Sunday, March 2, 2008

Off-Topic Absurdity: Research on Spanking

A line from a news story today making its rounds on the AP Wire:

"The best-kept secret in child psychology is that children who were never spanked are among the best behaved," Straus said.

Really, is there anything more that we can add?

But please, do check the story anyway. This points to the state of science and education. How did a study on spanking make the news anyway? Well, by using sex, of course!
New research by a University of New Hampshire domestic abuse expert says spanking children affects their sex lives as adults. Professor Murray Straus concludes that children who are spanked are more likely as adults to coerce partners to have sex, to have unprotected sex and to have masochistic sex.

What was the research process?

Straus, co-director of UNH's Family Research Laboratory, conducted a study in the mid-1990s in which he asked 207 students at three colleges whether they'd ever been aroused by masochistic sex. He also asked them if they'd been spanked as children. He found that students who were spanked were nearly twice as likely to like masochistic sex.


Another correlation found:

Straus said his study found adults who were spanked as children are more likely to coerce their partners to have sex.


What does he want? Well, money and laws, of course!
Straus said he would like more pediatricians and child-rearing experts to warn against spanking. He'd also like lawmakers to take a stand by dedicating state money to teaching parents about the dangers of corporal punishment.
It still seems to be one of the largest scientific blunders still made by researchers: correlation and causation are two different things.

Anyway, to summarize: A professor asks probing, edgy sexual questions to determine if naughty children grow up to be naughty co-eds. Actually, that's not quite accurate, since that summary would be slightly more scientific. This study is specifically addressing the correlation between spanking and later sexual behavior, apparently never making the leap to the other question.

As a disclaimer: Yes, I do understand that there are actually interesting scientific questions about fetishes and other items related to how our brains and minds develop their "wiring," so to speak. And no, I've not read the research, only this Associated Press summary. Still, you have to smile: Life is absurd!

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