“I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits.”
—Charles Goodyear, American inventor, born December 29, 1800
On reflection, it’s clear that what’s at issue between the study participants is not really gender, although this sounds like the mordant joke about male error and female judgment (“If a man is alone in the forest with no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?”). It’s something more fundamental: power.
Couple of things:
- Situations where one side is objectively correct about something repugnant to the other side? Refusal to accept the theory of evolution. The age of the earth. Uselessness of vitamin supplements. The errors of “scientific” racism. Although the correct view may be considered settled, the wrong one continues to be widely held and angrily expressed.
- Nothing can ever be settled definitively except by killing one or more participants in a disagreement. Not a winning strategy for enforcing one’s views, right? Thomas Kuhn cannily observed in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that paradigm shifts in science finally succeed because of generational change, not by convincing everyone.
- Normally the Wrongs have significant ability to resist accepting what’s Right. That’s why the study had to be terminated early. By the rules of the experiment, the guy had to agree to everything. This isn’t what happens in the wild. There’s always brokerage or negotiation. Failing a satisfactory compromise, we find divorce in marriage, secession in nations, and/or violence.
Very interesting that the authors of the study couldn’t find any “similar articles.” Power is a dangerous subject.
My new favorite restaurant in Holyoke: El Rincón Boricua, 216 Lyman Street. Open 7:00AM to 6:00PM. If you order a medium platter of pernil with a side of rice with peas, you’ll have enough for two people to overeat (I had to skip dinner last night after having lunch there yesterday). I cannot imagine what a large platter must be like. Try it. Delicious food and friendly service.
Happy New Year! (I guess Andrew Johnson did not count spelling among his many accomplishments.)
The High Cost of Always Being Right
“This might be the first study to systematically assess whether it is better to be right than happy; a Medline search in May 2013 found no similar articles. Our null hypothesis was that it is better to be right than happy.
“The intervention was for the male to agree with his wife’s every opinion and request without complaint. Even if he believed the female participant was wrong, the male was to bow and scrape…. The data safety monitoring committee stopped the study because of severe adverse outcomes after 12 days. By then the male participant found the female participant to be increasingly critical of everything he did. The situation had become intolerable by day 12. He sat on the end of their bed, made her a cup of tea, and said as much; explained the trial and then contacted the Data Safety Monitoring committee who terminated the trial immediately…. It seems that being right, however, is a cause of happiness, and agreeing with what one disagrees with is a cause of unhappiness.”
“It’s a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.”
—Andrew Johnson, American president, born December 29, 1808