Three Dollars a Mind

Turns out that armchair activists like yours truly, who sit and analyse issues and write op-eds, are not completely useless!

A new study by David Kirby, Emily Ekins and Alexander Coppock finds that op-eds (opinion pieces in newspapers) actually do end up persuading their readers. General readers are apparently persuaded in a larger number compared to ‘elites’, from a sample of US readers with different political leanings. While the observed effect of persuasion drops by half after 10 days of reading an op-ed, that effect lingered and lasted for much longer.

Analysing the costs of persuading a single reader, Kirby et al find that:

Based on the cost of producing an op-ed, the number of people likely to read it, and its ability to sway a reader’s opinion, the researchers estimated that an op-ed costs from about 50 cents to $3 per mind changed.

[Science Daily, April 24, 2018]

The key to this is to figure out how many people even read op-eds. Even in the United States, a New York Times op-ed can only hope to get 500,000 readers, and a Newsweek op-ed can get only about 50,000 readers. The numbers in India would be drastically smaller.

Ping me on twitter if you want to take a look at the full text of the paper.

Hat-tip to Raju Narisetti for sharing the paper on Twitter.

Incels and Tinder Taming

When I read Amit Varma’s post on Incels, I couldn’t help but think of this piece I’d come across while doing research for my book Between the buyer and the seller.

Written by Dustin Silgardo in Man’s World, this piece talks about Incels (yay, now I can use that word!) in India, and how dating apps such as Tinder have suddenly laid (no pun intended) bare the possibility that a large section of Incels in India can’t get dates because nobody wants to date them.

Silgardo writes:

In the online dating world, where men outnumber women by close to three to one, men, thus far protected by the perceived power a patriarchal society heaps upon them, are being forced to face an inconvenient possibility: perhaps they are just not that attractive.

And this:

Indian men, on the other hand, are sheltered from this truth and are cocooned by the promise of a dainty woman served to them on a platter, via an arranged marriage. This complete lack of awareness that Indian men seem to have of their own sex appeal is quite apparent from some profiles on Tinder.

Go read the whole piece. It will give you excellent insight into the world of Indian Incels.

And while you’re at it, read the part of my book where I used this article by Silgardo as well! And hopefully you’ll like that, in which case you might want to read my whole book (tongue in cheek)!

The Incels are Coming

The journalist Arshy Mann has an excellent tweet thread up that introduced me to a new word — and a new movement. Here’s the tweet defining it:

In that thread, Mann writes about how Incels–men who can’t get laid–are “almost entirely men who are laser-focused on their inability to have sex.” They “blame women,” and are “virulently misogynistic.” Incels “often play out violent fantasies online,” and these can include “acid attacks & mass rapes.”

Mann’s thread was in the context of a terrorist attack that killed ten people in Toronto yesterday.

The problem, you think, is far from our shores? Well, do read this piece by Simon Denyer and Annie Gowen that reveals that “men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.”

That should lead to many homegrown Incels, right? What happens then?