Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reply to Octagalore

Octo, I don't find a link for adding my comments to the blog at
so I'll pull out some quotes from there and comment here.

Octagalore said: "as you can tell from the post, I am not attempting to refute Summers that his 50%/33% stat is persistent in testing. I am stating that his assumption that one can casually remove socialization n from being a probable key factor is completely undocumented [....]"

I agree that the difference in testing could probably be traced back to socialization, and that socialization is much more important than would appear from his talk.

Where you leave out "at the top end" you almost totally misrepresent Summers' statements. Here is one place you got it almost* right -- "believes at the upper end, there are more men for reasons to do predominantly with motivation and aptitude. His "apology" creatively didn't refute that."

His "apology" says: "I did not say, and I do not believe, that girls are intellectually less able than boys, or that women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of science. As the careers of a great many distinguished women scientists make plain, the human potential to excel in science is not somehow the province of one gender or another. It is a capacity shared by girls and boys, by women and men [....]"

If there is "creatively" no contradiction between the "more men" statement and the "apology", then we should take the "apology" as the true statement on the popular level -- instead of inventing popular level statements that contradict the "apology."

But please do remember that even so, his stated purpose was to provoke refutation of the aptitude  theory!

*Almost right, because motivation is only one part of his first factor (lifestyle/high-powered job). Even with equal motivation, a woman who has children is hampered by need for childcare, difficulty in catching up after maternity leave, etc.

You say: "He’s being chastised for positing an uncorroborated theory as the second most important factor."

Summers said that aptitude/testing results as the second most important factor in disparity of tenure. You've admitted the difference in the testing results. I don't recall Summers stating any theory about the cause of the testing results (or of the difference in aptitude that the testing results presumably show).

Octogalore said...  The variance measurement is not the root cause but is the current testing result. It is not a theory, and I'm not disputing it, but it doesn't yield us any info as to its cause. The theory Summers is promulgating is that lower female innate aptitude is the second most critical reason behind the result. December 1, 2008 6:09 PM 

Summers guessed that lack of availability of high-end females, in line with the testing result, was the second most important reason behind the tenure disparity. I do not recall him offering a theory as to the cause of the testing result -- certainly not a theory including a first and second most critical reason for the testing result.

Your phrase  "lower female innate aptitude" does not occur in his "working lunch" talk. What actual quote are you basing that on?


Anonymous said...

Lest we forget the truth about Larry Summers:

1. (from Sheryl Robinson’s post on The New Agenda): Summers was a main player in financial deregulation, a primary cause of the present economic crisis. Summers sought to silence Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who correctly foresaw that unregulated derivatives trading could put other financial markets at risk. While Born attempted to draft regulations to address this risk, Summers and his cronies accused her of fostering a financial crisis. Congress, apparently under pressure from Summers et al, suspended Born’s Commissions’ regulatory authority. Born then left her position as head of the Commission. “It was Larry Summers who called her up and screamed at her,” according to Siskind, who notes that the financial meltdown might have been averted if Summers had listened to Born (a woman).

2. While at the World Bank, Summers signed a memo that declared: “Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]?” The memo noted, “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

3. Andrei Shleifer, a close friend of Summers cost Harvard a $26 million settlement with the U.S. government. A federal court found Shleifer liable for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government, after Shleifer violated conflict-of-interest rules by making secret investments in Russia at the same time he was working for a Harvard group contracted by the U.S. Government to advise the Russian government. While Shleifer was being investigated, Summers pushed to have Shleifer promoted to a prominent chair at Harvard.

4. Conflict of interest: Summers is a managing director of the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co. Will he try to help his friends by continuing to bail out businesses?

1950 Democrat said...


Your #2 was satire. I have the actual text here at