Friday, April 26, 2013

Man v. Woman v. Dog

I’m going to share a breakthrough.  I’m a little apprehensive since, like so many groundbreaking thoughts, this will be controversial.   

You know how it goes:  People read a headline and “go off” before they understand the context.   

But because it’s important, I will press on.  Just bear with me and you’ll see the genius of it: 

Now, cringing as I write, I offer the headline:  Women's Brains Smaller than Men's, but Used More Efficiently. 

All right you guys!  Did you even read the whole sentence?  No fair to stop at the comma! 

And Women, it’s OK.  Breathe...!  And breathe...! 

Men, if you’re still there, quit high-fiving and read on.  

This research out of the University of California says that while women average 8% less brain mass, they maintain equal intelligence to big-brained men.   

We’ve been trying to tell you forever that size doesn’t matter! 

And guys, I just tossed you that bone to soften the blow this mind-blowing revelation will deliver:  Women’s little brains are more like dogs’ brains than men’s big brains are.   

I know.  Men take pride in their dog brains.  They cling to and cultivate their canine heritage.   

Conventional wisdom has assured us for decades that men’s brains and dogs’ brains reflect parallel composition.  This conclusion is well supported by evidence and readily observed in the equivalent preoccupations of man and his buddy. 

As an example, both dogs and men have significant chunks of gray matter dedicated to mindless, repetitive activities – for dogs, it’s chasing thrown objects; for men, it’s air guitar. 

Both dogs and men have entire lobes of their brains devoted to ball sports, reflected by the endless repetition demanded by every canine that ever dropped a slobbery orb at his master’s feet, and the interminable playing or watching of ball sports on TV by adult males. 

But I got to thinking about it this week after I read more redundant research in the category of “gender challenges” titled, New Research Proves MenReally Don't Understand Women. 

The study comes out of Germany and concludes that men fail to recognize fairly obvious nonverbal signals, such as expressions of fear or disgust, when conveyed by the eyes of women.  Duh.  And, it goes on; when they’re communicating with other men they do just fine!  Double duh. 

In fact, brain scan data showed that when looking at the eyes of other men, but not women, male participants showed “heightened activation of the right amygdala,” which is that small, almond-shaped part of their big ole brain that plays a key role in the processing of emotions.  

“The finding that men are superior in recognizing [the] emotions [and] mental states of other men, as compared to women, might be surprising,” said the research team leader, psychiatrist Boris Schiffer.  

Well, maybe it was surprising to Boris, but the rest of us are rolling our eyes.  We just keep on proving what we already know.  

So here’s where the trailblazing begins: 

After painstaking and diligent review of that internet article, an array of single pane, hand-drawn cartoons about brains and numerous stand-up comedy routines, I contend that we have fallen victim to confirmation bias, only seeing what supports our foregone conclusions.  

We have rushed to judgment.  We have only protected the punch lines of all our sexist jokes!  The truth is - Men can NOT claim dog brains! 

As proof, consider the classic Berman cartoon “Comparative Anatomy: BRAINS – Dogs v. Men” which offers a graphic depiction of specks in a man’s brain labeled “Commitment Molecule,” and “Listening Particle.”  These two, when paired the almond-shaped sliver dedicated to detection of the emotions of women should put to rest the long-held notion that men have brains comparable to dogs’ brains. 

That’s right.  We know the unwavering, loving gaze of our dogs.  They listen to us for the sheer joy of hearing our voices!  In contrast to man’s “Interruption Lobe,” the dog brain encompasses an expanse entitled “Selfless Devotion to Loved Ones” and a gland reserved solely for “Commitment to Family.”  

Now honestly, what man hangs on your every word or gives you the first cookie out of the oven?  No!  But a woman does.  Woman and her little dog-brain!  

Well.  That didn’t come out right.   

And I thought I had a victory.