This is Bait

There’s a recent medical study that says men out punch women by 162%, and even the weakest man is stronger than the strongest woman. This really discouraged me to even stick to weight lifting and training tbh. There’s no point

So, as the title states, this bait hit our inbox last week. Normally, the appropriate response would be deep six this, but let’s use it for educational purposes. I’m holding out the possibility that the person sending this was being misled by someone else. I don’t think it’s likely, but their ask is worth debunking.

First, I’m not going to bother searching for that medical study. You notice, it doesn’t say, “a published study.” In fact it says, “recent,” which suggests that it hasn’t been published yet, and is still undergoing peer review. This creates the illusion that you’re getting in on credible information first, and all that’s left is the formalities. What it really means no one’s checked to see if the article is anything more than an angry screed written on dirty cocktail napkins.

In theory, a published study was examined by other academics in the field. (In the case of medical studies, we’re talking doctors, probably in that specialty.) They’ve examined the data sets. They’ve determined that the data supports the claims made. In controversial cases, they may even try to replicate the results before signing off.

The process of academic publishing isn’t perfect, but it does weed out a lot of garbage “research.” A couple high school students who grabbed some football players and cheerleaders could be described as, “conducting a medical study,” and it would probably return results very similar to this. If you submitted that to peer-review, you would be mauled for drawing those conclusions from your data set.

In fairness, peer-review struggles with outright deception. If a researcher (for example, Andrew Wakefield) decides to wholesale invent their data set, and that data would be difficult or time consuming to replicate, reviewers are less likely to take the time and expense to reproduce the results. That’s not the case here, because the conclusions are absurd, and the data set would be trivial to replicate. (Or, more accurately, it would be trivial to debunk the data set.)

The reason I said you’d be mauled for drawing those conclusions is two-fold.

First, impact force from punching isn’t strength. In fact, a body builder will have a harder time punching, because all that extra muscle mass will get in the way and slow them down. The critical element to being able to strike someone is knowing how to punch, not raw strength. Ask anyone who’s had any background in martial arts. This is also a warning sign about the researchers. (Whether they exist at all.)

The claim that men (universally) punch 162% harder than women is bullshit. This isn’t a video game. You don’t do a fixed amount of hand-to-hand damage every time you take a swing. You’d be hard pressed to generate that statistic in the first place, simply because you couldn’t legitimately get consistent data by gender. To say nothing of being able to cross compare.

The second claim is laughable. Or at least, would be if there weren’t idiots out there who take it at face value.

I’m not sure if, Rebecca “Becca” Swanson is the world’s strongest woman, but I do know she can dead lift over 680lbs, and she’s not the only female power lifter. So, you’re trying to tell me this phantom study found that every man on the planet can bench over 600lbs? I have questions about the drugs these researchers were on.

Becca Swanson also, excellently, underlines the stupidity of anyone arguing against the strength of women. Particularly when they try to resort to sloppy pseudoscience disguised as actual research.

A problem in research is that you cannot check everyone. There’s nearly eight billion people on Earth. It’s far too much work to study all of them at once. With that in mind, researchers will select “sample populations” of people. You can’t check everyone, but you can deal with a couple hundred people. That’s doable. Particularly if you have other researchers, or research assistants, helping collect the data. A reputable researcher will try to get a representative population. There will be statistical errors, but you try to minimize or acknowledge them. A less scrupulous researcher may try to cherry pick their population to support an agenda.

This is where sexism (and outright misogyny) collide with with science. There’s a long, and very shameful history of science being used to justify prejudices. Much like science being used to justify racism, there’s a tradition of “scientific research” using irrelevant or misleading physiological data to support misogyny.

There is also an issue here: The medical field is struggling with a lot of institutional sexism. This ranges from women being under-researched and under-diagnosed. It is a serious health issue. Doctors are, statistically, more likely to disregard a woman’s reported symptoms than a man’s. Medical issues that predominantly affect women are far less researched. In recent years medical researchers and doctors have become more aware of this, and it looks like change is coming, but this is a real problem.

The point to life is what we create for ourselves. No one else can live your life. No one else can tell you who you are. There is no point in letting small-minded little shits shut you down.


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