A great example of unconscious bias
Found this by way of Drugmonkey, who cited this squabble started over Dawkins' latest book.
I'm staying out of the fray on the Dawkins' argument. Basically it's the same old argument about whether it's more important to be inclusive or "rigorous". Personally, I don't have a good answer. Part of me wants to say it's up to Dawkins to do whatever he wants, it's his anthology. I don't have to buy it (or any of his books, to be frank I can't stand his writing style).
And part of me says if you're going to do that, Dawkins, then you can't be defensive about your choices when people attack you for them. And if you're going to be defensive about it, then maybe that means you realize you were wrong? Isn't that sort of what happened with Larry Summers (supposedly)? I know I have gotten an earful myself on this blog from time to time, and I can (almost always?) see both sides of the argument, but it doesn't mean I'm going to join the other side.
Mostly I just thought this particular comment was so amazing, so brutally honest and insightful, that I had to reprint it here (bold highlight is mine):
12. steve Says:
December 6th, 2009 at 10:57 am
I just looked through my bookshelf and realised that there isn’t a single female author on it (not counting textbooks). Why? I think back to the female authors I have read – those that were recommended to me, those that rated highly on various rankings etc. I’ve just never really enjoyed them that much.
Once I had a friend give me ten excerpts from books I hadn’t read, and I ranked them in terms of what I preferred. Without knowing the authors, I still put the female authors at the bottom.
This ***does not*** mean that women are poor authors. It means that my (probably excessively) masculine brain doesn’t like something about how many women write. Maybe I just lack an acquired taste, I don’t think you can call me sexist for that – remember, even without knowing the gender of the author, I preferred male authors. And there definitely is a difference – Dickens was able to spot that George Eliot was actually a female (although not many other people did).
If I prefer reading fiction written by men, then perhaps this also translates to science (although definitely not the peer reviewed journal kind), although I am less certain of that. I’m pretty sure that it does translate to the kind of stuff I find in the blogosphere. So if a larger portion of the readers are men, and men were to have an affinity for male blogging style, this may explain why the rankings come out the way they are, and why someone like Dawkins might prefer science prose written by men.