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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and reasuring.
Since working recently for a company that sells books for children all neatly published in lists either for 'girls' (princess, fairies, shopping and pink), or 'boys' (space, transport, animals and science), and having my concerns dismissed because "that's just the way boys and girls are", gender roles and gender stereotypes have been on my mind a lot...
Published 16 months ago by happymgee

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134 of 203 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Delusions of science: a question of scientific validity
There is an implicit oxymoron in the notion of anything referred to as 'real science'. If science has taught us one thing throughout history, it ought to be that we know very little about anything: mostly, our supposed knowledge is merely a collection of ideas that explain apparent data - a set of beliefs, not ultimate truths. So when someone uses a phrase such as "the...
Published on 29 Dec 2010 by GrrlAlex


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4.0 out of 5 stars good read, 27 Jun 2014
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I bought this when I was studying gender at university and it is a real eye opener. If you're interested in gender differences or want to look further into what makes us who we are, I would recommend it. It is an easier read than most academic text, but it still gets the point across in an educated, intelligent way. Quite scary reading it and being able to identify with so many of the gender-congruent claims!
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5.0 out of 5 stars You need to buy this!, 9 May 2013
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Incredibly well written, well researched and insightful book. This will really make you think. Should be required reading!
I intend to go back to it as often as possible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a transgendered perspective, 5 Mar 2013
this is a fantastic book, and a must read for anyone in looking to get a broader perspective on how gender and sexuality are enforced in society. did it help me make sense of what i'm going through? indirectly yes, but that's not the point - first you need to see how your perception of gender has been tainted by patriarchal society: deconstruct it, clear away the false consciousness you've created and then perhaps you'll see - as i have begun to - where transgender really originates from.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences, 9 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences (Paperback)
I bought it for my niece who is studying medicine and really wanted to read it.She was very pleased to read it and would recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, highly recommended, 17 July 2014
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Mikki (Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a serious and weighty topic, well handled and clearly presented. Very thought provoking, meticulously researched and truly well written. It is entertaining to read, which is a huge achievement for such a serious topic. Very highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely., 4 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences (Paperback)
Wonderful to finally find such a well informed pop science book on gender. Lovely read, well written and beautifully argued, great read for anyone interested in gender differences.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature versus Nurture, 1 Nov 2010
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Jaylia3 (Silver Spring, MD United States) - See all my reviews
Just when it looked like neuroscience was justifying our current worldview that innate differences are somehow "hardwired" into the brains of little boys and little girls author Cordelia Fine comes along and checks out the scientific studies. What she exposes and describes in detail are poorly designed experiments, blind leaps of faith and convoluted circular reasoning. In scientists! According to what Fine uncovered we have mutable brains, continuously influenced and changed by our cultural environment. Besides being thought provoking--it may make you rethink a lot of your beliefs--this book is both funny and well written.
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134 of 203 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Delusions of science: a question of scientific validity, 29 Dec 2010
There is an implicit oxymoron in the notion of anything referred to as 'real science'. If science has taught us one thing throughout history, it ought to be that we know very little about anything: mostly, our supposed knowledge is merely a collection of ideas that explain apparent data - a set of beliefs, not ultimate truths. So when someone uses a phrase such as "the real science behind.." as a book title it usually heralds an overly-simplistic or heavily politicised argument, and sadly with this book, it's both.

There is some fascinating science being discovered within the fields of gender studies and of neuro-cognitive development and I hoped the book would offer an integration of these new ideas. Sadly, the book seems stuck back in the days of 1980's feminism where the notion of any inherent biological brain difference between male and female was viewed as an unhelpful justification for oppression and discrimination, and thus vehemently dismissed. It doesn't need to be thus, particularly since the latest thinking in terms of in-utero neuro-cognitive development does suggest some inherent functional differences, and that most men and women actually sit on a continuum with these: even that maleness and femaleness might exist beyond apparent genitalia. Equality should not need to mean 'the same as', merely of equal standing and value. Let us not forget too, that these apparent gender differences started out somewhere - it is a symptom of our civilised society that we start to challenge these apparent 'rules of nature', the idea of a 'natural order of things' that created gender based differences and inequality in the first instance.

So, whilst Fine is busy dissing the work of fellow academics like Baron-Cohen and Pinker, her arguments are less well constructed than theirs, her evidence shakier, and the whole tone of the book felt more like a shouty-diatribe rather than an intelligent and considered counter to a philosophy she disagrees with. I accept her point towards the back of the book that she has wanted to make the book accessible to a readership outside academia but I feel she has dumbed it down to such an extent that she has lost a potentially good argument by investing so much energy in simplistic criticism rather than integration.

We know that social conditioning affects not only how people relate and interact with each other but that it in some ways affects development of the brain that enhances specific skills and attitudes for some over others. There is some exciting research for example, looking at how childhood abuse impacts on the neural pathways and may explain some of the lasting legacies of such trauma. It's reasonable to postulate that gender conditioning may exert similar effects in some way - perhaps rewiring the brain to particular patterns but there is much to consider in this field. However, by resorting back to archaic feminist ideology: the idea that all gender difference is merely learned or imposed, is unnecessary and does not fit with so much current knowledge. What her book fails to discuss or explain for example, is how we make sense of gender non-conformity, particularly among the transgender, transsexual and intersex community. On p128 she asserts, "children have a powerful drive to self socialise into gender roles" a theme she reiterates on p211 by suggesting that from the earliest months of existence, children observe gender roles and rules, and note and adopt the demarcation identifiers. Yep, that's as maybe: but now make sense of the queer kid being bullied in the playground. Life would be so much easier if learning how to do the approved gender were that easy. To this child the messages are clear from the outside -parents; teachers; peers: be a proper .....[boy/girl] but the conflict between the innate sense of gender and the external rules of social conditioning can push some to suicide: lets be honest here.

She uses a naive and simplistic analogy on p209 suggesting that if we knew the handedness of children at birth and then divided their behavioural traits according to this demarker (instead of genital appearance) ie: you're a right-hander therefore like rough and tumble play, your a left and you like pink how crazy this would seem. Ironically here, left handedness is a naturally occurring brain-based biological anomaly, a minority variation, and yet for a long time children's innate left handedness was seen as an unnatural and an unacceptable behaviour and was to be beaten out of them by parents and the school system, with sometimes catastrophic results. Understanding that although right handedness is the majority and default norm does not make left handers lesser - merely different, with different latent talents, different potentials and some commonalities. The same might model might well apply in the case of gender and particularly in the case of non-conforming children - that their brain development may set out innate gendered traits that sit in opposition to the one they are being so heavily indoctrinated into by virtue of their apparent genitalia. Here I reiterate the concept emerging from more considered scientific viewpoints, that maleness and femaleness might well exist to some extent as brain based gendered differences; that most people sit on a continuum; and that for some, their innate programming may be contrary to the biological anatomy of their genitals.

Non-linear dynamic systems theory offers us insight into a more credible science behind gender differences. A multitude of factors, each acting in their own way in complex and chaotic ways brings about an observable outcome. Consider a snooker table: cue the ball to hit a point on the opposite side of the table and does it hit the mark every time? What multitude of factors influence the outcome. Neuro-cognitive science is offering us exciting new insights into ways in which the brain is affected in-vivo through life experiences - that change and development occur throughout the life span. This could add to our understanding of the nature of complex skills, attributes and temperaments, and the way in which they are, and or become, gendered.

The book misses out on the opportunity to properly develop these themes and add meaningfully to the debate on gender. This is a great pity, and for those reasons, sadly, I cannot recommend the book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do I detect... Sarcasm?, 29 Mar 2013
I have finally found a person who hates Simon Baron Cohen as much as I do. My life is much improved by this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars feminist wonder. fast and speedy delivery, 21 Feb 2014
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love love love this book. very informative. science based. reiterates a lot of what we already know but in the form of studies and history. great for anyone interested in gender stereotypes and feminism.
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Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences
Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine (Paperback - 3 Feb 2011)
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