Jonah Goldberg

In fact, the scientific consensus is that there are innate cognitive differences between men and women - as groups. Individual men and women can be geniuses or morons (though the data suggest that men tend to produce more of both than women).

Men tend to perform better at spatial tasks - rotating three-dimensional objects in their mind, for example - as well as some mathematical and navigational tests. Women, on the other hand, are better at word games of various kinds, and they beat men at identifying matching items rapidly and putting the right-shaped pegs in the right holes. This is all fairly uncontroversial stuff - you can find a nice summary on the Web in a Scientific American article called "Sex Differences in the Brain" from May 13, 2002.

But don't show it to Dr. Hopkins. She may lose her lunch.

Now, I don't mean to be sexist when mocking Ms. Hopkins. I don't think her media-savvy hysteria has much to do with her sex. I think it has everything to do with a species of liberalism and/or feminism which is completely at odds with the best traditions of scholarship and liberalism, properly understood.

Ms. Hopkins made a name for herself a few years ago by whining incessantly about gender discrimination at MIT. Indeed, she complained so much that she was able to finagle the chairmanship (sorry, the chairpersonship) of a committee tasked with finding discrimination at MIT. Shockingly, Dr. Hopkins found discrimination! Her report made her a hero in the pages of The New York Times, which dubbed her a "reluctant feminist" in the headline of its gushing profile of her.

The report, which emphasized the feelings of anonymous female professors, found that discrimination manifested itself in a "stealth-like" way at MIT - which is generally PC code for "I'm not going to provide any evidence." The supposedly convincing evidence was kept secret, while the official report explained: "Discrimination consists of a pattern of powerful but unrecognized assumptions. . Once you 'get it,' it seems almost obvious."


This is perfectly consistent with Dr. Hopkins' current schtick - which got her a nice, sympathetic interview on the "Today" show and newspaper coverage around the world. In the past, women used to claim that vulgar language would cause them to grow ill or faint. Now feminists like Hopkins use the same tactic to silence ideologically unacceptable ideas and to intimidate the intellectually curious. That's the stereotype Dr. Hopkins is reinforcing: that feminists and the left are pro-science and pro-scholarship as long as they already agree with the conclusions.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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