Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

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Today I’m thinking about data literacy.

A couple of months ago, there was a Dutch study that seemed to suggest that BDSMers are happier than the general population.  It was widely celebrated by segments of my twitter feed…segments that maybe didn’t look too closely at what else the study said.

I’ve been meaning to break it down but then William Saletan did a breakdown of this and other studies on BDSM that actually makes a lot of sense to me.  So I could just link you there and be done.  However, that would be very lazy so I’ll also point out a couple of things you maybe missed in your excitement.

Potential for sampling bias – this hits most of the BDSM and Alt Sex studies I’ve seen.  If you recruit from within BDSM organizations you are getting people who both exhibit the behavior and have the group affiliation.  There is an important lesson to be learned from the history of “Men who have Sex with Men” (MSM) that is that behavior and identity are different animals and you need to know which you’re speaking of.  When you recruit from within BDSM organizations you also miss people who engage in BDSM activities outside of social/public settings and people who may have been involved in the past but left due to bad experiences.

You are also coming into a group that sees itself as marginalized as an outsider, which introduces all sorts of research concerns not least of which center on respondent honesty.

It also seems that the much cited well-being score was actually highest for dominants in the test group and lowest for submissives (and according to William’s synopsis it seems there was only a statistically significant bump from the vanilla control for dominants?).

As appealing as the headline may be, just remember, statistics don’t lie but analysis is a son of a bitch.


Written by kinkinexile

July 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Posted in work

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