Friday, February 6, 2009

Scienceology at the Wall Street Journal

Recently in the WSJ: Women in the US are having babies younger because they don't care about work anymore. Or something. Maybe. Although it might just be that there are more of those baby-makin' Hispanic women now, or fewer teen abortions, or more pregnant b-ball superstars. Who knows? Let's throw a lot of women-spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks!

Like most bullshit trend stories, this one has a tell, and it's this paragraph:

A one-year reversal doesn't make a trend, of course. But the study lends weight to anecdotal evidence that young women are tuning in more closely to their biological clocks. "It's the first time it's ever gone down, and certainly that's noteworthy," says Brady Hamilton, co-author of the study.

Anecdotal evidence which consists of: a speciously unsupported opinion from a Marxist historian (WSJ, we hardly knew ye!)*, a "college graduate" who decided to have some kids instead of becoming a librarian, pregnant basketball phenom Candace Parker, and a twentysomething mom whose husband is still in college. You see what they just did there? Three anecdotes plus an expert: it's a trend!

OK, geniuses, this is not a "study." (PDF alert!) It's a CDC report on a bunch of data they just released for 2006. A "study" would generally have a question--like, say, "Are women putting their uteri into production at an astonishing rate or what? Maybe they hate work?" Its authors would then go about trying, in whatever flawed way available to them, to answer this question in good faith. And in contrast to the way things work at the Wall Street Journal, some people would actually have to read such a study, and spend a few minutes thinking critically about whether it was bullshit, before inflicting it on the rest of us in print. It's called peer review.

*This is sophomoric, but I cannot resist. The Marxist is named Stephanie Coontz. What are the odds?

No comments:

Post a Comment