For too long, scientists have found themselves at the whim of political correctness.
Particularly when it comes to investigating gender, which it is increasingly fashionable to claim is a purely sociological construct. To argue otherwise can be career suicide.
Which is a problem for scientists, because research shows over and over again that there are differences in the neurological composition of men and women.
Prominent neuroscientist Larry Cahill spoke out this month, confessing that scientists are censoring themselves because they are afraid of being called sexist for telling the truth.
Gina Rippon from Aston University has even called research that elucidates gender differences “neurosexism”.
nuerosexism is a thing y'all, and I'm currently being mansplained about it…https://t.co/h9dBNDX97u
— Gina Minks (@gminks) May 11, 2016
Most of this sensitivity is about protecting women. People think they’ll feel upset if they know their brains are different to men’s. As if it’s a sign of inadequacy.
But it’s not true – because the average woman has a whole set of incredible strengths – that both rival and complement the average man’s.
The trouble with all this sexism sensitivity – as I’ve argued in Heat Street before – is it’s actually harming us. That’s because neurodegenerative disorders change in their pathology depending on your sex. For example Parkinson’s disease is 1.5 times more prevalent in men.
Understanding the female vs male brain is vital to finding cures to some of the world’s worst afflictions.
Only when scientists are allowed to fully understand men and women as distinct groups can they create brilliant solutions to save them from disease.
One thing that very much impacts on women is their hormones, which fluctuate because of the menstrual cycle. They can change the presentation of neurological illnesses, and how women respond to treatment.
Larry Cahill, on study design in neuroscience – https://t.co/2SAyLUc4Lp
— john williams (@wi_john) November 29, 2016
For instance, multiple sclerosis in women can look different depending at which stage a woman is in her menstrual cycle.
Even scarier is the finding that the process in Alzheimer’s disease, in which the body’s cells die off, differs between men and women. It would be dangerous for scientists to go for a “one size fits all” approach when tackling it – because it’s not true.
In fact, by all indications, Alzheimer’s will only be cured when men and women are treated separately.
Too often feminists claim to care about women’s health issues, but then dismiss sexual differentiation out of hand, as if it’s a silly, offensive concept.
They persist even in spite of evidence that shows the differences are there – and that accepting them could save lives.
From the state of gender research it is obvious that there are lots of areas scientists need – and want – to explore. But to do that they need academic freedom, not social pressure.
Science should inform our society, not bend itself to suit the sensitivities of the day.
When campaigners get up in arms about “neurosexism”, they’re essentially asking experts to bend their hypotheses and conclusions to suit the fashion of the day.
Science needs its own secularism; to be free from politics and any other subjective movement. Because what’s far more harmful than sexism is a lack of scientific cure.