Busted Halo
author archive
Christine B. Whelan :
214 article(s)

Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
November 26th, 2010

It’s the end of a semester-long course on Social Change at the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout the course, students mentioned the volunteer and social action groups that they were leading or participating in. So I gave them an opportunity to tell the class about their work.
It was inspiring.
We think American young-adults are too busy texting about the minutia of their lives to care about others? Yes, many are. But there are others that are making a difference:

A young woman helping food service employees push for better working conditions
A young man spear-heading a community service month for his classmates to help in their own town
A young woman gathering college students to mentor kids at a local…

November 19th, 2010

It’s nearly impossible for most Americans to separate out what they need from what they want. Why? Because our wants are turned into needs by advertising, the desire to “keep up with the Joneses” and a constantly changing consumer culture. But in their Well-Being survey, the good folks at Gallup attempt to separate the two – asking Americans if they feel they have enough money for the things they need, for the things that they want to do, and then cross-tabulating those responses with a question asking the respondent to rate his or her current and future life on a 0-to-10 scale, with higher satisfaction reports categorized as descriptions of “thriving.”
Some 60% of Americans…

November 17th, 2010

New from the Census: Among young Americans, women hold nearly 60% of advanced degrees.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported today more women than men are expected to occupy professions such as doctors, lawyers and college professors as they represent approximately 58 percent of young adults, age 25 to 29, who hold an advanced degree. In addition, among all adults 25 and older, more women than men had high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.
Study highlights:

We’re getting more educated as a population in general…: Overall, 87% of adults 25 and older had a high school diploma or more in 2009, and 30% of those hold at least a bachelor’s degree, continuing the steady rise for the 60 million Americans

November 12th, 2010

Interesting (and depressing) piece in a recent issue of the Economist — Sex and the single black woman:How the mass incarceration of black men hurts black women — reminds us that between 1970 and 2007, the proportion of married black women aged 30-44 dropped from 62% to 33%.
Why? From the Economist…:
Jail is a big part of the problem, argue Kerwin Kofi Charles, now at the University of Chicago, and Ming Ching Luoh of National Taiwan University. They divided America up into geographical and racial “marriage markets”, to take account of the fact that most people marry someone of the same race who lives relatively close to them. Then, after crunching the census numbers, they found that a one

November 10th, 2010

The way we think about learning environments is changing, argue the authors of a new report about how to better use technology in education. According to the K-12 Horizon Project Advisory Board report
More and more, the notion of the school as the seat of educational practice is changing as learners avail themselves of learning opportunities from other sources. There is a tremendous opportunity for schools to work hand-in-hand with alternate sources, to examine traditional approaches, and to reevaluate the content and experiences they are able to offer.
Translation: Game-based learning should be in our future. Classroom learning may soon be replaced by mentoring, online learning and independent study.…

November 8th, 2010
How the American dream of marriage and family is increasingly out of reach for the less educated

There’s a widening gap between the haves and have-nots in America — and this time the fault line is marriage. Educated young adults are marrying and thriving in their unions, while those with less education are more likely to cohabit, less likely to ever marry, and more likely to divorce if they do wed. The latest data to support this argument comes from the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends project analysis of sixty years of Census data, which finds that college-educated young adults are slightly more likely to marry by age 30 and significantly more likely to marry by age 40.
In my last column, I wrote about how the good news for educated Americans abounds: While men and women…

November 5th, 2010

Ah, efficiency.
A new study finds that fast-food makes college students more likely to make myopic choices.
Say the University of Toronto researchers, who published their results in the journal Psychological Science:
These findings suggest some ironic implications. Although time-saving goals can certainly increase time efficiency, the activation and pursuit of these goals upon exposure to fast-food concepts are automatic and not contingent on the context.…
Thus, exposure to fast food may increase reading speed whether one is at work, where time efficiency matters, or relaxing at home.
Now, let me be clear: I’m not hating on fast-food. And these are small studies. And the opinions of college kids

November 3rd, 2010

I came across an interesting — if not a bit confusing — podcast on the Freakonomics site: Stephen J. Dubner argues that between “Sea of Cheating and the valley of Lying, you’d come to the kingdom of Faking It.” A woman who keeps kosher, but loves to nibble on bacon when she’s out for brunch. A man who tells nosy colleagues about a fake desire to have children and a fictional membership in a local church. All for the sake of easing social situations.
Some would call these white lies. Others would call these out-right untruths. But I certainly wouldn’t call it “faking it.” Still, that quibble aside, Dubner writes:
Is all this faking a menace to society? Or do…

October 28th, 2010

Have you heard the story of Reed Sandridge, who, after getting laid off from his job, embarked on a Year of Giving? He goes out in search of perfect strangers, hands them $10 and asks for their personal story–which he posts on his blog.
I used to write a blog called “Character Sketches,” but this gives the phrase new meaning.
About 30% of the recipients of the $10 used it for food or beverages — like a latte. But the next most common use for the cash was to give it away to someone in need.
And if you read a story that moves you — someone who you might hire, someone whom you could introduce to a contact — Mr. Sandridge has a page for followup, where readers can lend a hand.
Says his brother,…

October 26th, 2010

A Gallup poll finds that those without a high-school diploma are 50% more likely to be underemployed than those with more education. Among those without a high-school diploma 36% are unemployed or working part-time but wanting full-time work, compared with about 20% of all Americans.
A focus on education, the Gallup folks conclude, is the answer:
The existence of such a large pool of less-educated workers who are underemployed presents the U.S. with both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to find a way to re-create job opportunities more rapidly than now projected so the nation doesn’t create a permanent underclass of willing, but less-educated workers who can’t find a job. The opportunity…

October 21st, 2010

Common phrases I hear from my students:

That exam was so gay.
Oh, come on, dude, don’t be gay about it.
… and then she totally queered the deal.

In a recent discussion about social changes in minority acceptance, I assigned a reading by C. J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You’re a Fag….
It prompted an interesting discussion: Saying someone or something is “gay” – in a specific tone of voice – is describing that person or thing in a negative context. As a loser, uncool or otherwise unfortunate. Is that an acceptable slang use of a word that is also used as a description of sexual preference?
Yes: It’s so commonly used that saying something is “gay” has lost any

October 20th, 2010

I’m a big fan of dark humor. So this headline
Family Gets In The Way Of Work For Materialistic Individuals

seemed right on the money.
The more materialistic individuals are, the more likely they are to view their family as an obstacle to work, finds a Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology …study published online recently.
Can’t buy me love? Right… because it might get in the way of making more money.
(Academic side note: It’s a small study – sample size of only 274 – so let’s not go too nuts over the results. But many other studies have linked materialistic personalities to myriad other bad things. Want to see how you fare on an academic scale of materialistic

October 14th, 2010

Here’s some weird research from the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Nearly 5000 women, most of whom were in their early 20s, were asked to participate in a quick online survey where they choose which male face they found to be most attractive. The photos were very similar – but one was made to be more “masculine” with a stronger jawline and bushier eyebrows – while another was given slightly finer features. Apparently, “manly men” are less attractive to women in healthier, modern countries. Reports the Freakonomics bloggers
In short, women in less healthy countries preferred more masculine men, perhaps for their evolutionary…

October 12th, 2010
New research proves that successful women aren't overqualified for love

While it’s probably not very Christian to say “I told you so” and do a little victory jig, I kinda can’t resist: New research came out this week that proves my demographic predictions about education and marriage from 2006 correct. In addition to some good-news data for college-educated young adults, there’s also a lesson to learn — one that you haven’t seen in the newspaper articles of the last few days. Here’s the story:
For years, newspapers and magazines have run stories about the so-called plight of the educated woman. The conventional wisdom was that women with a college or graduate degree were overqualified for love and unattractive to men. Social…

October 12th, 2010

Slate offers an interesting spin on the “contagiousness” research that I’ve been writing about recently, including a history of the concept of contagions. Yes, you are more likely to act in ways of virtue and vice depending on the behavior of friends and family.
Writes Dave Johns:
Perhaps the only thing more irresistible than these social germs is the contagion meme itself-in September, Christakis and Fowler’s work was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, and their book Connected… made Oprah’s fall reading list. The scientists seem to have hit on a simple recipe-socially contagious transmission, three degrees of separation-that has proved remarkably catching.

October 7th, 2010

One more to add to the series of social network studies out there: If your friends drink a lot, you will, too.
Writes Time.com
After a statistical analysis of social connections and alcohol consumption patterns, the researchers found that, like so many other things, drinking habits can be contagious: if a close connection (friend, relative, coworker) drank heavily-defined as an average of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men-participants were 50% more likely to drink heavily themselves; if someone connected by two degrees of separation (a friend of a friend) drank heavily, participants were 36% more likely to do so.
We’ve already seen that loneliness, happiness, obesity, self-control,…

October 5th, 2010

According to a recent working paper presented at Brookings, Garey Ramey and Valerie A. Ramey of the University of California at San Diego report that

Parents are spending more time with kids, even when both parents work outside the home
College-educated parents are now spending twice as much as time with their children than less-educated parents
The gap between well-educated and less-educated parents providing childcare is widening

Why the change-especially among college-educated parents? Drs. Ramey attribute the increase in time educated parents are spending with their children to an effort to get their kids into elite colleges. But oddly, the New York Times… coverage of this report makes no mention of

September 30th, 2010

I totally missed when it came out a few months back… and in case you, did, too, check out this Economix blog about whether the bad economy might reshape our collective morality.
My colleague Jesse McKinley has a fascinating article today about how legal-marijuana advocates are promoting the fiscal virtues of their cause. Not coincidentally, another banned substance was legalized in the wake of major economic upheaval: alcohol, during the Great Depression. The “Noble Experiment” known as Prohibition ended in 1933, when a legalized alcohol market promised more job opportunities and additional sales tax revenues for governments under stress.
I’m curious how much today’s economic pressures…

September 28th, 2010

“If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other,” sang Groove Armada. Are we in danger of that happening?
Photographer Zed Nelson thinks so. In a series of photographs, he documents what he sees as a world-wide spike in plastic surgery to make everyone look alike.
He told The New York Times…:
“Globalization hasn’t just given us Starbucks in Beijing and shopping malls in Africa… It is also creating an eerily homogenized look.”

“The worldwide pursuit of body improvement has become like a new religion… I imagined the project in some way like a body of evidence, perhaps for a future generation, to see a point in history where the abnormal

September 23rd, 2010

In the Wall Street Journal… and then featured again on their terrific blog, The Juggle, there’s a great discussion about financial lessons children should learn. Here’s the list (see graphic) of 15 Money Rules parents should teach children.
These are terrific, and ones that big kids should (re)learn, too.
Millennials are a generation of young-adults raised during a time when the savings rate for households dipped below zero and where credit card debt spiked. Some young adults watched as their parents gambled on state lotteries or were taken for a ride by pay-day loan agencies separating the less savvy (or desperate) from their cash, while others learned terrible lessons about easy-credit as their

powered by the Paulists