Friday, May 13, 2011

"Intra-Conservative Marriage Fight" Post Also Deleted

Don't know why, either. This is all that remains:

Gruntled Center: Intra-Conservative Marriage Fight

May 12, 2011 ... Intra-Conservative Marriage Fight. Keith Ablow, the libertarian psychiatrist who comments on medical matters for Fox News, ...

Maggie Gallagher took Keith Ablow to task for saying that marriage is oppressive to most marriaed people and produces high rates of depression. Social conservative Gallagher is right, and libertarian Ablow is wrong. Showing again that social conservatives and libertarians are opposites on family issues, as they are on most issues.

"Pregnot" Post Deleted - I Don't Know Why

On May 11 I posted an entry that, for unknown reasons, was lost (deleted?) by Blogger. All that remains is this much of a web-memory:

Gruntled Center: "Pregnot" Experiment Doesn't Justify the Deception

May 11, 2011 ... "Pregnot" Experiment Doesn't Justify the Deception. Gaby Rodriguez, a student at Toppenish High School in Washington state, pretended to be ...

The gist of the post was that a high school student who pretended to be pregnant as an "experiment" is in the wrong, and would not have gotten by a college-level Institutional Review Board. The deception hurt others, and was not necessary - she could have worked with a real pregnant student to see how others reacted to her. This was not so much an experiment as a stunt, which gives sociology, her intended college interest, a bad name.

"Obama or Palin?" as a Mate Selection Standard

Church attendance and political ideology top the list of similarities in a study of 500o married couples conducted by Rice University political scientist John Alford and colleagues.

The news report in Science Daily humorously suggests a new pickup line: "Obama or Palin?"

This sounds to me like an excellent experiment. I hope a speed-dating venue suggests that as an opening question. For all but the least politically aware, this would be a very efficient sorting test.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Intra-Conservative Marriage Fight

Keith Ablow, the libertarian psychiatrist who comments on medical matters for Fox News, says that marriage is a major cause of depression and a source of suffering for "the vast majority" of married people. He wants to abolish marriage, leaving couples to simply choose each other every day.

Maggie Gallagher, the social conservative founder of The National Organization for Marriage takes Ablow to task for having his facts all wrong.

In this fight, Gallagher is right.

The larger issue, I think, is that libertarians and social conservatives are opposites. Nowhere is this more clear than on family issues.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Pregnot" Experiment Doesn't Justify the Deception

Gaby Rodriguez, a student at Toppenish High School in Washington state, pretended to be pregnant all during her senior year as an experiment to gauge reaction. At a school assembly last week she revealed the deception, and read comments made to and about her.

I think the deception is not justified by the experiment. This is the kind of thing that gives sociology, her future planned major, a bad name. I don't think this experiment would have gotten by a college Institutional Review Board. There are plenty of actual pregnant girls like her in her high school and others like it that she could have enlisted for this experiment.

What is more remarkable is that almost no "results" of this experiment have been reported, though the incident has received wide publicity in marriage-studying circles.

The news reports suggest that her intention was to show that even smart girls get pregnant without marriage, and that other people should help them act as if this were no big deal. I think it is a big deal - proof of which is that she says she has no intention of actually getting pregnant until she is out of college. She did not mention anything about marriage.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Up With the Joneses

I tried a new assignment in my "Social Structure" class this year: a paper called "Keeping up with the Joneses."

Our aim was to explore the relationship between absolute class and relative status. I had students collect some markers of their own family's class - their parents' education, occupation, and income, and the family's major assets and expenses. With this information they could see where in the national class structure they fit.

Then I asked them to think about experiences they had that showed their status relative to peers and near-peers. One body of evidence came from times when they felt relatively poor or lower status, and times when they felt relatively rich or higher status, than those around them.

In class yesterday we compared experiences, and afterwards I read all the papers.

This turned out to be an eye-opening assignment. Many students had only the vaguest idea of their family's income, and had never asked before. Some parents - fathers, especially - were reluctant to give a specific answer, and not all did. A few students had a clear idea of their family's finances, especially if they were tight. In most cases, though, students thought of themselves as average, middle class people. And in most cases they were surprised to find that their families were significantly above the median income of American families.

They had no trouble remembering moments when they felt up or down relative to the status of someone near. Their stories from childhood turned on things they were not allowed to have, or had when a friend did not. If the parents did not supply an explanation of why some things were not to be had, the students as children had automatically supplied one explanation: we (they) can't afford it.

As they got older, though, students noticed status differences that turned on culture and learning, more than on objects and money. These status differences are more subtle, but more enduring. One excellent fruit of their education is that they gradually come to value understanding more than things.

The strongest emotion that came from most of my students' exploration of their family's class and status is gratitude for all that their families have made possible for them.

Monday, May 09, 2011

What Makes for Longevity

These are the two main conclusions that Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin reached in The Longevity Project:

Those who cared about others – who were agreeable but not necessarily sociable – often thrived even in the face of adversity. … they sought the best in others, which was key road to resilience.

And the summary of the whole book:
It was those who – through an often-complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, and close involvement with friends and communities – headed down meaningful, interesting life paths and … found their way back to these healthy paths each time they were pushed off the road.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Religious Women Live Longer

Religious women are very likely to live long lives. “It was the least religious women who were least likely to live a very long life.”

So conclude Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin in The Longevity Project. Since this study followed their subjects from elementary school until death, we can also see what these long-lived religious women were like as children. Even at eleven, they were more prudent, unselfish, and generous than other children. As adults there were more socially involved and outgoing. They were outgoing, but concerned - very friendly, but worriers. This sounds like many of the church moms I have known.

The least religious women, by contrast, were less likely to get and stay married, to have kids, to be involved, or to be trusting.

For men, family and work effects overwhelmed religious effects. For men, religious effects on longevity may be mediated through their wives and the community they create.