These are the two conclusions reached by my friend Rex Stetson today. Let me explain. I'd read the recent NYT Sunday Magazine article about how two researchers had supposedly come up with an algorithm which could supposedly predict the gender of the author of a selection of text with 80% accuracy. (Those wacky researches. Its always something with those guys). Later, I read the latest of George Gurley's hilarious "My Dinner with Anne" pieces for the Observer. In it, Ms. Coulter opined that Thomas Friedman "writes like a girl." I have to hand it her on this one, it was an hilarious and dead-on observation:
What did she think New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman was up to that evening?
"Probably writing up an article about his ‘friend Muhammad’ and how his ‘stubby Arab fingers were feeling the small of my back,’" she said. "I cannot take those articles! He’s even more of a girl than Maureen Dowd: ‘I was doing this, and he said to me and my friend, and I was in an elevator’—do I need the atmospherics?’ Get to the point! He writes like a girl. It’s like he’s writing about his coffee klatch."
But, does Mr. Friedman really "write like a girl." Normally, I believe everything that Ann Coulter tells me but now we don't just have to settle for that. We can get conclusive, scientific proof in the form of The Gender Genie a project by the folks over at Book Blog which allows you to cut and paste text into a form and then submit for analysis by the author gender predicting algorithm.
Rex Stetson has had a lot of fun with this. Guess what, Ann Coulter's right. (Like I needed to tell you that). The Gender Genie thinks that there's an 80% chance that the author of a random selection of Thomas Friedman's op-eds, no word on whether they involved his friend Muhammad or not, are written by a woman. Yours truly? Same result. Andrew Sullivan? same result. (Insert lame joke here.) If you're wondering if Ann Coulter's acerbic style has her hoist of her own petard and she writes "like a man" you'd be wrong. She comes out straight up gal. George Eliot? Name didn't fool the Gender Genie. It just knew: woman.
While its a worthy pursuit to further prove what a girly-man I am, and it would be fun enough to just see how many pundits write "for the other team" (Hitchens? Krugman? Podhoretz? Will?) Rex Stetson had the brilliant thought of applying the algorithm to one of the deepest philosophical and theological questions of all time: What is the gender of God? And, before you get all "That's not the gender of God, that's the gender of the author of that part of the Bible" remember that the true author is God and he just dictated the books to Moses and the others, the way Sydney Sheldon does to this assistants. Duh.
Rex put a bunch of invidiual books of the Bible in and they all came up male. Then, he decided he needed more conclusive proof and cut and pasted the entire King James Bible into the Gender Genie. The result? The system crashed. Get the idea somebody's messing around with questions of which man is not supposed to know the answer? We may never firmly settle the God: dude or chick debate, but with this kind of sound scientific approach we are getting closer.