Benefits of Love and Marriage

The ink on Bella DePaulo’s new book is barely dry, and we’re again bombarded with matrimanical, scientific sounding articles. MSN asks “Can Love Be Unhealthy?” And they’re oh so surprised that it can be! (Maybe they should’ve talked to a battered woman…). Their scientific sounding – 88%! – bites are linked to studies. Well, not really, the studies aren’t cited, the link doesn’t bring me to a citation page but rather to a page that has the exact same sound bites. And no citation either. A quick search shows a lot of UCLA studies that found 88 percent of something – nothing about singles dying on the first results page.

Let’s stick with the benefits of marriage page for a little longer. Take a look at the first benefit: Married men earn more than single men. That’s a benefit of marriage?!? Leaving out for now the usual correlation is not causation mistake, replace “married men” with “white men” and “single men” with “African-American men.” See my point? They aren’t documenting a benefit – they are documenting blatant discrimination! What about that correlation thing? People who drive BMWs tend to have higher pay than people who don’t drive BMWs but nobody in their right mind would suggest to increase our pay by buying a BMW! Somehow with marriage they manage to make just that suggestion… Benefit #2 is similar to benefit #1: Discrimination of single people. Benefit #3 is debunked by DePaulo in her book. Number 4 mixes up correlation and causation again (sigh; how about requiring any journalist to take a stats 101 class?). Ditto #5. That leaves number 6 that pesky 88% higher likelihood of death for single folks. I bet this claim will fall apart when I actually look at the study but I can’t find the study! I have asked for a citation in the comments. Let’s see what happens… So far my comment hasn’t even shown up yet.

Back to the MSN article. Aside from all the data problems, the article also implies that love = marriage. Well, it doesn’t. Just ask that South Carolina governor you’re talking about…

For more myth busting, please read DePaulo’s excellent work!

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