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Ezra Zuckerman Sivan @ewzucker
, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
A lot of engagement w this reax to… but few takers. Here’s another shot, formulated as an hypothesis, building to a Q for @AdamMGrant & other soc scientists:

Hyp: A male UG bursting into tears in a male prof’s office about grades is an extremely rare event
Why is it rare?
* Strong norms against crying in professional settings in general
* Bursting into tears is esp rare display of emotion in our society, a loss of control generally considered OK only during major personal ruptures
* Norms ag crying are esp strong for young men
* Such norms are (I think?) esp strong in presence of other men
* Any culturally competent member of US society would know that crying over an A minus is an occasion for ridicule rather than sympathy
* The tears were apparently not crocodile tears (perhaps meant to change grade)
The upshot is that this is an extremely unlikely event. There is no reason to doubt it occurred (extremely rare events are the most salient features of our experience) but plenty of reason not to present it, as @AdamMGrant does, as the tip of a very large iceberg. To be sure,
the iceberg (obsessive focus on grades) seems real and problematic. Moreover, it seems rhetorically more effective to draw the reader in to a treatment of an iceberg by telling a story about an especially dramatic iceberg-tip.

So here’s the question:
Q: When is it ok to use extremely unlikely-if-evocative anecdotes to motivate public attention to social problems? And if OK, should the author explain that that’s what he’s up to?
P.S. My guess is that this incident says as much about the professor (whose manner may be unusual in signaling that such behavior would find sympathy) as the student. As such, it might be worth asking my Q specifically in the context of *personal* anecdotes.
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