free debate

May 4, 2011

Scientists Prove We Are All Human

The wonderful thing about science is that, regardless of what you think going into your research, the results speak for themselves. This is what happened when Eliana Perrin, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pediatrician at the hospital, used a survey to study her teen patients. She handed out surveys asking the teens what they would wish for with three wishes. In the surveys she expected the boys to wish for more athletic prowess and girls to wish for better looks. However in the spirit of science we must look at the evidence.
Live Science: What Teens Want: If Given 3 Wishes …
"The survey revealed no difference between boys' and girls' desire for a change of appearance (8 percent overall wished for it, with about half of these wishing to be thinner) and their desire for athletic success (16 percent overall), with no skew toward either sex. Other differences between the genders, however, were evident: Boys were more likely to make wishes for themselves than girls, and boys wished more for success, while girls wished more for happiness."
So when it comes to some of the cultural stereotypes that are most prominent in our culture, there is actually no real difference. I do find the variation they found interesting. I think you could make a case for this difference being caused by a true difference in gender or a reflection of the culture they were brought up in. Because this study was done at one hospital, you could easily imagine local stereotypes working their way into the data. We don't really have enough information to resolve what caused the effect in this study and the larger debate between these two sides really deserves a post unto itself. The article goes on to say...
"While economics did factor in -- privately insured teens were more likely than other children to have wishes for the world -- the researchers found no differences in wishes by age or race and ethnicity."
So across gender, age, race, and ethnicity, we really are not very different. We all basically look for the same things in our lives. The differences we discuss the most, like race and gender, are actually very small. Those differences are minute compared to the difference between any two individuals.  This has always been one of science's most powerful messages to me. We are one species on one planet who are all very, very similar. Next time you hear stereotyping based on superficial characteristics, I recommend you think twice (or maybe three times) before accepting it.