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The End of Men--or Not

April 13, 2015

In his new book, Melvin Konner, a physician and Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Anthropology, writes that “Contrary to all received wisdom, women are more logical and less emotional than men. Women do cry more easily, and that, too, is partly biological. But life on this planet isn’t threatened by women’s tears; nor does that brimming salty fluid cause poverty, drain public coffers, ruin reputations, impose forced intimacies, slay children, torture helpless people, or reduce cities to rubble.”

The book, Women After All: Sex, Evolution and the End of Male Supremacy, posits that in the biological battle of the sexes, women will win.

The book, at least, has won a lot of media attention. Articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, New Republic, and other outlets, and a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Konner himself sums up the book’s ideas.

When asked by U.S. News & World Report why he thinks male supremacy is nearing its end, Konner said “The burst of women’s achievement feels like pent-up energy and ability suppressed by thousands of years of wasting half the talent of the human race. Within the last half century, women have proved wrong 12,000 years of claims why women couldn’t do certain jobs – because of their menstrual cycles, they’re too emotional, don’t think logically, might get pregnant, are easily intimidated by men, can’t take the stress of public life and leadership. It’s the beginning of something new.”

Not everyone agrees with his premise. A review in New Republic concludes that “Even if—and it’s a big if—science could prove once and for all that women are like so, an essay with this much faint praise would still fail on style grounds alone. And ladies do not abide unstylishness.” 

To see more about the book:

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Legal Scholar: Not Your Grandfather's Robot

July 3, 2014

Robots—both utilitarian and fanciful—have become mainstays of popular culture and everyday life. But will there come a time when robots are considered to be people? That’s the question Mark Goldfeder, senior lecturer in law, director of the Law and Religion Students Program, and Spruill Family Senior Fellow at Emory University, tackles in an op-ed on the CNN Opinion website.

“For the first time, a computer program passed the Turing Test for artificial intelligence. . . . That outcome means we need to start grappling with whether machines with artificial intelligence should be considered persons, as far as the law is concerned,” writes Goldfeder.  

The question has become a mainstay of popular culture, he continues, pointing at movies such as “Transcendence,” “Her,” and the “Robocop” and “Star Wars” franchises. “A question at the heart of all these movies is this: At what point does a computer move from property to personhood?” writes Goldfeder.

He goes on to say, “From the practical legal perspective, robots could and should be people. As it turns out, they can already officially fool us into thinking that they are, which should only strengthen their case. The notion of personhood has expanded significantly, albeit slowly, over the last few thousand years. Throughout history, women, children and slaves have all at times been considered property rather than persons. . . . New categories of personhood are matters of decision, not discovery.

To read the entire essay on CNN.com, click here.

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Business professor on the economy of narcissism

May 20, 2014

BianchiPeople who enter adulthood during recessions are less likely to be narcissistic later in life than those who come of age in more prosperous times, according to research by Emily Bianchi, assistant professor of organization and management at the Goizueta Business School.

“These findings suggest that economic conditions during this formative period of life not only affect how people think about finances and politics, but also how they think about themselves and their importance relative to others,” said Bianchi in a press release issued by the Association for Psychological Science (APS). The results also counter the common sentiment that so-called “millennials” are, as a group, highly self-involved.

The study appeared recently in the journal Psychological Science and was covered by a number of major media outlets.

Bianchi drew on research showing that macroenvironmental conditions in emerging adulthood can leave a lasting imprint on attitudes and behaviors. “I argue that people who enter adulthood during recessions are less likely to be narcissistic later in life than those who come of age in more prosperous times.” The findings, she continued, “suggest that macroenvironmental experiences at a critical life stage can have lasting implications for how unique, special, and deserving people believe themselves to be.”

To find out more about the study described in the APS press release, click here. 

To read coverage of the study in The Atlantic, click here.

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