The Attack of “Many”
When Larry Summers was still at Harvard, he made a comment during a lecture citing “innate differences” between men and women as a possible reason for the lack of gender parity in the sciences. As I’ve written before, it should be pretty obvious to everyone that men and women are different. And when people let their guards down, they’ll admit as much.
They’ll let slip that men are more agressive, and women have more natural empathy; they’ll admit that men and women think and reason differently, or that men have better spacial awareness, while women have a better command of language, or other such things. Just make sure you don’t try to attach those points to anything relating to real life.
If you read GetReligion.org, you’ll come across their disdain for the terms “many” and “some”. They are occasionally effective, but they are rarely descriptive enough for the context. One oft turned phrase is that “many” evangelicals are moving away from pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage activism. But “many” could mean 4% or 40%. There’s no telling.
Look at this quote from an article in Science Daily:
Contrary to the myth that females lack the intrinsic aptitude needed to excel in mathematics at the highest level, an idea proffered most famously by former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, many girls exist with truly exceptional talent for mathematics.
Taking this at face value, you’d expect that they measured high math aptitude in large percenteges of girls; maybe in the 35-40% range of all children identified with high aptitude. But if you look lower, the actual numbers are 11-24%, in good environments. Of course, in the context of the above statement, it fits. But there’s another problem.
The first sentence misstates the premise of most people, particularly Summers. The point of what Summers said was that because of natural gender differences, fewer women would achieve in math and science. He didn’t say, or imply, “that females lack the intrinsic aptitude needed to excel in mathematics at the highest level.” He was saying that there are more men with math aptitude than women.
And the article supports this, by saying that the high estimate of proportion is 1-in-4 children identified with math aptitude are girls. That’s a 3:1 ratio in favor of boys. Maybe some things are as simple as they seem.