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This picture's actual title: "Clay Sculpture Of A Mad Blond Woman
Screaming At Her Husband Or Children"


You might have read the article in the Sunday Times that began:
"It really is a case of blonde ambition. Women with fair hair are more aggressive and determined to get their own way than brunettes or redheads, according to a study by the University of California."
You almost certainly encountered one of the innumerable lazy filler articles in other publications that subsequently ripped it off. "Pigshit," you thought (I hope). Well, as Private Eye relates [1], so did the man who the Sunday Times claimed to be quoting:
"Blonde Women Born to be Warrior Princesses," roared the Sunday Times last month over news of "a study by the University of California" which apparently proved that "blondes are more likely to display a 'warlike' streak because they attract more attention than other women and are used to getting their own way".

The article quoted Dr Aaron Sell of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology in Santa Barbara as telling the paper: "We expected blondes to feel more entitled than other young women - this is Southern California, the natural habitat of the privileged blonde". But Sell didn't say any such thing and nor did he conduct any research into blondes.

He has co-written a paper for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which tests "11 predictions derived from the recalibrational theory of anger", but nowhere in it do the words "blonde" or "hair" appear. He did have a long chat with Sunday Times hack John Harlow about his work, during which, he says, "I told him that my research did not look at blondes at all. At his request, and as a courtesy to him, I reanalysed our unpublished data to see if there was any relationship between being blonde and any variable I measured. There was not, and I told him so... Specifically, I told him, based on our data, blonde women do not feel more entitled, blonde women do not feel more attractive than other women, blonde women are not more militaristic". Oh, and "I did not refer to Southern California as the 'homeland of the privileged blonde'".

Sell's scathing letter to Sunday Times editor John Witherow demands that he "immediately remove all references to me from this article, immediate remove every claim about blonde women attributed to me and my colleagues in this article; all of them are false", and "after you have investigated, please retract the articles and issue a correction".

What response has he had? "John Harlow, the author of the piece, wrote me an odd email trying to explain where he got the quotes from," Sell tells the Eye. "I still haven't seen a retraction and the website wouldn't publish my comment pointing out the errors in the piece."
[1] This article doesn't appear on its website, otherwise obviously I would just have linked to that instead of typing the damn thing out.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
chiller
Feb. 16th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Raar. &c.

There was an article in the Mail (gasp) a week or so ago about men preferring to shag blondes, but marry brunettes because they think they're more trustworthy.

Speaking as a blonde, this might have contributed to blondes being a bit warlike, if it weren't utter steaming bollocks.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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