June 7, 2007

"Yes, biologically sometimes, I have felt it ... but in the meantime when I see the trouble married people have, I think maybe I am lucky."

Says the Dalai Lama -- the "it" being sexual desire:
"When you analyse the face or body, which is beautiful for two days, after 10 years it's more difficult.

"It can eventually create a lot of unhappiness - that's nature."

So that incredibly shallow thing you're not supposed to say? What if, in fact, it's really deep?
The Dalai Lama said as a celibate monk he sublimated physical desire through "training of the mind" and intense analytical meditation.

True happiness, he said, came through peace of mind, altruism and compassion.

It's only not shallow if you think such things along with celibacy and lots of analysis.

41 comments:

John Stodder said...

His logic is flawed. Why can't you also "sublimate physical desire through 'training of the mind' and intense analytical meditation" to allow you to be happy with the same face after 10 years just as easily as you could get used to having nobody?

SteveR said...

John Stodder: I was thinking the same thing myself. I know for sure that intense pot smoking and analytical geometry did not sublimate my physical desire when I was a celibate college student.

Joe said...

It's always annoying when someone with a naturally low libido praises themselves for superior self-control and then lectures everyone else on what perverts they are.

jimbino said...

Though never accused of having low libido, I have often felt, and now feel more strongly, that my life might have been richer had I been born, or become, asexual.

The problem with sex, from my point of view, is that it drives a man to engage in all sorts of useless and stupid behavior. I makes him begin to notice, if not take an interest in, clothes, make-up, jewelry and gossip.

It's not as if you lose your head, as does the Praying Mantis, or sacrifice your very life as does the Black Widow's Mate, at the moment of ecstasy.

No. You just die a little each day, losing your male friends and male fun. You will never again have a conversation about math, physics or chess with your closest companion.

I envy Einstein, who seemed to get it right the second time around.

As great as sex is, I envy those who are asexual, particularly if they are male!

Richard Fagin said...

jimbino - I know a couple of very good divorce lawyers if you're that unhappy.

joe - Cardinal Cushing (Archbishop of Boston until 1970) was asked by a older priest when the temptations of the flesh would finally go away. He was reported to have replied, "I don't know. I'm sixty something and they still haven't yet!"

Luckyoldson said...

what a really, really shallow dude.

Kirk said...

jimbino,

Are you sure Larry Summers didn't hijack your account or something? 'Cause that seems a fairly sexist thing to say. My wife, for just one example, is a math teacher, so conversations about math and physics happen fairly frequently around here. Her department is about 50% female, so I imagine others are in the same boat as me.

paul a'barge said...

Dalai, babe ...
click here bubbalah

Methadras said...

I think the DL's explanation of celibacy vs. sexual desires with respect to being in a relationship (married or otherwise) is short-sighted and quite shallow. Looking at my wife age not only lets me appreciate one of the many reasons for why I married her, but instills within me discipline to appreciate her ever changing beauty.

How can someone who's never experienced (or so I understand) a relationship (married or otherwise) that includes sex, love, affection, among other emotions to characterize to those of us that do experience these things as being somehow more disciplined than we are. Or that we are somehow lower for it. He was more or less chosen for this way of life, but does he not understand that not everyone is him or has taken up monastic vows and virtues?

Methadras said...

Jimbino,

I'd have to say that from your description of how you've characterized sex or sexual encounters, that you have experienced some not-so-good things with it?

Yes, men, especially men, do the dumbest things to acquire and obtain an orgasm, but calling it a life draining exercise is a total farce. If you are in the type of relationship that you have described, then it is incumbent upon you to either correct it, succumb to it (which appears has already occured), avoid it, or get rid of it.

Yeah, there are a lot of guys who are whipped beyond belief, but that's life and they have the choice to do something about it. Some people are asexual by default and some people aspire to it, i suppose, but either way, you get out of it, what you put into it. No pun intended.

Tim said...

While I am not personally familiar with the qualities of the standard Tibetan female face and therefore unable to judge the shelf life of its attractiveness, why would anyone think life did not entail choices, some of them difficult, and trade-offs, some of them difficult too? I’d think a world renowned Buddhist monk might have some insight into this, but I’m not pagan either, so maybe not. Anyway, I do think it human nature to justify the decisions we make, especially more so the longer ago they inalterably changed our lives. So the Dalai Lama thinks he’s better off not married because of troubles he’s seen in marriages. Should any of us be surprised? All I can say is, I find true happiness and peace of mind, most all of the time, in my own marriage. Altruism and compassion are much less reliable.

Revenant said...

I don't see what's shallow about his statement. The observation that people who look good today look less hot over time is just flat-out *true*.

People have said for ages that a real relationship has to be about more than sex -- that it has to go beyond that, to a real appreciation of the other person and their worth. We're told all the time, ultimately, sex isn't that important.

It seems to me that the Dalai Lama is just taking that to the next logical step. If physical attraction is fleeting, then any human relationship based in any way on sex is doomed to degrade over time. Only by focusing solely on the non-sexual aspects of human relations is it possible to build lasting relationships.

Yes, men, especially men, do the dumbest things to acquire and obtain an orgasm, but calling it a life draining exercise is a total farce.

I don't know what Tibetan beliefs on the subject are, but I do know that it is commonly believed in India that orgasms are bad for male health, shortening the lifespan and encouraging disease. Gandhi believed that.

Yeah, I agree that its nuts, but metaphysical beliefs usually are.

Tim said...

"I don't see what's shallow about his statement. The observation that people who look good today look less hot over time is just flat-out *true*."

Yes, that is true. What is shallow about his statement, "It can eventually create a lot of unhappiness - that's nature" is that he presupposes sexual attraction is the foundation of a relationship, not "that a real relationship has to be about more than sex -- that it has to go beyond that, to a real appreciation of the other person and their worth."

You’d think he’d understand that wisdom. Sex matters, clearly. But it doesn't take great wisdom to understand that even as the sexual nature of a marriage changes, people can and do find true happiness, peace of mind, altruism and compassion in a marriage. It is arguable that a marriage cannot survive without the last two qualities.

joe said...

Why not carry this to the next level? get a lobotomy, so you don't have to think anymore. That will save you a lot of grief in the long run too.
I am being sarky of course. I feel sad for people who never experience how transcendental sex can be.

Revenant said...

What is shallow about his statement, "It can eventually create a lot of unhappiness - that's nature" is that he presupposes sexual attraction is the foundation of a relationship

Where marriage is concerned that's not a supposition so much as an observation. How many men would marry a woman they had no desire to have sex with? How many would stay married if their wife refused to ever have sex with them? The answer to both questions is obvious: not many.

Yeah, we tell ourselves a lot of nonsense about how male-female romantic love is all about finding a soulmate and a friend and all the rest of that crap, but meanwhile back in reality its pretty much about making babies. The other stuff is just what we use to make a fundamentally biological relationship easier to live with over the long term.

downtownlad said...

The Dalai Lama has some nerve stealing my initials . . .

Eli Blake said...

jimbino:

No. You just die a little each day, losing your male friends and male fun. You will never again have a conversation about math, physics or chess with your closest companion.

Pierre Curie solved that problem.

How is math, physics or chess a 'male' topic? I have a daughter who just finished the fifth grade and tested at the high school senior level in math. She also is a pretty decent chessplayer. If things like math and chess are male, it's probably because girls have been told they can't do them, or trained to be somebody's Cinderella to come and rescue and carry off on a gallant steed to a lifetime of marriage, mortgage and 'find a way to manage.'

Well, that ain't gonna be my girl, unless SHE decides that's what she wants.

Synova said...

Someone I know (but I can't remember who) recently said... if you want a woman into her appearance you're simply going to have to learn to fake an interest in make-up and clothes and learn to smile while paying for it. Nothing wrong with that. Just don't whine when you get what you wanted.

"Yeah, we tell ourselves a lot of nonsense about how male-female romantic love is all about finding a soulmate and a friend and all the rest of that crap, but meanwhile back in reality its pretty much about making babies."

Maybe not *babies* so much as tall, strong, sons and daughters. Adult children. The family being the main economic unit. (For several definitions of economic.) Marriage being a partnership for a purpose that doesn't have a whole lot to do with soul mates or romantic love.

We don't think that so much anymore, but it's still true that divorce is a severe economic blow and the cooperation of a domestic partnership is an economic boon... even when we don't view children as the economic and social capital they once were.

Joan said...

Eli: If things like math and chess are male, it's probably because girls have been told they can't do them, or trained to be somebody's Cinderella...

Speaking as a woman who often discusses things like math, chess, and physics with my husband and my kids, I can cheerfully say that socialization plays a surprisingly small role in a girl's interest in such things as chess and math. My daughter knows as much human anatomy as the typical college freshman -- she's 8. But she detests math and has no interest in chess at all, even though her brothers love it and beg her to play. She's just not into it, the same way my older boy is just not into Littlest Pet Shop or High School Musical. Little Brother, on the other hand, enjoys them. I adore science fiction in all forms, but my daughter barely tolerates it. You'd think with the example of a fanatic mom, she'd be into it, too, but I have to rely on my boys to watch Star Trek or Star Wars: Clone Wars with me. (I'm hoping to bring her over to the Dark Side this summer with dvds of the BBC's newest Doctor Who, but we'll see.)

The fact that your daughter loves chess doesn't make her a freak, but it does make her unusual. Celebrate that, but don't be so foolish as to blame every other girls' disinterest on dysfunctional families and socialization.

As for the Dalai Lama, I recall reading an interview with a monk many years ago. He said that, in choosing celibacy, he had chosen the easier path, because lifetime relationships are very difficult. To be celibate is to be very selfish, you know -- you never have to share yourself with anyone. I think what the Dalai Lama said was clumsy and not particularly helpful or insightful.

Tim said...

"...but meanwhile back in reality its pretty much about making babies."

Except the data from reality indicate the vast majority of divorces occur in the 39 and under age groups when, ostensibly, marriage partners are more attractive than those in the 40 and older age groups.

So it must be something other than sexual attraction, although specifics, of course, depend upon individuals. I am prepared to concede that the divorce rate among the 39 and under cohort may reflect that they might be more interested in accessing a variety of sexual partners that most marriages, properly understood, would not generally tolerate. And I would posit that an inability to maintain a marriage on the basis of having sexual intercourse with persons not your spouse is (especially if habitual), in fact, shallow.

Revenant said...

Except the data from reality indicate the vast majority of divorces occur in the 39 and under age groups when, ostensibly, marriage partners are more attractive than those in the 40 and older age groups.

I wouldn't say "the vast majority". This set of government divorce statistics suggests that around 30% of people eventually get divorced at least once, with less than half of first divorces occurring prior to age 35 (i.e., during the prime breeding years).

That's what you would expect if marriage was primarily about making babies, though. Divorce puts you back in the game, giving you the chance to find a mate while you're still capable of breeding.

I'm not sure how much information about reasons for marriage you can derive from divorce statistics, though. Divorce costs, and the costs increase with time; once you're actually married, you need a good reason not to stay that way (or at least you did until no-fault divorce came along). So you'd expect younger people to divorce more, since they have the most to gain (they're still in the breeding pool) and the least to lose (they're unlikely to have kids or entangled finances).

Then there are the people who never marry at all -- the fastest-growing marriage-related demographic group. Why would this be happening if marriage was mostly about all that emotional stuff? We're no less caring than we were a generation ago. We are, however, a lot less inclined to think that you have to be married to have sex and babies.

amba said...

Buddhists were classically supposed to meditate on how the body of the beloved would die, rot, stink and deliquesce.

This is why spirituality is such an arid bore. To quote James Hillman quoting Wallace Stevens for the umpteenth time: "The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it." And a more worthy challenge too.

Friend told me of a Westerner trying to become a celibate Theravada Buddhist monk (the strictest, most ascetic kind) in Thailand. He was so frustrated and sensitized, he became sexually aroused by the sight of a woman's footprint. That story was supposed to show the diabolical persistence of lust, or something. I found it a breathtakingly beautiful image.

amba said...

A lot of what the Dalai Lama says would be incredibly banal if anybody else said it.

amba said...

He's sort of like Chance Gardiner.

Kirk said...

downtownlad,

So he's actually Dalai T. Lama? I never knew that...

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo Boehm said...

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made one of his simple and seemingly banal remarks that expresses a deeper understanding.  He does this all the time.

He teaches a Buddhist perspective: Life is suffering, radically, at its core.  Pali, the literary language of Buddhist scriptures, has a word for it: dukkha.  This means sorrow, pain, anxiety, dissatisfaction, misery, aversion, frustration, etc.  A veritable Pandora's box of a word.

Aging, sickness, being stuck with what is displeasing, separation from what you desire, not getting what you want, and, yes, death, is dukkha.  It's all the same thing.  Your wife started as a hot babe, and now she's a b-word, and you can't stand her?  Welcome to dukkha-land.

Delight and lust, craving for pleasure, for existence itself, aversion and hate, are among the things that lead to rebirth, and more and more suffering.

More and more suffering.  Why is there so much misery?  Do you think better economic and technological arrangements will make everything hunky-dory?  We've gone down that road in the developed world.  But even with all our gizmos, do you think we won't grow old and sick and die in the end?  And along the way we won't be bombarded with every possible image of delight, sexual and otherwise, for the purpose of selling us something?  And that, while we're at it, we won't be chewing up the world and half of humanity to make our toys and to feed our fat bellies?

Are you among those who looks fabulous and has a great sex life?  If you're like 97.84% of people, the answer is no, and you're likely to be unhappy about it.  If, on the other hand, you are attractive and have all the perfect sex that our culture demands, you're no doubt really liking it.  How do you think you'll feel when you get old and wrinkled and impotent?  Will Viagra keep the rot away? And what kind of relationships did you have while you were getting decrepit?

I'm not saying that we don't need better economic arrangements and technological advancements.  They've gone a long way to alleviate the traditional horrors of life and surpress the four horsemen.  Ending obvious causes of evil and misery is the right thing to do.  It's just that new problems always seem to pop up.  Those horsemen are never quite in the barn.  Do you honestly think they ever will be?

As the Buddha says, I show you suffering and the end of suffering.

Give it up! Free yourself radically!  While you're at it, throw the libido to the wind.  If you've been socialized in our sex-obsessed culture, that may seem about as likely as growing green gauzy wings and flying to the moon.  The fact remains that freeing oneself from sexual desire has been accomplished to one degree or another by spiritual people for all the ages.  As the Dahli Lama implies, though, it's seldom easy or perfect.  Maybe you will end up driven to frenzy by a footprint.  Maybe you will end up in a freer place.

The question has been raised about relationships, and if it is more responsible or worthwhile to stay connected than to retreat to a monastery, real or virtual.  We all have an ethical responsibility toward others.  Remember karma?  You certainly can and should live in this world.  Just be aware.

Self-observation can be a start to getting off this merry-go-round.  Awareness, though, can never be divorced from action.  You need to do something.  Meditate, pray, study.  And do them in the context of the larger project of following the well-known Noble Eightfold Path: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

Not the easiest thing, but worth it no matter what.  And maybe along the way the door gets jarred open a bit.  And in the stillness, when you least expect it, a little enlightenment sometimes creeps in unannounced.

Well, here I am, a Catholic, preaching Buddhism.  Go figure.

hdhouse said...

actually i think its pretty visceral. if i screw up i am consumed with the potential my wife will judge me less for my failure. she means that much to me. she is something of a touchstone to my activities. on the other hand nothing gives me more pleasure than for her to smile at me. its rocky. it has real moments of angst and confrontation and it is worth it. sooo worth it.

Pogo said...

Theo - very nice post.

The Dalai Lama's statement does have a funny sort of Being There-ness to it. I don't find it insulting, neither do I find it incompatible with Catholicism.

But I agree that it is about suffering. While sublimating desire may seem unnatural, it is paradoxically liberating. A similar Catholic prayer reads ...and lead me not into temptation., a surprisingly powerful request for grace.

Dorothy Parker stated it more acerbically, "Don't let that little frankfurter tell you what to do."

Ann Althouse said...

"So he's actually Dalai T. Lama?"

It's like Jesus H. Christ.

Anyway, the Dalai Lama's statemet really does challenge us to look at the teachings of Buddhism critically, as Theo and Amba invite us to do. I did this post because I was struck by how his statement was so much like that of a very shallow modern man. What do we want to do with that? Of course, there's a whole deep religious tradition that is a foundation under what the DL said. We often tend to romanticize Buddhism, but think about what it means. I'm not saying he's wrong, by the way. I'm just saying face up to it and think about it. We tend not to be critical of marriage and sexual relationships in this culture. (Despite some similar themes in Christianity.) Think about it.

Bissage said...

I’m no expert on the Dalai Lama. I’m no expert on religion. Actually, come to think of it, I’m no expert on anything. But I do watch that Michael Palin travelogue show from time to time.

There’s an episode where he gets a personal audience with the Dalai Lama and Palin asks him these sincere questions seeking wisdom. All he gets back is bland affirmations mixed with laughter that’s probably not meant to come off as patronizing as it sounded to me. The only thing the Dalai Lama seemed to take to heart was the circumstance of his own political exile.

I really don’t think Palin had an agenda or anything. I think he was playing it straight and really was hoping to get some enlightenment on film. But you could feel his disappointment, as he put on a brave face, as the Dalai Lama said, basically, “Sure, sure, kid, whatever you say, ha, ha, ha, ha.”

I was left with the impression the Dalai Lama’s a whole lot less spiritual than some people would like to believe.

NEXT UP: John, George and entourage head off to meet with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Emy L. Nosti said...

The fact that your daughter loves chess doesn't make her a freak, but it does make her unusual. Celebrate that, but don't be so foolish as to blame every other girls' disinterest on dysfunctional families and socialization.

Bull. Get with the times (from another woman who almost went into physics, who has one math prof sister, and another sister who's an industrial engineer). Oh, and if your daughter is 8 and you think she hasn't had any socialization into traditional gender roles, you're kidding yourself (and I would say it's a little unusual/one-dimensional if she has NO "male" interests). PS: No one is saying that you have a dysfunctional family, but you are not your daughter's sole role model. There's a lot of pressure to conform and girls can be very mean at that age to those who don't--and anyway, who knows? She's only 8, things change.

jimbino said...

Well, I don't need a divorce lawyer, because I never made the mistake of marrying, which I would only do for immigration purposes or to gain great wealth, which I don't need. I do like women, and I only lament the fact that our society manages to ruin a young girl's mind after about the age of 14.

The fact is that there is a dearth in the Western world of women in the sciences. You can find reports and discussions about the same lamentable situation in England and Germany, both of which have recently had hard scientist at the very top of government, which will never happen here, since our christianists wouldn't elect an atheist like Merkel, man or woman.

The facts are that women are vastly underrepresented in the hard sciences, math, engineering and even economics, and worse it gets the higher you move up the ladder of accomplishment and acclaim. Sure there were the Curies and Lise Meitner, but no woman as yet has won the Nobel in Economics, which is barely even science!

You can't do science if you can't learn to generalize. And you can't begin to consider solutions to the problem of the dearth of women in almost all the important fields if you can't acknowledge there's a problem. All the talk here from guys married to a math teacher and from the occasional woman studying math who knows other women in science and about daughters who are good in math, etc., is beside the point. Another thing scientists learn is to discount proof by anecdote.

But high school math and science teaching is surely one area where you might find a concentration of women, since the qualifications for the profession include graduating at the bottom of your class, putting up with unions, seniority, mediocrity and the same pay as an English teacher, constantly dealing with brats, and a level of competence that disqualifies you from outside jobs with men, which pay far more.

If a scientist has to marry, he should at least choose a Brazilian or German mate, say, since stultifying conversation in a foreign language still has some value.

Synova said...

Emy, perhaps you can clarify that.

Do you think that all girls should be interested in, or *can* be interested in math and chess?

And why, really, must we assume that an early interest that fades is something other than a child deciding what she is most interested in?

It seems to me that the pressure, and expectation, of girls going into science is quite strong and to the extent that girls are influenced by other girls they also seem to be influenced a whole lot by the expectations of parents and teachers.

So, given my oldest daughter's interests which range from some pretty impressive artistic ability to a fascination with the brain and ideas about personality all the way to nano-mechanical direct brain interfaces... what should I encourage her in? Hmm?

She was thinking of art school in... lol, I think it was actually Madison, but now she's thinking of MIT. If she goes back to the art school idea, have I failed?

Theo Boehm said...

Bissage:  I have, in fact, met His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  I can tell you that he is an extraordinary individual, and I was moved by the very palpable qualities of kindness, equanimity, and compassionate humanity about him.  Meeting him was one of those peak life experiences that color everything afterward.

He is, as he would say, a simple Buddhist monk.  He also has an impressive mastery of scripture and teachings, and is a preceptor and teacher.  He would not attempt to display that for television.  How could he?  His English remains fairly poor, so in public he usually limits himself to simple expressions and what we should interpret as good cheer and lightheartedness.

I don't know what people expect to see as a display of "spiritual wisdom."  Buddhism is not a religion of speculation and high-sounding phrases.  It is a religion—some people would even call it a philosophy—of practice.  You are not a Buddhist "Believer."  You are a "Practitioner."  You "Take Refuge" when you formally become a Buddhist, but the emphasis is always on daily practice, not on whether you profess some belief or not.  Sermons or BS sessions for a TV camera that might make some people feel good are quite beside the point, and are frankly often seen as counterproductive.

Admittedly, the Tibetans need and have gotten some good PR, and are not above cultivating it.  Some of them, particularly of an older generation, have what we might regard as a strange relationship with television, however.  Part of the difficulty, I think, is that TV is viewed as an illusion inside another illusion, and so it is difficult to take it seriously.  A teacher I studied with once has us meditate in front of the TV set as a exercise to help understand the nature of illusion.  I must say it was pretty effective.  If the things of this world are essentially illusory, it can seem chortlingly funny to encounter a device that projects images of this illusion.

As for the Tibetan understanding of how television and film might be used for good effect, I remember seeing several films of various Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies.  I'll spare you the details. The basic approach was to point the camera and let it roll.  No cuts, no edits.  The idea is you get some sense of being there in real time.  This can be quite affecting and a great teaching tool.  But you're not going to see one of these on cable with Michael Palin any time soon.

Bissage said...

Theo, thank you very much for your response.

I'm a bit ashamed now to think of myself sitting on the sofa with a remote control in my hand absolutely perplexed that the Dalai Lama wasn't dazzling me with his other-worldly brilliance and converting me to Buddhism on the spot.

That moved me a step closer to the Althouse troll who says, "And you, a law professor!"

There I was, drinking a HopDevil, eating Nutter Butter cookies, feet on the coffee table, saying, "And you, a Holy Man!"

Won't happen again.

Joan said...

Synova, thanks for your apt questions.

Emy: you misunderstood at least part of my post, in your eagerness to refute me. I do not think my daughter's interest in anatomy is at all typical for an 8-year-old girl. Do you? My point was that she has many diverse interests, some of which are "girly", but many of which are not. Last time I checked, biology was still one of the sciences.

Theo Boehm said...

Bissage: Not to worry. I'm not offended. In typical fashion for your posts, it was pretty funny. I think the Dalai Lama would probably find it funny, too, if he didn't have to worry about his public image.

Actually, I just wanted to set the record straight, not make you look bad. I've seen the Dalai Lama in person three times, and I remember the first occasion was a straightforward public lecture (by invitation, with heavy security) in front of a large, university audience. I recall being charmed and impressed by him, but thinking, "I hope there aren't any TV cameras here, because this guy could come across as a complete doofus."

I was totally impressed on another occasion--the one I was referring to--when I found myself at a reception for him at a university president's house. (I'll tell you how I crashed that one some other time.) I have been to lots of similar receptions, and I must say the Dalai Lama was amazing in how he handled everything. He really hooked me when he remembered me some days later at another event I managed to get into. You could say his were ordinary political skills. But there was something about him and his entourage--even the Tibetan security--that prooved those Buddhist teachings in practice. I can honestly say that he was one of three or four people I have met who literally had an aura about him.

I have also met Ronald Regan in person. If I ever needed proof that television created illusions wrenched and separated from reality, it was that encounter.

But that, as they say, is another story.

Theo Boehm said...

P.S.--Public image be damned. I think the Dalai Lama would find what you wrote about him funny in any event.

amba said...

All the talk here from guys married to a math teacher and from the occasional woman studying math who knows other women in science and about daughters who are good in math, etc., is beside the point. Another thing scientists learn is to discount proof by anecdote.

I'll answer that with a quote from, of all people, Charles Murray:

We may find that innate differences give men, as a group, an edge over women, as a group, in producing, say, terrific mathematicians. But knowing that fact about the group difference will not change another fact: that some women are terrific mathematicians. The proportions of men and women mathematicians may never be equal, but who cares? What's important is that all women with the potential to become terrific mathematicians have full opportunity to do so.

Of course, new knowledge will not be without costs. Perhaps knowing that there is a group difference will discourage some women from even trying to become mathematicians or engineers or circus clowns. We - scientists, parents, educators, employers - must do everything we can to prevent such unwarranted reactions. And the best way to do that is to put the individual's abilities, not group membership, at the center of our attention.

TMink said...

What do priests and lamas know about marriage?

Trey