Soooo it’s happened again. There’s another pop science article arguing that there are “real differences” between “female and male brains” and citing hormones as the root of gender differences in cognitive ability. There are so many of these that I usually just scowl at them as they go by, but every so often there’s one so blatantly terrible that I can’t help but swing at it. This recent Slate article was one such doozy. Get out your baseball bats.
According to the initial report of the study that the Slate article is writing about, these researchers took pictures of the brains of 18 trans individuals undergoing hormone therapy as part of their transition to living as male. Over the course of 4 weeks, these researchers found statistically significant decreases in the gray matter of two brain regions involved in language processing. They also found significant increases in the white matter connecting with these areas, which they say they found “surprising” — translation: “does not support our conclusion.” Their conclusion, of course, is that hormones, specifically testosterone, may contribute to gender differences in verbal ability. The pop science article extends this to imply that hormones could totally explain all such functional gender differences.
We’ve got great stuff to work with here. Continue reading