Science supports complementarianism! Warning: political incorrectness within–enter at your own risk!

Posted on December 11, 2013 by


On the day after GM announced in first ever female CEO, we can consider the latest scientific evidence on male/female differences.  The latest science reported in the popular press is making much of brain imaging which identifies the way neurons fire in the brain.  You will be shocked–yes shocked–to know that women’s brains operate differently than men’s!

Women and men display distinctive differences in how nerve fibers connect various regions of their brains, according to a half-dozen recent studies that highlight gender variation in the brain’s wiring diagram. There are trillions of these critical connections, and they are shaped by the interplay of heredity, experience and biochemistry.  No one knows how gender variations in brain wiring might translate into thought and behavior—whether they might influence the way men and women generally perceive reality, process information, form judgments and behave socially—but they are sparking controversy.  “It certainly is incendiary,” said Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology and director of the University of Southern California’s Imaging Genetics Center. He is directing an effort to assemble a database of 26,000 brain scans from 20 countries to cross-check neuroimaging findings. “People who look at findings about sex differences are excited or enraged,” he said.

{In the picture above, you can see the combined brain scans of 949 subjects, ages 8 to 22, show how neural connections differ by gender. Male brains, top, have more connections within hemispheres (blue lines). Female brains, bottom, have more between hemispheres (orange lines). Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences/University of Pennsylvania}

For years the politically correct on the left insist that males and females are basically the same except for a few minor differences in biological function; remaining differences are due to culturally imposed constraints.  So to correct this, we needed to raise gender-neutral children!  Seriously, there are many people who are experimenting on their children to raise them to be gender neutral.  Yet those with a biblical worldview didn’t need to be told that males and females are different; we know that God said that it was not good for the man to be alone, and He created a “helper” who would complement him.  Complementarianism is a biblical view the while males and females are equal in God’s sight, they are assigned and created for different and complementary roles in society.  As the The Telegraph reported (emphasis added),

Dr Ragina Verma, one of the researchers behind the study at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “These maps show us a stark difference – and complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others.”

Science is increasingly recognizing that each sex might have advantages in the performance of some tasks, tasks that may in fact complement one another!  So why is this in our political economy blog?  Because most dare not mention that there could be differences in males and females–because to suggest males are better suited to one task than females, is to be a sexist.  It will do no good to say there is a flip side of the coin, that necessarily females are therefore superior at other tasks.  We need only go back to Larry Summers (Mr. Obama’s former Treasury secretary) and at the time the President of Harvard University, who noted the scientific literature on differences in math performance between the sexes in a public speech.  Mr. Summers was forced to resign, despite accurately quoting the scientific literature:  numerous studies show males have a significantly larger variance (spread in the distribution)  in math abilities than females, despite average abilities being roughly the same.  What this means is that you are likely to find more male math geniuses, as well as more male dunces than females.  So yes, males are smarter and dumber too!  Seriously, while this is true, as usual statistics can never tell us what actual individual results will be.  For example, the 5 smartest and dumbest people in math in the world today may very well be females!  But the left would rather any discussion of differences between the sexes be strictly off-limits.

This plays in economics and politics as well; for the Democrats, it is a useful arrow in the “Republican war on women” quiver that Republicans hate women since they are not in favor of comparable worth legislation.  Since “on average, women in the U.S. still make 77 cents for every dollar that men make in the same job,”  Mr. Obama said,

Congress has to step up and do its job,” Obama said. “Women are the breadwinners for a lot of families, and if they’re making less than men do for the same work, families are going to have to get by for less money for childcare and tuition and rent … Everybody suffers.

This failure to consider real differences between males and females leaves Democrats to assume that sexism is the only reason that women don’t make more, and this “market failure” must be corrected by government.  While there is no doubt sexism in many places, possibly including President Obama’s cabinet, most economic analysis that controls for differences in occupational choice, time in the workforce, education level, etc., leads to a much narrower result in pay differences; a good review can be found here.

Bereans can both scientifically and biblically conclude, Viva la diferencia!

EDIT Update 12/12/13:  Check out this from AEI, HT to Cafe Hayek.