Racism, Sexism, and the Whoring of Survey Research

30/04/2016

This shit always comes back and bites you. We used to be looking for racism without racists, or sexism without sexists. But, now, we clearly have racism with racists and sexism with sexists…and we’re not trying to tap that anymore because we thought it went away or that we could never again measure it because of social desirability bias. I beg to differ…..

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I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it! Sexism is dead, I can feel it.

I was just trying to get a bead on a few issues, and lamenting my inability to get a good measure of racial threat for a paper I’m working on showing the impact of conservative movements and propaganda on public opinion. But, alas, racism and sexism are so OVER. Everyone knows that nobody is a racist or sexist. We do NOT need to be asking people if they would vote for a NEGRO for President or if they would vote for a Woman (who does not have a penis), or if they think that those Africans have gone too far in pushing for Civil Rights. Fuck Civil Rights. This is America! Hell Yah! And, in American Social Science we are much more concerned with how Christianity is helping your mental health, or whether or not your one true god is more like a…

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Hating the gays is the new Southern Strategy….

20/04/2016

In the ramp up to both the Democratic and Republican conventions the candidates have received little scrutiny of their positions on civil rights for GLBT people, or cultural issues more generally. This is curious given the furor over a host of GLBT discrimination bills that have flown through state legislatures in Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina,  and are successfully percolating up the legislative chambers in several others including South Carolina and Tennessee. While some may focus on the actions of governors to veto such legislation, as was the case in Georgia, it is more telling that these discriminatory laws were passed with overwhelming majorities. Notably, while similar laws have been passed in Indiana and Arizona, there is a peculiar Confederate streak apparent in these efforts to limit civil rights for LGBT citizens, and the stench of exclusivist Christianity wafts from every effort.

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While both Democratic candidates for the nomination have resoundingly criticized the latest round of  anti-GLBT legislation, the Republican candidates have been largely silent. Ted Cruz remains a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and has vowed to end it, as has Donald Trump, in spite of his endorsement by the Log Cabin Republicans.  In contrast,  John Kasich wants to “move on”, though we don’t really know what that means in terms of his support of “religious freedom” measures or other discriminatory laws.  Anti-gay bigotry seems to be the new “Southern Strategy” for the Republican Party, and they are poised to continue to include opposition to same-sex marriage in their Party Platform—as they have since 1992.

fireprofs14

The easy passage of discriminatory legislation in Southern states, and elsewhere, is strongly connected to religious commitments. As I showed in Changing Faith and in other papers, identifications with exclusivist sects and Baptist groups has a profoundly negative effect on support for same sex marriage, while rejecting religious identification has a strong positive effect on support. Opposition to marriage rights is crystallized by commitments to Biblical literalism, while it is generally undermined by secular beliefs that the Bible is merely fables. In the 2014 GSS data presented above, what is notable is that vehement opposition—very opposed as opposed to merely opposed—is substantially higher in the South regardless of religious beliefs or identifications.  In the South, nearly 14% of people with secular beliefs in the Bible nonetheless are “very opposed” to same sex marriage compared to under 3% outside the South. And, over 15% of Southern “nones” are animated in their opposition—compared to under 3% outside the South less than 6% among non-Southerners. This evidences what sociologist Amy Adamczyck argues about the importance of place and context for structuring prejudices about GLBT people.

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Animus toward LGBT persons is very high in the South, particularly among biblical literalists and those with exclusivist identities. A particularly chilling indicator is the proportion of people who would fire a college professor for admitting they are gay or lesbian. Again, across all religious commitments, support for employment discrimination against gays and lesbians is substantially higher in the South—even among seculars. Indeed, Southerners with secular beliefs about the Bible are actually more supportive of discrimination than are those who believe the Bible was inspired by God. Overall, 17.3% of Southerners would fire a college professor for being gay or lesbian, compared to 8% of non-Southerners.

The South is a hotbed of anti-GLBT sentiment in part because a large fraction of the population identifies as Baptists or with other exclusivist sects, and they also tend to hold literalist beliefs in the Bible. Over 45% of Southerners hold literalist views, compared to fewer than 26% of non-Southerners, while only 12% of Southerners adhere to a secular view, compared to 28% of non-Southerners. In areas dominated by Baptists and other sects, which includes most of the rural districts in the South, opposition to civil rights for LGBT people will be found among a majority of citizens—which helps explain the zeal of their representatives for promoting anti-GLBT legislation.

Most of the discussion of these anti-GLBT bills has focused on corporate and cultural backlash, as Paypal, Bruce Springsteen, and Ringo Starr weigh in with their wallets and condemnation. Yet, ignoring the fact that these bills are easily passing through state legislatures in spite of heated corporate opposition fails to make sense of their genesis. The religious right is not dead, and it dominates the South and even influences non-religious Southerners. Will it be Nixon all over again?

Add it up…..

10/03/2016

Day after day, I get angry, and I will say that the day in Day after day, I will walk and I will play But the day after today, I will stop and I will start….

Jesus fucking Christ, can we please put the shit polls to rest? Can we please have a revolt among serious academics and serious political analysts against these non-scientific “polls”.

It is time for a movement. It is time for revolt. Shit polls aren’t science. Robocallpolls? Telepolls of minority numbers (since many have placed themselves on “no-call”)? Surveys with less than 8% response rate? Internet polls from panels of cheetos munching wierdos?

This shit is not fit for science, and don’t even expect me to give any paper using such shit data the time of day. And, this shit is not fit for use in the public sphere. Yeah, Hill the Shill is taking Michigan by 20%…..

Non scientific polls are influencing the political process, and anyone supporting this abomination is undermining both science and democracy.

College Tuition and the Decline of Meritocracy

01/03/2016

You want to go to Harvard?

There is an interesting article in the Economist on effects of inequality on inequalities, pointing out that the wealthy can now appear to be more justified in their advantage because they are advantaged. It’s pretty straightforward and nuanced, covering ground articulated by the works of Mario Small, Annette Lareau, and others (though none are cited). Rich people get high end day care. Rich people can send their kids to piano, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, art, writing camp, math workshops….etc etc. and then sure enough the rich kids get into the elite universities.

But there is much more to it than that, and the article ahistorically asserts that somehow America ever strived toward meritocracy except in a very brief period following WWII. The flippant mention of sports bringing ethnic diversity to elite colleges and of quotas against high performing Asians belies a more insidious long term plot—and yes, it was a plot—to undermine the advancement of the middle class into the elite. Ten years after George W. Bush graduated from Yale, there is no way that a worthless loser moron like him would have been admitted to Yale, an “his” spot would have gone to some middle class kid with awesome grades and test scores (which weren’t used in 1964….). Hence, the wealthy have forged a plan to make sure that their spawn continue to hold “legitimate” advantage, and tuition plays a strong roll, along with inferior education schemes for the middle classes and the poor.

We no longer have a system like the old California master plan, one generated to give a leg up to the lower classes and to ensure that state universities were equal to if not better than private elite colleges. If you were in the top 12% of California high schoolers you got into UCLA or Berkeley for free, free tuition for all Cal State schools for the top third of high school grads. Free tuition for community colleges for anyone who made acceptable grades in the courses. Now, Berkeley costs $13,456 for in-state tuition in 2014-15, admission is so competitive that it makes getting into places like Vanderbilt or Emory seem easy.

But, the focus on rising tuition at public institutions fails to notice the exorbitant growth of tuition in private universities. The current bill at my undergrad alma mater, the University of Tulsa, is now $35,855. When I attended my first year in 1985 tuition was $3000 a year (equivalent to $6,608.28 in 2015 dollars). I transferred from the University of Oklahoma where tuition, room, board, and books were less than $1500 a year, so it was a great shock. But Oklahoma was under full bore assault, and several wonderful professors I had there left at the same time I did (including political scientist Ken Meier). At Tulsa I had small classes, tenure tracked professors with real PhD’s, and most importantly, academic standards. We had to read shit and write and shit like that. We had to take language courses, math, history, philosophy, social sciences, biology….everyone.

I can say with certainty that I would never have graduated from Tulsa if I were in the same situation 30 years later. I couldn’t have afforded it. I would have stayed at Oklahoma, and would have barely afforded that. And, I would have gone to the cheapest law school I could get into, unless I lucked into a scholarship. I would have never considered an academic career. And that is just what elite corporatists want.

High tuition drives high achieving middle class kids out of elite institutions. They can’t afford it. You can go to Harvard for $100k a year (no help if your parents make over $125k or so….), or you can go to Illinois for $15k or less…or a minor regional like SIU for free…..but you’ll never enter the elite from the minor leagues. You’ll be taught mostly by graduate students for the first few years, and will rarely see an honest to gods professor. Your courses will be canned from textbooks. Your exams will be multiple guess. Your curriculum will be as minimal as possible, and many courses will be “online” courses that we used to call telecourses back in the Junior college days.

Now, our deanlets and their corporate overlords (who have paid Hillary Clinton tens of millions of dollars personally, and much more than that in campaign bribes) are pushing for 3 year degrees and 4+1 “masters” degrees. Yeah, you get your degree. You just don’t get an education. Educations will be exclusively for people who can pay enormous sums of money to private schools that still employ professors and have academic standards. And, in the end, the graduates of the cheap and easy public schools will be less qualified for elite occupations.

Getting Full

21/02/2016

A lot of recent commentary has focused on the process and finesse of garnering tenure and promotion to associate professor, but somewhat less attention has been paid to the next step–promotion to Full Professor.

The process of promotion to full professor is more of a black box than for simply getting tenure, and the box is more obscured at the top and the bottom of the scholarly hierarchy—though I think most obscured at the bottom.

In an ideal world, most people would neither accomplish nor expect to accomplish promotion to full professor. In the real world, most faculty at US institutions think that promotion is a right of passage, and that duration in state should justify their increase in salary and rank. I don’t give a shit about the salary, but, no, rank matters. The decline of standards in promotion to Full Professor is the first step in the decline of the power and authority of the faculty in the university. It really is the case that the big heads across departments can and should dictate academic policy, and when we stop listening to the real professors everything goes to shit. When people who don’t deserve promotion are promoted, they immediately seek power and try to redefine success and progress.

Ah, but what you want to know is how to join the club….To even ask is to invite questions as to whether you belong….This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. You laid the groundwork for whether or not you deserve to be a full professor long before you made tenure (we’ll just start there…). Do you have an agenda? And, can you accomplish the agenda and keep it up. It’s all about keeping it up. Ask anyone.

There are perturbations, however. Full professor is not granted to everyone, and many very strong scholars are never promoted. I would argue that about as many deserving scholars are not promoted as are promoted to full without merit. Many scholars solve this problem by moving to another university to gain promotion. It is much harder move up through the ranks at one institution than it is to move into a full professor slot after being an associate at another university.

At the top tier, promotion to full requires nothing short of internationally recognized excellence. Nobody who genuinely comes up from the ranks at a top 40 university is anything short of stellar in research productivity and visibility in her field, and even in the top 100 people who get Full are productive and recognizable scholars. Publishing an article a year after tenure in specialty journals is not enough to merit promotion to full at any top 40 university, and just because you landed another book after 6 years does not mean that you are a lock or even remotely qualified. Tenure at top tier institutions was only granted to you because you are expected to continue a pattern or regular, high-tier publication. Full Professor requires a great deal more. Your work must be considered important to the field, and your agenda must be vast yet focused.

It’s all about the agenda. Are you going to do anything else? It’s not about what you’ve done. We all know what you’ve done. It may be meritorious, in some sense, but does your past research suggest that you’re going to be productive and important until the day you die? That is really what people are looking for in promotion committees for Full Professor. Is this person really living and breathing their life work in the field? It’s perfectly fine if you are simply good, and managed to make some contributions deserving of tenure, and then you are EXPECTED to continue to contribute to the field. But, that doesn’t make you Full, it makes you a permanent associate professor.

At the top of the top, decisions about promotion to Full can be more varied. Everyone is productive and influential depending on one’s metric. Personal relationships can mean more, and at many private schools (and maybe some publics, I don’t know) full professors wield veto power over promotion—one wrong move and someone could block your promotion to Full forever. That is unfortunate, and I’ve seen that hinder a colleague’s career who I think deserved promotion and it prevented me from getting a counteroffer when a colleague blocked a bid to make me full at Vanderbilt (though I would have rejected it given my family circumstance….). Unfortunately, I have to say that getting Full at the top tier does require more ass kissing and is much more subjective to the whims of the full professors in a given department.

At the next level, regular research universities, the process is a bit more rational. I’ve been on and chaired our College Promotion and Tenure Committee, and our standards for promotion are pretty uniform and somewhat low. If, in five to seven years after promotion you can come up with another minor book and a few minor articles, or 10 decent articles you’re a lock. But if those contributions take 12 years, forget about it. You also need to develop some professional relationships with people at peer or better institutions. External letters matter a great deal, and if you don’t know anyone you won’t get good letters. You don’t have to be a superstar (nor do your letter writers), but you do have to have enough of a reputation that someone knows you. At places below the top 40, you are a fool if you aren’t regularly attending regional and specialty meetings in your field. Go to business meetings, volunteer for committees. Get elected to something. I’ve seen people shot down several times who had the minimum required publications, but no “service to the field.”

Liberal arts colleges are perhaps the most fickle. Many seem to grant full professor based on pedigree rather than accomplishment. My old mentor Jean Blocker used to say she was too short to make full at Tulsa. Yet, Eldon (“Eldrone” as we called him) Eisenach was full in Political science despite his lack of scholarly merit and mediocre teaching. Teaching matters, obviously, but evaluation teaching is impossible and directed by the powers that be. You can’t publish your way in, either, since many senior faculty consider publication to be antithetical to the teaching mission.

At non-research schools there seems to be no rhyme or reason to promotion to full, except in heavily unionized schools where duration in state without a criminal conviction seems to be enough.

Shit polls are bad for Democracy: As are attention whore “journalists”

10/02/2016

But, we had a record number of clicks on that story!

Whore journalism and whore pollsters are in league to undermine democracy so that they can make money and peddle influence. There are almost no real journalists anymore, and there have been very few in American history. This is largely because “journalists” rejected scientific approaches to evidence for “gotcha” one-hit bullshit. It mattered more that Nixon approved some petty attack on a doomed political opponent than that Nixon had repeatedly perpetrated war crimes and violated international laws. No, what mattered for “journalists” was that some “journalist” found out that Nixon ordered some lackey to steal useless information from his ineffectual political opponent. Yeah. That’s the story. Because, supporting the military industrial complex in Vietnam and extending this to the Middle East was not interesting. No news there. No intrigue. Not Sexy. As if anyone would want to see any of these pathetic motherfuckers naked.

I really like Mark Silk and he’s a bright guy, but he is not a social scientist who specializes in public opinion, and his opinion on the science of public opinion is often inattentive to fundamental methodological principals that exclude the vast majority of opinion polls from the realm of social science. Most journalistic polls now have less than a 1% response rate, if that, and they don’t even have a scientific sampling frame. The “Best” polls from Gallup or Pew claim to have an 8% response rate, and I don’t think that is even believable.  It is alarming that the vast majority of our non-scientific opinion polls now come from for-profit firms (most of which are owned by far-right wing media groups), or firms that pander to whoever is paying the bills.

Silk claims that this shit information is better than nothing, arguing that it winnowed the Republican field of several prominent Republicans who likely would have had a shot at the nomination if not for whore polls. Yes, it winnowed the field. But, it did not do that based on some semblance of democratic influence. These polls were so bad that it is very likely that candidates who would have been preferred by the majority of actual voting Republicans were “forced” to abandon their candidacy, or are now wallowing in damaged campaigns. That isn’t democracy, it’s shitocracy. The worthless losers who respond to shit polls while sitting in their armchairs answering their phones like Archie Bunker are now dictating the party pick. They are not the Republican Party. They are not representative of the population. And, this how shit media whores amplifying the horse race has influenced the process itself and pushed fascists weirdos like Trump, Cruz, and Carson to the front of the pack, and pushed moderately sane Republicans to the margins.

Notably, while I wrote all of the above a long time ago, tonight this is in stark relief. Hillary Clinton is clearly losing to Bernie Sanders, not just in Iowa and New Hampshire, but across the nation. Who cares if Hillary can maybe pull off South Carolina, Bernie will stomp her in California and New York. On the Republican side, the “normal” Republicans–Kasich and Bush, and Rubio—did very well, and Kasich and Bush did well despite the incessant bleating from “journalists” that they have no chance. Gee, what if the “journalists” weren’t bleating that shit and were instead paying attention to the positions held by the candidates and reporting on the issues that matter to Americans instead of horse race shit-poll based politics? I don’t care. I’d rather see Bernie against Trump or Cruz than Bush or Kasich. Hillary will lose to any of the establishment republicans if she can manage to win, which she won’t.

Media led elections based on shit polls are not democracy. It’s more like some reality TV show. Thankfully, enough people seem to realize that Bernie is our only hope, and they didn’t believe the bullshit polls saying he had no chance.

 

 

Pant Pissing Brooklyn Hipster Forces David Bowie from His Deathbed

03/02/2016

I wasn’t able to properly lament the death of David Bowie, who was one of the greatest and most original talents in rock and roll. Instead, I’ll rant after the fact about the 20-something hipster idiots who think that they are music critics with deep thoughts. It says a lot about the scared, feeble-minded ideologues who pass for journalists to somehow think Blackstar was about ISIS. They are so afraid that some Islamic terrorist is going to bust into their hipster hangout in Brooklyn that they can’t even listen to a song that is so obviously about Bowie’s own death that it is mind boggling. The entire album is about Bowie’s illness and impending doom, and he doesn’t mince words.  David Bowie literally had to deny this shit from his deathbed. Granted, saxophonist Donny McCaslin made the off the cuff suggestion to a reporter, who believed it and repeated it, and even months after Bowie denied this it was again repeated by another hipster. McCaslin was likely just making shit up because he was sworn not to say anything about Bowie’s health.

 

When Research is too much and too little: Forging a research agenda for real jobs

28/12/2015
I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

I think I’ll do that goat statue next…..

Graduate students always have angst about what they should be investing their scarce time in, and many dream of a day or place where they aren’t stressing to finish research projects. That day will never come. There is only one track, and that is how it should be.

But, people on the job market should also be aware of a few things. Fabio does a good job of attending to many of these in agreement with Sam Perry, but I want to go beyond those points.

First, you should be focused on finishing your fucking dissertation. And, your dissertation should (1) have a point; (2) have promise for future publications; and, most importantly (3) be related to anything and everything you have published. Publications in and of themselves are not necessarily helpful. That is particularly true when publications are co-authored, especially when they are coauthored with people who are obviously guiding the research agenda (most especially when those people are faculty).

If you want to make it at the top, your main goal is the construction and accomplishment of an independent research agenda. YOU making a novel contribution to sociology, relating it to your dissertation, and giving assurance that you damn sure will finish that dissertation before you arrive at a job (and not simply because loser wimp faculty members agree to sign off on your piece of shit dissertation which is not becoming of a graduate of your program and may be an insult to alumni……ahem….).

Publishing in third tier journals is not at all helpful for attaining a position at a top tier university. When I was coming up for tenure, if it wasn’t in a top or second tier journal, it didn’t even count. It actually counts against you as a junior scholar for top tier places. Why are you wasting your time puking out stuff in third and fourth tier journals? You should be doing bigger and better things, and finishing your fucking dissertation. Any moron can publish in fourth tier journals, and throwing shit against the wall ensures that something will stick, even if you have diarrhea.

But, there is a caveat. It’s ok to publish in specialty journals or third tier journals if it is your own dissertation research, and if you don’t aspire to the heights of the discipline. AND, it’s better to have a few solid publications in third tier or specialty journals which are genuinely your own and focused on your dissertation research than it is to have a shit ton of disconnected articles with multiple coauthors. A scattered publication record looks worse than a slim one.

Worse yet, bulking up on small-time publications makes you intimidating for second and third tier programs, and counts you out for liberal arts colleges and fourth tier colleges. Why bother to interview someone with 12 publications coming out of a strong program when you are at Murray State or even my own humble institution? And, those same 12 publications count for nothing at Stanford, particularly if there are none in a top tier journal and if they are disjointed.

Yes, you must do research. Yes, you must publish it. But, more is not preferred to less, and less is often better than more. Quality matters more than quantity, and focus matters most of all.

Watermelon in Easter Hay, Zappadan always ends this way….

21/12/2015

The Myth of Atheist Intolerance for Muslims

13/12/2015
Tolerance for anti-American Muslims by Belief in gods, General Social Survey

Tolerance for anti-American Muslims by Belief in gods, General Social Survey, 2008-2014

Atheists have been getting a bad rap for sometime about picking on Islam and Muslims, largely because of some off the cuff comments by “professional atheists” who should stick to their day jobs. But, as in any collection of people who hold one particular belief, there is considerable variation in other commitments and identifications. There is a loud and obnoxious racist, sexist, and homophobic contingent in semi-organized atheism in online and even actual groups. And, they hate them some Muslins. But, is that representative of the average atheist? And, how does your average atheist compare with your average believer in one true God who is not Allah because Allah is Satan or something?

Above you can see the scaled results across religious belief groups from the 2008-2014 cumulative GSS. This is a sum of the three standard “Stouffer” tolerance items applied to “anti-American” Muslim clergy giving a speech, college professors who oppose America keeping their jobs, or retaining anti-American Islamic books in the library.  The summary scale goes from 0-3, with a 3 indicating supporting civil rights in all three cases.

As you can see, people who do not believe in a god are significantly and substantially more tolerant of individuals who hold opinions contrary to their own. On average, Atheists, Agnostics, and people who believe “in a higher power but not a god”  would grant civil rights in about two of the three cases (college professors get the hardest rap, on average). In contrast Believers in a One True God who Cannot Possibly Be Allah would grant only one right (generally, this is the book in a library).

So, all this shit about atheists being intolerant toward Muslims is bullshit. Stop watching television.


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