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The notion of trigger warnings rubs me the wrong way for a number of reasons I shan’t go into here, so I’m simply not going to post a link to the article in the Telegraph Vanessa at Feministing discusses here, the one saying that if women didn’t go around dressing like that, they wouldn’t get raped.


So, what you can take away from this is . . . isn’t much, as it turns out, what with the actual study saying nothing of the sort. In fact, it says next to nothing about women, focusing on rape as it relates to rapists.

When you get right down to it, in fact, it says nothing at all, because the methodolgy is more than a little shaky:

[Researcher Sophia] Shaw spoke to about 100 men, presenting them with various situations around being with a woman, and asking them when they would call it a night, in order to explore men’s attitudes towards coercing women into sex. “I’m very aware that there are limitations to my study. It’s self report data about sensitive issues, so that’s got its flaws, participants were answering when sober, and so on.”

But that doesn’t excuse the famously socially conservative paper misrepresenting the study’s conclusions.

So it really looks like they were just trying to be provocative. And, um, wrong. Science journalism sucks, but it’s not typically this bad, Which would be fine if they were just amusing themselves—chacun a son goût and all that—but this sort of thing just perpetuates the idea in society that women can do things to avoid being victimized. And therefore that women who don’t do those things are in some sense willing to be victimized, and not, say, trying to live their lives as if they’re free people.

But ultimately the problem with this isn’t that the results are bad. It would be interesting, to say the least, if we discovered actual solid proof that there is something a woman can do to guarantee she won’t be attacked, however unpopular that might be politically. The problem is that a major British newspaper willlfully misrepresented a study. That’s where the harm comes in.


If you’re on the Internet, as you know, you’re a nerdy loser with no social skills.

However, according to an article in the New York Times, some senior citizens who have little opportunity to interact with people are finding social networking sites such as Facebook help them stay engaged with the world.

The average age of my Facebook friends appears to be mid-30s, but I can certainly see how it might be beneficial to the housebound elderly. Indeed, social networking is useful to all manner of marginalized populations

(And even the shy: I met my first partner on Usenet, years ago, which indirectly led to meeting my current partner on LiveJournal in 2004.)

A quote I’ve always treasured is “on the Internet, everything and nothing is normal.” This was meant as a dig at people who try to outweird each other (and at people into freaky-ass shit who take refuge in the fact that there are others like them, as though finding a community of phryneroticists makes doing toads not be weird.) But there’s also a positive side. It is useful for making people feel less alone, and gives people who feel stigmatized—e.g., by illness or old age—a place to find their fellows and interact with their peers.

(I could have written about orgasms, but no. In my defense, that would inevitably led to my talking about my sex life, and neither of us wants that.)

Most science coverage in daily newspapers is wrong.

Oh, I have no doubt the science is (generally) right. Most studies demonstrate what they demonstrate, it just doesn’t make for exciting reading. For example, this study showing that coffee lowers your risk of dementia. The study shows no more than that the people who drink less coffee (and my current two cups a day puts me in the “less coffee” category) overlap with people who have a greater instance of Alzheimer’s. There’s no indication that either of these things causes the other one, or which. In other words, it’s a starting point at best.

But that’s not interesting. No one wants to read a story that basically says “well, there seem to be a lot more people in both of tese groups than in only one of them.” Something like Alzheimer’s disease is complicated, the sum of a myriad of genetic and environmental factors that interact in unpredictable ways. Studies, by design, isolate one behavior and look at it. There’s no proof of correlation there, or even proof it’s not a coincidence.

In fact, some news reports of studies showing an obvious correlation get that obvious correlation backwards. This was probably written about in the papers because it has breasts in it, just as this one has sex in it, as does this one. That second one even brings the good news that the Independent‘s readers should have more, and those rotten kids should have less (which it turns out they do).

There’s nothing wrong with science coming to the masses. But before acting on anything you read, take a moment to consider what it actually says.

My e-mail tempts me with promises that every hot woman will ask me about the time, and offers to add spices to my bed. The second would be messy, but the first would be intriguing if attenton from hot women were missing from my life.

Well, soon it may happen. Larry J. Young, a research neurochemist at Emory Univversity, say’s he’s found the neurochemical basis of love. I exaggerate, he acknowledges it’s a touch more complex then that.

Young is also convinced that love does not boil down to one single hormone. Other studies have shown that differences in a gene called major histocompatibility complex, which affects the immune system, may be involved in initial sexual attraction. For males, the hormone vasopressin appears to be more important.

However, many of the people saying it can’t work seem to have more of a visceral than a scientific objection.

Fisher also disagreed with Young on the nature of biological love: Rather than a single reproductive imperative repurposed into other feelings, she believes there are three distinct brain systems for sex, romance and attachment.

Young is little concerned with the possibility of unethical uses, though he does note that a love potion can hep strengthen legitimate relationships. I’m not sure how this is different from a date-rape drug, beyond that there would be a sort of manipulated consent which in the long run would probably be wrse for the victims, and women in general, than anything actually available.

” צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף [Justice, justice shall you pursue].”–Deuteronomy 16:20

According to a study, pooches don’t like being screwed. If one of two dogs is given a reward, the other becomes disobedient—more so that a dog being tested alone.

Dogs, in other words, can detect unfair treatment, at least when it’s happening to them. Other studies have also shown that dogs experience jealousy. These most human of all human emotions may cross species lines more than we think.

This isn’t exactly noble, of course. It’s looking out for number one. Dogs don’t care that there’s suffering in the world if it’s not happening to them. Not really admirable; very human.

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