All The More Reason

Stop the Press! Evidence of sex differences found!
August 25, 2007, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Education, Man

I can remember in an otherwise long forgotten undergraduate course reading about how the existence of female seahorses as being dominant and the males being pregnant was evidence that masculinity and feminity in humans was a cultural and not biological phenomenon. This is not unlike finding one bad Picasso and using it as evidence that all of art appreciation, let alone Picassso’s oeuvre, was backwards (even that analogy might have been troublesome ten years ago). And yet, lo and behold we have yet another study done which shows that women do indeed prefer the colour pink and their motivation could in large part be due to the relationship with the colour and the caloric content of fruit.

All this suggests a biological, rather than a cultural, explanation for colour preference. And Dr Hurlbert and Dr Ling have produced one. They suggest that their result may be connected with the fact that the colour of many fruits is at the red end of the spectrum. An evolved preference for red, pink and allied shades—particularly in contrast with green—could thus bring advantage to those who gather such things.

Well paint me red and call the fire department, as my head’s steaming trying to comprehend this! I thought my education taught me that this kind of study was just another way of enforcing the patriarchal hegemony!

On a related note, surely this is another example of how binary thinking is not always to our advantage. The either/or distinction between culture and evolution, nurture and nature, is arguably not the most interesting debate one can have. At the very least, it’s not the only debate one could have. Furthermore, a debate in such a manner implies that these two elements can be cleanly distinguished from one another. And yet, because the pendulum on this debate does swing quite far it does appear that we’ll be in store for a real shift to the materialistic/nature/evolutionary explanation of things in the years to come. Perhaps one thing defenders of reason can do is to help keep the pendulum from swinging too far in the other direction.



1 Comment so far
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Hilarious. Thanks for pointing out this amazing study. Who would have thought it?

Comment by renaissanceguy

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