Angry Harry Protests!
Always willing to pontificate about everything
under the sun to whosoever will listen, I have decided to pick on two of the
posts that are currently on MND and to comment upon them.
1. The first is a piece entitled Sexually
Active Teenagers are More Likely to be Depressed and Attempt Suicide by
As one can gather from the title, this piece
summarises some research findings that suggest that sexually active teenagers
are more likely to be depressed and attempt suicide than are sexually inactive
teenagers. However, both the article and, presumably, the research itself are
The article tries to lead the reader into the
conclusion that sexual activity in teenagers is the very cause of depression and
attempted suicide, but it makes no attempt whatsoever to explore the highly
likely possibility that teenagers who engage in sex are the ones most likely to
be seeking some form of solace, or some form of excitement, or some form of
escape from the circumstances that they inhabit.
For example, teenagers from broken homes might
well engage in sex at an earlier age than do those from happy homes, and they
are also more likely to be depressed. But it does not follow that any depression
that they experience is a direct result of the sex rather than the direct result
of a broken home.
Similarly, it might well be the case that
teenagers who indulge in sex are more predisposed to take risks - perhaps due to
genetic factors - and that teenagers who are more predisposed to take risks are
more likely to get depressed.
But the article has nothing to say about such
possibilities - and there are many, many others.
It is, therefore, little more than a piece of
And it shows!
None of the above is to suggest that teenage
sex does not lead, statistically speaking, to the consequences described, but I
find it deeply irritating to see articles quoting 'scientific' research in
support of their claims when the scope of the research being quoted does not
actually warrant the claims being made on the basis of it.
And, even worse, the acceptance of such
unwarranted claims could easily lead to very damaging consequences.
Here is an example.
Imagine that some research discovered that
teenagers who watched TV after 10 o'clock were more likely to be depressed.
Could one simply conclude that the programmes
after 10 o'clock were
causing the depression?
Of course not.
It is far more likely that, statistically
speaking, depressed teenagers simply gawp at the TV screen for much longer than
do non-depressed teenagers - and so they are, therefore, far more likely to be
watching after 10 o'clock.
But what if the researchers did erroneously
conclude that the TV was, in fact, the cause of the depression? And so they said
to the parents, "Do not let your children watch the TV after 10 o'clock
because it will cause them to be depresssed," and the parents duly obliged.
What would then happen to the depressed
teenagers who were now forbidden to watch the TV after 10 o'clock? What else
might they do to alleviate their depression?
Well, of course, they might decide to kill
And the same might be true if teenagers were
prevented from having sex!
This is why social 'science' can be very
dangerous. Human beings and the circumstances that surround them are usually far
too complex to allow one to make any grand claims about them on the basis of what is usually
very simplistic research.
My piece entitled Smack
those Bottoms? concerning the smacking of children gives some
indication of just how useless is much of social science research, and,
indeed, of just how dangerous to our society it can be when its truly severe
limitations are not recognised - and are not even mentioned in articles.
2. The second piece is entitled A
Way to Win by George Rolph.
It is a very good piece indeed, with
some sound advice for men's activists.
But I have a complaint
And it is a complaint that I have made against many men's activists in the past - particularly when they have had
the effrontery to suggest that I, myself, am far too belligerent!
George fails completely to take cognisance of
the fact that much of what he advises has already been done for years by various
men's activists. Writing polite letters and trying to cosy up to the politicians
or to the media or to the judges does not work!
In the UK we have charities such as Families
Need Fathers which have been doing this sort of thing for almost 30 years.
Despite a membership of some 3000, Families
Need Fathers has achieved very little and hardly
anyone has even heard of them.
Needless to say, it is not a significant
It undoubtedly does help a lot of fathers with
their own personal affairs but it is a complete failure when it comes to
bringing about any change.
And if all men's activists were to operate in
the same manner, the men's movement would get absolutely nowhere. Their issues
and their movement would simply be dismissed out of hand - particularly by those
with power, who are far too busy watching their backs and accommodating to those who
do have the audacity to keep attacking them.
Far too many men do not realise that much of
the world does not currently operate on the basis of what is right, and true,
and best. It operates on the basis of strong demands and powerful
forces that emanate from
sources that have their own agendas.
Indeed, the feminist movement did not gain its
astonishing power by following George's advice!
The feminists got their power by screaming,
bullying, threatening and intimidating. They were hostile, aggressive,
deceitful, dishonourable, utterly selfish, and quite prepared to carry out their
And the idea that the men's movement could
ever compete with such groups for the attention of the media, the politicians
and even the public on the basis of quiet protest is just plain wrong.
It is the groups that are strong, determined,
highly vocal and intimidating who tend to lead the way.
And the same goes for the group members
Did Martin Luther King and Malcolm X appear to
be quiet boys?
Did Hitler present himself as a tender soul?
Did Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, Catherine
MacKinnon, Gloria Steinem and all the other major feminists come across as very
reasonable and gentle human beings?
No. They did not.
Did George Bush get a huge vote of popular
support immediately after 9/11 by saying that he would have a quiet chat with Osama Bin
Did the Vietnam war protesters stop the war by
saying a word here and a word there?
No. They did not.
A movement that does not shout and stamp its
feet makes little headway.
Furthermore, not only is it the case that it
is the persistently belligerent who usually end up calling the shots, but when
it comes to attracting the attention of the public, the evidence shows quite
clearly that one needs to generate heat!
For example, the tabloid press in the UK -
which is very vitriolic - sells 5 times more newspapers than the relatively
sedate - but vastly more informative - broadsheets.
The way to sell papers is to create a storm.
And the same is true for the men's movement.