Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot *****

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot starts off with a math lesson: even if two populations (boy and girls in this case) have statistically significant differences (boys are better at math), a large portion of both populations can be non-stereotypical (40% of girls are better at math than the average boy). Thus, over and over Lise Eliot finds ways to remind the reader, that even when the statistics point to some difference between boys and girls, a number of actual children will not follow the statistic.

This is a book by a scientist for scientists (40 pages of notes, over 40 pages of bibliography), but also for parents - explaining the fallacy of drawing conclusions based on "statistical differences," and/or top-performers. However, if you aren't interested in all the math and research, each chapter ends with practical tips for parents and teachers.

I don't recommend the "read the chapter summary approach" approach, as the research is very interesting and interspersed with enlightening anecdotes. For example, to illustrate the gender stereotypes of 5-year-olds, a boy is quoted: "Everyone has a penis; only girls wear barrettes."

To demonstrate that gender stereotypes and attitudes can change, she points that Veterinary students have increased from around 9% in the early 1970s to 74% today.

And some of the best tips are buried in the text: "video games are actually good for kids, especially girls."

On the other hand, the author is both a scientist and a parent, and sometimes she uses the same statistical fallacies that she mocks to make some point based on observation of her children rather than scientific research.

Over all EXCELLENT. If your children are still in school, buy this and read it all.

No comments: