If you have been following my blog, you are aware that I choose titles that rarely directly reflect the subject of the article. The reason behind that strategy is my desire for you to actually read the article. I have noticed people commenting on articles on every forum from NPR to FaceBook, and it appears that very few have actually read the article. Knowing that your readers have the attention span of a squirrel leads to writing titles that will give enough of a glimpse of your article that they will either be drawn to read, or at least will remember the title and your byline. For instance, consider these recent headlines:
You might fairly guess that all three articles were based on the same study. You might even correctly guess that all three articles were written by women. Taking into consideration the first two answers, you might guess that no refuting claims or even discussion was presented. You’d be wrong on that one, but in an analog world you would only be partially wrong.
While the discussion segment of the study doesn’t come right out and say “Based on the sexist and oedipally confused views of the authors”, it might as well. The correlations to other studies, and their use as corroborating evidence, are questionable at best, but the fact is that further research in this area is not likely to attract respectable biologists, so there will be no flurry of dissenting studies. Besides, this is a popular finding, and as with global warming, popular trumps accurate.
Popular? Of course! Regardless of your sex, those headlines started a conversation. You smiled, and either thought “Oh great, one more thing that’s my fault”, or “Oh great, something else I can blame men for”. At some point in time, science went from a source of education, to a source of vindication.
So as long as we’re on the subject, I’m a big fan of menopause. So are most of the women I’ve known. There are few things as life as annoying as a monthly period, some of them being the absence of a monthly period, or having a weekly period. The peace of mind that being free from birth control brings is another of the benefits of menopause. Sure, there are a few months when your loved ones think you’re losing your mind, but this just improves communication, because they always thought you were close to the edge. It weeds out the flakes, you know who your true friends are. Of the women I have been intimate with during menopause, only one actually lost her mind, and it wasn’t much of a loss for her.
Menopause is a biological function. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Your menopause will occur when you run out of eggs. If there were to be an evolutionary function, women with more eggs would produce more offspring who would produce more eggs, so menopause would occur later in life over the millennia. In no way are men involved in that process. I would guess that the women who wrote these articles have not reached menopause, and do not know the peace of accepting their place in the universe, preferring to see themselves as victims.
I had no desire to have teenagers at this age, much less infants. The process is supposed to be children move out, and bring their offspring to brighten your afternoon, and then take them back home. It’s not that I don’t like children, I just don’t want to go through all the steps again. I liked Afghanistan, but I have no desire to return.
So here’s the point. We live in an information avalanche. We want to stay informed, so sometimes we just scan the headlines. If this is going to work, we need writers who can capture the finer points of a study and determine if it’s worth reporting, then write about it in an accessible fashion, and then write a headline that reflects the reality of the research. Should the menopause study have been reported? Absolutely. It should also have been explained. Instead it was sold out. Exploited for headlines. So in the middle of this information avalanche, we’re distracted from productive research with misreported nonsense.
“Infographics” and “memes” are substituted for research. This is the natural evolution of “teaching the test”, we neither teach nor encourage understanding a subject, we just need the correct answer for the test. This is why an engineer at NASA said a few years ago that we couldn’t build the Space Shuttle today because it was “too complex”. It wasn’t too complex in 1975, what do you think changed?
We’re not moving forward or even standing still, we’re sliding backwards.