Men listen with half-the-brain. Women, the whole.
November 29, 2000 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Men listen with half-the-brain. Women, the whole. Now it's obvious that women are superior and it is inevitable that they will dominate the human race, kill off the male and live like those space Amazonians you saw in Star Trek. Yep.
posted by tiaka (34 comments total)
Silence, beta male!
posted by waxpancake at 10:27 AM on November 29, 2000

"It could be that it's harder for them," Lurito suggested, since they apparently need to use more of their brains than men to do the same task.

Obviously someone wasn't listening.
posted by 120degrees at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2000

Well, we only need to use half the brain. It's not that hard of a thing to do.
posted by john at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2000

I believe that it actually indicates a more visual tendency in women - to imagine full colour scenarios as someone is talking, rather than just digesting the language. I don't think it's an indicator of superiority in either sex, however - just a different means to an end.

posted by annathea at 10:41 AM on November 29, 2000

well, thats not a very fun way to look at it
posted by howa2396 at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2000

Maybe women HAVE to use their whole brain, and men ONLY need to use half of their brain.

Hmmmph! Superior! Again!
posted by grambo at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2000

The real reason guys only use half their brain and all you get is a series of "uh huh, uh huh, yup" is because we're too busy watching Hockey Night in Canada when you women are talking to us. There's always something else to distract us.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2000

nah! the real reason we listen with 1/2 brain is efficiency. experience has shown that only about 1/2 of what my wife says has relevance to anything!
posted by quonsar at 11:28 AM on November 29, 2000

Good god, you get 1/2 relevance? You have nothing to complain about.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2000

This research study used only 20 subjects. Its results are interesting, but perhaps not as universal as the news coverage would suggest.

I don't know much about the subject, but brains are pretty flexible, especially in childhood; would it really be that surprising if people developed different ways of listening depending on how their sex is expected to use language?

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:03 PM on November 29, 2000

Speculation: this will become fodder for a joke during an upcoming Leno monologue. He'll crack wise that the scientists weren't looking in the right place for the other half of the male brain. Beat. Blah blah blah, men think with their crotch. The audience will laugh mechanically, perhaps even clap, hoping for a similarly obligatory Al Gore joke. So it goes.
posted by highindustrial at 12:41 PM on November 29, 2000

Could we please get a little more cynicism in here? Thanks.

posted by norm at 12:58 PM on November 29, 2000

norm: no you can't. =P
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 1:15 PM on November 29, 2000

"If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain."

Rupert Holmes was a man wayyyy ahead of his time. :-)
posted by ethmar at 1:18 PM on November 29, 2000

posted by tiaka at 1:27 PM on November 29, 2000

ethmar is my new hero.
posted by Optamystic at 1:30 PM on November 29, 2000

I had to get my cool points back somehow. :-)
posted by ethmar at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2000

Okay I have a question. Maybe I'm just nieve but where precisely the fuck do these mad scientist types get the funding to do this sort of absurd research? Clearly no one knows even remotely enough about the brain to make this sort of statement and some of the conclusions are just silly. In fact this vaguely reminds me of a study done in France (I saw it reported on TV so I have no link, sorry) that concluded that women were nervous, uncomfortable and unaroused when exposed to porn. How did they test for arousal? They placed a probe in the women's vaginas. And expected them to sit there in comfort.
Lets just kill all the scientists who seek to cash in on gender prejudice with wildly irrelevant "science".

Of course the article could have been a joke that I missed
posted by davidgentle at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2000

a probe in the women's vaginas? Hmm.. wonder how much they got payed for that? I hope more than those idiots drinking toxins Steven reported the other day.
posted by tiaka at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2000

As long as there is a question, someone will try and find the answer.
posted by john at 1:42 PM on November 29, 2000

Is it that women work harder or that men don't work hard enough?

I'm just sayin'....
posted by amanda at 2:17 PM on November 29, 2000

David: to tell you the truth, a lot of scientific discoveries are made as a result of what you might consider "stupid" experiments.

Ben Franklin, flying his kite in an electric storm is but one of many notable examples.

Damn, and one more.. The name of the guy escapes me, but he was a noted writer/scientist who eventually died of pneumonia while stuffing a chicken with snow doing an experiment. Someone wanna help me out here?

Anyway, my point is, you might think it's dumb now, but it could be the basis for some very important discoveries in the future.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 2:17 PM on November 29, 2000

...women were nervous, uncomfortable and unaroused when exposed to porn

The only refutation to that theory they'd need would be to come read my (all-women's) college newspaper. There's a column every week celebrating pornography and similar joys. But really, I think David has a very good point. These narrow studies seem to be used to make sweeping statements that support mainstream stereotypes, without anyone actually looking into all the variables. That's the least scientific thing I can think of.

And come on, John Grisham? I'd have a lot of trouble paying attention to that shlock.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 2:44 PM on November 29, 2000

Ding *that*, Annabel.

Surely nothing could more fascinating then hearing a man talk.
posted by amanda at 3:24 PM on November 29, 2000

posted by holloway at 3:26 PM on November 29, 2000

[Annabel] These narrow studies seem to be used to make sweeping statements that support mainstream stereotypes, without anyone actually looking into all the variables

Did you guys ever think that perhaps the scientists weren't really making these dramatic claims and that it's the press that's exaggerating the story to make a good headline? That sort of thing happens all the time to scientists.

As for the money for the research, investigating how the brain works is phenomenally important. Even if this particular study seems silly on the (journalistically rendered) surface, this tiny piece of the puzzle will later be used by other scientists along with a whole lot of other seemingly silly research and we'll start getting a better picture of how the brain works. I think it's great!
posted by daveadams at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2000

Francis Bacon died of pneumonia/a chill/complications arising from bronchitis/a cold (depends who's talking) after stuffing a chicken with snow. Read all about it.
posted by sylloge at 10:02 PM on November 29, 2000

DaveAdams: I take your point to some extent. No offense intended to any journalists reading this but they are obviously trying to sell newspapers. Maybe we should just torture the journos instead?
I still think that it's a silly thing to study this sort of thing when the actual workings of the brain are so poorly understood. Science has a nasty habit of allowing itself to be used to create hatred. Of course journalism does as well...
posted by davidgentle at 11:17 PM on November 29, 2000

There's an aphorism in Artificial Intelligence research in Computer Science:

"If the brain was simple enough for us to understand, we'd be too simple to understand it."
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:37 PM on November 29, 2000

Did you guys ever think that perhaps the scientists weren't really making these dramatic claims and that it's the press that's exaggerating the story to make a good headline?

I believe I said that these studies "seem to be used," in the passive voice. Where did I say that it was the scientists making these claims? I think the media jumps all over stuff like this and uses it irresponsibly. I fully understand that this kind of research can lead to important findings. That was not my point. I simply wish these kinds of things would either not be released to the media in the way they are, or the scientists would clarify what the studies really mean - and not say things like 'It could be that it's "harder for them [women]" '. That wasn't the journalist's inference, that's what one of the scientists said, and it totally supports the way the media wants to present this. I also think that, as Mars pointed out, it's a very small group of people to base these supposedly universal findings on. Either the article ignored it completely (a possibility), or the scientists are not taking into account social and other variables.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 2:55 PM on November 30, 2000

The problem with not releasing the studies to the media is that publishing the studies is what gets researchers the next round of funding, so they can take a 20-person study and finance the same thing with 2000.

Now, they don't necessarily publish their findings in the New York Post, but big news sources have tons of people trolling techincal and scientific journals for just this type of "Science says Genders aren't the same" general interest tidbit.

And, unfortunately, if the researchers are even consulted about the studies, their comments are boiled down to 2 sentance sound bites that support the journalist's take on the subject. Ah, corporate media. Isn't it grand?
posted by cCranium at 4:08 PM on November 30, 2000

I can't remember which is more predominantly left brain and which is predominantly right brain but there's already been studies explaining that one side of the brain generally works for more analytical or mathematical stuff and the other side of the brain is more creative and emotional. The sensory stimuli being used for this test was an audio book of a John Grisham's novel. Men respond to such material on a more analytical level, and perhaps later put it through the more emotional side of the brain if it's necessary. Women take in sensory stimuli utilizing both the analytical and emotional side of their brain.

We've known this already. Men generally have the emotional and creative side of their brains turned off by default. They have to consciously make the decision to approach something that might make them cry in a more emotional way. Women have that same tendency set to ON by default, and have to consciously decide not to be heartfelt. This is telling us nothing new, but it is telling us something old in a new way.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:55 PM on November 30, 2000

(1) it makes sense that there are all kinds of off-the-wall odd little studies here and there about all kinds of things with just a few participants. This allows many stones to be turned over, as it were, to look for promising new paths.

That is, the *beginning* of a new promising path, that may or may not bear fruit when additional experiments are conducted on a wider scale in the same vein. But this takes money, more money than is available for the initial experiments. It's all about treasure-hunting, essentially.

(2) why is everyone so quick to take these results and paint them as "man smart, woman dumb" or "woman smart, man dumb"?? Not just the journalists, either, I see.

What a load of crap - all that this research points to is a *difference*. Not better, not worse, just DIFFERENT. It's very simple.

It's interesting, actually, just to know that there *is* a possible difference.

We can start to ask questions about *why* it might be different - what happened evolutionarily to cause the difference? What's the mechanism for the difference? Is it hormonal? What do gay men & women's brains look like in a similar experiment? What happens if you use a piece read in a woman's voice? (don't jet fighters use warnings recorded in women's voices because men listen to them better, especially when they're close to passing out from pulling massive G's?) What happens if you look at children's brains before puberty? What happens if you look at Europeans vs. Asians vs. Inuit or people from other kinds of cultures?

There are many fascinating ways of repeating the experiment to shed more light on what might be going on here. And even if the initial results don't quite hold up (or not quite in the way they appeared at first), we will probably still discover something interesting, possibly even useful that can eventually help make peoples' lives better.

That's part of science - *repeating* the experiment. It's not just one-go-and-it's-all-crystal-clear, not at all. Or need I mention cold fusion as an example of why that's not the case?
posted by beth at 10:10 AM on December 1, 2000

More brain activity has been found when women are listening to sounds as opposed to men listening to sounds but who is to say that this is a measure of intelligence? how does this proove that women are more intelligent?

It has actually been proven that IQ is not neccessarily a measure of intelligence so who says more brain activity when listening = more intelligence????

Also It is apsoloutely absurd to state that a sex is more intelligent than another, men and women are so uniquely different - psychologically, can they even be compared? I think intelligence should be seen as an individual trait/characteristic/measure!!!! regardless of sex, and could somebody actually define intelligence anyway.
posted by Klaire at 5:06 AM on December 13, 2000

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