Smart and SeXy: The Evolutionary Origins and Biological Underpinnings of Cognitive Differences between the Sexes
London: Arktos Media, Ltd., 2016
Roderick Kaine, who has previously written for the neo-reactionary movement under the name Atavisionary, is an American trained as a biochemist. His first book, now available from Arktos, is both a genetically based explanation of cognitive differences between the sexes, and a demonstration that the economic and demographic costs of sexual egalitarianism will bring about the destruction of Western Civilization if that ideology is not abandoned.
There are several well-established differences in cognitive functioning between men and women. First, adult men appear to have a three to five point advantage over women in average IQ. Second, and more important, there is a much wider range of variation in male intelligence, with more men at the highest and lowest levels, and with women tending to bunch in the middle. Third, women tend toward greater verbal ability, while men have greater mathematical ability and much greater visuospatial ability.
One consequence of these differences is that men greatly outnumber women among high achievers in engineering and the hard sciences, a circumstance which, in the author’s words, “engenders astonishing levels of envy among some women.” Elaborate but unconvincing theories revolving around discrimination and “stereotype threat” have been elaborated to account for these differences and justify preferential treatment of women in these fields.
Yet these differences in cognitive ability can easily be explained by studying the human brain. Male brains on the whole are 8 to 10 percent larger than female brains, and controlling for body size differences does not eliminate the difference. The correlation coefficient between brain size and IQ is about 0.35 or 0.4 when the most accurate measuring techniques are used. One area, the inferior parietal lobe, is 25 percent larger in males. The male brain also has about 15 to 16 percent more neurons than the female.
As a proportion of the brain, men have significantly more white matter than women and women have more grey matter than men. Unadjusted for overall volume differences, however, men have about the same amount of grey matter as women and the male advantage in white matter is even more profound.
During the fetal stage, testosterone promotes asymmetry between brain hemispheres by delaying the development of the left hemisphere. This allows for the fuller development of the male’s right hemisphere, associated with visuospatial processing. Conversely, lower fetal testosterone in women means that the left hemisphere develops earlier and better, giving them a relative advantage in verbal intelligence. Broca’s area, a region of the left hemisphere involved in language processing, has also been observed to contain more grey matter and enjoy higher blood flow in women than in men. This indicates that language centers contribute more to general intelligence (g) in women than in men.
An exception to the pattern of greater white matter in the male brain is the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the cerebrum. Females have proportionally more white matter in this particular region than males, making for better communication between hemispheres. Testosterone promotes interconnectivity between parts of the brain, but the lower connectivity between hemispheres in the male brain means that the effects of testosterone are largely limited to promoting interconnectivity within each hemisphere separately. So the overall pattern is more connectivity between hemispheres in women, and more within hemispheres in men.
Together, asymmetry between hemispheres and differences in connectivity patterns probably explain why men excel at visuospatial reasoning and women at verbal reasoning as well as why these two abilities are found to be inversely correlated once the influence of general intelligence is factored out (as components of g they are directly correlated).
Autism Spectrum Disorders including Aspergers’s Syndrome have been explained as the consequences of an “extreme male brain” which results from unusually high concentrations of testosterone during fetal development. The sex ratio in the case of Asperger’s Syndrome may be as high as eleven to one. Autists preferentially use visuospatial strategies to solve cognitive tasks. This goes far to explain the “science nerd” phenomenon: highly intelligent men who have difficulty with social interaction, particularly where women are concerned.
This neurological information plausibly explains observed differences in ability between the sexes and is fascinating in itself to the non-specialist, but it can be found elsewhere and is not the primary merit of Kaine’s book. Instead, the author sets out to explain the neurological differences themselves on the basis of human genetics and the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens.
The fact from which he begins is that a disproportionately large number of genes expressed in the human nervous system are located on the sex chromosomes; in other words, nervous system genes tend to be sex-linked. At least 20 percent of the male, or Y, chromosome is expressed in the brain, and possibly much more. By leading to the growth of testes and consequently higher testosterone levels, the Y chromosome is responsible for much of the male advantage in brain size and average IQ.
But Kaine lays greater stress on the importance of the female, or X, chromosome in shaping the nervous system, including both general intelligence and more specific functioning such as verbal, mathematical and visuospatial ability. The X chromosome contains only about 3.4 percent of the genes in the human genome, but 16 percent of the genes known to be involved in IQ and 23 percent of those involved in retardation. Research on this point is ongoing, and these percentages may rise. But it is already safe to say that the overrepresentation of genes expressed in the nervous system on the X chromosome lies between a factor of three and seven. On the other hand, there is no significant evidence of overrepresentation of any genes involved in any noncognitive disorders.
Moreover, genes vary in their levels of expression in different areas of the body. The genes on the X chromosome are expressed in brain tissue at 2.8 times the rate of their expression in other types of tissue. So merely looking at the number of genes related to cognition on the X actually underestimates the relative effect of those genes.
As we remember from high school biology, men have a single X chromosome inherited from their mothers, while women have two, one from each parent. This means that many of the genes women carry on their X chromosome may not be expressed phenotypically; in other words, they may be recessive. On the other hand, all genes on a male’s X chromosome are expressed phenotypically, a phenomenon known as “pseudo-dominance.” This includes genes that cause neurological disorders and retardation, but also genes which boost general intelligence or specific cognitive functions. Pseudo-dominance explains the overrepresentation of men at both the high and low extremes of human intelligence; women may carry such unusual alleles, but these are usually masked by the gene on the other X chromosome.
But why are so many nervous system and brain related genes concentrated on the X chromosome? It is certainly not an accident: genes sometimes get shifted from one part of the genome to another, and there is evidence that the X chromosome has “recruited” a disproportionate number of its genes from elsewhere. Kaine’s explanation is that X-linkage is a means for increasing the pace of evolution.
A rapid rate of evolution is advantageous wherever environments are unstable, and genomes are sometimes set up to allow for this. One example is the bacterium E. coli:
When subjected to stressful environments they are poorly adapted to, E. coli bacteria switch to a version of DNA replication machinery which is more error prone. This leads to an increase in the number of mutations … and thus an increased rate of evolution. This in turn increases the likelihood of the emergence of a better adapted strain. Though this is relatively dangerous because most new mutations will be harmful, the process increases the probability of a better adapted strain evolving at the cost of increased risk.
Bacteria such as E. coli which can accelerate their rate of evolution when needed are thus better able to survive changing conditions than bacteria without that ability. The same is likely to be true of higher organisms, including the genus Homo.
A combination of changing climates and the rapid spread of man from his ancestral home in East Africa across the world has made rapid evolution advantageous for him. And this especially applies to his patterns of behavior, controlled by the nervous system; for the same physical organism may adapt easily to a rapidly changing environment if its behavior is sufficiently flexible.
High intelligence gives man that flexibility. This is the likely explanation for the rapid increase in human intelligence following our ancestors’ exodus from Africa. And the means enabling rapid evolution of the nervous system was the concentration of the relevant genes on the sex chromosomes.
The X chromosome has an advantage over the Y for this purpose in that it protects women from phenotypically expressing harmful recessive alleles. This is part of a more general pattern of nature using the male as its “experimental laboratory” for trying out new mutations while protecting the female so she can get on with the crucial task of producing offspring. (A good popular discussion of this point can be found in Steve Moxon’s The Woman Racket, chapter 2.)
In the human environment of evolutionary adaptation, high intelligence was primarily valuable in men, aiding them in the acquisition of resources and thus making them more attractive to women. Kaine believes that the female attraction to successful provisioning was the main driving force behind increased human intelligence (admittedly, this may be of little comfort to the man who sees the love of his life walking off with some guy who owns a fancy sports car).
Intelligence was probably of less value to women directly in hunter-gatherer bands. Indeed, if humans had had a different system of sex differentiation—one like that of birds, for instance—women might have remained stuck at the mental level of Homo habilis while men were evolving higher intelligence. But the XY system allowed women to ride men’s coattails most of the way toward high intelligence—even though they are still less common among the most brilliant humans. It might even be argued that women have gotten the better evolutionary deal, since the ratio of men to women is even higher at the other end of the intelligence spectrum, among the retarded.
Such, at least, is what one might conclude from a rational appraisal of the facts. But, of course, not everyone is able to appraise the facts rationally. In particular, as Kaine puts it, “the male advantages in technical ability and IQ . . . often engenders astonishing levels of envy among some women.” And these women wield so much power in the contemporary West that even standardized test designers live in fear of them. What might be termed “resentful woman theory” holds that boys and girls are born with equal ability in all domains, but that systematic bias from schools, parents and society at large puts girls at a disadvantage.
As the author shows, there is a good deal of evidence to contradict such claims. Among takers of the SAT test, girls outnumber boys by 27 percent. The girls also have higher Grade Point Averages, with 44 percent more of them earning a perfect 4.0. The girls have enjoyed more years of coursework in all subject areas surveyed, including math and science, and have taken more AP courses, again including math and science. There is even some evidence of teacher bias in favor of girls, which Kaine speculates may be due to girls’ advantages in a number of behavioral traits unrelated to raw intelligence, including organization, dependability, self-discipline, and submissiveness to authority figures.
For many years now, more young women than young men have been going to college, and since 2006, 58 percent of college degrees have gone to women. Yet it is still commonly asserted that there exists a problem of systematic discrimination against girls.
A well-known critic of feminism, Christina Hoff Summers, describes the prevailing mentality:
Any advantage boys enjoy (such as better scores on standardized math tests or greater participation in sports) constitutes gender bias that must be aggressively combatted; any advantage girls enjoy (such as better scores on standardized reading tests or greater college attendance) constitutes a triumph of equality.
The SAT omits visuospatial ability entirely, the area in which boys most clearly excel. Recently, the test has also been revised to include a writing portion in addition to the traditional verbal test. The writing test reinforces the relative female advantage in verbal ability as well as being, in the author’s words, “conveniently subjective.”
Moreover, the math test (at which boys score on average 34 points higher than girls) has a low ceiling; in other words, a fair number of takers earn perfect scores, which makes it impossible for the truly exceptional to demonstrate their superior gifts. Most of those with such exceptional math gifts are, of course, boys.
Boys also do better at tests of common knowledge than girls, and this has been shown to be g-related. But such questions have been removed from standardized tests in deference to largely bogus accusations that they are culturally biased.
As Kaine points out, this is exactly how you would design tests if you wanted to obfuscate innate gender differences that showed men doing better than women. And, of course, that is part of the intention—to shield the testing companies from attacks by egalitarian ideologues. But the harm such tests do is not restricted to their unfairness to boys. The power and well-being of a modern nation depends significantly on the quality of those working in its so-called STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Recruiting the best minds for training in these disciplines requires an objective aptitude test, and America is cheating itself of such a test in an effort to placate a relatively small number of resentful women. The consequences of this behavior are the disproportionate inclusion of women (as well as men with a sex-atypical verbal advantage) in STEM programs requiring primarily mathematical and visuospatial skills.
Experience also shows that women are more likely than men to leave careers for which they have been expensively trained:
40 percent of women who get a degree in engineering end up never even working in engineering or quitting very early in their career. For most careers the female opt-out rate clusters around 30 percent. Women with children work even less than this, with a range of 40-60 percent opting out over all professions and with most professions having around a 50 percent opt-out rate. These sorts of lifestyle choices are fine when the costs are born by the women who make them, but they are unacceptable when the costs are largely paid by society via wasting tax money on training that goes unused.
The opting out of female medical doctors has resulted in diminished access for the public to medical services, particularly in the areas of general practice and pediatrics.
Adding to the economic irrationality of training such women for technical careers is their well-attested preference for working fewer hours per week than men. This preference probably also contributes to the dearth of female high achievers; as the author notes, “world class performers typically work between 60-80 hours per week.”
A similar situation prevails in the world of business. The costs shouldered by corporations forced to hire women to meet diversity quotas can be enormous. Replacing highly paid, specialized positions can cost up to 213 percent of the lost employee’s annual salary.
One of the ways companies have responded to such ideologically inspired legal pressure is through the establishment of so-called Human Resource departments. Ninety to 93 percent of personnel in these departments are women, and their main function is
navigating the large number of frivolous laws intended to benefit certain protected classes, such as women. In other words, they are not very useful outside the artificially created environment that results from the burdensome regulations of the state.
Impartial studies have revealed that HR women often use their influence in the hiring process not to advance the interests of the company but to screen for potential boyfriends and exclude female rivals: better-looking men are more likely to be given job interviews, while better-looking women are less likely.
Women’s move into the workplace has inevitably been accompanied by demands to remake workplaces so as to be more convenient to women. For example, one obvious consequence of female careerism is that many men are tempted to flirt with female coworkers. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with such behavior. As the author points out, flirting is something men have evolved to do, and “the species could not propagate without this behavior.” But most of these men do not come close to the wealthy movie stars and romance novel heroes with which the modern woman’s imagination has been filled. So women have demanded and gotten an administrative and legal regime which prohibits male flirting wherever it is “unwelcome” (i.e., whenever the man is unattractive). This is not merely unfair to these men. As the author points out, another “problem with criminalizing these men is that their labor and contributions are several orders of magnitude more valuable than the contributions of the women who make allegations.” It is also highly hypocritical on the part of women in view of their own demonstrated tendency, as described above, to use their jobs to advance their own sexual strategies.
Government work, being unconstrained by the need for profitability, is better able to absorb the costs of hiring large numbers of women, and accordingly women are 50 percent more likely to work for the government than men. Almost 60 percent of state and local government workers are women.
The feminists whose demands created our present employment regime want, in effect, for the cost of women’s behavior and decisions to be externalized to employers, customers, fellow employees and tax payers. Indeed, once all these hidden costs are factored out, it is unclear just how many “working” women are actually engaged in any sort of productive labor; the author suggests that the numbers may be as low as 30 percent, and there is little evidence women as a whole could ever become truly independent in the economic sense (although many women in the contemporary West are undoubtedly “independent” in the sense that they do as they please).
The cure for such waste is simply not to have many women in highly demanding positions. If they must work, they can be restricted to positions able to tolerate lower dedication.
The extension of political rights to women also involves high and sometimes hidden costs. Female influence in public life, wherever it exists, always follows a pattern which has been termed “the feminine imperative.” Kaine defines it as a “push to shape the social and legal institutions of society such that they benefit women specifically without much interest in whether those changes are harmful to men and civilization generally.” Thus, in contemporary America, women support the growth of the welfare state because its main beneficiaries are single mothers and the disproportionately female elderly population. Although the author does not discuss this, it has recently been suggested that female enthusiasm for “refugees” is a displacement of the maternal instinct to a domain where it is counterproductive. This whole question of the sources of female political behavior might be a fertile domain for scientific research once ideological controls are eased.
The author notes that
women have a long history of being the main driving force behind hysterical cultural movements that seek massive top down control of behavior. The temperance movement has a lot of similarity to modern rape and sexual harassment hysteria. In the past, this hysteria was considered a female-specific mental disorder; women seem to be especially susceptible to the combination of highly emotional, frenetic and illogical thinking characteristic of hysteria.
But in recent decades, the very term “hysteria” has been banished from the vocabulary of psychiatry for what may be nothing more than ideological reasons.
Feminists promised that the entry of women into the workforce would unleash enormous reserves of previously untapped human talent and usher in greater prosperity and happiness for all. Instead, it has imposed vast new costs, particularly on men and taxpayers as a whole. And women themselves do not seem particularly happy under the new arrangements either: one in four American women are now on some kind of psychiatric medication just to get through the day.
The sexual consequences of this social revolution have been dire. White birthrates are below replacement across the West, and the most intelligent women are worst affected. As the author states, “the current average age of first birth for highly educated women is 32, and 1 in 4 highly educated women never have any children at all; a deeply dysgenic pattern.”
Kaine is admirably forthright in drawing his conclusions:
The once symbiotic relationship [between the sexes] has morphed into a parasitic relationship where women depend on the coercive power of the government to extract wealth from men while providing little to men in return. . . . In essence, this is a free rider problem in which women want the benefits of civilization, but do not cooperate with the needs of the group to make civilization possible. . . . Progressively larger amounts of money [are] being taken directly from the pockets of men to pay for a largely ungrateful and ever more demanding population of women. This is wealth that productive men should be spending on their own families and children. . . . Reversing the dire consequences of feminist inspired policies and cultural beliefs thus constitute an urgent and existential imperative for the West if it is going to survive.
I couldn’t have put it better myself. If the West does survive, its future historians will marvel that a relative handful of women were able to turn the most advanced society in the history of the world upside down against the interests of the overwhelming majority of women and men merely to satisfy the imperatives of an ideology based on resentment and without any empirical support.
I was unfamiliar with Roderick Kaine until I came across this book from Arktos. He is clearly a gifted writer with an unusual ability to combine technical mastery of the hard sciences with sound social and political thinking. I hope we shall be hearing more from him in the future.
Note: I would like to thank the author for providing clarification to me on a few details of human genetics.