Friday, May 29, 2009

Money and Relationships: Another Silly Article from New York Times

It seems that as long as the New York Times exists I will never run out of topics for my blog. One would think that their policy of publishing op-ed pieces by college professors is a good thing. Somehow, however, they manage to choose the most ridiculously ininsightful professors in the country. One salient example of this is an article titled "Married With Bankruptcy" by a Johns Hopkins professor of sociology Andrew J. Cherlin. Sociology as a field of knowledge is noted for offering extremely simplistic conclusions about its subjects of research*. This op-ed piece is more proof of how irrelevant sociology has become (and even more proof of the overall irrelevance of the New York Times).

The article starts with a bit of whining about "our sky-high divorce rate." From my point of view, this sounds extremely emotional and completely unscientific. What does the author mean by sky-high? What's wrong with the divorce rate? Why is it necessarily a bad thing? If you pretend to be a scientist, then maybe it would be useful to leave aside this kind of preconcieved views and deal with data.

The author proceeds from an assumption that economic crises have the capacity to "destroy the inner life of many married couples" and "generate a . . . backlog of couples whose relationships have been irreparably ruined." This, I believe, is just plain silly. If a relationship and its "inner life" (whatever this sociological term might mean) can be ruined by money or its absence, then I somehow doubt that it was a relationship worth saving anyways. A financial crisis can bring to light some problems that already exist in a relationship and, in this sense, it sounds like a positive thing.

*I will never forget the following state-of-art definition of identity provided by a group of known sociologists: "Identity is something that somehow binds certain people together." It literally took these researchers years (according to the preface of their book) to come up with an important conclusion that identity is something.

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