Home » Intelligent Design » Fritz your wits about your gender with … the Gender Genie!

Fritz your wits about your gender with … the Gender Genie!

Men and women communicate differently, an irritated commenter informed me over at Mindful Hack.

Science has settled the issue!

Well, I am not sure that the matter is simple enough to be “settled” by science.

And, as it happens, the Gender Genie has just popped out of its lamp or castaway bottle or whatever today’s genies use, to provide me with a handy tool.

Using an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, you can find out whether the genie thinks you are a man or a woman by submitting a sample of your writing.

Given that the genie works best on texts of more than 500 words, I decided to submit my five most recent columns for ChristianWeek.

What do YOU think the Genie discovered from analyzing my writing?

Go here to find out, or to test your own writing, if you wish.

Also Today at The Mindful Hack

Neuroscience: Let the machine read your mind! We offer an instalment plan …

American Psychological Association reviewer likes The Spiritual Brain!

Neuroscientist Mario Bearegard’s New Dimensions Café interview

Monks lead protest for civil rights in Tibet

Social science: Why are the religious more charitable?

Neuroscience and the arts: But how does meat think?

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46 Responses to Fritz your wits about your gender with … the Gender Genie!

  1. According to this, I’m a woman.
    Or write like a woman.

    Whatever this means.

  2. Denyse

    I entered one of my blog posts about Paul Myers getting expelled from Expelled and it received a score of

    male = 226
    female = 86

    I entered one of yours on the same subject and it received a score of

    male = 330
    female = 252

    It appears you’re not just more of a woman than I am, you’re more of a man than I am too!

    Seriously though the man:woman ratio, rounded to the nearest whole integer, was 3:1 for me and 1:1 for you. The text I submitted was less than the recommended 500 words by half so maybe it didn’t have enough to work with to reach a more definitive gender inference.

  3. My own language sample consisted of 5 750-word (approx) columns on a variety of topics that had been composed and submitted seriatim, on my usual “science news of interest to people of faith” beat.

    It should be a good sample for the Genie to work with.

    Based on the results after a total of six tries (I also submitted the blog post), I think the Genie better hang on to that lamp and not float around waiting for a call from Harvard.

    As you will know, I have offered a reason at the Hack as to why I think my writing samples turn out this way: I was taught to write by men.

  4. I submitted the children’s book that I wrote to answer Richard Dawkins (a poetical narrative of about 1400 words) and the results were:

    Female Score: 1633, Male Score: 2229

    Based on their feminine/masculine word lists, it seems mine comes out “male” because I used more prepositions than pronouns.

  5. In fairness, the Genie probably works reasonably well when people simply write down whatever pops into their head.

    I don’t deny that women and men show different communication patterns – when they are not inhibited by expectations of style.

    However, I am a professional writer who was trained by professional editors, and have practiced my craft for about 35 years.

    When people are taught specific styles – especially the formal conventions with which I am familiar – the differences between men and women non-fiction writers start to disappear.

    Could a test be arranged for an individual? I doubt it.

    A person like me – or O’Connell of the Times, who was informed by the Genie that her column on the Genie had been written by a man! – probably *couldn’t* simply write whatever pops into our heads.

    Not after all these years of constant style correction.

  6. I knew I recognized Moshe Koppel. He commented on NO FREE LUNCH.

    “Dembski lays the foundations for a research project aimed at answering one of the most fundamental scientific questions of our time: what is the maximal specified complexity that can be reasonably expected to emerge (in a given time frame) with and without various design assumptions.” – Moshe Koppel, Professor of Mathematics, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

    http://www.thedesignoflife.net/buzz.asp

  7. DeepDesign – and what was the answer?

  8. f.blair

    Hi, apparently my writing is effeminate. There may be some truth to that.

  9. But apparently so is Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe.

  10. Hi DoubleD,
    What makes you say that? And how do you know when you’ve reached maximal specified complexity?

  11. Maybe they have that chromosome thing where they are really the opposite sex? Not you of course DD! Just speculating on Poe really, he was quite effeminate by all accounts!

  12. Hi f.blair.

    It probably has something to do with the use of prepositions and pronouns. Amongst other things. I wouldn’t be too quick to judge this quackery.

    As for your second question. I don’t know enough about Dembski’s work to comment.

  13. F.Blair,

    I actually just tried it again, this time clicking non fiction and I scored an overwelmingly male score.

    So I don’t know what to tell you.

  14. Rather than inciting hostility towards Dr. Dembski’s work. Perhaps you should email Dr. Koppel.

    http://www.cs.biu.ac.il/~koppel/

  15. 15

    I have offered a reason at the Hack as to why I think my writing samples turn out this way: I was taught to write by men.

    As a man, I refuse any share of the blame.

  16. Maybe a woman being taught to write by men produces a writer who is another type of writer, a writer who is morphing between male and female styles as situationally required? It could be a productive avenue to explore? Open a crack and let a little light shine on what’s revealed!

  17. 17

    Denyse,

    All of this is near and dear to me.

    I’m a computer scientist only because I failed at poetry. In other words, I value poetry more highly than science and technology, and there is plenty of poetry folks should read before looking at mine. It is merely a comment on the unusual turn that my life took, and not a boast, when I say that I seem to be the only person to have earned a graduate degree in English (let alone defend a creative thesis) and a doctorate in computer science.

    While I was working on the creative thesis, I began writing book reviews for a monthly edited by a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. As you might guess, she felt no compunction about savaging the prose of a young “literatus.” I hated seeing her edits of my work appear under my byline, so I rapidly adjusted my style. After I had been with the magazine for a year, she declared that I was self-editing, and added me to the masthead as a column editor. I continued publishing reviews during my first two years of graduate studies in CS.

    With the switch to CS, I began reading a great deal of technical prose, and much of it was excellent. The upshot is that I was immersed in literary, technical, and journalistic styles in my formative years. What makes this interesting is that my earliest research in CS was analysis of text corpora. I emphasized in my earliest publications that very few distinct words (graphemes) account for half of a writer’s verbiage, and that the statistics of the most frequently occurring words differ enormously from one writer to the next.

    As I recall, it takes only 72 distinct words to account for half of the word instances in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Most of them are “function words.” You might think that the frequencies of function words in a particular writer’s text do not differ much from those of the general population of published writers, but in fact they do. Statistical analyses that were originally developed for decryption of encrypted messages and for speech recognition are now applied in literary studies.

    Could a test be arranged for an individual? I doubt it.

    Can questions of authorship be answered through statistical analysis of text? Yes.

    When people are taught specific styles – especially the formal conventions with which I am familiar – the differences between men and women non-fiction writers start to disappear.

    People far and wide are ignoring the fact that Gender Genie’s discriminant was obtained by analysis of fiction. The fiction writer has much more stylistic freedom than does the journalist. Even when I stick to the “blog comment” genre, my style depends enormously on whether I’m writing a friendly note like this one or arguing a point (look at the frequencies of personal pronouns and contractions). I’d suggest, Denyse, that when you take a strong stance you necessarily adopt a “masculine” style.

  18. 18

    DaveScot,

    I tried to retrieve the technical paper describing how Gender Genie works, and got a “no permission” error message. Are you sure that converting the numbers to a likelihood ratio is justified?

  19. Turner, as a failed poet what’s your considered opinion of the esteemed Denise O’Leary’s writing style?

  20. 20

    P.S.–There’s little self-editing in my “blog comment” style. I call it disposable prose.

  21. Disposable prose? If it’s self-editing it’s self-modifying prose. A mean feat indeed and one that I’m sure Kariosfocus would agree would be impossible to evolve in the configuration space available to the ever-pending investigative nature of the organism under scrutinizingly unstinting examination. Self-modifying prose!

  22. 22

    Turner, as a failed poet what’s your considered opinion of the esteemed Denise O’Leary’s writing style?

    Denyse’s prose style is excellent. And I have no doubt Denyse has done good work as a journalist. But what we in the ID debate see from her is not journalism.

    Denyse flits from one technical topic to the next, declaiming on each with confidence and wit. She uses her intelligence and writing skill to persuade credulous readers that she has far more knowledge and understanding than she actually does. Her well crafted persona says, “Yes, someone brilliant knows why THEY are wrong and WE are right, even if you don’t understand it all for yourself.”

    Why am I able to say with confidence that Denyse represents herself as much more knowledgeable than she actually is? She sometimes blunders into areas I have given a great deal of time and energy.

    I esteem the Denyse that comes through at odd moments. But I find distasteful the work she has chosen to do. The proper name of it ends in -ism. I assume that if Denyse and I were ever to have a face-to-face conversation, she would drop the rhetoric and express her thoughts with reserve, just as I would.

  23. 23

    f.blair (20):

    LOL. You’re not half-bad at parody.

    P.S.–There’s little self-editing in my “blog comment” style. I call it disposable prose.

    I was counting on the generous reader to interpret “in” as “manifest in.” I’m grading you down to C- in generosity. But you can still pull an A.

  24. 24

    Denyse:

    I am an equal-scrutiny critic. PZ gets his here.

    Certainly the peacemakers are the children of God, and I have to admit that attacking both extremes from the middle is probably not the best way to make peace. So I’m off to do something childlike and try to get a foot back in the gate of the kingdom. But first I’ll ask that you forgive my rhetoric.

  25. Turner Coates:

    “I’d suggest, Denyse, that when you take a strong stance you necessarily adopt a “masculine” style.”

    As I have explained, my style is mostly the result of direct instruction by male editors, chapter and verse.

    It has nothing to do with whether I take a strong stance. A neutral stance would produce similar outcomes.

    Does anyone really believe that women are incapable of taking a strong stance, while expressing themselves in a feminine way?

    Having broken up a number of all-female fights in a church basement (when it was my duty to intervene), I know otherwise.

    “Why am I able to say with confidence that Denyse represents herself as much more knowledgeable than she actually is? She sometimes blunders into areas I have given a great deal of time and energy.”

    And which are these?

    You also say:

    “I esteem the Denyse that comes through at odd moments. But I find distasteful the work she has chosen to do. The proper name of it ends in -ism.”

    Then get off this blog now and never come back. Or say what -ism you mean.

    “I assume that if Denyse and I were ever to have a face-to-face conversation, she would drop the rhetoric and express her thoughts with reserve, just as I would.”

    You do, do you? But why do I even want to know you? No reason comes to mind.

    Look, you are only my next mod visit away from getting banned. I need to look up the procedure; I am not a techie. I learn on the job.

    So I suggest you come up with something useful for our readers soon.

    Or else go away and witter to the world about how awful we are.

  26. Leo, I have nothing to do with Expelled, except that I was interviewed for several hours on two occasions and may or may not end up as a very minor feature on the DVD. (Note: I did not ask for or receive any fee.)

    Also, it’s possible that I was one of the first journalists to break the story (from a hotel room in Seattle, the night that the movie was announced to the Discovery Society, August 11, 2007.)

    I was there and had wandered into the meeting, thinking it was just some dull stuff. But if I sat through it I might get a lift back to my hotel.

    Suddenly I realized that this was real NEWS! Serious professionals making a documentary about a huge scandal that I had covered on a largely volunteer basis for years …

    No wonder Dawkins and PZ have been doing their best to create a distraction. In their shoes, I would do the same thing.

    Now, re Turner Coates: Read what Turner Coates actually said:

    “I esteem the Denyse that comes through at odd moments. But I find distasteful the work she has chosen to do. The proper name of it ends in -ism.””

    So why am I supposed to want this person around? More important, why does he want to BE around?

    And if I hear from him again on this topic, he better have some good answers.

  27. Denyse,

    Turner Coates first showed as a contentious commenter about 3-4 weeks ago and then suddenly morphed into a sympathetic one. He is starting to turn back into a contentious one again on some issues. It is almost like it is time to be banned.

  28. From what I’ve read of his posts, Turner Coates fancies himself a … ur … uh … well actually … it looks like he just fancies himself.

    Keep up the great journalistic work O’Leary!

  29. 29

    I hate it when people come to this sight just to get fresh. Some people actually visit because they are interested.

  30. 30

    Especially since you have so many people (Dave Scot, DHL, O’Leary) who bring us quality blogging on a daily basis for free.

  31. 31

    So for what it’s worth. Thanks guys.

  32. 32

    Denyse,

    I felt it was best to drop the pseudonym before responding. I appreciate that UD has allowed me to reappear as Tom English, and I promise that will never again sign in as Turner Coates.

    So why am I supposed to want this person around? More important, why does he want to BE around?

    Why is Baylor University supposed to want Bob Marks’ web pages for his Evolutionary Informatics Lab on its website? Why does Marks want to stay at a university that infringes on his academic freedom? (He easily could draw a better salary and work with more talented students if he changed institutions.)

    More importantly, why did I, an ID adversary who has published some key results in evolutionary informatics, affiliate himself with the EvoInfo lab after it was “expelled” by Baylor? Thirty-one years ago, I was expelled (along with Charles Foster Johnson, now a Baptist minister) from Mississippi College, a Baptist institution, after opposing the school’s discrimination against women. I was readmitted after faculty and students protested. It was clearly my turn to take a stand for freedom of expression in academia.

    Why did Kenneth Chang, a science reporter for the New York Times, spend an hour talking with me about ID prior to the Dover trial? The shocking answer is that Bill Dembski put him in touch with me. Bill knows that I grapple honestly with ID theory. In my book chapter “Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Computation” (Garry Greenwood, coauthor), to appear this June in Design by Evolution: Advances in Evolutionary Design, I distinguish early on the theoretical and socio-political components of ID, and then treat ID theory with scholarly dispassion. Bill will object to my analysis — perhaps he’ll identify some misunderstanding or mistake on my part — but he won’t say that I was unfair.

    Why do I want to be around here? I have learned a great deal through adversarial interactions with ID advocates. And I have told Bill Dembski that I will give him a sincere acknowledgment in my next paper on search and optimization. It is ironic that I should admit that arguing with IDists shakes loose good ideas, and that you and I should agree that universities should not quash dissent, and that you should contemplate “expelling” me for daring to identify you as a socio-political activist.

    I developed a habit of posting at UD long before you arrived. There was a higher density of science, theory, and philosophy back then, and those are the topics that interest me most. I do not hide my distaste for the socio-political activism of the ID movement.

    I have remarked kindly about your person, and harshly about your activism. For you to respond just to the latter part and not the whole would be simplistic. Jerry has noticed that I have swung between sympathetic and adversarial comments. Gee, could it be that I’m addressing points one-by-one? I am no Darwinist attack dog. Is there room at UD for someone with a complex perspective?

    I have commented that I agree that science has had a negative impact on Western culture, but that I disagree with ID advocates as to how to repair the damage. I have also indicated that I do not believe in Darwinism or any other scientific theory, but that I do believe in creation. I have also agreed that the neo-Darwinian paradigm is due an overhaul, but have stated that IDists should expect to do a great deal of work to get the scientific establishment to accept a philosophy in which ID qualifies as science.

    A good way for you to demonstrate in favor of diversity of opinion in academia is to demonstrate that you value it on your blog. In any case, your cause has use for an adversary like me, if only because I dignify ID theory by giving it serious consideration.

  33. Oh hey, Thom. You’re the simulator guy who didn’t care a whit whether the output of an evolution simulator fit with observations in the real world. Did you start to care yet? The people doing climate simulations seem to share your non-concern about whether the model outputs match actual observations too. Maybe you should switch over. There’s more money in climate models that don’t work than evolution models that don’t work.

  34. 34

    [off-topic] Nope, Dave, never said that. I don’t think we’ve ever communicated well here. The gist of the problem in modeling complex adaptive systems is that they’re usually unpredictable beyond the near future. Most engineering types think in terms of quantitative goodness of a model — e.g., the mean squared difference of model outputs from modeled data. But it’s usually impossible to get quantitatively good predictions of the trajectory of a nonlinear dynamical system, except over the short term. What is more likely to constitute a good “explanation” of the observations of a nonlinear dynamical system (e.g., a complex adaptive system) is a model that captures in its long-term behavior qualitative features of the modeled system. Physicists have given much more attention to this sort of modeling than biologists have. (And qualitative analysis of dynamical systems actually dates to Poincaré.)

    It happens that I recently reviewed a paper by David Fogel that addresses insufficient skepticism in science. You would like what he says about anthropogenic global warming in the introduction. He uses elegant simulation studies to discredit some widely accepted notions about complex adaptive systems. Send me email if you would like to see the paper, and I’ll check with David to see if it’s OK to share the draft version with you. The paper is the strongest work I’ve ever seen from him, and it will tell you more than I can possibly explain here.

  35. Tom English, thanks for blogging under your own name now.

    That in itself makes me less likely to just want to get rid of you.

    I write under my real name and I don’t have much use for “Anonymous 11:51 am” or “Aryan Storm Eagle” (probably, in real life, a basement apartment loser, bullied by his landlady when he locks himself out of his own smelly, untidy dump … )

    You wrote, “In any case, your cause has use for an adversary like me, if only because I dignify ID theory by giving it serious consideration.”

    Look, Tom, I don’t need you to dignify anything. I am a journalist. I report news. I am here because this is news.

    If this was the Senior Ladies Tatting Club, I’d be long gone, okay?

    You don’t need a fight with me, nor I with you, so let’s not be in one.

  36. Are you are supposed to Blog under your own name?

    “Aryan Storm Eagle”, what kind of name is that Tom?

  37. My point is that people who blog under their own names signify by doing so that they assume all the risks of having their opinions attributed to their personal identities in the real world.

    That’s the point of a “byline”. You know, “by David Warren”, or “by Michael Coren”, or “by Denyse O’Leary.”

    In other words, “I wrote this, I am a real person with a real address and phone number in a real city (Toronto), and I accept responsibility for what I report here, which I reasonably believe to be facts.”

    “Aryan Storm Eagle” (or for that matter “Bolshevik Boy”) obviously do not share the professional journalist’s taste for transparency in these matters.

  38. —–Tom English: “I have commented that I agree that science has had a negative impact on Western culture, but that I disagree with ID advocates as to how to repair the damage. I have also indicated that I do not believe in Darwinism or any other scientific theory, but that I do believe in creation. I have also agreed that the neo-Darwinian paradigm is due an overhaul, but have stated that IDists should expect to do a great deal of work to get the scientific establishment to accept a philosophy in which ID qualifies as science.”

    For my part, the best bloggers are those who promote, support, and defend a well-thought -out point of view. If you pressed them, they could describe their philosophy in one paragraph, because they can differentiate between its essential and non-essential elements. They are not simplistic, but they can make things simple. To be simplistic is to misunderstand or even be blissfully unaware of all the complexities involved in a difficult subject. To be simple is to wade through all of those complexities, decide what is important, place the elements in a logical priority, and make a final judgment on the matter that can be summed up in a few words. In this regard, labels are useful as tools for argument and self disclosure. Meaningful commentators know how to do that.

    On the other hand, the worst bloggers wallow in complexity, so much so, that they cannot extricate themselves from it. Terrified that someone will not think they are brilliant, they use their creative imagination to muddy the debate waters, even to the point of making the simple complex. For them, speculating about what ID ought to be takes logical precedence over knowing what it is. As a result, they fall into the most egregious, and, what ought to be, embarrassing logical errors, such as confusing presuppositions with inferences, and conflating motives with methods. Their only point of view is that everyone else’s point of view is either fatally flawed or hopelessly simplistic. Because they cannot distinguish between that which is royally simple and that which is stupidly simplistic, they don’t know how to differentiate between a blithering idiot and a creative genius. Most of all, they are angry that real thinkers like Dembski, Behe, and Meyers are blazing new trails and have left them behind. As Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, “Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.”

    At the same time, these relentless critics seldom disclose anything important about themselves. Oh sure, they will sometimes tell us about their accomplishments, but they don’t articulate definitive point of view and argue for it. It is so much easier to deny, doubt, and negate—so easy to tell us what they are not or what they don’t believe. Why lay it on the line and be open to scrutiny when it is so much easier to scrutinize? Are they Darwinists, theistic evolutionists, ID sympathizers? They won’t say, because, well, you know, those terms are too simplistic. Always criticizing never creating, always analyzing never synthesizing, always opening their mind and never closing it on something solid, they hide behind that cushy security blanket of complexity, skepticism, and criticism. How sweet it must be. By the way, what is your point of view?

  39. 39

    Peace, Denyse.

    I want to see everyone behave well. The notion that I dignify ID does not originate with me.

  40. 40

    StephenB,

    Math, science, and technology are play. Here are the truths I focus on: “Seek and you will find.” “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom.” “It is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I want people to understand that science is irrelevant to these truths.

  41. —–”Math, science, and technology are play. Here are the truths I focus on: “Seek and you will find.” “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom.” “It is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I want people to understand that science is irrelevant to these truths.”

    While those are noble sentiments, I was hoping for a more meaningful disclosure relative to the dialogue. In this case, that would consist of an abbreviated exposition on your world view as it pertains to theism, evolution, and intelligent design. Biblical wisdom notwithstanding, you may be reflecting on the wrong passages. Try this one:

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

  42. Thomas, you write, “Peace, Denyse.

    I want to see everyone behave well. The notion that I dignify ID does not originate with me.”

    With whom does it originate then?

    Despite his masterful Edge of Evolution, I can’t recall Mike Behe ever suggesting to me that HE dignifies ID.

    It is more the other way around.

    He felt he had to take terrible risks to tell a truth no one wanted to face – the Enron of biology (Darwinism) is, like, a really, really bad investment.

    People don’t dignify a truth; if they admit it, it dignifies them.

  43. 43

    Denyse, what’s your view of Mike Gene’s name (apparently a pseudonym)? Or of Sal Cordova’s not using his first name for purposes of anonymity? Half the front-pagers on this blog write under pseudonyms.

  44. 44

    Denyse,

    I use dignify in the sense of “I won’t dignify that comment with a response.”

    Perhaps five years ago, Bill Dembski interpreted the simple fact that intellectuals were responding seriously to ID as evidence that ID had intellectual merit. So the notion that I might dignify ID with a response in the peer-reviewed literature originates with him.

    There are anti-IDists who feel I unduly dignify evolutionary informatics by saying that it, as described by Bob Marks on the home page of the EvoInfo Lab, has been my research area since 1995.

  45. larrynormanfan

    When anyone bags on anonymous authors I like to counter with the example Publius, the anonymous name under which the federalist papers were published.

  46. 46

    StephenB,

    Here is something I said recently as Turner Coates that might make more sense to you. Some things I said as Cloud of Unknowing are revealing. See comments 14-15 (really one comment), 25, and 27 (as an example of a positive research suggestion, explained further in 31) in this thread. Then see this comment.

    It took me nine years to arrive at the level of understanding in No More Lunch: Analysis of Sequential Search. You have no idea of the sweat and blood that were involved. I’m presently trying to prove that there’s a “free lunch” in real-world optimization. I keep falling on my face. If I eventually succeed, there will be significant consequences for ID theory. I’m definitely in the arena.

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