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Probe Ministries > Q & A: Probe Answers Our Email > Marriage / Family > Stop Posting Patently False Data!


Stop Posting Patently False Data! Print E-mail

I came across this statement in your article on Adultery:

"How prevalent is adultery? The exact answer to that question is unclear. Accurate statistics on extramarital affairs are nearly impossible to establish because many people are unwilling to admit to an affair. Also, sociologists have found that some people may overstate their sexual behavior while others may understate their sexual behavior. "But given those disclaimers, we can say that approximately two out of every three married men commit adultery and one out of every two wives. The 1990 Kinsey Report suggests these numbers may be too high, but several marriage and family therapists judge the Kinsey numbers to be extremely conservative, if not totally inaccurate. Some other studies propose even higher numbers than the ones given above. For example, Sherry Hite argues in her controversial book that 70 percent of women married for more than five years are having sex outside their marriages and 72 percent of men married more than two years are not monogamous."

It is outrageously in error. One is entitled to one's opinion, of course, but it is horrendously misleading to suggest that opinion can be equated with fact. If one does not wish to recognize current social science research on the topic of adultery, one could at least say that the rate is not known.

Posting patently false data demeans the whole Christian movement by implying that Christians are either incompetent or even worse, will distort data to meet their own message.

By all that is Holy, please stop this nonsense!

 
 
The problem we have with our articles is that they start out as radio program transcripts for Christian radio stations. We are talking to a lay audience, not a scholarly audience. We are talking to a Christian audience, not a secular audience. These are radio transcripts, not scholarly journal articles.

When I wrote a program on adultery, I tried to answer the kinds of questions that a lay person might ask. How prevalent is it? Why does it happen? How can I prevent it from happening in my marriage?

In trying to answer the first question, I found a wide range of estimates and opinion. So I gave an estimate and spent 30 seconds talking about the range by quoting from people the listeners would probably know.

Contrary to what you said, I did NOT quote Alfred Kinsey (who I would admit has been discredited). I did quote from a 1990 survey by the Kinsey Institute. I also cited Sherry Hite's controversial book (my words) to show that her numbers were much too high. A woman reading an article on affairs in Redbook or Cosmopolitan would probably see one of those names (Kinsey, Hite) within the article.

I spent probably less than 30 seconds on the topic and moved on to make the case that this is a problem within the church by quoting from The Journal of Pastoral Care and Leadership magazine.

You seem to think that I should quote from current social science research. That misses the point. If I were writing for a social science journal, I would do so. I'm writing a radio program for a Christian radio station which will probably be heard by a middle-aged housewife.

Another example would be the criticism I received on my pornography trancript. I found a footnote from the Attorney General's Commission on pornography comparing adult bookstores to McDonalds. The criticism was that it was a bogus figure. That is always possible, but it was cited in U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.

Since that criticism, I've contacted various anti-porn groups and found that they estimate that there are approximately 15,000 adult bookstores and another 40,000 video stores (of which about half are estimated to violate obscenity laws). That would mean there are about 35,000 stores that in one way or another distribute pornography.

In the future, I may just use the 35,000 store figure on radio, but it won't be as effective as doing a comparison to McDonalds restaurants. One of the things you learn about radio is to not use too many numbers or statistics (Did he say 5 billion or 5 million? Was that 57% or 67%?). And consider the fact that we are already receiving criticism from radio stations because they feel our content is too academic. In the last two years alone, we have lost a number of big radio stations for that very reason.

Perhaps you can see my concern. Your criticism is that the Probe articles aren't scholarly enough and too simplistic. But the criticism from the radio stations is that we are too academic, too complex, too hard to follow.

It is a dilemma.

Kerby Anderson
Probe Ministries


About the Author

Kerby AndersonKerby Anderson is president of Probe Ministries International. He holds masters degrees from Yale University (science) and from Georgetown University (government). He is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics in Plain Language, Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope and Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times. His new series with Harvest House Publishers includes: A Biblical Point of View on Islam, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design and A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare. He is the host of "Point of View" (USA Radio Network) heard on 360 radio outlets nationwide as well as on the Internet (www.pointofview.net) and shortwave. He is also a regular guest on "Prime Time America" (Moody Broadcasting Network) and "Fire Away" (American Family Radio). He produces a daily syndicated radio commentary and writes editorials that have appeared in papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.

 

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075
(972) 941-4565

info@probe.org
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