The question of the week

7/28/2005 – Science, like chess, attracts bright people, and there are many more males in both fields. So can we conclude that men are smarter? Not necessarily, says Marilyn vos Savant in PARADE Magazine. "Chess was developed by males for intellectual sparring with other males. Maybe females simply don’t find the game as fascinating." Questionnaire...

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In one of the latest issues of Parade Magazine the above question was debated. Marilyn vos Savant asked what readers thought: are men smarter then women?

Savant set up a questionnaire to ask readers specifically: Are men smarter than women? Or are women more intelligent than men? The options you could vote for were:

  • I think men are smarter than women
  • I think women are smarter than men
  • I agree with Marilyn, neither gender is smarter
  • I don't know

After that she gave a list with 50 names, of which readers had to pick the five they thought were smartest:

Mary Matalin
Jon Stewart
Linda Buck
Susan Polgar
Sally Ride
Georgia O'Keeffe
Meg Whitman
Jane Goodall
Sandra Day O'Connor
Condoleezza Rice
Jackie Chan
Hayao Miyazaki
Ralph Lauren
Dalai Lama
Bette Davis
Rosalyn Yalow
James Carville
Dr. Phil (McGraw)
Frank Gehry
Warren Buffett
George S. Patton Jr.
Bill Clinton
Steven Spielberg
Meryl Streep
Maya Lin
Oprah Winfrey
Katharine Graham
Pat Summitt
Annie Duke
Wynton Marsalis
Albert Einstein
Antonia Novello
Annika Sorenstam
Edward Albee

Quincy Jones
Pablo Picasso
Sergey Brin Ben Carson
J.K. Rowling
Martha Graham
Bill Gates
Yo-Yo Ma
Dr. Ruth (Westheimer)
Mike Nichols
Toni Morrison
Stephen Hawking
Johnny Carson
Marie Curie
Allison Fisher
Mikhail Baryshnikov

Note that there is a chess player in the above list, Susan Polgar, former women's world champion, currently on a perennial good-will tour for chess in the United States.

The full article will be made available on the following page. The online publishing date was announced for July 25, but as of now the text is not yet visible. There is a Q&A with the author where we learn a few things, like:

  • There is a gender gap in many occupations, but the disparity is most visible in the sciences.

  • Upbringing is the No. 1 cause – not discrimination from men. Just as significant is the fact (not the problem) that many women are far more interested in their families than outside work, and society clearly approves.

  • The average IQ of females is equal to the average IQ of males. But many more males score at the top and the bottom of the intelligence scale. This could account for the greater number of men in the sciences and – on the other end – in the prison population.

  • No evidence indicates that the sciences attract the brightest people. Savant: "I believe that science – like chess – attracts bright people, but only the ones with certain personality characteristics. Those traits might be more common in men. In the case of chess, the game was developed by males for intellectual sparring with other males. Maybe females simply don’t find the game as fascinating."

Savant provides a few facts from the animal kingdom:

  • Female chimpanzees learn complex tasks as easily as males.
  • Female gorillas can be taught sign language as well as males.
  • Female guide dogs are as capable at their work as males.
  • Female dolphins perform practical jokes as often as males.
  • Female parrots are able to mime and talk as well as males.
  • Female rats and mice run mazes just as efficiently as males.

PARADE is a magazine, distributed as a Sunday supplement in hundreds of newspapers in the United States. It was founded in 1941 and it owned by Advance Publications.


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