The Doing of Social Science
July 31, 2014
Or, Why Don’t More Women Care About Ant-Man’s Pym Particles?
Writing in the Washington Free Beacon, Elizabeth Harrington tells us,
The National Science Foundation is spending over $200,000 to find out why Wikipedia is sexist. The government has awarded two grants for collaborative research to professors at Yale University and New York University to study what the researchers describe as “systematic gender bias” in the online encyclopaedia. […] Noam Cohen, a columnist for the New York Times… has asserted the encyclopaedia is biased because articles about friendship bracelets are shorter than entries about baseball cards. “And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on Sex and the City includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; the one on The Sopranos includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode,” he wrote.
Such are the ruminations of the modern intellectual.
Although not indulged with $200,000 of public money, the mighty blogger Ace does share a few unorthodox ideas. Ideas, I mean, that are unorthodox among many left-leaning academics and New York Times columnists:
The very fact that a site exists which gives an exhaustive, 4000-word-plus citations treatment of Ant-Man is going to skew male… Men (well, those of a nerdly bent) tend to be interested in trivia and obscura; women tend to not be, or at least not so much. I don’t care about Ant-Man, but for some reason I find comfort in knowing that someone out there does care about Ant-Man, and has digested Ant-Man’s fifty year history for me, should my life ever depend on knowing when Ant-Man married Janet Van Dyne… So the real [feminist] complaint boils down to this: The ten percent of a website which could reflect the cultural preferences of its unpaid volunteers does in fact reflect the cultural preferences of its unpaid volunteers, and yes, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine does get a more exhaustive, nerdishly-loving treatment than Sex and the City.
The federal government needs to pay people to study this and propose “solutions”? It occurs to me that we’ve spent $202,000 for a “study” which deliberately avoids a very simple explanation: Women just aren’t as interested in this type of crap as men. You don’t have to believe that to at least agree: This should have been one of the explanations scientifically studied, if we’re going to have a scientific study at all.
I’ve seen Die Hard 50 times and I would watch it right now if it were on. I will watch Die Hard only to see the Asian guy steal the candy bar. And when I click on Wikipedia, I’m expecting them to tell me if the Asian guy stealing the candy bar was in the script, or if it was improvised on the day of the shoot. And when Wikipedia doesn’t tell me this (it doesn’t, I've checked), I’m disappointed in it. Do women watch episodes of Sex and the City 50 times? No, they don’t. Maybe the “best” episodes, they’ll watch two or three times... This phenomenon is much more a male trait than a female one. So why isn’t this obvious truism even part of this “study”?
See also Heather Mac Donald on the same non-problem and the “intellectual decadence” of contemporary feminism:
The most straightforward explanation for the differing rates of participation in Wikipedia — and the one that conforms to everyday experience — is that, on average, males and females have different interests and preferred ways of spending their free time.
Heretical, I know. Unthink it immediately.