I don't usually read the Sunday Times. I don't really need to justify this, it's a matter of taste but what the hell. I don't read it because: (i) it's big and unwieldy and I don't know what to do with all the pieces, (ii) the political commentary is somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun (although from the owner of Fox News, not sure what else you'd expect), and (iii) it annoys the hell out of me. But this morning it was the paper delivered to the lovely hotel room in Paris where we were spending our anniversay weekend, and I do love to read the paper with my Sunday breakfast, and so I succumbed. And of course, it did annoy me. Specifically, this article, which contained the immortal quote:
Female fertility declines with age, so that women who have postponed childbearing discover they are unable to conceive when they want to do so. However, this is not the whole story: men are not only reluctant nowadays to commit themselves to women and children, but their own fertility is declining. More than half the patients at American fertility clinics are men.
Let's just consider that final sentence for a second, shall we? More than half? How many more than half? Because given that most patients at American Fertility clinics (and why the emphasis on American? Does he not have the figures for UK or European clinics?) are couples, surely approximately half will be men. So the sentence really doesn't mean anything helpful as it stands. Presumably the sentence should have read something like this:
Of the couples attending American fertility clinics, more than half find the cause of their infertility lies with the man.
However, this doesn't fit with the known stats. NIH says, for example, that approximately 30-40% of couples with infertility are dealing with 'male factor', while female factor accounts for 40-50%, and the rest is either combination or undiagnosed.
So what precisely was Mr Dalrymple trying to say? Perhaps it's just lazy journalism, he's copied it from the original book without thinking what it means. Or perhaps he is the victim of a poor copy editor. Either way, it's a very silly sentence.
And sadly the rest of the article is no better. Just a reiteration of stuff that's in the book he's reviewing, revealing a very slanted perspective on the topic. It's really barely a book review at all. Which is a shame as it doesn't help me decide if the book is worth a read or not, which is surely the point of a book review. Certainly if you read this article with an unjaundiced eye, you'd think the book is poor, but to be honest the reviewer seems to be so caught up in his own prejudices, and certainly hasn't invested any time in understanding the issues, so I've got no reason to believe he's pitched the review right.
There you go. Reason number 847 why I should never read the Sunday Times.
Typepad ate a post about our lovely weekend, I may or may not drum up the will to write it again. If not, lovely food, lovely husband, rubbish weather, baby kicking away, I'm a lucky woman.