing each other and cooperating on a task and boys sitting side-by-side, more distractible, less likely to cooperate. (Deborah Tannen is good on sex differences in communication and their very early manifestations.)

    Does anyone here really believe that

    1) men don’t have more testosterone than women on average, or
    2) testosterone has nothing to do with aggressive behavior?

    Understanding biology doesn’t have to make us sexist; in fact, it can mean that we fight sexism harder and better with a knowledge that (for example) stupid but loud and confident students or workers, often boys and men, may be running roughshod over their much smarter classmates or colleagues who have better ideas and greater skills (often women). The person who shouts loudest is not necessarily right nor automatically fit for leadership. This is a *feminist* point, not a sexist one.

    Greta seems to want to win this argument by saying “fuck you” at the top of her lungs, to show how critical and pointed women can be. But nobody said they can’t, least of all Harris. And “fuck you” isn’t an argument-winner.

  100. 128

    Sure there is. Women engage in the behavior of breastfeeding; men don’t.

    This is about the worst example you could have picked. We have plastic bottles these days, with rubber nipples. Men “engage in the behavior” of using them to feed babies. The difference in “behaviour” between the two methods is about as miniscule as possible, only limited by the means available to accomplish the task that both men and women try to accomplish.

    First, you must conclude that anatomical differences in brains have zero correlation with behavioral differences.

    This is hilariously clueless.

    No, silly. All we would have to show is that differences between brains are impacted by the social.

    For instance, taxi drivers have a larger center of the brain related to memory due to exercising their street name and location memory.

    Second, you must believe that humans are privileged from the rest of biology, where every other sexually reproducing species exhibits behavioral differences between the sexes.

    Yes, this is where people are going to have to admit that there probably will be some difference. (see my link below, however)

    But that’s a far cry from backing up the claims of Harris, which were of specific things being near exclusively caused by these differences, rather than cultural.

    I think the most acceptable neutral stance is that there exist behavioral differences between males and females that are intrinsic […] We just only have a very vague idea of what they are.

    Then you could criticise someone for claiming to know what they are…riiiight?

    Especially, people are right to voice criticism of his claims that they think are actually counter to the scientific study of gender behaviour differences. In humans, whatever behaviour and cognitive differences exist are actually really hard to find. Studies on the suibject dissagree or find no differences for cognitive things.

    So Sam just seems wrong about the causation. I’d need some pretty good evidence of a particular cognitive difference before I would believe it. Armchair speculation isn’t going to cut it.

    And, given the citation I provided, such armchair speculation looks like it is not informed by facts, but by erroneous cultural beliefs about the difference between men and women. AKA sexism.

  101. 129

    We have more than a “very vague” understanding of the contribution of biology. We have many kinds of evidence of the influence of hormones (like testosterone), both those hormones produces by the body and those ingested for medical or scientific reasons. We have baby studies, that even newborns are attracted to different things based on sex. We have toddler studies (like Tannen’s citations that I alluded to) that show children behaving differently before they should have been able to absorb vast amounts of societal sexism. We have mental disabilities that appear more in one sex than the other. We have standardized tests showing girls and boys doing better at different things (and we have other tests showing that test-prep and other societal factors play a role, but not a role that explains 100% of the difference).

    We also have a million kinds of evidence for sexism. Men’s tweets are more retweeted in what should be a meritocratic medium. Men’s ideas are debated and women’s are ignored (or adopted by a man to plaudits). We see “mansplaining” (a very real phenomenon). We see adults reacting to toddlers differently when they are misled by the experimenters to believe the children are of the opposite sex. We see different responses to CVs for academic and other jobs based on sex. We see women derided as “bossy” or “bitchy” for speaking like men. We see transgender scientist Ben Barres saying (and we have no reason to disbelieve him) that his work was taken more seriously after he became a man. We have piles of anecdotal evidence of sexism in schools and offices and universities so high we cannot dismiss it as angry losers blaming the system.

    Finally, here’s a dude trying to craft a consensus, a “female” behavior. *Nothing* is 100% determined by sex, genes or neurochemistry.

    It seems obvious that science-minded, skeptical individuals simply do not need to choose between biology and society in explaining these things. Both have their roles, and smart people of good will can study and debate both. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool or a tool. Can we agree on that? Atheists are fighting people who think that women are cursed because of a serpent and a forbidden fruit. We have better tools, and bigger goals. Eyes on the prize.

  102. 130

    @ Lane Greene

    Atheists are fighting people who think that women are cursed because of a serpent and a forbidden fruit. We have better tools, and bigger goals. Eyes on the prize.

    I am sick to death of being told that I’m supposed to not care about atheists propagating bullshit, harmful stereotypes because some dude thinks religion is a bigger problem. Congratu-fucking-lations on not being on the receiving end of these harmful attitudes and all the harassment and generally shitty treatment they perpetuate. Congratulations on being in a position to think sexism within the atheist/skeptic movement isn’t so bad compared to something else you also don’t have to put up with. Some of us disagree and we’ll use our own judgement about what we give our time and energy to.

  103. 131

    We have baby studies, that even newborns are attracted to different things based on sex.

    Is that the study where baby boys liked trucks and baby girls liked pans?

    From past experience of these kinds of claims being debunked, I’m skeptical.

    We have standardized tests showing girls and boys doing better at different things

    I already covered these in my link. The study of the subject does not favor your claim here.

    And even if some difference was found, there would be the question of how much this difference was cultural. But oddly you put it in your “biology” paragraph.

    If you want to advance evidence for biology being a major influence, you need to learn how to compare hypotheses to each other. And personally I’d need to see a big meta analysis supporting such claims. So far all I’ve seen has either been debunked or more likely to be cultural, as well as being stand alone studies with no comparison to see if contradictory findings were in other studies.

    We have better tools, and bigger goals. Eyes on the prize.

    This is silly.

  104. 132

    We have toddler studies (like Tannen’s citations that I alluded to) that show children behaving differently before they should have been able to absorb vast amounts of societal sexism.

    This is BS as well. There are plenty of studies which demonstrate that people interact differently with female infants than male infants. Nurses in maternity wards have been observed handling female infants more delicately than male infants, for example. Even without actual studies, just ask anyone with children who chose not to learn the sex of the baby in advance. They’ll probably tell you about all the people who lamented that they wouldn’t know whether to buy blue gifts or pink gifts. Anyone who thinks a child can’t have absorbed sexist attitudes by the time they’re toddlers isn’t thinking about it very hard.

  105. 133

    Greta seems to want to win this argument by saying “fuck you” at the top of her lungs, to show how critical and pointed women can be.

    Greta seems – well, I mean, she’s right here, we don’t have to guess about her like that; but her post above seems to be trying to win this argument by pointing out that Harris had his facts very wrong, providing evidence for the same, and then saying “fuck you” because it’s an insulting argument to be having.

    Your post completely is ignoring all the arguments she actually gave in favor of bringing up alternate evidence, but if there isn’t actually a gender split in atheism globally than we already know those alternate factors aren’t the deciding ones. So however suggestive you think testosterone differences might be, it’s not a good criticism.

  106. 134

    As the parent of a toddler and a teenager I can promise you I’ve thought about it plenty hard, which is why I cited the study that found that observers who were misled by experimenters to think that toddlers were the “wrong” sex described them in terms of the sex they were led to believe. Socialization starts early.

    But the idea that it overwhelms children’s internal wiring so that they are completely “socialized” by 2 is lunatic. As the parent of two boys, I tell friends who are expecting that if you think you can mold your toddler’s personality against his or her will, you are in for disappointment and frustration. My boys have been completely different toddlers, as different as I am from my brother. Do we discount a huge pile of twin studies here, too?

    This is all about debate and evidence, whether the methods employed were legit, whether small-n problems fuck up the data, whether studies replicate, whether scientists see what they’re looking for, and whether the data mean whether they think the data mean, and much more. There are many studies pointing to biological differences and many pointing to sexism. To exclude all of the former because they *must* actually be showing socialization, and to grant full weight to the latter because they comport with what we *know* to be true, is not science. The word for this is “orthodoxy”: believe the right thing or be cast out. It’s used as a cuss word by brainless critics of atheism (“You’re just as fundamentalist as the fundamentalists”) and I want to believe science-grounded sceptics are better than that.

    Is my “eyes on the prize” comment are irrelevant or silly? I did think this was an atheist blog, frequented by people who put a high priority on religious issues. If you have a higher priority still, great. If “fuck you” and “dudebro” are how this blog deals with differing analyses and priorities, I’m out. Good luck to you.

  107. 135

    But the idea that it overwhelms children’s internal wiring so that they are completely “socialized” by 2 is lunatic.

    You’re making a straw enemy for you to attack. That’s silly.

    There are many studies pointing to biological differences and many pointing to sexism. To exclude all of the former because they *must* actually be showing socialization, and to grant full weight to the latter because they comport with what we *know* to be true, is not science.

    I’m about to give up on you. Simply saying “many studies” does not make it so. In my last post I already described my need for evidence.

    And, again, your goalposts here have become very much detatched from the quotes by Harris. So…

  108. 136

    I did think this was an atheist blog, frequented by people who put a high priority on religious issues. If you have a higher priority still, great.

    Um, this is a multipurpose blog and trying to shut down conversation because there is a more important thing to talk about is silly.

  109. 137

    Huh, so this is what the atheist movement has become? A horde of unthinking followers who never stop and wonder if their first emotion upon encountering a new idea (or an old one) is justified. It’s all just kneejerk reactions and mindless repetitions of what they think they’re supposed to say, now. You’re a bit more rational than the religious right, sure… but not much.

  110. 138

    Huh, so this is what the atheist movement has become? A horde of unthinking followers who never stop and wonder if their first emotion upon encountering a new idea (or an old one) is justified. It’s all just kneejerk reactions and mindless repetitions of what they think they’re supposed to say, now. You’re a bit more rational than the religious right, sure… but not much.

    Because this right here? This is a totally new and original idea.

  111. 139

    @ Lane Greene

    But the idea that it overwhelms children’s internal wiring so that they are completely “socialized” by 2 is lunatic.

    Well, it’s a good thing nobody said that then.

    To exclude all of the former because they *must* actually be showing socialization, and to grant full weight to the latter because they comport with what we *know* to be true, is not science.

    Also good that nobody did this either.

    The word for this is “orthodoxy”: believe the right thing or be cast out. It’s used as a cuss word by brainless critics of atheism (“You’re just as fundamentalist as the fundamentalists”) and I want to believe science-grounded sceptics are better than that.

    Was there a sale on straw somewhere today?

    Is my “eyes on the prize” comment are irrelevant or silly? I did think this was an atheist blog, frequented by people who put a high priority on religious issues.

    Oh please. You’re talking about a feminist issue right fucking now and yet you’re still going to claim surprise that religion isn’t everyone’s top priority?

    If “fuck you” and “dudebro” are how this blog deals with differing analyses and priorities, I’m out. Good luck to you.

    Yes, because what’s really important is not the content of what people post but whether they address Lane Fucking Greene with proper respect.

  112. 140

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 111

    This is dishonest equivocation. That’s a physiological difference, not a behavioral one. If male bodied humans lactated, they’d probably breast feed. That makes about as much sense as pointing to shaving one’s face, wearing a bra or using tampons as a behavioral difference.

    Your objection doesn’t make sense: behavioral differences are physiological differences! The nervous and endocrine systems reign over all of human behavior through the use of electric and chemical messages.

    I’ll also point out that males can lactate, and they are equipped with all of the necessary features to do so. Male lactation is usually the result of hormonal problems, such as testosterone deficiency and/or pituitary tumor releasing prolactin – that’s why males don’t normally lactate. Prolactin is a hormone that promotes, among other things, lactation, and one of the triggers of prolactin release is childbirth.

    The behavior of breastfeeding, in addition to other maternal behaviors, is known to be influenced by the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes bonding between mother and child and is also released during childbirth and breastfeeding.

    So all of this is well-known. The point is that there is no arbitrary separation between physiology and behavior; rather, physiology governs behavior. If this is your objection, I advise you to find a different one.

    brianpansky @ 118

    No, silly. All we would have to show is that differences between brains are impacted by the social.

    For instance, taxi drivers have a larger center of the brain related to memory due to exercising their street name and location memory.

    You are asking for a literally impossible task: you want scientists to go through every observed difference between male and female brains and exclude each one of them from being influenced by social factors. The article below states that there are approximately 100 differences in the brain observed between genders, but I’m sure the actual number is many more as neuroscience continues to march on. This is unreasonable, and also unfair: why don’t you take it upon yourself to rule out genetic factors responsible for anatomical differences, rather than charging neuroscientists to rule out social factors responsible for anatomical differences?

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 122

    Anyone who thinks a child can’t have absorbed sexist attitudes by the time they’re toddlers isn’t thinking about it very hard.

    And yet, as was in the well-known case of David Reimer, who was raised to be female starting at the age of 22 months, no matter how much “sexist attitude” his parents tried to inculcate into him, he never once identified as female. We should know very well from our understanding of homosexuality that “sexist attitudes” aren’t as socially malleable as we think, otherwise the sordid practice of gay rehabilitation would not be utterly ineffective.

  113. 141

    But the idea that it overwhelms children’s internal wiring so that they are completely “socialized” by 2 is lunatic.

    Again? Haven’t we dealt with this strawman several times in this thread already? Why are you bringing it back?

    Is my “eyes on the prize” comment are irrelevant or silly? I did think this was an atheist blog, frequented by people who put a high priority on religious issues. If you have a higher priority still, great.

    A lot of do, actually. For example, we think that fighting gender discrimination and stereotypes is a value in itself. Don’t you?

    If “fuck you” and “dudebro” are how this blog deals with differing analyses and priorities, I’m out. Good luck to you.

    Another strawman. More to the point, another strawman that sounds exactly like what we routinely hear from trolls; focus on one comment, ignore everything else. Doesn’t matter how many arguments are made, just ignore everything other than the one thing you can use to derail the discussion.

    There’s only so many times you can behave like a troll before people start treating you like one.

  114. 142

    You are asking for a literally impossible task: you want scientists to go through every observed difference between male and female brains and exclude each one of them from being influenced by social factors.

    No, what we’re asking is that people stop making claims they can’t support. If it’s impossible to exclude the influence of social factors, then why on earth would anyone claim that a given trait is intrinsic? If we can’t rule it out, then we can’t rule it out and an honest, scientifically minded person should be ready to admit as much.

    This is unreasonable, and also unfair: why don’t you take it upon yourself to rule out genetic factors responsible for anatomical differences, rather than charging neuroscientists to rule out social factors responsible for anatomical differences?

    Because this isn’t occurring in a vacuum. I’ll just quote myself from earlier in this thread:

    We know that, historically, most claims made about women’s psychology, abilities, tendencies and general nature have turned out to be wrong. Now another dude comes along, making another claim, which just happens to fit perfectly with ingrained cultural stereotypes and we’re supposed to just ignore how well this fits the pattern of gendered bullshit?

    The burden of proof is on those who claim that such mental and behavioral differences are inherent. Some of them may be, but I’m willing to bet that most of them aren’t because our experience tells us that most such claims are based in people’s prejudices, rather than in reality.

    Moreover, we can demonstrate that such stereotypes are harmful. The very existence of a stereotype perpetuates it. That gives us a good reason to take a very dim view of throwing around claims like “group X is inherently Y”.

  115. 143

    dondon 151 @ 130

    Your objection doesn’t make sense: behavioral differences are physiological differences! The nervous and endocrine systems reign over all of human behavior through the use of electric and chemical messages.

    I didn’t say that at all. Breastfeeding is a thing female bodied people do because they can. Male bodied people, generally can’t. Yes, I know they possess all the necessary equipment to do it. The point is that, under normal circumstances they don’t. The point is, you’re looking at a behavior that is obviously directly tied to a known physical difference between genders and acting like that’s the same thing as looking at a behavior that has no known biological cause and assuming it must be the result of some physical difference as well.

    And yet, as was in the well-known case of David Reimer, who was raised to be female starting at the age of 22 months, no matter how much “sexist attitude” his parents tried to inculcate into him, he never once identified as female. We should know very well from our understanding of homosexuality that “sexist attitudes” aren’t as socially malleable as we think, otherwise the sordid practice of gay rehabilitation would not be utterly ineffective.

    Gender identity is not even close to being on the same planet with what we’re discussing here. Nor is sexual preference. I’m talking about behaviors kids pick up as a result of adults interacting with them differently based on the gender the adult believes the child to be.

  116. 144

    LykeX @ 132

    No, what we’re asking is that people stop making claims they can’t support. If it’s impossible to exclude the influence of social factors, then why on earth would anyone claim that a given trait is intrinsic? If we can’t rule it out, then we can’t rule it out and an honest, scientifically minded person should be ready to admit as much.

    You’re right; we can’t exclude the influence of social factors in mouse and honey bee behavior, either, so an honest, scientifically minded person should be ready to admit as much. Because the sciences of animal behavior and human psychology are all bunk, right? They necessarily dabble in these subjects where confounding factors are both omnipresent and nebulous, and yet they’ve proven to be fantastically useful.

    What you’ve essentially done here is asserted the influence of social factors, and then challenged the neuroscientist to prove that there aren’t any. As this is an atheist blog, I should think that this strikes a familiar chord with all of you.

    LykeX @ 132

    The burden of proof is on those who claim that such mental and behavioral differences are inherent. Some of them may be, but I’m willing to bet that most of them aren’t because our experience tells us that most such claims are based in people’s prejudices, rather than in reality.

    We know that, historically, most claims made about human anatomy, physiology, and medicine have turned out to be wrong. Thank goodness that modern medicine is usually right, and thank goodness that modern psychology is usually right. If you want to cite historical prejudice as a reason for distrusting the findings of modern psychology, then you should also cite historical inaccuracy as a reason for distrusting the findings of modern medicine. I’m willing to bet that you’re consistently inconsistent in this regard (though I could be wrong!).

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 133

    I didn’t say that at all. Breastfeeding is a thing female bodied people do because they can. Male bodied people, generally can’t. Yes, I know they possess all the necessary equipment to do it. The point is that, under normal circumstances they don’t. The point is, you’re looking at a behavior that is obviously directly tied to a known physical difference between genders and acting like that’s the same thing as looking at a behavior that has no known biological cause and assuming it must be the result of some physical difference as well.

    You actually did say that. You said, “that’s a physiological difference, not a behavioral one.” My rebuttal was that no such distinction exists. The sentence is nonsense: you might as well say, “that’s a chemical difference, not a biological one” with relation to biology. (If you don’t understand this analogy, the basic concept is that biology is chemistry; we learn them as different subjects in school, but you can’t have biology without chemistry.)

    I feel like I’ve failed at completely conveying my meaning. Men don’t engage in a certain behavior because there is no physiological basis for it. There is no hormone signaling that tells male breasts to store fat and secrete milk, there is no hormone signaling that compels them to lactate, and there is no positive hormonal feedback loop between them attempting to breastfeed and bonding with their child. (It’s been shown that men don’t react to oxytocin the same way that women do, so even the behavior of bonding between parents and offspring is different between genders.)

    That hormones have physical consequences doesn’t mean that they don’t also have behavioral consequences. I’ll address the last sentence in the quoted statement here. The behavior that has “no known biological cause” is presumably aggression. But we know that there is a relationship between aggression and testosterone, and we also know that testosterone manifests physical differences, one of them being increased muscle mass. An organism who is physically stronger is more likely to gain from aggressive behavior, but the behavior is not strictly because of the physical difference; rather, both the behavioral and physical differences are a result of the effects of the hormone.

  117. 146

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 133

    Gender identity is not even close to being on the same planet with what we’re discussing here. Nor is sexual preference. I’m talking about behaviors kids pick up as a result of adults interacting with them differently based on the gender the adult believes the child to be.

    Really? David Reimer’s parents interacted with him as if he were a female, and it doesn’t seem like he “picked up” any traditionally female behaviors at all.

  118. 147

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 135

    Nobody.
    Is.
    Claiming.
    This.

    Oh, I never said that you or anyone else were claiming that particular statement. I’m allowed to explain and elaborate on what I say, right? But I suspect that I’m getting a bit too long-winded, because I’m not receiving any indication that most of what I’ve written is being read at all.

  119. 148

    Really? David Reimer’s parents interacted with him as if he were a female, and it doesn’t seem like he “picked up” any traditionally female behaviors at all.

    What the actual fuck do you think you know about what behaviors David Reimer picked up? What the fuck do you think you know about how David Reimer’s parents interacted with him? What makes you think David Reimer’s parents interacted with him the same way they would have interacted with a child who had been identified as a girl at birth? I mean why the fuck would they? The entire point I was making about the way adults interact with infants is that they’re acting upon unconscious biases so that’s not exactly analogous to parents actively, consciously trying to convince a male child that he’s a girl now is it? What the fuck makes you think a child in that position is going to display stereotypically female behaviors when the circumstances of his childhood are about as far from typical as they could have been? What makes you think we know anything at all about what behaviors to expect of a child in that position?

    Good grief.

  120. 149

    Oh, I never said that you or anyone else were claiming that particular statement.

    Then maybe you’d like to stop arguing against it and start arguing against what people actually are saying. Alternatively, maybe you could go find some people who are arguing that and strike up a conversation with them instead. Call me weird, but I feel like that would be more conducive to a productive discussion.

  121. 150

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 138

    What the actual fuck do you think you know about what behaviors David Reimer picked up? What the fuck do you think you know about how David Reimer’s parents interacted with him? What makes you think David Reimer’s parents interacted with him the same way they would have interacted with a child who had been identified as a girl at birth? I mean why the fuck would they?

    Um, I don’t know, there are a lot of resources from which I could draw this conclusion. There’s David Reimer’s Wikipedia page, there’s Milton Diamond’s book on David Reimer, and there’s Judith Butler’s book on intersex people.

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 138

    The entire point I was making about the way adults interact with infants is that they’re acting upon unconscious biases so that’s not exactly analogous to parents actively, consciously trying to convince a male child that he’s a girl now is it?

    How is that different from trying to convince a boy that he’s a boy…? I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this. An interaction isn’t magically more convincing if it’s unconscious rather than conscious.

    Look, I’m trying to be courteous and I’m doing my best to explain my position as thoroughly as possible. I’d like to continue doing that, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown up on with a diatribe of expletives.

  122. 151

    dondon151 @ 140

    How is that different from trying to convince a boy that he’s a boy…? I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this. An interaction isn’t magically more convincing if it’s unconscious rather than conscious.

    Do you actually think that people “try to convince” their male identified kids that they’re boys? Or their female identified kids that they’re girls? Really? Is that the hill you’re going to die on?

    Further, I didn’t say an interaction is more convincing if it’s unconscious. I said that the interactions that you engage in unconsciously when you believe you’re interacting with a girl are not necessarily the same as the interactions you would deliberately choose when you have knowledge that the child in question is not, in fact, a girl. Those interactions are also going to be different from the way you interacted with that same child when you believed him to be a boy and weren’t actively engaged in trying to convince him otherwise. If the interactions adults choose are different, the behaviors learned by the child from those interactions are going to be different. This is not rocket surgery.

    So not only do you have no basis for even trying to talk about David Reimer’s behaviors (lol @ citing a wikipedia article, someone who only knew Reimer as an adult, and another person who, as far as I can tell, never met him at all), you have no basis for assuming that his behaviors would match those of a child who was identified as female at birth and was interacted with as such without any confounding influences.

    Look, I’m trying to be courteous and I’m doing my best to explain my position as thoroughly as possible. I’d like to continue doing that, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown up on with a diatribe of expletives.

    I have no shits to give if naughty words hurt your feefees. When you saunter into a conversation and start spouting breathtakingly ignorant crap, you’re going to get under people’s skin. It’s an occupational hazard.

  123. 154

    dondon151 #134

    You’re right; we can’t exclude the influence of social factors in mouse and honey bee behavior, either, so an honest, scientifically minded person should be ready to admit as much.

    We can’t? I would think it was easier to exclude social influences in animals that we can (both practically and ethically) raise in entirely controlled environments and where we can also (again, practically and ethically) do any kind of genetic manipulation we want to. It seems to me that we have loads of options for controlling for social factors in non-human animals.

    Moreover, if we can’t exclude a certain factor, we should indeed admit as much, no matter the subject. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t draw any preliminary conclusions.

    What you’ve essentially done here is asserted the influence of social factors, and then challenged the neuroscientist to prove that there aren’t any.

    Bullshit!

    I’ve asserted the fact that many things that have been proposed as inherently biological have turned out not to be. I’ve pointed out that Harris made such a claim, for which no evidence has yet been provided.

    Harris made a positive claim without evidence. All I’ve done is to point out the history of such claims and then to draw the obvious conclusion about how likely he is to be right.

    If you want to cite historical prejudice as a reason for distrusting the findings of modern psychology…

    That’s not what I’m doing. I’m citing historical prejudice as a reason for distrusting wild-ass claims made with no evidentiary support.

  124. 156

    Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist who has studied and written on the religious breakdown among cultures worldwide, has written a compelling response to the hysteria surrounding Sam Harris’ suggestion that there may be biological or cultural factors that explain why women seem to be underrepresented in the Atheist movement today.

    A commenter above (#109 I think) posted a link to Zuckermans article that is posted on The Friendly Atheist blog from September 17.

    From the article, it is clear that MOST studies of the subject show that women are far more likely than men to identify as religious, and consequently that men are much more likely to identify as agnostic or atheist. And this is true of almost all societies that we have data from.

  125. 157

    Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist who has studied and written on the religious breakdown among cultures worldwide, has written a compelling response to the hysteria surrounding Sam Harris’ suggestion that there may be biological or cultural factors that explain why women seem to be underrepresented in the Atheist movement today.

    harryballs99 @ #145: Yes, I know. (Although I’m pretty sure Zuckerman didn’t refer to it as “hysteria.”) I’m working on a reply, but it’ll probably be a couple of days (the last couple of days have been a little busy, to say the least).

  126. 158

    Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist who has studied and written on the religious breakdown among cultures worldwide, has written a compelling response to the hysteria surrounding Sam Harris’ suggestion that there may be biological or cultural factors that explain why women seem to be underrepresented in the Atheist movement today.

    You want to talk about “hysterical”? How about the fact that people of normal intelligence suddenly can’t read straight-forward English, but completely ignore both what Harris actually said, as well as what his critics are pointing to as problematic.

    Harris flat-out asserted an inherent biological difference with no evidence to back it up. If he had, as you claim, merely suggested a range of possible factors, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He’s being criticized for what he actually said, not what you wish he had said.

  127. 159

    So it seems that “Greta Christina is just factually wrong. Globally, atheism has a gender split.”

    Against my will, the stupid e-mail reminders brought me back here. So one outlier poll supports Greta, with the huge mass on the other side of the scale. What to do? Change the subject? Cry “well Sam Harris is *still* a sexist fuck!”

    Or engage the evidence, and with a thoughtful hand craft a piece of writing that weighs all of the factors for why the sexes might differ in religiosity? Make the case that, whatever the role of innateness, sexism and socialization are still the much bigger factor? (Certainly true: Czech women are a lot more atheist than Afghan men.) Weigh up Zuckerman’s hypotheses and vote for the most likely culprits? We still have an empirical question to settle.

    Or maybe just a good explanation — regardless of whether innate differences exist — why they should not be the focus of any of our time and effort, since the fight against sexism is so much more urgent. I am one of those who doesn’t like to take any topic off the table, because I’m a curious guy. But I could be educated and entertained by a good essay under the title “So men and women may have a few minor intrinsic differences on average. Here’s why I don’t care and don’t write about it.”

    But if Greta’s response is just to pretend that counter-evidence can be dismissed, because sexism is so awful, well I really won’t be back. I hope that’s not the response. I’m looking forward to it, truly. I’d love to see some of this bad blood gone. A good reply would keep me coming back, and not just because of that damn e-mail reminder.

  128. 161

    Today I happened to come across a 2011 talk on youtube by Greta (who I had never heard of before) about why atheists are so angry. I thought it was a really nice talk. Good job! So I decided to follow to the blog address given there and take a look. Yikes! What a frenzy.
    I’m not going to argue any side. After reading the comments I’m still trying to figure out what is really all THAT bad. Greta you say, “The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, ‘Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole….’ ” . Well, are you saying that? Or is this some tricky literary device to say what you mean without technically being held accountable. I would have thought it better to just say to Sam Harris that he is wrong. Maybe tell him he made what you considered a sexist statement but not call him a sexist. Sorry, but from what I’ve read of his, I don’t get the impression that his character is that of a sexist.
    But there is one thing came to mind while reading the comments that I’d like to ask. It seems some people are getting offended because Sam Harris said that women are intrinsically not as confrontational as men. I’m a software engineer by profession. Over 25 years. In my experience, there are very few women in this field. Please tell me why that is? I’m open to any reasons: it’s intrinsic; it’s not intrinsic, it’s social; whatever. You can try to say that this doesn’t count because it’s just my experience, but I’m not going to bother to look for any Gallop polls because I’m pretty confident what I’d find if there were such a thing.
    This cannot be due to any negative pressure from men as far as I can see. We in the software and engineering field would LOVE to have a higher percentage of women. But the nearest I can tell is that they just plain aren’t very interested in general. They do not enjoy thinking about logic and programming as much as men. Yes, they can do just as well and sometimes better, and I have known some. Though, pick any programming forum or seminar video on the internet you like and check the percentage of men vs. woman and you’ll see almost all men. Why is that, seriously? Am I a sexist for noticing this?

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    Greta you say, “The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, ‘Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole….’ ” . Well, are you saying that? Or is this some tricky literary device to say what you mean without technically being held accountable. I would have thought it better to just say to Sam Harris that he is wrong.

    Jim Hewes @ #149: Please don’t tone-troll me in my own blog.

    Maybe tell him he made what you considered a sexist statement but not call him a sexist.

    I called him a sexist, patronizing asshole. I used “sexist” as an adjective, not a noun.

    I’m a software engineer by profession. Over 25 years. In my experience, there are very few women in this field. Please tell me why that is?… This cannot be due to any negative pressure from men as far as I can see.

    Seriously?

    Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (PDF)
    http://www.aauw.org/research/why-so-few/

    Men’s and Women’s Intentions to Persist in Undergraduate Engineering Degree Programs
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/f24057vm20023n56/

    Professional Role Confidence and Gendered Persistence in Engineering
    http://asr.sagepub.com/content/76/5/641.abstract

    Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis.
    http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0018053

    A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT
    http://web.mit.edu/fnl/women/women.html#The%20Study

    Swimming Against the Unseen Tide, on the paucity of women in physics
    http://www.swarthmore.edu/feature-archive-2009-10/swimming-against-the-unseen-tide.xml

    But the nearest I can tell is that they just plain aren’t very interested in general. They do not enjoy thinking about logic and programming as much as men. Yes, they can do just as well and sometimes better, and I have known some. Though, pick any programming forum or seminar video on the internet you like and check the percentage of men vs. woman and you’ll see almost all men. Why is that, seriously? Am I a sexist for noticing this?

    You are not being sexist when you notice that there are more men than women in software engineering. You are being seriously, profoundly sexist when you jump to the conclusion that this is due to a lack of interest on the part of women — as opposed to deeply entrenched sexism, in the culture generally and in the software field particularly.

    Go get educated before you open your mouth again on this topic.

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    Oh, and re Jim Hewes @ #149: Can I just say: What a surprise. Another atheist man who thinks my righteous anger at religion is AWESOME… but who wants me to tone it down about my feminist anger. What a rarity. /sarcasm

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    Sorry for the formatting. I couldn’t get linefeeds to show up.

    Jim Hewes @ #149: Please don’t tone-troll me in my own blog.

    Of course you are free to say anything you like in your blog. Likewise I assumed I was allowed to disagree in the comment section as long as I remain civil and do not get rude.

    Well anyway, I was hoping that someone would discuss it in their own words rather than just dump a bunch of links. I don’t have the time today to do a thorough reading, but I did skim a bit.

    “Why so few?” This paper seems to acknowledge what I said that one of the reasons there are fewer women is that they are not as interested. Then after that there is the secondary question of why they are not as interested. You can then make the argument that they their interest changes because they are coerced by society, fine. But I think perhaps it gets a bit murkier there since there are various reasons. I heartily agree that society has to do more to avoid stereotyping roles in ALL directions.

    The article of the second link costs $40 to read and the article of the third link costs $30 to read. Thanks but I don’t think I will pay. Have you read these? In the abstract of the third article, it mentions differences in “professional role confidence” but does not say what the reason for lack of confidence is. What does the article say?

    The fourth link is about math which I’m not talking about. If I led you to think I was including math when I referred to logic, then I’m sorry for being unclear. I meant to talk about my own experience in the software industry. I’m not a mathematician.

    The fifth link is about women faculty which I’m not talking about. The sixth link is about physics which I’m also not talking about. I expect there are more women in the natural sciences than in software and engineering and of course I would not say woman intrinsically have no interest in science.

    I cannot yet agree that there is “deeply entrenched sexism, … in the software field particularly.” You may want to argue that society has created gender roles and that women are discouraged from these roles from day one the same way men would be discouraged from being a nurse or a house-husband. But I’ve not seen “deeply entrenched sexism” within the software industry. Not only is the percentage of job applicants I’ve interviewed overwhelmingly male, the percentage of applications I’ve gotten are practically all male. I’m not sure where is the opportunity to be sexist if women don’t at least apply. I wish they would do so more. You may say that the reason I do not see the sexism in my own industry is because I’m looking though my own sexist pig eyes and so I’m incapable of seeing it. I have also been told that I cannot correctly understand what the Bible is really saying because God has blinded me to it.

    Oh, and re Jim Hewes @ #149: Can I just say: What a surprise. Another atheist man who thinks my righteous anger at religion is AWESOME… but who wants me to tone it down about my feminist anger. What a rarity. /sarcasm

    Well, I didn’t say awesome in all caps, lol. Whatever. Anyway, I liked the talk because I thought you made some nice points in the list. But am I not allowed to agree on one issue and disagree on another? …without reflexively getting pigeonholed into some category?

    Jim Hewe: *discounts the experiences of women*

    Can you clarify that a bit? Where did I do that? You may be arguing about something I didn’t say. In one paragraph I said that there seem to be fewer women in the software field and I don’t think anyone disagreed with that. Then in the next paragraph I said that from my personal experience it seems to me that women are not as interested in it as men (which I think the “Why so few?” paper above also says). Please don’t take my word for it. Please have a conversation with any ten men and any ten women that you know and see what is their level of interest in software development. (Yes, I know it’s anecdotal. Relax.) I don’t want to discount the experiences of women. Please tell me of some women who love programming and are pretty good at it but cannot get into because of the entrenched sexism in the industry. I bet there are a lot of women that read this blog. Are there any that would like to be software engineers but are meeting with unfair resistance? I’m not being flippant, but genuinely sincere. Would I also be sexist if I said that I thought very few men want to be a nurse compared to women? I personally don’t want to be a nurse. There may be some sexism in the nursing industry against men, but it doesn’t affect what I’m really interested in.

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    @Jim Hewes

    Jim Hewes @ #149: Please don’t tone-troll me in my own blog.

    Of course you are free to say anything you like in your blog. Likewise I assumed I was allowed to disagree in the comment section as long as I remain civil and do not get rude.

    You might want to google “tone troll”. You don’t seem to understand what the term means.

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    So one outlier poll supports Greta, with the huge mass on the other side of the scale. What to do? Change the subject? Cry “well Sam Harris is *still* a sexist fuck!”

    Well, he is. At least, he said something very sexist and he seems to stick by it. See, the main problem with his argument wasn’t whether there was a gender disequilibrium in the atheist movement. Rather, the really sexist bullshit was related to the fact that he asserted, with no evidence, that this difference was inherent.

    Moreover, Greta cited a study to support the contention that the gender discrepancy was not universal. Arguments have been advanced that cast doubt on that study, but she cited a source. Where’s Harris’ source for his claim?

    Isn’t citing your sources the kind of thing that skeptics ought to encourage? Why isn’t Harris doing that?

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    Jim Hewes @153

    I was hoping that someone would discuss it in their own words rather than just dump a bunch of links. I don’t have the time today to do a thorough reading, but I did skim a bit.

    You’re carrying on a proud tradition, the man who doesn’t know much about feminism or gender issues who wants to have Feminism 101 explained to him rather than do his own homework. You’re fortunate that our hostess gave you some links. I’ve seen similar requests answered with “google is your friend, use it.”

    The fourth link is about math which I’m not talking about. If I led you to think I was including math when I referred to logic, then I’m sorry for being unclear. I meant to talk about my own experience in the software industry. I’m not a mathematician.

    Are you familiar with the acronym STEM? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Women are actively discouraged from following STEM careers. Your particular field is in technology but the same conditions effecting women are found in mathematics. That’s why that particular link was given.

    The fifth link is about women faculty which I’m not talking about. The sixth link is about physics which I’m also not talking about. I expect there are more women in the natural sciences than in software and engineering and of course I would not say woman intrinsically have no interest in science.

    Again this link is about a STEM field. The same basic attitudes towards women are found in STEM academia as in STEM industry.

    I cannot yet agree that there is “deeply entrenched sexism, … in the software field particularly.” You may want to argue that society has created gender roles and that women are discouraged from these roles from day one the same way men would be discouraged from being a nurse or a house-husband. But I’ve not seen “deeply entrenched sexism” within the software industry.

    Perhaps you haven’t seen it because you haven’t looked for it. No, that’s not sneer. People with privilege often don’t notice how the unprivileged are treated.

    Note: I’m a middle-aged, middle-class, educated, able-bodied, cis-hetrosexual, white man. I reek of privilege. There is nothing wrong with being privileged as long as you recognize that (a) it is generally unearned and (b) others may not have the same privilege as you do.

    Not only is the percentage of job applicants I’ve interviewed overwhelmingly male, the percentage of applications I’ve gotten are practically all male. I’m not sure where is the opportunity to be sexist if women don’t at least apply.

    How many women get degrees applicable to your field compared to the number of men? I can remember in high school seeing girls being discouraged from taking traditionally “boys” classes, which included advanced math and science. This attitude carries on in college. Reading rather than skimming the links that Greta gave you would have told you this.

    But am I not allowed to agree on one issue and disagree on another? …without reflexively getting pigeonholed into some category?

    Unfortunately for you, you’ve blundered into a divisive discussion that’s been going on for years. The latest iteration in skepticial/atheist circles started in June 2011 when Rebecca Watson uttered four words: “Guys, don’t do that.” (5:08) As a result, there has been a Great Rift™ in the atheist community. People like you who are “just asking questions” and otherwise appear clueless about social justice problems, particularly feminist problems, are not given a whole lot of slack. You’ve come into a situation where you don’t know the background.

    What’s worse, you’re victim blaming. You’re putting the onus of the lack of women in software on the women. This attitude will not make you friends here. I suspect my response to you will be one of the more civil you’ll receive and I’ve had to do some serious editing to remove snark from this post.

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    Thanks, Al Dente, for making the effort to hold back your snide remarks. And, thanks for telling me that you did so.

    I don’t think my point was ever addressed. But that’s OK, please don’t bother to respond anyone. I’m out. BTW, if you all ever come to a software forum, regardless of how much you know you will at least get a better reception.

  136. 170

    if you all ever come to a software forum, regardless of how much you know you will at least get a better reception.

    Jim Hewes @ #157: Not if you’re a woman, you won’t. Seriously. Try it. Make up an obviously female handle, go into a few of these software forums that mysteriously don’t have many women in them for no reason you can see, and see what happens.

    I don’t think my point was ever addressed.

    Your point was addressed at length. There is extensive evidence that there is extensive sexism in the world generally and in STEM particularly. There is extensive evidence that women in STEM get treated badly at all levels: in college, in grad school, in hiring, in promotion, in the profession generally. If you don’t believe the links I linked to, just Google “women in STEM.” However, it seems that you’re going to ignore that evidence, and blame the dearth of women in STEM on… well, on women. You’re going to ignore the sexist factors that go into (to use the example you gave) fewer women applying for software jobs. You’re going to ask questions about sexism, ignore the answers, stubbornly persist in your delusion that sexism doesn’t exist in your field — and then get pissy because people aren’t being sweet and gentle with you about it.

    You wanna know why there’s a dearth of women in STEM? Look in the mirror.

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    @ Jim Hewes sez:

    Can you clarify that a bit? Where did I do that?

    In response to:

    Jim Hewe: *discounts the experiences of women*

    You completely failed to even mention the experiences women have in your chosen field when speculating about why there are so few women in your chosen field. You considered only your own impressions which are really going to tell you exactly nothing about why people who aren’t you are avoiding/leaving your field.

    Then in the next paragraph I said that from my personal experience it seems to me that women are not as interested in it as men (which I think the “Why so few?” paper above also says).

    Yes. According to your personal experience, it seems to you. What relevance do you think your personal experience has? It tells you that there are fewer women than men. It doesn’t tell you why that is. You just assume it’s some inherent difference and even go so far as to say that you’re not even going to look for evidence to back that up because you’re already certain you’re right.

    Had you troubled yourself to look into this, you’d have found a lot of the same kind of stuff that Greta linked to you. That women, when asked why they leave STEM fields, tend to cite sexism related issues. Sometimes it’s overt harassment; sometimes it’s just a sort of chilly climate kind of thing, other times its doubt about job security should they want to have children at some point but it nearly all points back to sexist ideas. Even beyond STEM fields, there’s boatloads of data which demonstrate how adults interact very differently with girls as compared to boys. All the evidence we have points to socialization as the primary cause of differences in academic performance between girls and boys.

    BTW, if you all ever come to a software forum, regardless of how much you know you will at least get a better reception.

    If we showed up and were as pompous and supercilious as you’ve been, openly declaring that we have no intention of backing up the claims we make with anything other than bald assertions based on our personal experience of things that don’t happen to us, completely ignoring conversation that has gone before in order to ask questions that have already been dealt with, I doubt we’d get a very warm reception. And we wouldn’t deserve one.

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    Seven of Mine: “All the evidence we have points to socialization as the primary cause of differences in academic performance between girls and boys.”

    I think I’m figuring out why we disagree. Both (reasonable) sides here have agreed that the contribution of genes is probably greater than zero, and both sides have agreed that sexism is prevalent and greatly affects outcomes.

    There is simply no easy way to weight what is “primary” and what is secondary when discussing biological versus social factors. Why? Because (to take Harris’s original hypothesis) let’s assume for the sake of argument that men are the more aggressive sex. They are so because of biological factors–which are manifested socially. If a man is a sexist, mansplaining, interrupting asshole, is that a social behavior or a biologically conditioned one? Why on earth don’t we recognize the obvious? It’s a social behavior partly conditioned by innate factors. Our “social” selves don’t do anything our biological, evolved brains don’t make us do.

    We know that when sexism is reduced (see, say Sweden) we see that women take on more “male” roles, so we know the role of sexism is greater than zero. We also know that when twins are separated and raised in radically different environments, their personalities, intelligence and interests show greater correlation than adopted siblings raised in the same household, so we know that innate factors in a person’s personality are greater than zero.

    I simply don’t understand the forced choice between innate tendencies and socialization, when they so obviously would reinforce each other if the innate tendencies existed in the first place. And there is, of course, a mountain of evidence that they do exist, underneath the mountain of evidence for sexism. And all the evidence for innateness does *not* mean we shouldn’t combat sexism!

    For those who haven’t already read it, Steve Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke’s debate on women’s underrepresentation in elite science departments is a master class in both science and civility. Anyone who can dismiss Pinker as a sexist pig or Spelke as n feminist shrew should be ignored.

    http://edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

  139. 175

    @161, no, you’re saying “all” the evidence points at socialization as the “primary” cause of differences. You’re flatly wrong on “all”, of course. There’s a vast literature and a huge scholarly community who disagree with you, and I really do recommend the Pinker-Spelke debate.

    And on “primary”, all I’m saying is that this is somewhere between unknowable and meaningless, when our biological natures set the initial conditions out of which society emerges. Men treat women badly in disconnected, unrelated societies all around the world. And that treatment has pretty similar features; they are the more violent sex, they rape, they hog decision-making, they control women’s and girls’ sexuality, etc. Imagine you heard of a new tribe discovered in the Amazon. They have never had contact with the outside world. (Every once in a while, this still happens.) If you had to take a 50-50 bet with six months of your own salary, would you bet that they looked like this, or that women ran the show and treated the men like property?

    The word “innate” has been confusing. It doesn’t mean “inevitable”. Culture matters, or Sweden and Afghanistan would be identical. You are free to focus on culture. We should all focus on trying to change it. You’re just wrong on what “all the evidence” says, and your credibility is nil if you stand by that.

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    I read the fucking debate Greene. You’re now focusing on one fucking sentence in which I maybe overstated the case and completely ignoring the entirety of everything else that has been said in this thread and talking to us as if we don’t understand what words mean. I don’t need “innate” defined for me, thank you very much.

    Yes. I’m sure there are innate differences. I’m sure they work in concert with culture and socialization. Nobody. At any point. Has denied this. What we’re saying is get rid of the cultural road blocks to women participating in these fields before we start masturbating over biological differences. Because even if we knew everything there is to know about biological differences, culture will still be there. So fix the fucking culture and then see where we’re at. Then you can talk all you want about your biological differences.

    And no, I’m not saying nobody should even study biological differences. I’m saying Sam Fucking Harris, on a fucking stage, when asked why there are fewer women in organized atheism than men, should keep his fucking mouth shut about innate differences when the research just is not there to support the claim he made. Unless you have studies which show what a “critical posture” is and what “estrogen vibe” is and how the latter impacts the former as well as demonstrates that that is what is keeping women out of organized atheism.

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    Lane Greene:

    Why Both of Sam Harris’s Recent Comments Were Sexist — Even If You Accept Some Degree of Innate Gendered Behavior

    I’ll repeat the part from that piece that’s most relevant here: Even if you believe that gender differences are a blend of innate and learned, zeroing in on the innate makes it easy to dismiss the learned part. “We’re just born different! It totally makes sense that women would be grossly under-represented in Fortune 500 companies! Women are just born to be more nurturing and less competitive! It’s innate! Why are you asking us to do anything about it?” It absolves you — and your readers — of the responsibility to do anything about it. Knock it off.

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    Ms. Christina,

    I obtained the data from the survey you referenced. I can forward you the data I received if you want it.

    The survey appears to be weighted toward female majority atheists by the survey from China, presumably weighted by population. Besides China, only Palestine (not Israel), Serbia, South Sudan, and Tunisia have majority female atheists.

    For China, 49% of women are atheists, versus 44% of men. In South Sudan, the next most atheist nation where women predominate atheism, 8% of women are atheist versus 4% of men.

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