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11/22/04
Kinsey, A Movie Review by Victor Niederhoffer

The movie Kinsey is the story of a mad scientist without knowledge or appreciation of the subject he is studying pursued by demons. It is reminiscent of the passionate quest of the magicians that populate our own field.  The errors that the doctor makes when extending his methods of classifying gull wasps to human sex acts are instructive to counter the earthquake scientists and end of world people and spiritualists that populate our own field. The movie uses the interview method that Kinsey used to gather subjects for his 1940's books Sexual Behavior of the Human Male and Female to illuminate his own life. We saw his father classifying his son's own sins, his own attempts to classify humans like wasps, and his attempts to create a moral atmosphere among his assistants that paralleled his own views concerning morality.

Liam Neeson plays a perfect mad scientist who we've all seen so often in our classes teaching a class that he has no knowledge of aside from the descriptive nomenclature and specialized techniques that he applies to them. What's particularly reprehensible here is that the movie tries to make it seem like the world is crazy and the scientist is the hero as he applies one faulty technique after another. All of Kinsey's work is useless because he used quota sampling. He sampled people haphazardly from prisons and mental institutions and bars. He then encouraged the subjects to find him other volunteers. The questions he asked were all content based, designed to further his view that any form of sex was normal for the human animal and that the emotions of love, romance, and the reflections on longer term consequences had no content. The interviewers were part of a sordid web of biased and underpaid researchers passionately hoping to elicit and participate in the conclusions of the study. Like the polls of today that are conducted in the main by those who wish the government to do something whatever the cost or effect on incentives, the interviewers directly or indirectly intimidated their subjects into giving the answers they desired showing prevalence of deviant behavior.

The best passages to me relate to the dinner with Huntington Hartford, a man I played Paradise Tennis with who was even more libertine than Dr. Kinsey but who was unsettled by Kinsey's passionate departure from real life concerns and problems. So many of the researchers in the field of investments approach their subject without a grounding in economics or statistics that you can learn much from the biases and oversights in the Kinsey report and the statistical studies of Mosteller and Tukey and Wallis and the layman's catalogue of errors in The Kinsey Report : Modeling a Frankenstein Man.

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