Saturday, December 27, 2008

Men Are Superior to Women


Well, at least not according to Meric Bilalic of Oxford University. Here's science blogger Ed Yong on the subject.

Himself a keen chess player, Bilalic smelled a rat in Irwing's contention that men dominate the higher echelons of chess because of their innate ability. In an elegant new study, he has shown that the performance gap between male and female chess players is caused by nothing more than simple statistics.

Far more men play chess than women and based on that simple fact, you could actually predict the differences we see in chess ability at the highest level. It's a simple statistical fact that the best performers from a large group are probably going to be better than the best performers from a small one. Even if two groups have the same average skill and, importantly, the same range in skill, the most capable individuals will probably come from the larger group.

With this statistical effect in mind, Bilalic wanted to see if the actual sex difference that we see among chess players is any greater than the difference you would rationally expect. Fortunately, there are easy ways of finding out the answer for chess, as opposed to many other intellectual disciplines like science and engineering where success is nigh-impossible to measure objectively.

Read more in Why are there so few female chess grandmasters?


Anonymous said...

My dad told (tought) us once that women are no good at chess because to them chess is a game, where to men chess is war. My mum replied that this demonstrates that women have a higher social and emotional intelligence. Mmm, what would Fisher have said about that.

ejh said...

I'm not sure he would have understood either of those concepts.

Anonymous said...

Convenient to go with the politically correct choice.

Parsimony would force us to conclude that the male brain really is wired better for chess.