Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Judging A Book By Its Title

Amanda Craig writes about the "pink stinks" campaign to stop little girls wearing pink. She references one of the most important popular science books of the last decade to make her point:

While our daughters squabbled over whose turn it was to use the glittery pink crayon, we would moan on about the tyranny of this repulsive colour.

Where had we all gone so wrong? If our children are born blank slates, as the scientist Stephen Pinker (no, I haven't made up his name) claims, then all this mania for a particular colour has to be culturally imposed, an addiction caused by nurture, not nature.

But there was just one problem with this theory: I kept a very close eye on everything my daughter was exposed to.

Pinker did write a book called "The Blank Slate". It was a book emphatically rejecting the blank slate theory and criticising those scientists who promote it. In other words he is making the precise opposite argument to the one she attributes to him.

She doesn't have to have read the book to know this, just a single review or even a Wikipedia article. She has not even judged the book by it's cover, but purely by its title.

When she writes "(no, I haven't made up his name)", she is also mistaken, as he is "Steven Pinker" not "Stephen Pinker", so she did make up his first name.

Via Neil at Harry's Place.


Yaffle said...

If we're being picky Ross, there's no apostrophe in "its title"

Ross said...

Your write, I mean you're right and I shall edit accordingly.

DJ said...

Spelling is sexist.

James Higham said...

Think I'll start a campaign to get girls to wear pink and boys to wear blue.

Ed P said...

100 years ago, the standard colours for newborns was... pink for a boy & blue for a girl!
Plus ca change...

Ross said...

"100 years ago, the standard colours for newborns was... pink for a boy & blue for a girl!"

It would be interesting to know why the colours flipped.