Satoshi Kanazawa

The Scientific Fundamentalist

Men do everything they do in order to get laid VI

How the media get scientific studies completely wrong.

Posted Aug 07, 2008

My paper on the crime-genius connection, which reports the age profile of scientific productivity and the desistance effect of marriage on science, was published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.  As soon as the issue was published, it was picked up by the media, first by The New Scientist and Nature Science Update, and then it spread like wildfire.  Eventually, it was featured in newspapers on every single continent, except for Antarctica.

As often happens in reporting on scientific studies (mine or otherwise), the media got it completely wrong.  Here is a sample of the headlines:

    A researcher says marriage ruins a beautiful mind (Boston Globe)

    Marriage and children kill creativity in men (ABC news online, Australia)

    Scientists and crooks, be single (The Telegraph, India)

    Feeling sexy makes me a better writer (Independent, UK)

    Marriage is not good for science and crime (The Telegraph, UK)

    Marriage is bad for creativity (UPI)

If you have been following my posts in this series, you would quickly realize that all of these headlines and articles completely miss the point.  My findings don’t mean “marriage is bad for creativity”; in fact, it’s the opposite.  They show that creativity is good for marriage.  Creative and successful men get married and can stop working, while their less talented counterparts must remain single and continue working in order to attract mates.  Similarly, my findings do not mean “marriage is not good for science and crime”; they mean science and crime, if you do them well, are good for marriage in that you can then find a woman who would marry you.  And they certainly don’t mean “feeling sexy makes me a better writer”; they mean a better writer feels sexy because he gets laid.

As I explain in my last post, from an evolutionary psychological perspective, marriage and reproductive success are the ultimate goals, and everything men do are the means to the goal.  All of the headlines above assume that there is something inherently good about scientific genius or creativity, and marriage and children somehow get in their way.  There is absolutely nothing good about scientific genius or creativity except as a means toward reproductive success.  Even though they may not be aware of it consciously, men do everything they do in order to get laid, and scientific research is no exception.