A new book says ‘Married women are miserable.' This is not true

Freedom of expression enjoyed in many parts of the world does include writing as a way to express one feeling, thought, views and ambitions. An individual’s written thoughts can be publicized as books or other forms of publications.

This means that a book can be based on just one’s views, thought, aspirations or how one feels concerning a matter. Since one’s feeling or views might not necessarily be the truth or even be what is obtainable in reality, there is a need for fact-checking so as to assess the credibility of a book.

This is the case with behavioural scientist Paul Dolan, the author of the book; ‘Happy Every After’. In his book, he made claims that many have found to be false and misleading. In his book, he alluded that married women are living a life filled with misery. This assertion which is presently being refuted was previously published in popular news media such as the Guardian, Cosmopolitan among others.

As published in vox.com, Dolan had a misconstrued the findings of a study done by the American Time Use Survey. Vox.com wrote, ‘The people conducting the survey didn’t ask married people how happy they were, shoo their spouses out of the room, and then ask again. Dolan had misinterpreted one of the categories in the survey, “spouse absent,” which refers to married people whose partner is no longer living in their household, as meaning the spouse stepped out of the room.’

However, much later when Dolan’s allusion was already well spread, an economist, Gray Kimbroughat American University’s School of Public Affairs discovered the error made by Dolan but it was a little too late; the public had already read Dolan’s misconstrued interpretation first through his publication, then the references to his publication and the reports based on his publication by new media outlets.

Dolan later confirmed by an email, that he actually misinterpreted the finding from the survey. He said, "We did indeed misinterpret the variable. Some surveys do code whether people are present for the interview but in this instance, it refers to present in the household. I have contacted the Guardian who have amended the piece and my editor so that we can make the requisite changes to the book. The substance of my argument that marriage is generally better for men than for women remains."

This event has served as a lesson to all, the first of which is the fact that books are very error-prone as there’s no peer-review before it is published. The second;conclusions made using public data should be scrutinized, as the data is available for all to see and credibility of conclusions made from such data are available for public vetting.

To avoid this sort of event in the future, there's a need for book publishers to go the extra mile of fact-finding knowing fully well that this may be the singular act that will prevent catastrophic and potentially irreparable dissemination of false information.


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