Archive for June, 2011

Believing in Evolution or Not….and the Stupidity Impact Factor


Proportion believing Humans evolved from other species: 2006-2010 GSS

Some of the atheist blogs have their dander up about a new really bad Pew survey showing that only 3% of the goofball activists attending some weirdo Christian conference believe in evolution. I’m sure they just misunderstood the question or it would have been 0% at that conference. In the real world, things are bad enough–but predictably, sectarian Protestants are at the bottom of the heap—only 23% believe in evolution. Notably, another reason why the conservative Christian classification system needs to be done away with is that Moderate Protestants (Methodists, Disciples, Lutherans, Reformed and such) are significantly better off than sectarians, and significantly worse than Liberal Protestants, non-Christians, and non-religious folk. About three-quarters of liberal, nones, and non-Christians believe in evolution (still low), but only 46% of moderates understand science. Notably, 63% of Catholics believe in evolution.

Taken together, about 29% of Americans are Liberals, non-Christians, or non-identifiers—while about 27% are mouth-breathing sectarians.  Given the relatively equal distributions, and the middling value of Moderates, Catholics, and non-denominationals (at least averaged together), it seems reasonable to construct a ratio score to measure the impact of various religious groups on national stupidity. I call this the Stupidity Impact Factor, computed as the ratio of the proportion of non-believers in the population who hail from a particular religious group, divided by the groups overall proportional distribution. For example, 2.5% of people in the GSS who don’t believe in evolution are non-Christians, and non-Christians make up 5.3% of the sample. Hence, the Stupidity Impact Score for non-Christians is .47. Since this is less than 1, we know that adding more non-Christians to the population will reduce stupidity. In contrast, nearly 42% of Americans who do not believe in evolution are members of Sectarian groups, which gives them a Stupidity Impact Factor Score of 1.57—the more sectarians we have, the dumber we get.

Stupidity Impact Factor Scores for US Religious Groups

Compromise or Capitulation? Why Progressives should ignore fake allies


Obama Vote by SSM position and Race:2010 GSS

Liberal religious types have been all in a tizzy about the not at all surprising realization that religious folk are intolerant–even religious folk  who claim to be liberal. When pushed on whatever the issue may be–abortion, same sex marriage, euthanasia, teaching science, or whatever—religious types eventually reveal what they actually believe, and it ain’t progressive. Only a very small proportion of religious Americans are truly progressive, and it requires jettisoning virtually all of the beliefs and values of the Abrahamic tradition. Unless your “Christianity” has evolved into a nice Unitarian-like universal ethic of peace and love for all (in which case it is no longer “Christian” by any reasoned sense of what that defines), eventually your gods are going to be assholes to someone—whether its the sick or the gays or the Hindus….Unfortunately, Liberal religious types are infected with the false belief that if we all just get together and talk, we’ll come to agree. And, of course, that means that they expect others to change their positions. After all, some dimwit Calvinist who claims to be a Liberal (and got his preaching “degree” from the same seminary that booted my old buddy Victor Anderson for being gay….) says that he wants to feed the hungry and end economic oppression (through Christian Charity, of course, not a structural shift in the distribution of wealth).  So, what? You think that he’s gonna change his mind about Abortion? Gay rights? Euthanasia? You think he’s gonna support science? You think he’s gonna be in favor of public education, instead of religious charter schools or other such rot?

Forming a coalition in social movements involves the sharing of resources in order to coordinate political collective action. When a coalition is formed among groups or individuals with clear differences of valuations for collective goods, one of two things must happen. Either a clique within the coalition will wield power in an oligarchic fashion, or the coalition will be forced to gravitate to “common issues”.  But, as is obvious from this example, both wind up in the same place. Common cause is the same thing as giving dictatorial power to religious conservatives. The “common cause” is everything we agree about—and we don’t agree about sexuality, education, science, etc.

So, fuck them. Why form a coalition with assholes who don’t agree and just want to dictate the policies pursued by the entire set of groups? A good example is Obama’s capitulation to religious conservatives on same sex marriage—the image of a Kenyan President making a pitch for “states rights” on this issue is hilarious. If we had state’s rights he’d be sold into slavery in a quarter of the Nation. As you can see above, 72% of white Obama voters either agree or strongly agree that same sex marriage should be legal, and that represented 51% of Obama’s vote total. African American Obama voters are much more conservative (as we should expect), but I doubt they were gonna run off and vote for Sarah Palin and that old guy peeing in his pants if Barak Hussein said he wanted everyone to get gay married. The other side is even more revealing. Fewer than 20% of whites who oppose same sex marriage voted for Obama in the first place. And, I doubt that for those people that same sex marriage was a salient issue in their vote–probably a bunch of union people who want jobs but hate gays, eh? So, why listen to these assholes? It’s the tail wagging the dog….again.

Obama Vote among those opposed to SSM by race

Rape Babies: What Christian America Really Wants


Support for forcing rape victism to have a child: 2010 GSS

Propagandist pundits often assert that sectarian Christians are no different from anyone else, they just want to be left alone…And, it is they who are the truly oppressed. Yes, nobody is more oppressed than white Sectarian Christians! So, what do they want to do when they get into power? Why, they want to force women who have been raped to have the rapists’ child! Yes, That’s what Christian America really wants. To do otherwise is repression against Christians, who are offended that anyone would suggest that rape is anything other than what those secular sluts asked for when they refused to accept Sectarian Jesus as their lord and savior. We all know they deserve it, and they should pay dearly for the consequences of their sin.

Above you can see just how much like everyone else Sectarian Christians are! A shameful 12% of mainline Protestants (most of them disgusting conservative Presbyterians and Lutherans) think that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape. That figure doubles among Baptists (our largest Sectarian group). Among respondents affiliated with other sectarian groups (like Sarah Palin and her ilk) nearly HALF agree that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, and Mormons for Mitt aren’t far behind (magic underwear would have prevented the rape…).  Almost 21% of Catholics fall in line with the pedophile priests. In contrast, non Christian Americans are opposed to the barbarity of forcing a women to bear the child of a rapist—only 3% are opposed to legal abortion in this case (hopefully they misunderstood the question response), while less than 8% of non-affiliates support primitive misogyny.

Patriarchy, Recession, and Marital Hapiness


Marital Happiness by Employment Status: US Couples 2000-2010 GSS

The Christian Patriarchy movement is now a fully operational subsidiary of the plutocratic right, and is advocating a further acceleration of inequality and opposition to communist socialist islamic homosexual anti-family jobs programs. Why? Because inequality and unemployment are good for marriage. My colleagues over in political science have shown convincingly that inequality spurs religious attendance–and that is another good thing in the very small minds of the Christian Patriarchs. And, Chief Propagandist claims that this together with economic distress helps marriages. No evidence is provided, of course, except some distorted jibberish that sent real, normal sociologists into a tizzy.

What is real? Well, above you can see the percentages of married Americans reporting that they are “very happy” with their marriage by employment status and gender of respondent. I limit this to respondents age 25 to 65, and to the 2000-2010 GSS. As Christian Patriarchs correctly note, men are happiest with their marriages when their spouse is underemployed (part time or unemployed). In contrast, women are happiest with their marriage when both spouses are employed. Men are least happy when they are underemployed—regardless of whether or not their spouse is working. Women are least happy when both are underemployed. Conclusion: American Men remain patriarchal assholes, and unemployment substantially undermines marital happiness.

The unbearable lightness of public sociology….and the heavy burden of dead wood…


You like to do it in Public?!

There has been a lot of nutty talk about tenure lately, and it is worrisome when this gets up in the public and when professors begin to lament the tenured idiots without reflecting on the population of tenured individuals.

The latest asshat lamenting tenure and decent wages for college professor is a recent retiree from our wonderful University of Illinois system, David Rubinstein. I’d never heard of the guy. He’s one of those typical early baby boomer types. He was likely given a tenured position upon completing his PhD, and made full professor based on the publication of his dissertation–a didactic yawner about philosophical minutia having little or nothing of relevance for late 20th century sociology. Among those I have know, 66% of the deadwood in sociology identify themselves as “theorists”, and they do love them some dead white men. He thinks its impressive that after working 35 years in a job which required him to “earn” a PhD—on average that requires 11 years of difficult and costly post-secondary education—that he’s retiring with a $100k salary. Big fucking deal, ugly fucker. That’s within pissing distance of what a brand new baby PhD in sociology is gonna make at the private schools down the road from you, and she’s gonna teach one class a semester. So, you’re retiring on about the salary that private schools are hiring trainees. Teabagger moron reminds me of the dumbfuck rednecks bragging about their new double-wide. And, his true pursuit of “self stimulation” or mental masturbation or whatever, is resonant with the non-scholarly pursuits of many activist scholars on the left and right.

But, let’s put this supposed boondoggle in perspective. In my career at three universities over the last 25 years I have known 9 deadwood scholars in my sociology departments—that’s out of about 60 people who were at some point tenured colleagues at three institutions. Only three of those people managed to make tenure under the contemporary order—people of Rubinstein’s generation made tenure for having a PhD, now people have to actually do something to earn tenure. Most of the deadwood I have known are actually quite accomplished teachers, particularly at the undergraduate level. And, most have performed yeoman’s work administrating undergraduate and even graduate programs.  If Rubinstein was teaching his 2 courses per semester, he was paying for himself and his retirement. Last semester, I taught one course while being department chair, and that 35-student Senior seminar generated $56k in tuition revenue (and SIU has the lowest tuition of any school in the Illinois system). Next year I won’t be chair, and I’ll probably have around 150 students in my four courses–generating $240k in tuition revenue–more than double my salary. So, I fail to see how professors are somehow screwing the public.

There are two types of deadwood scholars—activists and hobbyists. The latter are much more benign. You can count on them to teach their courses, help out with some administration, and not cause a problem. They just want to get back to their stamp collections or birdwatching or porn collection. No problem. They earned tenure. They’re paying for themselves by teaching. AND, hopefully, they will not be promoted to full professor, and they will not receive regular raises. If you’re not an engaged scholar, you don’t deserve it. You should wind up like Rubinstein, making close to an assistant professor salary after 35 years.

But, Rubinstein is an activist, this isn’t his first right wing screed. I’m sure he caused all manner of problems. Everything must be a political act, and you have to fight about everything. Wanna put your gender or race course in the core curriculum? The undergrad committee works up all the forms, gets the syllabi together, and then some yahoo wants to bitch about it at the faculty meeting, rather than have the thing passed by acclimation. I’m sure he spent all his time with all the other right wing activist old men on campus, sitting in the cafeteria bitching about feminism and liberalism and multiculturalism and all these brown people coming to the university. The left wing dead wood are at the coffee shop down the street bitching about sexism and racism and inequality. And, both groups regularly write letters to newspapers and magazines and shit. And, they act like that is scholarship. Public Sociology. Yep. I’m going there.

Right wingers used to bitch about public sociology because they believed (wrongly) that it would privilege left-wing scholars. And, many on the left believed that as well. But, the true purpose of the public sociology movement was to redefine success and progress. Activism IS scholarship. You know, praxis and all that shit. So, now we have the right emulating the left, and we get lightweights like Bradley Wilcox and a host of others writing activist texts, getting them published on real presses (because they sell their books to churches and right wing activist groups–University presses care more about sales than scholarship these days). Even though this tripe has no scholarly value, the “public sociology” movement wants to count this toward promotion and tenure. There must be a separation—or lightweight ideologues  are going to become heavyweight problems in our departments and in the discipline.

Religion and Science in Conflict–Global Warming Denial



Denial and Acceptance of Global Warming by Religious Beliefs: 2006-2010 GSS

I had a great time at Penn State at the religion and stratification conference. I only had to smack one person, and Lisa K. was egging me on to hit him again….The issue of religion and stratification cuts to the core of how cultural factors impact cognition, and how cognition has real consequences. If you believe things that aren’t true–and don’t believe things which are true—your interaction with structural resources (educational, political, occupational, environmental…) will often result in non-optimal outcomes. In a sense, this cuts to the foundational issue of the sources of bounded rationality, and how cultural institutions and understandings can undercut rational action. I managed to weave through the tornadoes on my way back from State College, and got in a couple of long bike rides with the tornado sirens blaring as I rode home. It made me think about my paper with Mike Pease and revising it to update with 2010 data.

Fundamentalist christians, socialized into sectarian religious institutions (or sectarian movements withing less sect-like denominations) tend to doubt the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. Indeed, fundies are more than twice as likely to be deniers when compared to people who believe the bible is a book of fables. But, less strident believers are also more likely to buy into the fossil fuel  industry propaganda—and the results from 2006-2010 show that the propaganda mill is causing more doubt in science–even among seculars. Still, the odds that a fundy is a believer rather than a denier are much lower than the odds for a secular respondent.

So, the fundies who got blown out of their trailers these last few months maybe have to do some thinking. I’m sure they’ll blame it on the gays.