By Carlos -

What is appropriate for the female author ?

A male human and a female human.

I asked myself this question the other day, after showing a passage of The Watchman’s Rattle by Rebecca D.Costa to MJ, who is also a woman.

The book is a synthesis of ideas from many different fields. The author weaves ideas from the frontier of cognitive neuroscience, geology (climate change) , historical analysis of ancient civilizations, politics, and biology to answer questions such as why, as a society, we can’t seem to solve our problems anymore?

She provides historical anecdotes supporting the thesis of when circumstances become too complex, a cognitive threshold is broken and we begin to ascribe to beliefs and rumor, instead of the facts – which have become more difficult to obtain. This thesis dovetails with a subject I’ve written about recently, regarding the effect of the Information Age on our ability to make decisions, however–instead of relating it solely to the individual, Rebecca Costa believes the scope is broadened to all sufficiently complex societies.

So the point of this post looks to ask the question what sort of dialog do we consider Male or Female?

I showed MJ a passage in which the author accounts for the scenario whereby many experienced investors blindly followed Bernard Madoff down the rabbit hole; suggesting that it’s because the financial systems governing Wall Street seem so chaotic, that people will follow popular analysts like Jim Cramer and Neil Cavuto as though they’re conjurers of the market. In fact, these folks can indeed cause stocks’ performances to shift by their well-placed commentary. But this alone does not make their advice worthy.

The author goes on to claim that this irrational lemming-like behavior isn’t limited to financial markets, she points to the billion dollar industry of homeopathic remedies that have been proven to have no effect.

This statement struck a sour note with MJ, who believed the author was a man until I rained on her parade of assumptions.

I’ll provide the sentence in fuller context:

We also spend billions of dollars each year on homeopathic remedies that have been proven to have no effect. We purchase more insurance policies for home, fire, flood, cars, boats, and health than at any other time in human history, even thoug the odds of catastrophic loss are declining every hour in our favor. And we continue to build more golf courses in California as if the growing water shortage will one day fix itself.

What casues us to adopt irrational beliefs both as individuals and as a group?

Our vulnerability to beliefs grows stronger as our ability to acquire knowledge recedes. When faced with complexity that exceeds the biological capabiliteis of the brain, we become susceptible to unproven ideologies and begin acquiescing to a dangerous “herd” mentality.”

What about this statement is indicative of the sex of the author? Is it that, in MJ’s point of view, anyone who seems hostile to the homeopathic industry, and implicitly supports Western scientific medicine, must come from a different world view and standing than her own? And it’s most likely a male absent of other cues ?  Or perhaps it’s that the author’s voice is rather assured about the position which MJ reads as being hostile toward all of homeopathy?

I pointed out that the statement was qualified with the mention that it’s the remedies which “–have been proven to have no effect.” To me, this was enough to save the author from accusation of hostility against all of homeopathy.

It’s pretty well documented that many homeopathic remedies have been vetted and continue to be investigated by science, and that there is indeed a scientific mechanism involved in some of their efficacy. So I don’t believe the author is that unawares to attack homeopathy outright. But she clearly criticizes continued use of those homeopathic remedies which have been investigated by scientific methods, and have been found to have no effect on the condition it’s purported to treat.

So what is okay for a male to say , and not okay for a female to say?

Decoding MJ’s assumptions, its probably considered somewhat atypical for a woman to offer criticism of a certain type. Maybe the subtle assumption is that it’s discordant for a woman to be in favor of scientific methods?

This is as much an exercise into how MJ thinks, as it is an exercise to elucidate societal messages which have no doubt impressed upon her thinking on an subconscious level…

I like to identify and question assumptions in everyday life,  and I could use a little help on this one. Why do you think MJ thought the author was a man from this passage?

 

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