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.


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With Every Signature A Wound Is Healed

By Mark B. Rosenthal

Autumn 1993

I stood there repeating the words as if they were a mantra, "Are you registered to vote in Massachusetts? Would you help us get Proposition 50/50 on next year's ballot? If passed, it would create a presumption in favor of shared child custody in divorce."

One person said to me, "You must have been through a really rough divorce!" "No," I replied, "I haven't been through that myself. My interest grows out of the experiences of my childhood." He signed my petition and went on into the restaurant. I shivered. Was it from the memories the conversation had evoked? "No," I thought, "Must be the chill of autumn." Just last week, it had been in the mid 70's, and today it was in the high 40's. That's New England weather for you.

Another potential signature approached, and I found my voice wavering as I asked, "Are you registered to vote in Massachusetts?" In my mind's eye, I saw an image of my father's legs all covered with scabs from where my mother had kicked him. I saw an exhausted man, just home from work, slumped down in the grey arm-chair in our living room, barely able to keep his eyes open, listening to my mother screaming at him, and responding to her blows by simply not responding. He could have left, but he stayed for the sake of my sister and myself. Will I ever be able to make that image go away?

"Would you help us get Proposition 50/50 on next year's ballot?" Were the words even intelligible? Could they see me trying hold back the tears? Would they sign anyway or just consider me another crazy to be ignored? "If passed," I stammered, "it would create a presumption ..." I judged that the person I was speaking to was willing to sign. Time to close the sale. "What town do you live in," I asked as I handed her a pen. I fumbled through the sheets of paper looking for the petition for the town of Bridgewater. As she signed, my mind's eye again focused on my father's legs, and I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could imagine one of the scabs disappearing. One signature, one wound healed.

I turned to the next person and began the mantra again. And somewhere, somehow, some 35 years in the past, I heard a little boy breathe a small sigh of relief. Finally, he could do something to save the people he loved. But too late! If one signature could erase a kick, one signature heal a wound, how many signatures would it take to bring a sister back from the dead? What would it take? The helplessness of a lifetime settled back onto my soul. But it was a helplessness diminished, if ever so slightly, by my being able to do something, even a very small thing like collecting signatures. Something which would have a positive effect for somebody in the world.

"Are you registered to vote in Massachusetts? ..."


Addendum to "With Every Signature A Wound Is Healed"

The connection between Proposition 50/50 and the problem of battered husbands and their children is probably not obvious. Let me explain that connection.

The current state of affairs is that judges are free to bring their own gender-biases to the bench, and most judges believe that mothers are better parents than fathers. This is demonstrated by the fact that in Massachusetts, sole custody is granted to the mother in 95% of cases. Fathers who want to seek custody are warned by their lawyers that the attempt will be extremely costly, and they have only 1 chance in 20 of prevailing. So, most fathers are too discouraged to try, and the situation perpetuates itself.

In order for a father to be granted custody, either the mother has to be willing to agree to it, or he must be willing to fight an uphill battle. A battered husband may be the most loving person in the world, but he is usually not psychologically prepared to put up such a fight. If he were, it is unlikely that he would be a battered husband.

Services for battered husbands and their children are non-existent in Massachusetts. Domestic violence has been defined as a problem of battered women only, so many victims are left without any help at all.

Remember that under Proposition 50/50, shared custody would be the preferred choice only if the court believed that it would not be detrimental to the children. If the family of my childhood existed today, the following are the possible outcomes if my parents divorced.

  1. I believe the most likely outcome is for my father never to have brought the abuse to the attention of the court for fear of being disbelieved. Under current practice, it is almost certain that my sister and I would have been in the sole custody of our mother. Under Proposition 50/50, our mother and our father would have shared custody. My sister and I would have had some hope that at least part of our time we could have escaped from the living Hell which was our home.
  2. I believe the next most likely outcome is for the court not to believe that a wife could be a batterer, and to conclude that the abuse must have been perpetrated by our father. Under either current practice or Proposition 50/50, the court would erroneously conclude that granting custody to our father would put us in danger. Proposition 50/50 would neither help nor hurt in this case.
  3. I believe the least likely outcome is for the court to believe the truth. Under either current practice or Proposition 50/50, the court would correctly conclude that granting custody to our mother would put us in danger. Proposition 50/50 would neither help nor hurt in this case.

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