Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Extemporaneous gender

Gosh, I suck at public speaking.

We're having a class at church on Wednesday nights: "Gender and the Kingdom of God". Sounds promising, right? Except that nobody really knows what they mean by "gender".

For maybe 30 years, the word "gender" has been used to denote the socially constructed part of a person's sexual identity. But most folks in the church aren't quite caught up on the latest thinking about gender. So our class starts its discussion of Genesis 1 and 2 by trying to divide the imago dei into "masculine" traits and "feminine" traits. This riles me up a bit, so I try to push people into defining their terms. I ask, "Who says?" Who says "nurturing" is feminine, while "powerful" is masculine?

The answer I want to hear has something to do with society or culture, but that answer is not forthcoming. So, nervous and agitated, I try to explain how sex and gender are different, and why the distinction is important. But what actually comes out sounds like five minutes of:

Bla bla bla nurturing bla gay men bla bla.

Did I mention I suck at public speaking?

Anyhow, I think my points are both important and simple, so I'm going to try again, and I'm going to limit myself to three sentences.

Here goes.

People like what they like, whether it's football or knitting, and attaching gender stereotypes to these preferences muddies our vision when we're trying to tackle the world's big problems: things like hunger, global warming, domestic abuse, and even terrorism.

But what's worse than gender stereotyping is looking to the Bible for support for our stereotypes, implying that we're not just failing our society when we refuse the roles of warrior male or submissive female, we're also rebelling against God's Will for all men and women.

If we fail to recognize that gender is socially constructed, and if we then fail to condemn the gender stereotypes in Genesis 2 as the rhetorical posturing of a patriarchal society, we will be bound to repeat the sinful patterns of bigotry, violence and self-hatred that have marred the church for generations.


There.

Does that make sense?

25 comments:

crystal said...

That sounds right to me :-)

Colby said...

While it's true that society forms a huge part of our view on genders, in my experience few people would say that biology has nothing to do with it. To be fair, you didn't say biology is completely absent, but you imply that your view is a nurture, not nature one.

To take your "powerful" and "nurturing" examples, couldn't our society's opinion of these traits stem from actual sexual differences? Men are bigger than women, they can pick up big things - power! Women have babies, they suckle them - nurture! I would argue that these traits have been refined within their sexes by countless generations of natural selection.

My point is not that real sexual differences can account for every nuance of our views on gender. Obviously that is not the case or I would expect Ron to start lactating at any moment. My point is simply that on the gender spectrum, perhaps some of society's opinions have been informed by thousands of years of observation.

Obversation by who? Well, society of course.

Connor said...

While its obvious that there are differences between men and women, I still don't see how you can claim qualities to be feminine or masculine. Just because men are generally more powerful doesn't mean this trait is uniquely masculine. I don't see the point in trying to determine if these traits are one or the other (or neither) unless you are trying to come up with a criteria to determine if you are behaving as a man/woman should be behaving.

Just in case, I'm going to go hunting for squirrels with my bare hands after work.

Connor said...

Oh, and Colby, men can lactate so look out for that.

Colby said...

I don't see the harm in dividing traits between male and female, I view this as separate from defining gender roles. Nurturing can be a 'feminine' trait, but still be available for males. The value in dividing the traits is the simple recognition that women are, in general, better at (or more fitted for) some things than men, and vice versa. And that's why I argued that not all gender stereotypes are empty.

It becomes harmful when we expect woman #1 to be more nurturing than man #1. So I agree with Matt in regards to the dangers of gender stereotyping, I just don't see the exercise in question as being all that evil.

scoots said...

There's an interesting parallel to this part of Genesis 2 is the Mesopotamian epic of Gigamesh. [Full disclosure: I have read this story exactly once, and have read almost no scholaraly discussion of it, so take this for what it's worth.]

Gilgamesh is a warrior king who so abuses his power (lording over men, raping women) that the gods create a companion for him in order to distract his attention from oppressing the people. The companion, Enkidu (a male), is explicitly described as the equal of Gilgamesh physically; after fighting, they become dear friends (and perhaps lovers).

It's interesting to me that Enkidu was created to counter Gilgamesh, whereas in the Genesis account the woman was created to complement the man (as a "helper"). In other words, women provided something that men didn't already have. The sexual and reproductive factors are obvious enough, but we might imagine the author had other traits in mind as well.

The curses in Genesis 3 illustrate this point, I think. The man, it says, will suffer as he tills the ground to make crops, whereas the woman will suffer when she bears children.

The gender-specificity of the latter is obvious enough, and that of the former, I think, is reasonable as a generalization: many tasks of agriculture take strength, which men usually have more of. And if a woman is nursing a child all day (in a society with high infant mortality, women need to constantly be having children in order for the family to survive), it makes more sense for the man to be the one to spend the whole day outside.

The trick, it would seem, is dealing with people in Bible class who often want everything in Scripture to be a hard and fast universal rule that must be obeyed. On the other hand, it would be silly (I agree with Crystal here, I think) to deny that much of gender roles is based on natural dispostion, and to act as if we're all the same.

What we end up with, then, is a collection of real generalizations which we should acknowledge that many people will want to follow, but which we should not force on those who do not wish to follow them.

I suspect that what's frustrating for Matthew is that most people are reasonably content with the gender stereotypes we have and just don't care all that much.

A. Lo said...

So I agree with Matt in regards to the dangers of gender stereotyping, I just don't see the exercise in question as being all that evil.

I find it hard to believe that a person could really and truly "sort of" believe in gender stereotyping, which I think is what Colby prescribes here. I think someone might THINK they can do that, but I don't believe it is really possible. To make any sort of generalization or apply any stereotype would be to believe that they all apply. I think stereotyping is an all-or-nothing kind of thing. Either the genders have stereotypical traits or they do not. I don't think you get to pick and choose. I think saying “gender stereotyping is bad” and then doing it is trying to sound open minded while refusing to face the issue.

Listen, I'm a woman, and I'm not particularly nurturing. I’m also in my mid-twenties and not dating. And what does society say about that? What does the church say about that? Well, I walk a fine line. Most of the time, this means my sexuality is questioned. Because I am not as “nurturing as I should be” and because I am not desperate to get married (to find a man to complete or take care of me), people wonder—and sometimes ask—if I am a Lesbian. I find this offensive. Perhaps if I “suckled some babies” (I’m sorry, but suckle is such a gross word) people would leave me alone. Of course, until it becomes clear that I am unable to “nurture them like a woman should”, and my mothering skills are brought into question. Besides, the fact that I can bear children doesn't make me more nurturing. If that's the case, then what about women who are infertile? Do they not get to be nurturing because they can't give birth?

I'm of the belief that the presence of upper-body strength does not make one more powerful (we've all seen some pretty un-powerful men, haven't we?), just as the presence of a vagina does not make one more nurturing.

in the Genesis account the woman was created to complement the man (as a "helper"). In other words, women provided something that men didn't already have.

In the Genesis account, Adam walked with God, but God decided that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so he searched for a helper, and when one couldn’t be found, he created Eve. Why would God do that? Why did God decide that Adam needed a helper? Did God create Adam without certain traits? And if God did, then why couldn’t God balance those out? Couldn’t God be nurturing enough for Adam? I bet so. I bet God could be whatever Adam needed, could complement him in whatever way was necessary.

Then why create a woman? Surely not so she could balance out Adam’s “power” with her “nurturing” (for God could do that). No, I think God created Eve to meet the only needs that God couldn’t: those dealing with physical touch. Plus, it seems that God wasn’t even planning on creating a woman until God searched all that had been made for a “suitable helper” and couldn’t find one.

Matthew said...

OK, I'm still processing this, so don't think I'm ignoring you guys.

First, I disagree with Colby's statement that splitting traits into "masucline" and "feminine" is OK.

I'm not suggesting that we should ignore the effects of genetics: the average man can probably bench-press more weight than the average woman, and the average woman's body breaks down less often than that of the average man.

But I do think it's harmful to assign gender to a trait like "powerful". And I think it's even more harmful to start discussing said traits without first discussing the social aspect of our sexual identity.

Second, I disagree with Scoots's characterization of the source of my frustration. It's not that people in the church don't care about gender roles; it's that people in the church don't care that the church is doing evil.

The church has contributed to the subjugation of women for at least 2000 years, exacerbating the oppression of the most oppressed people group in the history of the human race. But rather than looking at the effects of our traditional doctrines and concluding that they're destroying people and so we must be interpreting something incorrectly, we prefer to hide within our safe little gender roles and shake our fingers at the nasty old feminists.

When it's all said and done, I think the feminists are going to turn out to be the prophets that God sent, and the church is going to turn out to be the people who rejected and stoned them.

Shane said...

The human mind relies on its memory, whether accurate or not, to form immediate analysis and judgments concerning the data it perceives. Human beings are wired to make prejudiced conclusions concerning the world around them.* Not every raptor will maul me, some raptors might even ask me to dance, but those who survive stereotype a raptor as dangerous. In the same way, whether genetically or culturally informed, people make and fill stereotypical roles. There are amazing studies of students who perform better on tests simply because the teachers are told they are the smarter students. Some of those traits are meta-cultural (and probably genetic) and others are peculiar to a given culture. Occasionally stereotypes are wrong. Sometimes they aren’t. People certainly don’t “like what they like” such a reduction is too simplistic. Both genetics and culture are influential.

Abby said she is not particularly nurturing, nor apt to marry early with kids as examples of gender not being tied to sex. If Abby lived in the Lower Manhattan (where single women who are not interested in being nurturing in their 20’s are not considered unusual, it’s the married ones with kids that are) would she still have an experience of that particular misplaced stereotype? Whether biological or cultural, the context matters.

Pulling an Ancient Near Eastern cosmology out of context and asking late 20th century gender questions is about as irrelevant as asking it questions about 19th century evolutionary biology. The text doesn’t differentiate between sex and gender because that culture largely didn’t differentiate between them (there are a few exceptions.) Articulating the image of God in Genesis 1 as an issue of sex rather than gender would be a ridiculous construction of God as a hermaphrodite. Is that really what being created in the image of God means? If not, what does “male and female he created them” mean? The original question was “What does it mean to be made in the image of God as male and as female?” Not “divvy up the characteristics of God.”

I agree with Scott the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts are written in opposition to (or at least aware of) other ancient creation stories, although we have different perspectives. In Gen. 2 Eve is created from Adam’s side. Eve is a part of Adam that is pulled out and separated from Adam’s self as a means to demonstrate (at least from the lens of theology) the purpose of humanity is relational in nature. Adam is not created deficient, he is created alone. The author seems to think men and women are created to interact with one another. Perhaps God’s purpose in creating the other found in Eve is community, and nothing more. Maybe a deeper part of being made in the image of God is the relationship with the other, which we might have gotten to if the discussion hadn’t been so awkwardly monopolized. ;)

To address Matt’s concern, people with power use cultural, political, and economic structures to oppress the people that aren’t in power. This phenomenon is not excluded in Christianity, even though the Christian texts tend to articulate a more equitable system. It is the misapplication (whether misogynist or feminist) of those using these texts rather than the texts themselves that are suspect. Either misapplication results in an emaciated theological anthropology.

*see Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell for more on this topic.

shane said...

I can't say my name in 3 sentences.

Matthew said...

Shane said...
"Pulling an Ancient Near Eastern cosmology out of context and asking late 20th century gender questions is about as irrelevant as asking it questions about 19th century evolutionary biology."

So we agree, then: we shouldn't expect Genesis 1-3 to tell us anything about God's ideal for male and female gender roles.

Shane said..."Maybe a deeper part of being made in the image of God is the relationship with the other, which we might have gotten to if the discussion hadn’t been so awkwardly monopolized. ;)"

By way of explanation, Shane was team-teaching the class in question.

It was only after the class - and some extensive discussion with a.lo - that I realized that Shane and I are coming at the gender issue from different directions.

Shane's religious thinking seems to go from textual to experiential: he thinks that if we teach people to do a better job of reading the Bible, they'll end up with good interpretations and behave better. My thinking, on the other hand, goes from experiential to textual: I figure if we show people how our interpretations have been hurting real people, we must conclude that our interpretations have been wrong and we need to try something else.

I think both of these approaches can be helpful ... I think I've even said before that what our tradition needs most is a better hermeneutic. But the really nice thing about Shane's method is that it can be done very subtly. Not many people get all hot and bothered when you say, "the point of this text isn't that the world was created in seven literal days."

On the other hand, if you start talking about feminist ideas and the church's oppression of women and homosexuals, things get a little awkward.

What I'm wondering is: are we going to make more progress in the class if I continue to bring up feminist arguments, or if I just let the discussion go without any feminist voice?

scoots said...

The problem with using feminism in a Christian perspective, as I see it, is not that it's not right on any number of points, but that it's an ideology. And an ideology tends to get used to govern whatever comes under discussion.

The problem for me (with my low view of human nature) is that idologies are inherently human. My faith and hope are that God has actually revealed Godself in Scripture, which gives us access to something beyond ourselves.

So while I think it's a good idea, as Matthew has been doing, to use feminist insights to point out where our use of Scripture hurts people, I also think people who ascribe to a feminist ideology are prone to set that ideology above Scripture.

In Matthew's view, applying Scripture and its admittedly patriarchal leanings to our lives is dangerous. In my view, entrusting ourselves to a modernly constructed ideology is even more dangerous, plus it compromises our confession that "Jesus is Lord."

Matthew said...

Scoots said...
"The problem with using feminism in a Christian perspective, as I see it, is not that it's not right on any number of points, but that it's an ideology. And an ideology tends to get used to govern whatever comes under discussion."

But don't we come to the discussion with a bunch of patriarchial/masculist assumptions that have the same effect?

Shane said...

Matt said:
"So we agree, then: we shouldn't expect Genesis 1-3 to tell us anything about God's ideal for male and female gender roles."

Gen 1 shows typical gender qualities are a reflection of a nonsexual God's own gender characteristics. The tradition has used these texts in the past to say things the texts might not mean. We should ask the text the questions the text is trying to answer- what it means to be both male and female in the context which the text was written.


Matt said:
"What I'm wondering is: are we going to make more progress in the class if I continue to bring up feminist arguments, or if I just let the discussion go without any feminist voice?"

The class needs to understand that we come from different places and that effects how we engage texts. My guess is most people in that room haven’t read what you have read, and so your starting point is sometimes alien to their life experiences. Of course you are welcome.

Matthew said...

Shane said...
"Of course you are welcome."

Thanks. =)

"Gen 1 shows typical gender qualities are a reflection of a nonsexual God's own gender characteristics."

When I use the word gender, I mean the socially constructed part of a person's sexual identity. So a person might have two X chromosomes, but exhibit many qualities that our society says are appropriate only for people with an X and a Y chromosome (short hair, upper-body strength, aggression, etc.). So this person's sex would be female, but her gender would edge toward male.

In other words, she's a woman, but she's a manly woman. (See the usage note here, near the middle of the page.)

Using that definition, it doesn't make sense to say that gender qualities reflect God's gender characteristics, first because gender qualities reflect social mores, and second because God, being beyond sexuality, can't have "gender characteristics" that are imposed by society.

"We should ask the text the questions the text is trying to answer - what it means to be both male and female in the context which the text was written."

Do you mean we should ask what it means for God to be both male and female? Do you think that's the question that this text is trying to answer?

Anyhow, I guess you've gathered by now that I don't really understand what you're saying here. Will you please expound?

A. Lo said...

I'm not sure if this posted or not the first time. Let's try again.

We should ask the text the questions the text is trying to answer- what it means to be both male and female in the context which the text was written.

Okay, I’ll give you that. But how do you know that sorts of questions the text is trying to answer? Who decides that? And who decides what context it was written in? And what about the context I’m reading it in? Doesn’t that affect it, too?

It sounds to me like you’re teaching a class that will try to draw inferences from scripture, and from that, use those inferences to inform daily life. I would call that “interpreting” scripture. But I think before you can collectively discern what a scripture means and what sort of inferences should be drawn from it, the group needs to have a firm understanding of “the assumptions”, the things we take for granted. Some of those might be easy, like, “We believe that God gave us these scriptures to inform how we live.” But others might be harder, like, “We believe that a loving God wants all people to be treated equally, and we have each experienced gender bias in the church, which informs how we approach these scriptures.”

I mean, I might interpret a given scripture differently than you would, even though we could be looking at the same scripture and the same translation. And why? What makes that difference? Are there some scriptures we’re okay disagreeing about? What’s important and what’s not? And why do we feel that way? Should we first set a foundation before we start building the house?

I really do think that Shane and Matthew are answering the question of how gender roles should work in the church in the same way. (Granted, I’m basing that assumption on personal knowledge of the two of them and not because I was in the class, but I can’t imagine that those two disagree very much on this topic.)

However, I think the two of you disagree on how to get the group to your understanding of this topic (the vehicle, not the destination), and I think this is because the two of you learn differently. I think Shane is more influenced by the written word, by learning from what he reads. I think Matthew, and I would wager, quite a few college-age people, learn better by observing the world around them and drawing inferences from that. And I think we could all agree that multiple authorities influence our beliefs, even our paradigms. Those include Scripture and experience as well as some other things like tradition and reason. The way to mold the most effective class, I think, would be for the two of you to work together on how to reach people who are more shaped by Scripture as well as those who are shaped by experience, tradition and reason. I would love to hear how you two got to the same conclusion by utilizing different vehicles to get there.

I think, Matthew, this will not completely address your concerns of how we heal the damage that gender stereotyping has done in the church, but I think it might be a good start. And I bet it would alleviate some frustration on both ends.

Connor said...

So I'm not really following all thats being talked about. Its getting into that weird world of confusing semantics and since I'm not in the class (nor really understand what the class is about) I really have very little idea what is happening. So I'll just address two points.

First, Scoots argues not to use feminism because its an ideology, but I don't see Matt as using feminism itself but using arguments from feminism that he finds to be true.

Second, should you continue to bring up these arguments in the class? I think a more subtle approach would work better otherwise you just become that annoying guy and no one listens. I guess you should ask yourself whether or not you think you can break down the wall in one swing. If yes, then keep it coming, but if no, then layoff.

Anyways, if experience means anything then Shane should do a fine job. Of course his partner might screw things up, but I'm sure that persons genes makes them awesome.

Colby said...

I was trying to state that there is a logical basis for gender stereotyping, but A.Lo, you are right that child-bearing is not that same as being nurturing, and that throws a wrench into my argument.

Shane kindly stated much more eloquently the observation that gender stereotypes, whether right or wrong, aren't completely arbitrary. He also kindly elevated the level of conversation past my hang-ups.

Then why create a woman? Surely not so she could balance out Adam’s “power” with her “nurturing” (for God could do that). No, I think God created Eve to meet the only needs that God couldn’t: those dealing with physical touch.

I wonder then, why didn't God just create another man? They would be able to see each other, touch each other. Surely there must be some deeper difference between the sexes to warrant God's decision? The idea that God created Eve so that Adam and his partner could have sexual relations seems far more demeaning than today's collection of stereotypes.

I popped into one of Cheryl's textbooks for some information on how different the sexes are, here's some copy from Ch. 11 of 'Biological Psychology, 8th Edition' by James W. Kalat, lovingly transcribed for you:

"Males and females obviously differ in their reproductive organs and sexual behaviors. But they also differ in many characteristics that are only indirectly related to reproduction, such as size, aggressive behavior, parental behaviors, and life span.

Many of these sex differences depend on the effects of hormones during an early sensitive period before or around the time of birth. For example, female monkeys exposed to testosterone during their sensitive period engage in more rough-and-tumble play than opther females, are more aggressive, and make more threatening facial gestures ... [human] Girls who were exposed to elevated androgen levels ... show more interest than their non-androgenized sisters do in male-typical toys and activities such as football and other sports, electronics, auto mechanics, and hunting ... None of these choices is "wrong" -- plenty of women are more interested in sports than in fashion -- but the large group difference suggests that the prenatal hormones exert lasting influences on psychological development."


So some traits we usually assume are conditioned may actually be more biologically influenced than we suspect?

Forgive me for plugging away on this side topic. I agree, A.Lo that Matt and Shane are, I think, both headed toward the same eventual conclusion. Damon's the real wild card here :X

Matthew said...

connor said...
"Of course his partner might screw things up, but I'm sure that persons genes makes them awesome."

That comment is awesome.

colby said...
"Surely there must be some deeper difference between the sexes to warrant God's decision? "

Depends on how you read the story. I'll try to address this in my next post.

"copy from Ch. 11 of 'Biological Psychology, 8th Edition' by James W. Kalat"

If this is one of the psych texts from ACU or Harding, I'm a little nervous about its objectivity.

Still, I think you're right: it would be silly to claim that our differing biology doesn't ever result in differing behavior. And as you and Shane say, it makes sense to suppose that those stereotypes came from somewhere.

But oddly enough, just because a stereotype comes from somewhere doesn't mean it's true. Take for example the assumption that women are more nurturing than men. Sure, this stereotype may have developed because female hormones actually do make women more nuturing than men. On the other hand, it may have developed because women have always stayed home with the children out of biological necessity. The one who has breasts kind of has to stay home with the kids. And eventually, this practical measure may have evolved into to a stereotype about women being intrinsically nurturing.

Jennifer said...

If this is one of the psych texts from ACU or Harding, I'm a little nervous about its objectivity.
Regardless of where it comes from, you should be nervous about its objectivity. Psychology is an almost uniquely biased sceince, in that we only study (and publish) those things that our zeitgeist allows us to be aware of and have an interest in. Some studies simply won't be funded and so research won't be conducted, and texts won't be published until we're at a place as a culture to accept the potential implications. As with Freud's move from believing his clients were genuinely abused to theorizing about Oedipal complexes, psychology is to a large extent a function of its culture.

Beyond that, I question our ability to tease out gender v. sex characteristics, given that we all exist within a culture with very strongly stereotyped gender roles and form our gender identities based on our acceptance or rejection of those roles. But there are a few cultures with significantly different gender roles that might be pertinent here-- Spartan women, who sent their children and husbands off with the highly nurturing instruction to "Come back with your shield or on it", or perhaps the African tribes where women serve as political leaders and have multiple husbands. Perhaps it would even be valid to consider here the Afghan women, whose role in life is determined exclusively by their gender.

I think, if we're going to come to any understanding of gender v. sex roles, it *must* be through a broad-based consideration of what is male and female throughout a variety of cultures-- those characteristics which are truly genetic should appear throughout cultures and more or less throughout time. Just my two cents.

Matthew said...

Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing your two cents. =)

So let's suppose that we can look at history and get a better idea about what traits are biologically determined, or at least which traits are significantly influenced by biology. What should we do with this information?

jennifer said...

So let's suppose that we can look at history and get a better idea about what traits are biologically determined, or at least which traits are significantly influenced by biology. What should we do with this information?

Well, it seems to me that what's at question here is which of our role-ideas are of God and which are socially constructed. Those which are imageo deo, which are inherently part of created order and who we were created to be should be honored. Those which are socially constructed should be questioned and perhaps condemned, in keeping with Jesus' example of shattering the traditional gender roles of HIS time by speaking with and teaching women.
Supposing that we could separate the two, it would be of vital significance for any Christian understanding of what gender roles are-- and aren't. At least in my opinion...

A. Lo said...

I wonder then, why didn't God just create another man? They would be able to see each other, touch each other. Surely there must be some deeper difference between the sexes to warrant God's decision? The idea that God created Eve so that Adam and his partner could have sexual relations seems far more demeaning than today's collection of stereotypes.

I was afraid that would happen when I said, "physical touch". I didn't mean sex. I don't think God created woman just so she could have sex with man. We can talk about how the act of sex plays into this whole thing later, and I'm sure we will. But really, I think God created Eve for more than that.

The idea that God created Eve so that Adam and his partner could have sexual relations seems far more demeaning than today's collection of stereotypes.

I agree, which is why that was not the point I was making--I think we downplay the role physical touch and interaction plays in our lives. Petting a dog is not the same as getting a hug, and I think there's a reason for that, a reason that receiving affection from beings who reason as we do and can choose to give or withhold love makes it all the more special.

I wonder then, why didn't God just create another man? They would be able to see each other, touch each other.

Me, too. In fact, I wonder lots of things about God, like why God lets children starve and why God created mosquitos. Can we draw inferences about God from what HASN'T been created? I don't know.

scoots said...

Those which are socially constructed should be questioned and perhaps condemned…Supposing that we could separate the two, it would be of vital significance for any Christian understanding of what gender roles are-- and aren't.

I think we'd still end up with the same problem, because what comes natural doesn't define what's right or best. If it turns out that (generally) men are naturally violent and women are naturally passive, it's still not at all obvious that that indicates what God created us for.

Like your comment about psychology suggests, I don't think we can ever expect science to let us off the hook in our moral choices, because our opinions and prejudices invariably impact how we interpret the evidence we find.

All that said, I do think scientific study can help us clarify questions and keep us from saying stupid things when all the evidence opposes us. I've always thought education is better at keeping us from saying stupid things than at helping us say particularly smart ones.

A. Lo said...

***UNRELATED COMMENT BELOW:***
Connor, I'm sad that you don't have a blog. . .or at least one that I can find by clicking on your little name.