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El género y nuestros cerebros: La nueva neurociencia que rompe el mito del cerebro femenino (EBOOK)

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For decades if not centuries, science has backed up society’s simple dictum that men and women are hardwired differently, that the world is divided by two different kinds of brains—male and female. Gina Rippon, finally challenges this damaging myth by showing how the science community has engendered bias and stereotype by rewarding studies that show difference rather than For decades if not centuries, science has backed up society’s simple dictum that men and women are hardwired differently, that the world is divided by two different kinds of brains—male and female. Gina Rippon, finally challenges this damaging myth by showing how the science community has engendered bias and stereotype by rewarding studies that show difference rather than sameness. Drawing on cutting edge research in neuroscience and psychology, Rippon presents the latest evidence whichshe argues, finally proves that brains are like mosaics comprised of both male and female components, and that they remain plastic, adapting throughout the course of a person’s life. Discernable gender identities, she asserts, are shaped by society where scientific misconceptions continue to be wielded and perpetuated to the detriment of our children, our own lives, and our culture.


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For decades if not centuries, science has backed up society’s simple dictum that men and women are hardwired differently, that the world is divided by two different kinds of brains—male and female. Gina Rippon, finally challenges this damaging myth by showing how the science community has engendered bias and stereotype by rewarding studies that show difference rather than For decades if not centuries, science has backed up society’s simple dictum that men and women are hardwired differently, that the world is divided by two different kinds of brains—male and female. Gina Rippon, finally challenges this damaging myth by showing how the science community has engendered bias and stereotype by rewarding studies that show difference rather than sameness. Drawing on cutting edge research in neuroscience and psychology, Rippon presents the latest evidence whichshe argues, finally proves that brains are like mosaics comprised of both male and female components, and that they remain plastic, adapting throughout the course of a person’s life. Discernable gender identities, she asserts, are shaped by society where scientific misconceptions continue to be wielded and perpetuated to the detriment of our children, our own lives, and our culture.

30 review for El género y nuestros cerebros: La nueva neurociencia que rompe el mito del cerebro femenino (EBOOK)

  1. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Science Is Messy... And Mostly Wrong There are several important conclusions for the layman to be drawn from Rippon’s well-written and rather more than merely comprehensive book. First, brains are incredibly complex organs which we in fact are only beginning to understand. Second, the purported differences in male and female brains are almost entirely mythical though claims about them persist in both professional and popular accounts. But for me the most interesting implication of her history o Science Is Messy... And Mostly Wrong There are several important conclusions for the layman to be drawn from Rippon’s well-written and rather more than merely comprehensive book. First, brains are incredibly complex organs which we in fact are only beginning to understand. Second, the purported differences in male and female brains are almost entirely mythical though claims about them persist in both professional and popular accounts. But for me the most interesting implication of her history of brain research is just how much fake news there is claiming to be science at any given time. The latest scientific results are typically taken as revelatory in brain research. Tests, measurements, and experiments correlate with some hypothesis which is considered as scientifically confirmed. The results are then reported and cited in various professional journals, thus providing credibility to the confirmation. This news then finds its way into the popular press as ‘established scientific findings,’ and becomes part of a type of scientific folklore. Like any other story, this new scientific ‘fact’ is verified by its sheer ubiquity - not just in professional and popular journals, but also on the worldwide web. Yet, when it comes to the brain, the results of almost all research are subsequently shown to be wrong. Errors in experimental design, researcher bias, spurious correlations, bogus references, among many other flaws seem almost de riguer in all research into the brain. Starting with cranial measurements in the 19th century, but continuing with high-tech MRI imaging, it seems that all the errors to be made have probably been made... and more than once. Sometimes the results of previous research can be re-interpreted in light of new findings; but, mostly, old research is simply intellectual junk. It might be argued that this is the way of science, and always has been, namely that the process of discovering the truth is necessarily messy, but that ultimately the right answers, or at least better ones, emerge from investigative chaos. Perhaps. But the problem is that there is a reticence to admit that the issue of junk science is permanently recurring. Every generation of scientific investigators believe that their results are closer to the truth than previous generations. Yet every previous generation has been shown to be profoundly misguided. Scientifically speaking, it seems a good bet that this generation will also shown to less competent than it now thinks it is. The vast bulk of its work will also be shown to be... well, bunk. In light of Rippon’s detailed and informed description of the actual process of science in an area of research which includes not just medicine and physical sciences like chemistry and developmental biology but also ‘softer’ disciplines like psychology and sociology, I wonder at those who think they have a solution to the problem of fake news in politics or business or technology. Most news is fake in the same sense that most scientific results are fake, that is future events will demonstrate that the conclusions we have reached on the information we have are mostly silly. Whatever consensus that exists now about what the truth is will be replaced by a different, often contradictory, consensus in the future. Only by convention do we dare term tomorrow’s consensus ‘progress.’ Progress is a criterion which means different things to different people. Consensus is such only among those who are part of the consensus, a self-defining and changeable mob. The specific criterion of progress probably changes as frequently as the results of the science involved. As indeed does the criterion of truth about the news of the day. Conditions change, interests change, economics change, all frequently as a result of what the news is, scientific or otherwise. Thus science itself is a sort of free for all in which the rules get made up as we go along. The closest relative to science is, perhaps surprisingly, literature. In fact science at its best seems to be a cadet branch of literature, modelled on literature in its attempt to describe, interpret and integrate what it sees in imaginative ways. Most literature turns out to be junk as well, fake news that ends up in discount shops and the remaindering warehouse. The only thing actually ‘better’ about modern literature over, say, that of Attic Greece is that there is lots more of it. Science, like literature, is inherently wasteful. But that’s what it takes to find out why they are done at all. Postscript 14May20: Here is another piece provided by a GR reader on the character of real science: https://www.vox.com/2015/5/13/8591837...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    This book is giving me life. It's bashing the patriarchy and associated troubling gendered stereotypes with science, fact, research AND I AM HERE FOR IT LIKE YAAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!! This review that appeared in Nature describes it far better than I can. This book is giving me life. It's bashing the patriarchy and associated troubling gendered stereotypes with science, fact, research AND I AM HERE FOR IT LIKE YAAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!! This review that appeared in Nature describes it far better than I can.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alja

    "Brains reflect the lives they have lived, not just the sex of their owners." Scientists have long tried to prove that men and women are inherently different because we have biologically different brains. The author reviews both the history and current-state research on sex differences, mainly in the field of neuroscience – the author's field of expertise – but also endocrinology and psychology. What we are now learning is that our brains are more plastic than previously thought and are profound "Brains reflect the lives they have lived, not just the sex of their owners." Scientists have long tried to prove that men and women are inherently different because we have biologically different brains. The author reviews both the history and current-state research on sex differences, mainly in the field of neuroscience – the author's field of expertise – but also endocrinology and psychology. What we are now learning is that our brains are more plastic than previously thought and are profoundly shaped by experiences and messages they are exposed to. These findings imply that biological sex is just one of the variables that influence our brains, with the kind of toys we play with or praise we receive as children having a much more critical role than biology. However, what research is showing is that gender stereotypes have a negative influence on performance and self-esteem for women, and possibly even mental health. The author doesn't dismiss sex differences but instead suggests that it might be time to move beyond the binary categorization of sex and gender – which even genetically isn't as binary as we like to think – and challenge gender stereotypes to unleash the full potential of all humans. I imagine this book will be a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people, but I appreciated the level of detail and references it provides in terms of reviewing past and current research and theories. It also doesn't shy away from asking big questions that challenge our gender stereotypes. This book isn't the final destination; it's a starting point to a discussion that's still very much needed, even in the 21st century.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    In terms of how well it's written, this one star is obviously far too harsh. However, this book does not represent the science of the field with accuracy. An article that argues such better than I could: 'A book like this is very difficult for someone knowledgeable about the field to review seriously. It is so chock-full of bias that one keeps wondering why one is bothering with it.' https://quillette.com/2019/03/29/deny... In terms of how well it's written, this one star is obviously far too harsh. However, this book does not represent the science of the field with accuracy. An article that argues such better than I could: 'A book like this is very difficult for someone knowledgeable about the field to review seriously. It is so chock-full of bias that one keeps wondering why one is bothering with it.' https://quillette.com/2019/03/29/deny...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Many years ago as an undergraduate student, I majored in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in math. I can totally relate to the bias towards women in STEM because it was a very common attitude when I was a much younger woman. The attitude that women can't do certain things as well as men can has always annoyed me. That said, I do believe there are some biological differences in the way men think and the way women think. It's not a gender determined insurmountable thing, but to totally disregard Many years ago as an undergraduate student, I majored in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in math. I can totally relate to the bias towards women in STEM because it was a very common attitude when I was a much younger woman. The attitude that women can't do certain things as well as men can has always annoyed me. That said, I do believe there are some biological differences in the way men think and the way women think. It's not a gender determined insurmountable thing, but to totally disregard the small but significant differences in how males and females think is, to me disingenuous. Ignoring small differences is as foolish, in my view, as using small differences as an excuse to discriminate against women. Different does not necessarily mean better or worse. Every study that Gina Rippon cites that alleges small differences between the brains of men and women, is negated as being an insignificant difference and she asserts that there are many studies which argue that there are no differences but they generally are either not published or get no attention. I agree that a good deal of the issue of "The Gendered Brain" is the differences in the way we have been raising males and females, but Rippon seems to feel that nurture can explain everything and nature can explain almost nothing in terms of those differences. I simply do not agree with that premise and her book did not convince me otherwise.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    "It is clear that understanding the social brain could offer us a hugely effective lens to investigate how a gendered world can produce a gendered brain, how gender stereotypes are a very real brain-based threat that can divert brains from the endpoint they deserve." This book is chock-full of information and analysis, covering broad ground in examining the current state of neuroscientific research, and the reporting of it, regarding gender and sex differences in the brain. I found the organisati "It is clear that understanding the social brain could offer us a hugely effective lens to investigate how a gendered world can produce a gendered brain, how gender stereotypes are a very real brain-based threat that can divert brains from the endpoint they deserve." This book is chock-full of information and analysis, covering broad ground in examining the current state of neuroscientific research, and the reporting of it, regarding gender and sex differences in the brain. I found the organisation chaotic and unhelpful for navigation - the start of the book has more opinion, less analysis, and many topics are touched upon in multiple places. It is worth the effort to persist though, as it is without question the richest book offered on this topic in a decade. I've covered only bits of it here, even in one of my longest reviews. Having said that, I've been brewing over the review for a while, given that - predictably - the responses have largely fallen into two camps, depending on where you sit in an old style dichotomy: are the gendered differences we see in society the result of our social construction, or do they come from our biology? This framing is increasingly frustrating, as it misses the biggest point of current research: that it indicates pathways to how we can change ourselves through our social worlds. This kind of research, far from simply allowing us to resolve arguments in old ways, gives us new tools to explore who we want to be. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, some of the richest contributions that Rippon makes is in chronicling the social construction of gender: • We are social beings, whose brain development occurs within a social context and whose sense of 'self" is inextricably tied to where we fit in our social world. • Our social construction of gender starts very early, at least from birth. One of the powerful illustrations Rippon cites is that six-month olds react with surprise to an image of a man putting on lipstick. Only nine percent of three-year old boys in another test expressed a view that their fathers' would approve of playing with a doll. (Sixty-four percent of the father had said they would be comfortably buying one.) • Caregivers to children display much stronger gender prejudice than they report. Gender prejudices among caregivers are measurably stronger than any behavioural gender differences among young children. This matches with research cited by Cordelia Fine that parents will inevitably list the traits that are "gender-compliant" in their children over those which are "gender-deviant", a kind of confirmation bias. • We are deeply influenced by stereotypes. Stereotype threat is a clearly measurable phenomenon, and impairs performance of women and people of colour in alarming measure. If we believe that others think we will fail, chances are, we will. • Children's developmental process involves using stereotype to determine their own behaviour. Children go through a strong gender policing stage - possibly strongest around 3 for girls - in which they will reject anything that does not fit with their concept of their own gender. The book also critiques - at length - studies into behavioural differences, variously debunking the difference (including by reference to stereotype threat) or by placing it within a social explanation. it is important to point out that all these reported differences are very small in "real world" terms, and overlapping, not exclusive. For example, gender height difference has had a effect size of 1.5. The strongest gender differences, usually cited as mental rotation skills (favouring males) and verbal skills (favouring females) come in at around 0.6. That is, a lot of men are going to be more verbal than the woman they are standing next to. It isn't enough to make it helpful to make assumptions about someone based solely on their gender. So, if you take the much-studied phenomenon of mental rotation, Rippon points out: • Training and practice makes a huge difference. Again, a powerful example here is a study of children for which gender differences disappeared when controlled for experience playing Tetris (much more common among boys) . The same can be measurable for Lego. • Tests are often formulated with examples displaying gender bias. Another intriguing study showed gender differences disappeared when participants were asked not to rotate images, but to shift their own perspective. Other showed better responses when references to vehicles were removed. • Gender differences don't correlate well with each other. So, for example, some of the largest gender differences in behaviour occur around taking baths (women prefer) and watching boxing. But people who take baths are no more or to watch boxing than those who don't. That is - we don't exist as a cluster of gendered traits. The correlations are too weak, and our individual diversity too strong. But much of this book, like much of Cordelia Fine's work, is dedicated to debunking studies showing biological differences that are gendered. Rippon is a neuroscientist, and the richest material here is looking at brain scans, and how differences by gender can be explained by differences in size. That is, smaller brains have differences in organisation to larger brains. When this effect is controlled for, gender differences recede. Rippon's critics would point out that since women do tend to have smaller brains, this is still a difference. Rippon also seems to be edging towards arguing that there might be a biological basis for girls being more susceptible to social expectations than boys. In the section on the social brain, she talks about the depth of power that social rejection carries - manifesting as akin to physical pain in our brain scans. (Note to self - don't volunteer for brain scan research here!). She tracks tendencies through early childhood, and differences in brain activation in infancy, through to studies that show girls reacting more strongly to the threat of social penalty. She certainly suggests that this might be a compounding factor with stereotype threat of pushing women out of male-dominated fields. Where I think Rippon is weakest is in discussions around hormonal differences. This is particularly frustrating because Cordelia Fine's Testosterone Rex did a fine (heh) job of debunking the connection between testosterone and risk taking, but left alone the far more robustly established link between testosterone and aggression. Rippon acknowledges many of the human studies into testosterone, and at times this gave the book a disjointed feel, as some of her arguments in some sections were not necessarily borne out by others. At the start of the book, Rippon quickly dismisses hormonal research by saying that "Recent work by Sari van Anders, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, and others shows that in the twenty-first century the link between hormones and behaviour, particularly with respect to the supposed potency of testosterone in determining male aggression and competitiveness, is undergoing a radical rethink." This caught my attention, as I would not have described an Anders work that way. Rippon then follows up, IMHO more accurately, with "Just as we are seeing the power of society and its expectations as brain-changing variables, it is clear that the same effect is evident with respect to hormones." It is a shame she did not discuss Van Anders work more extensively. Van Anders is not at all arguing that testosterone is unconnected to aggression. What she is demonstrating is the way that our social world influences the production of testosterone. Specifically, that way competition participation and behaviours modulate the production of testosterone. This is similar to work that indicates that caring for children can inhibit testosterone production. That is: our social construction can determine our biology. Which brings me back to why I find this topic so exciting: all our current research points us to the power that we have to create the kind of people we want to be. This won't be achieved by ignoring our biology, but neither will it be achieved by viewing our biology as nothing more than explaining our social construction. Only by understanding how we have evolved to create societies, which then create people, which create societies can we understand the power of our socially negotiated beliefs, values and social roles. We can be better than we are - our innate biases, prejudices are not inevitable, although neither are they quickly changed. Also, to state the obvious, parents are not in control of the gender construction of their children. Parenting is a hard gig. And yes, research does suggest that gender stereotyping your kids is not a good thing, no matter how much they seem to be clusters of gendered traits at times. But none of this happens in a vacuum - our society creates our genders (in interaction with biology), not individual parents (unless, of course, you want to lock your kids in a vault and never let them interact with any people or representations of people other than you. Gender then will be the least of their problems). One of the things that the various scientists involved in this debate tend not to emphasise is the role that feminism, sexism and genderqueer liberation movements have on framing this debate. But scientists don't live in a vacuum. We live in a profoundly gender-divided society. How does biology intersect with social construction to create this? Are women simply better geared to be carers, explaining why they perform the vast majority of the world's domestic (unpaid) work? Are men simply better engineers because their testosterone makes it so? Perhaps, as some scientists argue, sexist discrimination is actually made worse by assuming that women's brains are just like men's, leading to a devaluing of empathy and other skills testosterone minimises? Many scientists argue that views on the social nature of women impact negatively on their work. Gina Rippon and others point out that deep sexist assumptions permeate the field, leading science to justify/explain existing inequities, not to challenge them. Others argue that feminist critiques create an atmosphere in which results can't be widely discussed. It is important, and helpful, to acknowledge that social changes impact on how we do science, and what we see in our results. A good example is referred to by Rippon here, in the understand of Intersex conditions. She catalogues the rapid changes in the early millenium regarding both research and medical practice into gender, towards an acknowledgement of more than two categories, and perhaps most importantly, away from a '"deviance" model that assumes intersex to be a medical condition and towards a "variance" model that embraces diversity. This has revolutionised the advice given to parents of Intersex infants."Neurobiologist Professor Art Arnold has shown that you can separate out the influence of chromosomes from gonads and that these can vary independently, with quite different effects on physical characteristics and on behaviour.9 Hormone levels can fluctuate widely within as well as between groups, and as a function of different contexts and different lifestyles. Genitals, even where clearly identifiable as labia or penises, can present in a startling variety of forms. There is a wonderfully illustrated Scientific American article on the extraordinary complexity of sex determination that makes you wonder that we ever arrived at an end product that looks even remotely classifiable into just two categories. " This has not, however, been generated by new research: it has been driven by the activism and courage of Intersex and transgender people. Researchers have known for more than a century that around 1% of the population is Intersex: the difference comes from how we decide to approach that, based on developing understanding of human experience, which has come from the public presence of people with that experience. It is implied that Rippon struggles to integrate the transgender experience. Her language is respectful (an odd use of transsexual aside), and she correctly genders trans individuals. She expresses a hope that transgendered individuals would benefit from a world with less rigid gendered stereotyping, an assumption I think we would all share. This got me thinking, however, about some of the ways feminism is evolving alongside the science. Understanding that gender is socially constructed doesn't minimise the power of that construction - and understanding how early it starts certainly suggests that some fundamentals are unlikely to be reset as we change. I do believe that a different society will produce different people, including differing concepts of gender. That is likely to affect all of us. Maybe a society with less correlation between expected behaviours and genital structures would result in less people wanting bodily modification - maybe it would be more people. What is irrefutable is that the embrace of diversity that is advocated by LGBTI activists of all stripes has a beautiful mirror in the advances in biological sciences that understand the dizzying variety of human skills, cognitive patterns and ways of working. It is young genderqueer activists I see pushing back against a binary, and in the process, empowering science to take us to new places.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lona

    "Stereotypes could be straitjackening our flexible, plastic brains. So, yes, challenging them does matter." – Gina Rippon Gina Rippon is a neuroscientist and wants to debunk the myth of the „female brain“ with her book. She wants to make people aware of what neurosexism is and how it developed, why we should check sources of information better and what neurotrash is (books like „Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps“). She points out, how some of the „evidences“ that female/male brains "Stereotypes could be straitjackening our flexible, plastic brains. So, yes, challenging them does matter." – Gina Rippon Gina Rippon is a neuroscientist and wants to debunk the myth of the „female brain“ with her book. She wants to make people aware of what neurosexism is and how it developed, why we should check sources of information better and what neurotrash is (books like „Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps“). She points out, how some of the „evidences“ that female/male brains exist where debunked long ago – and how they appear again all the time, like in the game „Whack a Mole“ as „facts“. That the science in this field is like an iceberg: All the outcomes that proof the female brain are the top. The rest will be less publicised or cited by the media, even if it's the bigger part of the iceberg, that's invisible. She does not deny certain differences in general, but she shows us, that stereotypes can be toxic and that nurture and education is a big issue. Some people may ask why it's so important. It's mostly about how to rise your child – that toys matter, for example. Lego is a better training for a brain than a doll. People often tell girls very early, that they will be less good in logical thinking and mathematics, that they should focus on being good-naturred empaths, because their brain is made for being a carer/mother/whatever. They won't be raised for being scientists, their environment makes them believe that they aren't even interested, because being nice, beautiful and social is, what a girls brain wants. And that's one of the reasons why women are underrepresented in certain occupational groups and that society clings to their stereotypes. Depression is one of many things that can result from the problem. I just can say, that my own mother wanted me to be a nice little girl. When I got home from school with a plastered arm one of her „good advices“ was to act more „like a girl“, act like I'd be more interested in beauty than in science or books. For some people violence against girls is justified, if they „don't act like girls“. For some people in general violence against others who don't fit in stereotypes or binaries seems to be totally okay. And that's just another sad result of the whole thing about the gendered brain. And maybe for some children, girl, boy or enby it's not violence, but not being able to fulfill their dreams, not being able to be who they want to be. It doesn't matter – it's an important and interesting topic and I would absolutely recommend that book to everyone who wants to break out of the status quo and ask themselves if we couldn't just move on as science does in oh so modern 2019.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ben Zimmerman

    We know that male and female bodies differ in some important ways, and that in other mammals there are specific sex dependent behaviors. An obvious extension of those observations is to investigate whether there are sex specific differences in the brains of human males and females that give rise to functional differences that may be behind gender stereotypes. Gina Rippon's book focuses on the ideas of the plasticity and adaptibility of the human brain along with the human brains fine attunement We know that male and female bodies differ in some important ways, and that in other mammals there are specific sex dependent behaviors. An obvious extension of those observations is to investigate whether there are sex specific differences in the brains of human males and females that give rise to functional differences that may be behind gender stereotypes. Gina Rippon's book focuses on the ideas of the plasticity and adaptibility of the human brain along with the human brains fine attunement to social information to explain gender differences across cultures, and criticizes how the science of sex differences has been conducted, interpreted, and publicized to perpetuate gender stereotypes. I personally was torn between my feelings about the book because on one the one hand, I found the overall message of the lack of meaningful gender differences to be such an important message to society. Gender differences are still very much part of the social narrative, and it has obvious repercussions in terms of opportunities for women. I found part four, about the gender gap in STEM, to be the most compelling and interesting part of the book. However, I felt like a lot of the rest of the book was not done well. Particularly, I thought a lot of the critical discussion was too one-sided and a little too caustic (like using the term "neurosexists" ). I also felt that it was dangerous to ignore sex differences in the physiology of diseases and conditions of the brain! Fairly recently, there was a huge movement to include females in medical research exactly because research was disproportionately benefiting men because of physiological sex differences, so it seems very rash to say things like, "Perhaps we should just stop looking for sex differences altogether?"

  9. 4 out of 5

    cp

    A fascinating account of current developments in neuroscience. Quite persuasive and a corrective to much neurononsense. However, I couldn’t help feeling that the author was doing precisely what she was accusing others of doing, namely bigging up anything that supported her thesis whilst, at the same time, diminishing or dismissing anything that counted against it. We were often told that a finding that went the other way couldn’t be replicated or had recently been challenged but we were never tol A fascinating account of current developments in neuroscience. Quite persuasive and a corrective to much neurononsense. However, I couldn’t help feeling that the author was doing precisely what she was accusing others of doing, namely bigging up anything that supported her thesis whilst, at the same time, diminishing or dismissing anything that counted against it. We were often told that a finding that went the other way couldn’t be replicated or had recently been challenged but we were never told whether the findings being quoted in support had ever been questioned. There are times when the author seems to want to have it both ways. On page 108 it says, “If populist coverage links one particular part of the brain to one particular task, they have either misunderstood the research or are not telling the whole story (or both). Beware the God spot.” But then, a few pages later when discussing plasticity, points out that people who are expert in different ways have corresponding areas of their brains that are more developed than the norm. Dig down and the contradiction may not be as severe as it first appears but it is convenient to emphasise the multi-tasking nature of the whole brain when it suits the argument and to emphasise the specialised nature of different areas when that suits. There is the claim that brains become what they are due to the experiences they go through, and boys and girls and men and women undergo different experiences, but this would seem to undermine the mockery made of the early studies that were looking for differences between male and female brains. Surely there should be differences it’s just that those differences don’t necessarily prove what they were assumed to prove. I’m left with questions: Does the gender of the teacher in STEM subjects affect expectations? Do female maths and science teachers still expect boys to do better? How do the claims of this book square with the observation that in secondary education it seems to be the boys that are underperforming? Why is it that in cultures all over the world, and in the past in cultures that had little or no interaction, the same differences in status and roles emerge? (I’m not assuming that this is universally true, there is, presumably, plenty of variation, I’m assuming there is enough significant similarity for there to be some need of an explanation. If there isn’t such similarity that would be important and should have been mentioned.) We are told a number of times that if there are any differences between what we have traditionally labelled male and female brains the effect size is very small but I’m left wondering if there is a biological equivalent of the ‘butterfly effect’ whereby through some kind of feedback loop small differences get magnified up into large social differences. Fun fact: The chemistry professor who discovered testosterone was called Fred Koch (p26)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This is a tough one to rate for me because, whilst whole heartedly agreeing with it's message and outlook, I didn't realise that's what it was getting at for the majority of the book. It got off to a bad start when in the introduction it says that because, traditionally, the default pronoun to refer to someone of indeterminate gender (in a study for example) had always been he or s/he at best, then the author was going to redress the balance by using she where possible. When there's perfectly go This is a tough one to rate for me because, whilst whole heartedly agreeing with it's message and outlook, I didn't realise that's what it was getting at for the majority of the book. It got off to a bad start when in the introduction it says that because, traditionally, the default pronoun to refer to someone of indeterminate gender (in a study for example) had always been he or s/he at best, then the author was going to redress the balance by using she where possible. When there's perfectly good gender neutral pronouns out there like they/them, this came across as either ignorant, petty, or as biased as previous studies - none of which you want tainting your serious academic information. This isn't helped by 80% of the book seemingly treating gender as a binary and devoting most of its time to proving that there isn't a scientific difference between male and female brains. It came as a genuine shock that in the conclusion the author finally suggests that gender might actually be a spectrum not a binary, and emphasises the danger of a gendered world in reinforcing that. For a message this important to only occur at the end of quite a long book, after being masked under a lot of writing that came across very 'us vs. them,' it does it a real disservice. Partly it's my own fault for not paying enough attention to the subtitle of the book, and for having too high an expectation that a book on gender in 2019 would start where this one leaves off rather than take 400 pages to get there. It's a shame, because all of that aside, the book is really well written and eloquently conveys a lot of information to thoroughly debunk the female brain myth and the centuries of bias that accompany it. Maybe my real problem with it is that it's still necessary to retread all of this stuff in a supposedly modern world, but then again looking around in 2019 there's definitely a resurrgence of outdated, unfounded, dangerous ideas. That said, if it managed to make someone who agreed with it's message entirely think it was heavily biased and potentially untrustworthy before revealing its hand, then I don't see it winning over anyone who strongly disagrees with the sentiment. Ultimately I think it probably comes down to the circles you roll in how much you'll get out of it. If you're still surrounded by people who think men and women are genetically unequal then this book is important and a great resource to gather strength from to demonstrate how maybe they're wrong. If, however, you reached this conclusion a long time ago and are interested in knowing more about the full range of gender and any modern science related to it then is a lot of pages with little reward.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Niall

    A must-read for anyone living in a gendered world aka 21st century Earth. It's a book every parent, guardian and teacher should read as we are doing more harm than good gendering children at such early ages (by three years old, a child has usually confirmed their gender). I also loved how Gina proves children are the biggest 'gender police,' as it is so important for them to know, especially for navigating school and the playground. For children, performing gender is like self-survival. Also, it A must-read for anyone living in a gendered world aka 21st century Earth. It's a book every parent, guardian and teacher should read as we are doing more harm than good gendering children at such early ages (by three years old, a child has usually confirmed their gender). I also loved how Gina proves children are the biggest 'gender police,' as it is so important for them to know, especially for navigating school and the playground. For children, performing gender is like self-survival. Also, it's astonishing how scientists go along believing gender has a biological basis and not investigate it fully. Probably for the reason, as Gina suggests, it benefits this predominantly male sector that is the sciences, or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine), a reality aptly described as 'neurosexism.' Gina also asserts the early 21st first century is more gendered than ever and, while a fascinating opinion, I wished she provided more evidence for this assertion. Finally, be aware of the audiobook. Although well-read, I feel I missed out on a lot of important figures, graphs, photos, scans etc. Also, it can be, at times, very scientific for an audiobook and it would be better to have the scientific terms/acronyms spelt out on paper so I could look them up. Technical issues aside, though, it's a must-read for everyone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Oh, to be able to cull through research, make sense of it all, pull together the themes and the best practices and the drivel, and with a touch of humor and a ton of fantastic writing, turn it into a beach read (um, caveat that I also read War and Peace on the beaches of Malta one summer; everything closed at 1 PM so we could only really work on our research projects in the mornings...) Bottom line? Instead of a binary notion of brain differences, the differences exist along continuum’s with con Oh, to be able to cull through research, make sense of it all, pull together the themes and the best practices and the drivel, and with a touch of humor and a ton of fantastic writing, turn it into a beach read (um, caveat that I also read War and Peace on the beaches of Malta one summer; everything closed at 1 PM so we could only really work on our research projects in the mornings...) Bottom line? Instead of a binary notion of brain differences, the differences exist along continuum’s with considerable gender overlap. Only about 6% of us have stereotypical male or female brains. The rest of us are a mosaic. Early reports from brain imaging of differences in areas such as spatial manipulation of objects or verbal skills seem to disappear when you control for who spends the most time gaming or which babies mothers speak most to. Neuroplasticity is a fact. Our brains respond to our environments and the stereotypes around us. This book is a clarion call to bring to light how the status quo benefits from “pink brain, blue brain” stereotyping and how those of all genders lose finding their paths to full potential. I found nothing, on the other hand, that contradicted Carl Jung’s framework of two preference patterns in criteria for decisions. There is evidence that some of us are more logical, some more empathetic. However, the differences don’t sort to gender.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    Well that was Illuminating

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elisabet

    Excellent review on neuroscience research from its very beginnings. The author provides an incredibly complete collection of studies from the 20th century to date, while keeping it fun and interesting. Even though the focus is on the science of the brain and gender relationship, it is highly relevant for anyone working on (or simply interested in) topics that relate to brain processes, like language. Not only touches upon many different misconceptions about the brain but it also offers a compreh Excellent review on neuroscience research from its very beginnings. The author provides an incredibly complete collection of studies from the 20th century to date, while keeping it fun and interesting. Even though the focus is on the science of the brain and gender relationship, it is highly relevant for anyone working on (or simply interested in) topics that relate to brain processes, like language. Not only touches upon many different misconceptions about the brain but it also offers a comprehensive recollection of measures and techniques that have been or are currently used to study the brain. Most importantly, the book is a wake up call for anyone working on research, specially if related to human behavior, to understand how science and scientific discoveries can be so highly influenced by social moral and beliefs. As much as we want to believe science is a window to understanding the great truths that explain our world,it nevertheless is carried out by scientists. Humans that, at the end of the day are merely individuals with their own biases and beliefs. Definitely recommended, and if you carry with you, it's a great conversation starter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Not much new here. It's a look at various brain studies with suggestions that a slightly different approach might (or might not) have influenced the conclusions reached. Although education and life experiences heavily influence the brain's abilities, studies usually fail to document this kind of information, mentioning only the participants' gender. The author takes several hundred pages to say this, so the book is repetitive and inconclusive. Since very few research studies collect information Not much new here. It's a look at various brain studies with suggestions that a slightly different approach might (or might not) have influenced the conclusions reached. Although education and life experiences heavily influence the brain's abilities, studies usually fail to document this kind of information, mentioning only the participants' gender. The author takes several hundred pages to say this, so the book is repetitive and inconclusive. Since very few research studies collect information about education, socioeconomic level, sports activities, occupation, hobbies, early socialization, and other possibly relevant factors, the author could not make a strong case for the theory that male and female brains are different ONLY because of the environments they encounter. This book raises valid questions but provides very few definitive answers. (P.S. I really loved the author's snarky sense of humor.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    This is interesting enough but doesn't add anything to previous books on the topic--effectively, that much research on sex/gender differences is poorly done or poorly reported; that differences do not appear to be innate from birth; and that our brains are plastic and that differences develop over time. At least some of those differences are due to socialization or life experience. Given the rise in gender-critical/transphobic feminism in the UK I was a little apprehensive that it might make its This is interesting enough but doesn't add anything to previous books on the topic--effectively, that much research on sex/gender differences is poorly done or poorly reported; that differences do not appear to be innate from birth; and that our brains are plastic and that differences develop over time. At least some of those differences are due to socialization or life experience. Given the rise in gender-critical/transphobic feminism in the UK I was a little apprehensive that it might make its way in, since this research has potential implications for trans people. Instead, she mostly avoids the topic until the end. Her summary on the topic is a little weaselly, unnecessarily so--even if we presume that there are few innate biological differences in male and female brains, all that does is suggest that it isn't the source of gender identity, since we all develop one, not that gender identity is not real or has no meaning.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erwin

    **based on the audiobook** The level on which you're going to appreciate this book depends, I think, wholly on the mindset you bring to it. If you're already convinced that gender is a spectrum instead of a dichotomy, this book will spend (too?) much time on fighting your adversaries—aptly called 'neurononsense'. When in doubt, though, or in need of solid counterarguments, or just in search of a wrap-up on the latest hard facts about the (lack of) binary gender proof in brains, this will be your **based on the audiobook** The level on which you're going to appreciate this book depends, I think, wholly on the mindset you bring to it. If you're already convinced that gender is a spectrum instead of a dichotomy, this book will spend (too?) much time on fighting your adversaries—aptly called 'neurononsense'. When in doubt, though, or in need of solid counterarguments, or just in search of a wrap-up on the latest hard facts about the (lack of) binary gender proof in brains, this will be your ticket.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This was really interesting! Rippon confirms what I already suspected: that society has become much more polarized when it comes to gender since I myself became a mother in the 1990's. This is very important research and although I am not a natural scientist myself (and I found it difficult to follow some of the more brain-specific passages) I strongly believe this should be compulsory reading for young parents! This was really interesting! Rippon confirms what I already suspected: that society has become much more polarized when it comes to gender since I myself became a mother in the 1990's. This is very important research and although I am not a natural scientist myself (and I found it difficult to follow some of the more brain-specific passages) I strongly believe this should be compulsory reading for young parents!

  19. 5 out of 5

    sillypunk

    Very interesting book: https://blogendorff.com/2019/04/15/bo... Very interesting book: https://blogendorff.com/2019/04/15/bo...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eule Luftschloss

    Men come from Mars and women from Venus. Men can read maps, while women are better at language. Men can't listen and women have the innate urge to hoard shoes. This book is about the question if men and women have a biological difference nobody can't help which would explain why different people, whom you can sort by genitalia, are better at different things. Gina Rippon explores the history of brain research and presents different studies that have been conducted, while giving examples of the rep Men come from Mars and women from Venus. Men can read maps, while women are better at language. Men can't listen and women have the innate urge to hoard shoes. This book is about the question if men and women have a biological difference nobody can't help which would explain why different people, whom you can sort by genitalia, are better at different things. Gina Rippon explores the history of brain research and presents different studies that have been conducted, while giving examples of the repercussion this has on people's lifes and weird things that happened in consequence, like an infamous memo by a Google headperson in 2017. No prior knowledge is assumed, which makes this book very accessible. I'm an archaeologist in training, natural sciences is something we let other people do, but I was able to follow her reasoning. At least, most of the times. You see, I started this book back in summer, only read the introduction and quit as we got a heatwave which made words with more than three syllables tricky on my concentration. So I am very glad to finally have caught up. Spoiler: As you can assume from the title, the brain differences between men and women are a myth. The author even goes so far as to ask if men and women in a binary is a sensible way of categorizing people, mentioning both non binary people and different attempts in science to put people in the box, adding men with female traits, women with male traits, and intersex people. Now I feel equipped to go out and inform myself on the topic, to question studies and what I have to look for in new data that is presented to me. Also, the author urges you to look up the claims people make in their studies, reading the footnotes and looking up the stuff they refer to. Or, as a friend put it: Don't trust a statistic you haven't forged yourself. The arc was provided by publisher.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I have to admit being a bit disappointed in this book, though I think most of it wasn't the author's fault, so much as the field she's talking about. I'd previously read Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. But (to the best of my recollection of that back) in the almost a decade between when that was released and this book's release, the state of research into gender hasn't changed all that much. This book exists to debunk an awful lot of I have to admit being a bit disappointed in this book, though I think most of it wasn't the author's fault, so much as the field she's talking about. I'd previously read Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. But (to the best of my recollection of that back) in the almost a decade between when that was released and this book's release, the state of research into gender hasn't changed all that much. This book exists to debunk an awful lot of bad science of biological sex and neuroscience. She describes the field as a game of Whac-A-Mole--every time some idea is proved to be bogus, someone brings it back up. Even though what few differences are found between the brains of males and of females, as an aggregate, have found to be minimal (small differences between the averages, with a great deal of overlap), and even though we know more and more about how it is possible or probably that brain plasticity (the ability of brains to change in response to experience) does more to drive gender difference than biology, scientists keep looking for ways that males and females have different brains caused by biology. Part of the problem is that, as the field is currently set up, any finding that some feature of the brain shows no difference between males and females is considered a negative result, and negative results don't typically get published. But shouldn't these be positive results, because we're finding out that, actually, males and females have similar, or effectively the same, brains, at least as far as genetics is concerned? Even more, I'd rather hoped that in the past almost a decade, scientists would have done more to understand how much influence society has in creating gender differences in the brain. But this and related avenues (I was really hoping hear something, anything about trans/non-binary brains) are something that Rippon can only suggest be studied for the future. I might have liked Rippon to explain what her instinct is, her hypotheses. Clearly she thinks plasticity and societal programming are likely to have a role greater than genetics, but that only really comes up to say that the scientific studies she's reviewing don't actually say as much about biology and gender as their author's think they do. But I wanted more, some hint about what's actually going on. I guess I understand why she doesn't, since her whole book is spent taking down those who overreach beyond the evidence. And maybe that's just not the point of this book. That all said, I didn't feel like Rippon is as good a science communicator as she could be (at least not when it comes to writing books) . Though I'm sure this book is considerably easier to read than scientific papers, it's still not that friendly to a lay audience. I think a lot of the details of studies could have been left out, or at least put in the endnotes (instead the endnotes are only plain citations). I also had a few issues on the rare occasions that trans and non-binary people came up--the use of the term 'transsexuals' in this day and age was cringe enducing--though all in all the author seems sympathetic, just not well aware.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anca

    I wanted to read this book to have more clarify about the subject - are men and women different or not and does it even matter? I am one to believe that men and women are different and denying it seems like ignorance. From a biological point of view, there are physical and hormonal differences and we share this feature with all the other species on Earth. Then from an evolutionary point of view, being the "weaker" sex for millions of years, our minds and bodies being controlled by society (and m I wanted to read this book to have more clarify about the subject - are men and women different or not and does it even matter? I am one to believe that men and women are different and denying it seems like ignorance. From a biological point of view, there are physical and hormonal differences and we share this feature with all the other species on Earth. Then from an evolutionary point of view, being the "weaker" sex for millions of years, our minds and bodies being controlled by society (and men in particular) must leave a mark of how brains react differently to different stimuli. The books goes through a lot of complex and not very clear studies about the brain, where it's hard to determine exactly if the difference seen in behavior is based on real physical difference in the brain or conditioning from society. As soon as we are in the womb, we seem to be "hungry" beings looking for social clues about how everybody expects us to perform. So the book didn't really clarify a lot for me on this matter. Anyway, I believe we need to stop having this men vs women attitude. At this time in our evolution, the next step must leave full room for the same opportunities for men and women and we must stop putting women into boxes - either too bossy (not female enough) or too empathic (not capable of success like a man would). We have started to raise girls/women to be more independent and ambitious, but we need to learn boys/men to be more empathic as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Gina Rippon provides a cool-headed analysis of the neurosexism, junk science, media distortions and wobbly statistics that bedevil the endless search for the differences between the sexes. What do men like? What are girls good at? The answer is, it depends who you ask, how you ask them and who they are. The other answer is, men are women are far more alike than they are different and that’s just fine. This book is dense with discussion of experiments, neuroimaging and statistical analyses and it Gina Rippon provides a cool-headed analysis of the neurosexism, junk science, media distortions and wobbly statistics that bedevil the endless search for the differences between the sexes. What do men like? What are girls good at? The answer is, it depends who you ask, how you ask them and who they are. The other answer is, men are women are far more alike than they are different and that’s just fine. This book is dense with discussion of experiments, neuroimaging and statistical analyses and it is fascinating. Much like Cordelia Fine’s work it maintains a sense of humour about its topic (my favourite was the enthusiastic media reporting of a study that showed differences between men and women that failed to note that the original study had been on... hamsters). She also lays out very clearly the way that children act as “gender detectives” who learn what it is expected of their gender at a very young age. Superb work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A fascinating, engaging look at how findings in neuroscience definitively debunk a long history of damaging pseudo-science and the myth of the biological binary between male and female brains.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Asher

    This book is amazing and full of extremely useful information about why our brains aren't sexed, and there is no "male" or "female" brains. However, the things she says about intersex people (that scientists should "take advantage" of naturally existing hormonal differences in humans). We don't exist to prove sexism wrong. And we are not on this earth to be test subjects. This book is amazing and full of extremely useful information about why our brains aren't sexed, and there is no "male" or "female" brains. However, the things she says about intersex people (that scientists should "take advantage" of naturally existing hormonal differences in humans). We don't exist to prove sexism wrong. And we are not on this earth to be test subjects.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Byurakn

    Gina Rippon's "The Gendered Brain" explores centuries old myths and stereotypes about the female brain and the female behaviour. Examining the papers that have addressed sex differences in brain and skills one by one, she points out the shortcomings of such studies and emphasizes that there are more similarities between men and women than differences. Moreover, most of these differences may be a result of living in a gendered society and a gendered world. She further stresses the importance of l Gina Rippon's "The Gendered Brain" explores centuries old myths and stereotypes about the female brain and the female behaviour. Examining the papers that have addressed sex differences in brain and skills one by one, she points out the shortcomings of such studies and emphasizes that there are more similarities between men and women than differences. Moreover, most of these differences may be a result of living in a gendered society and a gendered world. She further stresses the importance of leaving these desperate attempts at finding differences and focusing on asking the right questions, such as sex differences regarding physiological differences. And quite controversially, she also challenges the views on gender identity. With sexism being all around, this is an important and empowering book to read. With its scientific approach, the book is providing tools (and literature) to deal with everyday sexism and to have a deeper understanding how the gendered world is shaped around us.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Inayah

    Very accessible even to my dumb woman brain!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Naja

    Everyone would benefit from reading this and it would probably help make the world a better place if more people did.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Payel Kundu

    This book asks the question, are male and female brains different? It’s written as a reaction to the widely held premise (in both science and popular media) that they are in fact different, and I think that should be kept in mind when reading this book. This book is pretty long and thorough, and spends a lot of time critiquing some of the most often-cited studies in neuroscience that support the idea of sex differences between male and female brains and especially arguments that these have their This book asks the question, are male and female brains different? It’s written as a reaction to the widely held premise (in both science and popular media) that they are in fact different, and I think that should be kept in mind when reading this book. This book is pretty long and thorough, and spends a lot of time critiquing some of the most often-cited studies in neuroscience that support the idea of sex differences between male and female brains and especially arguments that these have their root in inherent biology instead of culture. However, it also spends a lot of time on various other topics that seem to have nothing in common other than that Rippon thinks they’re interesting. My main criticism of the book is that it is too long and lacks focus. Also, some non-scientist readers might find some sections too dense. Personally, I found the sarcastic tone too caustic. It’s tempting to denigrate your opponents when you feel that you’ve been personally slighted, but as a scientist it makes no sense to present data in a way that will alienate those you wish to convert. However, the science presented in the book is presented logically and includes important details, so I liked that. The format of the relevant parts of the book proceeds as follows: Rippon presents a study that found sex differences in the brain. She discusses why the interpretation is not correct, and slots it into one of two categories. 1. The study misinterpreted the data/conducted the experiment in a non-ideal way so that there is actually no (or negligibly small) sex difference (i.e the famous monkeys playing with male vs. female toys). 2. There is a real sex difference, but there is enough evidence that this could be a result of cultural differences in how we raise boys and girls that it doesn’t provide any evidence that there are inherent biological differences between male and female brains (i.e the consistent but small male advantage in mental rotation tasks is largely explained by video game exposure). The last portion of the book discusses at some length an issue which I assume is close to Rippon’s heart, the gender gap of men and women in STEM fields. As a female scientist, I really enjoyed this portion and found that it resonated with me deeply. The saddest part to me was the evidence showing that females are often just as biased as males when judging their own cognitive abilities, and that this was present even in female scientists. This struck a chord with me personally because I feel the same way. I’m especially proud of myself when I do a spatial or quantitative task well (tasks that “women aren’t supposed to be good at”) compared to tasks of similar difficulty that don’t have gender-associated presumptions. I was brought up in an environment that I view to be relatively gender equal and I was given ample opportunities to pursue whatever career path I chose, and still I have this bias. It’s just so pervasive. The message of the book is nicely summed up in Rippon’s words: “A gendered world creates a gendered brain.” This is an important book, and unfortunately, is long overdue.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    Yesterday, I finished THE GENDERED BRAIN by Gina Rippon, the 3rd book for @femi.books Feminist Book Club and it was a very interesting read! I have to admit, I'm glad that I took a course on cognitive neuroscience during my Bachelor's, because otherwise some information would not have been understandable for me. Nevertheless, Rippon makes a great attempt at writing about cognitive neuroscience for the general public. I don't think she succeeded completely, but it was still good. In The Gendered Yesterday, I finished THE GENDERED BRAIN by Gina Rippon, the 3rd book for @femi.books Feminist Book Club and it was a very interesting read! I have to admit, I'm glad that I took a course on cognitive neuroscience during my Bachelor's, because otherwise some information would not have been understandable for me. Nevertheless, Rippon makes a great attempt at writing about cognitive neuroscience for the general public. I don't think she succeeded completely, but it was still good. In The Gendered Brain, Rippon looks into how neuroscientists have studied the brain over the years and how the gendered lens through which society views gender has actually shaped scientific studies and society's pre-conceived notions of the brain. Lots of previous studies are flawed, sometimes stemming from a prejudice that women are inferior to men. We should remember that the brain's plasticity plays a big role, meaning that we are able to learn, adapt, and change continuously as we grow. While one skill or ability might strenghten, others might weaken. In addition, how we educate and raise children affects their view of their own and others genders' and how they should adapt their behaviour accordingly, or rather, according to society. One of my favourite quotes from this book is: 'Brains reflect the lives they have lived, not just the sex of their owners'. Rippon reviewed hundreds of studies, which for me was a good and a bad thing. Obviously, she was very thorough, which really helps support her arguments. However, sometimes it felt like I was reading a textbook rather than a non-fictional book for the general public. Additionally, the book felt very repetitive to me sometimes and it was very hard to get into. I feel like Rippon could have left out some bits. This would have made a point a bit clearer I think, because now I was drowning sometimes in a big ocean of information on cognitive neuroscientific studies. I took a 4-day break because I felt a reading slump coming up. Unfortunately I'm not good at reading multiple books at the same time so I just waited for a few days before I picked it up again. In the end, I really liked it and I do think that this is a very interesting, eye-opening and educative read for many! I am rating this book with ⭐⭐⭐

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