An Instance Of How “The Science” Is Produced: Gender Equality Edition

This post is, as they say, in the weeds. But it’s necessary for those who want to know how The Science is produced.

I saw a tweet, the veracity of which I can’t speak to, that purportedly was from the UN’s Women-something-or-other agency, posted on something called International Woman’s Day. It was about violence against journalists. Which, if you’re like me, you didn’t realize was a crime. But it is, and they said of all attacks, 6% (or whatever) were against women in some earlier period, lately rising to 11%. Meaning when a reporter is attached, 9 out of 10 times it’s a man.

The kicker was that the bureaucrat who wrote the tweet shrieked something like, “Stop violence against women reporters!”

This was brought to mind when I read the peer-reviewed study “Gender equality related to gender differences in life expectancy across the globe gender equality and life expectancy” by the doubly-hyphenated Ana-Catarina Pinho-Gomes, and others, in PLOS Global Public Health.

They make a thing of women’s life expectancy, saying how bad women have it in various locales struggling along without Equity, that Goal of all goals. Yet even they are forced to point out that women’s life expectancy is everywhere higher than men’s.

Indeed, by their own picture (Fig. 1), even in times and places where life expectancy increases for everybody, and even where it doesn’t, the Expectancy Gap, if we can call it that, between women and men remains about constant. Women have it better. They live longer than men.

Which must mean that since men and women are Equal, as the theory of Equality demands, it being in some places illegal or financially disadvantageous to deny, the Expectancy Gap must be caused by sexism, of women against men.

Shocking, ain’t it.

Not only that, but the authors say, “Climate change is also likely to have a larger impact on women than men and also carry more adverse health consequences for women than men”. Why? Does it matter? World Ends, Women Hardest Hit.

And so we come to the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI), a gift from the World Economic Forum, an index (and subindexes) which “focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels.” Then came the “linear regressions” between GGGI “and change in the gender gap in LE, LE for women and LE for men between 2010 and 2020.” The latter two are not, of course, independent of the “gap”. They did this by country.

I hate to ask you to read this, but here are the first “findings”:

Between 2010 and 2020, there was no statistically significant association between the change in the mGGGI and the change in the gender gap in LE (0.00 95% CI [-0.03 to 0.03] years per 1% increase in the mGGGI; p = 0.985) (Fig 2). There was also no statistically significant association between the change in the mGGGI and the change in LE for women and men (-0.01 [-0.10 to 0.09] years per 1% increase in the mGGGI, p = 0.913 for women and 0.00 [-0.11 to 0.10] years per 1% increase in the mGGGI, p = 0.928 for men) (Figs 3 and 4). The lack of a statistically significant association was comparable across world regions. There was no statistically significant association between the change in the economic and political subindexes and the changes in the gender gap in LE or LE for women and men (S3 Table).

If you skipped, which is understandable, they said there was no signal: GGGI and life expectancy gap had nothing to do with one another, across countries from 2010 and 2020.

In other words: nothing to see here.

So why’d they write a paper? Because they kept playing and twisting the data to “discover” a signal they were sure was there. They did this plot, for just two years instead of all their data, and called it “Cross-sectional association between the mGGGI and gender gap in life expectancy in 2020/1.”.

Look like there’s a signal to you?

Well, there is. But I removed it, via some Gimp magic (see their original Fig. 5; and the same for just women and just men, which are not independent). They managed to squeeze a wee p-value out of this because of those two blue and green dots on the lower left. Here is the original:

That’s it. The weak nothing. Yet they conclude, “Globally, greater gender equality is associated with longer LE for both women and men.”


That was turned by NPR, which really should be renamed NPC, into this ripe headline: “Where there’s gender equality, people tend to live longer“.

Both women and men are likely to live longer when a country makes strides towards gender equality, according to a new global study that authors believe to be the first of its kind.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health this week, just ahead of International Women’s Day. It adds to a growing body of research showing that advances in women’s rights benefit everyone.

That’s it. That’s how The Science is done.

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Categories: Statistics

11 replies »

  1. Hmmmm….just as I had thought – they pull The Science straight out of their……..

    Briggs, they’re Scientists *genuflect here*. We Believe in Science.

  2. ”That’s how The Science is done.”

    If “The Science” is that stupid then why is it so successful?

  3. Briggs ==> The real finding is that: “Where people live longer, people live longer — both males and females.”

    Now, that is no real surprise. They could have just texted me, and I could have told them that in just those 11 words.

  4. “Which must mean that since men and women are Equal, as the theory of Equality demands, it being in some places illegal or financially disadvantageous to deny, the Expectancy Gap must be caused by sexism, of women against men.”

    C’mon. You underestimate their mendacity. I don’t even need to look it up. No doubt I’m quoting someone here: men’s shorter lifespans are due to men’s bad decisions, and women’s lifespans would be *even longer* if not for the awful things men do!

  5. At least those three dots on the left look like they might be on a line, if you ignore the rest of the data plot.

    I’ve seen “lines of best fit” plotted to plots of data that almost uniformly filled a square. As usual, then line was then referred to as the “real behavior” with the observations just “noise.”

  6. Never before has been such an abundance of ideas, of narcissistic morality boaster, of donations [potlatch] and grants, and malfunctions caused by talking down complex consequences and irrational reason.

  7. “It adds to the growing body of research”, and that’s the main purpose: another “peer reviewed paper” to add to the Steaming Pile, civil rights and reparations division; “Body of research”, while less accurate, sounds solid and unassailable. Most importantly, it implies consensus.

    If I understand correctly, 20 years of data didn’t back their premise, so they spindled two years that happen to coincide with Covid lockdowns, made it into dots on a graph, drew a line through some of the dots in an upward angle to show the desired trend, and called it “a cross-sectional association.”

    “This is how they do The Science” says Professor Briggs, as he lifts the curtain.

    There IS one place where there’s tangible evidence of “gender inequality” affecting life expectancy, and that’s in that most dangerous place of all, the mother’s womb: all around the world, girl-babies are killed at a much higher rate than boy-babies.

    Sex-selective abortion has been commonplace for decades now, and given the choice, most people in most countries still prefer to have boys; for example, Communist China now has almost 40 million “excess” military age males, due to its previous “one child” policy. Maybe someone can model how the rise in sex-selective abortion correlates to the rise of the arms industry, which seems to be doing pretty well these days.

  8. Ann Cherry–

    “Steaming Pile: Civil Rights and Reparations Division”

    I can see that signage painted on some high-paid, DEI-hired bureaucrat’s office door.

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