Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Hi, Baby-Making Factories!

1.  The USAToday's Summary of New CDC Recommendations

The Big Brother has arrived!  According to the USAToday:

Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.
"The risk is real. Why take the chance?” Schuchat asked.
The CDC estimates 3.3 million women between ages 15 to 44 are at risk of exposing a developing fetus to alcohol because they drink, are sexually active and not using birth control. Even when women are actively trying to get pregnant, three in four continue drinking after they stop using birth control, according to the CDC report.
There is no known safe level of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, according to the CDC. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women abstain completely from alcohol while pregnant.

The bolds are mine.  Read the first bolded sentence and then the second bolded sentence.  Notice any difference?  The hook in the article tells us that all women not using contraception who belong to a usually fertile age group should stop drinking, for the sake of future babies (whether planned or completely imaginary, and even if they will be born to someone else).  Even Lesbians, hermits, nuns, other celibate individuals and infertile people should abstain from alcohol!  Any woman might accidentally fall upon a penis, I guess.

Now imagine the Pre-Pregnancy Police coming for you if you try to get a drink and don't have enough wrinkles to prove your new legal drinking age! (1)  Bartenders and other volunteers might refuse to serve you that glass of wine or at least first demand to know if you are on the pill, and then decide if you are allowed to drink.

The Pre-Pregnancy Police doesn't yet exist.  But the Pregnancy Police, in the form of not only actual police but also concerned volunteers is a real thing and a real pest for pregnant women. I guess one advantage of this new recommendation is that now those helpful strangers can pester all younger women equally and not just the ones who are visible pregnant.

After writing that rant about the USAToday summary I read what the CDC  actually says:

An estimated 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report released today. The report also found that 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible do not stop drinking alcohol when they stop using birth control.
Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.

Bolds are mine.

That is not the same as the first sentence in the USAToday story.  I wish newspapers didn't promote shitty journalism.

2.  The CDC Recommendations.  On Statistics And Medical Studies.

But even more I wish that the people at CDC had a better understanding of statistics, more transparency about what  medical research actually shows and doesn't show.  I also wish that they had hired someone who would have edited the writing  in this sentence:

 An estimated 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Those 3.3 million women don't all have "a developing baby".  They are potentially at risk for becoming pregnant.  Those two are very different things, and what is developing during any resulting pregnancy is not called a baby until it is born. 

For the statistical problems, consider this quote that was used in the USAToday article as well as in the original CDC report:

About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.

That half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned does NOT mean that every woman has a 50% chance of having an unintended pregnancy!  Yet all public health announcements aimed at fertile women seem to assume that the 50% frequency difference applies to every single fertile woman, even those who don't have heterosexual intercourse.

The actual situation is quite different, as this Guttmacher Institute graph shows:

I quote from the graph:  The two thirds of US women at risk of unintended pregnancy who practice contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5% of unintended pregnancies.

I suspect that the CDC researchers who wrote the recommendation did take that Guttmacher information into account, because the recommendation doesn't extend to women who use reliable contraception.  But the USAToday made a hash of it all and the CDC still parrots the statement without giving that sentence I bolded.

Even the more moderate statement from the CDC is not moderate when it comes to certain hidden assumptions about what various groups of women can be asked to sacrifice and for what types of reasons. To see why that is the case, let's talk about the medical evidence on fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Iowa Primaries. Lessons on Gender Politics and Gender in Politics.

Did you know that 2016 is the first year when a woman has won the Iowa caucus?

I learned in 2008 how extremely unpleasant it is to write about women in politics during the presidential campaigns when there's only one woman running and all the other candidates are men.  Almost everything I said was interpreted to apply to that one woman (and her policies), Hillary Clinton, and not to women in general.  And the very same thing is likely to happen this time, too. 

Those reactions are somewhat understandable, for a bizarre reason:  There are few women in US politics (80% of the US Congress is male, 44 of the 50 state governors are men).  But those few women get the limelight much more often than their sparse numbers would suggest.  Hillary Clinton, in particular, has lived in the limelight for a quarter century.  She is everywhere!  She hogs the limelight!  She leaves no air for any other female politician!*

She belongs to the political elite.  She is married to the political elite.  Her name recognition is global.  She has already spent eight years in the White House, albeit as the spouse of a president, a role which has always been completely open to women.  She has had a political career of her own.

The media and the Republicans have analyzed every move she makes, we all (if old enough) have assessed whether she should have left her womanizing husband or not.  We all (if old enough) have read enough about her incredible ambition, her incredible egotism and her incredible coldness.  We all (if old enough) can list several policies she has supported which we detest.  And of course some of us attribute to her even those policies of her husband she didn't work on.

All samples of size one create tremendous problems of interpretation.  Is Hillary treated the way she is because of her own personality or at least partly, because she is a woman in politics?  Would an otherwise identical man be treated the same way?  There is no way of knowing.  We need a bigger sample of women in politics to tease apart the effects of  a person's politics and personality from the effects of sexism, whether subconscious or overt.

That's my dilemma.  How do I interpret the way Hillary Clinton is treated from a wider feminist angle?  What are the lessons we can draw about the treatment of women from watching her experiences?

I'm not sure.  But there is one message which is becoming increasingly clear:

Monday, February 01, 2016

From Betty Friedan to Beyoncé. Or Making Waves in The Pond Of Feminist Thought.

"Betty Friedan to Beyoncé: Today’s generation embraces feminism on its own terms."  is an interesting recent piece in the Washington Post.  It belongs to the general genre of articles which analyze generational change in feminism, usually only within the United States, and almost always with a focus on young women.

This version is a nice one.  It asks several great questions, offers nuanced answers to many of them and also gives survey evidence on the beliefs and values of some in the "today's generation" of feminists.  Its treatment of the role of popular culture and the Internet in feminism is worth reading and so are the juxtapositions it makes between the second wave of the 1960s and 1970s and what is happening today.

So I enjoyed reading the piece.  Still, most of me finished that reading with a strong desire  to interrogate* bits and pieces it mentions, including the comments of many of the interviewed individuals, and to use the article as a springboard for diving into some deeper feminist waters.  To make more waves.  And that's what the rest of this post attempts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Revolutionary Women: Get Your Brooms And Sweep! The Kitchen Floor, That Is.

Have you followed the Oregon protests by a group of anti-government activists?  The group, lead by Ammon Bundy, registers as right-wing and, at least to me, as pretty fundamentalist.  But revolution they want.

Today's rebellions have a right-wing and fundamentalist religious flavor.  They are also very, very, male-dominated.  The role of women in the Oregon group is described in one article:

SLIDESHOW: Much of the attention surrounding the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has focused on the self-styled militiamen. But there are women occupiers, too. In the shadow of the the cowboy hats at the press briefings and the patrolmen styled with camouflage and rifles, women cook pots of chili, do laundry, and lead Bible study.


Many of the initial crew of women began drifting away by the end of week three, leaving Bass, Cooper and another woman who goes by “Mama Bear” to cook for a crowd of male militants that seems to increase daily. Where there were at first fewer than 20 militants at the refuge, there now seems to be closer to 50. Cooper and Bass look increasingly fatigued.
For her part, Bass feels like the occupation could end if law enforcement and government officials negotiate successfully. She doesn’t want to soften on the occupiers’ demands about federal lands or their view on clemency for the Hammonds. Still, she wishes she could convince the men leaders to get together and talk, calmly.
“But I’m a nobody,” she said. She said she will stay at the refuge as a cook, “for as long as it takes. We women, we are helpers,” said Bass. “That’s how we are created, and that’s what we do here.”

Both bolds are mine.

Compare the views Bass expresses to the views of the Western women who have joined ISIS/Daesh in Syria*.  Indeed, compare the overall views about women's proper places in the two extremist conservative revolutionary movements.  Those proper places for women are kitchens. 

Strictly speaking women, as women,  get nothing good from joining those movements, and in the case of Daesh they get all their freedoms removed.

Yet that is an acceptable bargain for many.  We have fundamentalist religious interpretations and years of educational brain-washing to thank for that.
 * I'm asking you to compare the opinions of the female participants in these revolutionary movements, not the movements itself.  Daesh legally approves the use of  violence, rape, slavery and sadism, and I'm not trying to draw parallels between that and the fumbling efforts of the Oregon protesters.  Daesh also legally wants to eradicate all rights for women.  But the conservative view of what women are for (kitchen, bedroom, under male supervision) is shared by all conservative religious movements, all over this poor globe.

Is This Ageism?

I belong to several Internet groups on various issues.  Some of them allow job announcements and announcements about scholarships and prizes.  Many of those specify that the applicant must be young.

Now compare that common practice today to the 1960s custom of listing available jobs separately for men and women.

The differences are obvious, of course. 

There really aren't scholarships or jobs which require people to be older.  There are some which require educational qualifications or experience that would exclude, say, an eighteen-year-old, just because those qualifications take so long to acquire.  But in principle a qualified teenager could apply for those jobs.

That's not the case for a forty-year-old starting again (after, say, divorce and years of having been a stay-at-home parent) who would like to apply for one of those Jugend Arbeit posts.

Another difference is that the sex segregated job announcements of the 1960s reserved the best jobs for men and put a fence around those. 

The current age-segregated announcements offer one group of people (the young) jobs which we all assume the older applicants wouldn't want, because we tend to think that they are already far along a successful career path, earning much higher salaries than those the young are now offered.

But in reality many middle aged people have crashed careers, none or work in dead-end jobs.  Some have gone back to college and would now be qualified for jobs which define the desired applicant as someone at most three years from college graduation.  But they are not qualified for jobs which require one to be under twenty-five, say.

So is this practice ageist?  Interestingly, I haven't noticed progressive or feminists think so! 

I  think that we simply don't see anything odd in the fact that some jobs and awards are offered only to people in certain age categories, because the age categories that are selected appear obviously the ones where people still need help and support to get launched.  Still, requiring age as a qualification in this context rules out all applicants who are not young enough, but need a relaunch or the first launch of their careers or education.
Picture from my archives.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lightning Posts, 1/25/16: On the Politeness of an Armed Society, Zika Virus and Women, and Kansas Senate Dress Codes for Women

1.  From the "armed society is a polite society" files:  A good Samaritan was shot dead by an inebriated driver.  That horrible story points out some troubling aspects of the politeness that an armed society could create, such as simply avoiding all other people, just in case.  Including your own mother.

2.  The rapid spread of the Zika virus which can cause the child of a woman who was infected while pregnant to be born with microcephaly has led the government of El Salvador to recommend that Salvadorian women just not get pregnant until 2018.

Abortion is illegal in El Salvador, even in the case where the mother's life is at stake, and the linked NYT article argues that most pregnancies there are unplanned.  The Catholic Church is very strong and not especially fond of contraception.  But never mind!  At least the government cannot now be blamed when a wave of microcephalic babies are born.

The point, of course, is that it's the women to whom they are born who bear the brunt of both the blame and the burden of care and the suffering.  Gender politics link to other politics.

3.  We are still in Kansas, Dorothy (a silly reference to the Wizard of Oz):

A dress code imposed by a Kansas Senate committee chairman that prohibits women testifying on bills from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts is drawing bipartisan ridicule from female legislators.
Sen. Mitch Holmes' 11-point code of conduct does not include any restrictions on men, who he said needed no instruction on how to look professional, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
This is where I start salivating!  The whole wonderful topic of how to police women's dress, whether women should be covered or revealed, whether women who do the former are chaste and modest, while the women who do the latter are sluts and whores!  I so want to write a book about it but life is short. 

Historically, the dress of women has always been a burning political issue, and it still is a burning political and religious issue in Islam and among US fundamentalist Christians, and, it seems, among some Kansas Senators.

Historically, how women dress has always been used as an indicator of their sexual modesty and sexual availability or lack of it.  And historically, too (check the Bible), it has always been very important that women do not "cross-dress,"  because that makes the messages their clothes send much harder to interpret, beginning with the importance of being able to assign someone to a gender wherever men and women are treated differently.

But the last hundred years in the industrialized West have changed that policing.  The changes are still fluid and some final kind of assessment is impossible.  What I see are several different patterns emerging, including the pattern where men and women dress more alike and the pattern where women are allowed to dress more comfortably than in the past.

But I also see a very different pattern:  One, in which women are in some sense expected to dress in the very ways the conservative codes ban, to be viewed as desirable and admired, to be viewed as fashionable and "in."  All choices about our dress take place within cultures, and no choice is ultimately completely "free."  As I see it, the cultural signals about proper dress for women in the West are now many, often contradictory, and difficult to tease apart in their final impact*.

*Take the bit in the above quote about men knowing how to look professional.  That's partly, because men have a rigid uniform for political work, women do not, and that leaves the question of professional dress for women wide open.

From one angle the expected male uniform in places of power is discrimination against men.  Why can't men dress as they wish in the Kansas Senate hearings?

But what if dressing as you "wish" (see the above discussion about what might drive our ideas) means that people will then use your clothes to judge your sluttiness or the desirability of your body?  What if some people would like you to bare a bit more leg before they are willing to listen to you (Fox News)?  What if people will respond to your choice of more relaxed clothing like this:

"It's one of those things that's hard to define," Holmes said. "Put it out there and let people know we're really looking for you to be addressing the issue rather than trying to distract or bring eyes to yourself." 
That quote from the article about dress codes for women crystallizes the problem for me:  Holmes uses the traditional angle in which women's dress is seen as having sexual implications, whether it is meant to do that or not.  But the topic is more complicated than that, and that's why I wrote that it would take a book.


Friday, January 22, 2016

When Feminist Ideals Clash With Other Political Ideals. The Cologne Events and the US Democratic Primaries.

What do people do when their political ideals clash?  What happens when one set of those ideals is about gender equality?

I've been researching the gender-political reactions to the Cologne mass sexual assaults by putting on my hazmat suit and then diving into the right-wing sites in Europe and the US, such as  After decontamination I returned to do the same with as many "mainstream" sources, left-wing sites and feminist sites and writers as I can find.  Then I detoxed. 

You may or may not get the fruits of all that research delivered to you on a pretty blogging plate, with a sprig of intellectual parsley to decorate it.  Much depends on how suicidal I am, because the world I've spent days in, to do that research, is a Bizarre World where the anti-feminists are suddenly the feminists and the feminists, well, they are suddenly in-general-concerned-but-there's-nothing-new-here people.*   Or silent. 

I have noticed that pattern before in cases where misogynistic acts are carried out by members of groups which in the West might be hated, reviled or oppressed on some other dimension than gender.

Ideals then clash and one ranks above the other:  To caricature,  right-wing anti-feminists can swallow a certain amount of pretend-feminism in order to be able to carry out anti-Muslim bigotry.  Feminists, on the other hand, can set aside concerns for women's rights** if those appear to clash with refugee rights or with anti-racism work, multi-culturalism or the work to fight against general bigotry towards Muslims.

Mmm.  I really should write about something more relaxing, such as how to endure multiple root canals without anesthesia.

I see something slightly similar happening with the Clinton-Sanders fights in the Democratic primary battles.  Commentators who believe in both women's equal representation in politics and progressive income redistribution or more economic equality must choose their candidate.  And that choice involves a clash of ideals.  The one that is ranked higher, at least in the short term,  will then have to be defended.  Some of the chosen defenses get very ugly.

When this happened in 2008, in the juxtaposition of race and gender,  I was unprepared and pushed into a state of mental and emotional dizziness which was both interesting and frightening.  This time I am prepared, but it's still disheartening to see the mud slung and the main reason why I have  not written on those primaries.

But the similarity of these two examples on the clash of ideals is instructive. The Cologne debates can be mined for people's deepest views on women, gender and the tasks of feminism.   They also helped me, at least, to understand why fast global progress on women's rights is as likely as a coffee cup giving birth to a puppy.

To draw lessons from the US presidential primary debates is more difficult, because Hillary Clinton is almost the only very powerful woman in the country.  A sample size of one doesn't let us draw conclusions about how other female candidates would be treated, because Clinton-the-person matters more than the fact that she is a woman and that this country has never had a female president, despite currently having more women than men in it.

So many see Hillary Clinton as divisive, hawkish, part of a family dynasty,  a low-cal alternative to the Republicans who desire to build a banana republic.

Clinton's alternative has strawberries, too!  Many truly detest her politics and her policies, and do not wish to support them, even if she is a woman and there has never been a female president in this country, despite its population currently tilting female.

At the same time, it's possible to see deep and unconscious forms of sexism working in some of the writings about her***.  She is an egomaniac, and ambitious politician, not someone we can connect with.

What are the other people wanting to run the most powerful country of the world?  Unambitious and retiring kind people who spend their days in soup kitchens or baking cookies for little children?  But they are men, so we don't require that they "connect" with the voters in quite the same way, and we don't really expect them to be sweet and gentle and unambitious****.  Gender expectations differ.

Then the usual warnings:  This post is not about whether Sanders is better or worse than Clinton and it is not about what the "true" feminist choice should be.  It is about the underbelly of our ideals, about the ring in which they come to box it out, and what happens in that particular situation and why.  We should be aware of those fights.  It doesn't matter which combatant wins our endorsement for that awareness to be valuable.
* To clarify, sites which have permanent sections for feminism-bashing suddenly worry about European women's right to go out unmolested.  But that worry is only when the perpetrators of sexual assaults are Muslim or Africans, and more careful reading of the sites tells us that the worry is interpreted mythologically, as "Germany/Sweden/Finland/Austria getting raped" or as "virginal innocence being destroyed," or as "our women being molested."

The average comments thread to one of these pieces also accuses feminists for all types of things, including being the real culprits in allowing and supporting the flood of refugees and migrants to Europe and focusing only on the bashing of white Christian men.

On the other hand, many (if not most) feminist sites limited their coverage to pointing out that odd sudden right-wing concern about the sexual harassment of women but only when the culprits were mostly Muslim.

What should have been a small part of feminist takes on the Cologne mass sexual harassment became almost the whole story about Cologne, though reinforced by evidence that sexual harassment was already widespread in whatever the European country under discussion, so it wasn't something the refugees and migrants brought with them.

Which is completely correct.  But the harassment in Cologne, Helsinki, Hamburg and other cities was a novel type for Europe. It consisted of many men working together to surround one or few women and then sharing the tasks of keeping the victim contained, keeping potential helpers out and the actual groping, stripping and finger-penetration of the women.  This form of harassment may not have been unknown in Europe, but I certainly had only heard about it in the context of the Arab Spring demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.

As I mentioned in the post, all this really requires a thorough article, based on the myriad links I've collected and translated.  Would you like to do it for me?  I promise to organize the funeral of your reputation in return.

The bad taste in my mouth from reading so much on the Cologne reactions has to do with the actual women who were the victims.  They seem to have slipped through the political cracks in this debate, becoming tools for one political set of ideals or another.

**  Though this should be qualified.  I learned, in my travels that I may not have understood how feminism might be defined.  One Finnish feminist states in an interview:

Kirjoitit kylttiin ”Tasa-arvo on kaikkien asia”. Miksi?
Kolmannen aallon feminismissä ei enää ajatella, että feminismin ensisijainen tavoite olisi parantaa pelkästään naisten asemaa. On hirveän paljon sukupuolittuneita ilmiöitä, jotka vaikuttavat miehiin, naisiin ja niihin, jotka eivät sovi kumpaankaan kategoriaan. Puhun kriittisesti esimerkiksi armeijasta ja miehiin kohdistuvasta väkivallasta. Tasa-arvo ei voi olla vain yhden ryhmän tehtävä.

My rough translation:

Q:  You wrote on your sign:  "Equality is everybody's business."  Why?
A:  Third wave feminists no longer think that the primary goal of feminism would be to only improve women's status.  There are awfully many "genderized" phenomena which affect men, women and those who fit neither category.  For instance, I speak critically about the military and about violence aimed at men.  Equality cannot be the task of only one group.
 That's slightly confusing, because she seems to both argue that other groups should work for some of the issues which negatively affect, say, men, but at the same time suggests that they are among the tasks of feminism.  But I append that quote because it is one example of the many ways in which the definition of feminism has widened.  When that widening includes anti-racism and pro-refugee work the clash of ideals may enter the picture.

***  Google "Hillary Clinton age," then "Bernie Sanders age," and note the difference.  Or note that articles of this type cannot be written about male candidates, because the US has never had a female president with a spouse who could be held responsible for how he reacted when she turned out to have had an affair with her subordinate.  Or who could be held responsible for the policies his wife carried out.

****  The very small number of women in American politics really makes it difficult to completely distinguish between gender expectations and reactions to Hillary Clinton's actual personality.  We need more women in politics, not only for the usual good reasons from the left, but also so that we get lots more clearly sexist writings in American politics!  I'm sick.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

John Tierney And His Woman Trouble Through The Ages


John Tierney is a right-wing libertarian science writer at the New York TimesWikipedia describes him as follows:

In 2005 and 2006, he was a columnist on the Times Op-Ed page, before which he wrote a column about New York, "The Big City", that ran in the New York Times Magazine and the Metro section from 1994 to 2002.
Tierney identifies himself as a libertarian and has become increasingly identified with libertarianism. His columns have been critical of rent stabilization, the war on drugs, Amtrak and compulsory recycling. His 1996 article "Recycling Is Garbage" broke the New York Times Magazine's hate mail record.[2]
Joseph J. Romm has written that Tierney is one of the "influential but misinformed" skeptics who have helped prevent the U.S. from taking action on climate change. In his 2007 book, Hell and High Water, Romm cites, and claims to refute, what he calls Tierney's "misinformation".[3]

Say hello to Mr. Tierney:

I read him a lot during his Op-Ed page years, less after those.  To me he presented a different angle from that reflected in the above quote:  He seemed to be a man who had never found an anti-uppity-woman study that didn't desperately need wider dissemination.

But it's always possible that I just happened to notice those columns by our John which worked against my beliefs, right?  It could have been that Tierney's writing over his career was much more balanced and impartial.

It could have been, but it wasn't.  Rather, Tierney used the space he was given to work against anything that just might allow women to be uppity.  The way he linked "science" to this was by lavish use of one sub-branch of evolutionary psychology, the kind I call EP or Evolutionary Psychology, the kind which is in favor in cocktail party debates about gender, the kind which ignores all cultural influences on human beings and which often results in JustSo stories about human evolution (1).

Over time, the percentage of Tierney's columns which were on the topic of what's-wrong-with-uppity women or on the topic of gender-equality-is-scientifically-proven-to-be-impossible is far too high to happen by accident, and neither is it  a random drawing from the gender studies which were published in any particular year (2).  No.  Johnnie just wanted to share with all the New York Times readers his views on women and so he picked those studies which support the same views.

Why would this matter?  After all, everybody knows that Tierney writes opinions, not facts.  He's like his brother-in-ideas, David Brooks, or like his sister-in-the-hatred-of-uppity-women, Maureen Dowd.  Just what the New York Times thinks us women might find fascinating on those kinds of opinions, right?

I wrote this post to answer those questions (which I asked myself, in a deep-and-heated political debate!):

First, it is salutary and enlightening to see what Tierney has written about us womenfolk over the last decade or so, in one place, in short lists, with the basic contents highlighted. History brought to life!  Facts gleaned from the dreck and pure noise of actual time passing, dinners, work, other articles and politics intervening!  Just pure Tierney, bright as transparent glass!  And it is great to see whom Tierney uses as experts on the "woman question."  People like Christina Hoff Sommers and Roy Baumeister.

Second, it shows you how the culture around us will affect us, will affect the information we hold, the ideas we agree with and our general beliefs about what others believe. Sometimes those cultural effects are orchestrated, and hearing the orchestra and who is conducting it (Tierney! New York Times paying for the performances!)  is an interesting and fun phenomenon. 

Third, putting together the work of one influential science writer in one influential place tells us something about the way various voices are given microphones at newspapers, something about the way "the balancing" of Democrats and Republicans and libertarians etc. in the stables of writers works out in practice, and what it's possible consequences might be.

I decided to write this post now for no particular current-events related reasons, but because I want to clean up my never-posted archives, to tidy up everything, to tie up all the loose ends, and while doing that I found research I had started into Tierney's career (3).  It seemed too good to waste, even though the research is not complete and doesn't pretend to reflect on the whole career of John Tierney (4).   So I'm tossing it out by first tossing it here.

Before we move to Tierney's work itself, I want to stress this:   

There's nothing wrong with Tierney covering certain opinions and studies which support those particular opinions.  What's wrong, in the context of opinion writing in science,  is ignoring other studies which don't support those opinions, over-using certain experts and not using others at all, and, in general, giving the impression that the studies one covers are somehow the consensus of all researchers in a particular field.