Sociomedical Scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young ’86 Publishes Brain Storm to Glowing Reviews

Posted October 20th, 2010 at 2:59 pm.

jordan-youngSociomedical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young ’86, an associate professor of women’s studies at Barnard College, recently published Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, a study of the scientific research underlying the claim that sex differences are biologically determined or “hardwired into the brain” by fetal exposure to sex hormones. The book has attracted the notice of — among other publications — Newsweek, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, New Scientist, The Boston Globe, and Slate (which termed it “masterful”). In September, Jordan-Young appeared on WNYC Radio’s Brian Lehrer show.

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Says publisher Harvard University Press: “In this compelling book, Rebecca Jordan-Young takes on the evidence that sex differences are hardwired into the brain. Analyzing virtually all published research that supports the claims of ‘human brain organization theory,’ Jordan-Young reveals how often these studies fail the standards of science. Even if careful researchers point out the limits of their own studies, other researchers and journalists can easily ignore them because brain organization theory just sounds so right. But if a series of methodological weaknesses, questionable assumptions, inconsistent definitions, and enormous gaps between ambiguous findings and grand conclusions have accumulated through the years, then science isn’t scientific at all.

“Elegantly written, this book argues passionately that the analysis of gender differences deserves far more rigorous, biologically sophisticated science. ‘The evidence for hormonal sex differentiation of the human brain better resembles a hodge-podge pile than a solid structure…Once we have cleared the rubble, we can begin to build newer, more scientific stories about human development.'”

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