In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Miss Nevada No Longer | Main | D.A. Justice »

December 31, 2006


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

What sex is your brain?

Disappointingly -- I was hoping for some kind of revelation, I guess -- my brain scores smack in the middle of the scale, neither particularly male nor particularly female.

A few of my subscores did make me laugh a bit at myself, though. I'm surprisingly good at matching line-angles and at rotating objects in space, both apparently male-engineer-type aptitudes, as well as ones I'd have thought I was a disaster at, given my aversion to all things math and abstract. And I'm considerably better than even most women at verbalizing and at empathizing. Ladies, bring me your feelings; you know who loves ya. (And who loves to gab about it too.) Meanwhile, I have no visible interest in (let alone talent for) investigating how systems work. Ah, so that's why I didn't wind up in engineering ...

Some interesting facts from the BBC test-givers:

Did you know that, on average, women use 15,000 words a day while men use 7,000?

Women took about twice as long as men to end their online instant messenging conversations in a 2003 study of US university students. The study, which was published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, also found that women were much more likely to use emoticons (representations of emotions using punctuation marks).

The most popular emoticon was the smiley face :- )

However girly I can be, at least I don't use smileys.



posted by Michael at December 31, 2006


You don't seriously consider this test accurate, do you?
Or we're both of the same transgender, you and me (50/50 here, don't you know it).

Strange way of measuring empathizing ability: by asking were there any people that told you how wonderfully understanding and comforting you are. So , by that logic, if I consoled a notable introvert with diminished expression abilities, who never verbalized his gratitude, I'll become decidedly cold and rejective person?

My finger ratio is even lower than average man, conversely to my ability to systematize; I guess it makes me a super male. However, let's look at 3D rotation: isn't it funny; if somebody who has no idea of our respective professions based his guess on this test, he'd say you're the one with engineering/design diploma, and I'm not. And ability to write associative words to adjective sort of limited by proficiency in English as a foreign language, don't you think?

Conclusion: divide by 2 anything that comes out of BBC's mouth.

Posted by: Tatyana on December 31, 2006 2:17 PM

I came out masculine, but only about 25 on their scale. Most things were smack in the middle. A bit low on empathy, way over the top on systematizing (18 out of 20), 12/12 on the shape rotations (as befits an organic chemist), and about double the standard number of words on the fluency test (as befits a blogger).

Interestingly, both my index fingers are longer than my ring fingers - I don't think the test knew what to do with that one.

Posted by: Derek Lowe on December 31, 2006 4:03 PM

Hmm, must be a slow news day. And why are they comparing people's index and ring fingers to determine sex? That is the hard way to do it.

Posted by: Jonathan on December 31, 2006 4:58 PM


Posted by: Jonathan on December 31, 2006 4:58 PM

Once we used some tests like this at a ministers' retreat to kick up some discussion. After we'd taken the tests, we lined up by scores -- "female" on one end and "male" on the other. All the best ministers, regardless of sex, were in the middle.

Don't tell Harvard there were any differences at all!

At a different retreat, a summer upgrade for people who taught Indian kids, we all took a test that separated rattlers from cobras. Mostly conservative whites came out rattlers and liberal brown/reds came out cobras. (It was originally developed for use with a black-white split.) It was so scary, threatening, and mind-blowing that we could hardly discuss it, but it was still easier to talk about than the attitudes that gave rise to the differences.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on December 31, 2006 5:08 PM

The finger length thing seems to hold pretty true -- evidently a response to testosterone during gestation.

The "other" test might not be as helpful as suggested. A certain number of babies -- a higher proportion than one might think and evidently rising -- are born "intersex" or otherwise confused. xxy, xyy, xxyy. One interesting person was a mosaic of both sexes. Evidently the zygotes were fraternal twins who somehow got combined into one baby very early in gestation.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on December 31, 2006 11:54 PM

"separated rattlers from cobras"


Posted by: onetwothree on January 1, 2007 2:08 AM

took the test last night,

what a relief to find Michael came out
smack in the middle

me too

crazy tests but hey BBC

Posted by: Bob Garlitz on January 1, 2007 9:51 AM

The 15,000 vs. 7000 words/day might be an unsubstantiated meme -- see Mark Liberman's Language Log blog --


Now off to take the test :-)


Posted by: Kirsten on January 1, 2007 10:42 AM

My score...25 on the female side. And, I am left-handed, whatever that forbodes...

I kicked butt on the shape rotations 11/12, but took the bullet on spatial stuff. How does that happen?

And, duh, I prefer masculine faces. Who would ask that of someone who thinks Sam Elliott is a minor deity?

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on January 1, 2007 2:38 PM

+1 Kirsten: The male/female loquacity ratio has been completely fisked, as far as I understand what's been said in Language Log - it's a load of rubbish. And it's depressing but predictable that the BBC repeats it uncritically.

Posted by: Graham Asher on January 1, 2007 3:43 PM

I got a kick out of it. Thanks for sharing, Michael. I scored dead even too, around the middle of some categories and at extremes of others (e.g., rocking angles and words).

Posted by: claire on January 1, 2007 6:52 PM

Fun test, although I’m not sure how meaningful it all is. As I thought would be the case before I took the test, I did well on all the visual/spacial tests, whether or not “typical best” results were associated with males or females (e.g. the “spot the difference test” or the angles and 3D rotation tests). I also did well on the systemizing test, and surprised myself by correctly selecting 7 out of 10 on the Eyes test. And yet my overall score was slightly more “female” than “male” brain.

Posted by: Alec on January 2, 2007 5:34 PM

I came out right in the middle, too, which is starting to seem a little suspicious. I'm a better empathizer than systemizer, I sucked at finding the objects that had moved around from one picture to the next, scored very high on identifying the "correct" emotion with the sets of eyes. I also wrote down way more synonyms than the average woman or man. It turns out, I apparently like more "masculine" faces. I also have a way higher finger score than most men or women, but this also said it depended how many older brothers one has, and I have two. So...they soaked up all the testosterone, or what?

Posted by: annette on January 4, 2007 11:55 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?