In "soft" sciences like sociology, it's much more difficult to detect manipulation of research, than in "hard" sciences like physics. Soft science researchers who strive for objectivity deserve an extra measure of respect. Sadly, far too many researchers are more concerned with pushing an agenda than with objectivity. These same problems are not unknown in the world of journalism. Since the soft sciences and the media have a powerful influence on social policies in this country, this affects every family and every individual.

Breaking the Science is about the broken "science" that's being used to create law and drive social policy.


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Why?

Why?

By Mark B. Rosenthal

November 20, 2005

A "Why?" page. That's very odd. The page on which I tell you about myself would normally be called an "About" page. But the information about me is not merely to tell you about me, but also to help you understand the motivation behind my creation of this website. Thus "Why?" rather than "About".

It is said that nature abhors a vaccuum. Public figures know that all too well. If you don't tell your own story, people will fill in the details from their own imaginations. If you take a controversial stand, those who dislike your viewpoint will fill in the details to discredit you. But even those who like what you have to say will make incorrect assumptions about you. So I feel it necessary to explain myself here.

Some who like the things I've written describe me as a men's rights activist, as do others who despise what I've written. I do not consider myself to be a men's rights activist. Both feminism and men's rights activism seem to me to share the same set of underlying principles - the fight for rights for one's own group. In contrast to that, my most basic principle is one of equality. The Viet Nam/Civil Rights/Women's Liberation era when I came of age was a time when a married woman could not apply for credit in her own name without her husband's signature. At that time, domestic violence was not recognized as a serious problem, and women in need of help had no place to turn. Under those circumstances, equal treatment for all meant paying special attention to the inequalities faced by women. But society has undergone great change in the last three decades. Women abused by their husbands now have thousands of places throughout the U.S. where they can find help. Men abused by their wives still have virtually no place to turn. Four times as many men as women take their own lives. Given current circumstances, equal treatment for all must today also include special attention to the inequalities faced by men.

When I first read Cathy Young's book "Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality", I came across the following paragraph in the Acknowledgements section:

“To my parents, Alexander and Marina Young, I owe more than words can ever express. From them I have learned the values that lie at the foundation of this book: that every person should be treated as an individual; that the complexities of life cannot be tailored to fit any ideology; that it is unseemly and ignoble to defend the interests of the group to which you belong not because these interests are just, but because the group is your own.”

To this day, I find that statement of principles to be one of the most profound things I've ever read.

The events of my early life sensitized me to the fact that forms of domestic violence exist that do not fit the stereotypes that Hollywood feeds us on a regular basis. I've described some of my childhood experiences in "Growing Up With a Problem that Doesn't Exist" and in "Don't Put Your Trust In Movements".

But this is not just about my own personal story. I know many others who have suffered greatly because their situation doesn't fit the one-size-fits-all model currently implemented by most domestic violence organizations. Nor is it about liberal or conservative ideologies. I know people from all parts of the political spectrum who care deeply about this.

And so I feel I must take a strong stand regarding the issue of family violence. I believe that in order for policies and laws to actually work, they must be based on the following principles: 1) they must be based on research done by people committed to objectivity and the scientific method, 2) they must be grounded in the principle of equal treatment for all, regardless of any group affiliation, be it gender, age, race, or religion, and 3) those on the front lines, the people who provide care and services, must be personally committed both to the principle of equality and also to objective, fact-based analysis and treatment of each case, regardless of any personal prejudices or government policies which might incline them to act otherwise.

The question I constantly come back to is this – would children in these modern "enlightened" times, growing up in a family like the one I grew up in, be better or worse off than my sister and I were back in that "unenlightened" era? Based on what I know at present, I very much fear that the system in place today would make those children's lives far, far worse.

It's easy today to condemn the behavior of whites in the Jim Crow South, but a white person raised in that culture at that time would have to have been unusually enlightened to be able to see beyond the values taught to them during their childhood and recognize the injustices that are so obvious to us today. Such an enlightened white person in that era had a moral obligation to speak out against the injustices. Likewise, an enlightened Christian in Nazi Germany had a moral obligation to do something.

Because of the unfortunate events in my life, I can see a particular injustice which the rest of modern U.S. society is blind to. If I fail to do what I can to inform society of an injustice I know about that most others are ignorant of, I will be squandering an opportunity to make the world a more just and compassionate place. And more than that, these efforts on my part are the only way I know to honor the memory of my sister, my father, and yes – even my mother.

Prevalent practice seems to consider it OK to view the world through an ideological lens, and to enact laws and create social policy based on such a worldview. And so, in my struggle against that notion, I echo the principles Cathy Young learned from her parents:

  • every person should be treated as an individual
  • the complexities of life cannot be tailored to fit any ideology
  • it is unseemly and ignoble to defend the interests of the group to which you belong not because these interests are just, but because the group is your own

And the imperative that I take the knowledge that I came by so painfully, and use it to make the world a better place, comes from an even wiser source:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel (30 BC - 9 AD)
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