Research first. Outrage later.

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Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Wraith » 16 Jul 2013, 07:14

I take a lot of flack for some of my social positions. Many of them are not very popular (though I'm pleased to be finding out that some of them are gaining in momentum), and philosophical clashes are inevitable. I don't mind that so much. You know what does bother me? How much of the flack I take is driven by factual inaccuracies. Particularly, the fact that internet activism seems far too driven by a "share first, confirm later" mindset. People post something shocking, and rather than investigating whether it's true - or at the very least what evidence there is to support it - people simply say OMG and hit the "share" button. Next thing I know, there's a million people all parroting the same mis-information, and using it as proof of their personal philosophy. Nowhere is this more the case (at least in my experience) than with North American gender studies students.

The problem with gender studies classes is that they really haven't changed much from their origins as women's studies classes; which, instead of adopting the scientific method of discovery, where you ask a question and do research to find the answer, instead begins with a belief - namely that women are systematically oppressed in North America - and then do research to prove it. Any scientist will tell you that this approach corrupts research because it starts with a prejudice towards a single result,thus reducing if not eliminating objectivity.

Case in point:

By Cathy Young

A few months ago, a post with a shocking claim about misogyny in America began to circulate on Tumblr, the social media site popular with older teens and young adults. It featured a scanned book page section stating that, according to "recent survey data," when junior high school students in the Midwest were asked what they would do if they woke up "transformed into the opposite sex," the girls showed mixed emotions but the boys' reaction was straightforward: "'Kill myself' was the most common answer when they contemplated the possibility of life as a girl." The original poster--whose comment was, "Wow"--identified the source as her "Sex & Gender college textbook," The Gendered Society by Michael Kimmel.

The post quickly caught on with Tumblr's radical feminist contingent: in less than three months, it was reblogged or "liked" by over 33,000 users. Some appended their own comments, such as, "Yeah, tell me again how misogyny 'isn't real' and men and boys and actually 'like,' 'love' and 'respect the female sex'? This is how deep misogynistic propaganda runs... As Germaine Greer said, 'Women have no idea how much men hate them.'"

Yet, as it turns out, the claim reveals less about men and misogyny than it does about gender studies and academic feminism.

I was sufficiently intrigued to check out Kimmel's reference: a 1984 book called The Longest War: Sex Differences in Perspective by psychologists Carol Tavris and Carole Wade. The publication date was the first tipoff that the study's description in the excerpt was not entirely accurate: the "recent" data had to be about thirty years old. Still, did American teenage boys in the early 1980s really hold such a dismal view of being female?

When I obtained a copy of The Longest War, I was shocked to discover that the claim was not even out of context: it seemed to have no basis at all, other than one comment among examples of negative reactions from younger boys (the survey included third- through twelfth-grade students, not just those in junior high). Published in 1983 by the Institute for Equality in Education, the study had some real fodder for feminist arguments: girls generally felt they would be better off as males while boys generally saw the switch as a disadvantage, envisioning more social restrictions and fewer career options (many responses seemed based on stereotypes--e.g., husband-hunting as a girl's main training for adulthood--than 1980s reality). But that's not nearly as dramatic as "I'd rather kill myself than be a girl."

Hoping for clarification, I emailed Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York and a leading scholar in gender studies. Kimmel replied that he had indeed relied on the Tavris and Wade book; he added that he "had intended to remove the reference" as dated and would definitely do it for the next edition. (The Gendered Society has gone through five editions since 2000; the fourth, cited in the Tumblr post, appeared in 2011.) When I asked about the mismatch between his account of the study and his source, Kimmel promised to look into it after returning from a lecture tour; two weeks later, he emailed to say that he did not have The Longest War at hand and could not explain the discrepancy. He conceded that he might have "misquoted" Tavris and Wade, noting that he felt this did not affect his overall argument and hoping that I could "evaluate the larger value of the book without being distracted by a single error."

What, then, about the larger value of The Gendered Society, described on its back cover as "one of the most balanced gender studies texts available"? Unlike some conservative critics of feminism, I am sympathetic to Kimmel's professed goal of a society in which women and men are individuals first regardless of gender, and to his argument that the sexes have far more in common than Mars-Venus rhetoric suggests. Unfortunately, these principles coexist with a steady drumbeat of female victimhood and male wrongdoing--often backed by tendentious or downright distorted evidence.

Thus, The Gendered Society's discussion of gender in the workplace briefly acknowledges that women's earnings are driven down by family-related work interruptions--but still treats gender gaps in pay and advancement almost entirely as the wages of discrimination, summarily dismissing the factor of sex differences in worker motivation. (Amusingly, Kimmel also asserts that mostly female jobs pay less due to sexism but doesn't notice that in his own tables of the most single-sex-dominated occupations, the two highest-paid jobs--dental hygienist and speech-language pathologist--are nearly all-female.) The narrative is often contradictory. Thus, after citing staggering statistics of how many women are sexually harassed at work, Kimmel claims that the motive for harassment is almost invariably hostile--"to put women back in their place." A paragraph later, he notes that the truth in sexual harassment cases is often elusive because the man may see "an innocent indication of sexual interest or harmless joking" where the woman sees sexual pressure.

The chapter on "The Gendered Classroom" uncritically repeats tales of girls' woes--for instance, that girls' self-esteem "plummets" in junior high school--without mentioning that they have been strongly disputed, not just by critics of feminism but by mainstream psychologists. The assertion that "girls' IQs fall by about thirteen points," compared to three for boys, is drawn from a 1935 book. (Ironically, Kimmel is then left scrambling to explain how "the systematic demolition of girls' self-esteem, the denigration of their abilities, and the demotion of their status" results in a situation in which girls outperform boys academically at every level.)

Predictably, The Gendered Society also depicts American culture as saturated with male violence toward women. After quoting feminist anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday's assertion that "the lower the status of women relative to men, the higher the rape rate," Kimmel invites readers to consider what this says about women in the United States, which "has the highest rate of reported rape in the industrial world--about eighteen times higher than England."

Oh really (to borrow the title of Kimmel's sarcastic sidebars intended to rebut different views of gender relations)? According to United Nations statistics, in 2010 the reported rape rate in the U.S.--27.3 per 100,000 people--was slightly lower than in England and Wales, at 28.8 per 100,000; in the six years previous years, it was 5 to 30 percent higher. (Belgium's reported rape rate in recent years has been similar to that of the U.S., and sometimes slightly higher; in Sweden, it stands at about 60 per 100,000, no doubt due to an unusually broad definition.) Since Kimmel's footnotes did not indicate the source, I emailed again to ask him about it; the best citation he could offer was an essay by feminist psychologist Patricia Rozee, "Rape Resistance: Successes and Challenges" in The Handbook of Women, Psychology and the Law (2005), which offers the (unsourced) claim that the U.S. rape rate is "twelve times that of England."

Kimmel also recycles the claim from feminist advocacy groups that "domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the nation"; in fact, Centers for Disease Control and Bureau of Justice Statistics data show that women suffer about five times as many injuries from accidental falls and about twice as many from car accidents as they do from all violence (about a third of which is inflicted by partners or ex-partners).

Meanwhile, research on women as perpetrators of domestic violence is dismissed as "a small chorus of voices shouting about 'husband abuse,'" with no mention of the fact that many of these voices belong to female scholars (except for one paragraph ridiculing sociologist Suzanne Steinmetz) or that there are by now over 200 studies indicating similar levels of male and female aggression in relationships. Kimmel also charges that such studies conflate aggression and self-defense, an argument that has been convincingly refuted. His use of anecdotal evidence is equally skewed: noting that talk of female violence is belied by the lack of battered men asking for protection, he adds in a sarcastic aside that "O.J. Simpson did call himself an 'abused husband.'" But one could easily choose a different celebrity example--for instance, actor/comedian Phil Hartman, shot by his wife Brynn (who, friends' accounts suggested, had been violent before) in a murder-suicide.

No scholarly text is ever error-free. But in the case of Kimmel's book, there is a consistent pattern of using selective evidence and even pseudo-facts to stress women's victimization and paint males (particularly American males) in the worst light. The fictitious claim that most boys would choose death over girlhood--which will undoubtedly live on the Internet after it's gone from future editions of the book--fits seamlessly into the big picture.

Internet myths aside, The Gendered Society is widely used in college courses. And if it is indeed the most balanced gender studies textbook available--which may well be true--that says a lot about the rest.





TL;DR: One of the most popular gender-studies textbooks is filled with badly skewered and misleading data, factual inaccuracies, and ignores dependable, impartial sources in favor heavily biased ones.

Do the world a favor: if you're going to argue a social philosophy, see if you can find evidence for your cited facts from unbiased sources. If you're getting facts from a biased source, and they claim "this is what an unbiased source says," see if you can actually find said claim from said source. If you're lobbying for social change that could impact millions or even billions, based on this information, it is ethically and intellectually irresponsible to do anything less.
Last edited by Wraith on 16 Jul 2013, 07:53, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Merrymaker_Mortalis » 16 Jul 2013, 07:45

I apologise that I haven't read all the text you've shared. I read the first and last paragraph. I find even well-formated text difficult to read.
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But, it does annoy me when people have opinions/insights from inaccurate sources. My father is an ecologist, so he's shared a lot of his experience of people being, passionate and ignorant. The environment is a topic where this is common. Especially with "celebrity" naturalists who are essentially retarded.

For example, near by to me (10 miles away) is a massive forest made up of pine trees. The trees are not British native. The forest was in fact planted about 50 years ago, after the second world war. The forest was planted to provide fast and cheap timber.It shouldn't even exist.

It was proposed that the forest should be cut-down because the forest is planted on sand dunes. Sand dunes are a habitat that is thrives on being dynamic. The sand must keep dynamically moving. Plants and animals who live on sand dunes have adapted to live in that environment. The tree's roots binds the sand together to prevent it shifting. The trees themselves block the sand movement. The trees, since they aren't native, compete with native plants. The plants in the part of the world aren't adapted to deal with those alien trees. Therefore the variety of plants in the forest is essentially none. The trees kill off all other plants. They literally block out the sun. This means practically nothing lives in the forest. Except, one key animal to this point.

THE RED SQUIRREL

The red squirrel is an endangered animal in Britain. It's native. However it is threatened by the alien squirrel which is the Grey Squirrel. That grey squirrel magically came to Britain (bred for fur/shooting and escaped) ans directly compete with the Red Squirrel for food. Grey Squirrels eats nuts which are less ripened. The Red squirrels therefore have less food and starve.

On topic. They have been trying to reintroduce Red Squirrels back into this area. For some reason, there was an enclosure of red squirrels in this alien-forest. Not sure why, perhaps, acclimating them to the countryside which consists of alien trees? A few escaped (aided? no one will ever know). So all of a sudden, in this forest which shouldn't exist and would be cut down there are escaped rare and endangered red squirrels (which shouldn't have been there.

So needless to say, the MOB rallied against cutting down the forest that SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE because frankly:

Cute Fluffy Animal >>> Sandy habitat of little things no one cares about.

Thing is, once people who were against the cutting of the forest had explained what was actually going on, they understood. Their minds were changed.

Also, the sand dunes are a natural barrier against flooding (during high tides with low pressure and other fun conditions). A forest isn't.
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Flip side: Windturbines are a big issue where I live also. I have people coming round asking me to sign a petition against "Thingy fobby Windturbine blobby Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty Blah Government Proposes". Like, when I actually ask them questions, they give vague answers or answer a different question. To then I say:

"I'm sorry. I cannot sign your petition. Because you haven't explained to me clearly what it is I am signing"

I can't get involved with any 'movement' or sign any petition in less someone can explain to me why. Airy fairy vagueness won't wash. You can't exploit my emotions.

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Whilst we're at it. DOMESTICATED CATS AREN'T MAKING ANY SIGNIFICANT AFFECT ON THE NUMBERS OF SONG BIRDS IN BRITAIN. IT'S HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE DESTROYING HABITATS (TEARING UP HEDGEROWS/CUTTING DOWN WOODS/TREES) WHICH ARE THE BIGGEST REASON.

AND CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING. BUT BECAUSE THE AREAS IN THE WORLD WHO ARE AT MOST RISK AREN'T IN THE WESTERN COUNTRIES, IT'S PERCEIVED AS A LOWER RISK THAN IT IS
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby ecocd » 17 Jul 2013, 08:35

Dear Wraith,

Facts don't sell nearly as well as opinions.

Sincerely,
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby empath » 17 Jul 2013, 12:55

Also, these bulk of these 'causes' are populated by teens and twenty-somethings who, and please forgive me for being blunt here, are still trying to get a handle on the optimum ratio of 'heart ruling the head' instead of vice versa. Don't get me wrong, passion and conviction are great - they get things done, they change the world...but they're impatient, and the whole idea of 'ask questions first and (maybe) shoot later' is both disagreeable and unwanted...

So, congrats, W - I guess you're "the old man" now! ;) I'll see about sending you a cane - something with a good grip to it so you can waggle it at foolish young'uns with ease and panache. :mrgreen:
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 17 Jul 2013, 22:09

I'll always stand up for research over blind re-posting. The scientific method above all else.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby empath » 18 Jul 2013, 06:33

Heh; I really need to get a "citation needed" cap from wiki to plaster on the 'tumbr-activism' that keeps drifting across my feed...
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Wraith » 22 Jul 2013, 12:43

empath wrote:Also, these bulk of these 'causes' are populated by teens and twenty-somethings who, and please forgive me for being blunt here, are still trying to get a handle on the optimum ratio of 'heart ruling the head' instead of vice versa. Don't get me wrong, passion and conviction are great - they get things done, they change the world...but they're impatient, and the whole idea of 'ask questions first and (maybe) shoot later' is both disagreeable and unwanted...


Agreed, and I totally get what you're saying about the post that went viral. That being said:

--The textbook was written by a professor, and broadly accepted by academia.

--The person who posted the except originally was at least in college.

--The ridiculously skewered sources he used included, among others, essays highly-praised in gender-studies circles.

In short, the Tumblr crowd may be thew worst offenders, but the problem has seeped into society, as well. It's particularly so anytime a stat or a figure lends itself to broadly accepted societal notions, particularly if people are conditioned to feel like they're doing something wrong if they question something.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby 2stepz » 22 Jul 2013, 14:07

Re: the rape statistic issue quoted in Wraith's original post

I have had this issue on a forum before. Some crazy NYC chick was ranting about how everyone has been raped and it's not a big deal and yadda yadda yadda. I pulled government statistics and quoted her chapter and verse from a recent government report on rape statistics... it did NOT go over well, but at least I tried.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby AlexanderDitto » 22 Jul 2013, 16:17

Wraith wrote:--The textbook was written by a professor, and broadly accepted by academia.


I will reserve my comments to this thread except to provide the following insight: as someone currently embedded in academia, I can tell you: that a textbook was written by a professor, or that it is cited or used in academia, or assigned to students for a course, even that it was published at all, is no measure of its quality.

Text books seem to undergo a less rigorous peer-review than other publications, like journal articles or conference papers.

There are many reasons textbooks are published, and providing a good source of ground-truth or instructional material is often not one of them. In my estimation, this is least true in the hard sciences, moderately true in the soft sciences, and most true in the humanities.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Wraith » 22 Jul 2013, 18:29

AlexanderDitto wrote:
Wraith wrote:--The textbook was written by a professor, and broadly accepted by academia.


I will reserve my comments to this thread except to provide the following insight: as someone currently embedded in academia, I can tell you: that a textbook was written by a professor, or that it is cited or used in academia, or assigned to students for a course, even that it was published at all, is no measure of its quality.

Text books seem to undergo a less rigorous peer-review than other publications, like journal articles or conference papers.

There are many reasons textbooks are published, and providing a good source of ground-truth or instructional material is often not one of them. In my estimation, this is least true in the hard sciences, moderately true in the soft sciences, and most true in the humanities.


I can believe that. Humanities in general seems to be a topic likely to be influenced by personal view. That being said, it's disturbing that such a popular and respected text book could be so misleading.

It just bothers me that people come out of these classes thinking they've reached the height of social enlightenment because they've been properly educated regarding the harsh injustices facing American women; and then I start reading article after article about horrible skewed numbers, heavily biased teachers, and in some cases blatant, easily disprovable false-hoods used to promote their particular social view.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Merrymaker_Mortalis » 23 Jul 2013, 02:36

AlexanderDitto wrote:
Wraith wrote:--The textbook was written by a professor, and broadly accepted by academia.


I will reserve my comments to this thread except to provide the following insight: as someone currently embedded in academia, I can tell you: that a textbook was written by a professor, or that it is cited or used in academia, or assigned to students for a course, even that it was published at all, is no measure of its quality.

Text books seem to undergo a less rigorous peer-review than other publications, like journal articles or conference papers.

There are many reasons textbooks are published, and providing a good source of ground-truth or instructional material is often not one of them. In my estimation, this is least true in the hard sciences, moderately true in the soft sciences, and most true in the humanities.


Sort of related. In a shop I volunteer at, we stock a book that Mocks the opinion of people [derived from strong evidence] that Birds are descended from Dinosaurs. And claims that "obviously" that they were made by God.
This book annoys me so much. But I don't think I can do anything about it being stocked because the shop is ran by Devoted Christians. I don't want to cause confrontation. But it angers me that we sell a product that states something Scientifically wrong.

The book is a colouring book themed around birds that are mentioned in the Bible aimed at children.

What annoys me is that the person's opinion was put across as fact despite it being blind-faith.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 23 Jul 2013, 08:23

All that Christian Science stuff bothers me... hide the book.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 23 Jul 2013, 09:03

Sneakily move those books to the Fiction section.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby MotorWaffle » 23 Jul 2013, 11:46

In relation to the paragraph on "husband abuse", as someone who's job it partially is to go through police reports, I can confirm that it happens surprisingly often.
Also, Christian Science books? Really? I'm one of the more devout Catholics I know and that sounds terribly silly.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Geoff_B » 24 Jul 2013, 00:25

Careful. Christian Science is completely different from what you're talking about.

I thought the point was research BEFORE outrage? :P
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 24 Jul 2013, 10:24

I am aware of what Christian Science is. I believe I meant to type 'Christian science' and not 'Christian Science'. Sorry for the confusion.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2013, 11:24

I don't know....both sound fishy to me. Witchcraft I say.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Geoff_B » 24 Jul 2013, 12:13

Fezzul wrote:I am aware of what Christian Science is. I believe I meant to type 'Christian science' and not 'Christian Science'. Sorry for the confusion.


No prob. And I was probably a bit too snarky in my response.

In any case opinions should never be mocked however much we disagree with them. That's what I think anyway.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2013, 15:45

I'm on the side that opinions should be mocked if they are bad. Have I Got News ripping on what politicians say for example.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 24 Jul 2013, 15:56

Mocked, no. Refuted with research, yes.

That's actually a problem I have with parts of the atheist movement. I'm an atheist and identify as such, but sometimes the so-called arrogant atheists are more offensive to me than religious zealots.

The end goal of an atheist "movement" should be to get people to be atheists. You don't convince people to be atheists by going "Oh you believe in God? Do you also believe in Rapunzel and the Tooth Fairy? You're an idiot." And that's a very tame example. You put people off. Just like you don't win an argument with name calling.

I think the key to a successful atheist movement is actually something that most reasonable religious people would agree to: Developing a good education system.

But I digest...

Edit: I also love 'have I got news'. Hislop is an expert in mockery, but he also researched what he talks about thoroughly. Which is why he is able to be so cutting.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2013, 15:59

I think you mean digress. Auto-correct?

The way Hislop does his mocking through research is what I meant.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 24 Jul 2013, 16:00

No, I did it deliberately for comic effect.
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2013, 16:01

Jokes are funny. ooooooooooooooooo served
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Fezzul » 24 Jul 2013, 16:07

Your face is funny...

"Oh no he didn't!"
"Oh yes he did!"
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Re: Research first. Outrage later.

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2013, 16:08

*Cries in the corner*
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