Commentary and analysis talk shows shouldn’t necessarily be held to the standards of hard news where facts are supposed to be confirmed by two or more independent sources, but during a panel discussion of Weiner’s juvenile behavior, in the course of which similarly bad behavior by Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods and others was brought into play, the host (a woman I respect) signed off by noting that the philanderers and adulterers named were all men.
By no means is bad behavior be excused, but the obvious inference to be drawn from the host’s statement – that women are faithful and men aren’t – was at best a value judgment wholly unsupported by facts and as such of no value in advancing progress toward gender equality. Indeed, unsupported statements easily become cannon fodder for conservative reactionaries.
There have been numerous reputable studies on the subject of infidelity beginning with the Kinsey Reports of 1948 (men) and 1953 (women). Though primitive and highly flawed by modern research standards, the Kinsey Reports basic findings remain intact: men and women both wander from the nuptial bed in statistically significant numbers. The reasons vary and men do indeed stray more often than women, but the percentages are similar and women are catching up fast.
There are also wide discrepancies in how many individuals stray, but according to serious researchers it is in no case is it more than 25% and some studies maintain that a truer figure is around 6%. Part of the difficulty faced by researchers is that by the very nature of the questions being asked it must be assumed that some of the subjects are lying. There is no professional agreement on how much lying is involved or how to factor lying into statistical results. (Psychology Today has an interesting article on the subject posted here and some relevant statistics from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy can be found here.)
Bankrate.com, a website by and for the financial services industry, recently published an article titled 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off . Among those listed were computer engineering (#2), PR, advertising and mass-media programs (#3), a law degree from a fourth-tier school (#4), and atmospheric sciences and meteorology (#5).
The list makes a partial degree of sense to me but I don’t understand what relationship most of the entries have to financial services, and I’d go a step further by suggesting that any degree in any subject from a fourth-tier school is probably a waste of time and money unless your sole objective is adding initials and abbreviations to your business card to make it more awe-inspiring. I also note a question of morality in a great deal of PR, advertising and mass-media programs which, ironically, benefit Wall Street greatly.
Whether or not the other three are applicable to financial services is beyond my ken but at least they can generate a decent income, self satisfaction and, in the case of atmospheric sciences and meteorology, serve the greater good (see my Global Warming and Incoming Bad Stuff.)
What really caught my eye was Master of Fine Arts at #1 on the list.
There is more going on here than a list of disciplines that generally don’t make money for the financial services industry. 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off says a great deal about how we see ourselves and value (or don’t value) ourselves and our society overall. It is an indictment that brings to mind an observation by Herbert Marcuse in One Dimensional Man (1964) to the effect that when surrounded by an irrational environment the only rational response is to behave irrationally.