Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blue is for Boyz, Pink is for Gurlz - It's Scientifikal

From Bad Science:

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.

The study took 208 people in their twenties and asked them to choose their favourite colours between two options, repeatedly, and then graphed their overall preferences. It found overlapping curves, with a significant tendency for men to prefer blue, and female subjects showing a preference for redder, pinker tones. 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.

There are so many things wrong with this study, most of it covered over at Bad Science. And yes, this is Very Bad Science.

Anyone wanna bet if they found out men had a preference for pink, they would say it's because men are programmed to seek out womens' flushed emotional faces and pink labia? (Don't forget the first law of evolutionary psychology: men are motivated by the desire for sex, while women are motivated by the desire for security). And if women showed a preference for blue it would be because of our innate attraction to blue eyes - really, no foolin'! This is fun. We could play this with every color. Men like orange - quick, what does it mean?

Well, I suppose I should get back to gathering my pink fruits and vegetables (how many pink gatherables can you think of?). And my male readers should go hunt us up some blue meat. No excuses, it's in your genes.


Renegade Eye said...

Really good post.

I'm sure you are aware of the science of what is beauty. That could be a companion post.

I'm linked to your blog.

Scott said...

Wow...I had seen the headlines but hadn't bothered to read any of the articles. I had assumed -- silly me -- that because these proclamations were being made in such strident tones that they had at least tried to control for gender socialization. I mean, I assumed that if I looked, I would find all sorts of other things wrong with the science, all sorts of "adaptive stories" pretending to be science (in famous evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin's scornful phrase), but I sort of figured that they wouldn't be making such a big deal out of it if they weren't somehow taking socialization into account to their satisfaction, if not to mine.

But no. What you have is a pretty graph that demonstrates gender socialization when it comes to colours being interpreted as the exact opposite. Yay science?


Red Jenny said...

Hi Renegade. I'm not familiar enough with the science of beauty to write a post on it, but if you do one, I promise I'll read it! ;) From what I've read of this type of science, they are taking cultural preferences and trying to come up with a biological and evolutionary explanation. For some things that makes sense, but for such culturally diverse things, it's a bit ridiculous. They are usually so unaware of their own cultural standpoints. See the link in my previous post on this where they showed that blonde hair, blue eyes, big boobs and a small waist were evolutionary preferences. So I wonder how the populations of, say, China and India, are so large. Not too many blondies with blue eyes there!

Hi Paul, yeah, let's say the data were correct and it was simply the interpretation that was ridiculous (as is the usual case in evopsy), then we'd still have plenty to mock. But the science is so shoddy here... they could have at least tried something with newborn babies, such as recording what colour of Big Soft Thing the babies prefer to chew and drool on. geesh.

TomCat said...

Dang! I wonder if girls having been raised with pink and boys with blue might have something to do with it.

That isn't science. It's scientifical.

Dark Daughta said...

Dear GAWD! I don't think the gender challenged folks are ever gonna let up. It's so limited, so sad.

By the way, would you consider sending me an older post for my carnival of oldies but goodies? Basically it's my Sunday Refried/Remix revamped, renamed Reloaded and open to anyone who has a really cool older post they'd like to see circulated again.