Summary: A few months ago, sociologist Phillip Cohen blogged about a feminist viral statistic meme, which claims that women own less than 1% of all the world's wealth. It turns out, a credible source for this figure can't be traced and is unlikely to exist. As Cohen's post reminds us, the very statistics that shape how we understand the world are sometimes little more than elaborately disguised rumors. So what about other influential statistics? What about that viral statistic which states that women earn about 77 cents for every dollar men earn? When people have denied gender inequality exists and when they have implied it is unnecessary to enact policies aimed at eradicating it, the 77-cent statistic has often come to the rescue and thwarted derailment, so whether the statistic is accurate is an important question. In the above clip, Republican Party strategist Alex Castellanos asserts the 77-cent statistic is untrue. Could it be just another viral statistic meme without a source? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that 77 cents is an average, and the number varies based on profession, age, and race. The 77-cent statistic can easily be traced to a respectable source--the Census Bureau (the U.S. Bureau of Labor calculates the number differently and arrives at about 81 cents on the male dollar). The point is society needs an accurate description of the world, lest our dominant understanding of the world become solely derived from eloquently stated assertions by elites with narrow interests. In part, this clip makes a good case for the potential importance of sociology, and in particular, a sociology that checks its sources. It is also important to have a sociology that is capable of setting the record straight, if only to rebuke those talking heads who seek to confuse the public with baseless assertions. In this clip, Alex Castellanos' baseless assertion begins at about the 7:35 mark.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist