Quick Updates on Sex/Stats and Latour

As I promised before I got almost entirely caught up in working hard on my final assignments, I asked Kevin Gotkin to pass along the Latour analogy sheet he compiled for our class. Download it here, and enjoy!

Besides, I wanted to share the abstract of the Tukey/Kinsey paper I am currently working on. I shared my research proposal with you earlier. I will not post the whole thing, because I intend to make this a publishable article. Thus, this is only meant to stimulate your thoughts, and maybe you would like to share them (comment or email!).

During the years 1950–1952, John W. Tukey served on a review committee to assess Alfred C. Kinsey’s sex research on methodological terms. He and two other statisticians agreed to exclude all non-technical and non-expositional matters from their review. Drawing mostly on their correspondence within these two years, this paper traces the political and personal threads which made it impossible for the evaluators to live up to this claim. Against the background of sexuality as highly contested category during the McCarthy era, negotiations with Kinsey and his funding institutions became an important part of the review group’s work. Upholding the view that sound data and proper methods could produce objective validity required a virtual enclosure of the statistical review group: Their internal communication differed widely from the published appraisal; Tukey was the most ambiguous and dynamic character in this connection. This incidence sheds light on an early stage of Tukey’s career, which later led him to become an influential contributor to Cold War science and policy.


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