Oh, isn’t it fun to talk about how men are from Mars and women are from Venus? It’s like we’re practically two different species! And once almighty “Science” comes down from on high and explains these differences as natural, well then you better suit up because the inter-galactic, inter-species war of the sexes is going to be fought for a loooong time. And so it is with neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine’s new book “The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think,” her follow-up to her 2006 “The Female Brain.” It’s already on its way to best seller status (it’s number #150 on Amazon) — for this is the stuff talk shows are made of! Why, men are practically born to cheat!
Fortunately, there are a few mainstream news sources that aren’t simply gobbling it up. This New York Times review skewered it:
Many scientists are cautious to a fault when it comes to telling us what theyâ€™re unsure of, playing down any novel finding that hasnâ€™t been verified by another scientist. Not so Louann Brizendine. She is a neuro psychiatrist (the prefix makes any title sound smarter) who has put her professional training behind a breezy, incautious account of how the brain, urged on by hormones, makes men and women act completely differently. Youâ€™d never know from reading Brizendine that beneath the sea she blithely sails are depths that researchers have only just begun to chart.
With The Female Brain, Brizendine was attacked for shoddy scienceâ€”and her follow-up should receive no less criticism. The author makes vast claims about male biology without really delving into the science, which leaves you with a manual for excusing every crappy thing your man has ever done.
Check out Salon’s Broadsheet and True/Slant’s Brainspin for more on Brizendine’s shaky science. And for an antidote to Nature supremacists, may we suggest neuroscientist Lise Eliot’s “Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It,” which Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, and founder of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University, Eric R. Kandel had this to say about:
In taking the challenge of addressing the difference between little boys and little girls, Eliot explains how modest differences at birth between the brains of boys and girls are amplified by social factors that in turn produce anatomical changes in the brain to give rise to the greater differences evident in the actions of brains of mature men and women. Eliot explains, in language that is clear to all of us, that these sex differences are plastic and can be modified by experience. Eliot indicates points of intervention where these social pressures could be minimized, interventions that would assure our achieving a fair and equitable maturation of both sexes…This is a brilliant book and I could not recommend it more highly.