Yesterday everyone, including us, went all frothy for a story about blonde women being more war-like and determined than others. Turns out it was kind of false. Here's how it spread.
We took our story from the BBC. Who in turn took it from the London Sunday Times.
"I'm afraid you, and thousands of others for that matter, have been badly misinformed," said Aaron Sell, the researcher credited with the findings, in an email. "I have never done any research that shows blondes are more aggressive, entitled, angry or "warlike" than brunette or redheads."
What he did find, in this research on anger, was that women who view themselves as pretty, and stronger men, tend to be more entitled. According to Ryan Sager at True/Slant, the mixup came about because the reporter for the Sunday Times got Sell to break down his research by hair color. Here's what he found after that breakdown, according to Sager:
Blonde women do _not_ feel more entitled.
Blonde women are _not_ more prone to anger
Blonde women do _not_ feel more attractive than other women.
Blonde women are _not_ more militaristic.
He, and we, have no idea how the Sunday Times got from that to the headline 'Blonde women born to be warrior princesses.' The BBC corrected their story, in a kind of 'we never did anything wrong really' way.
They might as well have said 'we did it because it was sexy'. Because that's sure as hell why we, and hundreds of other outlets, didn't look too carefully into it. We have now self-flagellated and read this, in the New York Times, about vetting new news sources carefully, and will end with this quote from David Axelrod, in a piece from yesterday's New Yorker on the non-stop news cycle, that makes us sound good but pressured:
There are some really good journalists there, really superb ones. But the volume of material they have to produce just doesn't leave a whole lot of time for reflection.