every single newspaper in the universe covered the story about a research paper that finds some small differences between men's & women's brains.  

original article: Ryali et al., 2024 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), reported in: The New Scientist by Clare Wilson on 19th March 2024 & The New Scientist by Clare Wilson on 19th February 2024 & The Guardian by Gina Rippon on 22nd February 2024 & The Times by Tom Whipple on 20th February 2024 & The Telegraph by Sarah Knapton on 19th February 2024 image source

this story was in episode 37 #finally #sex #brain #decision #centuries

the error bar says

they've done it! neuroscientists have, finally, finally, this time, & for the first time & for the six hundred & twenty third time, discovered some differences between men's & women's brains.

we can all put down our gonad scanners & brain measurers for science has - at long last - done it.

that, at least, is what you might reasonably conclude from seeing that *every news outlet in the solar system* last month covered the story of yet another brain scanning study finding some small differences between the sexes. using deep learning or some other AI thing.

the most hyperbolic praise was from the New Scientist, which stated that this single new study is "finally cutting through the historical discrimination & gender politics to get at the truth".

the truth. this time only!

regular listeners to the error bar will recall in episode 7 that i reported on what i called a "majestic review" of over 600 previous brain imaging studies conducted over 30 years. the author of that study - Professor Lise Eliot - was quoted by the new Scientist: "When you control for brain size, all of the claims about volume differences of individual structures between men and women either disappear or become extremely small."

yet still - still - we are told by those same newspapers that, despite there being 600 previous studies of the brain differences between men & women it is the new one - & only the new one - that finally contains the truth about this vexed question.

students of neuroscience: ignore all 600 previous studies & just read this one.

so what is the new study about?

i don't know.

sadly, dear listener, despite the historic importance of everyone knowing about the differences between men & women's brains, the report containing this vital & final truth is paywalled. we might be able to find out the truth about cerebral sex in 6 months when the wall comes down.

it is not a little ironic that this new truthy brain sex study was possible only because the researchers analysed thousands of scans from the freely-available UK BioBank dataset, paid for & heroically maintained by the UK taxpayer. yet we can only read about this crucial new analysis if we pay an obscure scientific society in the US several tens of dollars.

if you want the error bar to pay several tens of dollars to read this study, please send bitcoin to the usual address.

the best place to learn about this topic & the implications of the new study is to go to the Guardian, where Professor Gina Rippon lays out the issues, free for all to read.


see you again next time


The New Scientist: fair - scientific story mostly intact

The New Scientist: fair - scientific story mostly intact

The Guardian: fact - scientific story reported well

The Telegraph: fair - scientific story mostly intact