Thursday, March 29, 2007

Echidne's Guide On How To Interpret Research - Again

Now this sounds like something a man-hating feminazi should welcome with open arms (or at least an open lap):

Single women reach orgasm 'more often'

A new sexuality survey has confirmed what women know and some men fear - single females have far more luck achieving orgasm than those partnered off.

Taking men out of the picture allows women to "better connect with themselves", according to sex therapists behind the Queensland study of 500 older women.

The research found that 56 per cent of sexually-active women with no current partner could reach orgasm every time with masturbation compared with only 24 per cent of women with partners.

See! Men are as useful as bicycles for fish. End of story.

Except that the study doesn't actually tell that single women reach orgasm 'more often'. What it argues is that they reach orgasm 'more often' through masturbation. There is a big difference between the two sentences.

Suppose that one gets better at solo orgasming the more one experiments with masturbation. Suppose also that those women who are partnered get more of their orgasms with their partners and therefore practice less masturbation. The results don't tell us anything about the overall level of orgasms the various groups of women get.

Here is Echidne's guide to interpreting research: Make sure that you ignore the overall statements at the beginning of the story initially. Read down to find which measures the study actually used and how those measures correlated with each other. Think about what this might mean. Then go back and read the overall arguments and assertions and see if they actually follow from the study's mechanical findings.