Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blonde Bucks

As if the news isn't already full enough with relevant data, tonight one newscaster (who ironically was blonde) reported that blonde women make up to 7% more money than other hair colors. Considering that she included no research firm or other documentation with this statement, I am left to ponder the basis of this study. I am also left to ponder the analytic skills of the media to present information like this in such a subjective manner.

The moths of my analytic brain immediately flock to chew holes in this "research" based statement:
1. Is it that blonde hair color attracts more attention, or that the surrounding the culture encourages fair hair dye?
2. Keeping one's locks light requires money. Is it that those who are blonde are getting better jobs, or that those who have better jobs can afford to color their hair?
3. Is it really hair color, or ethnicity that is associated with a higher income?
4. Did they study several racial groups independently and examine women of the same race, but different hair color? (Now THAT would be a story, in my humble opinion...)
5. Once a theory has been tested with one gender, did they test the other gender with the same theory?
6. What other possible factors could contribute to the study to explain away the theory? (If you don't consider all possible paths to a solution, including contradictions, how do you know that you took the right path in the first place?)

Just a little glimpse into the brain of an analytic researcher who can't help but watch the news like a movie critic rather than a sponge. For centuries, people have been using "research" to prove some cool idea or concept that really has no point. Unfortunately, most people are wielding a weapon that they don't understand how to use in the first place.

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