May 16, 2017

Mahatma Gandhi, circa. 1927

Mahatma Gandhi, circa. 1927

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I subject every new, hotly touted study to the Grandma Says test.

That is, if you stick the phrase “€œGrandma says”€ in front of the study’s headline-making finding, and said finding fits, then it’s legit.

Can you imagine your grandma saying, for instance, “€œChildren raised by gay men grow up to be smarter and healthier”€? Please.

The study Takimag readers probably got a particular kick out of last week “€œdiscovered”€ that “€œliberals aren”€™t as tolerant as they think.”€ Actually, that Politico article corralled a number of recent studies, all of which “€œdiscovered”€ that very same thing.

And all of which were hilariously pointless, as anyone on the right could have told these researchers in the first place. Except, according to their very own finding”€”

High cognitive ability correlated with bias against Christian fundamentalists, big business, Christians (in general), the Tea Party, the military, conservatives, Catholics, working-class people, rich people and middle-class people.

“€”the researchers might not have listened to us anyway…

Actually, these scholars didn”€™t even have to go that far. A small but solid chunk of decidedly liberal art”€”such as Hair‘s “€œEasy to Be Hard,”€ Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the “€œSummer of Love”€ creeps immortalized in Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and more recently (depending on whom you talk to) Get Out“€”has already acknowledged the left’s “€œdo as I say”€ duplicity.

“€œWe only children are shitty friends and relatives, but we”€™ve gotten a hell of a lot done, too.”€

Now, I”€™m reluctantly resigned to widespread right-wing bumpkinry, but you”€™d think the other side would possess a rudimentary knowledge of their own creative output, and balk at using Science (or something like it) to redundantly replicate the “€œfindings”€ of Art (let alone Life). Aren”€™t they supposed to be (see above) the “€œsmart”€ ones?

So, yes, studies show that most studies are crap. My crankish theory about the true origin and purpose of all these goddamn studies is, frankly, no more or less plausible than all their more dubious “€œfindings.”€

Hey, did you know that “€œbeing an only child DOES make you selfish“€? A few people emailedl me that one, with subject lines like “€œtee-hee.”€ Those people know me very well. But if all you knew about me was that I was raised as the only child of two only children, your split-second appraisal of me would, I assure you, be quite accurate.

When you”€™re told Frank Sinatra was an only child, don”€™t you go, “€œAhhhhh!”€? How about Jean-Paul “€œHell is other people”€ Sartre? Charles Lindbergh? Lance Armstrong? Gandhi? Rudy Giuliani, Lillian Hellman, and Enoch Powell? Only children, all. Surely you aren”€™t shocked.

But no, “€œresearch”€ was still supposedly needed, although in this case, the science is hard-ish rather than the soft, “€œsocial”€ variety. Hell, they used an MRI and everything:

Only children have different brains which make them both more creative and less agreeable.

They have extra grey matter in the supramarginal gyrus, part of the brain thought to help only children come up with new ideas and think out of the box.

(Although no one, only child or not, has apparently been able to “€œthink outside the box”€ long or hard enough to coin a popular alternative to the expression “€œthink outside the”€ goddamn “€œbox”€…)

Now, some who read past the first paragraph or two will object that the study’s authors are “€œwith Southwest University in Chongqing, China,”€ whatever that is; and the Chinese had that whole demographically disastrous “€œone child”€ policy, so their motives here might be murky; plus a Chinese “€œMRI”€ is probably just a cardboard box with a 40-watt bulb stuck inside it; and also the Chinese eat dogs and probably worms.

These are all legitimate concerns.


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