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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Is ABC About to Produce
“Son of Breaking the Silence”?

By Mark B. Rosenthal

November 12, 2005

Recent information has come to light that ABC's Prime Time Live is working on a piece on domestic violence that may distort the issue in much the same way as PBS' recently aired “Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories”.

There is now credible evidence to seriously question the assertions by the producers of that PBS program, “we had no preconceived notions,” and “the finished documentary is simply a result of where countless hours of extensive research and interviews took us.” Is ABC going down the same path?

Deborah Fellows recently spoke with Thomas Berman, a producer for ABC's Prime Time Live. The following information, provided by Ms. Fellows, suggests that ABC may be screening out stories that don't fit the slant they want to put on the issue. Berman explained to Fellows that since ABC has covered the issue of domestic violence so frequently, they are looking for some new angle from which to address it. Considering the near-total lack of media coverage of female-on-male domestic violence, one would think that this would count as a new angle. Especially considering that this angle would inform the public about 835,000 of the 2.1 million cases of partner-assault that happen annually according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice National Violence Against Women Survey.

But Ms. Fellows reports that when she described a domestic violence case in which the victim was male and the abuser was female, Berman's response was that ABC wasn't going to focus on abused men. What Berman seemed to be particularly looking for, according to Fellows, was a story of a woman who did everything the system tells a woman to do to protect herself, but still ended up dead. He seemed primarily interested finding a case he could use to argue that anti-woman bias on the part of judges and police officers is resulting in women's deaths.

Fellows said Berman noted that although the number of men killed by their partners has dropped dramatically over the past few decades, the number of women killed by their partners has stayed pretty much constant. He explained that this is evidence that domestic violence shelters have given women in difficult situations an alternative to murdering their husbands.

It would seem obvious to infer that the number of women killed by their partners might also drop dramatically if men in equally difficult situations had an alternative to murdering their wives. But Fellows says that Berman was instead looking for a case that would illustrate the notion that anti-woman bias on the part of judges and police officers is the reason the number of women killed hasn't changed.

Should investigative TV programs really be predetermining the answers and then looking for cases to support their theories? Or should they be doing stories that paint an accurate picture?

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