Stop Discrimination Against Men

First thing when you go on field-work is to find a decent place to stay. Last time in Paris I was liv­ing in Saint-Germain de Prés area: almost per­fect had it not been for all those cock­roaches in my flat.

This time I am in Lon­don (yes, I try to avoid places that are not glam­or­ous and posh). Before going fur­ther, a short intro­duc­tion about myself.

I am pos­it­iv­ist, a liber­tarian and a neor­eal­ist (in IR the­ory). In other words, the worst of the scum accord­ing to European enlightened (?), tol­er­ant (??) and plur­al­ist (???) social scientists.

Why am I say­ing this? This has to do with my room-search in Lon­don town.

While room-hunting this time, I found it inter­est­ing that most people dis­crim­in­ate against men: women are gen­er­ally pre­ferred for flat­shar­ing. I think there are good reas­ons, by the way. Women are more tidy and clean (my exper­i­ence: I know, the sample is trun­cated, lim­ited and biased). They are more pre­cise and — just to say all truth — are also less likely to rape you middle of the room (you never know: ana­lyt­ical logic). If you are a woman, I think you may con­sider also this detail.

Fem­in­ists would say all this has to do with the social con­struc­tion of genders in post-modernity (???). To me, the fact that women are more tidy and clean across coun­tries, cul­tures, classes and pro­fes­sions sug­gest that there is some­thing more (even­tu­ally, they are just bet­ter in this, exactly like I am bet­ter in cook­ing than my brother…?).

In fact, if I were a girl, I would prob­ably also prefer shar­ing my flat with women. Actu­ally, already now I prefer women as flat­mates: first, they can intro­duce me to other girls (so far, never happened: but it’s worth try­ing). Second, the house is likely to have a higher level of hygiene (I don’t really like tuber­cu­losis). Finally, if I don’t do the clean­ing, I know some­body else will do it (free-riding).

Any­way, if we take the feminist/critical stand point, what I wit­nessed is dis­crim­in­a­tion — period. Men are dis­crim­in­ated. Dis­crim­in­a­tion is bad and should be banned: right? As a liber­tarian, I think most of the times, mar­ket forces solve everything on their own. I know, you have injustice, but you have effi­ciency. In fact, I think this is what hap­pens: men will pay higher prices (don’t they have higher salar­ies?) or will end up in the worst places. In con­trast, women will find an accom­mod­a­tions at faster rates, cheaper prices and, prob­ably, in bet­ter shapes. Dur­ing my search, this is pre­cisely what I witnessed.

In any case, I don’t think there is any­thing inher­ently bad in all this. It’s life. Like it’s life that some people are better-looking than me and some oth­ers are not, or that some people are more intel­li­gent. How­ever, I would like to hear what fem­in­ists have to say about this: should we have reg­u­la­tions that ban these dis­crim­in­at­ory prac­tices? Should we edu­cate women (and men) that men are not dif­fer­ent in flat-sharing? Who mon­it­ors? Who enforces? Who pays for the eco­nomic and social costs (think how fun is to be com­pelled to take a man as flat­mate and then your place turns into a dis­aster). How moral/legitimate is it to com­pel people to do of their own things that they don’t want? Finally, are we really sure to get a bet­ter outcome?

If you remained ser­i­ous till this point, let me know… I am really curi­ous to listen to com­pel­ling (?) argu­ments sup­port­ing fem­in­ist theories (??).

P.S. I really felt dis­crim­in­ated when this 5 Aus­tralian girls-house did not want me in just because I was a man. I felt so power­less against this over­arch­ing struc­ture of dis­crim­in­at­ory prac­tices and norms.

Andrea Gilli is a PhD stu­dent in the Depart­ment of Polit­ical and Social Sci­ences, EUI. He holds an MSc in Inter­na­tional Rela­tions from the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics and a BA in Polit­ics and Eco­nom­ics from the Uni­ver­sity of Turin. At the EUI Andrea works on arma­ments pro­cure­ment and coöper­a­tion in Europe.

43 Comments

  • Maria Birnbaum wrote:

    Dear Andrea,

    I would, on the first point, agree with Milla. In most cases the delib­er­ate aggress­ive present­a­tion — or the myth­i­fic­a­tion – of the self, which you tend to cul­tiv­ate, more often tends to dis­tance people than the fact that you are per­ceived as a man.

    That there are, in fact, often more open doors to you if you are a women, does not have to do with the fact that women are cleaner — an assump­tion I would ques­tion – but might reflect, in the case you are being rejec­ted by women, an uncer­tainty which women, appar­ently, still feel about hav­ing men they do not know, in their every­day pri­vacy. That would interest me more and if you are hon­estly curi­ous about the fact that you get rejec­ted and not only as a offense to your tender ego, why don’t you just ask them.

    Maria

  • This might of some help…they are all women but I am sure they will wel­come you and you won’t feel discriminated:

    http://www.eui.eu/ServicesAndAdmin/AcademicService/PracticalInformation/CounsellingService/Index.aspx

  • Dear (?) Andrea,
    I’ve read your art­icle (?). First, I was angry, then frus­trated, then angry again… then con­fused… is he kid­ding? (???),
    try­ing to be ironic? (???), should I reply? (???), should I just let go? (???)
    But I can’t. Call me frus­trated, call me clean, call me woman. But I have to write some­thing.
    So you couldn’t find a decent flat in Lon­don. Wel­come to life, it hap­pens to the best of us. So they didn’t want you.
    So you think it’s because you are a man.
    It might be. I don’t say it is not the case…
    And if it was, it surely be unfair. But after read­ing your art­icle, I can tell you some­thing: there might be other reas­ons.
    Just think about it.
    Best of luck with the search,
    Eunate

    PS: what is with the (?) ??? (???) ?

  • Andrea,
    As a man, what I have to say is that your house-hunting prob­lems were not because of being a man…
    Just because of being stupid.

  • sabrina ponsi wrote:

    Dear Andrea,

    smart shot, very italian, ber­lusconian, I’d dare to say…

    Maybe those fri­gid Aus­tralian fem­in­ists do not appre­ci­ate your fine sense of humor, poor girls…

    Sure they do not know the subtle dif­fer­ence between lib­er­al­ism, liber­tari­an­ism and liber­ism. This is prob­ably the reason of their dis­crim­in­at­ory behaviour.

    Be patient, and remem­ber that even in the most glam­ouros and poshest places it is pos­sible to come across brains which should actu­ally be drained.

    Indeed, you should feel lucky for not being com­pelled to share your flat with some obsess­ively hygien­ist females.

    And if you really do not like to do the clean­ing and are afraid of tuber­co­losis from cock­roaches… well, don’t worry, since the effi­cient mar­ket offers a lot of cheap for­eign domestic work­ers who cer­tainly will do the dirty job without dis­crim­in­ate you, as long as you share your salary with them…

    A salary which will cer­tainly be very high when those care­less and author­it­arian European social sci­ent­ists will notice your fresh per­spect­ive on the lib-lab debate. You ser­i­ously found the solu­tion to face the grow­ing eco­nomic and social costs of the wel­fare state. They will prob­ably place you side by side with sci­ent­ists as enlightened as Her­bert Spen­cer, a pro­found con­noiseur of the pro­cesses of life on this planet.

    You have all my solid­ar­ity and respect :)

  • Dear Andrea,
    My solid­ar­ity. Good news is: there is a way to dodge such awful anti-men gender dis­crim­in­a­tion in hous­ing… be gay!!! And so take advant­age of the enlightened, tol­er­ant and plur­al­istic Europe. C’mon, which Aus­tralian girl will res­ist to share her life and flat with a pos­it­iv­ist, liber­tarian, neor­eal­ist han­dosme Italian gay, know­ing that both share the same view regard­ing clean envir­on­ments and germs? And then, just ima­gine: You spent your days happy in your flat, shar­ing all emo­tions and exper­i­ences with the girls, safe from being sexu­ally arrased by any male idiot, and most import­ant, feel­ing that no one there is dis­crim­in­at­ing you in any way. Will you accept ANY man to come and put an end to that piece of heaven?

  • While Luis and Sab­rina replied with wit and sar­casm, most of other com­ments give a good hint of what aca­demic plur­al­ism and per­sonal respect is. Congratulations.

    In any case, in Lon­don, most of ads for houses expli­citly say “for women only”. This is dis­crim­in­a­tion, to me. I wanted to hear your “enlightened com­ments” on this point. So far, nobody really replied.

    I think this says a lot about who has an argu­ment and who wants just to make arguments.

    aa

  • ps: while the stu­pid­ity of my com­ment is self-evident, I would like to point out the appro­pri­ate­ness of Elena’s. In order to debunk my argu­ment you rely on a dis­crim­in­at­ory com­ment that vil­ify those suf­fer­ing from psy­cho­lo­gical and neur­o­lo­gical dis­orders. Con­grat­u­la­tions: this tells a lot about your moral stand­ards. I want to vomit.

  • An american leader wrote:

    The com­ments to this post speaks loud about how tol­er­ant Europeans are…

  • Intolerant European wrote:

    Since not only we are intol­er­ant, but also ter­ribly pedantic, I’d like to point out that “com­ments” (plural) “speak” (plural), rather than “speaks” (singular).

    PS: Andrea, I thought that you would appre­ci­ate Elena’s dark sense of humour.

  • sabrina ponsi wrote:

    Dear Andrea,

    I’ll strive to be more ser­i­ous now and unfold what appears self-evident, at least to me, but prob­ably to the oth­ers as well. That won’t be fun, also because my eng­lish is very out of prac­tice, sorry.

    If you want to start a seri­uos debate about policy issues in an aca­demic con­text, first of all you should not use aggress­ive, sar­castic and pro­voc­at­ive lan­guage nor den­ig­rate pecu­liar cat­egor­ies of people. If you wish do that, you should choose other audi­ences. If you do that, you can’t expect respect, tol­er­ance, appro­pri­ate­ness, mor­al­ity. At best, you’ll obtain some annoyed atten­tion from the few people who still believe in par­ti­cip­a­tion only. Con­sider your­self lucky for that, since indif­fer­ence is much worse. It could seem a vic­tory, insted it leads to isol­a­tion and so far to weakness.

    About your argu­ment, well, to me you made some con­sid­er­able errors.

    You stated that there is a dis­crim­in­a­tion against men on the ground of your per­sonal search for a room in Lon­don. You did not bother to explain your meth­od­o­logy, except a vague hint to pref­er­ences expressed in most ads for places to rent, which is eas­ily excep­tion­able since, e.g., you did not cla­rify what kind of advert­ise­ment you took into account, and why. Nor you adduced hard data about pop­u­la­tion, sample, and so on.

    Then you addressed some pos­sible reas­ons for that assumed dis­crim­in­a­tion, mainly refer­ring to assumed facts, to com­mon sense, or to your per­sonal exper­i­ences and pref­er­ences, moreover admit­ting that “the sample is trun­cated, lim­ited, and biased”. This looks chaotic and con­tra­dict­ory. And to me a little bit funny also, since you admit­ted that those “facts” are actu­ally a product of bias and then cri­ti­cized the fem­in­ist the­ory about social con­struc­tion of genders, which is pre­cisely the pro­duc­tion and rep­lic­a­tion of gender ste­reo­types. You prob­ably meant to be ped­ago­gical, sug­gest­ing that fem­in­ist meth­od­o­logy is weak. Well, do you ser­i­ously want to equate an indi­vidual search for a room to rent with a col­lect­ive and decen­nial research on, e.g., employ­ment rates or wage inequal­it­ies, to men­tion few? Naïve, at best. And since you present your­self as a young cul­tured Italian, quite disturbing.

    Then you affirmed that this assumed facts you wit­nessed would be defined as dis­crim­in­a­tion by fem­in­ist sci­ent­ists. Well, maybe. You should actu­ally sit down and exam­ine your work with a fem­in­ist sci­ent­ist. And this is prob­ably what you are look­ing for, but let me tell you that doing the bag­gart using some word games presen­ted as ana­lytic logic doesn’t help.

    Then you noted that from the feminist/critical stand point dis­crim­in­a­tion is con­sidered neg­at­ively and should be banned. Grossly right. Although let me object that fem­in­ists share this point with other egal­it­arian schools of thought.

    Finally you revealed your goal. That is, you do not agree with fem­in­ist egal­it­ari­an­ism, since you are a liber­tarian and then you believe that mar­ket forces solve effi­ciently all prob­lems, although with some injustice, which is not a prob­lem since “it’s life”.
    Hon­estly I find your argu­ment dated and simplistic. Unfor­tu­nately I have to be brief, so I’ll write down just some remarks.
    Firstly, liber­tari­an­ism (polit­ics) is not a syn­onym­ous of liber­ism (eco­nom­ics). That is, liber­tari­an­ism is not about the elim­in­a­tion of norms at all, but it is about the main­ten­ance of decision-making pro­cess within the group which will have to com­ply with those norms. And of course it is about avoid­ing the insti­tu­tion­al­iz­a­tion of power rela­tions in decision-making, since insitu­tion­al­iz­a­tion reduces the effect­ive­ness of norms.
    Secondly, injustice could be effi­cient, i.e. could work, but solely until the injust sys­tem is stable. Which is quite unlikely, given human his­tory. Moreover, injustice could be effi­cent but it’s unlikely to be effect­ive, i.e. it does not work well, given human nature.
    Thirdly, life in the broad­est sense of the word, has much more to do with change than to stasis. Let me try a little word game: life is not, but becomes.

    About your final ques­tions, I point out that omnis com­par­a­tio claudicat, and that they are far too simplistic again. Any­way, my short answers are:
    Yes, reg­u­la­tions about gender dis­crim­in­a­tion are neces­sary at least in the eco­nom­ical scope.
    Yes, we should edu­cate people to reject gender ste­reo­types when they choose their beha­viour.
    The mon­it­or­ing pro­cess will hap­pen exactly like in other scopes, with all the well-known for­tunes related to it.
    So the enforce­ment, or, bet­ter, the imple­ment­a­tion.
    The eco­nomic cost will be paid by the rebal­an­cing of the sys­tem itself, and so the social ones.
    It is both moral and legit­im­ate to ask people to respect widely approved social norms, since humans can live in a soci­ety only, obvi­ously depend­ing on the means used to foster the coöper­a­tion and let­ting every­one choose about the pos­sib­il­ity to quit that par­tic­u­lar social group.
    You will never be sure about the out­come of a policy, or an indi­vidual action as well. You see prob­lems, you try solu­tions, obvi­ously as wisely as you can, given your exper­i­ence. That’s all.

    I’d like my answers to be widen by more exper­i­enced fem­in­ist sci­ent­ists, so please find some, I’m sure you are sor­roun­ded by many ;)

    Best wishes

    • Would you mind giv­ing a defin­i­tion of “injustice”? A defin­i­tion, not examples. I have a hard time under­stand­ing what you mean with “injustice could be effi­cient, i.e. could work, but solely until the injust sys­tem is stable. […] Moreover, injustice could be effi­cent but it’s unlikely to be effect­ive, i.e. it does not work well, given human nature.“
      Thanks.

    • sabrina ponsi wrote:

      Dear Mar­tin,

      what I wrote con­cerns the dif­fer­ence between effi­ciency and effectiveness.

      Some­thing is effi­cient when it simply works, but it is effect­ive when it works well.

      A per­ceived injustice could work for a while, but his­tory shows that humans tend to revolt against injustice and to estab­lish a more desir­able set-up.

      Injustice to me is a per­ceived iniquity or unfairness.

    • Sab­rina, thanks, but you didn’t answer my ques­tion. Injustice is a “per­ceived inequity” or “unfair­ness”. I guess I should ask now what is inequity, what is unfairness.

    • *iniquity, sorry.

  • An american leader wrote:

    Intol­er­ant European has proven that all Amer­ic­ans are dumb and ignor­ant. This is how the story goes around there, right?

    OMG… this thread is get­ting more and more pathetic. “Dark humor”? What are you talk­ing about? In any civil soci­ety, using a dis­ad­vant­aged group in order to deride someone else would be con­sidered offensive.

    That none of you was troubled by Elena’s ref­er­ence, and that some even stepped up to defend her is just shock­ing. Yes, people with psy­cho­lo­gical or neur­o­lo­gical prob­lems are a dis­ad­vant­aged group. I assume none of you noticed, you tol­er­ant Europeans…

    So, let me use Elena’s “dark humor”, with a dif­fer­ent dis­ad­vant­aged group. Maybe you’ll get it. Elena, you should go here, they will be able to take care of your problems:

    http://www.nads.org/pages_new/adsc.html

    • Please try to refrain from per­son­ally insult­ing each other as much as we can, guys. There’s no need to launch per­sonal attacks on oth­ers like this. Andrea is free to express his (aca­demic and/or per­sonal) view, and so are visitors.

      J.

    • Dear Ant­o­nio,

      your reac­tion is really inter­est­ing. Both, Andrea and you talked about “psy­cho­lo­gical and neur­o­lo­gical disorders/problems”. Now, coun­selling has noth­ing to do with that. Neur­o­lo­gical dis­orders lead­ing to psy­cho­lo­gical unbal­ances are treated by psychiatrists/neurologists/psycholigists , whereas patients with psy­cho­lo­gical dis­orders are usu­ally treated or should be treated by psychologists/psychiatrists. Coun­selling is some­thing else. It is defined as a pro­fes­sional activ­ity which aims at re-orienting, sup­port­ing per­sons in order to help them in devel­op­ing their poten­tials, stim­u­lat­ing their capa­city to make decisions, and pro­mot­ing pos­it­ive atti­tudes. Coun­selling deals with non-specific prob­lems related to restric­ted ‘con­texts’ (fam­ily, work, rela­tion­ships). It’s more about problem-solving in par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult (or per­ceived as such) situ­ations than about neur­o­lo­gical and psy­cho­lo­gical disorders…

      Soci­olo­gic­ally, your asso­ci­ation between coun­selling and mental/neurological dis­orders tells a lot about the mean­ings ans sym­bolic nuances which are attached to the idea of turn­ing to someone in order to solve problems.

      You know…the logical con­sequence of your state­ments would be that per­sons who con­sult EUI coun­sel­lors are to be defined as neur­o­lo­gic­ally and psy­cho­lo­gic­ally ill…which would made the EUI a sort of huge psy­chi­at­ric centre…

      All this just to say that, accord­ing to me, Andrea’s tones and aggress­ive­ness needed a bit of con­tex­tu­ally restric­ted, non-specific reorientation…

      Anyway…I totally agree with Sabrina’s points…

    • Uh sorry Ant­o­nio for the mistake…I was actu­ally reply­ing to Amer­ican leader (wow…very nice nickname…)

    • An american leader wrote:

      Elena, from your first com­ment I real­ized you were a miser­able per­son. You just proved me right. Your inner racism against people with (yes) psy­cho­lo­gical and neur­o­lo­gical prob­lems makes me angry, hor­ri­fied, dis­gus­ted… you want to defend minor­it­ies, right? but then you feel the right to use some minor­it­ies as tar­get of your non-funny jokes, and to deride oth­ers. You really suck.

      Your words-game about psy­cho­lo­gic and neur­o­lo­gical prob­lems tells a lot about how naïve you are. In every developed coun­try, coun­sel­ing is a ser­vice offered by pro­fes­sional psy­cho­lo­gists. Not by yoga-trainers or by philo­soph­ers. Why? Because you don’t know what prob­lems a stu­dent might have and you need someone who is at least able to identify them, and — in the case — sug­gest that the patient go visit a spe­cial­ist. So, the first part of your com­ment was bull­shit. Hope­fully you real­ized that while writ­ing it.

      But what stroke me the most is this passage:

      the logical con­sequence of your state­ments would be that per­sons who con­sult EUI coun­sel­lors are to be defined as neur­o­lo­gic­ally and psy­cho­lo­gic­ally ill…which would made the EUI a sort of huge psy­chi­at­ric centre…”

      Nash had psy­chi­at­ric prob­lems, does it make a freak? Does it make less genius than he was? Would EUI ask him to leave because oth­er­wise EUI would be a psy­chi­at­ric center?

      WHat you wrote is just dis­gust­ing, and you should really feel ashamed of it. Accord­ing to you, people with some psy­cho­lo­gical, neur­o­lo­gical and or psy­chi­at­ric dis­orders would give EUI a bad name. I assume you have not read any of Kay Red­field Jaminson’s works, and espe­cially not the one on “enthu­si­asm”. Appar­ently, you don’t know that the very people with these dis­orders are the most cre­at­ive. That it’s their child­ish enthu­si­asm that has often led human race forward…

      I know this is a lost battle. There are closed-minded people. Those who dis­crim­in­ate against minor­it­ies. You can­not do much to change them. You believe that people with dif­fer­ent types of men­tal ill­nesses are freaks who deserve to be made fun of. That they are some sort of sub-humans who would make EUI a bad place. You know what? I just feel pity for you. I hope you’ll never real­ize one day.

    • Dear ‘Amer­ican leader’, this is your second and final warn­ing. Using a dis­respect­ful tone like this is not accept­able and you will be blocked from com­ment­ing in the future if your per­sonal attacks per­sist. If you can refrain from this, your con­tri­bu­tions are very welcome.

      J.

    • An american leader wrote:

      PS: you would have done your­self and us a bet­ter ser­vice by apo­lo­giz­ing for your non-appropriate com­ment, and for its deris­ive tone of a dis­ad­vant­aged group.

    • Dear Amer­ican leader,

      I am not going into this. You don’t know me, you don’t know my his­tory and I do not accept to be insul­ted in that way. Believe me, I couldn’t care less of eui’s bad name…I remem­ber well the time in which it appeared that the EUI’s ‘good name’ was more import­ant than any­thing else, espe­cially more import­ant than the tra­gic con­sequences to which psy­cho­lo­gical prob­lems may lead. I remem­ber well how it was like and I don’t take any les­son from a per­son who can’t do bet­ter than insulting.

  • I have the impres­sion that most of the audi­ence didn’t get the point.

    Andrea is using an example to make a point about the (non-)scientific meth­od­o­logy of many social scientists.

    Andrea is say­ing: there is a sys­tem­atic bias in the rent­ing mar­ket, which con­sists of pre­fer­ring to rent a flat to a woman than to a man. I should add, this is com­mon in many coun­tries, I know for sure it is the case in Italy and in Spain.

    Now, if you are a social SCIENTIST, the ques­tion is: why? There are two kind of answers. The stand­ard answer that I hear from many soci­olo­gists and polit­ical sci­ent­ists is, there is dis­crim­in­a­tion. This dis­crim­in­a­tion is social-driven, in the sense that the soci­ety tends to built in people some ideo­lo­gical con­struc­tion that bias them in their choice. Hence, the gov­ern­ment should step in in order to help the dis­crim­in­ated cat­egory, in this case males look­ing for a flat share, and oblige land­lords to rent to males.

    Now, Andrea (and myself) clearly don’t sub­scribe to this non-scientific way of reas­on­ing. If there is a clear bias, there must be some­thing there, it can­not be just that land­lords are crazy or racist and hate men because the soci­ety (what’s that? no defin­i­tion…) is put­ting words in their mouth. Andrea sug­gests there are good reas­ons why a land­lord might prefer women: they are cleaner and take care of the house, while men tend to be less care­ful. It is an empir­ical evid­ence, I would say, if we look at data. Hence, there is noth­ing dis­crim­in­at­ory about what is hap­pen­ing in the UK rent­ing mar­ket: just it is bet­ter to rent to women. There is mar­gin for gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion? no, there is not, why should we sub­sid­ize lazy men that do not want to clean, and get them an apart­ment anyway?

    Now, if you just recon­sider a lot of lit­er­at­ure on dis­crim­in­a­tion, you will find plenty of cases in which dis­crim­in­a­tion is not an issue. I have a col­league that did the fol­low­ing research: they call rent­ing ads taken from news­pa­pers. They give a racially biased name (Sha­quil or James or Jose’, for example) and look how many appoint­ments they can get. What they find is that land­lords prefer to give appoint­ments to white names. They call racial dis­crim­in­a­tion. Well, that’s not true!!! or at least they don’t have any ele­ment to say that. There are sim­pler explan­a­tions: for example, race is a proxy for income, so blacks are usu­ally poorer than whites and more prone to unem­ploy­ment, mean­ing that they can get eas­ily in troubles in pay­ing the rent. If you don’t have any other inform­a­tion about the rent-seeker and get­ting more inform­a­tion is costly for you, of course as a land­lord you’ll give appoint­ments only to white names.

    That’s the point Andrea was mak­ing, it’s a meth­od­o­lo­gical point for social sci­ent­ists. You should listen to him. If you listen, you will avoid a lot of com­ments from other dis­cip­lines about how non-scientific and ideologically-driven is research in social sci­ences. Your choice.

    • sabrina ponsi wrote:

      Dear Ant­o­nio,

      we all get the point, but we did not accept the style.

      Andrea wrote about gender bias and fem­in­ists, not social sci­ent­ists in gen­eral. And the style was sar­castic, cer­tainly not sci­entific.
      And you both wrote not only about meth­od­o­logy but about polit­ics as well, cri­ti­ciz­ing gov­ern­ment policies against discrimination.

      Any­way, your ver­sion tries to be more reas­on­able.
      So I’ll fol­low your reasoning.

      OK, let’s sup­pose that there is a wide­spread gender bias in the rent­als mar­ket.
      By the way, I’d like to read the lit­er­at­ure about that.

      Hence, the gov­ern­ment should step in in order to help the dis­crim­in­ated cat­egory, in this case males look­ing for a flat share, and oblige land­lords to rent to males.“
      Not exactly. If organ­ized groups of men look­ing for a flat to share com­plain about the dis­crim­in­a­tion, the gov­ern­ment should con­sider to help them, not neces­sar­ily obli­ging land­lords to rent to men. There are other means.

      If there is a clear bias, there must be some­thing there, it can­not be just that land­lords are crazy or racist and hate men because the soci­ety (what’s that? no defin­i­tion…) is put­ting words in their mouth.“
      Well, do you mean that behind a bias there is always some truth? Maybe. Sure when sci­ent­ists believed that the sun was rotat­ing around the earth they were right, if you con­sider the avail­able means of obser­va­tion.
      By the way, I do not think that a land­lord who does not rent to men is crazy or know­ingly sex­ist. He may have had bad exper­i­ences with male ten­ants. Or a friend’s of him may have had one, and told him about that. Which is pre­cisely the case of a socially driven bias, i.e. the social discourse.

      Andrea sug­gests there are good reas­ons why a land­lord might prefer women: they are cleaner and take care of the house, while men tend to be less care­ful. It is an empir­ical evid­ence, I would say, if we look at data.“
      Please show me these data! If it is so easy for any land­lord to access them, it will be much more easier for a scientist.

      There is mar­gin for gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion? no, there is not, why should we sub­sid­ize lazy men that do not want to clean, and get them an apart­ment any­way?.“
      I already answered. By the way, what makes you think­ing that the only means avail­able to a gov­ern­ment is oblig­a­tion or sub­sid­iz­ing? Never heard about school or media, to men­tion few?

      What they find is that land­lords prefer to give appoint­ments to white names. They call racial dis­crim­in­a­tion. Well, that’s not true!!! or at least they don’t have any ele­ment to say that. There are sim­pler explan­a­tions: for example, race is a proxy for income, so blacks are usu­ally poorer than whites and more prone to unem­ploy­ment, mean­ing that they can get eas­ily in troubles in pay­ing the rent.“
      Right. But if you are a sci­ent­ist the ques­tion is: why blacks are usu­ally poorer than whites and more prone to unemployement?

      The fact that behind dis­crim­in­a­tion there is almost always a will­ing­ness to eco­nomic exploit­a­tion does not deny the fact that dis­crim­in­a­tion is pro­duced and repro­duced through the social dis­course. In ana­lytic logic there are final causes and effi­cient causes. Both import­ant to cope with a phe­nomenon.
      Let me try an example. If a lion wants to eat you, it is more import­ant to know that he is hungry or what his hunt­ing tech­niques are?

      To end, soci­ety is any­thing regard­ing human rela­tions, so social sci­ences are com­plex and need to be inter­dis­cip­lin­ary. Luck­ily, since divide et impera.

      Best wishes to both

  • Two solu­tions:
    couch-surfing or sex-change.

    Com­ment: your “?” key seems to be stuck.

  • Mauro Gilli wrote:

    Dear Sab­rina,

    I am sorry, but I think that you didn’t get Andrea’s point. Sorry to be so upfront, but this is evid­ent from your reply to Ant­o­nio. While I am appre­ci­at­ive of your attempt to address the issue, rather than indul­ging in per­sonal offense as oth­ers did, I can­not fail to notice that your reply is weak, sloppy and prob­lem­atic. I’ll be a bit lengthy, but pos­sibly I’ll settle the discussion.

    You often refer to meth­od­o­logy, social sci­ence, aca­demic lit­er­at­ure and so forth. I don’t know what your idea of social sci­ence is. I’ll tell you what mine is. Social sci­ence is about nam­ing bull­shit what is bull­shit, and nam­ing chocol­ate what is chocol­ate. So, it should help us dis­tin­guish between the two. A pre­requis­ite is that schol­ars rely on clear state­ments, and not vague sen­tences whose mean­ing is up to sub­ject­ive inter­pret­a­tions. With this goal in mind, let’s look at the most prob­lem­atic of your points.

    First you write:

    —If organ­ized groups of men look­ing for a flat to share com­plain about the dis­crim­in­a­tion, the gov­ern­ment should con­sider to help them, not neces­sar­ily obli­ging land­lords to rent to men. There are other means.—

    And what if they don’t com­plain? It’s not dis­crim­in­a­tion? Here we have the first prob­lem: what is dis­crim­in­a­tion? Is it what the non-discriminated see as such? If so, as Elena’s offens­ive com­ments show, dis­crim­in­ated people (such as those with men­tal ill­nesses) risks being ignored because they are not vocal (few people with these prob­lems go pub­lic). How­ever, if dis­crim­in­a­tion is what supposedly-discriminated people con­sider as such, then, we reach the para­dox­ical situ­ation that one needs to com­plain in order to belong to the “dis­crim­in­ated groups” – even though there might not be sound reas­ons for. If short people star­ted to com­plain, they would become a “dis­crim­in­ated group” from the NBA

    Then you claim:

    —-I do not think that a land­lord who does not rent to men is crazy or know­ingly sex­ist. He may have had bad exper­i­ences with male ten­ants. Or a friend’s of him may have had one, and told him about that. Which is pre­cisely the case of a socially driven bias, i.e. the social discourse.—

    No, you are wrong. Bad per­sonal exper­i­ences are not “social dis­course”. They are bad per­sonal exper­i­ences. Period. Social dis­course is some­thing dif­fer­ent. It’s when people are racist because “soci­ety” has cre­ated some unfoun­ded beliefs about some racial groups through dis­course. Per­sonal exper­i­ence is, indeed, personal.

    You con­clude by say­ing that:

    —The fact that behind dis­crim­in­a­tion there is almost always a will­ing­ness to eco­nomic exploit­a­tion does not deny the fact that dis­crim­in­a­tion is pro­duced and repro­duced through the social dis­course… [continue]—-

    I will not go over the term “eco­nomic exploit­a­tion”. Let me just say that eco­nomic exploit­a­tion, by defin­i­tion, does not exist, unless in the case of cap­tive labor and imper­ial trade pref­er­ences. People buy and sell because it is con­veni­ent for them to do so. Oth­er­wise they wouldn’t. Some­body might gain rel­at­ively more and some­body might gain rel­at­ively less, but – again – this is not eco­nomic exploit­a­tion. Sorry for point­ing this out, but when I read non-sense I can­not refrain to call it out.

    But let’s focus on our discussion.You essen­tially claim that both “eco­nomic exploit­a­tion” and “social dis­course” might be the causes, and we just can­not dis­en­tangle the two, there­fore, both must have a causal effect. Accord­ing to you, that “eco­nomic exploit­a­tion” is present does not deny that

    – dis­crim­in­a­tion is pro­duced and repro­duced through the social discourse. —

    Actu­ally, it does. If two explan­a­tions are con­sist­ent with the same out­come, a social sci­ent­ist should come up with a research design that allow him or her to identify test­able implic­a­tions of both and test them against the null hypo­thesis that they do not mat­ter. In this way, he or she will be able to derive which explan­a­tion is cor­rect and which is not. Say­ing that “social dis­course” mat­ter does not prove that it does.

    How can you we pro­ceed? In the fol­low­ing way. We should ask whether race is a proxy for other vari­ables, and whether some racial groups are treated dif­fer­ently from oth­ers. So: are black people on aver­age poorer than white? Are they more prone to unem­ploy­ment? Also, is it more dif­fi­cult for black people to find an apart­ment than for white people? We have four pos­sible outcomes:

    1) On aver­age, black people are not poorer than white, and land­lords ignore race as a factor.

    2) On aver­age, black people are not poorer than white, and land­lords con­sider race when rent­ing out their apartments.

    3) On aver­age, black people are poorer than white, and land­lords ignore race as a factor.

    4) On aver­age, black people are poorer than white, and land­lords con­sider race when rent­ing out their apartment.

    These are test­able implic­a­tions that allow us to dis­cern between the two explan­a­tions. If data proved that either 1 or 3 are rep­res­ent­at­ive of real­ity, then we would be sure that there is no dis­crim­in­a­tion as land­lords ignore race. Con­versely, if data sug­ges­ted that 2 rep­res­ents real­ity, then we would have strong evid­ence that there is dis­crim­in­a­tion, and that eco­nomic factors do not mat­ter. The “social dis­course” argu­ment would be indir­ectly sup­por­ted. If data sug­ges­ted that 4 rep­res­ents real­ity, then we would have no dis­crim­in­a­tion, just act­ors mak­ing eco­nomic choices and “eco­nom­iz­ing” on information..

    Antonio’s friend showed that data fits the lat­ter cat­egory. Black people tend to have lower incomes and are more prone to unem­ploy­ment. Land­lords use race as a proxy for other vari­ables (income levels). This is not con­sist­ent with your “social dis­course” argument.

    You pos­sibly anti­cip­ated this point by asking:

    — But if you are a sci­ent­ist the ques­tion is: why blacks are usu­ally poorer than whites and more prone to unemployment? —

    Wrong ques­tion. Ser­i­ous social sci­entific works are pre­oc­cu­pied with only one depend­ent vari­able at a time, unless there are ser­i­ous prob­lem of endo­gen­eity. If I want to know the effect of mar­ket lib­er­al­iz­a­tion on eco­nomic per­form­ance, I don’t ask what are the causes of mar­ket lib­er­al­iz­a­tion. So, if you want to know whether there is racial dis­crim­in­a­tion in the hous­ing mar­ket, you just ask this ques­tion, you don’t enquire about the ori­gin of the spe­cies. But let’s address your point. I don’t know the answer to your ques­tion. But let’s assume that black people are poorer and more prone to unem­ploy­ment than white because of “social dis­course”. Would this prove that there is dis­crim­in­a­tion also in the hous­ing mar­ket? Of course only if you rely on a sloppy under­stand­ing of caus­al­ity. If you are ser­i­ous about under­stand­ing social phe­nom­ena you would recog­nize that, while social dis­course con­cur in explain­ing income dif­fer­ences among groups, it does not neces­sar­ily explain dif­fer­ences in the hous­ing mar­kets. Stress is on “not neces­sar­ily”. It might; but until you have demon­strated that it does, you can­not infer causality.

    We were speak­ing about dis­crim­in­a­tion against men in the hous­ing mar­ket. So, let’s go back to that point. Why do young women prefer to live with young men? For a vari­ety of reas­ons. They feel more com­fort­able, they have sim­ilar taste (no toi­let seat up; no bear hair in the sink; etc.), and pos­sibly they have con­ver­ging expect­a­tions (about how clean the house should be and so forth). Now, are these views pro­duced and re-produced by social dis­course? Of course they are not. The reac­tion of your friends above is the most com­pel­ling proof. But if you have evid­ence to prove me wrong please go ahead, I’ll be happy to hear. What you have agreed with is that it is mostly social exper­i­ences: girls come to know that guys are pigs in high school and in col­lege, and after col­lege they often prefer to avoid liv­ing with a guy. Are all men the same? No. Men are not all the same. But inform­a­tion is scarce and pos­sibly unre­li­able (which means: it is costly and dif­fi­cult to gather). So, while I am sure that many girls would love to live with a nice guy like me, they also know that their life will be easier by con­sid­er­ing only female applic­ants, as selec­tion would be much easier.

    This is the end of the discussion.

  • Fre­derique, what’s actu­ally hap­pen­ing is that women are dis­crim­in­at­ing men in the hous­ing mar­ket, and hence men dis­crim­in­ate women in the labor mar­ket as a form of com­pens­a­tion for this. After all, how could men pay higher rents if they didn’t earn more? Right?

    Of course not. How can you say that women are dis­crim­in­ated in the labor mar­ket? Is it because they have lower wages on aver­age? Or given observ­able char­ac­ter­ist­ics? What about selec­tion? Com­par­at­ive advant­age? Human cap­ital invest­ment over the life cycle? Unob­served ability?

    The point is exactly this, I really don’t under­stand why some people around here can’t see it yet. Andrea is using a pretty stand­ard argu­ment just revers­ing the labels, to show that it’s totally senseless.

  • Dear Fre­derique,

    thank you for your reply.

    So, in order: the salary/wage dif­fer­ence between men and women in the labour mar­ket is not at all evid­ence of dis­crim­in­a­tion. This is exactly the reason I men­tioned a bunch of dif­fer­ent reas­ons why aver­age wages can be different.

    Second, I reversed the dir­ec­tion of your argu­ment to show that they are both use­less. Fol­low­ing down this road, we give ourselves the free­dom to say that every time there is some dif­fer­ence in some aver­age out­come, this is evid­ence of dis­crim­in­a­tion, and then we look for other dif­fer­ences in other aver­ages to say they are equit­able. This is just a dis­trac­tion from the true import­ant ques­tion (see Antonio’s com­ment): WHY are wages different?

    And sure, I used the “men dis­crim­in­ate women” improp­erly, but it doesn’t mat­ter to my point. How­ever, you are offer­ing a very simple example that illus­trates the con­fu­sion we run into if we do not have a meas­ur­able defin­i­tion of the con­cepts we talk about: Why, if andrea prefers a woman to a man, then this is (soft) dis­crim­in­a­tion? If andrea pre­ferred a man to a woman, would this be dis­crim­in­a­tion against women? What is, exactly, discrimination?

    Thanks,
    Martin

    • Dear Mar­tin,
      I appre­ci­ate your cut-the-crap style. For this reason, I will try to be brief and to the point.
      Sup­pose we are in an ideal world in which you can meas­ure all pos­sible indi­vidual char­ac­ter­ist­ics. In this ideal world, you observe a pos­it­ive male-female wage dif­fer­en­tial, together with a pos­it­ive human cap­ital dif­fer­en­tial. There is no dif­fer­en­tial in other vari­ables. Would you con­clude that there is no discrimination?

    • Well done Nichie. That’s an almost per­fect ques­tion. To be per­fect, you should explain what you mean by dis­crim­in­a­tion. You might want to think about what we are assum­ing on the pref­er­ences of the employ­ers. Are the pref­er­ences such that employ­ers get sat­is­fac­tion (util­ity in eco­nom­ics jar­gon) by employ­ing men rather than women, all else equal?

    • well, my ques­tion was inten­ded to under­stand your defin­i­tion of dis­crim­in­a­tion, to be honest.

      But if you want to know mine…Let me think for a moment at pref­er­ences. Ok, I thought about pref­er­ences.
      So, one can speak of dis­crim­in­a­tion if, once all other pos­sible char­ac­ter­ist­ics are empir­ic­ally accoun­ted for, there still per­sist a dif­fer­ence in out­comes between two well iden­ti­fied grous, say blacks-whites.

      (for the owner of the site: I wrongly placed my reply to Mar­tin above)

    • Dear Nichie,

      thank you for your reply. I think what you are sug­gest­ing is not yet a defin­i­tion of dis­crim­in­a­tion, but an empir­ical implic­a­tion of it.

      To give you a very simple (and old, and by no means unique) defin­i­tion, you can assume that there are two groups of employ­ers, and one of these groups has pref­er­ences such that he/she would prefer to hire a man rather than a woman, keep­ing all the other attrib­utes equal.

      Note that I’m not advoc­at­ing this par­tic­u­lar view. I’m not an expert of the lit­er­at­ure in dis­crim­in­a­tion. For example, a friend of mine sug­gests Coate and Loury (1993), “Will Affirmative-Action Policies Elim­in­ate Neg­at­ive Ste­reo­types?”, if you are interested.

      How­ever, I think I made my point abund­antly clear — par­tially thanks to our exchange. Once we force ourselves to be pre­cise, it’s much easier to have a dis­cus­sion about the sub­stance of things.

      Thank you!

  • Ser­i­ously guys: whenever a sci­ent­ist talks about ideo­logy and eth­ics refer­ring to research, I feel embarassed for him/her. If you are inter­ested about eth­ics and/or ideo­logy, you are act­iv­ists, not sci­ent­ists , and we don#‘t have any­thing to share. Your meth­od­o­logy is not a sci­entific one. You have a norm­at­ive agenda that you want to pur­sue, you will never con­sider chan­ging your mind if data prove you wrong, you take a stand in a policy ques­tion and later you try to jus­tify it by a pretty arbit­rary use of words and data… and I could keep going… This is unbe­liev­able. Then my fol­low up ques­tion is: why my tax­payer money is going to fund act­iv­ists that do not do proper research? I want my money back. If I think act­iv­ists like Sab­rina or Elena should be fun­ded for their act­iv­ism (don’t worry, I don’t), I’ll do it from my pocket, how­ever I would be happy to be dis­proven that your own norm­at­ive agenda does bring just harm to social SCIENCES.

    • Dear Ant­o­nio,

      well…I have never believed in the ideological/ethical neut­ral­ity of social sci­ences. Good researches are those which prove internal coher­ence, which match the­or­et­ical assump­tions with the most adapt meth­od­o­lo­gical tech­niques to investigate/verify them, which are based on trans­par­ency in the way in which res­ults are gathered and con­clu­sions are drawn. But…well…in the very moment you choose a topic instead of another you’re filled with opinions/feelings/personal ori­ent­a­tions that mir­ror norm­at­ive assump­tions and per­sonal beliefs…

      When you carry on a stat­ist­ical ana­lysis and you choose some vari­ables over oth­ers , if you ‘see’ some issues and not oth­ers, you do so because you’re biased by what you believe is a vari­able or by what you believe is a problem…

      Good sci­ence to me, is not pre­tend­ing that ideo­lo­gies, beliefs, eth­ics and opin­ions do not exist and do not affect our work…doing good sci­ence is about being aware of their exist­ence and coherently/transparently jus­ti­fy­ing research designs…

      After all, when you accuse me or Sab­rina to be dirty act­iv­ists not deserving to get any fund to carry on researches, to me, you’re just pur­su­ing a norm­at­ive agenda…that of exclud­ing approaches that are not yours from uni­ver­sit­ies and research…and this at the expenses of sci­entific plur­al­ism.
      In other words, when you state that there should be just one, ‘pure’ sci­ence which should be cleansed from opin­ions, norms and eth­ics, you are being an act­iv­ist, you’re being sci­en­tific­ally norm­at­ive and very aggress­ive too…but i still hope you’re gonna get funds…because that’s what know­ledge is/should be…an open question…not a firm answer. good luck with your research…

    • Dear Elena,

      good sci­ence is pro­pos­ing a con­jec­ture that is refut­able. When people here talk about “social dis­course”, “injustice” or other terms that they can­not make oper­a­tional, this is not sci­ence. The only thing one can answer is, please define it, please tell me what you are talk­ing about.

      You say: “when you carry on a stat­ist­ical ana­lysis and you choose some vari­ables over oth­ers , if you ‘see’ some issues and not oth­ers, you do so because you’re biased by what you believe is a vari­able or by what you believe is a problem…”

      Well, so what? The point is exactly that you make a con­jec­ture; among all pos­sible causal explan­a­tions, you try one. If you can’t falsify it, that’s a good paper. If you can falsify some­body else’s con­jec­ture (maybe that con­jec­ture was developed start­ing from a “biased” — what does that mean, by the way? — point of view), that’s another good paper.

      What you really advoc­ate is not sci­entific plur­al­ism. Plur­al­ism is being allowed to make a con­jec­ture (even if it’s polit­ic­ally incor­rect, by the way) without being attacked on the grounds of the con­clu­sions that might be reached. You are just say­ing you want to keep the free­dom to use smoky con­cepts as long as they allow you to defend what you wanted defend in the first place. This may be plur­al­istic, but is def­in­itely not science.

  • I just noticed that Fre­drerique deleted all her com­ments… Since I’m an optim­ist, I guess it’s because she real­ized she was wrong and she had been proven wrong by Mar­tin. Point taken, Fre­drerique, I appre­ci­ate you can change your mind if facts and logic prove you wrong.

  • Dear Elena, with all due respect: sci­entific plur­al­ism is untouched here, what I’m say­ing is that you (or Sab­rina or oth­ers that par­ti­cip­ate in this debate) lack the “sci­entific” bit in your defin­i­tions, in your way to look at data, in par­tic­u­lar when you use vague con­cepts like “social dis­course”, “injustice”, etc.

    You see, I’m an eco­nom­ist, and we are used to give pre­cise defin­i­tions, ask very pre­cise ques­tions, be as rig­or­ous as pos­sible in col­lect­ing data, con­cerned about stat­ist­ical prob­lems in our ana­lysis. I have the impres­sion that this is not true in other so called social sci­ences, and this debate con­vinced me even more that I am right.
    In par­tic­u­lar, eco­nom­ists would be even more aggress­ive and intol­er­ant than myself if I come out with a study that shows that social dis­course drives everything. What is it? How do you meas­ure social dis­course? How social dis­course is dif­fer­ent from cheap talk in the game the­ory lit­er­at­ure? How it is dif­fer­ent from rev­el­a­tion of private inform­a­tion from stand­ard con­tract the­ory? Why social dis­course evolves in some ways in a par­tic­u­lar soci­ety and in a dif­fer­ent way in other soci­et­ies? These are very pre­cise ques­tions that can be answered only with hard data and a coher­ent the­ory. If the the­ory is dis­proven, a bet­ter the­ory must be provided to explain that phe­nomenon. Refer­ring to Andrea’s ini­tial example: a the­ory that explains the dis­crim­in­a­tion of male seekers with inform­a­tion costs is much more in line with data and com­mon sense than a the­ory that uses social dis­course (whatever that means).

    It’s not a mat­ter of me hav­ing a norm­at­ive agenda, it’s a mat­ter of sci­entific meth­od­o­logy. I can­not believe we are hav­ing this debate to be hon­est, it resemble very much the cre­ation­ists vs bio­lo­gists debate: there is just one side which is right, the other side IS NOT DOING SCIENCE. I’m not say­ing I would like your meth­od­o­logy to be banned, I’m just say­ing THAT IS NOT SCIENCE.

    • Dear Ant­o­nio,

      I’ll let it go…the fun­ni­est thing to me is that there are plenty of eco­nom­ists around the world pre­tend­ing to hold the key to good, pure science…stating that eco­nom­ics is about sci­entific rigor, about the capa­city of con­trolling every pos­sible variable…and yet, very few seem to be have been able to fore­see the eco­nomic crisis and, espe­cially, to have decent answers and solutions…there’s one thing I miss in your answer: reality.

    • Yes, we should close the debate speak­ing about funny things, since we clearly can’t get answers on ser­i­ous questions.

      For example, there are a few funny things in Elena’s reply, like not really being about Antonio’s — or mine, for that mat­ters — points, or hav­ing few non-sequitur, etc.

      Any­way, Ant­o­nio, if you are inter­ested, the fun­ni­est thing to me is that there is plenty of social “sci­ent­ists” say­ing that if sci­ence can’t pre­dict, then it’s not really use­ful, and that’s why we need sci­entific pluralism.

      It’s almost as say­ing that since you can’t say head or tail, then prob­ab­il­it­ies aren’t really use­ful; we bet­ter con­clude that 50% is a just, non-discriminatory outcome.

      Yes, I’ll also let it go.

  • well, my ques­tion was inten­ded to under­stand your defin­i­tion of dis­crim­in­a­tion, to be honest.

    But if you want to know mine…Let me think for a moment at pref­er­ences. Ok, I thought about pref­er­ences.
    So, one can speak of dis­crim­in­a­tion if, once all other pos­sible char­ac­ter­ist­ics are empir­ic­ally accoun­ted for, there still per­sist a dif­fer­ence in out­comes between two well iden­ti­fied grous, say blacks-whites.

  • Frederique wrote:

    Dear all,

    It is not because we can­not meas­ure some­thing (yet) that it does not exist. Social sci­ence is not nat­ural sci­ences and never will be. Good social sci­ence is about pro­pos­ing causal explan­a­tions but also about describ­ing accur­ately phe­nom­ena (many other things could be added to this defin­i­tion)… Quant­it­at­ive meth­ods are good. But so are qual­it­at­ive. Are you sure that if you can con­firm the causal link between X and Y you can 1) tell exactly what is X; 2) provide a bet­ter defin­i­tion of Y “than Y is caused by X”?
    (And yes, vague notions such as social dis­course are being invest­ig­ated in a sci­entific way…)

    Regard­ing Elena’s com­ment about research­ers’ neut­ral­ity, well… don’t for­get we are human being before being sci­ent­ists. And no mat­ter how hard we try, it will still be the case. We need to be aware of that.

    The main prob­lem with this debate is that there is little dia­logue and attempt to under­stand oppos­ite points of view that do not fit with one’s own per­spect­ive. This is not debat­ing with argu­ments, this is only about (weak) rhetoric.

    With regards to my own exper­i­ence with the blog: Mar­tin, that seemed to dis­agree with me, kept ask­ing legit­im­ate ques­tions that were con­struct­ive and were for­cing me to think fur­ther my argu­ment and make it more solid. That is what makes this kind of dis­cus­sion mean­ing­ful in my opin­ion. How­ever, Antonio’s atti­tude was very dif­fer­ent. The reas­ons why I decided to opt out are not related to what he said*, but I just did not see the point of pur­su­ing this debate. Also, what Ant­o­nio did by writ­ing this par­tic­u­lar com­ment on me is a lack of respect. He can­not pre­tend or assume in pub­lic the reas­ons why I decided to opt out and speak pub­lic­ally in my name, be it right or wrong in substance.

    I can only encour­age you to be more con­struct­ive and do not reject some­thing on the only ground that it does not fit with your pre­con­cep­tions of what is true or wrong.

    Best,

    Frédérique (and not Fre­drerique as Ant­o­nio would spell it…)

    PS: While every­body is free to express his own views, remem­ber that the way you say things might have some fur­ther implic­a­tions for all of us with regards to academia’s repu­ta­tion (or our uni­ver­sit­ies)… since this site is pub­lic. ABE!

    *I just noticed that Fre­drerique deleted all her com¬ments… Since I’m an optim­ist, I guess it’s because she real¬ized she was wrong and she had been proven wrong by Mar­tin. Point taken, Fre­drerique, I appre­ci­ate you can change your mind if facts and logic prove you wrong.

    • Dear Fre­derique,

      I’m sorry I mis­spelled your name. When I make a mis­take, I apo­lo­gize and stand corrected.

      This also applies to my own the­ory about why you left the the dis­cus­sion. I used sci­entific method there: I made a hypo­thesis about your beha­viour, mak­ing some beha­vi­oural assump­tions about your pos­sible choices (when proved wrong, you retreat). This the­ory doesn’t stand the empir­ical evid­ence, so I stand cor­rec­ted. Now I have to for­mu­late a new the­ory about why you left the dis­cus­sion, how­ever I have a new fact to explain: you came back rant­ing about plur­al­ism and con­struct­ive cri­tiques, while scream­ing out­rage for my aggress­ive behaviour.

      I have an altern­at­ive the­ory that can explain the old facts and the new evid­ence. You retreated from the dis­cus­sion because, as many stud­ies in psy­cho­logy show, women typ­ic­ally are scared away when under pressure/under attack. Then you came back because Mar­tin was using a more acco­mod­at­ing tone, and you felt more at ease with his tone. My the­ory explains pretty well the evid­ence. Give me a bet­ter the­ory, if you want use qual­it­at­ive meth­ods (whatever that means, the only “qual­it­at­ive” I have ever heard in sci­ence is qual­it­at­ive vari­ables that in a logit regres­sion are cat­egor­ized with dum­mies), the only thing I’m ask­ing is that your the­ory must be able to prove avail­able evid­ence. We can then com­pare the­or­ies and see which one is bet­ter for pre­dic­tions out­side the sample (i.e., if it will be able to pre­dict the future). How­ever, notice that you have a big meth­od­o­lo­gical prob­lem: you are both the object of research and the researcher. In order to be con­vin­cing, you will have to come out with a research strategy that deals with this prob­lem (I don’t need to do it, clearly), oth­er­wise you will be in the pos­i­tion of influ­en­cing the pre­dict­ive power of your the­ory. THIS IS SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

      Now about aggress­ive­ness: if you don’t accept cri­tiques, either expressed in an aggress­ive man­ner or in a cor­dial oxford­ian way, are you sure this is the job for you? Aggress­ive­ness doesn’t show lack of respect, it shows pas­sion for my job, loss of patience for sloppy argu­ments, and the com­mit­ment to a point of view unless proven con­vin­cingly that I am wrong. In your pro­fes­sion, believe me, you will be cri­ti­cized more aggress­ively that I did, someone will tell you your work is bull­shit or worth­less, and you will have to con­vince them they are wrong. That’s your job if you do research. Dur­ing the 70s, in eco­nom­ics there was the so called rational expect­a­tions revolu­tion. People were lit­er­ally fight­ing about it in con­fer­ences (I mean, wrest­ling). Now it is an accep­ted concept and we have elab­or­ated a lot about it. So my recom­mend­a­tion for you is: if you can­not stand the heat, get out of the kit­chen. Oth­er­wise, please, con­vince me I’m wrong.

      How­ever, let me take care myself of my repu­ta­tion and the repu­ta­tion of my institution.

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