Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
This important and intellectually powerful book shows that a dominant paradigm in human sex differences is held together by chewing gum. By painstakingly examining a large and contradictory literature, Jordan-Young shows the weakness of the brain organization hypothesis. She has so much respect for the scientific method that she can hope that reason and integrity will help create a better, more empirically sound theory of sex differences, and she reaches out to scientists to offer a glimpse of a new psychobiology. (Anne Fausto-Sterling, author of Myths of Gender)
This is a book of remarkable depth that sets a new standard for clear scientific thinking about complex behavioral traits, as well as for interdisciplinary scholarship. Rebecca Jordan-Young charts a fresh new course through the morass of questions about gender and sexuality with enviable humor, fairness, and intellectual power. (Evan Balaban, McGill University)
Brain Storm poses the most comprehensive challenge yet to the claim that prenatal hormone exposure permanently structures the brain to be either masculine or feminine, and does so in a highly engaging, fair-minded narrative that is a delight to read. (Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams, Cornell University)
Jordan-Young has written a stunning book that demolishes most of the science associated with the dominant paradigm of the development of sex and gender identity, behavior, and orientation. The current paradigm, brain organization theory, proposes: "Because of early exposure to different sex hormones, males and females have different brains"; and these hormones also create "gay" and "straight" brains. Jordan-Young interviewed virtually every major researcher in the field and reviewed hundreds of published scientific papers. Her conclusion: "Brain organization theory is little more than an elaboration of longstanding folk tales about antagonistic male and female essences and how they connect to antagonistic male and female natures." She explains, in exquisite detail, the flaws in the underlying science, from experimental designs that make no statistical sense to "conceptually sloppy" definitions of male and female sexuality, contradictory results, and the social construction of normality. Her conclusion that the patterns we see are far more complicated than previously believed and due to a wider range of variables will shake up the research community and alter public perception. (Publishers Weekly (starred review) 2010-07-12)
A carefully researched volume that exposes the problems with the widely accepted idea that gender differences are created by certain hormones in the womb. (Alex Spanko Boston Globe 2010-09-21)
What Jordan-Young's analysis uncovered is by turns fascinating and appalling...This book is not only a tonic, it's also full of scientific insights presented in plain, intelligent prose--an absorbing read, if you've ever wondered what was going on in the secret parts of your attic. (Sara Lippincott Los Angeles Times 2010-10-03)
It was with appreciation verging on glee that I read Barnard professor Rebecca Jordan-Young's devastatingly smart and definitive critique: Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences. Jordan-Young argues that the science of prenatal hormones, gender, and the mind "better resembles a hodgepodge pile than a solid structure." And she knows of what she speaks. An expert on measures and study designs, Jordan-Young has spent the last 13 years combing the literature on brain organization, unpacking assumptions, questioning methods and statistical practices, holding one paper up against another. She stresses that fetal hormones must matter to the brain--somehow. But after picking apart more than 400 studies that try to understand the genesis of particular psychological sex differences (real or supposed), she concludes that fetal T looks like an awfully anemic explanation...After decades of determined research, if robust links between prenatal hormones and "male" or "female" minds really exist, shouldn't we see those links across lots of different kinds of studies? This matters because the obsession with prenatal T can easily become a distraction. It can make us forget how much gender norms have changed--think of all those female accountants, lawyers, and doctors who weren't around 50 or even 30 years ago--and how remarkably similar men's and women's brains and minds actually are. All this unwarranted hammering away at difference (and its putative explanations) causes real trouble, too. As a growing body of research shows, cues that foreground gender and bring stereotypes to mind can dampen men's performance on tests of social sensitivity, women's scores on math tests, and women's stated interest in quantitative pursuits. Jordan-Young has done an enormous amount of work to untangle the gender claims. We ought to read her, cite her, thank her. And then, let's move on. (Amanda Schaffer Slate 2010-10-21)
Jordan-Young ferret[s] out exaggerated, unreplicated claims and other silliness regarding research on sex differences. The book [is] strongest in exposing research conclusions that are closer to fiction than science. (Diane F. Halpern Science 2010-12-03)
Exhaustively analyses every relevant study on hormonal sex differentiation of the human brain, and argues that they are riddled with weaknesses, inconsistencies and ambiguity. It's a clarion call for better science on the subject. (Madeleine Bunting The Guardian 2010-11-14) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- Publisher : Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (January 7, 2011)
- Publication Date : January 7, 2011
- File Size : 4169 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 408 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B004BR3TH4
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #605,025 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The only thing Jordan-Young actually achieves is knocking down small methodological flaws in studies and thumping on her chest as though she's disproven the bulk of scientific evidence. No, you haven't.
Rebecca Jordan-Young teaches Women’s Studies at Barnard College. She has an undergraduate background in political science and later studied epidemiology and research design. Her thesis in Brain Storm is that the science behind hormones that organize the brain in fetal life, steering it in a male or a female direction, is fatally flawed; results are often contradictory, and the methodology is questionable. Her real quarrel is with how the results of the work are sometimes used to explain sexual orientation, male/ female comparative cognitive strengths, or male and female personalities and career interests.
She has apparently "spent 13 years accumulating all the research" included in this book, interviewing researchers, and analyzing results. (I doubt all of that). Brain Storm has been reported as “debunking” the science behind the organizing action of fetal hormones but it doesn’t do that, and perhaps was never meant to. Perhaps the message of the book is, don’t take hormones so seriously – the nurture side of the debate is more important. Or perhaps the message is, individual differences are more important than group differences. It’s unclear what the precise message is.
The book picks apart well-regarded studies on testosterone in relation to power and dominance, violence, nurturing and athletic performance in a way that reminded me of the way that anti-vaxxers or flat-earthers dismiss overwhelming and clear evidence and scientific research. The authors go beyond healthy skepticism and into outlandish claims, dismissing basic links between testosterone and masculinity, for instance. They use outliers and anecdotes to question established scientific theory and make bold suggestions.
Another one of the many outlandish claims that the authors make is that human sex isn't dimorphic, that we aren't just male/female. It's not that simple!, they say. Rather, sex is made of many characteristics that all exist on a spectrum. This whole concept is unbelievably false, a notion that, if it takes hold, will set the women's movement way back. It's hard to conceive of what would motivate women writers to take this argument, when there is literally no science to back them up.
Rather than do the actual legitimate work of suggesting studies or research concepts that could back up their points (or to actually do said research-which would actually take some effort), they are content to pick apart well-founded science, and replace it with fantastical notions.
The overall impression is that the author has an axe to grind but one is never quite sure what the axe is. It is buried. There are definite omissions in the book, as in the telling of the David Reimer story, which the reader NEVER gets to read about in its totality.
This is the story: an identical boy twin, Bruce, was born in 1965 in central Canada. At 6 months the twins were diagnosed with phimosis and were circumcised at 8 months by cauterization. In the process, Bruce’s penis was irreparably damaged. He was taken to Johns Hopkins to see John Money, a pioneer in the field of sexual development and gender identity. Money believed at the time, as Jordan-Young appears to currently, that gender identity results primarily from early childhood social learning and can be molded via appropriate behavioral interventions. He recommended that it would be best for Bruce to be brought up as a girl and instructed the parents on how to reinforce a feminine gender identity. To aid the transformation, Bruce’s testicles were removed when he was 22 months old and he became Brenda.
The family visited John Money yearly and he reported on the continued success of the conversion to femininity. Female hormones were started at age 12 and Brenda developed breasts. She refused surgery to create a vagina, however, and, after age 13, did not return to see Dr. Money. At 15, Brenda chose to live as a male and became David Reimer. The subsequent re-assumption of the male role was documented in 1997.
Life did not, in the end, turn out well for David – he suicided in 2004. But lest anyone think that it was the changes in his gender identity that brought this about, the reader should know that his identical twin, Brian, took his own life even earlier, in 2002.
Interestingly, theres another 7 cases of boys who were reassigned as girls at birth and they all grew up to be attracted to women. Men are 'socialized' to like women or men. It appears to be set very early in development, and as J. Michael Bailey says "probably before birth or very shortly thereafter". Jordan-Young's ideological claims steamroll minorities for which she claims to be sympathetic. An incredibly bad place from which to argue.
The debate continues about what is most critical for gender identity. Sometimes, the influence of nurture does seem stronger than that of nature, with many factors playing important, interacting roles. Rebecca Jordan-Young feels that few such inputs are irreversible in their impact and that the claim that early brain organization is the crucial factor has been much exaggerated. For that exaggeration, she inexplicably blames the science. I do not recommend this book.
One small quibble: as a cultural historian I would have liked to hear the author's take on exactly WHY so many scientists have been so invested in essentialist theories of gender and sexual difference, to the point that they're unwilling to examine the suppositions on which their own research is grounded. Why so much scientific essentialism and why now? It'd make a tidy feminist argument if all the research had been done by men, but some of the most prominent scientists working in this area today are women; a handful of others are gay men. What exactly is going on in American society just now that makes the flight to biological determinism so darned attractive to so many; so attractive that we're willing to lower our standards for what constitutes legitimate scientific inquiry to 'prove' that gender and sexual orientation are in-born? Perhaps it's the value of essentialist arguments to undergird legal rights claims currently being made by LGBT activists (the "Lady Gaga theory of gay origins") or cultural reactions to women's social and cultural gains ("Men and women ARE different!") But that's another book.... I'll take this one for now!
I will review the book contents once i've completed reading it.
Top reviews from other countries
Si no fuera por el peso, llevaría ejemplares de este libro conmigo para regalarlos a todos aquellos que siguen aferrados al eslogan "los hombres y las mujeres tienen cerebros con diferentes capacidades".
- Rebecca revised and analysed over 300 papers on brain organisation theory, that have been published since 1970's
- This book contains around 290 pages of criticism of brain organisation research, based on the analysed evidence
- It turns attention to the lack of firm definitions and standards of sex and gender in the research of brain organisation
- It comments on differences between sexuality, sexual orientation and sexual identity
- The book is very monotonous as it revolves around one subject; it is repetitive with many of the same arguments opening and closing chapters and sub-chapters through the book
- The author inserts strong opinions on subjects such as what women want; the overall feeling the book carries is that it aims to prove there are little to no differences between men and women
- The author criticises the basic concepts evolutionary psychology and evolution (claims there are no links between aggression, dominance/social status and reproductive success of men, p.210)