Razib Khan is a geneticist who has written extensively for various publications that include The New York Times, The Slate, and contributes to the website Gene Expression. Besides writing about the science of genetics he also has been known to make commentary about religion, politics, and philosophy. When it was discovered that he was known to write or express views often deemed controversial or offensive to some, The New York Times terminated his contract. He has written for The UNZ Review , which presents itself as an alternative media source. However, a large portion of it either espouses some conspiracy theories, far-right ideology, racialism, or just borrows links from other legitimate alternative media sources. There could be articles that have anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, scientific racism, and alt-right rhetoric. There are articles on UNZ that are not extreme or offensive, but readers must have good critical thinking skills to establish what is credible and what is not. Khan’s two articles are on the surface not the most controversial works he has produced. They are just a statement of facts. Men are on average stronger than women should not be a shock to anyone with a basic under standing of anatomy and physiology. Not hitting women is something a rational and humane man would understand. These facts are not the problem, its Khan’s conclusions extrapolated from them. The political left and right try to use science to justify their political positions. The right see biology as designating groups as inferior and the left try to deny that biology has any impact on human existence. Khan readily reveals the dogmatic position of social construtivism of the left , but ignores the biological determinism espoused by the right. The problem that this produces in highly biased science or distortions in academia. Razib Khan may have fallen into this trap of having bias and ideology distort his scientific thought.
Men are on average stronger than women. There are both biological and sociological reasons for this. This does not mean women cannot not gain physical strength. The interesting aspect about Khan’s article title is that it states “Men are Stronger Than Women (on average ).” There is a reason why on average is put in parentheses. It should be realized that normally when some want to say women are biologically inferior they bring up physical strength. The problem with this is that all men are not stronger than all women. Khan realizes that that would be a statistical impossibility. He then turns to a hand grip study which demonstrates the difference in strength. The problem with this study is that it is not precise. Weightlifting or powerlifting records would be more precise in measurement. Hand size and fitness level could have effected outcomes. There is also a problem with the statement ” the more muscular you are the stronger you are.” Strength has to do with genetics, sex, muscle fiber type, somatotype, age, point of tendon insertion, fitness level, training regimen muscle, and limb length. Seeing as the subjects were all in their twenties, this did not effect the experiment. Fitness levels were known because it was a comparison between average people and athletes. There is an assumption that the strongest people in the sample would be the ones that have the most type II muscle fiber, not the biggest muscles. While men on average have more of this muscle fiber type it can also be determined by genetics. Using female hand ballers and judo martial artists would not be useful subjects in this case. Strength is required for their sport, but it is not the only physical fitness indicator they train for. Weightlifters, powerlifters, and bodybuilders would be better subjects.
The hand grip experiment may not be the best measure for functional strength. Razib Khan stated the data shocked him, yet this should not really. The only way to confirm this experiment is if it can be replicated and produce a similar result. The conclusion would most likely have the strongest people being male athletes, however the gap would not be as wide depending on the subjects selected and the sample size. There were only 60 women athletes and 533 average women. The total number of men was 1,654 in the study. The issue is there would need to be more women in the study . Such a factor cannot be ignore otherwise an experiment produces just accurate estimations. Razib Khan then makes the claim that a person would be a obscuranist for questioning the data and the experiment. There could be a confounding factor. This term used in statistics can be defined as ” variables related to other ones which may mask an association or create a relation that does not exist. ” Here it is more simple to see. The confounding factor be women performed lower in grip strength and therefore women are weak. This is the wrong conclusion, due to the fact there are women who are strong which contradict the result. The confounding factor is causal which is not always articulated in terms of association or correlation.
Experiments function on both dependent and independent variables. The scientific method is the means in which their can be a verification of facts. Razib Khan has a bias and even admits himself ( “I’m someone who leans to the Right, but I want to think the best of everyone, and really empirical data is my summum bonum”). Data and empirical assessment is pivotal to this process, yet there should be a level of caution. Reification can occur when their is a belief that an abstraction can be measured or that just having an immense amount of data proves a position. Relative to the hand grip experiment it could use some perfection. There can always be a margin of error in data accumulation. This is a reason why polling may not be as precise as people would want it to be. Realizing this, science like other academic subjects is not free of bias or error. The field is a constant undertaking of investigation.
The biological factors in the differences in strength can be confirmed relative to anatomy and physiology. Anatomically, women and men share the same muscles. The muscle cells are the same as well as the process of myogenesis. Female muscle responds in a similar fashion to exercise stimuli. Once puberty starts the male body gains strength spurts in relation to endocrine function. Women can carry two thirds the muscle mass compared to a man. Body size and cross sectional area are factors in strength. Bone density, tendons, and ligaments are also contributors. The nervous system also has an essential role in muscular function. Muscular hypertrophy also functions in the same manner in women. This means women who train at a high intensity level can gain strength at the same rate as a man. The difference is in total physical fitness capacity. Men will get stronger under a weight training regimen. Women actually can good portion of strength gains relative to their starting point. A woman who trains long enough can either reach a strength level equal to or near the average man. What this means is their is a difference in power scaling.
The weakest male would have more strength than the weakest female. A trained woman can surpass the untrained man. The strongest woman would have difficulty trying to match the strength of a man of equal training. The fact is women are not of equal strength of men, but they can get strong. Even Razib Khan admits “mind you, in a population of millions there will be many strong women who can beat many men.” The global population has been estimated to stand at a total of 7.7 billion people according to UN data. Out of this large number, there could be many women who could be stronger than males. Training does not negate all the differences, but it can reduce some of them. Biology can be changed to a degree through evolution and environment. Sexual dimorphism is a product of millions of years of human evolution. Genes, gene expression, mutations, and genetic drift are constantly changing organisms.
Men may have grown bigger for the reason of fighting and competing for mates. The reason for higher physical fitness capacity was to hunt for food. It is not entirely certain if this theory is correct, because our early hominid ancestors are extinct. Naturalistic observation is not possible with just the remaining fossils of specimens. The physical strength trait was most likely naturally selected and passed down through heredity . Males have on average 72.6 pounds of muscle compared to women’s 46.2 pounds. Muscle is not just the difference that effects physical fitness. Heart and lung size effect the aerobic capacity of the body. Biology is a major factor in this difference in strength, but it is not the only one.
There are sociological factors that effect women’s strength. Women are relative new comers to professional sports and fitness. The playing field remains unequal and many women are discouraged from full use and potential of their bodies. Fathers teach their sons to be physically competent by either teaching them a sport. This is not done for girls. Early in youth, girls are discouraged from the benefits of learning physical skills. Physical education has been made different for girls and boys. Girls get a low quality reduced version with a set of low level of standards. There are cases in which it is not even offered to girls in certain countries. Saudi Arabia only allowed girls to get physical education in 2017. Prior to that, girls did not have a platform in the kingdom to gain physical skills. Children could have their future health effected by a low quality physical education. What happens in the classroom could influence future behavior in regards to exercise. With heart disease and obesity on the rise, it is important to encourage a positive attitude in regards to physical activity. Women as adults face enormous body image conformity pressure. Looking different or doing an activity that challenges traditional gender roles invites ostracism and condemnation.
Women who are muscular or strong are criticized harshly by a public that is not very tolerant. Khan says ” the results from top level athletes should make us aware just how rare these individuals will be” when talking about women who are the physical exceptions. There is a reason why they would be sui generis, because sports and fitness is directed mostly at men. There was a time when women did not have access to gyms or training facilities. When that restriction was lifted then female athletic talent had a platform. There could be women who have the potential to reach a certain level, but certain barriers are preventing them from advancing. Razib Khan acts as if discrimination or sexism is not a factor, rather biology answers everything in society. He does not state this directly, because that would make too much of an extreme position. “On the whole I am willing to grant the value of individualism on the legal level” he proclaims. The law was at times used to to exclude certain people and groups from particular occupations. Their were the traditional “men’s jobs” which included law enforcement, sports, the military, and construction. Biological sexism was used to justify why women should not receive higher education or promotion in their careers. Neurosexism has been used to justify keeping women out of science,mathematics, and engineering.
When society does not have an environment that is discriminatory or sexist to women, then one can start using other explanations for why women do not have a presence in certain fields. The only reason why sex would matter is if you live in a society that is unfavorable to females. This means their will be lack of opportunity for employment, education, or basic independence.
There are two camps that have been established in regards to politicization of science. The right leaning faction consists of biological determinism and scientific rejection. The far-right faction basically believes in social Darwinism, climate change denial, seeing abortion as murder of babies, and adhere to scientific racism. The progressive liberal faction denies the fundamental biological, behavioral, and psychological differences among individuals in a vision of absolute equality. The political correctness philosophy attacks anything that challenges the idea of difference to an obsessive degree in order to create safe spaces. Culture warriors and social justice warriors have declared a war on facts and knowledge. This is more than just obscurantism its about promoting propaganda and ideology. Their are attempts to control language and thoughts directed by these two political factions attempting to influence all aspects of society. Seeing as the public’s knowledge of the sciences is limited they are more willing to believe in false information. Factions of third wave feminists deny sex differences that they believe that are not congruent with their ideology. The fact that men are stronger bothers them to such a degree they either ignore this fact or make the claim of sexism when it is discussed. The irony is that there are women who can be strong and there are men who can be weak. So, physical strength is not unique to males or an indicator of biological superiority.
Besides the more obvious differences, they want to ignore that there is a difference in female behavior. Behavior can be both sociologically and biologically driven, so there should not be controversy surrounding that. Difference is not evidence of superiority or inferiority. Denial of sex difference by certain progressives or factions of third wave feminists is as ludicrous as denial of climate change. Climate change has been occurring throughout geological history. The difference now is that human civilization’s use of fossil fuels has enabled an exacerbation of the green house effect. Combined with higher CO2 emissions, humankind has negatively effected its environment. Some who are skeptical that climate change is happening cite that their still is cold weather. They are confused with another term, that seems to have spread called global warming. This specifically refers to a long term increase in the Earth’s average temperature in the climate system. Climate change can cause shifts in which extremes of both hot and cold temperatures can occur. This explains why the US in 2019 experienced abnormally low freezing temperatures during the winter. The reason for this denial is their is an agenda driven by large corporations that have investments in fossil fuels. Science has to be debated, but now the attitude is to censor it when it challenges certain cultural or political beliefs. Intelligent design, climate change denial, anti-sociobiology movements, and the denial of biology are examples of the anti-science movement from both sides of the American political spectrum. Morton Hunt described this best in The New Know Nothings : Political Foes of the Study of Human Nature. Political organizations, religious , and special interest groups attempt to stop scientific study if it is not in line with their convictions.
Razib Khan has also made commentary about domestic violence. His article “Why Men Should Never Hit Women” deals with a sensitive topic about women being physically abused by men. It is too simple to say the root of domestic violence is based on the sole fact that men are stronger. One does not have to be physically strong to be abusive in a relationship. Razib Khan also ignores the fact that men can be victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, they are not taken seriously or made to be some form of comedic joke. Even worse, is that MGTOW, incels, or men’s rights activists use their plight to advance their own agenda. No one should ever hit anybody, yet when women hit men there is very little consequence. Assault both aggravated and simple is a crime regardless of gender. Yet, it seems men are shown to be all the perpetrators of intimate partner violence. However, women do represent as small portion of intimate partner violence statistics. Reasons and causes vary for this type of violence. Expression of negative emotions, jealousy, control, or an appearance of toughness to make it be known they are not to be messed with are some of the reasons. There are also cases in which drug and alcohol abuse could be factors. Aggression is not only physical; it can be psychological as well. Razib Khan’s commentary bases itself of the female victim and male predator dichotomy. The reason men may be more willing to use physical violence against women is that they assume they are weaker and cannot fight.
Looking at these pictures people would react worse to women getting beat up,compared to the women beating up the men on the bottom. It is possible that women can physically harm men if the have the strength.
Gender stereotypes, sexism, and cultural mores distort the reality. Razib Khan basically believes in a conservative chivalry, which has the position men and women are so different that biology is the sole driver of their behavior. Aggression does have cultural and biological roots. The biological ones are obvious. Darwinism believed intraspecies aggression served a purpose of gaining territory and defense against predators. Charles Darwin was the developer of modern evolutionary theory and since it has been used to describe certain behaviors in humanity. Konrad Lorenz published On Aggression described that men may be more aggressive, because it the evolutionary past it was an adaptive instinctive behavior for survival. The rise of civilization did not change these behaviors, rather humanity had to adjust to a new standard of conduct. However we cannot ignore the power of environment. Khan reveals that in Bangladesh, violence against women is not as condemned in the West. Weak laws, limited access to divorce, and culture based misogyny enable the abuse. Men being stronger only becomes a minor factor when looking at the wider society. Even women who the physical and mental will to resist may find themselves in jeopardy. Without legal protection or equal rights certain members of society who are victims become targets of the justice system. The accusation that all of the left denies biology is incorrect. Most rational people who realize that humanity is a product of both its biology and ecosystem.
If a man hits a woman he is called a coward. Yet, if a woman hits a man it would not generate that much of a response. The idea that women are weak and helpless victims still seems present in the minds of many. A strong woman can hurt man if she wanted to.
Averages do not mean all and the samples of women are small compared to entire populations. This means that their is variation, yet if the data was collected in an aggregate it would still show men being stronger as a whole. Razib Khan does acknowledge this to a degree. Then it goes into his personal bias :”But it is very unlikely that in a pairwise interaction the very strongest females will randomly face the very weakest males.” It has been established that women who train can reach at least close to or equal that of an average untrained male. If the average male is not Mr.Olympia sized, she would have a good chance of physically overpowering an attacker. Another strange assessment is then expressed by Khan : ” In terms of relationships, where domestic violence occurs, it is very unlikely for reasons of assortative mating that the very strongest females will be paired up with the very weakest of males.” There is an element of truth to this, but that does not mean their are not couples in which women have the physical advantage. Human sexual attraction is more complicated because it involves both biological,cultural, and personal preference factors. There are men who actually seek out strong women.
More people may start to marry outside their race, religion, and culture . Khan’s statement at that point seems nothing more than a mere generalization. He then illustrates that the magnitude of strength is so great, that women getting hit would be devastating. He uses his wife and himself as an example. Khan believes that he would be able to overpower his wife even though they are the same height. Two factors besides muscle mass is total weight. Force equals mass times acceleration and the bigger the mass of the moving body the greater the impact will be. Khan does not give specifics about his wife expect that she is in good shape. If she just jogs, does cardio, and does basic health maintenance that will not make her physically stronger. That will keep her healthy not reach peak physical fitness. This also goes for the example of his 4 ’10 cousin and her 5 ‘8 cousin. The difference in height means a larger skeleton meaning more support for muscle mass. The difference in force and power a related to size rather than specifically sex itself. A woman and man of equal weight can generate the same amount of force. Just being big does not mean you will win a fight. Skills and technique are essential for martial arts. Judo, karate, or krav maga are fighting styles designed to have a person defend themselves against larger attackers. One major problem is that women are not taught to defend themselves and there is an assumption that men will protect them. Flawed logic such as that only creates a worse situation.
Third wave feminist state there is no circumstance in which a man should hit a woman, but never say there be no case in which a woman hits a man. What if the woman is attempting to either kill or seriously harm a man in some way? When attacked, people should have the right to defend themselves no matter who it is. True, based on the sample from the scientific study cited by Khan there was less than a 10% overlap in muscle mass distribution. That basically translates into men having 61% more muscle mass than women. Many men if hit would not retaliate simply because they are more willing to direct physical violence at other men. Then there is the realization that if it was an act of self-defense it would automatically be assumed that the man was the perpetrator. Double standards related to sex are a combination of misogyny and dated chivalry. Some double standards third wave feminists refuse to recognize.
As much as Razib Khan complains that it is a leftist delusion the ignores reality, correct that a small group can wrap perceptions. Third wave and the newly formed fourth wave feminists who favor the social justice warrior and political correctness ideology have become extremely vociferous. Debate or certain facts that are not to their liking cause them to be triggered. Merely exposing women who hit men as a perpetrator are not condemned in the same manner ( if at all ) . Doing this is also a risk seeing if it done to a man who is larger than her. There is an expectation that men will not react, but when they do that creates serious complications. If third wave feminists actually did care about stopping violence, they would support the male victims of domestic abuse. Framing domestic abuse as a “female problem” ignores how other victims such as children or the elderly are also effected, Violence should not be promoted or tolerated in any form. Yet, society has functions on two different systems of violence. Unacceptable violence is homicide, assault, or harm done in the context of crime. Acceptable violence is done in the name of the state such as police brutality or the highest form of violence war. Collectively, people engage in it even though it is unethical, but justify it on the basis that it is for security or the greater good. It is no wonder that violence spreads to other areas of society. There needs to be an understanding that no one has the right to physically attack another person . Some women who engage in attack assume that men will not retaliate when provoked. Thinking like that is dangerous. When men fight, they assess the other’s ability. Women who slap, hit, or attack a man do so thinking that their will not be a response. When such a response happens, a female perpetrator sometimes will take the role of victim, even if she initiated hostility.
Domestic abuse cases are not always the man attacking the woman. Both men and women who are of equal fighting ability could be harming one another. This is why domestic abuse calls are the most unfavorable duties among law enforcement. Children must be taught at a young age not to use physical violence as a means of solving conflict. This message is given to young boys, but girls need to understand why hitting a man is not a wise idea. Unless a woman has a knowledge of martial arts and is considerably stronger than the man she hits it could result in her being seriously injured. As Konrad Lorenz articulated, aggressive behavior may just be part of our instincts. It can be controlled. The double standard in the justice system must be addressed to prevent men who are victims from being arrested. If women want true equality then the special privileges of a restrictive gender protection code and chivalry must end.
What politics has done is created a factions in the American scientific community. There is the right-wing biological determinist and social Darwinist sympathizing section who distort aspects of sociobiology and the left wing sociological explanation for human civilization. The topic of physical strength has been used by sexist to proclaim that men are superior to women. The problem with this proclamation is that there are women who are stronger than some men, which means that strength is not a unique biological trait to males. Evolution and ecology does not acknowledge “superior” or “inferior” organisms. The dinosaurs, trilobites, and our early hominid ancestors went extinct. They would have been considered organisms likely to survive, but changes in the ecosystem caused their demise. The idea of “biological superiority” does not exist nor can it be tested by means of the scientific method. The social justice warrior feminist ignores or just does not attempt to acknowledge biology. Sexual dimorphism is real and it does have an impact on human behavior. There is a difference between men and women’s brains,just like the rest of the body. This may explain why men gravitate to engineering or science related fields and women may gravitate to the social sciences, literature, or communication based fields. This does not imply one sex is better at a particular field or a reinforcement of gender stereotypes. It is a possible explanation for the gender ratio in the workforce in particular fields. Science should be allowed to be objective without a person’s politics influencing academic study. Unfortunately, nothing can completely be isolated from politics and culture.