Respectful Insolence

I should have popped up some popcorn. I had a feeling this was coming, but who knew it would be so entertaining when it finally happened?

On Tuesday, I wrote about how famed vascular surgeon Dr. Lazar Greenfield had written a bizarre, sexist attempt at Valentines Day humor in which he implied that evolutionary biology meant shows that semen is a mood enhancer for women and in essence recommended unprotected sex on Valentine’s day, slipped his lame attempt at humor into the official newsletter of the American College of Surgeons, and then as a result was later forced to resign his position as the President-Elect of the ACS. At the time I remember thinking that, if Dr. Greenfield were wise, he’d just let the issue drop.

It turns out that Dr. Greenfield is apparently not particularly wise. At least, on this particular issue, he has no sense of restraint and no clue about why his writings offended a great many women. It turns out that Dr. Greenfield’s doubled down on the sexism. From both Buckeye Surgeon and Medscape Medical News, I’ve learned that on Wednesday Dr. Greenfield sent out an e-mail to a bunch of press outlets. In essence, not satisfied with just digging himself in deeper, he got out a backhoe and started digging foundations. The e-mail has been widely published:

The reports surrounding my resignation as President-elect of the American College of Surgeons lead readers to conclude that I represent an old-guard generation that represses women in surgery. Since nothing could be further from the truth, I can no longer remain silent in an attempt to protect the organization.

Sadly, it would appear that Dr. Greenfield’s ego has gotten the better of him to the point where he can’t even put the good of the ACS over it any more. First, Greenfield retreats into the “I was only joking” defense, which, while true, is irrelevant. He then pointed out that he has a long track record of recruiting and promoting women in surgery which, while this is certainly admirable and has served to lead many to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept his apology, only made what comes next worse. That’s because, unfortunately, in his e-mail Dr. Greenfield couldn’t resist destroying any reason for anyone, myself included, to keep trying to give him the benefit of the doubt about his foot-in-mouth disease. First, he attacks the women’s groups:

I had hoped to make my experience one that others could learn from by appearing at meetings of women surgeons to discuss forms of hidden or unconscious discrimination, but that did not fit their agenda. There should have been a way to reach a less destructive outcome.

Then he tries to turn the tables on the women who complained about his op-ed piece:

So let’s reverse the situation, and say that a woman editor wrote something that some men found offensive. After they voiced their history of repression, she decided it would be best for the paper if she resigned as Editor. But that wasn’t enough, and other men’s organizations demanded that she resign as the incoming elected President. The conclusion is obvious: men are ruthless and vindictive.”

Oh, no, Dr. Greenfield! Please don’t tell me you’re pulling the hoariest, least convincing, most annoyingly sexist bit in the book used by men trying to justify their sexism! Not only does it not make sense, but it completely fails to recognize the historical differential in power and influence between men and women in surgery as well as the history of denigration and sexual harassment. I can’t recall seeing such a tone-deaf, self-centered, whiny response to criticism in a long time. I mean, geez, he seems to think that some “ruthless and vindictive” cadre of radical feminists conspired to deny him his due. If I had any doubts about Dr. Greenfield’s sexism or whether his being forced to resign as president-elect of the ACS was too harsh a penalty for his prior offense (and I did, actually), those doubts have completely evaporated.

It’s depressing when a god of surgery lets you down so spectacularly.

ADDENDUM: Hoo-boy. Apparently the authors of the rather dubious study cited by Dr. Greenfield to bolster his bad joke can’t leave well enough alone and have decided to jump into the fray. Michael Smerconish at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, has decided to weigh in on Dr. Greenfield’s side in a post entitled Lazar Greenfield’s ‘Semengate’ Stuns Scientific Community. I’ll give him credit for coming up with a pithy name for this whole kerfuffle. Other than that, not so much. A good rule of thumb is that whenever you see an author call something the “PC story of the week” (and when it’s clear that PC does not mean “personal computer”), there’s a high probability that you’re about to be “treated” to an apologia for sexism or racism. Smerconish doesn’t deviate from that rule of thumb. Don’t believe me? Get a load of a couple of excerpts from the letter by Steven M. Platek, Rebecca L. Burch, and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. that Smerconish proudly trumpets:

Frankly, we think people are over reacting to the comments made by Dr. Lazar Greenfield. There is growing evidence that human semen has the potential to produce profound effects on women. We have replicated the effects showing female college students having sex without condoms are less depressed as measured by objective scores on the Beck Depression Inventory. We’ve also examined the data as a function of whether the students were using hormonal contraceptives, whether they were in committed relationships, and how long these relationships have lasted. The anti-depressant properties of semen exposure do not vary as function of any of these conditions. It is not a question of whether females are sexually active, since students having sex with condoms show the same level of depression as those who are not having sex at all. We have also received numerous semen testimonials from other women who attest to the anti-depressant effects of semen exposure and these accounts often include the use of control trials (i.e., comparisons generated by switching from condoms to unprotected sex, or vice a versa).

I’ve already pointed out the shortcomings of this study; so I was curious about where they had published their “replication.” PubMed has a wonderful feature in which it pops up “related citations” in the right sidebar of any citation you look up. I didn’t recall seeing any related citations presenting confirmatory data for Gallup et al‘s study. I searched PubMed using the names of all three authors of the original “semen” study and found no publications regarding the antidepressant properties of semen since the original 2002 study cited by Dr. Greenfield. I found a lot of publications about yawning and mental states, but no followup study or replication of the infamous “semen” study. color me unimpressed, particularly given that three people who purport to be scientists actually cite testimonials–testimonials!–to bolster their argument.

Even so, I might have been able to give Platek et al the benefit of the doubt, given that it was citing their poorly analyzed and designed study that got Dr. Greenfield into so much trouble in the first place, if they hadn’t finished their letter with a truly awe-inspiringly dumb flourish (just as I might have given Dr. Greenfield a bit more benefit of the doubt when it comes to sexism if he hadn’t dug himself in deeper by sending such a tone-deaf e-mail to the press last Wednesday). Here are Platek et al revealing their true colors:

How can someone be asked to resign for citing a peer-reviewed paper? Dr. Greenfield was forced to resign based on politics, not evidence. His resignation is more a reflection of the feminist and anti-scientific attitudes of some self-righteous and indignant members of the American College of Surgeons. Science is based on evidence, not politics. In science knowing is always preferable to not knowing.

Ah, yes, it’s those eeeevvvilll feminist attitudes! I suppose I should be grateful that they managed to restrain themselves from blaming the controversy in “femi-Nazis.” It’s also a massive straw man argument. No one said that it’s not worth knowing whether or not semen has antidepressant properties. Seriously, Drs. Platek, Burch, and Gallup. Go back and read all the criticism. No one said you should never have done that study. Seriously. (On the other hand, some of us, like myself, really, really wish you had done a much more scientifically rigorous study than what you in fact did.) Rather, it was how Dr. Greenfield used your peer-reviewed paper to bolster his sexist joke that got him into hot water. Oh, and the conclusions you made in your peer-reviewed paper were weak at best, crap at worst.

Oh, well, suppose I should be glad that Platek et al managed to restrain themselves from blaming the controversy in “femi-Nazis.” That’s what’s known as being thankful for small favors.

Comments

  1. #1 Maureen
    April 25, 2011

    “So let’s reverse the situation” where women have always been in a postion of power and dominance and men have only recently been recognised as peers. Then a female editor foolishly makes a remark about the male appendage being an impediment to rational thought. Then you you have have an analogy Prof Greenfield

  2. #2 DerelictHat
    April 25, 2011

    This really only supports my hypothesis that stupid reaches across all lines of class, sex, and education to smite everyone just about equally.

  3. #3 DLC
    April 25, 2011

    Dr Greenfield: You are in a hole. Stop Digging.

  4. #4 James Sweet
    April 25, 2011

    Yeah, that’s pretty sad. To be honest, I’m still a little fuzzy on just why the original piece was quite so offensive — I think I get it, but like I say, I’m still a little fuzzy. But there’s a lesson I’ve internalized over the years that Dr.Greenfield seems to have failed to grasp: If you are a member of a historically privileged group, and a historically repressed group claims you said something offensive about them, and you don’t understand what was so offensive about what you said… then more often than not you need to think harder. At the very least the situation needs to be approached with the utmost humility.

    One needs to understand that the situations cannot be reversed. That even trying to imagine a hypothetical reversed situation, it will be very difficult for someone with Dr. Greenfield’s (or my own) life experiences to really understand where the other side is coming from.

  5. #5 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 25, 2011

    Dr. Greenfeld’s attempts to improve the situation of women in surgery are indeed admirable, as Orac says. It means he recognizes bias, institutional and perhaps his own, and has tried to overcome it with a conscious effort. We have seen before in many cases that people who have done that seem to think that that buys them a certain immunity, that after years of self-repression that they can let their roots show and their prejudice hang out just a little with their record of actions to protect them. People in a situation such as his should learn the obvious lesson – one minute’s letting your guard down can undo a lifetime of good work.

  6. #6 elburto
    April 25, 2011

    Backpedal faster Dr G, Lois Lane is still dead.

  7. #7 Calli Arcale
    April 25, 2011

    I think part of the trouble, James, is that most people have a natural inclination to frame conflicts as “us versus them” with a sense that if you don’t defend yourself against them, you will lose, and This Will Be Bad. It’s not necessarily anything conscious; this is very deep, very primal, very important to survival sort of stuff. So once the defensiveness kicks in, you have to defend your position, no matter how untenable it may actually be, no matter how *trivial* it may actually be.

    This is case where he’s defending something even he admits isn’t really important. He wrote a fluff piece that offended a bunch of people. By defending it, he implies that he now takes it more seriously, which now means he actually *meant* the negative implications in it, and which means this is only going to end up with him looking worse than if he’d just said, “I’m sorry I offended you, and I’m sorry I caused grief for my professional colleagues; it will not happen again,” and then moved on. No need to even *address* whether or not what he said was appropriate or whether anyone’s too thin-skinned or whether the studies he cited were valid. Just “I am sorry for causing you pain” and move on.

    And to him:
    So lets reverse the situation, and say that a woman editor wrote something that some men found offensive. After they voiced their history of repression, she decided it would be best for the paper if she resigned as Editor. But that wasn’t enough, and other men’s organizations demanded that she resign as the incoming elected President. The conclusion is obvious: men are ruthless and vindictive.”

    This isn’t really meant as an argument. This strikes me more as him saying that *women* are fundamentally ruthless and vindictive, because if the tables were turned, men would still be struck down despite being the disenfranchised sex. In any case, complaining that it would be worse for men if the tables were turned than it currently is for women is really just the grown-up version of “well, you’re stinkier!”

    DLC is the most succinct of us here, and quite right — first rule of holes applies.

  8. #8 Improbable Joe
    April 25, 2011

    It isn’t like his joke was even all that offensive. It was inappropriate for a work-related publication, and especially inappropriate from someone in a leadership position. The fact that he couldn’t make a simple apology and move on proves the initial judgment that he’s unfit for the ACS president position. I’m sure some people blew it way out of proportion and lost their composure over it… but that doesn’t mean that Dr. Greenfield didn’t screw up, or that he can focus on those people as a way to excuse his own behavior.

  9. #9 rumtopf
    April 25, 2011

    You see this ALL the damn time, when a member of a privileged group “jokes” or makes a ridiculous “observation” about an marginalised group, offends said group and then tries to pull all the focus back to THEIR OWN offense at being rightfully called out. Bah. The worst are the “I’m sorry IF I offended you” fauxpologies. That last quote from Lazar is the sexist equivalent of “BUT REVERSE RACISM!!”.

    You know he’s an arse when being accused of offending people is the more important issue for him. It’s so effing hard to apologise, hey he can even keep the “I was only joking” excuse, just needs to add on a “and I now see that it was totally inappropriate and for that I apologise”. He’s wrapping himself up in a magical intent blanket away from the responsibility that comes with the things he says, and he’s not coming out until he’s been vindicated, dang uppity broads!

  10. #10 Finn
    April 25, 2011

    He probably can’t figure out why drawing Obama as a chimp is more offensive than drawing Bush as a chimp either.

  11. #11 Scott Cunningham
    April 25, 2011

    Like I said before, sexists will always out themselves with even more sexist mansplaining in defense of the first dumb thing they said.

    And here it is.

  12. #12 Elaine Schattner, MD
    April 25, 2011

    Seems like he doesn’t comprehend what he doesn’t get, and/or suffers from a loss of frontal lobe inhibition. Saddening.

  13. #13 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 25, 2011

    My father used to tell me that, roughly speaking, all people are equally intelligent. In order to be a genius in one field, you’ll necessarily be an idiot in all others. (This was usually in the context of a discussion about William Shockely, who he had the misfortune to know early in his (that is, my father’s) career.

    I’ve found it to be a remarkably useful thing – both as a way of beating down my own ego, and in understanding the mind-bogglingly stupid things that otherwise intelligent people are prone to doing.

  14. #14 Calli Arcale
    April 25, 2011

    Hoo boy — the addendum there sure is interesting.

    From the original study authors:

    Frankly, we think people are over reacting to the comments made by Dr. Lazar Greenfield. There is growing evidence that human semen has the potential to produce profound effects on women.

    Yes. For instance, it can cause them to harbor a massive internal parasite for nine months, followed by another eighteen years of debt, all in the hopes that it will occasionally visit or at least send you a card on Mother’s Day. (Zing! Yes, I can recycle tired old jokes too, just like Dr Greenfield. It is not exactly a challenge.)

    Their study showed a dubious link between unprotected sex and women being somewhat less depressed. I would not call this “profound”. It’s tenuous at best, and they did not even determine whether it is the semen itself which is doing it. And that they feel they adequately controlled for confounders tells me that they grotesquely underestimate the magnitude of the decision to have unprotected sex, which, frankly, I do find insulting.

    I recycled the tired old joke about children as nothing more than an ungrateful drain on a parent’s resources in order to set up a more serious comment. Having a child is huge. Massive. Enormous. It is every bit as life-changing as having a limb amputated — not because it is crippling (normally it is not) but because your life is fundamentally different afterward. Better, worse? No, just different. This is a big concern with unprotected sex. So are STDs, which can also change your life forever, because many of them cannot be cured. (And they call herpes the gift that keeps on giving.) Gonorrhea is so widespread that it is becoming antibiotic resistant. And then, of course, there’s AIDS.

    A woman choosing to risk all of these things is a different woman than a woman choosing *not* to risk these things, and I do not believe they accounted for this in their study. This is a massive oversight that boggles my mind. I don’t understand how this could have been overlooked, unless it is something they simply do not think about themselves, being male and immune to pregnancy, and less vulnerable to STDs. (Most STDs infect women more easily than men, for fairly straigthforward physiological reasons.)

    Of course daedalus2u also discussed how poor their measures of depression were, and if depression is not being measured well, the other criticisms are meaningless because the data itself is meaningless. Never mind confounders; they haven’t even reliably found a correlation. Heck, just look at the clinical trials (clinical trials! experimental studies! far more exhaustive than this!) of antidepressants for mild to moderate depression. For severe depression they work, but for mild depression (the sort of depression they’re talking about), even these trials of a substance actually known to relieve depression weren’t able to show a correlation. Hmmm.

    (Will they attempt an experimental study? Artificial insemination versus saline injections into the vagina while a diaphragm is used to prevent pregnancy, with the women remaining celibate to rule out that variable? I imagine that would be hard to get past an IRB. Or recruit many subjects.)

    And like Orac, I too am curious if/when they will ever get around to publishing this supposed replication of their work.

  15. #15 Roadstergal
    April 25, 2011

    A woman choosing to risk all of these things is a different woman than a woman choosing *not* to risk these things, and I do not believe they accounted for this in their study.

    Or – a woman in a situation where these things are less of a risk. I have unprotected sex, as I’m in a monogamous relationship with both of us tested repeatedly, and have internal birth control (thank you, Implanon). The implications of having a life-mate and all of the stability that comes along with it makes me a differnt person than the unattached woman having protected sex with more casual partners was.

    It’s all about the semen, I’m sure.

  16. #16 herr doktor bimler
    April 25, 2011

    objective scores on the Beck Depression Inventory

    Excuse me? Scores on the BDI are subjective by definition: it’s a feckin’ self-report inventory. Do these people know what they’re talking about?

    We’ve also examined [..] whether the students were using hormonal contraceptives, whether they were in committed relationships, and how long these relationships have lasted

    If these are the only factors that the authors can think of that might potentially affect mood AND likelihood of unprotected sex — no psychological factors there! — then there really is no hope for them.

    We have also received numerous semen testimonials from other women

    I can’t think of anything snarky enough to add to that.

  17. #17 herr doktor bimler
    April 25, 2011

    And that they feel they adequately controlled for confounders tells me that they grotesquely underestimate the magnitude of the decision to have unprotected sex

    Calli Arcade said it better than me. Also daedalus2u in the previous thread.

    Their study showed a dubious link between unprotected sex and women being somewhat less depressed

    … and they assumed>/b> that the cause-and-effect ran in one direction.

    There are ways to decide whether A causes B more than B causes A, involving (e.g.) structural-equation modelling and more variables and A LOT more subjects; and if someone wants to do that research, then great! (so long as I’m not paying for it). Sadly, there is no incentive for Platek, Burch & Gallup to do that research when they already receive plaudits from New Scientist and the BBC for any science-fair-level study as long as it’s evo-psych.

  18. #18 lilady
    April 25, 2011

    The good doctor has received the support of his peers in a peer-reviewed journal….I visited the Ho-Po (Journal) and viewed the postings, which are overwhelming supportive of him.

  19. #21 harrync
    April 25, 2011

    Orac: you have made me feel sympathy for this poor jerk. Was that your intention?

  20. #22 Calli Arcale
    April 25, 2011

    David — gotta love the Onion. ;-) I saw that one when they first published it, and I LOLed.

    I love my little parasites; gonna be putting them to bed shortly, but had to check on this thread before that. Sometimes someone puts their foot in their mouth really badly, like Greenfield did, and it’s like watching a train wreck. The researchers stepping in to defend their bad science is icing on the cake.

  21. #23 Phoenix Woman
    April 25, 2011

    Nothing I could say that’s not already been said on this issue — and said better than I could say it.

    Quick O/T: Folks, go give this pro-evidence-based-medicine doc some love in the letters section, ‘kay? The dingbats are swarming him: http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/04/25/vaccine_ad_times_sqaure_poprx/index.html

  22. #24 Brad
    April 25, 2011

    Sooo… when are we going to see one of the clever Big Pharma™ companies start marketing oxytocin suppositories as an antidepressant?

    And of course, men should have access to the latest antidepressant technology too – TEH GAY SEXX – good for your depression!!!111!1
    </snark>

    Brad

  23. #25 Uncle Glenny
    April 25, 2011

    OK, I’ve figured out what a semen testimonial is.

  24. #26 frenchqueen13
    April 26, 2011

    A reader of the HP directed me here, and I’ve read the first article and now this with great interest. I’m also recommending that others there (most of the response has been “Leave the poor guy alone! It was funny!” or “He was just quoting THE STUDY!”)read it, and this, and the comments, to learn more about it.

    My thanks to everyone who’s posted.

  25. #27 csrster
    April 26, 2011

    I’d be willing to bet at least $5 that before two weeks are out we will discover that this is not Dr. Greenfield’s first grossly sexist lapse of judgement. Nobody gets to be that clueless overnight.

  26. #28 Dianne
    April 26, 2011

    We have also received numerous semen testimonials from other women who attest to the anti-depressant effects of semen exposure

    Quite apart from the way the phrase “semen testimonials” is making my inner 10 year old snicker, this is a disturbing statement: Alties use “testimonials” to bolster their position. Scientists who publish in peer reviewed journals should use them as hypothesis generating at best and not cite them as a major piece of data. Which further supports the hypothesis that their paper is full of it.

  27. #29 Christophe Thill
    April 26, 2011

    I don’t understand why it would make sense for a male person of power to “appea[ring] at meetings of women surgeons to discuss forms of hidden or unconscious discrimination”. What use would it be? What could he do there? Say sorry and ask for forgiveness? Find excuses and try the “oh it’s not that bad, you’re overreacting” defence? Why would his presence be needed?

  28. #30 Beamup
    April 26, 2011

    @ Christophe:

    What he could do would be to listen to the experiences of said female surgeons, to try and understand what forms of discrimination they face. Then, armed with that information, work to prevent said discrimination. Which he can do since he is a “person of power.” (It is not necessary that said person be male for this to be useful, though in this case he is.)

  29. #31 Vicki Rosenzweig
    April 26, 2011

    How about some anti-semen testimonials? Women saying that they had protected sex, and felt much better afterwards? And how good sex with other women is for their moods? Have they compared with the famous battery-operated boyfriend?

  30. #32 Calli Arcale
    April 26, 2011

    Vicki — well, I went off hormonal contraception between my two babies, because I was nursing. I went back on once my second was weaned. That ended up being quite a few years without the Pill, and during that time, we relied on condoms. Comparing the experience, I can say that though it’s not the same with as without a condom, it was satisfying in both cases, and very enjoyable. I did not notice a significant change in my rate of depression based on method of birth control, and as I suffer from clinical depression, I am familiar with the feelings. Actually, I have not had a sufficiently long episode to qualify as “clinical depression” since meeting my husband — and that includes the year and a half of our courtship, during which we were celibate.

    This does not surprise me. After all, if oxytocin is really acting as a mood reliever (which I actually kind of doubt — I don’t believe it’s that simple), the fact that the brains of both sexes release oxytocin during orgasm likely overwhelms any obtained vaginally during sex. (Note also that much of the man’s, ahem, contribution doesn’t stay where it’s put. The infamous “wet spot” — anything dribbling out isn’t going do a darn thing.)

  31. #33 KitKat
    April 26, 2011

    Not sure if anyone has caught this, but aside from the sexist behavior, promoting bad science has some nasty ripple-effects:

    http://www.jillstanek.com/2011/04/feminists-fume-about-euphoric-properties-of-semen/#comments

    Now the religious nuts think this is proof that god hates fags and contraception is evil.

    Way to go, Dr. Doofenshmirtz.

  32. We have also received numerous semen testimonials from other women

    The plural of “anecdote” is “bukkake”?

  33. #35 Jack
    April 27, 2011

    Over in the comments at Retraction Watch (where you’d expect a hostile audience) the responses are mostly supportive, including the ones from female surgeons/doctors! (Yes, I read every one of the 227 comments) Ya’ll should go over there and start arguing with everyone because clearly the majority of people are supporting the abuse of women. Wow how is that happening!? Could it be that you’re the ones being unfair and biased? Most of my many “feminist” friends also have no problem with it but I guess they are probably the wrong kind of feminists. Just thought I’d toss that out there in case ya’ll start feeling like you’re the majority and superior to the rest of us who feel like this is agenda-driven hysterics. And yes, these are people who know all of the facts and have read the complaints of the other side.

  34. #36 Jack
    April 27, 2011

    Over at HuffPo, most of the top-rated comments will always attack Deepak Chopra, the anti-science, the homeopaths etc. It allows a lot of woo but the majority of comments attack those pieces. Go see for yourself on any woo article with 1000 comments or more, click to sort by “popularity” and the first several pages will all attack the woo. So while they may allow the woo, the readership is smart and astute.

    That’s why it’s so great that if you go read the comments on this article, and sort by popularity, you’ll that every single one supports Lazar. I’m on page 10 of the comments and I haven’t found a single negative one yet! You guys seriously have your work cut out for you convincing anyone that this was offensive! Every few comments goes something like “Look, I’m a feminist myself, but found his comment to be funny…”

    So either the vast majority of people are completely insensitive and insane or what the majority is saying is true, the minority who have interpreted it their own way are the ones who are being unfair and unnecessarily hurtful.

  35. #37 Orac
    April 27, 2011

    Logical fallacy: Argumentum ad populum. Here’s a hint: Popularity has little (often nothing) to do with whether something is right or wrong.

  36. #38 Pablo
    April 27, 2011

    In what universe is “the majority is insensitive” considered unlikely?

  37. #39 maxSteel
    April 27, 2011

    I head Dr. Oz make make the same comments and site the same study on TV.

    No protests, he’s still very popular with women.

  38. #40 Jack
    April 27, 2011

    Oh come on guys, that’s the best you got?! If you read again carefully, I didn’t imply an argumentum ad populum. I implied that you are in the vast minority, at least as far as the average person, even the average feminist is concerned. At no point did I imply that this makes us right. The point of my post was to show you, despite your tone of superiority and judgment, that few are following your lead, so you might want to blog about why we are all so misled, instead of piling scorn upon what you make look like the minority.

  39. #41 SC (Salty Current)
    April 27, 2011

    Excuse me? Scores on the BDI are subjective by definition: it’s a feckin’ self-report inventory. Do these people know what they’re talking about?

    Dude, but they put scores on them! As everyone knows, numbers make everything objectoquantiscientificish.

    Sadly, there is no incentive for Platek, Burch & Gallup to do that research when they already receive plaudits from New Scientist and the BBC for any science-fair-level study as long as it’s evo-psych.

    Yup.

    ***

    Like I said before, sexists will always out themselves with even more sexist mansplaining in defense of the first dumb thing they said.

    And here it is.

    It’s quite amazing, especially the bit from Platek et al. With D*lan Evans, I think it reached a point where I was actually encouraging him to STFU for his own sake.

  40. #42 Calli Arcale
    April 27, 2011

    maxSteel — the popularity of these men with women and even feminists despite statements like these probably has a couple of reasons:

    1) This is just one thing they’ve said. Most of what they say is not so insensitive, and few people will give up on someone they like just because they didn’t like one thing he said.

    2) The statement isn’t actually all that offensive unless you are a scientifically minded person and can spot the shaky logic behind it, which in turn leads a person to question the motives behind a sensible, science-based person making such a statement.

    3) There are studies showing that a majority of college-age women prefer unprotected sex, for a variety of reasons. They may find this joke appealing simply because it justifies their otherwise somewhat counter-intuitive preference. (Interestingly, these surveys parallel findings among the gay male community, where “barebacking” has increased in prevalence in recent years. There may be a sociological reason for that.)

    What Dr Greenfield wrote was a fluff piece. Most of Dr Oz’s viewers and HuffPo’s readers are familiar and comfortable with fluff pieces, so the style would not have bothered them so much — I know fluff pieces written by scientists and respected medical authorities do tend to make me grumpy, especially if they flounce around bad science so casually, like it doesn’t even matter. Furthermore, there is more than one way to take the “joke”. The misogynistic interpretation is that it’s about how women actually need men inseminating them in order to be happy. The more feminist interpretation is the vindication of a desire to have unprotected sex. “See? This is the natural way! This is the better way! The people who promote condoms are robbing me of my right to real satisfaction in my sex life!”

    Me? I’m upset with the bad science and with the irresponsible advice from a medical professional. You don’t expect to read opinion pieces by police officers telling you how fun and exciting it is to shoplift small items, and you don’t expect to read opinion pieces by respected doctors promoting the joys of unsafe sex.

  41. #43 Vicki
    April 27, 2011

    Calli–

    Agreed. To add to your last paragraph: and we don’t need opinion pieces that suggest that if a woman isn’t satisfied by sex, the solution is to stop using condoms.

  42. #44 Ben S
    April 27, 2011

    This whole affair was worth it to have Semengate added to the Internet lexicon.

    @34: Lol’d. (really!)

    I do feel sorry for someone in the science field named Gordon G. Gallup. I bet he got made fun of in grad school all the time. -.-

  43. #45 herr doktor bimler
    April 28, 2011

    sexists will always out themselves with even more sexist mansplaining in defense of the first dumb thing they said.

    An example would be “linking feminism with anti-science”:
    “the feminist and anti-scientific attitudes of some self-righteous and indignant members of the American College of Surgeons.”

  44. #46 herr doktor bimler
    April 28, 2011

    For the record, when Platek et al write “We have replicated the effects”, they may not be claiming to have conducted a second as-yet-unpublished study. Their 2002 paper begins by citing a 1986 paper by Ney on “the intravaginal absorption of male generated hormones” (published in that authoritative journal Medical Hypotheses), and was in a sense a replication of that paper.

  45. #47 TBruce
    April 28, 2011

    Oops, another one bites the dust! Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

    Maybe the lesson to take home is that old guys should be careful with their jokes.

  46. #48 lilady
    April 28, 2011

    From the New Scientist blog, June 26, 2002 “Semen acts as an antidepressant”…this gem:

    “And Gallup told New Scientist that his team already has unpublished data from a larger group of 700 women confirming these findings. In this study the always-use-condoms group were more depressed than the usually-use-condoms group, suggesting discrepancy in the smaller study was a sampling error, he says.”

  47. #49 tjr
    April 28, 2011

    This is an incredible reinactment of Salem on steroids. The guy said he was sorry. He got run out of his position by bull shit. The Board of Regents of the American College should be asked to resign. They are cowards. Most of this blog is hand wringing over nonsense. The larger blow to the College is their cowardly submission to black mail.

  48. #50 herr doktor bimler
    April 28, 2011

    incredible reinactment of Salem on steroids
    Apparently one person’s resignation is like the deaths of 25 people, but on steroids!
    It is an over-reaction that can best be corrected by a whole lot of other people resigning as well!

    I learn things at Respectful Ignorance.

  49. #51 Heliantus
    April 28, 2011

    The guy said he was sorry.

    Like this Teaparty Republican woman, who recently circulated a photoshop of Barrack Obama with chimps forebears, said it was just a misunderstanding.

    I will quote a previous post from James Sweet, it seems worth repeating.

    If you are a member of a historically privileged group, and a historically repressed group claims you said something offensive about them, and you don’t understand what was so offensive about what you said… then more often than not you need to think harder.

  50. #52 cruci
    April 29, 2011

    I’m sorry, but I have to agree with Jack. I’m female, and I don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t think the doctor meant any harm with what he said. The whole “PC” thing is getting really out of hand in this country. People are too damn thin-skinned, offended by everything. Grow up, whiners.

  51. #53 JayK
    April 29, 2011

    @Cruci: Perhaps you missed the part where females of equivalent skill and experience make less than males? Perhaps you are unaware that hiring practices for the upper 10% of wage earners across the US still show a predominance for males? Is this all political correctness that I’m thin-skinning you with? Go look up wage gap statistics and attempt to understand them. If you make it through it all without crying, come on back and call me a whiner again.

  52. #54 Stuffy
    April 29, 2011

    You’d have to bend over backwards to take offense at that small joke. Seriously – what’s the problem again? How is it insensitive to say that sex without a condom can be better than sex with a condom, or that making love is better than eating chocolate? How is the idea of having sex with a loved one denigrating to women?

    Or is it that people are offended at the slight against chocolate?

    If the research had shown the opposite result, that sex with condoms raises mood, then would a similar joke cause Catholics to make Lazar resign?

    The matters of whether the research is right or wrong, and the history of women’s place in society are pure smokescreens. Because Lazar’s joke wasn’t insensitive in the slightest to any level-headed person.

    As far as imagining what the reaction would be if the roles were reversed: that’s the ideal way to tell if there’s sexism at play. If you’re unwilling to explore that little thought experiment, then what you’re saying, in effect, is that you’d prefer not to evaluate whether there’s a double-standard in effect.

  53. #55 big news articles
    April 30, 2011

    I head Dr. Oz make the same comments and site the same study on TV.

    No protests, he’s still very popular with women any way.

  54. #56 John88
    May 1, 2011

    My God, we’ve raised a generation of totaly useless a**-wipes – despite their credentials. “I was agahst,” said one shrivelled up prune. Aghast? Frigging liberals – you make me want to vomit. I can’t wait for the day when people like this are marched off to concentration camps for a lengthy stay. Good riddance.

  55. #57 Primateus
    July 29, 2011

    The current zeitgeist of stultifying political correctness is the reeling aftershock of hitting overambitious speed bumps on bigoted thinking.

    You can disagree with the doctor, find his piece distasteful, etc, and still acknowledge the absurdity and sanctimony of this whole issue

  56. #58 Skip
    August 18, 2011

    Wow – what a bunch of idiots – especially JayK. What does a marginally-humorous comment have ANYTHING to do with how much women and men make in the medical professions? Hey, JayK – I’ll say it – YOU’RE A FREAKING WHINER.

    Life is tough enough. You complainers didn’t get enough of the meaning from the “sticks and stones” lessons in primary school. “Aghast”??? Come on.

    It’s amazing when I read stories in the news about how women want to be treated like men – and then scream bloody murder when it happens. I’m not being sexist – they are.

  57. #59 Nathan
    September 28, 2011

    Let me just say that this is easily one of the most biased, and pointless articles I’ve ever read. He was forced to resign for a stupid, inoffensive comment which was obviously meant as a joke and in no way implied any sort of female inequality. It was just a joke which was based on his claims and completely relative. You have ruined a good man’s life and for no reason. Skip and John88 have the right idea. Good riddance.

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