This month's theme for the Scientiae Carnival is "Unleash", and I've been thinking about it in personal terms, not necessarily in FairerScience terms. But then I read, Boys like blue, girls like pink - it's in our genes and I decided that what I'd really like to do for the carnival is unleash some scorn.
Oh, sure, I know, there's no challenge in unleashing scorn on media coverage of this sort of thing, but, come on. How can I resist?
In this month's Current Biology, Anya C. Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling's article, Biological components of sex differences in color preference.
Now, I don't even have to read beyond the titles of these pieces to know where some of the problems I'm going to have are. First, to say that there are biological components in color preferences is not to say, for example, that the only thing in play is genetics. Second, there's more to biology than genes. That is, my genes my predispose me to be a certain height, but the nutrition I receive as a child has a major influence on how tall I become. Is nutrition a matter of nature (it's how my biological makeup reacts to available resources) or nurture (because it's about my environment)? Maybe my genes predispose me to prefer colors for which I receive social encouragement in liking.
Of course, thanks to Annalee Newitz and her excellent AAAS presentation last February, we know that journalists are encouraged to read and report scientific results in the most attention-grabbing ways. And that's another thing about which I could unleash a certain amount of scorn.
I could go on into a critique of the article as a whole, or some of the questions the study raises, but I don't have that much space, so instead, I'll invite you to unleash your thoughts, either on this specific case of a study and the reporting about it, or on the phenomenon in general.