Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Old people and taking care, short and sour just like you like it baby.

Should people think that I am just a cynic I want to point out that in addition to all the volunteer work I've done helping to educate the less forunate, I also spend a couple hours every few weeks helping my elderly neighbors navigate the minefields of a technologically complex world, showing them how to do things like burn files on to a CD or operate a digital camera. Both of those were things I did this week. On an amusing note, one of them is writing a novel, she's a short, frumpy, Frenchwoman in her late seventies who has always been a little odd (but very nice.) It's not that I find the idea of old people writing funny or silly (it's inspiring when people in their twilight years choose to do constructive things and make art) it's when I see a page of their novel lying about and the first line is "She was the kind of woman who defines the word sex." I'm not sure if it's cute and inspiring or a little icky. I guess it's probably some of both.

A public service announcement for anyone who reads this. You need to be skeptical of social science claims, especially when they're being used to support a particular moral or policy perspective and not being cited from a credible "mainstream" source. To give an example, conservatives often talk about the benefits of marriage, saying it makes men healthier, wealthier, more compassionate, and more involved in their children's lives and their communities. Most of the research that supports this is corollary. Corellation does not imply causation. It may very well be that wealthier, healthier men choose to get married more often than their less fortunate counterparts. Heck, I can tell you from experience that fat, unhealthy, schlubs without good jobs have trouble finding female companionship for Saturday night, let alone marriage. Likewise, the fact that 80% of men say they plan on marrying at some point speaks more of social pressure and norms than any real knowledge of marriage being a benefit to them (it's actually detrimental to women in a lot of ways) Social science can be easily manipulated through a host of means, ranging from self-selection bias to to selective reporting and using different statistical models to determine significance. It's a useful tool for a lot of things, but it's one that's often misapplied and given the veneer of hard, irrefutable fact. People cite it without knowing just how tenuous some of the connections being drawn are. Consider yourselves warned, and don't trust anything unless you can see the raw data and how the samples were selected and the results calculated.
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