True or false: gifted/creative = early achiever?

Are all geniuses prodigies?  No, according to Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker.  Following an economist at the University of Chicago, David Galenson, he argues that there are two different paradigms;

Prodigies like Picasso, Galenson argues, rarely engage in … open-ended exploration. They tend to be “conceptual,” Galenson says, in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then they execute it….

But late bloomers, Galenson says, tend to work the other way around. Their approach is experimental. “Their goals are imprecise, so their procedure is tentative and incremental,”

Much in Western economic life favors the early bloomer and not the late.  Academia is a good case.  Start out a star and you are set for life; find yourself immense in the possibilities and unable to be highly productive at the beginning, and your career may end.  Importantly, as the article points out, the late-bloomer needs mentors or some sort of support.

Is the possibility of this sort of difference of interest to feminists?  At the very least, it raises some questions, one of which is whether men and women are equally distributed among the types.  Of course, it is hard to tell how the distinctions would look if they were described in less vague language, but the second sounds much more like the way at least groups of women philosophers in my experience tend to approach philosophical problems.  

And though the study seems focused on the arts, it may generalize to fields like philosophy.  In which case we can also remind ourselves that an early start,  which for fairly extraneous reasons is too often difficult for women, may get one a much better job and much better opportunies, it really need not indicate superior talent.

Well, we did know that.  But a reminder is a good thing.

Final Debate Open Thread

Readers who watched last night’s debate and want to weigh in on any of the feminism-related topics that were raised, use this thread. To get you started, here are a few topics:

1. The Lilly Ledbetter conversation and the candidate’s views on the Supreme Court Case
2. McCain’s claim that “pro-abortion” folks use “women’s health” to justify abortions too often
3. McCain is “proud of” Palin (see Feministing’s take)
4. Also via Feministing, those “evil T-shirts” McCain was complaining about may be these. Warning: blurry profanity.
5. Does “Joe the Plumber” used again and again as an icon alienate women voters?

If possible, try to paraphrase or quote the candidates and provide links to factual resources, so we don’t wind up tossing around empty claims (there’s been enough of that in the debates themselves). FYI, MSNBC has a good visual breakout of the debates with their tool here so you can go directly to each candidate’s responses and search by keyword.

Brison on Palin

Feminist philosopher Susan Brison on Sarah Palin:

Palin’s candidacy puts an ironic twist on the 80s slogan about Ginger Rogers being able to do everything Fred Astaire could do and then some. Sure, Palin could, as his second-in-command or–gasp!–his replacement, do everything McCain could do: continue Bush’s devastating domestic fiscal and social policies, further erode our global economic, political, and moral standing, pack the Supreme Court with justices who would devastate our individual rights–and then some: drill in ANWR, make rape victims pay for their own rape kits and deny them emergency contraception, prohibit schools from teaching sex education, but make them teach creationism. There’s no doubt Palin could take us where McCain wants us to go, but do women really want to go there–backwards, in high heels?

For more, go here. (Thanks to the FEAST list for this one!)

Subjects wanted for experimental philosophy study

Eric Schwitzgebel of the Splintered Mind has asked us to help him recruit subjects for a study he’s doing, and we’re happy to help. He and Fiery Cushman are especially in need of subjects with philosophy degrees, though all are welcome. It’s an online test of moral judgments about hypothetical scenarios. and it can be found here. Eric, by the way, is very much a friend of women in philosophy. He’s done some significant work on the relative speeds at which women and men advance to tenure. So that’s yet another reason to help him out!