“the Woozle effect,” where a particular finding gets quoted and re-quoted because it sounds logical and has the ring of truth, regardless of the reliability of the original source.
The Woozle effect, also known as "evidence by citation" or a woozle, occurs when evidence from earlier sources, academic studies or publications are misused, often applying an improper weight. This misleads individuals, groups such as governments and the public in general into accepting claims made using the woozled evidence.
"Results of a weak study may be repeated so many times in different sources (e.g., professional journals) that they (undeservedly) achieve the status of a law.".
— Eileen Gambrill, Propaganda in the Helping Professions
Many have cautioned against the acceptance of ideas simply due to repetition "..that is, a notion accepted as basic truth but based on common usage rather than empirical fact.".
The “Woozle Effect” occurs when one writer reports an estimate based on a typically weak methodology or “guesstimate” that is subsequently cited by other writers, but without the first writer’s caveats
— Sex trafficking of minors: How many juveniles are being prostituted in the USA,
Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire
Woozles become accepted as real, often becoming "Urban Myth" and "Factoids". "..fiction is converted into scientific evidence that will be cited over and over." The woozle effect has also been linked to "Confirmation Bias", "Groupthink", "Belief Perseverance" and "False Paradigm".
"Red flags for hiding competing well-argued views include phrases such as “Every one knows …” “It is clear that …” “It is obvious that …” “It is generally agreed that …” This kind of unchallenged repetition encourages the woozle effect; if we hear something enough times we assume that it is true."
— Eileen Gambrill; Amanda Reiman 2011, "A Propaganda Index for Reviewing Problem Framing in Articles and Manuscripts"
Woozles are often created by changing language to express a level of certainty that an original source does not contain. Changing Language from "The evidence may show.." to "The evidence shows.." would result in a woozle. Firming up of language by removal of qualifiers and qualification of content as well as removing data, information and opinion from their context - "contextomy" or "quote mining" - can be the cause of Woozles. See Fallacy of quoting out of context.
In 2010, Allison and Cope, two researchers in the field of obesity and nutrition reported similar behaviours:
“bias leading to the distortion of information in the service of what may be perceived to be righteous ends” .
— M B Cope and D B Allison (January 2010), White hat bias: examples of its presence in obesity research and a call for renewed commitment to faithfulness in research reporting
This "White hat bias" has been;"...found in both the peer reviewed literature and popular press, towards publishing and reporting on research that seems to support some righteous idea (e.g., breastfeeding or the evils of sugar-sweetened drinks).". Other's authors have linked the White hat bias, and the fallacy "of righteous ends" to food additives being made legally required, such as Mandatory flour fortification with folic acid (MFFFA).
Researchers in areas such as prostitution and human trafficking have found that there are links between the term woozle and the term "Quantifact" - ".. a figure whose “value and veracity accumulates as it circulates,” despite its uncertain basis.". The term Quantifact is most often found linked to social sciences, violence and racial issues, including sterotyping, in post apartheid South Africa.
According to the Woozle effect, our brain has a tendency to rely on previous information regardless of how flawed it might be. This is a natural enough reaction, but it becomes a huge and potentially damaging problem when everyone does it. As a result, tons of people end up quoting, misquoting, and adjusting information for the sake of making it sound more interesting,..
— 5 Ways Your Brain Is Turning You into a Jerk, Pauli Poisuo
The terms woozle and woozle effect are most frequently found and used in the field of interpersonal violence (IPV) and domestic violence, where the term originated. Other academic papers and publications have used the woozle as a motif and to show the presence of the woozle effect in many areas:
- Cancer Treatment
- Child abuse and neglect
- Clinical Assessment and Practice
- Construction industry
- Historical Analysis
- School management
- Nursing and gerentology
- Public sector-governmental decision making
Origin & usage
""Tracks," said Piglet. "Paw-marks." He gave a little squeak of excitement. "Oh, Pooh! Do you think it's a--a--a Woozle?" "It may be," said Pooh. "Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. You never can tell with paw- marks." With these few words he went on tracking, and Piglet, after watching him for a minute or two, ran after him. Winnie-the-Pooh had come to a sudden stop, and was bending over the tracks in a puzzled sort of way. "What's the matter?" asked Piglet. "It's a very funny thing," said Bear, "but there seem to be two animals now. This--whatever-it-was--has been joined by another--whatever-it-is-- and the two of them are now proceeding in company. Would you mind coming with me, Piglet, in case they turn out to be Hostile Animals?" Piglet scratched his ear in a nice sort of way, and said that he had nothing to do until Friday, and would be delighted to come, in case it really was a Woozle. "You mean, in case it really is two Woozles," said Winnie-the-Pooh, and Piglet said that anyhow he had nothing to do until Friday. So off they went together."
Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet start following tracks left in snow believing they are the tracks of a Woozle. The tracks keep multiplying with Pooh and Piglet becoming more and more excited, convinced that they are now tracking many Woozles. Christopher Robin then explains that they have been following their own tracks.
"When going round a spinney of larch trees tracking something, be sure it isn't your own footprints you are following."
— Pooh's Little Instruction Book
In 1979 Houghton illustrated the Woozle effect showing how work by Gelles 1974, Published in the book "The violent home" had been transferred from applying to a small sample to a universal sample from a group of less than 100 couples to all US Wives.
- Gelles conducted a study using police domestic disturbance reports as the source. He explained this very specifically as a way to locate clear examples of domestic abuse. 20 Families with known histories were found. There were 20 Families referred by a private Social Service agency, making 40 in total. Then as a control group, neighbours of these families were recruited, making 80 families in total where half had a known history of Domestic Abuse. He was not looking for a national or global sample. Gelles says "Of the eighty families, 55 percent reported one instance of conjugal violence in the marriage. This was not unexpected, since half of the couples were selected because we thought they might be violent." The evidence is for a small group, selected only due to police reports and known incidents. The 55% also referred to both men and women as victims.
- Straus writing the forward to the book "The violent home" used the 55% figure but without qualifying it.
- Langley & levy then cited Gelles & Straus claiming "Estimates that 50 percent of all American wives are battered women are not uncommon". Gelles & Straus made no such claim or inference in their work.
- Langley & levy, journalist writing a book, then applied the Woozle to the general population arriving at the figure of 28 to 36 million American Wives being battered annually.. "The twenty-six to thirty million are roughly half of all married women.".
- The 28 Million figure, published in the book "Wife beating: the silent crisis", then received extensive media coverage, including claims that at least 7 other studies showed the same 28 Million figure to be valid. In accounting for the lack of previous knowledge of what was called "A conspiracy of silence by men" the US Government, Congress, The American Bar Association, police and FBI, were all referred to as having "Culpable Ignorance".
In 1982, Professor Walter R Schumm of Kansas State University School of Family Studies and Human Services, warned of the danger of the Woozle effect when he said of it that it could be used to mistakenly "set policy in the prevention and treatment of family violence".In 1991 Prof Murray Straus noted:
"In contemporary American society, statistics are used to inform, guide, and justify social policy. The belief in statistics is so great that when the public or a legislature wishes to act and there are no statistics, statistics must somehow be created to fill the vacuum. Unfortunately, these statistics are often biased toward supporting the proposed policy."
In 2007, Gelles further emphasised the nature of woozles when he likened them to the fictional game TEGWAR (The Exciting Game Without Any Rules).[b] Gelles also traces the issues of woozles and TEGWAR around the field of domestic violence back in time to the 1990s and refers to “Nine Factoids and a Mantra”,showing how the woozle had taken precedence and facts were not relevant.
The compelling research evidence solidified around a series of statements that captured the problem of violence toward women. The most common, oft-spoken, and published factoids are as follows:
- According to the FBI, a woman is beaten every (fill in the blank) seconds in the United States.
- There are four million women beaten and abused each year in the United States.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States—greater than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- The March of Dimes reports that battering during pregnancy is the leading cause of birth defects and infant mortality [in the United States].
- Sixty-three percent of young men between the ages of 11 and 20, who are serving time for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser.
- Seventy-five percent of women who are killed by intimate partners are killed after they attempt to leave their batterers.
- Women who kill their batterers receive longer prison sentences than men who kill their partners.
- There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children.
- Violence toward women crosses racial and income barriers—battering knows no color other than black and blue.
— Richard J. Gelles, THE POLITICS OF RESEARCH: THE USE, ABUSE, AND MISUSE OF SOCIAL SCIENCE DATA—THE CASES OF INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE
Gelles analyses each factoid and shows how they are false. For example, the FBI do not collect, collate or publish statistics on battery. The number is derived by making a calculation based upon a study which does not support the claim. Whilst any claim may sound convincing, valid and authoritative it is always false.
Gelles also shows how those outside of a field of study or expertise lack the knowledge and insight to recognise woozles. The woozles simply become accepted in the general population. Until you know the rules you can only assume that the game is being played the right way.
Many have expressed concern that Woozles are not simply accidental:
Propagandists are aware that simply hearing, seeing, or thinking about a statement many times may increase belief in the statement. As Thouless (1974)[c] notes, we tend to think that what goes through our mind must be important. Simply repeating a position increases the likelihood of its acceptance, especially if the statement is offered in a conﬁdent manner by a person of prestige and has a slogan quality that plays on our emotions. Results of a weak study may be repeated so many times in different sources (eg. professional journals) that they (undeservedly) achieve the status of a law. Gelles (1982)[d] calls this the Woozle EffectIn the book "Rethinking Domestic Violence", Donald G Dutton raises concerns as to gender bias and potential political bias. He states:
— Eileen Gambrill (2012), Propaganda in the Helping Professions
"Woozles are usually not simply a matter of authentic misreporting. They also reveal a desire to read into the data an a priori position that is really not there, what Bacon calls "idols of the theatre"[e]. ... All the data reporting mistakes I have found in the literature, without exception, were made in the direction of supporting feminist preconceptions."
— Dutton (2006), Rethinking Domestic Violence
The implications of the Woozle Effect and political correctness on education and research have also been raised:
It is crucial that graduate students and neophyte researchers be able to trace the origins of concepts and constructs in theory and the foundations of their research despite alterations in terminology. Slavish worship of “political correctness” is the death of scientific progress and is the worst form of mind control. It brings about stagnation and stiﬂes creativity. It also contributes to the Woozle effect... Readers are encouraged to challenge and explore, to resist the tendency to fall victim to the Woozle Effect as they search for answers.
— Fatigue in Cancer: A Multidimensional Approach (2000)
As far back as 1995 similar concerns were being expressed by Dr Christina Hoff Sommers, when she said:
"More often than not, a closer look at the supporting evidence the studies and statistics on eating disorders, domestic battery, rape, sexual harassment, bias against girls in school, wage differentials, or the demise of the nuclear family - will raise grave questions about credibility, not to speak of objectivity.
When they engage in exaggeration, oversimplification, and obfuscation, the feminist researchers may be no different from such other advocacy groups as the National Rifle Association or the tobacco industry. But when the NRA does a "study that shows . . . ," or the tobacco industry finds "data that suggest. . . ," journalists are on their guard. They check sources and seek dissenting opinions."
— Christina Hoff Sommers (1995), Who Stole Feminism?
Media is all formats has been implicated in spreading woozles generated by Advocacy Research,[f] with journalists lacking critical scrutiny "...rushing to embrace the advocates depiction of the magnitude and character of problems...".
Advocacy research beneﬁts from the felicitous union between journalists’ need to discover victims and the public‘s curiosity about the horrors of modern life. It also takes advantage of the joumalists’ general inability to evaluate data supplied to the press. Most journalist are not well-versed in social science research methods. They gather and cross-check information by interviewing experts. Since advocates are frequently among the first to uncover and publicize information about emerging problems, they are the ones who are interviewed and whose data frame the issue in the initial stages of problem discovery.
— Fraud and Fallible Judgement: Varieties of Deception in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
Advocacy Research and Moral Panic
In 1997, Dr Neil Gilbert published "Advocacy Research and Social Policy". The work presents a detailed analysis of how Moral Panic[g] has occurred historically and led to examples of "Advocacy Research"[f] and biased social change.
Claims in the 1980s, later irrefutably debunked, that 50,000 children are kidnapped each year by strangers, are one example. Other recent examples include wildly inﬂated estimates of the incidence of abuse of the elderly, sexual abuse of children, and rape. Exaggerated claims are eventually exposed but, when they deal with highly emotional subjects, can for a time powerfully shape media coverage and social policy.
— Advocacy Research and Social Policy, Dr Neil Gilbert,Crime and Justice, 1997
Gilbert illustrates how research was made to fit the agendas, statistics made to fit the desired outcomes and also how the techniques of manipulation and misrepresentation had been concretised by advocates. The 1960's explosion of those trained to conduct social research is used as a starting point to place known events in a relevant time scale. The erosion of quality in research linked with funding that is dependent upon outcome is highlighted. The paper addresses "Emotive Statistics and Moral Panics", Provides a detailed analysis and critique of research and outcomes on the issues of rape and then goes on to break down the ways in which media and public are mislead into the belief of a "Social Epidemic": one of the classic traits of a wilful moral panic. The identified techniques are:
|Identified Techniques For The Creation Of Wilful Moral Panic|
|1||Advocacy research overstates the magnitude of deeply disturbing problem deﬁnitions to include an enormous number of cases, many - if not most - of which do not fit the conventional interpretation of the problem|
|2||Shockingly large numbers are picked up and ampliﬁed by the media, elevating public alarm to a point sometimes described as “moral panic.”[g]|
|3||Estimates of the problem have been magniﬁed by ﬂawed research methods and misinterpretation of data.|
|4||Advocacy researchers outcomes are used to persuade policy makers and the media that this problem has reached epidemic proportions, claims of a “social epidemic" being one of the classic traits of willful moral panic (Cottino and Quirico 1995)|
|5||Ideological forces and social factors in the cultural climate, for example strained gender relations, are then used to contribute to public acceptance of advocacy research|
|6||Advocacy Research distorts social policy deliberations.|
The feedback loops that occur in social dynamics are then analysed to show how Woozled data combined with social engineering can lead people to believe that there is a social epidemic and increase the damage to society.
Gelles has observed conflict between standard scientific methodology and advocacy; "Advocacy efforts are often governed by the ends justifying the means. Many advocates have little patience with the timetable of research or social policy - they see the harm inflicted at ground level and strongly feel the need to do something." Gelles has linked this to the pattern of basic rules being changed and rules of the fictional game TEGWAR[b] used instead. It has also been observed "Results are routinely miscited in a direction favoring activist ideology,..".
Rape Statistics & Moral Panic
In the USA there is ongoing concern (January 2014) and alarm at the misuse of incorrect woozles concerning rape and claims of rape connected to Higher eduction and college campuses. On 25 January 2014 president Barak Obama stated, during a weekly national address, "An estimated 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted at college – and that’s totally unacceptable. So I’ve created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault."
The materials accompanying the new sexual-assault task force recycle the usual feminist claims about campus rape: an “estimated 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted at college,” proclaims a White House press release. Such an assault rate would represent a crime wave unprecedented in civilized history. By comparison, the 2012 rape rate in New Orleans and its immediately surrounding parishes was .0234 percent; the rate for all violent crimes in New Orleans in 2012 was .48 percent.
— Heather Mac Donald, Meretricious Meets Meddlesome,President Obama’s silly task force on campus sexual assault is wholly based on a fiction. 9 February 2014
As the Obama Administration steps up the federal effort against an alleged epidemic of campus rape, some states are contemplating measures of their own. A recent Newsweek story on a bill pending in the California State Assembly, discussed by K.C. Johnson on Minding the Campus, raises a number of troubling issues: among them, potential spillover from the campus crusade into the criminal justice system and actual spillover from the radical feminist blogosphere into the mainstream media.
— Cathy Young, Criminal Law and the Moral Panic on Campus Rape (2014)
In his 1997 paper "Advocacy Research and Social Policy" Dr Neil Gilbert observes how "Advocacy research on rape benefits from the aura of "scientific" inquiry". Gilbert breaks down the use of statistics by those embedded in the rape culture ideal, showing how the statistics have been used to promote "Wilful Moral Panic". The five characteristics of Moral Panic have been identified since the 1970's as: Concern - Hostility – Consensus – Disproportionality – Volatility. Once reality is shown to undermine Moral Panic it vanishes only to re-emerge elsewhere.
The Moral Panic over date rape drugs is an example of this, along with the lasting social and psychological harm it can cause in those who become wedded to the idea and fear factors involved.
Moral Panic: A mass movement based on the false or exaggerated perception that some cultural behaviour or group of people is dangerously deviant and poses a threat to society's values and interests. Moral panics are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues.
— Oxford Reference, A Dictionary of Law Enforcement
The repeated linking of academic settings, such as college campuses, to the feminist construct of rape culture is seen as "Moral Panic" fuelled by "Advocacy Research" and the manipulation of definitions and boundaries in research.
Advocacy Research: One kind of descriptive policy research, carried out by people who are deeply concerned about certain social problems, such as poverty or rape. Their studies seek to measure social problems with a view to heightening public awareness of them and providing a catalyst to policy proposals and other action to ameliorate the problem in question. Occasionally, research studies bend their research methods in order to inflate the magnitude of the social problem described, and thereby enhance the case for public action to address the issue.
— A Dictionary of Sociology
In his 1992 Paper "Realities and Mythologies of Rape", Dr Neil Gilbert discussed the issues of Advocacy Research[f] and Statistics. He analysed the claims made by Ms Magazine (1985) concerning rates of rape and the now entrenched woozle of 1 in 4 American women will be raped in her lifetime.
According to the alarming accounts of sexual assault by certain feminist groups, about one out of every two women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape an average of twice in her life, one-third will have been sexually abused as children, and many more will suffer other forms of sexual molestation. These claims are based on figures from several studies, among which the Ms. Magazine Campus Project on Sexual Assault, directed by Mary Koss, and Diana Russell's survey of sexual exploitation are the most extensive, most widely disseminated, and most frequently cited.
Both studies were funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, giving them the imprimatur of endorsement by a respected federal agency. Often quoted in newspapers and journals, on television, and during the 1991 Senate hearings on sexual assault, the findings from these studies have gained a certain degree of authority by process of repetition. Most of the time, however, those who cite the research ﬁndings take them at face value without an understanding of where the numbers come from or what they represent.
— Dr Neil Gilbert, Realities and mythologies of rape, 1992
Gilbert says of the data:
Prefaced by sophisticated discussions of the intricate research methods employed, the ﬁndings are presented in a blizzard of data, supported by a few convincing cases and numerous references to lesser known studies. But footnotes do not a scholar make,...
— Dr Neil Gilbert, Realities and mythologies of rape, 1992
The same concerns as to veracity of data have been raised by The Toledo Blade newspaper in October 1993, in three part, three day series:
- Day One,"Rape The Making Of An Epidemic" "..the science behind the alarming rape statistics, who benefits and how they affect the nation.","Researchers"
- Day Two, "The forgotten, The Vulnerable""Young Poor More At Risk
- Day Three, "The Haves and The Have Nots: Universities Are Spending Millions As Public Programs Fight To Survive""Program Funding"
The Toledo Blade set out multiple research sources and outcomes to contrast the spread of data and the inconsistency of outcomes. The research findings set out by the Blade:
| What's Your Risk? You Decide
Leading studies differ on a woman's risk of rape. Here are the details:
|1 in 3||Published
|Diana Russel, then a Proffessor, Mills College Oakland||Conducted in San Francisco, which like most large cities has a relatively high rape rate. Scientists say the findings shouldn't be applied nationwide. Detailed questions were used to encourage women to talk about rape. For example "Have you ever had any unwanted sexual experience... because you felt physically threatened" About half the women labelled victims of rape or attempted rape disagreed.|
|1 in 4||Published
|Mary Koss, then a professor at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio||Seventy-three percent of women labelled rape victims did not think they were raped, though many thought something bad had happened. Forty-two per cent had sex again with the alleged rapist. Eight in 10 rapes were committed by men known to the victim|
|1 in 8||Published
|Dean Kilpatrick, Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston||Women were never asked outright if they were raped. Penetration by fingers does not meet the legal definition of rape in most states. Although Dr. Kilpatnck had previously argued he used a strict deﬁnition of rape, he now acknowledges it “might be a tad broader“ than the legal definition. He adds that at he were to factor out the ‘fingers" question, the ﬁndings would drop, at most, 9 percent. Nearly two-thirds of the victims were under 18. Nine per cent of victims were raped by husbands or former husbands, 11 percent by fathers or step fathers, and 16 per cent by other relatives.|
|1 in 17||Published
|Idee Winfiled, Linda George, Marvin Swartz, Dan Blazer: all of Duke University.||Dr. George says the ﬁndings may be artificially low because North Carolina is relatively conservative. "We are in the Bible Belt, and the kinds of lifestyle that religious people have seem to protect them from sexual assault.”|
|1 in 50||Published
|Stephanie Riger, Margaret T. Gordon||Dr. Gordon says she felt pressure to have tape be as prevalent as possible and that "the really avid feminists were trying to get me to say that things were worse than they really are.”|
The bias of victimhood, media, funding and attention was shown to be overwhelmingly in favour of those in academic environments. For example all Higher Eduction institutions in New York had "Rape Hotlines" for students but the City Of New York had no service for none student citizens.
Koss had conducted her study in Ohio, and when her research was validated against Ohio statutes it became clear that both her questioning and methodology were suspect. Her claims of 1 in 4 were unsustainable.
Dr Christina Hoff Sommers (1994) also dissected both the claims and implications in her book Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women.
The 1 in 4 woozle has lead to much campaigning, many rallies and access to large volumes of federal monies. Writing in 1994, Katie Roiphe linked visible attitudes and behaviours to beliefs of entitlement and privilege:
Many of the Princeton students who take the microphone emanate a sense of entitlement. These students say, again and again, ‘‘It‘s not fair that I should be afraid.” This is an idea that springs from privilege. Who besides these well-dressed, well-fed, well-groomed students would expect the right to safety and march for it? Many of these girls came to Princeton from Milton and Exeter. Many of their lives have been full of summers in Nantucket and horseback-riding lessons. These are women who have grown up expecting fairness, consideration, and politeness. They have grown up expecting security. Considering how many things there are to be afraid of and how many things are not fair, being frightened to walk around Princeton, New jersey, late at night does not seem like one of God's greatest injustices.
— The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism 1994, Katie Roiphe
Evidence that a campus is one of the safest places with a low risk of rape have been routinely ignored. Peter Hellman of New York magazine investigated the claims and found that contrary to the 1 in 4 claim that fewer than one thousand rapes were reported to campus security on college campuses in the entire USA. As observed by Heather MacDonald (2008)
None of the obvious weaknesses in the research has had the slightest drag on the campus rape movement, because the movement is political, not empirical. In a rape culture, which “condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as a norm,” sexual assault will wind up under reported, argued the director of Yale’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education Center in a March 2007 newsletter. You don’t need evidence for the rape culture; you simply know that it exists. But if you do need evidence, the under reporting of rape is the best proof there is.
— Heather Mac Donald, City Journal 2008
Anorexia mortality rates
Anorexia became a media topic with the death of Singer Karen Carpenter in 1983 from heart failure. Steve Levenkron a psychotherapist who had treated Ms Carpenter, was from the 1970's giving the figures of 150,000 Anorexia suffers for the whole of the USA - approximately 1 in 300 adolescent girls, and in the Great Britain 1 in 200. The same figures appeared in many publications throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's. Levenkron also estimated that some 30,000 women were using emetic (vomit inducing) drugs to promote Bulimia. In 1985 Levenkron was stating:
"between 150,000 to 200,000 sufferers of anorexia nervosa and eight to 10 times that many bulimics."
— NY Times March 22 1985
In her 1990 book the Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf, herself a recovering Anorexic, reported that 50% of female college students have Anorexia and that 60% had bulimia. Wolf took figures from published books, and saying "If we take the high end of the figure it means that...", with her changing percentage estimates into concrete figures.
The in 1991 (Morrow) release of the same book, Wolf claimed reported that 150,000 American women died every year due to Anorexia, attributing the claim to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association.
The weight-loss cult recruits women from an early age, and that eating diseases are the cults bequest. Anorexia and bulimia are female maladies: from 90 to 95 percent of anorexics or bulimics are women. America, which has the greatest number of women who have made it into the male sphere, also leads the world with female Anorexia. Women's magazines report that that there are up to a million anorexics, but the American Anorexia and Bulimia association states that anorexia and bulimia strike a million American women every year; 30,000, it reports, also become emetic abusers.The Holocaust" claiming that nothing could justify her use of such a comparison,
Each year, according to the association, 150,000 women die of Anorexia.
— Naomi Wolf (1991 Morrow), The Beauty Myth, pp. 181-2
...but when confronted with a vast number of emaciated bodies starved not by nature but by men, one must notice a certain resemblance.
By the time of a second, May, 1991 printing of the book by Vintage-Random House, the claims of 150,000 deaths of American women from Anorexia had been removed. It was re-drafted to read:
There are no reliable death rate statistics for anorexia, but a disease that strikes between 5 and 10 percent of American women, and has one of the highest fatality rates for mental illness, deserves the kind of media investigation that is devoted to serious and potentially fatal epidermics. This killer epidemic, however, has never made the cover of Time.
— Naomi Wolf (1991 Vintage-Random House), The Beauty Myth, pp. 182
In 1992 Gloria Steinem wrote in her book "Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem":
In this country alone, according to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association, about 150,000 females die of anorexia each year - and they're often the female version of "the best an the brightest": intelligent and sensitive young women who want to use their talents, and yet are still in an economic class and culture that pressure women to be decorative and "perfect". As Naomi Wolf asks on behalf of her contemporaries, "How would America react to the mass self-immolation by hunger of it's favourite sons?"
— Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992), page 222
Following the publication of Steinem's Book, Ann Landers wrote in her nationally syndicated column:
As many as one-fifth of all female college students have a severe eating disorder. Every year, 150.000 American women die from complications associated with anorexia and bulimia. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 7 million American women suffer from anorexia and bulimia.
— Apr 29, 1992, Multiple Publications
Dr Christina Hoff Sommers wrote of these claims in her 1994 book "Who stole feminism?". She reports that Steinum's source was Wolf, with Wolf pointed to an earlier source 1988 " Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease" by Joan Jacobs Brumberg, historian and former director of women's studies at Cornell University. Brumberg attributed the claim of 150,000 a fatalities per year to the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association (AA/BA), as well as reporting that 1 million american women had Anorexia.
Sommers questioned Brumberg's source the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association (AA/BA). Sommers was told; "We were misquoted,", "In a 1985 newsletter the association had referred to 150,000 to 200,000 sufferers (not fatalities) of anorexia nervosa.".
Sommers asked that Brumberg, Wolf and Steinem stop reporting the incorrect figures. The CDC confirmed that they recorded approximately 100 deaths per year, or a figure that was 99.95% lower. Brumberg is reported to have thanked Sommers for the correction as the "factoid" was due to be reused and republished in a new book. "The anorexia "crisis" is only one sample of the kind of provocative but inaccurate information being purveyed by women about "women's issues"".
Sommers joked about the imbalance of numbers saying:
"..if 150,000 of these girls where dying, you would need.. to have ambulances on hand at places where they gather like Wellesley College graduation and like you do at major sporting events. .. it's funny, but no one caught the error."
— Christine Hoff Sommers (1994), Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg
Camellia Paglia said of the error:
No one caught it. The media was totally servile! Every word that came out of Gloria Steinem's mouth or Patricia Ireland's mouth is treated as gospel truth.
— Camellia Paglia (1994), Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg
The claim of 150,000 deaths per year has propagated into text books, the media and can now be found in pre-written essays for high-school and college students to purchase on-line.
The battered child syndrome
The paper by Kempe et al. (p. 17) in this issue of The Journal presents, for the first time, some numerical data which, although incomplete, illustrate the importance of the battered-child syndrome. It is likely that it will be found to be a more frequent cause of death than such well recognized and thoroughly studied diseases as leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy, and it may well rank with automobile accidents and the toxic and infectious encephalitides as causes of acquired disturbances of the central nervous system.
At no point did the original article make any reference to leukemia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, automobile accidents or infectious encephalitides. Kempe carefully explained that he has been working with a limited number of cases and that it was not possible to make statistical claims.
Shortly afterwards it was being widely reported that the Dr Kempe was making this claim and comparison with leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. A number of publications including Time, Life Magazine and Newsweekreported the editorial opinion, and not the findings of the original publication. It was also quoted by politicians and social activists. The same woozled claim was being quoted and referenced by the New York Times 7 years later in 1969, with the same New York Times article being entered into evidence in the US Congressional Record in 1981, nearly 20 years after the original Editorial has been shown to be completely wrong and misleading.
Statistics Canada carried out The 2009 General Social Survey (GSS). From this they published “Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile”. The report found that in the five year period covered 585,000 men and 601,000 women reported being victims of domestic violence: a total of 1.186 million Canadians.Statistics Canada also interpreted the data as:
A similar proportion of men and women reported experiencing spousal violence during the five years prior to the survey. Among men, 6.0% or about 585,000, encountered spousal violence during this period, compared with 6.4% or 601,000 women.
In November 2011, OCTEVAW:"Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women" published a report titled “Hidden from Sight Volume II: A Profile of Violence Against Women in Ottawa”. The report was funded by Community Foundation of Ottawa, written by Trina Forrester, research assistant to Dr. Holly Johnson of The Institute for the Prevention of Crime, University of Ottawa. The report states:
Woman Abuse in Canada - Woman abuse can be found in every province, territory, city, and community within Canada (Statistics Canada, 2011). It affects women from all socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, and religions. In Canada:
Almost 1.2 million women reported having been similarly assaulted sometime in the previous five years.
The Woozle created not only inflated the incidence of Domestic Violence against women by 200%, but also erased 585,000 male domestic violence victims across Canada. The report further states:
More than 450,000 Ontario women reported to Statistics Canada’s 2009 GSS that they had been assaulted by their partner sometime in the previous five years prior to the 2009 survey (Statistics Canada, 2011).
The 450,000 figure is for both male and female. Statistics Canada have not published a breakdown of partner assault by province, segregated by sex.
The report was widely disseminated to statutory authorities to assist in informing their decision making processes concerning medical care, court proceeding and priorities, law enforcement and funding decisions for regional and national programs. In their 2010-2011 annual report, OCTEVAW:Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women, said of the report:
Hidden from Sight Statistical Report. Given the success of the first report, OCTEVAW secured funding from the Community Foundation of Ottawa to replicate the report for the 2009-2010 timeframe and expand upon the project with the inclusion of a snapshot component. Our goal is to double our agency participation from sixteen to thirty-two.
In 2004 Walby and Allen prepared a report for the UK Government Home Office: “Home Office Research Study 276 Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey”. Walby and Allen state:
Domestic violence has a detrimental impact on employment. Among employed women who suffered domestic violence in the last year, 21 per cent took time off work and two per cent lost their jobs. Among men in this situation, six per cent took time off work and two per cent lost their jobs.
On 10 April 2013 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched new guidance to employers on Domestic Abuse: ‘Managing and supporting staff experiencing domestic abuse’. The publication was supported by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Directors and others. The EHRC announced:
In the UK, in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence, and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of the abuse.
However, the new guidance itself made no such claims, contained no statistics and did not refer to anyone taking time off work. None of the listed sources and references contained the claim. Exactly when and how the percentages got changed from "employed women who suffered domestic violence" to "employed women" remains unclear.
Domestic violence has a detrimental impact on employment. Among employed women who suffered domestic violence in the last year, 21 per cent took time off work and two per cent lost their jobs". (Findings from self-completion module of the 2001 British Crime survey, Walby & Allen, 2004)
— Women's Aid (01 Sept 2006), What are the effects of domestic abuse on women?
The woozle identified from the EHRC announcement has also been found to have multiple and mixed concurrent manifestations and earlier occurrences attributed to the EHRC:
- Bristol City Council - Domestic Violence and Abuse Policy & Guidelines (Source given as EHRC)
- Walsall Domestic Violence Forum
- The NHS - East of England Social Partnership Forum Statement on Domestic Abuse (May 2011)
- Onus (NI) Ltd (established in 2007 by Women’s Aid branches in Ulster) being reported since at least 05 November 2011Attributes Walby and Allen, 2004 as source
- Florid - East London NHS Foundation Trust Attributes Walby and Allen, 2004 as source
- HRMagazine July 2013
Briefing papers and publications for employers from 2009 report "In the UK, in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence, and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of the abuse.". The main publication for the project titled "Better Public Services. Breaking the silence on violence against women" does not contain the woozled claim.
USA: African American female homicide rates
“Disturbingly, intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African American women ages 15 to 45.”
— Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.,
speech at domestic violence awareness month event, Oct. 19, 2009
"That's a horrifying statistic, and it would be a shocking reflection of the state of the black family, and American society generally, if it were true. But it isn't true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Justice Department's own Bureau of Justice Statistics, the leading causes of death for African-American women between the ages 15–45 are cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries such as car accidents, and HIV disease. Homicide comes in fifth — and includes murders by strangers." This was written by Dr Christina Hoff Sommers (2/4/2011), querying why after more than 1 year the woozle was still being propagated by the DOJ.
Victims of intimate violence are best served by the truth. Eric Holder should correct his department's website immediately.
— Christina Hoff Sommers, Feb 04, 2011,
Domestic violence myths help no one, USA Today
Paul Ellam writing for AvFM made the following pertinent observation:
First, when the government misidentifies something as important as a leading cause of death, what becomes of our attentions and resources to the things that are actually killing people? The danger here, of course, is that by telling African American women that the leading cause of their death is IPV, we are minimizing and helping them ignore the things that really are killing them.
— Paul Ellam, AvFM, Feb 21 2011,
Attorney General Holder Loses His Grip on the Truth
This woozle has been a recognised issue for some years, and after years of campaigning by Mark J. Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, it has been removed from the DOJ website as of January 2014. Others have shown great interest in the Woozle over the same time period.
Interest in the woozle by the Wall Street Journal in December 2013, The Fact Checker, Glenn Kesler, seemed to prompt a review by the DOJ.
This assertion by the attorney general is an interesting case of a game of telephone being played with a factoid, in which the original statistic has become lost from its moorings.
— The Wall Street Journal in December 2013,
The Fact Checker, Glenn Kesler.
However, the woozle has propagated widely via the internet and other media and so will be a landmark in the fields of Domestic Violence, Race, Feminism, Academia and Governance for many years.
The origins of the woozle have been attributed by some to events in 2003 with a study published in the American Journal Of Public Health. The study attributed the claim to an earlier (1998) study by the DOJ. There is no source within the 1998 DOJ study that can in any way rationally account for the 2003 claims:
Femicide, the homicide of women, is the leading cause of death in the United States among young African American women aged 15 to 45 years and the seventh leading cause of premature death among women overall.
— Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships,
Results From a Multisite Case Control Study (2003)
However, earlier examples of the woozle have been found:
Among African American women between the ages of 15 and 44, femicide is the leading cause of premature death (Office of Justice Programs, 1998).
— Intimate Partner Violence in African American Women,
Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, January 31, 2002
The same reference also appears later too, under the imprimatur of the National Institute Of Justice, November 2003.This is the reference explicitly pointed to by the DOJ in the correction made January 2014.
PLEASE NOTE : These remarks, as originally delivered in 2009, cited a statistic naming intimate partner homicide as the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45. This statistic was drawn from a range of reputable sources, including a 2003 study by the National Institute of Justice . However, recent figures indicate other causes of death—including cancer and heart disease—outrank intimate partner homicide for this age group.
— Corrected: Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at Domestic Violence Awareness Month Event,
Washington, D.C. Monday, October 19, 2009
The correction implies that when the claim was first made it was supported by sources and valid data. As made clear by numerous parties there was no supporting data for the claim even when it first appear in 2003, and even with the woozle pointing to sources in 1998. Either The DOJ have still to read the sources and analyses of the Woozle, else they are attempting to deflect attention by re woozling with the implication that the claim was valid in the past but is not valid now.
It is not surprising to find that all the woozled sources share authors:
- Jacqueline Campbell (Anna D. Wolf Endowed Professor and Associate Dean for the PhD Program and Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing),
- Doris Williams Campbell (was Professor in the Colleges of Nursing and Public Health, University of South Florida),
- Phyllis Sharps (Professor Associate Dean for Community and Global Programs Director, Center for Global Nursing)
- Faye A. Gary (The Medical Mutual of Ohio Kent W. Clapp Chair & Professor of Nursing)
The Woozle has been reproduced widely and can be found in many examples of mainstream texts:
- National Institute of Justice Journal (2003)
- Intimate Partner Violence: A Clinical Training Guide for Mental Health Professionals (2004)
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology: Issues and Controversies in Crime and Justice (2005).
- Psychological Problems, Social Issues, and Law (2006)
- Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology (2009)
- The First Annual American Bar Association Domestic Violence Commission and Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law Domestic Violence Dedicated Section
- Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (2011)
USA: Super Bowl domestic violence hoax
The Super Bowl domestic violence hoax has been a recurrent and persistent Woozle since 1993.
- Woozles: Their Role in Custody Law Reform, Parenting Plans, and Family Court, Nielsen, Linda, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Feb 10 , 2014
- Straight and Crooked Thinking. Robert Henry Thouless (1930) English universities press. ISBN 9781444117189
- Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism Robert Jay Lifton (1963). Norton. ISBN 9780807842539
- Assets and Liabilities in Group Problem Solving. Norman R Maier (1967) Psychological Review, Volume 74, Number 4, Pages 239-249 doi:10.1037/h0024737
- Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Christina Hoff Sommers (1995). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780684801568
- Researching the "Rape Culture" of America Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers
- Criminal behavior: a psychosocial approach. Curt R. Bartol (2001). Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780130918376
- Rethinking Domestic Violence. Donald G. Dutton, (2006). UBC Press. ISBN 9780774810159
- The Campus Rape Myth The reality: bogus statistics, feminist victimology, and university-approved sex toysHeather Mac Donald (2008). City Journal, Vol 18:1.
- Critical Thinking for Helping Professionals Eillean Gambrill (2009). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195330953
- Propaganda in the Helping Professions. Eillean Gambrill (2012). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195325003
- Male Victims of Domestic Violence - The Hidden Story - YouTube
- Bias Against Men and Boys in Mental Health Research - YouTube
- A video response to the Hon Julia Gillard PM - One Billion Rising Message - YouTube
- BBC Radio 4, iPlayer, “More or Less” - “Rouge Statistics”
Related AVfM articles
- Tell AG Eric Holder to Take that #$@&! Report Down!
- Attorney General Holder Loses His Grip on the Truth
- False Information by Attorney General Eric Holder Challenged, Again
- Science, bad science, and pseudoscience: How bad statistics come to life
- How feminists corrupt DV research
- Domestic Violence- Women are Half the Problem
- Fostering discrimination through lies
- Indoctrination in the Duluth Model for continued harm
- Study Reveals Female Rape Victims Enjoyed the Experience
- How research is used to promote male hatred
- Lies, damned lies, and rape statistics
- Australian domestic violence hysteria
- Feminist rage and suppression of data
- Study: 91% of mothers abuse children, fathers 7%
- Commissioner Ken Lay’s Professional Misconduct
- Woozle Hunter: Lies, damned lies and DV
- Appeal to consequences or argumentum ad consequentiam
- Appeal to emotion or argumentum ad passiones
- Appeal to fear or argumentum in terrorem
- Appeal to pity or argumentum ad misericordiam
- Argument from authority
- Argumentum ad populum
- Bias Against Men and Boys in Mental Health Research: YouTube
- Circular reporting
- FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt)
- Idola theatri - Idols of the Theatre
- Information loop
- Just-so story
- Memetic engineering
- Men's studies
- Misandry in Psychology 1: AVfM Article
- Moral panic
- Pourquoi story
- Spiral Dynamics
- Three men make a tiger
- Viral phenomenon
- White hat bias
Some have claimed that there is confusion as to the origin and attribution of the term "Woozle Effect". This is caused by a failure to correctly trace Source and Citation by later writers. Ironically, they "Woozle" The origin of the "Woozle Effect" by tracing footsteps to Gelles and or Straus and not checking how Gelles and or Straus cite the Woozle Effect.
- For example, At Wikipedia an editor has insisted that there is doubt and cited the 2012 work "L. (2012).Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research and Issues. Taylor & Francis. pp 4" which states" Sociologist Richard Gelles coined the term "Woozle Effect...".
- However, Gelles stated in November 1980, "One general problem is what Houghton (1979) calls the "Woozle Effect" (based on a Winnie the Pooh story). The "Woozle Effect" begins when one investigator reports a finding..."from:J. Gelles, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 42, No. 4, Decade Review (Nov., 1980), pp. 873-885.
- Gelles has at all times attributed the origins of the "Woozle Effect" to Houghton, citing "Houghton, B. (November 1979). "Review of research on women abuse." annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Philadelphia."
- The annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology took place at the Sheratan Hotel Philadelphia between 7-10 November, 1979 , with some 800 delegates. "The Criminologist", January 1980, Vol 3, No 3, pp 1".
- Some have claimed that the term "Woozle Effect" originated from both Gelles & Straus in 1988, and yet they both attribute the origin to Houghton; "& Straus, M. A. (1988). Intimate violence. Simon and Schuster. p 265". *Repeated mis-attribution to Gelles and then Gelles and Straus has been traced to the 1982 SCHUMM, W. R., MARTIN, M. J., BOLLMAN, S. R., & JURICH, A. P. (1982). Classifying Family Violence: Whither the Woozle? Journal of Family Issues, 3(3), 319–340. doi:10.1177/019251382003003004.
- Schumm states "As Gelles has suggested, a “woozle effect” may be operating in which frequent citations of relatively poor studies mislead us into thinking we know more about the causes of family violence than we really do.". It appears than many have then just assumed that Gelles defined the "Woozle Effect" and not Houghton without verifying the sources, citations and facts.
- In the 1970s movie, Bang the Drum Slowly , two of the main characters—a star pitcher and a team coach—engage in a small-scale swindle in the lobbies of the hotels the baseball team stays in during road trips. The pitcher and coach sit in a conspicuous spot in the lobby and begin a heated card game. Pretty soon a few observers gather to watch the game. Even- tually, a curious observer, thoroughly confused by watching a game that he has never seen played before, asks the pitcher and coach what they are playing. “TEGWAR,” they respond. After a few more minutes, the onlooker asks if he can play and is invited to sit in. The new- comer wins a few hands, but still has no clue what he is doing. The hands get faster and faster, the cards fly, and eventually the newcomer gets on a losing streak—still completely befuddled by the game and what exactly is happening. When another team mate asks about the game and asks what TEGWAR stands for, he is told it means, “That Exciting Game Without Any Rules.” From - Gelles, R. J. (2007). the Politics of Research: the Use, Abuse, and Misuse of Social Science Data - the Cases of Intimate Partner Violence. Family Court Review, 45(1), 42–51.
- Reference is to the 1974 re issued Thouless, R. H. (1974). Straight and Crooked Thinking. Pan Macmillan.
- The 1982 reference is to "Research on Family Violence to Clinical Practice, Richard J. Gelles, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 9-20". Gelles does not redefine the Woozle effect in the 1982 paper. Gelles refers the reader to his earlier 1980 paper "J. Gelles, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 42, No. 4, Decade Review (Nov., 1980), pp. 873-885".
- Dutton refers to Francis Bacon (1620). Novum Organum - The New Organon or: True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature: "..here are idols that have come into men’s minds from various philosophical dogmas and from topsy-turvy laws of demonstration. I call these idols of the theatre, because I regard every one of the accepted systems as the staging and acting out of a fable, making a fictitious staged world of its own. I don’t say this only about the systems that are currently fashionable, or only about the ancient sects and philosophies; many other fables of the same kind may still be written and produced, seeing that errors can be widely different yet have very similar causes. And I’m saying this not only about whole systems but also about a good many principles and axioms in individual sciences - ones that have gathered strength through tradition, credulity, and negligence. But these various kinds of idols will have to be discussed more clearly and at greater length if the human intellect is to be adequately warned against them."Francis Bacon, Novum Organum - The New Organon or: True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature, 1620
- Advocacy Research: One kind of descriptive policy research, carried out by people who are deeply concerned about certain social problems, such as poverty or rape. Their studies seek to measure social problems with a view to heightening public awareness of them and providing a catalyst to policy proposals and other action to ameliorate the problem in question. Occasionally, advocacy research studies bend their research methods in order to inflate the magnitude of the social problem described, and thereby enhance the case for public action to address the issue. See Neil Gilbert's article: ‘Advocacy Research and Social Policy’, Crime and Justice (1997).
- Moral Panic: "A mass movement based on the false or exaggerated perception that some cultural behaviour or group of people is dangerously deviant and poses a threat to society's values and interests. Moral panics are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues."A Dictionary of Law Enforcement (2007),Graham Gooch, Michael Williams, Oxford University Press, ISBN:0-19-280702-1, page 246
- Roland D. Maiuro ; Tamara S. Hagar ; Hsin-hua Lin ; Natalie Olson (2001). "Are Current State Standards for Domestic Violence Perpetrator Treatment Adequately Informed by Research?: A Question of Questions". Domestic Violence Offenders: Current Interventions, Research, and Implications for Policies and Standards: 21–44.
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- Dutton, Donlad G. (2011), "6", Rethinking Domestic Violence, UBC Press, p. 110, ISBN 9780774859875, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SSJC_usBJ5kC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA110#v=onepage&q&f=false
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- Houghton, Beverly (7-10 November 1979), Review of research on women abuse, Annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Philidelphia
- Gelles, Richard.R (Nov) , "Violence in the Family: A Review of Research in the Seventies", Journal of Marriage and Family 42 (4): 873–885, JSTOR 10.2307/351830, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/351830, "This Is A Note"
- Verbatim 11 (4): 23, 1984, ""Sociology's first woozle seems to have appeared in 1979 in a lecture by Beverly Houghton before the American Society of Criminology. The term was then borrowed with acknowledgement for an articlethe family by R.J. Gelles in 1980 and it then became part of the title for an article by Walter Schumm and Others in 1982of family issues Sept pp 319-340).""
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- Forward By Straus, Murray A. (November 1974), The violent home: a study of physical aggression between husbands and wives (1st ed.), Sage Publications, pp. 13–17, ISBN 978-0-8039-0381-4, http://books.google.com/books?id=8nIXAAAAIAAJ, "Original Author Richard J. Gelles"
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