Opening Question: Can stereotypes and other biases interfere with scientific research?
When presented with the idea of science and experiments, the first thing that likely comes to mind is statistics and factual evidence. While these aspects are a major part of science, the subject is not solely based on them. To reach a sound conclusion, scientists must make inferences whether they are vague or detailed. According to Stephen Jay Gould, however, even the most respected scientists sometimes forget this key fact. In Gould’s essay, “Women’s Brains,” he argues that societal biases can infiltrate scientific fields and consequently create a plethora of issues. Gould utilizes comparison and contrast, a hyperbole, and strong diction to strongly develop his argument for his audience, intellectuals within the world.
Core Question 1: What is the purpose of comparing and contrasting several scientists within small excerpts?
Throughout his entire essay, Gould includes examples of several scientists’ thinking. The manner in which he lists these excerpts compares and contrasts each of them. These comparisons and contrasts build a foundation for the argument and show how even well-respected scientists can make mistakes. The first noted scientist is Paul Broca, a professor of clinical surgery. He states, “His numbers are sound. But science is an inferential exercise, not a catalog of fasts.” This shows that Paul Broca was an extremely respected scientist. However he, like other scientists of his time, believed that skull size was directly proportional to intelligence. Next, he mentions L. Manouvrier, and states that while he was a “black sheep” in his field, he believed that “women displayed their talents and their diplomas.” This showed that some scientists had the ability to disregard the social norm, although those who did were generally forgotten. He then describes Gustave Le Bon by mentioning his own findings on women’s intelligence. Le Bon had apparently stated, “The inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment.” However, no mention is made of any of his experiments that tried to prove this inferiority to be true. This shows that many scientists were convinced that facts were facts and that they could not be proven to be untrue. These three scientists work in the same field, but could not be more different. Broca is seen to be well-respected and factual, Manouvrier is viewed as unpopular yet sympathetic, and Le Bon is seen as outspoken and rude. However, they each have something in common: they lack evidence aside from numbers to support their ideas thoroughly. This shows that comparison and contrast is used to build a foundation for Gould’s argument because it introduces the audience to a few scientists and how they each focus too much on basic facts to support something misunderstood.
Core Question 2: Why does Gould use a hyperbole to describe Gustave Le Bon? (50 Essays, 132)
Gould uses a hyperbole to prove to his audience that...