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Quick hits.

August 21, 2010, 8:33 am

1.  I think The Last Psychiatrist is reading my blog.  If I start explaining everything in terms of narcissism, send help.
2. Interesting article suggesting that biological differences do not explain cognitive and intellectual differences in boys and girls; the differences are too small, and brains are too plastic, for differences in the brain to explain large differences in achievement or preference.

What does explain it?  Culture, specifically parents’ expectations, which is why I thought this was interesting.  Often in informal discussions people assume that the culture must affect the child’s expectations directly, and so there’s a type of argument that points to a child’s preference for princess costumes or trucks, notes that the child is too young (and too well-parented) to know that those toys are gendered, and concludes therefore that preferences for princess costumes or trucks must be hardwired somehow.  What is often overlooked is that while the young child may be sheltered from the media, her parents aren’t, and neither are her parents’ friends.   If Suzy develops an interest in cars and princesses and her parents’ friends respond by teasing her parents by wondering where Suzy got this strange interest in cars, it reinforces the message to her parents that loving princesses is normal for a girl, and loving cars is not.  Thus, “Suzy loved princesses and cars as a little girl” becomes “Suzy loved princesses like all little girls do, but she also liked cars.”   Not a huge problem for cars and princesses, of course, but risky if the proposition is “Suzy is struggling with math” or “Joey seems to be lagging behind verbally.”

3. Did anyone else watch Zombieland and think that the lead role had been written for Michael Cera, and then went to someone else?

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