Mad ScienceDeconstructing Bunk Reporting in 5 Easy Steps

British scientists have uncovered the truth behind one of modern culture's greatest mysteries: why little girls play with pink toys. Is it because toy companies flood whole store aisles with the color? Or because well-meaning relatives shower girl babies with pink blankets and clothing? Nope. According to the men in lab coats, it's purely biological.

Apparently, women are hardwired to like pink because our cavewoman foremothers spent their days gathering red leaves and berries amongst the trees while their husbands were out hunting. Later, women needed to notice red-faced babies and blushing boyfriends. And why do men like blue? Because it's the color of the sky.

This evolutionary just-so story takes up three pages of a 2007 issue of Current Biology. To back up the assertion that pink is a universal girly preference worth examining, the authors refer to a 1985 study finding that little girls use more pink and red crayons in their drawings than little boys do.

Dig further, however, and the story completely falls apart. British women do prefer pink, but the author's claim of a “robust, cross-cultural sex difference” turns out to be neither. The scientists compared British natives with Chinese immigrants to Britain, and glossed over the differences. For example: The girliest color in the British results, a purplish-pink, was in fact the Chinese men's favorite.

Nowhere do scientific findings get more mangled than when they're about the differences between men and women. According to the science pages, women aren't just biologically hardwired to prefer pink to blue. We're also predisposed to backstab one another in the workplace, cry in the boardroom, and have both lower iqs and less of a sense of humor than men.

Some misleading stories come from bad science, where the study authors' conclusions aren't supported by their own data. Others are well-conducted studies whose conclusions mutate upon contact with the mainstream media. Newspapers and websites are prone to playing fast and loose with their reports on studies, often neglecting to reveal salient facts about a study's sample group or methodology.

The fact is that science articles aren't designed to be read by non-scientists. College and grad students in the sciences are trained in how to do it: They review papers and discuss them in journal clubs; learn how to question methodologies (Is that sample really big enough? Was that the right test to use?); and learn how to be critical of authors' interpretations (Do the results really mean what they say they mean?). Students also know to look at context for each study, looking up previous papers on the subject, reviewing the authors' previous work, and searching out any evidence of bias that might color a study's findings.

Journalists looking for a quick story, however, do little such research. And in an age where news sites, wire services, and blogs pick up stories with lightning-fast speed, bad research gets around. When London's Sunday Times reported on a 2007 study claiming that men get dumber in the presence of blond women, the paper got the name of the journal wrong, citing the Journal of Experimental Psychology rather than the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Nearly every subsequent news article repeated the error because they were content to simply reword the Times' version of the story rather than finding and discussing the study itself.

The Times reported that blond-exposed subjects “mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde.” But that's not exactly what the study tested. Rather, subjects—most of them female—fared slightly worse on online trivia quizzes after rating hair color (is she a blond, brunet, or redhead?) on pictures of beauty queens. You could just as easily say that beauty queens make people dumb, or photos of dazzling smiles make people dumb. It seems this study made the news mostly because it could be illustrated with photos of Marilyn Monroe and filled out with dopey quotes from blond models and actresses, as well as blond jokes from the Times itself.

Ben Goldacre, who writes the “Bad Science” column for the UK's Guardian, speculates that science stories come in three varieties: the wacky story, the breakthrough story, and the scare story. Most widely reported studies on gender seem to fall into the wacky category—the supposed innate preference for pink is one of them—and their media strength is that they tend to support existing stereotypes of women, reassuring readers that social stereotypes do, in fact, reflect reality.

We can't put all the blame on mainstream media, of course. Scientists are part of the same culture as the rest of us, and they too have biases that shape their hypotheses and interpretations. The scientific community can also be as fad-driven as popular culture, creating a climate in which many researchers simultaneously geek out over one specific theory while competing ideas get lost or abandoned. So let's learn how to read between the lines of these dubious articles. Next time you see an article reporting that women are happiest when they're picking up their man's dirty socks, try asking these questions:

1 Do the Conclusions Fit a Little Too Well With Cultural Stereotypes?

Science has the capacity to surprise and amaze us, but sometimes it's more satisfying when you can jump up and say, “Yes! I knew it all along!” Which is why articles touting the awesomeness of traditional gender roles are an evergreen subject in the science pages.

A 2007 study from the American Society for Cancer Research journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention titled “Physical activity and breast-cancer risk” found fame in such headlines as the BBC's “Housework cuts breast-cancer risk.” That's not to mention the 2006 study on housework and cancer in Canadian women, the 2005 study on housework and cancer in Chinese women, or the 2004 study…you get the idea. [See “Home Is Where the Cardio Is,” Bitch no. 27]

The reality? Being physically active seems to help prevent cancer, and the researchers behind the recent studies have been counting housework as physical activity. Housework, sports, and active jobs all had significant effects in reducing cancer risk, and the authors think the key may be frequent, low-impact exercise.

An author on several of these studies, Christine Friedenreich, told the Calgary Herald that in past studies, researchers counted jobs like construction work as physical activity, but not housework—and it turns out that domestic tasks are, duh, hard work.

This means that many women are getting more exercise than they (or their doctors) had realized. That should be good news for them—but instead, the message imparted by the news reports is, “Get back into the kitchen! That's all the exercise you need!”

It's worth noting that one of the study's sponsors, Cancer Research UK, answered questions about the 2006 study on its website, pointing out that for many of the older women in the study group, housework was their primary form of exercise. The organization went on to address charges of sexism directly, making sure to mention a related 2006 study that found housework cuts the risk of bowel cancer for both men and women, concluding, “There's absolutely no excuse for men to dodge the dusting!”

2 Does the Study Agree With the Headline?

Behind every junk-science headline is a scientific journal article. Sometimes the university or organization that was home to the study sends out a press release to mainstream outlets, hoping for attention; other times, journalists simply scan the abstracts of academic journals for newsworthy fodder. Chances are a story will make the papers if it's got some kind of hook—weird (like the idea that housework has curative properties), controversial (like claims that men are smarter than women), can be illustrated with bikini babes (like the dumb-blond study), etc. Especially for online news outlets, these hooks are valuable because they make good linkbait: the kind of thing they hope you'll forward to friends or post on your blog.

The London Times probably hadn't read the full study titled “Prejudice against women in male-congenial environments: Perceptions of gender-role congruity in leadership” when they summarized it under the headline “Office Queen Bees Hold Back Women's Careers” in a 2006 article. The paper's charge—that “women bosses are significantly more likely than men to discriminate against female employees”—may indeed have surprised the study's authors.

The actual study went something like this: Participants weren't put in a boss's role, but an observer's. They read a purposely vague description of a manager who was being considered for promotion and were asked to imagine how qualified the candidate was, and whether he or she was likely to succeed. The study made a number of interesting points that the Times could easily have reported on—for instance, that female managers were judged to have both very masculine and very feminine traits, possibly in an attempt to reconcile their gender with the traditionally masculine-associated role of leadership.

Both the male and female participants were optimistic about the male manager's success, but not about the woman's (except when she worked in a female-dominated industry). Sounds pretty realistic, right? The researchers thought so too. They write, “Participants' predictions about the [female] candidate's future salary…mirrored the fact that women earn less money in the same position [than] men do in real life.” So where are those “queen bees” that the Times so gleefully name-checked? Exactly.

It's not difficult to track down the science behind the story. Look for the names of the researchers, the journal their work appeared in, and (if you're lucky) the title of the article. Type whatever info you've got into Google Scholar (, and soon you'll be looking at an abstract for the paper. Scientific journals are usually locked behind paywalls, unfortunately, so you may need to call upon a pal at a university for access to the entire study.

3 Can You Spot the Double Standard?

Whether it's lions fathering all the cubs in their pride, or human males getting a pass for cheating on their girlfriends, males sleeping around rarely make the news—it's the natural order, after all—unless the article is happily touting the genetic advantages a male gets from spreading his dna around.

But when female cheetahs were found to do the same by a Zoological Society of London study, the study's words about “promiscuous” felines were quickly outnumbered in Google's index by the phrase, “cheetahs are sluts!”

Study author Dada Gottelli was quoted thus: “Mating with more than one male poses a serious threat to females, increasing the risk of exposure to parasites and diseases. Females also have to travel over large distances to find new mates, making them more vulnerable to predation.” Sounds like a cheetah-specific version of certain sex-ed curricula: Don't sleep around, girls, or you'll catch lots of diseases and the male cheetahs won't respect you in the morning. Male cheetahs, however, aren't “promiscuous”—they're creating a healthier gene pool.

Not too surprising, then, that most of the coverage glossed over the evolutionary benefit of promiscuity for both male and female cheetahs: Multiple cubs by multiple cub daddies increases the likelihood of genetic diversity—a definite positive for a threatened species. Furthermore, the study noted that the rates of infanticide in cheetahs are much lower than in other big-cat populations, likely because male competitors don't know which offspring might be theirs. But why let the facts slow down a good headline?

In a human example of a double-standard story, women were found to be “worse oglers” than men, according to the Sydney Morning Herald summary of a study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior. (The Herald inexplicably illustrated its story with headshots of Sharon Stone and Mr. Bean). What does that even mean, you ask? When researchers showed “sexual stimuli” (read: Internet porn) to heterosexual men and women, they expected women to look more at faces and men to look more at genitals. The newspaper reported that, in fact, “almost the reverse was true.”

Actually, the study says that men looked at women's faces more than women did, and men and women looked with equal frequency at the pictured genitals; women who weren't on oral contraceptives looked slightly more. So where did that headline come from?

The study authors didn't originate the “worse oglers” language; they even warn in the study that they can't say why subjects' gazes lingered where they did, or whether they were turned on as they looked. So it's not fair to say that the study was about “ogling,” a word that suggests that looking is lustful and perhaps inappropriate.

To say that women are “worse” at ogling, we have to believe, first, that ogling is bad, and second, that men do it at some normal, baseline level that women are exceeding. The judgmental language makes it sound like women in the study were indulging a bad habit. Right there in the headline is the double standard: If men ogle, it's normal, but when women do it, they're “worse.”

4 Is There Another Conclusion That Would be Just as Valid?

Sometimes a news story is an accurate representation of the scientists' conclusions, but the scientists' conclusions don't follow their results. Take this 2005 BBC headline: “Men Cleverer Than Women.” The study, at the time of the headline yet to be published in the British Journal of Psychology, claims that as iq scores rise, the gender gap widens, with 5.5 men for every woman scoring at the “genius” level of 155 or higher on iq tests. That's all the evidence the authors (one of whom, Richard Lynn, has published similar studies on racial differences in iq) give to support their claim.

But there is another, equally powerful explanation that's been considered for years before this study came along: iq tests—which don't measure intelligence directly, but try to approximate it—have a wealth of gender, racial, and cultural biases.

In a 2000 survey of sex differences in intelligence called “The Smarter Sex: A Critical Review of Sex Differences in Intelligence,” in the Educational Psychology Review, Diane Halpern and Mary LaMay write that Lynn's approach “rests on the belief that the test of intelligence is really measuring what psychologists mean by intelligence, and that it is doing so in a way that will yield a fair assessment for males and females—two assumptions that may not be justified.”

Statistically, men do outperform women on certain types of questions, but the reverse is also true; test designers use this fact to calibrate iq tests, balancing male-biased with female-biased questions so that men and women average the same scores on the same test. Addressing Lynn's research directly, Halpern and LaMay say, “Using data from tests that are designed to yield no sex differences to argue for a difference is psychometric nonsense.” Either the tests were miscalibrated (and thus biased) or Lynn's results are a fluke: Probably the latter, since other studies (like a 1995 study on a population similar to Lynn's, done by scientists at the Flinders University of South Australia and published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology) found no difference between males and females.

So why even report the latest study from this obviously biased researcher? Perhaps it's reassuring to believe that sexism isn't sexism, it's science; that the status quo reflects some kind of natural order; and that anyone who claims otherwise is a whiner. Or perhaps Lynn's studies make the news because he's sort of a one-man show of bunk science—after all, this is the same guy who claims that African-Americans have higher iqs than Africans because they have Caucasian genes that make them smarter.

Then there are the stories that point the finger at feminism for a variety of historical incidents and ills. The 2007 Boston Globe story titled “Stone Age Feminism? Females joining hunt may explain Neanderthals' end” is one of these.

The supporting study, authored by archaeologists Steven Kuhn and Mary Stiner, turned on the hypothesis that Neanderthal women participated in hunting alongside Neanderthal men. The dangers of hunting—among them, getting stomped and gored by various beasts—along with the fact that many cavegals' lives were cut short before they could produce baby Neanderthals, meant that the breeding population dwindled and the species died out.

But the evidence for this “stone age feminism” wasn't evidence at all. The hypothesis that the women hunted alongside the men was developed because the study's authors found no clues suggesting that Neanderthal women were, well, homemakers—no grinding stones and bone needles that would signal a traditional division of labor in the species. So is it possible that male and female Neanderthals hunted together successfully, and the species dwindled for some other, totally unrelated reason? And, for that matter, why not hypothesize that coed hunting parties actually contributed to the Neanderthals' longevity? More than 100,000 years of existence is nothing to sneeze at, after all. Why jump to the conclusion that feminism ruins everything? Ah, yes: because it's a story that will sell papers.

5 Is the Study Even Science?

In his “Bad Science” column, Goldacre reminds us that so-called studies may not have studied anything at all. A hair-removal cream company once asked Goldacre to come up with a formula calculating which celebrity had the sexiest walk. “We know what results we want to achieve,” they told him, naming celebrities with shapely legs whose high-ranking walks could move units of their product.

When Goldacre refused, another scientist supplied the company with a formula, thinking it would be used as a joke. The company's press release became an article in the Telegraph, crediting a nonexistent “team of Cambridge mathematicians” and with no mention of the so-called study's actual source.

Lesson learned: If you can't find the source article, it may not actually exist.

In another example of non-science, BBC News studiously reported in late 2007 that humor “comes from testosterone.” The article? Based on a British Medical Journal study recording the casual responses of passers-by to a unicyclist. The article notes that little boys had more “aggressive” responses to the unicyclist (trying to knock him over) and young men made the most jokes—typically an unimaginative variant of “Lost your wheel?”—with elderly men's jokes being less hostile (“Does it crush your bollocks, mate?”). The article also featured a graphic showing the ebb of testosterone in men over time; since young men have the most testosterone and made the greatest number of jokes, the author concludes, testosterone must be the source of humor.

If all you read was the BBC piece, you might think that there's a clutch of professors somewhere in England taking this theory seriously. In fact, the deliberately hilarious study was published in the BMJ's Christmas issue, famous for its joke articles. (A study from the previous year was titled “Surgeons are taller and more handsome than physicians” and used a photo of George Clooney as a control.)

The fact that the BBC didn't pick up on the joke speaks volumes about the mainstream media's unceasing appetite for gendered potshots. How many of us would really be surprised to see a “legitimate” report linking testosterone and humor? Would it look anything like the 2005 report from Stirling and St. Andrews universities in the UK that claims testosterone causes women to be “career-driven” like men? The humbling take-home message from these studies is that traditionally masculine traits still belong to men—even when women share them.

Although there is an element of humor in how wrong the news media can get science, the trend isn't a harmless one. While plenty of smart people question biased headlines of all stripes, casual readers—particularly young ones—are likely to skim the stories and tuck them away in the pocket of their brains where stereotypes are kept. It's bad enough when we see images of women as passive, petty, dumb, or slutty in fiction or advertisements, but stereotypes that come with the lofty stamp of science have the air of being, well, factual.

After all, if women are biologically wired to be weak or catty or dumb or humorless, then there's nothing wrong with writing consistently airheaded female movie and tv characters, dismissing women in positions of power as “bitches” or “too emotional,” or claiming that institutional sexism doesn't exist, women just aren't smart enough to be ceos, grand masters, or surgeons. These studies reassure people that media images reflect reality, that society reflects biology, and that nothing can or should be changed.

Perhaps we should just take solace in one final study, released by the American Psychological Association in 2005 but picked up by very few mainstream sources. The title? “Men and women found more similar than portrayed in popular media.”

Beth Skwarecki majored in biology but ended up as a programmer and a writer. She lives in Ithaca, NY.
This article was published in Wired Issue #39 | Spring 2008

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

35 Comments Have Been Posted

When brothers share a wife

You might really enjoy <a href="">this article</a> on Tibetan polyandry

<blockquote>Melvin C. Goldstein, now a professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, has been interested in the Tibetan practice of fraternal polyandry (several brothers marrying one wife) since he was a graduate student in the 1960's.</blockquote>

Dr Goldstein seems to think highly of the custom.

"Pure race" has nothing to

"Pure race" has nothing to do with educational success. Maybe Norway just has a better educational system. Maybe girls in the US do worse because US teachers pay them less attention and help them less than they do boys. And Lynn adjusted for multiculturalism? That doesn't even make sense. Why would you even want to rank the world in IQ anyway, other than to try and justify racist opinions?

Brothers dont share wifes

Unless they are cousins lol

women perpetuating their own oppressions

I really appreciate your article and think it speaks to the importance of questioning how "objective" science and scientists can really be and how that science then is subject to further (mis)interpretation by the media. At the same time, you say, "According to the men in lab coats, it’s [girls' preference for pink is] purely biological" when at least one of the authors/researchers for the <i> Current Biology </i> study is a woman. In writing feminist critiques, I think it's just as important to make sure that we acknowledge the many and complicated ways that women internalize and perpetuate their own oppressions.


don't guys do the same thing? although girls do tend to perpetuate a lot more actively than men do.

pink toys, i wonder why my wife loves to buy these pink <a href="">sex toys</a> online, now i know. haha

How true-- well observed!

How true-- well observed!

Clearly the alleged

Clearly the alleged scientists behind this pink/blue preference did no historical research as these sex/color assignments have reversed at least once. Earlier in the 20th Century pink was the preferred color for boys and blue for girls. This would actually be more consistent with research I remember reading at some point: that men generally prefer warm colors and women cool ones. Of course I don't know if that's true either, just that it jibed with certain personal observations at the time & so I remembered it.


How would the color of the sky even be RELEVANT to survival?

"Zug know where sky is! This help strong Zug hunt big mammoth!"

It makes me sad that such an assertion could be given a pass in a high school English paper, let alone a "scientific" study.

Fabulous article!

I loved this article! I'm a biology geek who has long been dismayed how some studies are reported in the general media (if at all). Beth did a fantastic job of introducing the idea of deconstructing scientific studies to a potentially non-scientist audience. Its long driven me nuts that certain ideas are held to be 'true' because there are one or two articles supporting it. But Lisa shows us more than just how to be suspicious of easy conclusions by suggesting some ways to tell how valid a study or source may be. Kudos!

TIMSS vs lower slobovia

Why would she trust a non-descript, unknown study in lower South Australia with an unspecified methodology, an unknown population, and a vague reference to "equal" [which she probably found on a web site], over a tried and true study of half a million students around the world like the Third International Math and Science Study?

Fabulous article 2

I agree - fabulous article! I hope it will show some people that "research" and "facts" can also be made up, and is not "evidence" about biological gender debates. As a person that looks at the whole picture (including the importance of sociological influences), this sheds a lot of light on how subjective even "research" can be. I hope some essentialist's out there read this article and it educates them about this.



im a 16 year old girl and got introduce to this magazine/website from my <b> female </b> english teacher.

this article and many others have made me realise how stupid the media can be and how they are able to twist the truth for the mere fact of publicity and money.

great read though :)




The charts and graphs can be seen in their proper format at

Because media, educators, bureaucrats, politicians, and other powers
that be studiously ignore the sad state of our high schools, as
evidenced by SAT, TIMSS, NAEP, etc., and instead focus only on 8th
grade performance, less than 7% of Americans are aware of just how low
we scored in TIMSS at the 12th grade level. Comparing 8th grade
scores understates the problem because 45 countries who participated
in this study of more than half a million students around the world
proved that the last four years of a student's education is the most
important part, and 8th grade scores obviously miss that part. Of 45
countries whose 12th graders participated in TIMSS Math, the boys in
35 of those countries scored higher than the 8th grade math score, and
those in 7 countries scored lower. In the US, 12th grade boys scored
56 points lower and 12th grade girls scored 104 points lower. Where
Swiss 8th graders scored 46 points higher than ours in math, their
12th grade boys scored 102 points higher than our boys and 133 points
higher than our girls.

How shocked they all would be if they realized that our 12th grade
girls scored DEAD LAST in physics, 130 points lower than girls in
Norway and almost 200 points lower than boys in Norway, simply because
the scores of American girls from the 8th to 12th grade dropped even
faster than our boys, whose scores dropped even more than that for
most girls. Conversely, relative to their 8th grade scores, 12th grade
boys in Cyprus scored 89 points higher, in Norway scored 84 points
higher, and in Sweden scored 66 points higher.

Whatever their high schools are doing that ours aren't we'd better
start doing QUICKLY or it won't be long before we're a dark smudge on
the "global economy".



Every nation which participated in this part of TIMSS, which is mostly
European nations (and not the Asian nations like Korea, Japan,
Singapore, and Taiwan who blew the pants off our 8th graders) scored
higher, MUCH higher, than us.

The US is the only country whose 8th and 12th graders participated in
TIMSS who experienced such a dramatic drop in scores from 8th to 12th
grade. Where our eighth graders scored only 3 points lower than
Norway's (500 vs 503), our twelfth graders scored 67 points lower (461
vs 528, for a decrease of 64 points), Where our eighth graders
scored 13 points HIGHER than Iceland's (500 vs 487), our 12th graders
scored 71 points lower (461 vs 534, for an 84 point swing).
Netherlands was 41 points higher at eighth grade but 99 points higher
at twelfth grade, Denmark 2 points and 86 points, Sweden 19 points and
91 points. The average increase in these countries was 34 points.

correlating IQ and TIMSS
When this TIMSS data is correlated with Professor Lynn's IQ of
Nations, r-squared is .57, showing a close relationship between this
historic record of intelligence by nation and the most advanced and
comprehensive measure of intelligence of half a million students
around the world we've ever witnessed. Making the assumption that
this TIMSS data is more accurate or more up to date or a better
assessment of IQ or more representative of the type of student
demanded by industry than his data might not be precisely correct, but
it enables us to create a template for measuring worldwide IQ by sex
using TIMSS scores as a guide.

Based on this test, and this test alone, the greatest decreases
required to get an r-squared of almost 1.0 are 9 points for Italy and
Canada, 8 points for the US, and 6 points for Germany and Czech
Republic. The greatest increases are 7 points for Denmark, and 5
points for the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Slovenia.

Nation Lynn IQ Adjusted IQ TIMSS Score Adjustment
i.. Netherlands 102 107 560 5
k.. Sweden 101 106 552 5
w.. Denmark 98 105 547 7
l.. Switzerland 101 104 540 3
x.. Iceland 98 103 534 5
z.. Norway 98 102 528 4
u.. France 98 101 523 3
o.. New Zealand 100 101 522 1
v.. Australia 98 101 522 3
f.. Austria 102 101 518 -1
ar.. Slovenia 95 100 512 5
g.. Germany 102 96 495 -6
r.. Hungary 99 94 483 -5
h.. Italy 102 93 476 -9
aj.. Russia 96 92 471 -4
ag.. Lithuania 97 92 469 -5
ac.. Czech Republic 97 91 466 -6
aa.. United States 98 90 461 -8
ab.. Canada 97 88 446 -9
ev.. South Africa 72 72 356 0

Is this adjustment justified? In this day and age of electronics and
semiconductors, and now semiconductors in every product all the way
from cars to watches, de-emphasizing physics education [or in the case
of the US, apparently actually sabotaging it] ought to be considered
an economic crime, if not an outright criminal act. Our extremely
poor performance in the 8th grade in the first place, coupled with a
DROP in scores from 8th grade to 12th grade that few other countries
experienced, coupled with the social pathology brought on by
multiculturalism, coupled with our having the undisturbed highest
rates of divorce, homicide, violent crime, incarceration, and debt the
industrialized world has ever seen, it would be amazing if Professor
Lynn's estimate of an IQ of 98 for the US isn't 20 points lower rather
than just 8 points.

Since the exact same thing is happening to the WHITE RACE in Canada,
the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, and Lithuania, the 9, 6, 6, 4,
and 5 point drops, respectively, might actually reflect REALITY. iow,
it might actually be true that Professor Lynn is being kind, or is
using data from a time BEFORE our multiculturalism disaster, and that
TIMSS IS more accurate now.

The 5 and 9 point adjustments for Hungary and Italy, respectively, ARE
justified, because multiculturalism had already ruined both countries
centuries ago and neither does well in any of the other tests (even in
PISA, a test of 15 year olds, both scored much lower than the average,
491 and 462 respectively). There really isn't a single international
test which supports an IQ of 102 for Italy, so if there's any "error"
in any of Professor Lynn's data [and my bet is that there's not], then
this might be it.

Now we can use this chart to estimate the IQ and thus the IQ gap
between 12th grade boys and girls in different countries in a way that
our so-called "educators" REFUSE to do (thus causing the complete
collapse of God's Orderly Arrangement). After almost five decades of
"affirmative action" in this putative Christian nation, what have we
got? The anchor man (or in this case, the anchor "person") on these
tests is the 12th grade American girl at 393, and the rising star is
the 12 grade affirmative-action-free Norwegian boy at 589, almost 200
points higher, thanks mostly to the fact that he WAS educated in high
school and DID score 84 points higher than Norwegian 8th grade boys
(versus our 56 point DROP for boys from 8th to 12th grade). AND
Norwegian girls increased their score from 8th to 12th grade while
ours DECREASED them by 104 points.

If our chart is correct, then this 196 TIMSS point gap represents a 35
point gap in IQ, a real monument to the success of multiculturalism.

From that chart, we can now create the following table and get a very
accurate representation of IQ from a PHYSICS perspective. If physics
is an important skill to an industrialized nation (which of course it
MUST be), then this "gender gap in IQ" within each country of 6 to 16
IQ points, which averages 10.75 points, and which is present in EVERY
country, MUST be important:

TIMSS nation 12th grade physics 8th grade physics Sex Estimated IQ IQ
"Gender Gap"
Australia 524 527 Boys 102 10
Austria 459 544 Boys 90 11
Canada 499 526 Boys 97 10
Cyprus 561 472 Boys 108 12
Czech Republic 514 569 Boys 100 14
Denmark 540 511 Boys 104 10
France** 470 542 Boys 92 6
Germany 515 512 Boys 100 12
Greece 525 490 Boys 102 7
Latvia 509 496 Boys 98 7
Norway 589 505 Boys 113 12
Russia 563 535 Boys 108 10
Slovenia 576 545 Boys 111 16
Sweden 586 520 Boys 112 12
Switzerland 519 548 Boys 101 14
United States 446 502 Boys 87 9
Australia 474 532 Girls 92
Austria 399 536 Girls 79
Canada 440 530 Girls 87
Cyprus 496 475 Girls 96
Czech Republic 440 558 Girls 86
Denmark 483 494 Girls 94
France** 437 536 Girls 86
Germany 453 509 Girls 88
Greece 489 478 Girls 95
Latvia 468 491 Girls 91
Norway 523 501 Girls 101
Russian Federation 507 536 Girls 98
Slovenia 487 537 Girls 95
Sweden 517 518 Girls 100
Switzerland 444 543 Girls 87
United States 393 497 Girls 78
Average 495 519 96.2 10.75

And finally we have the following chart which demonstrates very
clearly where the winners and losers are. You will not hear this from
the "mainstream media": "Pure race Norwegian girls score 77 points
higher than our multicuturalized boys". Of course you also won't
hear: "American boys down 56 points, Norwegian boys up 84 points", nor
will you hear: "American girls down 104 points, Cypriot girls up 21

Is it true? From this perspective, it absolutely positively is true.
Is it important? It's about a billion times more important than what
happened to some suicide bomber who killed an alien enemy foreign jew
12,000 miles away, half a century ago

TIMSS scores

wow, thank you for illustrating the point of the article so well. Your link to a racist anti-secular site aptly demonstrates how people can use a few small studies and draw wide sweeping conclusions. I can't help but notice how very few of the site's sources were listed--always a red flag when it comes to scientific validity. And the part linking IQ to test scores? Again, brilliant in illustrating Beth's point number one: "Do the Conclusions fit a little too well with Cultural Sterotypes?"

Thanks again for demonstrating that even in a righteous forum like Bitch, we still have hatist dorks.


Two small points:

- Way to summerise! People really love reading through reams of rambling to get to your point.

- Way to epic linebreak!

You know, for such a large

You know, for such a large study, it seems like a waste of time really if you are going to use unproven assumptions such as that multiculturalism is a "social pathology" and that the US has "having the undisturbed highest rates of divorce, homicide, violent crime, incarceration, and debt the industrialized world has ever seen" to come to your erroneous conclusions. And how are you defining "the industrialized world" anyway? "Pure race" has nothing to do with educational success. Maybe Norway just has a better educational system. Maybe girls in the US do worse because US teachers pay them less attention and help them less than they do boys. And Lynn adjusted for multiculturalism? That doesn't even make sense. Why would you even want to rank the world in IQ anyway, other than to try and justify racist opinions? It's not going to help anybody.

I agree with you that physics should be better taught but the rest of what you say is nonsensical. You are spewing out meaningless data which has not been analysed, and furthermore, we have not seen the test that was used which may be biased, culturally or otherwise. IQ is not a direct measure of intelligence since scientists have still not conclusively defined it. There are many different IQ tests, some of them completely meaningless.

Trolling a sixteen year old?

Trolling a sixteen year old? That's low.

and about the pink/blue thing

I find it kind of amazing that it suggests that all our ancestors' faces must have been pink.


Gotta love the *racist* sexists...

Excellent point.

Ell, you win! great

Ell, you win! great insight, pretty much destroys their tragic little study. As well--aren't those delicious mammoth organs mostly pink? if their theory was relevant, i would have expected conjunctivitis to be a major turn on: "he had the most gorgeous pink eyes, a bit sticky but..."

Girls love pink.

Get over it.

Wow... Just wow...

What a brilliant, well thought out rebuttal. Words fail me.

Anti-intellectualism fails

Anti-intellectualism fails me.


I'm a 23 years old university student from India. I discovered Bitch through wikipedia.
Thanks so much for this wonderfully illuminating article.

Speaking of bias studies

I should point out that the study you cited at the end “Men and women found more similar than portrayed in popular media.” is actually done by a like minded feminist ideologue.

Do you have any evidence

Do you have any evidence that the study is flawed? You know, analysis like what was in the article? Arguments that address the claim and not just through terms around? You can find <a href="">the whole study online</a> if you want to actually think.


It's not <i>The London Times</i>, it's <i>The Times</i>.

Gender Neutrality

So much of the bunk that is currently attributed to the differences between the sexes could be done away with if more parents made an effort to step outside their stereotypes and heteronormative expectations and raise their children with a sense of gender neutrality. Both my kids regularly break gender norms -- my daughter loves to get muddy and rough-house, and my son loves his dolls and dresses -- and they don't even realize they're doing anything abnormal. They're just being themselves!

Having everything broken down by appropriate type and color for kids, based on what sort of genitals hang (or don't hang) between their legs is just ridiculous. It's no wonder it continues into adulthood with pink and blue cell phones, <a href="">sex toys</a>, and still more gender-specific clothing.

David Byrne and Cabinet magazine

In the Summer 2003 issue of <em>Cabinet</em> magazine (the Flight issue), David Byrne wrote a column about the color pink.

<blockquote>[...] I originally thought, when asked to write about this color for <em>Cabinet</em>, that I would investiage the assumed femail proposity for pink. [...]

As I soon found out, however, pink was actually considered a color best suited to boys until as late as the 1950s. Blue was the girlie color. Pink, inasmuch as it is a watered-down red—the fiercest of colors (does anyone doubt me here?)—was naturally associated with boys. [...]

The <em>Ladies' Home Journal</em> in 1918 said, "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is pertier [sic] for the girl."</blockquote>

The rest of the column is super-interesting also, including studies of painting prison cells pink and the resulting change in violent conduct, as well as why the gender-affiliation of the colors changed.

I am a college student and I

I am a college student and I hate when I see things that are “studies” that I am almost certain are skewed in some way or another and I wish that other people can see past the BS; that if they even remotely checked into it they would see that the study is portrayed through the eyes of another’s glasses. So much research is out there like this and I am so glad that there is a blog on Bitch that tells women that. I just want to say that just because someone has a PH.D., or because someone claims they did a study on something doesn’t mean that what they type up in a paper and makes people believe the results are, doesn’t mean that is exactly what they found. People are good with their words and be aware of how they can tell the public what they want to tell them- which isn’t necessarily the truth.

You've got to be kidding me.

That "stone Age" Hunting hypothesis is too ridiculous for words. Seriously? There should be a study on the type of researchers that come up with this BS.

all kidding aside

I'm sure someone will commission a study on that any day now.

sorry I didn't read the study

But one thing immediately jumped out at me. I wonder if the 'scientists' in question even bothered to research what actually makes up the color 'pink'. Do they know we only have three types of color sensors in our eyes, and they do not include a 'pink' sensor? Do they know that pink is a subjective invention related to this defect in hardware?

Our notion of pink doesn't actually exist as a single color on the complete spectrum of colors. It occurs when an object emits light far in the red spectrum and far in the blue, or violet (opposite) side. To make up for our hardware deficiency, we can (in the case of 'pink' things):

a) Sum the input responses to produce a color halfway between red and violet in the spectrum (which would in this case produce green – not a very representative color of a red and violet mix). (this is what we do for other things that have emissions exciting more than one receptor type)
b) Invent a new color halfway between red and violet

Magenta(pink) is the evidence that the brain takes option b – it has apparently constructed a color to bridge the gap between red and violet, because such a colour does not exist in the light spectrum. Magenta has no wavelength attributed to it, unlike all the other spectrum colors.

The light spectrum has a color missing because it does not feel the need to ‘close the loop’ in the way that our brains do. We need color to make sense of the world, but equally we need to make sense of color; even if that means taking opposite ends of the spectrum and bringing them together, creating a new color in the process.

I guess this is a long way of saying: if woman are selected evolutionarily to detect red berries, wouldn't they prefer red? Pink is close to red only in a complete hack of our neural items and pink items are are unlikely to have much in common with each other. Pink is not 'light red'. It is not even (strictly speaking) 'red+white'. It's a substance that has peaks at both ends of the spectrum, but in this case averaging the color in our heads , like we do in similar situations, would give us 'green'. Since we have a receptor for green, we invent a new color.

I love your article and

I love your article and think it speaks to the importance of questioning how "objective" science and scientists can really be and the miss interpretation by the media.