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Did it take you (or your assistant) five minutes to Google that?

July 20, 2011

Anyone think Kathryn Lopez (of the National Review) actually reads the social-scientific articles she links to? This is from a screed attacking college co-ed housing:

And, if you want to get even more practical, W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, points out: “Needless to say, binge drinking and casual sex tend to distract students from their studies. For instance, young women who engage in such activities are more likely to be depressed, and tend to do poorly when they get distracted by drinking and sex.”

The first article she links to, independent of its merits and some of its other purported findings, studies a cohort from Grades 7-12. That’s right: it doesn’t even deal with sexual activity among college students.

The second article requires some significant stretching to lead the conclusions that having sex in college negatively impacts educational outcomes. It looks at the relationship between lifetime sex partners for women age 22-24 and different levels of educational attainment. The authors find that the average college attendee had 5.73 partners and respondents who did not had, on average, 6.35 sex partners. Put differently, it does not measure the impact of sex in college on anything at all.

And people wonder why “it has lots of footnotes” doesn’t carry much weight with academics when we evaluate popular nonfiction…..

Update: James Joyner, a week ago, no less, on the source of the whole thing.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.