Men And Women Are Different

Equality does not mean equivalence

Allan Milne Lees
16 min readMar 7

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Lascaux cave art. Image credit: British Council

We humans spent nearly all of our evolutionary history in conditions of scarcity. Consequently, we’re evolved to prefer indolence to activity whenever possible, as this conserves precious calories. We’re not only adapted to be physically indolent; as the brain burns a lot of blood sugar on the rare occasions we attempt to perform thinking, we’re evolved to be intellectually indolent as well. And with a very small number of exceptions, we do this perfectly.

Our brains use a wide variety of shortcuts in order to reduce the amount of neural activity required to get us through each day. We’re mostly unaware of these shortcuts — and the errors they create — because there wasn’t much need for self-correction over the hundreds of thousands of years our species spent in relatively simple environments containing relatively predictable challenges.

Many studies have shown just how erroneous our notions of reality are; one of my favorites comes from a few years ago. People were recruited to take part in a psychological study being conducted on the third floor of a university faculty building. Each test subject arrived individually and was shown to the elevator that would take them to the study room. In the elevator they encountered an academic who had an unruly pile of books and papers cradled in one arm and a cup of coffee in their other hand. As the elevator doors closed, the academic asked the test subject to hold their cup of coffee for a moment so they could re-arrange their stack of books and papers. The subject obliged, then handed back the coffee, and then proceeded to the test room where they performed the tasks required of them.

At the very end of the session, just before departure, they were asked to rate the personality of the academic they’d briefly encountered in the elevator on the way up to the test room (and this was in fact the real test).

Can you guess the results?

Test subjects who briefly held a cup of coffee that was warm rated the academic’s personality as “warm and approachable.” Test subjects who briefly held a cup of coffee that was cold rated the academic’s personality as “cold and withdrawn.” In every case the academic was the same, wore the same clothes, and behaved in exactly…

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Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.