Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Social Research project

My little foray into fomenting social change has got me thinking.

Firstly, that I’m not the apathetic, socially unaware, solely grammar focussed floater I’d always assumed.

Secondly, that speaking up might actually make a difference to very small things. I never really believed that. But I think we’re at a unique stage where being heard by the right people is so much more possible, largely due to Twitter.

After my little rant against Men’s Health Magazine’s article I made the editor aware of my feelings via Twitter.


I was incredulous that a woman would be responsible for commissioning this claptrap. Her take on it was that their writing was not anti-women and their readers were intelligent enough not to take the angle that it was less risky to date stupid women etc, that they were merely quoting “interesting, weird” research.

I don’t agree by the way.

I think it’s far more insidious than that and, of course, her public response might well have to be in line with what a magazine like that knows its readers want. However, I contacted an evolutionary psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa who it turns out did some of the work the magazine had been quoting. He stood by all of it BUT he said that oral sex is used by both genders to suss out cheating and that intelligence correlates with cheating for both men and women. That is an angle the magazine could have followed with no less interest from the weird research and no feminist drums being banged and scaring away their readers.

To the credit of the editor, she thanked me for the tip when I told her this. In my wildest flights of fancy, she’d go in and amend the article (as well as that horrific spelling error mixing bear and bare) and make reporters ask questions of data before using it, even simple ones like “I wonder what this research says about men too?”

But thirdly, I am wondering how I can do my own research without a university department behind me. Satoshi Kanazawa is not interested in working with a “British journalist” even though I’m not one and I raised his red flags by use of the word misogyny in my email (not aimed at him I hasten to add). I don’t blame him really, I can’t stand the whole activist warpath vitriol either. I’m ashamed of myself.

Things I think  would be interesting:

  • Do people with partners they rate as high/higher than them in intelligence get promoted more/earn more?
  • Is there a difference between men and women and, if so, what?
  • Indeed do single people do better on these two? (presumably people not in relationships focus on their career more but who knows?)

Kind of “Behind every strong man/woman there’s a strong man/woman” or alongside or whatever linguistic hops we need to do to make that sentence palatable and not misinterpretable.

But before that I need to work out how to design a survey that will provide answers, rule out extraneous variables or find a way to allow for them, find a platform for it and then respondents. And then analyse the data and write it up. A pretty big job but I’m always willing to back up curiosity with action.

Anyone got any ideas/suggestions/tips?



4 comments on “Social Research project

  1. Ebefl
    February 9, 2013

    Have you read his article? I’d love to see it, sounds like total junk science to me but I’ll reserve my judgement until I see his methodology.

    • Nicola
      February 9, 2013

      Actually no, but he seems to be followed by a lot of criticism of his methodology and findings. I don’t really have the background to know whether these studies are valid or not so couldn’t comment. I’m sure you can find it with a search for his name plus cheating plus oral sex

    • Nicola
      October 20, 2014

      Yes, he did strike me as rather odd!

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2013 by in Thoughts and tagged , , , .
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