There’s recently been a lot of fuss (including on some philosophy blogs) about a short paper by Sarah-Jane Leslie et al., that purports to show that “women are under-represented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success because women are stereotyped as not possessing that talent.” NB the ‘because’.
The methodology looked more than a bit dodgy to me when I glanced at the paper, for the discussion seems rather short on comparisons against alternative causal hypotheses. So you’d have thought that philosophers would have been more circumspect, rather than rushing immediately to conclude e.g. “Maybe now we can all finally stop talking about who’s smart”. Really? But what do I know, old fogey that I am?
Well, actually a little more than I did know, having now read this seemingly excellent sceptical statistical analysis of the Leslie paper, which strikes me as rather — what’s the word I’m searching for? — … “smart”, perhaps. [Added: there is now an extensive comments thread on that analysis, which raises some interesting issues. But one thing is clear; rushing to conclude that the Leslie paper nails it, or shows that we should ‘finally stop talking’ about this or that, is more than a little premature.]