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Witten's androgen sensitivity

The stereotype is that jocks and cheerleaders tend to be oversexed, and nerds tend to be weakly sexed. I think there may be something to this stereotype. I happen to know some very smart people. And if I were to ask any of the smartest people I know, who they think the smartest person in the world is (ignoring the thorny issue of whether that question makes any sense), Ed Witten would be the first person who comes to mind for most, if not all, of them. He's also the first person who comes to my mind when I think of that question, although I've only ever seen him lecture once and barely understand most of the papers he writes, so I don't begin to think I'm a competent judge of that.

Having watched this video, after recently posting a link to these comments regarding this study on a possible link between androgen sensitivity and IQ (g factor), I can't help but wonder what Ed Witten's androgen sensitivity is (the stronger the sensitivity, the more strongly gendered... the less sensitive, the more androgynous the way I think of it). Watch the first 5 minutes of this video, featuring Ed Witten, and then answer: does he come across as more masculine, androgynous, feminine, or robot/AI? I would say a combination (mostly feminine/robot), but he certainly seems like a person who might have low androgen sensitivity. (Apologies to him and to everyone else for judging on such superficial criteria... this is intended primarily as a thought-provoking speculative exercise, not as a specific claim or the advancement of a pre-existing theory)

(incidentally, this is part 5 of Stephen Hawking's Universe, Episode 6)

"Future historians of science will have to decide just how much of the excitement of string theory was inherent to string theory, and how much was imposed by Ed Witten’s very unusual intelligence. I’d guess about 40/60" - Howard Georgi, Harvard University

"What you've got to understand, is that Witten is a machine." - my advisor, taken somewhat out of context from a lunch conversation a month ago.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
It only looks ironic because you're spelling "androgynous" in a non-standard way. "andro-gen" means "male-generate" while "andro-gyn" means "male-female". So androgens make males, and androgynous people have both male and female traits.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh! Thanks for pointing that out... I never realized the point of the word androgynous was to combin andro and gyn. Probably why I can never remember how it's spelled :)
Sep. 23rd, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
I went ahead and corrected the spelling above.

(androgenous -> androgynous) for those reading this later, trying to figure out what we're talking about.
Sep. 27th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've actually heard that theory before, but not from Mr Witten. I find it fascinating and wonder if it's true.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 27th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, that makes a bit more sense considering his field. That's what I get for reading entries after I've just woken up. I'll go and watch it soon. :)
Sep. 27th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
Witten has no connection to the IQ-androgen study. He's the world's leading (most heavily cited) physicist, and considered by many to be the smartest person in the world (if there is such a thing). I just find it interesting, in light of the study, that he comes across as more feminine than masculine to most people. I have no idea whether he's aware of the study or if he is what he would think of it, or if he has ever thought about his own gender identity. I'd highly recommend watching the first 5 minutes of the video, though, as he has a pretty unique and interesting pattern of speech.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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