In "soft" sciences like sociology, it's much more difficult to detect manipulation of research, than in "hard" sciences like physics. Soft science researchers who strive for objectivity deserve an extra measure of respect. Sadly, far too many researchers are more concerned with pushing an agenda than with objectivity. These same problems are not unknown in the world of journalism. Since the soft sciences and the media have a powerful influence on social policies in this country, this affects every family and every individual.

Breaking the Science is about the broken "science" that's being used to create law and drive social policy.


Gloria and Me (or "First Glimmerings of Hope")

By Mark B. Rosenthal

April 13, 2007

On Dec. 8, 1980 I left Bloomington, Indiana (where I'd briefly attended Indiana Univ.) bound for Berkeley, Calif. I was about to get underway at just the time that the local Contra Dance was ending, so I stopped by the local pizzeria where everyone gathered after the dance to say one last goodbye to my friends. As we talked, a news announcer broke into the show on the television that was playing in the corner of the room. He solemnly announced that John Lennon had been shot to death by Mark David Chapman.

Around 11:00 PM, I hopped into my car, loaded down with everything I couldn't ship UPS, and hit the road. For the next five days, as I drove the 2,000 miles from Indiana to California, every radio station on the air was doing retrospectives of John Lennon's life. And they seemed to play his Imagine about twice an hour.

The next day I picked up a copy of a newspaper in Iowa, and the comic strip Blondie was the one shown below. It showed one of that strip's standard gags – Dagwood's boss, Mr. Dithers, tries to stand up to his wife on a fairly minor matter (whether he should take time off work to go shopping for drapes), and in the final 4 frames of the strip, Cora Dithers chases her husband around the office, beating him over the head with her umbrella handle. I was still grieving my father, who had passed away about a year and a half before. So I was hypersensitive to the bias in the comic strip – bias because they'd never have dared to portray a man beating a woman as humorous.

The two strains of thought intertwined – the hopefulness of Lennon's Imagine and the hopelessness of my childhood. I had nothing to do but keep the car between the white lines on the road. So for five days straight, I had all the time in the world to contemplate life, the universe, and everything. At the end of that drive, as I approached San Francisco, my radio was tuned to some talk-show station, and the guest being interviewed was none other than Gloria Steinem. She was going on and on, presenting a very biased, one-sided view of domestic violence. I'd always been too nervous to call in to a radio talk show before. But after five days of my emotions swinging back and forth between hopefulness and hopelessness, I knew I'd be stuck in hopelessness if I didn't do something.

So I pulled over at a pay phone, called the show, and actually got on the air. In a very nervous voice, I described in gender-neutral terms, a relationship in which whenever one member of a couple sat down to take a rest, the other member of the couple would walk over, scream at them, kick them repeatedly in the shins, and call them lazy. I asked Ms. Steinem whether she considered that to be domestic violence. Of course she agreed that it was. I then told her that my mother had done that to my father throughout my entire childhood and asked her where someone like my father could find help. Suddenly Steinem's voice turned cold. She weaseled out of it somehow, hung up on me before I could utter another word, and then her voice turned cheery again as she went on to the next caller.

It had taken a huge effort on my part to overcome my fear and actually call and speak over the airwaves to this famous celebrity. And what it had accomplished was minuscule. But more than anything else, I'd proven to myself that I could take at least a baby-step in the direction of changing things. And in doing so, I guaranteed that instead of vacillating between hopefulness and hopelessness, I could feel hopeful, at least for a little while.

Blondie comic strip: Cora beats Julius over the head with her umbrella handle.



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