Science Museum gets a piece of visitors’ minds after male/female brain comparison

© Reuters
An interactive exhibition at London’s Science Museum was criticized for testing its visitors on whether they have a pink or blue brain, in what has been branded a “junk science” experiment.

The quiz, which is part of the Who Am I? exhibition, which can also be taken online, shows a series of images which are supposed to test whether the visitor thinks more like a man or a woman.

According to the test, men are better at “seeing things in three dimensions” and “being able to imagine how things rotate.” Women, on the other hand, fare better “in tests that involve: distinguishing between subtle hints and details” and “having a good visual memory.”

But neuroscientists argue the idea that men’s and women’s brains work differently is simply based on empty gender stereotypes.

University College London neuroscientist Professor Joseph Devlin told the Guardian that while there were some minor differences between male and female brains, such as hormone levels and average size, the effects of these differences were not known.

He added: “I’m worried about that stuff and I’m not sure there’s a good basis for any differences in cognition. The stuff about men being better at spatial things and women being better at language – that just seems like nonsense.”

His colleague Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore agreed, saying the Science Museum’s show was “out of date, to say the least.

“I saw it recently and was pretty shocked by the misleading message, which doesn’t correspond to the scientific evidence.”

The museum argued that the exhibition had been “refreshed” six years ago, but the test dated back to 2000. Science Museum head of exhibitions Alex Tyrrell insisted: “At the time Who Am I? opened, multiple experts and our collaborators felt the exhibition content was a fair and responsible representation of the latest scientific research about human identity, including questions of sex and gender.”

But feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez did not seem to accept the museum’s explanation saying: “I’m disappointed to see the Science Museum endorse junk science.”