Anthony Jaeger

Primary School Teacher, NSW Department of Education and Communications

This conversation is closed.

Sexism in Ian McGilchrist's talk The Divided Brain.

Throughout McGilchrist's animated talk, himself and RSA animate consistenly use pictures of men to demonstrate the scientific evidence about the brain. There are no female images, faces or bodies drawn for a centerpiece of discussion. Only MALE images are drawn. Surely this makes the scientific evidence less credible or at least questionable. McGhilchrist has demonstrated a gendered leaning towards men as the superior sex.

I wonder how all of the female sex feel about this? And the male sex?

I thought McGilchrist's talk was very interesting, but the lack of insight and leadership involving the widely repressed sex is much more interesting.

This brings Gilchrist's ethical and scientific judgement into question.

Think! Now. Tell me what you just thought :).

  • Oct 29 2011: I am a female, I guess it's obvious:) And I don't feel superior or inferior or even equal, simply the idea of comparison has never crossed my mind.
    With all my due respect, I think it's you who have the sexist approach to your enormous disadvantage. Just enjoy the talk, it's great!
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      Oct 31 2011: I did enjoy the talk. I learnt a lot about the brain from the talk. I also recognised the gendered leanings and it made me think twice about the credibility of Ian McGilchrist. I think this is fair :)
  • Oct 28 2011: How does that give less credibility to the science behind it? McGhilchrist and the scientists who did the research are entirely different from the people who made the animation.
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      Oct 31 2011: I don't think they are entirely different. If they adhere to and believe in the same ideology then they are very much the same.

      Also, the animation is one part of the presentation. The other part is the narration/talk. There is no way that the animation would have been constructed without consultation with Ian McGilchrist.

      Narration + Animation = Presentation.

      They are inherently tied.

      Hattie Coppard is totally right in saying that the animation "creates its own message and this is altering rather than supporting what McGilchrist is saying in this talk". This is true. The animation confounds McGilchrist's science. It makes it appear limited in terms of gender AND race. It has a narrow focus.
      • Oct 31 2011: 1) You don't know that the animators have the same ideology as McGilchrist. The animators could've just been doing their job.
        2) Are you certain they consulted? Many human beings, including animators, are capable of creativity. You are making assumptions.
        3) That quote contradicts your argument. Your original post said "Only MALE images are drawn. Surely this makes the scientific evidence less credible or at least questionable." There you claimed the science itself was less credible, not the way it was presented. Now you are saying that the presentation is the subject in question. Pick one.

        I really don't want to keep doing this. I originally replied to your post because I was defending the Talk, now I am just doing it to defend myself. And I don't like arguing against someone who I mostly agree with. The drawings do show a male bias, but narratives focused on male characters are so common that it just doesn't seem worthwhile scrutinizing this mild example of it. I feel like an asshole arguing against a man fighting for gender equality. But I felt your logic was flawed.
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    Nov 2 2011: With all due respect Anthony, I beleive you're paying far too much attention to the details of this presentation. Clearly, you are using the narrow-focus of your left hemisphere, however, as pointed out in this presentation, you need both; counterbalance some of that by realizing that in the grand scheme of the overall presentation (the big picture) it is in no way meant to be sexist. As others have mentitoned, just because the animators chose to draw men, doesn't mean the Ian McGilchrist was excluding women in his research or in his speech. It's the same concept of the word mankind. Most people know that when we say mankind, we're reffering to women as well. In fact, I would say that this speech is very much about the differences in gender and the need for both. it is true that men tend to be more left-brained, and women tend to be more right brained. Men have a natural skill for focused logic where as women have a natural skill for broad attention. No one is saying that one is better than the other. I Agree with Thomas Jones, (no relation, though I do think it is ironic.) Your conscern for feminism is causing you to see it everywhere; its a psychological phenomenon known as the self-serving bias. we look for things to proove our own point, sometimes we are right in our assumptions and beleifs, sometimes we can't get past our narrow-mindedness, and we're wrong. Perhaps you should support the equalitist movement rather than the feminist movement; men aren't always treated equal either; people of diffrerent race aren't treated equal. The movement for equality should be all-emcompassing of the idea of what it means to be equal. Often as a society we tend to beleive that to be equal, we have to be the same, this of course is a foolish idea. Equality deals with value, similarity deals with properties. It is well to argue to speak up for the minority and out against the majority, but it is better to create a balance between the two.
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      Nov 2 2011: Great use of the presentation! Although I think the feminist movement and the equalitarian movement are one and the same, it's called feminism because women are the ones that are more at disadvantage. The whole "man is as useful as a bike" thing is only the extreme minority of women that take it too far. Anthony seems to be in that male-loathing business because he thinks that's feminism in its purest form, sometimes I think he's just trolling. His posts are becoming incomprehensible.
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        Nov 3 2011: They are pretty much the same, yes. However, feminism is only a part of the equalist movement pertaining to the equality of gender. Equaltiarnism is a much more broad and far reaching subject. In this context, however, the disctiction is merely one of semantics, so call it what you will. And thank you for the compliment. :)I would also have to agree with you about his trolling. He has realized, or is realizing, that he's too far into this argument to backpedal without hurting his ego. He wants to leave without admiting his faults. I don't condemn him for it either, I can't say I wouldn't do the same. He is certainly full of himself, just read his bio. He doesn't understand that there's a difference between loving and accepting yourself, and being proud and vain. "Humility is not thinking less OF yourself, it's thinking less ABOUT yourself." - Deiter F. Uchtdorf Again, I certainly can empathize with Anthony here; its difficult to be humble.
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          Nov 3 2011: Now that you mention it, I see the difference. Feminism is more about equality of genders whereas equalitarianism is equality of all. Ok, that works for me.
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      Nov 4 2011: Well that was delightfully naive.

      Maybe at some point someone will introduce you to the ramifications of androcentrism and other such world-view assumptions.
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        Nov 4 2011: Go Gisela go!
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        Nov 4 2011: Perhaps you'd like to attack the argument rather than the person presenting it. I am well aware that we are living in a androcentric society, and I am certainly an advocate for equality as much as anyone. However, I disagree with the degree of fanatacism to which Anthony has taken feminism and disected this speech, over-analyzed it, and overall, missed the point. Granted, the characters are all male, but rather than sitting around bickering about it, and making a mountain out of a mole-hill, I think our engergies would be better served actually making a change. The intent and purpose of the speech is not sexist, it was created to inform people about the differences in the hemispheres of their brains, and promote the need for balance. And here is where we can implement the lessons learned from this video, specifically the need for balance; we may simply agree to disagree.
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          Nov 4 2011: I did attack the argument as naive - you may be as well, but I don't know you, and the argument definitely was.

          "It's the same concept of the word mankind. Most people know that when we say mankind, we're reffering to women as well."

          This is remarkably similar to "you understood" in grammar that somehow transitions into things like newscasters not mentioning a criminal's race unless they are non-white ("White understood" less common now, at least in Canada - extremely common ten+ years ago). This led to a peculiar phenomenon of only out-and-out hearing the race mentioned when the perpetrator was black or Asian.

          "Women understood" is inadequate.

          It's the habit and intellectual laziness that forms in just assuming that we are covered by what is being stated that results in the bigger issues, and it is precisely the little things that need to be questioned just to keep it in the conscious mind.
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        Nov 4 2011: Granted, I agree that we should change the words we use to reflect what we mean. Humankind is much better than mankind, just as equalitarianism is better than feminism. I agree that the little things need to be questioned, for the same reason we study atoms. When we change the little things, the big things adopt that change as well. However, there comes a point when we can get too bogged down in details, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, we can have our head in the clouds. This is exactly what Ian McGilchirst is talking about; the need for balance between the two. You and Anthony are conscerned with the details, and probably need to look at the wider scope of things, the real life application. I could should certainly stop and look at those details which you and anthony have pointed out, and seriously question them. I do think it odd that the animation only shows men, and this is something that should change, but it does not, and should not discredit what he is saying. Just as I learn to separate my religion from my intellectual persuits, despite how interconnected I beleive them to be, we can separate the apparent oppression of women in the video from the message therein. I happen to disagree with the philosophies of Fredrick Nietzsche, yet some of what he says I beleive to hold true. Let us learn to separate what is true from our opinions of the person who is speaking the truth. Let us digress, agree to disagree, and be open-minded, yet skeptical, about the opposite view.
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          Nov 4 2011: I didn't say it made it less credible - just less accessible ("audible").

          Those, again, are different concepts.

          We will agree to disagree - for instance, I disagree with the conflation of the many concepts that you seem to be fine with.
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        Nov 5 2011: I apologize, I was actuall refering to Anthony's origninal argument when I argued against the supposed lack of credibility of this speech, and I should have specified. I think, however, that you misuderstand me, I am not conflating ideas, I am merely pointing out the similarities between them. Yet, if you see it as such, then so be it.
  • Oct 31 2011: If you have questions as to "Sexism" being demonstrated by RSA, might I suggest contacting Carol Jackson, the Chief Operating Officer? Maybe Nina Bolognesi, The Director of External Affairs? The Human resources Manager, Theresa Wallace, might be a good person to get in touch with?

    The last I checked, Iain was a Psychiatrist and Writer, not an Artist. I am quite sure the drawings in the video were not made by him. Ian's contribution to the video is the spoken part and I ask that you point to where his words or the way in which he delivers them is "Sexist".

    Quote: "Surely this makes the scientific evidence less credible or at least questionable."

    How do you come to this conclusion?

    Accusations like this are serious. The expression "That bell can't be un-rung" comes to mind. Sexism is a major problem all over the world today, but "crying wolf" is not the way to address the problem.
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      Nov 1 2011: Technically, other than COO, those are fairly standard female roles, HR, PR, and really, even COO as administrative.

      I wouldn't assume a lack of glass ceiling based on those roles - and no, I am not assuming there is one either. I know nothing of their corporate structure, just that having women in those roles is not the sign of a cutting-edge egalitarian organization.

      (And for the record, I don't think it taints the science, rather it makes the presentation less "audible" through exclusion.)
      • Nov 1 2011: "rather it makes the presentation less "audible" through exclusion"

        Is the presentation less "audible" for people in wheelchairs, since a wheel-chaired person is not depicted in the drawings? I don't see any Mexicans, Eskimos, or Journalists in the presentation---What does that say about the author and artist? Or does it say absolutely nothing about the author and artist, but does say something about the fact that I not only noticed it, but chose to make an issue out of it?

        I agree that my point about about RSA having women in commanding roles in the company doesn't prove anything, but it paints a much clearer picture of the company's policies and views on sexism than the one painted by accusations brought forth in this conversation. I could have referenced RSA's Mission statement, respected people associated with the organization, past presentations, charitable contributions, etc. to build a stronger case for RSA's overall integrity,but I didn't feel the need.

        What should we be addressing as the main topic of this conversation? Personal Perceptions, Political Correctness, Marketing Strategies, Human Learning Being Affected by Over-sensitized Sensibilities---These all seem more germane to the reactions of people who question this talk and drawings depicted in congruence with this talk than sexism to me.

        Relating this presentation, RSA, and Iain McGilchrist to sexism looks more like a conspiracy theory than actual facts to me. I am not a fan of conspiracy theories.
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          Nov 1 2011: (Apparently, it was deleted in error, they sent me the text back. To the admin, this is where it belongs, if there is a second copy elsewhere, kill that one instead.)

          Tealdeer. In scanning, it looked a lot like "as long as it works for me, everyone who complains is just a whiny conspiracy nut."

          What does it say that the first *several* versions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking had no idea what to do with women's voices because the engineers tested it only on themselves?

          Clearly that's just a conspiracy of the women who wanted to use the software, nothing to do with the fact that overlooking populations actually has ramifications. Nosirree, as long as no harm is intended, there can't actually be outcomes.

          That's just one example that I flippantly chose - there are tonnes in health and software. (Anyone remember the HP camera face-tracking software that couldn't track black people? While amusing, it's just another example.)
      • Nov 1 2011: "Tealdeer. In scanning, it looked a lot like "as long as it works for me, everyone who complains is just a whiny conspiracy nut.""

        This is much of the problem...People apply their own warped perceptions to something before taking time to actually think about it or try to understand.

        Was the Speech Software sexist? Was the HP camera racist?

        Problems will always exist. My issue is that if we label a problem as the wrong thing, the solutions become impossible to find.

        Crackpot Conspiracy Theories exist due to ignorance and people's need to understand something that they don't know enough about. Slander and Lible based on ignorance is not a good thing in my world.
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          Nov 1 2011: Really, my message was deletion-worthy? Oh the irony. (Rectified now!)

          My point isn't that any of this is a conspiracy, it's that exclusion has REAL WORLD ramifications and that just simply calling the people who comment on those ramifications 'conspiracy nuts' doesn't make the effect less real.

          In other words, what I'm saying is that your dismissive attitude in suggesting that other people are SAYING that it is a conspiracy is the problem.

          YOU are the one who couched it using the term and continue to do so. Transparently, you are doing it to dismiss the validity of the point being made (that exclusion has valid, observable, and measurable outcomes), thus I am calling you on the tactics.

          (Notice I blamed the "conspiracy" on the women users, not the male engineers - to show how ludicrous calling it a "conspiracy" is.)
      • Nov 2 2011: Original poster's quote: "Also, the animation is one part of the presentation. The other part is the narration/talk. There is no way that the animation would have been constructed without consultation with Ian McGilchrist.

        Narration + Animation = Presentation.

        They are inherently tied.

        Hattie Coppard is totally right in saying that the animation "creates its own message and this is altering rather than supporting what McGilchrist is saying in this talk". This is true. The animation confounds McGilchrist's science. It makes it appear limited in terms of gender AND race. It has a narrow focus."

        That he somehow suggests collusion between RSA and the author of the piece is quite evident in this post...If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck---well, you know the rest. The birth of a brand new baby Crackpot Conspiracy Theory! It's a girl! (Would it have been sexist to say that it was a boy?) and...for the record, I did not claim that your examples are Conspiracy Theories, all of my specific accusations of that are for the original poster. I don't agree with your examples, but because I feel they do not apply to what my points are does not make them "Conspiracy Theories". Do you have replies to my actual points?

        I never argued that exclusion is a good thing or does not have very negative ramifications. My argument is that this is not a case of damaging exclusion, ignorantly smearing the names of respectable people and organizations is a dangerous thing to do and should be met with disapproval, and that much of what the original poster has accomplished is counter-productive to real feminism.

        Also...for the record...My stance is that this post should not be dismissed, but used as an example of what not to do.
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          Nov 2 2011: Androcentrism is androcentrism - saying that this case in and of itself "is not a case of damaging exclusion" doesn't really cut it.

          It's a mindset: "if it works for me, it will work for everyone." And maybe 80% of the time*, that's accurate. But the habit that forms (not even considering a single other perspective) leads to the other examples.

          And you dismissed his perspective, not the post.

          *Yes, I pulled 80% out of my ass. I have no idea what the number would be.
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      Nov 1 2011: Just out of curiosity, seeing as you are making a point of it, how many other top positions are there that are filled by males? Perhaps these three women are "out numbered" 3 to 1.

      As to bells ringing, the words of John Donne come to mind:

      "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
      • Nov 1 2011: I didn't do the math and I am not going to...I don't see much proof of sexism or of the absence of sexism in this information, but it appears that the people who make such accusations as the ones brought forth in this topic do perceive these things differently than I do. Fighting fire with fire seems to make a point sometimes.

        I tend to look at a much larger picture in forming my opinions.
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    Oct 28 2011: Oh do not be silly, my friend. I am a female and I am fine with it. You know, there's a MALE in feMALE. So, I do believe that male is also a representative of females around the world. There is slightly null of sexism in today's world. Everything is changing. The girls are running the world, is it a sexism? No. It is a fact. Don't get jealous. Click this link:

    A graph of percentage in share of total employment, 1979-2007: from the article:
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      Oct 29 2011: It's this inane thinking that causes women's medical treatments to lag.

      How many untrained people realize that the symptoms of a heart attack are perceived differently by women than by men? If you wait for a woman to clutch her left arm before calling 911, she'll be dead before you clue in.

      There are massive differences between the sexes, though the variance within a sex can be greater than that between depending on the topic. Over-simplifying in either direction is a sign of a limited mind.
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        Oct 29 2011: QUOTE: "Over-simplifying in either direction is a sign of a limited mind."

        I think you may be oversimplifying.

        [Thank you, I'll be here 'til Thursday.]
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          Oct 29 2011: And the battle of sexes begin. I think it would be nice if things stay simple, but indeed it means living in fantasy since reality is a complex world.

          I do wish I could just escape to another planet and start off with strategies which solely involve peace where in it exists no economic recession, capitalism, political superiority complex and many other unsolved problems. With better lucks, hoping that it would someday be possible. Don't we all wish for better lives?

          Just felt like sharing these thoughts.
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          Oct 30 2011: So, over-simplifying is the result of complex thinking?
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        Oct 29 2011: Hi Gloria,

        If it comes down to a battle of the sexes, don't worry, I'll surrender.

        It is the only reasonable course of action I could take.
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        Oct 30 2011: QUOTE: "So, over-simplifying is the result of complex thinking?"



        Which reminds me:

        Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Godel and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar.

        Heisenberg looks around the bar and says, "Because there are three of us and because this is a bar, it must be a joke. But the question remains, is it funny or not?"

        And Godel thinks for a moment and says, "Well, because we're inside the joke, we can't tell whether it's funny. We'd have to be outside looking at it."

        And Chomsky looks at both of them and says, "Of course it's funny. You're just telling it wrong."
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      Nov 2 2011: Anthony,

      I tried it, but the joke just won't work if we change the names to Betty, Margret and Sheila.

      [Seriously, dude, let's really think about this; you may be stretching things a bit thin.]
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      Nov 6 2011: I love myself soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!

      Is that disagreeable to you?
  • Nov 2 2011: "This brings Gilchrist's ethical and scientific judgement into question."

    Any scientific idea that has any appreciable weight has to be able to stand alone from any sort of framing.

    Does it offend you that Women were not used in the explanation? Sure, fine.
    Does that logically detract from the strength of his argument?
    You have not suggested any reason why this is the case. You have only asked how we felt about it.

    Misplaced and pointless attack on Gilchrist. Nothing of what you stated in your OP is any reason why his ethical or scientific judgement should be examined.
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      Nov 3 2011: I am not attacking McGilchrist. I am attacking his ethical stance on these issues.

      Before we go on. Your reaction "Sure, fine" to your OWN question "Does it offend you that Women were not used in the explanation" is an example of how little concern you possess for achieving equality.
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        Nov 3 2011: QUOTE: "I am not attacking McGilchrist. I am attacking his ethical stance on these issues. "

        Actually, you do not know his ethical stance on these issues. You have noticed something that did not conform to your expectations and you have assumed the rest.

        You are "attacking" a chimaera of your own devising.

        And you seem to be offended that some of us do not share in your interpretation of events: the chimaera is multiplying.

        I'd be willing to bet that everyone who has bothered to post, supports an egalitarian, non-sexist culture; not everyone agrees that what you see in McGilchrist's presentation is as meaningful as you think it is. You disagree.

        That's about the end of the discussion.

        You are not willing to see what you see as anything less than "meaningful" and as an indictment of our culture in general, and McGilchrist, in particular.

        Some of us are not willing to read so much into a presentation of a few minutes duration that focussed on what goes on inside a skull not what the body looks like.

        I doubt very much you will hammer anyone into submission by calling them a "Bigmouth."

        But you CAN keep on trying to see if it works.
      • Nov 3 2011: "I am not attacking McGilchrist. I am attacking his ethical stance on these issues. "

        To presume that you know anything about his stance on this issue based on the tiny presentation he gave on an unrelated topic is ridiculous.

        "Before we go on. Your reaction "Sure, fine" to your OWN question "Does it offend you that Women were not used in the explanation" is an example of how little concern you possess for achieving equality."
        No. Its a comment meant to highlight that his use or misuse of diversity in the presentation is irrelevant to the presentation and does not reflect the speaker's views in any meaningful way.
  • Oct 29 2011: I think that since he had so much information to deliver in such a short time that he simply chose the simplest form of "human" or "man" only meaning "mankind" indistinctive of sex. In this way considering MEN to be the simplest sex is actually the opposite of what you seem to think, Anthony Jaeger, that man being the simpler is somehow the "superior" sex. Simpler is quite the opposite of "superior", I think you are rather like the person of color who sees everyone as a racist because they are looking so hard for it, in complex dialogue it's impossible to not find evidence of either "sexism" or "racism" or "communism" or "capitalism" or whatever "ism" you are obsessed with.
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      Oct 29 2011: To choose mankind over humankind is a choice. Pure and simple. The words you choose reflect the thoughts you think. I presume that McGilchrist and RSA animate have strong gendered leanings, much like yourself.

      I don't understand why you introduced the statement that "man is the simpler sex". When you say "man", do you mean mankind, humankind or the male sex? Furthermore, how is "man" simpler and why is he simpler? Because he sexually oppresses the female sex? Because he bullies the female sex, thinks he has control of the female sex and CAN control the female sex? Is he "simpler" because he doesn't have to agonize over the wrongs he has inherently committed purely because of his gender?

      Man isn't "the superior sex" he just thinks he is.

      And. Please tell me about "the people of colour". Which planet are they from? How do I identify one?
      • Oct 29 2011: This is getting ridiculous. I think what Nathan is trying to say is that man is the "simpler sex" in that males are the default gender that comes to mind for a male speaker. He is giving a speech and can't possibly think through all the little details of speech and the hidden thoughts they reflect. And don't be childish, you know what he means by "person of color."

        If you want to talk about your words reflecting your thoughts, you should look at yourself. The fact that you are honing in so tightly on the sexism of a rather innocent talk/animation reflects that you have a bit of an obsession with pointing out sexism where it is really quite minimal. I'll agree, it does show a male bias having mostly male drawings, but it is not sexist. In fact, your antagonism almost seems compensatory.

        If you want to point out the evils of a male-dominated society, which are very real, you could have found much better examples than this.

        I don't take or mean any of this personally, but this is TED after all. We are all in search of the truth, and this is what I see as truth.
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          Oct 31 2011: How can you say this is "ridiculous" when there is a comment below of the nature of Leonie Bessants. This is the truth. You are only envisaging and imagining a male-centred truth that allows you to continue to propogate your own reality. But that is not truth.

          The truth is that women are oppressed EVERYWHERE because they menstruate, because they harvest offspring.

          You can't make comments of the nature of yours ("you should look at yourself") and then say "I don't take or mean any of this personally". The truth is that your opinion currently has more weight than that of a women commenting in this same thread like Leonie Bessant because of your gender alone.

          It has NOTHING to do with the structure, logic, evidence you put forward or persuasiveness of your argument. All these things are void, but the only thing we have is a statement that "this is getting ridiculous" and a voice that is aiming to speak louder to compensate for it's lack of substance. This is TRUE. This is the TRUTH.

          Your voice is no more powerful than a woman's just because you scream.
  • Oct 28 2011: Absolutely agree with you Anthony - these were my thoughts as I watched this talk (and I have found this for other RSA animations too). I really do like the idea of animating a lecture and some of the drawing is lovely, but the white male imagery is ridiculous and really detracts from the talk's credibility. This is not a silly argument Gloria, the imagery creates it's own message and this is altering rather than supporting what McGilchrist is saying in this talk.
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      Oct 31 2011: I totally agree. It is white male imagery as well. White. What about the other races and cultures? This is the narrow and prejudiced focus of Western science. It's simple, the presentation should be for ALL audiences and represent all audiences. This includes ALL genders, races, cultures, sexualities, not a select audience.
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    Nov 2 2011: I'm going to propose that Anthony switch "sexism" for "androcentrism", two very different things, with the "sexism" of the piece being up for debate, and androcentrism being the result quite often of thoughtlessness and systemic biases.

    Anyone want to try to make the case that it wasn't androcentric?
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      Nov 3 2011: Gisela = logic and rationality. Thanks for building this discussion up.
  • Nov 2 2011: I have just watched this talk and you are right, there aren't many images of women, however I don't think that sexism is really an issue here as the question of gender isn't relevant to the talk; the animation could have been produced with only images of women and that wouldn't have changed any of the information provided. I think the one that did the animation simply used a man as a representation for a human either because he is a man himself and finds it easier to relate to, or simply because 'man' is often used synonymously to 'human'. That's just how things have come about, but I don't think it makes it sexist.
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    Nov 1 2011: OOOH! Come on! really??:)) U r misleading us with your "conversation" O_O There is NO gender differentiation in the talk! and drawings.. ?! who cares!! :)))) maybe Male characters are easier to draw :)))

    P.S. Speaking of sexism: paying attention to things like these and making noise out of nothing is much more alarming ..O_o
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    Oct 30 2011: Maybe this better demonstrates that the Intuitive and Rational mind really have nothing to do with one gender or the other. Using one gender throughout would remove confusion and cultural biases about men's minds versus women's minds. Although maybe it would have been preferable to use all female characters as not to hurt anybody's feelings.
    Just playing devil's advocate here...
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      Oct 31 2011: Dan, I don't think that using one gender throughout is fair on any grounds. Cultural biases are prejudices and no prejudice should be catered for or given more energy.

      It's good to hear a different opinion besides "No there is no sexism, this is ridiculous". Thank you for sharing your open minded thoughts.

      Using all female characters would cause outrage amongst the male gender. They would mock and make fun of feminism, because of a supreme lack of empathy, inability to put themselves in another's shoes and attempt to push themselves 'onwards and upwards' in their male-centred worlds. Unless they were more like yourself and could rationally and not emotionally filter the information in front of them.

      If all women characters were to be used it would be making a valid statement for the betterment of the rights of women in all spheres :)
      • Oct 31 2011: Sorry, I said my last comment would be my final one, but I just saw this. Please do not misquote direct quotes of mine.
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        Oct 31 2011: Anthony, The world is changing. And the new paradigm is Holism or Systems Thinking. We are moving away from a Reductionist world view into a more Holistic world view. The past several hundred years of Western civilization has been a Reductionist/Rational centered construct. Sexism has little to do with this being the case as civilization before that time was more balanced in it's world view, although perhaps not holistic, and still it was a male dominant society as many societies have been throughout history.I believe it is more noble to champion a cause that brings the world together with all of our different gifts rather than shouting or cheering for one group at the expense of the others.
        Our country was founded on Levelism or perhaps you would call it Equalism today as now we believe all "persons are created equal." No one is superior to the other, but each can offer a unique perspective.
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        Oct 31 2011: Tone down the ego-centrism please! If you were serious about your feminism, you wouldn't be using it in such a sensationalist way so obviously to flatter your ego and reassure yourself that you're smarter than all men. I would find the display pathetic too, it would be as puerile an act as is renaming history -> herstory. It is displays like this that lets people brush off feminism as obnoxious and infantile when in fact its a very serious issue that needs to be tackled with serious conversation and action, not narcissistic hysteria.
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        Nov 2 2011: It's not only sexism when men do it to women. Your third statement is a good example of sexist thought.
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          Nov 2 2011: Your comment is as poor as the "reverse racism argument".

          "How dare there be special laws for indigenous people, that's racist against white people!"

          I don't have to say anything else.
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          Nov 2 2011: @Anthony: Making special laws for indigenous people isn't racist to white people, it's racist to indigenous people. The whole point of racism is that you set people apart. Negative and positive discrimination are both still discrimination.

          May Morgan Freeman enlighten you:

          @Craig: I think Anthony thinks that by sounding like the stereotypical strident feminist, he's all the more convincing. This whole "hmmpff Men" attitude is, if anything, degrading to the feminist cause, it's a dead weight that modern feminism tries to shrug off as it is often used as a straw man against real equal rights feminism. As someone who has taken an active interest in feminism (My TED conversation on the subject is testimony to this), I find that people who take such attitudes aren't in it really for the feminism but for the spectacle, just like what PETA is to animal rights, it's all a knee-jerk reaction to meaningless patterns so that one can flatter themselves in being a 'holier than thou' individual that gets it while everybody else is hopelessly clueless.
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        Nov 2 2011: The truth has no ego? Thanks for confirming my post with such a self-gratifying comment.
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        Nov 2 2011: No, when your words show open hostility and disrespect for males in general, you are being sexist. Just like if an indigenous person says "I hate all white people" they are being racist. There is no such thing as reverse racism, only racism. Same goes for sexism.

        And anyway, my comment has nothing to do with laws meant to protect the rights of marginalized people, it has only to do with your own choice of words, which insinuate that most men are incapable of empathy, only seek to push themselves 'onward and upward in their male centered worlds' whatever that means, and are incapable of dealing rationally with information. Why you think men would react this way to an animation that didn't include any men is beyond me, but I certainly wouldn't, and I can't think of a single man I know whom I would expect to either. I am more offended by your generalization than I would ever be by the lack of men depicted in an animation, which is not very, to be clear, but I should at least hope you can see the animosity in your creation of a reaction.
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          Nov 2 2011: No. I'll start with the same words you have taken the context away from the situation when you say that an indigenous person saying "all white people" is racist you are completely ignoring the context. A context that includes 223 years of oppression since settlement.

          Simple. As. That.

          Use a vacuum cleaner to hide the past instead of sweeping it under the rug.
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        Nov 2 2011: Your argument equates to:

        Indigenous persons have been oppressed for 223 years, which gives them the right to be racist. Therefore, my comment was not sexist.

        Instead of an example as vague and cliche as I hate white people, suppose we changed the comment you made to say most white people lacked empathy and rational thinking, and only sought to empower themselves at the cost of others. Certainly that sentiment would be understandable from a person who had been oppressed in such a manner, but it doesn't make it true, nor does it absolve it of it's racism. To quote you directly: "Cultural biases are prejudices and no prejudice should be catered for or given more energy."

        If you are going to claim the moral high ground of fighting for equality of the sexes, you can't disparage one of them in the next breath and expect to continue to be taken seriously. Your tone is both dismissive and divisive, and it hurts your case terribly. And I agree with much of your sentiment! How can you hope to win over those who don't?
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    Oct 30 2011: .
    Beware, as scientists we have to entertain the possibility that the men in the drawings could actually be female transvestites.

    We have to ask the artist :-)
  • Oct 30 2011: You're seeking out controversy where there is none. The narrator is a man, so it seems reasonable that the animation is of a man. I wouldn't be up in arms if a woman narrating a talk was accompanied by an animation of a woman. Do you see how silly this all sounds?
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      Oct 31 2011: No it doesn't sound silly. Because the logic of the argument "I wouldn't be up in arms if a woman narrating a talk was accompanied by an animation of a woman" assumes that there is equality amongst the sexes. It assumes that we have a balanced field in which both sexes participate on.

      That is not the case.

      Men have a significantly greater portion of the field. Thus that quick-fix style of argument simply doesn't work.

      Furthermore, in the RSA animation we aren't just talking about an animation of a man. A dominant masculine gender is prevalent in far more many elements. It's the fact that these elements are repeated and they saturate the presentation. There is no representation of the female gender in the presentation, it's as if it has been made for men, about men.

      This is not good science.
      • Oct 31 2011: You're still being silly. How does changing a gameboard (Operation), a classic piece of sequential art (The Evolution/Ascent[?] of Man), or the narrator (Iain McGilchrist) to a woman contribute to the success of women in neuroscience?
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    Oct 30 2011: I like my feminism well-thought out, not petty. Let's focus on real instances of sexism, they can be small or big, but they have to be real.

    Also, how does the drawings in any way reflect the validity of the scientific work?
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      Oct 31 2011: This is not petty feminism.

      The male gendered leanings in this presentation are tantamount to the prejudices that women experience everyday. It is a situational example that is representative of our culture and values. It is the truth.
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        Nov 3 2011: QUOTE: "This is not petty feminism."

        Correction: feminism is not petty (although some feminists - by virtue of being human - are;) this may of may not be petty depending on one's perspective.

        I'm leaning a little to the left myself.
  • Oct 29 2011: Totally agree Anthony. I was so pointed it detracted from the entire presentation. But this is simply what women have put up with for ever, welcome to our world.
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      Oct 31 2011: This doesn't have to be forever. I promise you that much :).

      We can win gender equality, maybe not everywhere, but in our hearts, souls, minds and bodies. We can do it :).

      The open mind and intellect is the most powerful thing in this world. It can create change things :).

      Can we network? I'd like to be friends :).

      Add me on facebook:
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    Oct 28 2011: Interesting, it didn't actually register. I wonder if that's an indication that bias is so common in everyday life I've ceased to notice it?
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      Oct 31 2011: That's an interesting question. What is really evident now, after responding to various comments is that there is a clear discrepancy between McGilchrist's narration and the RSA animation. How much say did McGilchrist have in the animation? Did he choose the white male gendered and racial leanings?

      It's hard to notice because it is EVERYWHERE! :)

      Lots of love :)
  • Ramzi H

    • +1
    Nov 7 2011: LOOOOOOL
  • Nov 5 2011: Relax.

    Maybe most of the men drawn in the presentation are men because the speaker was referencing a field dominated by men through history. That field was dominated by men because yes, in the past women were heavily repressed during the last 2000 years. That was wrong and all, but faulting Mr. McGilchrist for not digging up an equal number of female references to support his points is... for lack of a better term stupid. I'm all for gender equality, but this conversation smells like seeing problems where there are none, thus creating them.

    "McGhilchrist has demonstrated a gendered leaning towards men as the superior sex. "

    How? Where? In past talks? I missed it if it was in this talk.

    If anything as far as cultural associations go, Mr. McGilchrist may have demonstrated a bias to favor females stating "I am passionate about the left side of the brain, but even more passionate about the right." I have seen that the right hemisphere is more commonly associated with the female (openness, imagination, creativity) and the left with the male (focus, narrowness, division).

    See what I did there? I made a specific reference to support my argument. Next time you start a semi-slanderous conversation on TED, I advise the same.

    There are bigger fish to fry on the women's rights docket than this talk. If you really want to help women's rights, stop starting flame-warz initiated by poorly referenced arguments on TED, and go out and volunteer at a women's shelter. In other words go DO SOMETHING, rather than intellectually masturbate all over a beautifully presented talk (that had little to no focus on gender issues to begin with) so you can feel good about your ethical self.
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      Nov 5 2011: Are you angry at me or women?

      I don't understand how you could get so angry at a beautiful tall sunflower like me. Why do you want to pull the roots out? Why does a beautiful sunflower scare you so? Don't you like the sunshine? Don't you like darkness?

      What have I done to deserve your smile? Whoops. Typo. SMITE!
      • Comment deleted

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        Nov 5 2011: Anthony,

        Just out of curiosity, are you playing some kind of a game? You seem to have a whole flower metaphor thing going on and appear to be focussing on the attention you are getting - more so than on the topic of your conversation.

        While your asserted cause may be noble, your original argument was weak, at best. And your rebuttals, such as they are, are childish and ineffectual ("Bigmouth strikes again," " you could get so angry at a beautiful tall sunflower like me..." and so on.) This must be obvious even to you, and, yet, you seem locked into a particular style of response and appear to be incapable of moderating your own discussion in any meaningful way.

        Are you feeling vulnerable? Unappreciated? Attacked? Flower-like? Feminine?
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          Nov 6 2011: Poetry isn't weak, attacking other people is.
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        Nov 6 2011: QUOTE: "Poetry isn't weak, attacking other people is."

        Who said poetry was weak?

        Now, SOME poetry is weak, and SOME poetry can be very powerful. Very moving.

        Are you attempting to be poetic with your flower metaphor?

        Yes, attacking people is seen as a weakness. Why are you doing it?

        [See my earlier response.]
  • Nov 3 2011: white knight trivia. are you really this shortsighted or are you trying to earn ectra credit for a womens' studies course?
  • Nov 1 2011: Thanks for bringing this up, Anthony. I am so-oo tired of male images being used to represent all of humanity. I have to think that McGilchrist had some input into the images that would be used. Maybe he wanted to avoid any gender stereotypes around the right brain - left brain conversation, since he is already trying to reformulate the subject and leave the popular misapprehensions about it behind. If that's the case, why not break with tradition and have all-female images? Well, maybe as a man, he thought he would be subject to criticism for his choices of female images. See, I'm really good at making up excuses for this kind of presentation. Because I still don't want to believe that intelligent, thoughtful men really don't care whether or not they make it comfortable for women to engage with their ideas.
  • Oct 31 2011: Anthony, in response to your latest comment to me:
    This is my last comment.
    I never said my comments have more weight than a woman's. You just said that. I said my comments were what I currently see as the truth, not that it is the sole truth. There are many versions of the truth, all valid. Which is to say that this is how I see things, it is not the same way you do, hence I do not mean this personally. I am not attacking your character, as you seem to think I am.
    Lastly, women are not oppressed because they menstruate.
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    Oct 30 2011: Unfortunately, this type of oversight of women's contributions/presence is common. I wouldn't take it personal. If he continues to move in the direction of balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain, eventually he will see that mishap from himself. I wish he had made it a point to include more contributions from women especially since this slant on left brain thinking coincides with the lack of feminine energy in every discipline used to prove his point. I wouldn't call him a sexist, that's a bit extreme. Either way it was an excellent sketch/presentation and should be shared with everyone.
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      Oct 31 2011: I think you're right in saying that it should be shared with everyone.

      You make a really good point about how he should "include more contributions from women especially since this slant on left brain thinking coincides with the lack of feminine energy in every discipline used to prove his point"

      I think this is really intelligent thinking, female energy should be fostered not pushed down because of gender difference. You are beautiful Liza :)
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    Oct 29 2011: Anthony, this is only an interesting topic because you noticed it and demonstrate your own bias of the opposite sex.
    His talk was highlighting the need to explore and expand the capacity of the right brain.
    Try to be more creative in the application of his talk instead of focusing on the flaws in your opionion.
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      Oct 31 2011: I believe my response to Ian McGilchrist's talk was very creative, intuitive and inspirational. I do not have a bias. Bias is a prejudice. I am speaking out against prejudice, I am speaking the truth, your bias doesn't allow you to see the truth.
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        Nov 3 2011: Do you read yourself man? You're in love with yourself, seriously.
      • Nov 3 2011: Very creative? You pointed out a lack of females in a drawing about a speech about a topic having nothing to do with sexism.

        You made no reasonable attack on the content of the speech, but ended with this outrageous gem:
        "This brings Gilchrist's ethical and scientific judgement into question."
        Which you did nothing to prove.

        You're not making a point, you're forwarding your own specific mindset. Why not comment on the presence or lack of other races? Children? Animals?

        You dont have a point, you have a soapbox. Matthieu is right, you post to hear your own voice.

        ABE: this is what i find frustrating about diversity/PC mindsets. Attackers spend more time being upset about the makeup (which was not designed with a sexual bias intentionally) rather than the content.
  • Oct 29 2011: I think the sexism question is tangential to the messages McGilchrist is presenting. His messages are much more interesting.
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    Oct 29 2011: I thought: "sad".
    Sad that you could not enjoy the talk.
    Sad that you mix up science (however ambiguous it may be) with gender issues.
    But I will defend to the death your right to keep & voice your personal opinions.
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      Oct 31 2011: Why would you think sad? Why is the truth sad?

      Science isn't just anatomy and biology. Science is also social science. Feminism is a social and political movement which heavily relies upon science to move forward and grow.

      Gender issues is a scientific subject, involving scientific procedures and evidence.

      Here is the light of day!

      Thank you for defending my right to a point of view :)
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    Nov 6 2011:

    The world is dominated by men with an overarching masculinity. In this conversation alone, we have seen how men adhering to this dominating overarching masculinity have attempted to gain control by attacking a person. They identify someone as different, subconciously flag them and attack them.

    This is the way the world is currently structured and this is why being a girl, being a woman, being of the female gender from the moment they are born, is inherently more difficult than being born a male.

    Cold. Simple. Hard to swallow.
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    Nov 6 2011: Furthermore, for a situational country example, Australia has an enormous "chasm"-like gap in gender equality in terms of health and SURVIVAL, economic participation and political participation. These results were from the "Global Gender Gap Report 2011".
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    Nov 6 2011: Do not attack my PERSON. There is nothing brave about trying to bring me down. If you don't like me, say so, then get on with the discussion. I will NO LONGER tolerate anyone who attacks my person.

    Here is some evidence for you all:

    The results of the "Because I'm a girl report" were launched this year. A summary of their findings were:

    "•70 per cent of the 1.5 billion people living below the poverty line are female.
    •There are 75 million girls out of primary and lower secondary school.
    •A girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school.
    •Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. If they are 15-19, they are twice as likely to die.
    •An extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15 to 25 per cent. Many girls in developing countries don’t make it to secondary school as they are pulled out to help support their mothers and the household, or are forced into marriage.
    •Girls from poorer countries and living in a rural area are 16 more times less likely to be in school than a boy from a comfortable household living in a town.
    •Every day an estimated 3500 girls in the world's poorest regions will marry before their 15th birthdays.
    •70,000 adolescent mothers die every year in the developing world because young girls are having children before they are physically ready for parenthood.
    •20-50 per cent of girls have experienced violence from a family member.
    •Girls are three times more likely to suffer from malnutrition than boys.
    •Globally, young women aged 15 to 24 account for 64 per cent of HIV infections among young people.
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      Nov 6 2011: QUOTE: "Do not attack my PERSON."

      Perhaps you could start by setting an example.

      Let's have a look at your arguments (not your "person.")

      Calling someone a "Bigmouth" does seem to be an attack on one's person (or parts thereof.)

      "Self-gratification and pride is a beautiful thing. You sir are not!" also seems a little personal, as does, "your bias doesn't allow you to see the truth." Not to mention your indictment of McGilchrist and his "ethical and scientific judgement."

      Then YOU flit around comparing yourself to flowers - poppies, sunflowers, and so on - in some sort of parody of rhetoric. "You" do that. "We" don't. That we notice seems to offend you. How could we not?

      And so on.

      I think we get it:

      - You think McGilchrist's talk is a prime example of sexism in action.
      - Some of us disagree.
      - You find that to be tantamount to a tacit endorsement of sexism in general.
      - Some of us find your example petty, superficial, and trivial
      - Some of us find your arguments strident, emotional and somewhat self-centered.

      You keep bringing the reference back to your "person" -- "how you could get so angry at a beautiful tall sunflower like me." Really, dude, what is THAT all about? If you do not want us to notice "your person" please refrain from drawing our attention to it.

      As for your topic:

      - I agree, sexism is a bad thing.
      - It will not help significantly that you "pick your fights" somewhat indiscriminately.
      - You start with a minor example of possible sexism (which is not to say it might not have SOME validity.)
      - You alienate your audience - quite effectively.
      - You then attempt to form alignment or consensus by bringing in "real" examples. (Too late!)
      - If feminism were "my cause" I would politely ask you to pick another.
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      Nov 12 2011: Not much I could add to Thomas' usual eloquent response, but here goes...

      This is the most ludicrous strawman ever! Just because we don't see the imaginary sexism in Ian McGilchrist's talk, doesn't mean we cannot appreciate what a hard place the world is to be a woman. I had a whole debate on TED about how the modern world has lured itself into believing all sexism in our modern societies is in the past. Of course, it annoyed a few people, but many people responded positively and sometimes there was disagreement, but at least there was conversation. This conversation is all about you and how you think you're the champion of the feminist cause. Your responses are bordering on childish now.

      What are you going to do about this attack of the person? Flag the comment? Is that because you're angry you got flagged for calling Travis a bigmouth? Is that hypocrisy I smell? Oh yes it really is.
  • Nov 5 2011: I would assume that the animator chose to represent "man" as our species... but I too can't help but wonder why McGilchrist did not include discussion surrounding the differences in the "masculin" and "feminine" brain. Gender comes from hormone but we are the same species. The "feminine" brain however is the alternative to current society at it experiences in a broader context. It would have been nice for McGilchrist to have let his discussion wander to that point... that a "feminine" society is likely a part of the solution...
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    Nov 3 2011: Beauty isn't a five letter word
  • Nov 3 2011: I must apologize again, as I said I would no longer be commenting on this thread. I saw that my comments were not changing your mind (Anthony) at all, so I decided to stop. But now I think that you have to be joking, so I don't really care if I act in opposition to my words anymore. You accused another commenter of being closed-minded and only wanting to hear confirmation that their ideas are right. Then you accused everyone in opposition to you of ganging up on you because it feels good to bring people down. You cannot be serious. Do you honestly think that we convene in secret and conspire to refute everything you say simply because it brings us pleasure? You really can't see how this is both hypocritical and absurd?

    I'll give you one thing, you have started an extraordinarily interesting thread, based not so much anymore on the sexism argued to be in the presentation, but on you.

    At first I thought you were slightly overzealous, but now you are either joking or incredibly self-absorbed. eg. "I do not have a bias. Bias is a prejudice. I am speaking out against prejudice, I am speaking the truth, your bias doesn't allow you to see the truth."

    Oh, and I almost forgot, you accused both another commenter and myself of shouting to drown out the sound of other opinions. I can only type so loud.
    • Comment deleted

      • Nov 3 2011: I give up. You win.
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        Nov 3 2011: Anthony,

        QUOTE: "Bigmouth strikes again!"

        Might I suggest your emotions are overwhelming your intellect?

        Calling someone a "bigmouth" on a public forum is not a particularly endearing quality (unless it's addressed to Glenn Beck ... or so I'm told) and it does not advance your point of view.

        Agree or disagree. The size of our mouths are not really relevant.
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    Nov 2 2011: The humble truth is that you and you know who I mean by you, have been totally focused on describing my comments and describing the person behind them.

    You have described feminism as if it is stagnant, not a flourishing movement. You have described me in ways that attempt to discredit me. If we objectively look at it, we have a larger number of people who have decided to gang up on an individual.

    Stack their books of knowledge up high and hope they fall on his head.

    Wisdom? In a vacuum!

    Ethics? What is that?

    These are your actions, not just words everyday.

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      Nov 2 2011: QUOTE: "The humble truth is that you and you know who I mean by you, have been totally focused on describing my comments and describing the person behind them."

      I'm not sure who you mean by "you."

      But this is a discussion and if we are not going to focus on the comments one another make, what are we going to focus on - that someone makes them is a necessary corollary.

      My sense is you are genuine in your concern about feminism and that your ardour has you seeing transgression virtually "everywhere" - in a graphic presentation accompanying a talk; in a joke about three specific men in bar (the joke only works because of who the men are and what they are famous for.)

      In some ways, you might even be "right," however, that you choose to see chauvinism "everywhere," to a large extent, undermines the credibility of ANY observation you might make.

      For example, I have noticed there are no women on the Wallabies Rugby team, only men. The women have to play on the Wallaroo team. This, as I am sure you will agree, is blatant sexism.



      The "glass ceiling," is sexism. Women being subjugated, is sexism. Female circumcision is sexism.

      A lack of female illustrations in a graphic presentation is an oversight, at best. That you see it at all, is admirable, but elevating the oversight to a major transgression is, I suggest, to diminish the greater cause and to unwittingly, compromise your own credibility.

      The comment about the joke didn't help your cause either - it ONLY works because of the three, specific individuals who are mentioned by name at the beginning of the joke (Heisenberg, Godel, and Chomsky.) That all three are actually men, is an unfortunate coincidence but not one we can do anything about simply to accommodate a more egalitarian and gender-neutral worldview.
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    Nov 2 2011: sir sir sir. You and all people really have a big issue with someone saying something out of line of what you believe.

    It's much easier to try and break someone than to build them up. I don't think you want to learn from others but instead want to hear from them that your ideas are right. Who would really accuse someone of having an enormous ego? On what grounds do you have to say that? Self-gratification and pride is a beautiful thing. You sir are not!
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      Nov 2 2011: Self Gratification and pride are good things? Since when? Self-Gratification and pride are what led to the oppression of women in the first place. You have taken the idea of feminism to an extreme. Many women who have commented on this say they aren't offended, and since the morality of the issue is based on intent, and it can be deduced that neither the speaker nor the animators intended it to be sexist, why do you continue to press the issue? Any view taken to an extreme becomes fanatacism, which is adverse to rationalism. Come back to earth, my friend.
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      Nov 2 2011: Why are you having a go at my looks? Is it because I am a man?
  • Oct 29 2011: there are lots of women featured, and in previous animations, if the speaker speaks of a woman, it's drawn. Also, this is a man speaking, so of course his tendancy is to speak from a more male perspective. Have a female speaker and I'm sure this will vary far more towards having more females involved and being brought up. Ultimatly, I think this is something you should email RSA and communicate your feelings with them about to try and help fix this issue.
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      Oct 31 2011: The more I think about it, and although I have not yet watched it again, I think that there is a real discrepancy between what McGilchrist is presenting scientifically (through his narration) and the way in which RSA animate chooses to create images that display the science.

      There may be more gendered and racial leanings present in the animation than in the narration alone. However both make up the presentation.

      I think an email to RSA animate is in order :). thanks for your suggestion.