09 January 2007

Correlation != Causation

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

The honorable Sam Brownback was recently quoted in a Human Events column: "Children raised in married families are three times less likely to repeat a grade in school; five times less likely to have behavioral problems; half as likely to be depressed; three times less likely to use illicit drugs; half as likely to become sexually active as teenagers; and 14 times less likely to suffer abuse from their parents."

This sounds quite impressive, doesn't it? Shouldn't it make everyone want to become all heterosexual and married and awesome?

The problem with this logic is that "married families" of the type that Brownback describes are much less common among some economically disadvantaged groups. This could very well have the effect of skewing these impressive-sounding numbers.

Don't misunderstand; I have no particular objection to marriage (and if I did, I would be an enormous hypocrite). I do have objections to treating marriage as a panacea for all of society's ills. I also have objections to stamping the myth of an ideal, white, middle-class morality onto America as a whole, as Brownback implies should be done. We are a more complicated nation than that, and our solutions to social problems must take our complexity into account.

3 comments:

marshwiggle said...

"The problem with this logic is that "married families" of the type that Brownback describes are much less common among some economically disadvantaged groups. This could very well have the effect of skewing these impressive-sounding numbers"

Why? Could it be that those married families have the key to being less economically disadvantaged? Nah.. must be because of white oppression/religious extremism.... can't be because it works.

It takes more than an assertion on your part to prove his correlation is not a causation. Do you have facts that explain away the socio economic benefits of being married? Or is it just a conditioned response on the basis of a worldview that opposes the idea that those radical rightwingers could ever be on to something?

luaphacim said...

The reason that white, "normative" people are rich in this country is because they have always been rich. The reason that certain other groups, including black people in dgeneral, tend to be poor is because they have always been poor (they were slaves for a long time, as you might remember).

Despite our claims about "the American Dream," the fact remains that it is much, much, much easier for middle class people to stay middle class than it is for poorer people to become middle class. A significant part of the white, middle-class mentality is heterosexual marriage with two-parent families, but that doesn't mean that heterosexual marriage created the white middle class. They've simply been around for a long time, hand in hand.

At any rate, my point is not to say that Brownback is wrong; it is to question his credulous connection of these statistics to a single variable. I'd like to see these numbers plotted alongside other variables, such as socieconomic and geographical factors, before I was fully convinced by his argument.

marshwiggle said...

They've simply been around a long time, hand in hand, eh? And they've as a group remained/become wealthier than those who don't follow that strategy...

Sometimes... maybe life is simpler than other factors. However, I encourage your looking for other factors to be convinced.. at least you are willing to give a fair look at it. :)