That rebuttal was hysterical

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – That rebuttal was hysterical

That rebuttal was hysterical
Love her headline: Don’t marry a lazy man. Does that mean that if I start acting lazy, my girlfriend will stop nagging me about getting married? Is this supposed to get men up in arms? This is awesome. Why was a rebuttal necessary. The female point of view has been crowbarred into mass media by way of Desparate Housewives, and Dr. Phil. When a good piece of advice comes along for men, it’s attacked as being old fashioned and chauvinistic. Michale Noer’s column is opinion substantiated by statistics from peer reviewed journals such as The Journal of Sociology and the Journal of Marriage and Family. On the other hand Elizabeth Corcoran’s rebuttal provides laughable threats to men like: “start by going to the gym. Keep connected to the rest of the world. You’ll win-and so will your marriage.” Go to the gym or else what? Your wife will leave you? Lady, that’s GOOD news. My guess is that she takes umbrage to the fact that Michael Noer isn’t falling in line with social agendas that are being pushed to empower women. You know, the women who claim they like sex as much as men club and they don’t need to get married to be happy. In other words, the masculinization of women. Oh there are men who like to say they believe in those tenets as well. We call them the I’m sensitive, so do you want to sleep with me type. Works like a charm. Then Lizzy says she’s graduated from college, makes over 30K, and about to celebrate her 18th anniversary. Apparently these social scientists have been piddling their efforts with their fancy Ph.D’s and peer reviewed submissions, since she’s such a big success. Exception to the rule, cupcake, exception to the rule. There are more failed marriages than successful ones here in California. Two out of three end in divorce. Statistics don’t lie. So why not, as a male, seek the type of woman that Michael Noer suggests in order to increase the chances of the marriage surviving? Doesn’t the family deserve it? Finally, I love it when she refers to good-looking gals as nymphets just out of college. It proves once again that women are women’s worst enemy. In fact, if you’re a young hot woman, you’re probably not reading this article. Liz was probably a good looking gal (nymphet) at one point…but that was ages ago.

08-26-2006 03:33 AM

Re: That rebuttal was hysterical

I feel I need to inject some reality into this diatribe, as well.

1) I largely agree with your complaint that Corcoran’s response was ineffectual, mainly because personal stories about her marriage do not constitute much better than the typical “guy who” argument (i.e., “here all you doctors are telling me that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., but I know a guy who smoked 6 packs of Marlboro Reds every day until he died at the old age of 125”).  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the plural of anecdote is not data.  I do wish Forbes had published a stronger rebuttal.

However, 2) speaking of data: being a statistician and social scientist in the final year of his “fancy PhD” program, and having been published in the “peer reviewed” journals of which you speak so highly, I cannot let you go away thinking that because someone has quoted a few articles, their arguments are unassailable.  Nor can I leave unqualified the statement that “statistics don’t lie.”

The articles Noer cites were not necessarily meant to be interpreted in the manner that did.  The very authors of one of the articles he refers to have said as much in the past 24 hours, and that they feel that their work was misrepresented (much to their credit, they go on to say that we should not be put off by incidences such as these, but rather that we should strive to clarify our work to the media and the public.  In a sense, that’s what I hope I’m doing right now).  The data are probably pretty reasonable, but it’s wise to be skeptical of a) Noer’s interpretation of them and b) the number of data points he has left unrepresented that might oppose his stance (see for my fuller treatment of this argument).

You are right in saying that “statistics don’t lie” – but neither are they “truthful” in the sense that you mean.  Statistics are simply a tool, and they are easily made to support a number of differing political and ideological agendas.  My master’s thesis found, for example, that in a college sample, caucasians scored higher on the SAT than other ethnicities, but also that there was a strong linear relationship bewteen parent’s income and SAT score (i.e., the more money your Mom and Dad make, the better you do on the test).  You can imagine a number of different ways those two statistics might be used to forward various political and ideological agendas; neither of the data points themselves are lying – they are just open to interpretational differences (mine, which is supported by years of psychological, economic, and sociological research, was that money buys students a better education and a chance at expensive SAT prep courses.  Some people go so far as to say that the SAT is so poorly constructed as to be little more than a stand-in for various demographic variables.  See Owen, 1999, Rothstein, 2004, and Wagerman & Funder, 2006).

Consider also that in the 1970’s, a scientist named Goddard used the low-average IQ scores of first generation Italian-American children to conclude that 79% of Italian immigrants were “feeble-minded” (if you’re Italian, don’t feel badly; he drew the same conclusion for Russians, Jews, and Hungarians, as well).  While he technically had the all-powerful “data” on his side when he reported this, amazingly, later generations of immigrants showed normal or above normal IQs (probably reflecting the fact that they could speak English at level high enough to understand what the tests were asking of them).  Kapische?  If you’re still in doubt about the questionable nature of statistics, you might want to pick up a now-classical book called “How to Lie With Statistics”, ISBN#0393310728.

3) You ask, “why not, as a male, seek the type of woman that Michael Noer suggests in order to increase the chances of the marriage surviving?”  The problem is, he doesn’t offer any suggestions.  He just says we shouldn’t marry career women.  Who, then, should we marry?  He operationally defines the hated “career woman” as one with a college education who earns more than $30K per year – so I suppose his implicit suggestion is that men everywhere dash out and marry women with no higher than a HS degree and a crap job at the local fast food joint.  Some of these women are perfectly wonderful people and quite worth marrying, I’m certain – but it’s just not solid advice for everybody, if indeed this was what he meant for men to do.

4) Finally, I must point out that after all of your bashing of Elizabeth Corcoran for her touchy-feely, data-free rebuttal, your argument was mainly an irritable ethos appeal with a little bit of ad hominem mixed in (pardon the pun, since the target was female).  Talking about the “masculinization of women”, “sensitive men looking to get laid”, and how “Lizzy” was probably hot when she was young hardly qualifies as a dispassionate, logic-based counterpoint worthy of peer-reviewed submission, itself.

You’ll probably hate me for this, and I’ll get another round of irrelevant personal attacks in response.  But that’s okay with me; it’s my job (literally) to encourage skepticism and rationality.  When people get angry because I demand a higher level of thought than they’re used to providing and (metaphorically) stomp about the message board in futile, macho-child fury, it affects me not in the slightest.  A thoughtful, logic-based response, however, always makes me happy.

What’s it going to be?


08-26-2006 05:19 AM

Re: That rebuttal was hysterical
You wanted a better rebuttal huh? I guess it’s proved impossible to dispute truth.

Hello PsyGuy. So you’re a budding Ph.D. or future Ph.D.. I myself have a post-doc in Chemistry and know that we build on other scientists research. So when I see that a group has conducted a study and published it in a peer reviewed journal, it’s up to others to duplicate it, test it’s validity, and take it to the next level if need be. Although I admit, in Physical Science, we look at Social Science as sort of a “soft” science. But they do indeed conduct research which is mainly funded by government programs. For us it’s the NIH, NSF, and the like. Who said anything about being unassailable? When I said peer reviewed, that means it open for criticism. That’s science at work and at it’s best. I guess you’ll learn that when you publish something.

Marriages are failing. There’s no sugar coating it. BTW, you said “you are right in saying that statistics don’t lie – but neither are they truthful in the sense that you mean.” Is that supposed to be some hip yet ironic statement. We’re not doing statistics orals in front of faculty PsyGuy. We’re not being graded here so you can cut the statistics lecture. Two out of three marriages end up in divorce. It is what it is. Occams razor states the simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations.

Of course the original authors of the articles are standing up and saying they’re being misrepresented. Who wants to be associated to a polarizing bombthrower? As a social “scientist”, you should know that this would affect future funding of your research. I thought this point goes without saying.

The author doesn’t offer any suggestions huh? Hmm. Let’s see. Marry a woman who DOESN’T work over 35 hours a week, who DOESN’T have a university level education and DOESN’T make over 35K a year. Notice all I did was add the word doesn’t to the the original statements. Of course this won’t work for every man. This is a broad statement but Noer is talking to a broad group of people. He can’t give advice to fit every man’s lifestyle. He’s merely suggesting that if you want to increase your chances for marriage survival, then marry a certain type of woman. It doesn’t guarantee anything.

Point four was quite comical PsyGuy…”hardly qualifies as a dispassionate, logic-based counterpoint worthy of peer-reviewed submission, itself.” Whew (wipe forehead). That’s why I posted it on FORBES.COM! That was some observation.

People on this board, let alone, are no doubt of the educated variety. Men are venting because common sense has died in this country. Again I ask, why did we need a rebuttal? Yes it is an opinion, but it did not merit being censured. If women are truly being empowered these days, then this column wouldn’t affect them in the least. But it did. It made local and national news. It may have set them back a few years.

Finally, you say “When people get angry because I demand a higher level of thought than they’re used to.” Stop upgrading yourself. You haven’t brought anything new or original to dispute Michael Noer’s column. Let’s talk when you get that fancy Ph.D.

There you go Psy”Guy”

Message Edited by forbesfan on 08-26-2006 11:27 AM

08-26-2006 11:12 AM

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