「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Who's stronger?

By Kip A. Cates


A key ability that young people need in our global information age is the skill of critical thinking. Learning to think critically means to question assumptions, avoid generalizations, examine evidence and analyze context.

I was born in a time of simple truths, when things were black and white, and commonly accepted "facts" weren't questioned. When I was a child, for example, it was taken for granted that men were stronger than women. Men have bigger bodies and stronger muscles. Women have smaller bodies and weaker muscles. Women were "the weaker sex."

Whenever someone asked "Who's stronger — men or women?" the answer was always, "Men, of course!" It was obvious. Everybody agreed. Common sense!

Common sense, however, often breaks down once you apply some critical thinking. A first step is to beware of generalizations. For kids of my generation, the claim that "men are stronger than women" implied that "all men are stronger than all women." Is that true? Of course not!

We can find plenty of evidence around us. Most of us know strong women from among our family, friends or acquaintances.

We can find more evidence in the world of sports. It may be true that the average man is physically stronger than the average woman. However, the average man wouldn't stand a chance in a competition of strength against weightlifters like Hiromi Miyake, pro boxers like Emiko Raika or Olympic wrestlers like Saori Yoshida.

Another step in thinking critically is to clarify definitions. Before you can say that "men are stronger than women," you have to define what you mean by "strong." And strength can be defined in a number of ways.

Infant mortality is one way. Doctors have long known that baby boys die at a higher rate than baby girls because boys are weaker at birth.

Longevity is another way. In Japan, the life expectancy for women is 86 years. For men, it's only 79. According to the World Health Organization, women live longer than men in every country around the globe. Of the world's people aged 110 or older, more than 95 percent are women.

Health is a third way to measure strength. Research has shown that women have stronger immune systems than men and are more resistant to disease. Some studies indicate that women can tolerate more pain and colder temperatures than men.

A final step in critical thinking is to analyze the social context. You can't conclude that "men are stronger than women" if society encourages boys to be strong and active but socializes girls to be weak and passive.

So, who's stronger, then — men or women? The best answer is that men are stronger than women in some ways but that women are stronger than men in other ways. There's no need to generalize. It all depends on the individual!



The Japan Times ST: August 14, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版