This is not Sarah, who was called away on some mysterious errand, which I am almost certain has nothing whatsoever to do with taking over the world and leaving it ruthlessly alone. Couldn’t possibly be. And we know where Larry Correia is, so they aren’t plotting, right? And Kate Paulk? Because that would be very, very…. interesting… Yes, interesting, that’s the word I want.
Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or remember information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses.
Now that you’re back, and done sputtering over the utter nonsense about the Starship Troopers movie, I’ll begin again. The problem with polls and surveys is that, of course, the people conducting them see what they want to see in the results. In that first link, none of the references given are what I’d call scholarly, and some are downright skeevy. In the second one, the guy wanted to make a point, no matter how far he had to stretch to find it (Mr. Elastic, is that you? Not so fantastic…). And in the final one, when you ask for opinions, you can’t treat them as facts. Which is, of course, the whole point behind infographics and memes. People trust numbers. No, don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Dave is probably your man when it comes to that, I am a mere padawan of statistics comparably. But people don’t ask what is going on to generate those numbers, if they say what they want them to say.
Time did a piece recently, based on a poll of readers in England, that they say shows most men prefer male authors, and most women prefer female authors. How do they know? They don’t really. Here’s the thing. They included, for instance, a book written by Robert Galbraith with the women authors. Why? Well, because the surveyors knew that Robert Galbraith was really a woman. But they don’t seem to care that the readers didn’t. Frankly, I don’t bother to research whether that book I just picked up was written by a male or a female. I bought a book yesterday by an author with an ambiguous name. I didn’t check the picture on the inside cover to make sure it was the right gender (hard to do on an ebook!). I’m fairly sure that were I to poll all of you, O Readers wise and wonderful, you would respond similarly.
So what about that book I bought? What inspired me to get it? Well, as it happens I know the author. Actually, I bought two books yesterday, and I knew both authors. One is a buy-on-sight author (and that book was free, anyway) and the other is someone I think is a nice person, and I want to try more by them. So of the two new releases, I looked at blurbs, thought ‘that looks like fun’ and it wasn’t terribly expensive, so I went for it. This is roughly what my usual process is for buying a book. I don’t care if the author has purple polka dots and is a neuter gender, I just want a good read. I certainly don’t go around asking if anyone knows who a good female writer of, say, military science fiction is. If I want a list of good military science fiction, I don’t give a damn who/what wrote it.
So can you guess the gender of this author? (those of you who know this book, no spoilers!)
The woman who answered the door was wearing the most amazing shirt. Knitted silk, I think, it clung to her like a second skin, and even though it was dark blue, managed to be transparent. I could see the shadowed curves of a truly magnificent rack, terminating in the slightly darker shadows of her aureoles. I swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry. She was looking over my head, and I had seen all this in the time it took her to utter a grumpy “what the hell?” and look down at me.
It was heroic, but I managed to meet her eyes. They widened as she took in all four foot five of me. “You’re a pixie,” she blurted.
I must have been thrown off balance by the boobs, that’s all I can figure. We’re not supposed to admit anything of the sort, dammit. I croaked out a witty response.
She slammed the door in my face.
The Grammarly poll asked for opinions, and got them. Are you a male and want to be taken for a female writer? Spend lots of time developing your characters. Also, meander, and take a while getting to the point. These are a couple of the things that people believe about female writers rather than males. Can you tell if a man wrote this, or a female? You can try. Chances are you’ll guess right. But that’s because men and women do tend to think differently and focus on different things. But not all women are all about shoes and shopping, and not all men are all about action and adventure. It would be a mistake to stereotype, but that is exactly what these surveys are doing. They are saying that men only like to read manly books, which they anticipate from a masculine author’s name, and women prefer the softer, gentler side, which they expect from a feminine name.
Frankly, my dear, I’ll read what I damn well please.
(in totally unrelated news, I’m running a special Christmas sale on my paper books, signed. Look here if you’re curious.)