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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

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  134 Ratings  ·  23 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,
...more
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Harvard University Press
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(showing 1-30 of 1,589)
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Kaylee
Dec 25, 2011 Kaylee rated it really liked it
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
Hellen
Jan 05, 2015 Hellen rated it it was amazing
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review 5 stars, just in case there's something I didn't agree with in the book or if there's a risk that it's become outdated, or for whatever other reason.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
Lindsay
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
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José
Jan 11, 2015 José rated it really liked it
¿Cómo nos convertimos en las personas que somos? ¿De qué manera la corporalidad tiene una influencia en nuestras personalidades, habilidades, deseos e intereses?

Esas son preguntas que cualquier persona que se interese de alguna manera por el tema de la sexualidad ha llegado a plantearse. Si volcamos la mirada hacia los medios de comunicación, los discursos médicos y gran parte del activismo, se vuelve evidente que existe una fetichización por el discurso científico, y por científico me refiero a
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Matt
Jan 30, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
Enormously fair minded and quietly brutal take-down of bad social science. A model of precise and useful truth-seeking.

The first nine chapters dismantle "brain organization theory" (the basket of loosely articulated theories that posit prenatal hormone exposure as the main driver of sex, gender, and sexuality, while also implying unity of those three concepts, and their one-dimensionality). The tenth chapter describes some of the author's ideas about how to do better, all of which sounded extrem
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J.P. Drury
Oct 01, 2012 J.P. Drury rated it it was amazing
"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
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Carmen
Jan 02, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing
I had a whale of a time reading this wonderful take down of the horrifyingly shoddy and positively unscientific "brain organization" literature that posits that "sex differences" are "hardwired" into the brain. As a sociologist of course I was skeptical of the research, but even I had no idea just how sloppy the academic research program has been/is in this domain. Should be required reading for every person who ever read some half-baked media report on "sex differences" that reaffirmed their ow ...more
Bennie
Sep 17, 2012 Bennie rated it it was amazing

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
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Ronald Lett
Jan 20, 2016 Ronald Lett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
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
Craig
Apr 21, 2012 Craig rated it really liked it
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
Kelly
Apr 23, 2015 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I love a relentless takedown of logical and methodological flaws in a shoddy theory, and this work did an excellent job of it. It's not really written for a popular-science audience, which may be a weakness since it's refuting pop-science, but it's an engaging read (if a heavy one) nonetheless.
peaseblossom
Mar 08, 2013 peaseblossom rated it liked it
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
Apr 22, 2013 Chris Ma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
VeganMedusa
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
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Tz348
Apr 23, 2015 Tz348 rated it liked it
comprehensive, oral, trivial, personal
Kim
Aug 20, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Taryn
Dec 18, 2012 Taryn rated it it was amazing
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.
Uyar
Aug 02, 2012 Uyar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Anna
Mar 23, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Very interesting, but very academic language for a popular science book. More on my thoughts here.
Georgia
Oct 08, 2012 Georgia rated it really liked it
Shelves: class
Definitely a very interesting read, if not a page turner. Incredibly thought provoking about "empirical" scientific studies people use to justify gender roles
A'Llyn
Nov 18, 2010 A'Llyn rated it really liked it
Fascinating review of the scientific research into how hormones do and do not 'cause' various sex differences in humans.
Jake
Dec 11, 2012 Jake rated it it was ok
This was practically unreadable, which made me feel terrible, as it was a Christmas gift.
Amai Freeman
Jun 19, 2013 Amai Freeman rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
an invaluable scientific tool for dissecting gender.
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“Normative statements about "women's roles" and girls' and women's behaviour being "appropriately feminine" were replaced with more neutral statements about what women and girl versus boys and men do and think and say they want. In this way, conventionally gendered behaviour was taken out of the context of prescription and presented as simple description. This had the possibly unanticipated consequence, though, of taking these behaviours out of the context of the social world. The descriptive approach significantly deemphasised the role of norms, social structures, and modelling in developing gendered traits. Instead, disembodied as "naked facts" of sex differences, they began to look more and more like simple reflections of male and female behaviour.” 1 likes
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