Aug 212007

I just love that phrase: sex-specific functional specialization. I stumbled across it recently thanks to the British tax payers funding a study to determine if girls really do like pink better than boys. As the father of an 11 year old girl I could have answered that question pretty definitively, but we all know that government doesn’t work that way. They need to throw money at a problem (over and over again) before even considering being satisfied.

Anya Hurlbert, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University, led the study, which consisted of groups of men and women judging 1,000 pairs of colored rectangles on a computer screen. Surprise, surprise the women tended to choose the more pink or red squares while the men stuck to the universal preference for blue.

We speculate that this sex difference arose from sex-specific functional specialization in the evolutionary division of labor,” she wrote in Current Biology. “There are biological reasons for liking reddish things.” Such as? “Red was the color of a good ripe fruit,” Hurlbert said. Really? Isn’t it also the color of numerous poison berries?

But that’s not my favorite quote. That prize goes to: “For men, thinking about colors was less important because as hunters they just needed to spot something dark and shoot it.” Ah, the good old days.

Once again, I’m sure the citizens of Great Britain are proud to know that the fruits of their labor are being stolen from them in order to fund such useful and necessary research. Don’t you feel safer and more fulfilled?

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