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Hurrah! Bad Science exposes that rubbish about blue is for boys and pink for girls

(130 Posts)
McEdam Sat 25-Aug-07 12:03:16

Irritatingly can't find this in Guardian online but bless Ben Goldacre, he uncovers the truth behind that stupid study claiming evolutionary reasons behind blue is for boys this week. And points out that before the 1940s, it was the other way round - baby boys were dressed in pink, seen as more masculine as a diluted version of red.

He points out the study measured preference, not discriminatory ability - so it didn't show women are any better at finding red berries as the authors claimed. And lots of other goods stuff, too.

McEdam Sat 25-Aug-07 12:04:45

found it!

kickassangel Sat 25-Aug-07 12:18:45

do you think dd would understand this article if i read this to her slowly? she is about to turn 4 and has just started throwing a strop if i don't put her in pink!

Callisto Sat 25-Aug-07 14:15:56

Blue is my dd's favourite colour (which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I don't like pink wink).

DanielJohnston Sat 25-Aug-07 14:17:58

My dd loved black, black was her favourite colour until she met other girls who influenced her.
Likewise ds never had a colour preference until he went to nursery, then he started liking blues and reds.

SlightlyMadStar Sat 25-Aug-07 14:20:14

Hmmmm - I had never even thought about why pink is a "girls colour" and blue is a "boys colour"..... you are making me ponder....

scattyspice Sat 25-Aug-07 14:21:47

I agree, its the desire to fit in.

DS (4) wouldnt wear pink clothes, but chose a pink fishing net on holiday (DH very alarmed wink)

fruittea Sat 25-Aug-07 14:22:43

alternative view in the Times last week

RosaLuxembourg Sun 26-Aug-07 00:46:09

Evolutionary biology - what a load of cack.

bookthief Sun 26-Aug-07 00:55:59

I loved the fact that until fairly recently (his quotes were from the 1910s iirc) it was actually the other way round and pink was definitely for boys with the "softer, gentler" blue the choice for little girls.

I heart Ben Goldacre grin

Highlander Sun 26-Aug-07 19:26:52

I just love Ben Goldacre - his diatribe with regards to Gillian McKeith is just priceless grin

Pruners Sun 26-Aug-07 19:30:00

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Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 19:52:59

I'm afraid he doesn’t uncover any truth and it must have been a very quiet week if this is all he had to pick on. The study does sound rather ridiculous but the fact remains that girls do like pink and boys like blue. The study to find out why is not invalid. The problems he discovered with the methodology are no more than we discovered ourselves studying and examining this stuff in the LSE, in the Darwin at LSE department earlier this year. Like he himself said, the problem was mostly in the translation via the media “This week every single newspaper in the world lapped up the story that scientists have cracked the pink problem. “At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink” said the Times. And so on.” Talk about bad science. I am usually a fan of BG, but this was such a straw man, it was scaring crows away in my garden.

“the evidence for genetic influence on behaviour, emotion, and cognition, is coarse;” he says revealing he actually knows little of evolutionry sceince at all – evolutionary sceince is the study of genes within environments, there is no either or. It is all culture and biology – neither one nor the other. This is basic, evolutioney theory for dummies stuff.

The whole 'just so' argument is only proffered by people who don't understand evolutionary science – it is straight out of (cut and paste at your peril) Steven ‘s anti-adaptionist rhetoric, that has itself been discredited long ago.

It would be a mistake to take the failings of this one study to mean that all evolutionary science is 'bad science'. It most certainly does not rely on ‘an internal, circular logic’ and it is vigorously questioned and tested as all other scientific hypothesis are. And that is all it is, a hypothesis – as Goldacre made clear in his writing but which he didn’t feel the need to draw attention to, as it may have had the affect of detracting from his pseudo the article carefully. There is a caveat that makes the whole piece invalid and that is the (honest) inclusion of the word ‘may’...

“This, the authors speculated (to international excitement and approval) may be because men go out hunting, but women need to be good at interpreting flushed emotional faces, and identifying berries whilst out gathering.

So the study says may and the media interprets this hypothesis as "At last, science discovers why blue is for boys but girls really do prefer pink"

A little too much schadenfreude from Ben I think. I usually like the column, but this was very lazy.

Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 19:54:00

"Evolutionary biology - what a load of cack."

Erm, based on what? Are you a creationist then?

Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 19:57:07

sorry important typo alert "Steven Rose‘s anti-adaptionist rhetoric"

Pruners Sun 26-Aug-07 19:57:59

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Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 20:31:15

A wind up? Goldacre or me? If your DP is an evolutionary biologist, why on earth is he okay about the endemic misrepresentation of evolutionary science with in the media?

(is that Pruni btw?)

Kathyis6incheshigh Sun 26-Aug-07 20:42:42

Goldacre's column is about bad science stories in the media - he's not trying to claim original contributions to research. And given that this story has been all over the press, I don't see how it counts as a straw man. And he doesn't talk about 'evolutionary science' anyway, he talks about 'evolutionary psychology'. I don't know anything about either fields but I'm guessing they're not the same thing.

Otter Sun 26-Aug-07 20:51:02


runs off to paint one of her many boys' rooms dusky rose

policywonk Sun 26-Aug-07 20:53:12

Good work Kathy.

<polishes BGAS badge>

Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 21:01:25

Evolutionary science encompasses evolutionary biology and psychology - all scientific study that invokes and evolutionary or Darwinian framework.

Gpldacre actually misrepresents the statistical element of science - these findings are only relevant on huge statistical levels. It doesn't matter that some girls like blue and some boys like pink - statistics tell us (via scientific investigation) that on average more girls are drawn to pink and more boys to blue.

Zoe Williams is one person who never seems to grasp this point. I post is because the posts below the article are articulate adn reasoned on this matter, the perfect response
to Williams' usual hysteria on the subject.

Aitch Sun 26-Aug-07 21:08:30

i don't know what you're all on about because my brain shuts up shop at the mere mention of science but i really, really, really think Zoe Williams is an idiot. <awaits angry posts from ZW's DP>

Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 21:08:41

and it is not bad science and goldacre takes some very cheap swipes at ev theory on the whole

Monkeytrousers Sun 26-Aug-07 21:09:53

I have to agree Aitch, I wish she weren't as she appears to be a very influemntial feminist voice.

FrannyandZooey Sun 26-Aug-07 21:15:02

I have no desire to disagree with Ben Goldacre or evolutionary biologists or anybody on this thread for that matter

but I have never been a very oestrogeny person, nor a big fan of pink, however when pregnant with ds I became so enamoured of pink that I dyed a large proportion of my clothes a very fetching pink and proceeded to wear them all the time

Looking back I seem to have been under the influence of something. It may have been cultural, but my hunch is that it was hormonal.

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