The American Obsession with Advice Columns—and Its Permutations in Academia: Part 1–The Friedman Twins


(In a previous post, I included a paragraph on the sisters who are the topic of this post, but I actually wrote this series of posts first. All of the details here can be pieced together from entries in Wikipedia or a number of other Internet sites if you are willing to pursue the topic single-mindedly, if not obsessively, through a maze of links.)

When I was growing up, Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, or “Dear Abby,” were household names because the advice columns that they wrote were syndicated in just about every daily newspaper in the United States. Indeed, the columns often ran simultaneously or alternately in the same newspapers. That these two steady, level-headed purveyors of advice were actually sisters seemed more a convenient genetic accident than a reason for skepticism. Although it was commonly known that Ann Landers’ real name was Eppie Lederer and that her…

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