Saturday, December 22, 2012

In which I use Facebook to test a journalist's hypothesis ...

On Tuesday, I read the following article on CNN On gun control, two places to start by Anil Dash.  In it, he present two points about the debate over gun control and argues that, via discussions on social media, he has determined that most everyone can see these two points as common ground and, from there, we can achieve a productive dialogue.

I wondered - after seeing much back and forth on my facebook feed over the past week - if the contention that everyone could accept these initial premises is correct, so I decided to test it.

On Wednesday morning, I put up the two points and a link to the article. I didn't include any of my opinion, nor did I "like" or respond to any comments.  Over the next 6 hours (from when I put up the article until the last commenter), 10 people reacted.  I'll admit, the sample size was way smaller than I would have hoped, especially as I have over 500 friends, many of whom are very outspoken, but, perhaps after days of discussion, people were deliberately avoiding the topic.  Here are the results:

4 "likes" - all women, all mothers

6 commenters - 4 male and 2 female.

The 4 males, 2 with children, 2 without, all argued their viewpoints.
One female stated that she agreed with the points of consensus in the article.
One female asked one of the males for a point of clarification.

Of course, this sample is too small to extrapolate any real information, but I did find it suggestive,  These "results," if you'll indulge me, reminded me of the story of King Solomon and the baby.  The true mother was willing to give up her child to keep it safe, while the false mother was fine with cutting the baby in half if she got her share.  In this instance, the women, most mothers, were happy to find points of common ground to build from, while the man were caught up in arguing their viewpoints.

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, indeed.

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