That’s according to research from the Netherlands where scientists claim they have evidence showing that even planning on talking to a woman negatively affects a man’s ability to think.

The whole thing seems pretty insulting to men, as if the presence of a woman turned them into slavering beasts. It also seems a bit ridiculous. After all, men spend their days surrounded by women – working with women, studying at the same colleges, catching buses, trains or sharing the same road space, queuing in banks or coffee shops etc etc. None of these are segregated spaces, which if this study was correct, would mean that men spend their days in a fug of indecision and stupidity.

I can imagine that a specific woman (or man) might have an effect… being around someone whom you find particular attractive can scramble anyone’s brains. But this study says that merely the presence of women is enough to affect men’s ability to think (or impairs their cognitive function to use the shrink jargon.)

It’s always wise to be a bit sceptical about psychological studies. A great deal of the time, meta-analyses of all studies covering a particular topic show that the evidence cannot always be reliably replicated, or that other studies contradict the initial findings, or that the effects are so slight they are negligible.