Goldin Mass Hysteria
It's not sufficient to liberals that Larry Summers was fired
for speaking the TRUTH in a formerly fine American university founded by men
like him--but that fuzzy feminazis like
Goldin who now claim to be
"equal" to him in the same breath they prove just how unequal they are, are now
It's not sufficient that feminazis like her simply confuse
their own mass hysteria with pure FACTS, they must throw in ad hominems and
invectives in order to "prove" their point. What better way to PROVE that
intellectual gender differences are many standards of deviation?
This we call "Goldin Mass Hysteria" in honor of Rebecca Goldin,
a professor of math who claims to be "dedicated to improving
math education in secondary public schools in the U.S." but whose
dedication is completely to feminism which has NOTHING to do with math
education, and whose efforts combined with other female educators contributed to
a lowering of SAT scores by more than a standard deviation
in less than four decades and placed the US dead last in 17 of 34
We begin with this little gem in response to MEN who were so
politically incorrect as to come to Larry Summers' defense:
"Or perhaps only hysterical men refuse to
accept that cognitive abilities have little to do with the gender disparity in
the sciences? "
Can you imagine if it was WE who accused feminists of being
"hysterical"? No, you can't, ergo proof of STANDARD DEVIATIONS of
separation between men and women in more than just cognitive abilities. We
oh so magnanimous men give the little lady a pass because, well, we know the
limitations of her cognitive abilities are based on gender even though we're not
allowed to articulate them any more or you will end up like Larry Summers.
Why else the ad hominems and invectives? If they really
thought they could prove their point, why would it be necessary? It they
were RIGHT, then why fire Larry Summers, and why support his firing, anyway?
If Larry Summers deserves to be fired for telling a TRUTH, then Goldin deserves
to be fired for either being too stupid to know the truth, or an inveterate LIAR
when she wrote:
"Moreover, there is no such difference
between test scores in Japan, while in Iceland women do better than men. If you
reduce mathematical ability to gender differences, you have to find a plausible
way of explaining away these highly inconvenient facts."
In this day and age, to anyone with a keyboard, much less one
who claims their "mission is to improve the quality of
scientific and statistical information in public discourse and to act as a
resource for journalists and policy makers on scientific issues and
controversies", these are certifiable LIES, not "inconvenient facts".
The gender gap in most countries is relatively small in the 8th grade but grows
dramatically by the 12th grade, as it did in TIMSS math and SAT math and
GRE quantitative in the US. But in Japan, the gender
gap at the 8th grade was a whopping 9 points, and while it was smaller in
Iceland, boys still scored 2 points higher than girls. Where is her "evidence"
that 12th grade girls in Iceland score higher than 12th grade boys? Only
in her head, as there is no reputable study which supports this certifiably
Even though Iceland didn't participate in 12th grade TIMSS,
their neighbor Norway did and their gender gap grew from a mere 4 points in the
8th grade to a whopping 66 points by the 12th grade, a standard deviation of
1.65. And the gender gap in Switzerland bridged every TIMSS topic from
geometry to advanced math to general math, ranging from a low of 0.8 to a high
of 2.0 standard deviations. Such a mind boggling misperception can only be
explained by mass hysteria, which is aptly named Goldin Mass Hysteria, for which
Goldin must be fired, immediately, in spite of her self serving assessment of
"There are also an assortment of extremely
important skills involved with success as an academic that are not measured on
these tests at all – skills like perseverance, patience, time commitment,
interest, ability to work with others, ability to manage many projects together,
ability to express ideas to others, ability to bridge different topics and make
connections between different fields, and so forth".
Little lady, you don't even meet the basic prerequisite Larry
Summers was talking about, and no amount of perseverance, patience, commitment,
"ability to work with others", yada, yada, yada, would ever change that in a
billion years. Your "ability to work with others" is impossible until you
come to grip with the fact that you are either an inveterate LIAR, or your
misperception of the gender gap is based on your own innate gender-related
incapacity to understand a standard deviation, much less how to search the
internet, much less how to get along with your "fellow" man, much less how to
educate our boys, much less how to improve anything for them.
It's fitting that you MIS-quote the same test which you claim
shows girls scored higher than boys in Iceland, which you disputed as "real
problems with using SAT scores (or other test scores) as a proxy for
mathematical ability and intelligence at the highest level". You
can't have it both ways, Little Lady.
As the evidence for sex discrimination in the sciences
mounts, media pundits continue to cite math test scores for innate differences
between women and men. Here’s why the numbers don’t add up
If you are going to be a provocateur, and your bully pulpit
happens to be a forum of academics, a certain grasp of the facts is advisable –
especially if you are bent on provoking thought outside your own discipline.
This was not merely lost on Larry Summers, the former President of Harvard
University, when he ventured to expound on why women were under-represented in
math and science departments, and suggested, among other reasons, that women
were innately compromised in this kind of cognitive functioning; it was often
overlooked by those of the punditocracy, who rallied to his defense in the name
of academic freedom.
“What is it about the word ‘provoke'’ those Harvard
intellectuals don't understand?” asked the editorial page of the Boston Herald.
“The transcript of Harvard University president Larry Summers' now infamous
remarks about a female's innate scientific capabilities proves he was doing just
what he said he was doing, provoking discussion.”
If anything should have renewed this discussion – and perhaps
drawn it to a conclusion – it was the recent publication of a
report by the National Academy of Sciences announcing that innate
intelligence had nothing to do with the gender disparities in science and
engineering. Rather, bias, discrimination and “outmoded institutional
structures” were responsible for holding women back. Adding to the smack-down,
Inside Higher Education released
details from an
as-yet-unpublished survey of 1,500 academics which found that only one-percent
believed differing ability was a cause of the gender gap.
But apart from an intemperate
column in the New York Times by John Tierney, who claimed that the NAS
report was a “cynical” act of political correctness, the news passed without the
kind of follow-up discussion that demonstrates some measure of a lesson learned.
This was remarkable, given that Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz had
described the critical drubbing meted out to Summers as sounding “like the trial
The problem was that unlike Galileo versus the Catholic Church,
Summers provoked a debate in which his academic interlocutors were, if not
smarter in the average, then smarter on the particulars of this issue. And so
when the pundits thundered about academic freedom being imperiled after Summers
was driven to apologize for his comments, it was a distinctly dumbed-down,
esteem-raising vision of academic freedom that was being advanced: that of the
amateur to expound without getting a slap down from an expert.
“Forgive Larry Summers. He did not know where he was,"
jabbed George Will in the Washington Post. “He thought he was speaking in a
place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He
was on a university campus…”
Of course, given that the role of the pundit in the American
media is to expound authoritatively and passionately on topics he or she may
only have a passing acquaintance with, one might say that sympathy for Summers
was a matter of self-interest. But it was difficult not to conclude that there
was a broader political agenda, and that conservatives were itching to let rip
at the supposedly underlying feminist and egalitarian orthodoxies because they
were able to sound high-minded, and even “scientific” in doing so. As Will
“Men and women have genetically based physical differences; the
brain is a physical thing -- part of the body. Is it unthinkable -- is it even
counterintuitive -- that this might help explain, for example, the familiar fact
that more men than women achieve the very highest scores in mathematics aptitude
tests? There is a vast and growing scientific literature on possible gender
differences in cognition. Only hysterics denounce interest in those possible
Or perhaps only hysterical men refuse to accept that cognitive
abilities have little to do with the gender disparity in the sciences?
Those who defended Summers seemed to have some powerful data on
their side, pointing to the SAT scores to explain why men perform both better
and worse than women in math: The bell curve was shallower for men – there were
more dunces at one tail of the curve and geniuses at the other - than there were
in the curve for women. In other words, fewer women than men were as dumb or as
brilliant at math: men are more varied in performance on these tests, while
women tend to clump in the “middle.” Summers referred to this phenomenon as "the
availability of aptitude at the high end."
Assuming that the SAT scores in math are a proxy for the kind of
intelligence required to be a world-class researcher in math and physics, then
men will dominate that part of the bell curve 3.5 to 4 standard deviations from
the mean. Considering that 99 percent of the population falls within three
standard deviations Summers was referring to a very, very small number of
people, which in the case of Harvard, roughly corresponds to those considered
for jobs as professors of physics.
It wasn’t just conservatives who thought that this was a really
good argument – and that, those who denounced Summers were guilty of putting
gender politics ahead of dispassionate, intelligent inquiry. As William Saletan
wrote in Slate just after
"It's a claim that the distribution of male scores is more
spread out than the distribution of female scores—a greater percentage at both
the bottom and the top. Nobody bats an eye at the overrepresentation of men in
prison. But suggest that the excess might go both ways, and you're a pig."
And Tierney, the Times’ “libertarian” columnist, in castigating
the NAS for indulging in “the kind of science that you expect to find in The
“One well-documented difference is the disproportionately large
number of boys scoring in the top percentile of the SAT math test. And when you
compare boy math whizzes with girl math whizzes, more differences appear. The
boys score much higher on the math portion of the SAT than on the verbal,
whereas the girls are more balanced -- high on the verbal as well as the math.”
What these critics missed is that there are real problems with
using SAT scores (or other test scores) as a proxy for mathematical ability and
intelligence at the highest level. As with all tests, the SAT measures exactly
what it tests: the ability to quickly solve specific problems correctly on a
high-pressure, timed exam.
Invariably, there are students who are poor test-takers but good
“thinkers;” but more to the point, while the resulting scores may indicate
“achievement” or “mastery” of a certain skill set, they cannot distinguish those
who are truly brilliant from those who are just “very good” at the skill set.
There are also an assortment of extremely important skills
involved with success as an academic that are not measured on these tests at all
– skills like perseverance, patience, time commitment, interest, ability to work
with others, ability to manage many projects together, ability to express ideas
to others, ability to bridge different topics and make connections between
different fields, and so forth.
When scientists are asked to list the “very best” scientists in
their field, reputation derives not from the ability to perform basic
computations quickly, but rather from the ability to generate deep ideas that
have a profound impact on science. This simply cannot be measured with test
Even when you take specific activities like doing theoretical
physics, there is no single way of lining people up and saying Person A is more
intelligent than Person B. Even though we make judgments and can reach consensus
– and are occasionally able to say that one person strictly holds more, or
better, information than another (say a calculus teacher over a student of
calculus) – there's no way to distinguish objectively between top researchers by
creating a curve with just one input variable, namely test scores. Intelligence
Summers and his defenders also made the mistake of conflating
the data with a model of the data. Scores on tests like the SAT tend to fall
into a pattern, which is termed the “normal curve.” Typically, statisticians
come up with such a model of the data to describe how test scores are
distributed, and then use these models to explore certain aspects of the data.
This happens to work very well when you talk in generalities; for example, one
can calculate one standard deviation from the mean using properties of the
normal curve, and find the approximate score values in which about 68 percent of
the population will fall.
But this ideal relationship breaks down far away from the mean,
where there is very little data (less than .004 percent of the population scores
four standard deviations better than the mean). For tests on which there is a
maximal score, the data cannot possibly fit exactly into the model of a “normal
curve” because a normal curve has an infinite tail. In other words, even if the
SAT was a good proxy for talent at math and physics, such talent would be poorly
modeled by normal curves at the extreme ends.
Another mistake made by those who defended Summers’ theory is
the conviction that these test scores are measuring something innate, when there
is a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise. One of the most persuasive arguments
is that the gap between the genders is diminishing; girls now score higher on
these tests than they did twenty years ago, and even twenty years ago they did
better than they had done fifty years ago. If the tests were measuring innate
talent, we would not see significant differences from one generation to the
next. Even if there weren’t problems with using test scores as a proxy for
talent at the highest levels in science, the evidence suggesting that the
measured differences are innate is, from an academic point of view, woefully
weak. As the NAS noted, the gap between males and females at the very highest
end of mathematical ability is narrowing.
Moreover, there is no such difference between test scores in
Japan, while in Iceland women do better than men. If you reduce mathematical
ability to gender differences, you have to find a plausible way of explaining
away these highly inconvenient facts.
One of the logical requirements of scientific investigation is
that you must abandon a theory when it fails to account for the facts or fit the
data. But to the posse of Henry Higginses in the American media, it seems
impossible to let go of the axiom that a woman cannot be more like a man in math
and physics. Which leads us to ask, what is it about this class of graying men
that just doesn’t get why you can’t graph away the gender disparity in the
sciences with a curve?