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Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences
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Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Female and male brains are different, thanks to hormones coursing through the brain before birth. That's taught as fact in psychology textbooks, academic journals, and bestselling books. And these hardwired differences explain everything from sexual orientation to gender identity, to why there aren't more women physicists or more stay-at-home dads.

In this compelling book,
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Harvard University Press
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I felt like I was back in my biology classes, picking apart research to find the flaws in the popular theories. I've read the other popular brain science books lately, but none of those really picked apart the studies they were supporting (or refuting). Jordan-Young does what I have to believe is a remarkably thorough job of compiling the studies from the last fifty years in this field and basically saying, "Look, none of these are real experiments, so you have to take these results with a grain ...more
This was just excellent. Usually I'm hesitant to give this type of literature review 5 stars, just in case there's something I didn't agree with in the book or if there's a risk that it's become outdated, or for whatever other reason. But this book deserves the full score. It's an exhaustive overview, well written, and I thought the figures that visually summarized the forest of available studies were just brilliant. It's a book has a clear structure when evaluating the studies of brain organiza ...more
This book is an exhaustive look at a fairly large body of scientific literature --- Rebecca Jordan-Young is trying to evaluate the evidence for the thesis that testosterone and estrogen shape distinctly male and female, and also gay and straight, brains sometime during gestation.

To do this, she looks at all the studies ever published following either of these designs: 1) using a sample of people about whom something is known of their prenatal hormone exposure (like people with disorders like co
J.P. Drury
"What good is a science that doesn't tell us anything new?"

This is the book-I-wish-I-had-written of the year. Jordan-Young tackles a huge literature and comes out on top. She takes us through carefully and comprehensively, clearly explaining the concepts her audience needs to understand to navigate the data on the organizational hypothesis (the hypothesis that prenatal hormone exposure shapes human sex-linked behavior).

And the message she relays is important. Not surprisingly (at least from my

Jordan-Young's book, Brainstorm, is a masterpiece in scientific critique. Though dense in it's subject matter, and most likely not the best choice for those just being introduced to the language of biology, Brainstorm is a must-read for anyone who's ever had doubts about the scientific media's constant barrage of studies toting evidence about sexed differences in brains. Jordan-Young writes an elegant and comprehensive review of brain-organization theory, ultimately discrediting and upturning m
Ronald Lett
Mar 27, 2013 Ronald Lett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: popular-science
This is a very dense read (there are multiple citations after every sentence in some sections)! Even so, it contains very valuable overview of the glaring flaws in methodology, citation (citing papers that do not support or that even contradict the statement due to different definitions), media interpretation and several examples of unintentional statistical errors that are endemic to gender studies cases. This should be required reading for anyone in these fields. If you are familiar with stati ...more
Exhausting in its detail, repetitive in the extent to which it debunks from multiple angles, yet a valuable document challenging brain science by being thorough and working within the terms of Developmental Brain Science as a field. I am interested in now reading "Delusions of Gender" by Cordelia Fine to see if it makes for a more digestible read and can make my appeals to people in casual conversation and arguments more palatable and less-idealistic sounding (trying to bring up systemic failure ...more
I found the information in this book provocative, but I really wish it were better written. Unfortunately, it's kind of a slog. The author takes an exhaustive look into the theory of brain organization -- which states that hormonal changes in-utero can cause predictable changes in gender expression, identity, and sexuality in adult humans -- and pretty much demolishes it. Based on her extremely thorough read-through of all of the significant studies on the subject, I'm pretty sure we're safe cal ...more
Chris Ma
Read Chapter 3 and Chapter 7 and really enjoyed the reading. Jordan-Young provides a clear, accessible, comprehensive review and critique of sex/gender related brain studies in this book. Chapter 3 examines many researches done on the topic of differences between a male brain and a female brain, and Chapter 7 examines scientific studies that deal with (homo)sexuality and try to locate its biological origin. Many NYT science stars can be found in her critical reading of brain studies. And, surpri ...more
Worthy but oh so boring. Too much comparing of studies and citations make it less interesting to read, unfortunately.
A bit shocking how scientists keep changing the goalposts and forgetting that they've done so, all in the name of finding the "truth" about gender interests (once being called gender roles until that sounded too 1950s - now gender interests is the preferred term). And if studies don't find the "truth" (that there are notable differences between genders) then they either don't ge
This very thorough exploration of the biases in brain organization theory seems to me to be a must read for everyone with an interest in gender research. Both the consequences of these flaws for current (popular)research and for our assumptions on sex differences in daily life are huge. Not an easy read, but well worth it, for becoming aware of these flaws and providing focus and pointers for further research and discussion.
This book meticulously and definitively documents the many reasons why one should, on purely scientific grounds, be highly sceptical of current claims of a biological (hormonal) basis for innate differences in preferences and cognitive processes between men and women. It is also fantastic story of how parts of science can be not only very wrong but also rather ridiculous.
Very thourough examination of sex difference studies... The language of hardwiring, blueprints, latency, permanent organization regarding on the early effect of hormones to the neural development would not fit because brains unlike genital are plastic, brain development is not completely finished at any point prior to death...... impressive
Very interesting, but very academic language for a popular science book. More on my thoughts here.
Definitely a very interesting read, if not a page turner. Incredibly thought provoking about "empirical" scientific studies people use to justify gender roles
Fascinating review of the scientific research into how hormones do and do not 'cause' various sex differences in humans.
This was practically unreadable, which made me feel terrible, as it was a Christmas gift.
Amai Freeman
an invaluable scientific tool for dissecting gender.
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