Tonight: Delusions of Gender

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We speak with academic psychologist Dr. Cordelia Fine. Her new book, Delusions Of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, challenges the assumption that gender roles are wired into our brains, and shows us how ubiquitous cultural stereotypes are mistaken for actual fact.


On “Everything You Know is Sort Of Wrong,” Greg Laden asks if modern hobbies are an evolutionary consequence of prehistoric gender roles.

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6 thoughts on “Tonight: Delusions of Gender

  1. Nice job on the show. This topic has spawned a spin-off question for me: how much is behavior influenced by hormones, and how much do differences in the hormone levels in the bloodstream influence observed differences in behavior? Since behavior also influences hormone levels, it would seem difficult to isolate causal relationships.

  2. Jac, I think that hormones are mostly downstream of where the real action is going on. I see differences in hormone levels as more of an effect than a cause. Most of the effects of hormones are local, that is within the same tissue compartment that they are generated (where the levels are a lot higher than in the peripheral circulation). What is measured in the blood stream has little to do with what the levels in the different tissue compartments where they are important (which is just about every tissue compartment, where the levels are all different).

    Hormones are not doing â??one thingâ?, they are doing hundreds of things simultaneously and differentially in the various different tissue compartments.

    The effects of hormones are non-linear, so a bolus dose of hormone X every time t, does not have the same effects as the same dose over a different time scale. Physiology also responds to hormones, and that response is complex and idiosyncratic.

  3. However we do know that in the womb the presence of a hormone makes the fetus male, absence female. (This is apparently only true in mammals, birds and reptiles do it differently, and fish are able to change (see parrot fish)). The more we learn about the natural world the more we see that nature tries everything to find what works best.

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