Busted!

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By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, August 31, 2008

I am looking at the results of a recent highly scientific study titled "Bikinis Instigate Generalized Impatience in Intertemporal Choice." After men were allowed to fondle lingerie and look at a video of hundreds of breathtakingly sexy women stampeding through a jungle in skimpy swimsuits, the study found, the men's judgment became impaired. Once aroused, they were less likely to cut shrewd deals in simple business negotiations.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that these results are about as scientifically surprising as proving that when a person falls down, he goes boom.

This was my view, too, until I called my friend Gina Barreca, the feminist scholar. Unlike me, Gina has a real education, advanced degrees and an actual work ethic. So, unlike me, Gina read the whole study, including the fine print and earlier papers from the same researchers.

Gina: Okay, this is fascinating!

Gene: It is? Couldn't you have predicted this result?

Gina: Of course I could have predicted it. Gooba the cave-

woman could have predicted it, and she probably did. She sat around with the other female Neanderthals, giggling and bragging: "Watch. Me bend over. Me make Oog stupid."

Gene: So... ?

Gina: So it's not the conclusion that's interesting; it's the methodology.

Gene: Well, in one test, men were offered a small amount of money immediately or an opportunity for a larger amount if they waited. In another, two men try to outthink each other in a game of financial chicken. In each case, after guys got besotted by bikini bobble, they made careless, impulsive, unwise choices compared with the control groups, plus or minus the standard deviation.

Gina: Zzzzzz.

Gene: You said the methodology was interesting!


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