Archive for July, 2013

Understanding and Improving the Editing of Sociology Journals

I got your fucking review right here!

I got your fucking review right here!

Editing a major scientific journal is very hard, and any errors of process or judgment often result in not just hurt feelings but collective resentment among those who feel somehow aggrieved. In a bad decision, the truly aggrieved are the individual authors, who may be counting on that publication to keep from being fired from their job. Less commonly do we think about the opposite situation—when someone lucks out and publishes a shitty article in a good journal. In both cases, the weight of the bad decision falls on the editor, but editorial authority is not really a bad thing. Hopefully, maybe, the latest kerfluffle regarding the editors at American Sociological Review apparently being unable to make a decision on anything brings this into some relief. First, the clusterfuck editorship idea is fucking stupid, and I hope people now understand this. There has been way too much support for “collaborative” editorships at ASA journals, and it isn’t a good idea. At the end of the day, it is best that somebody simply says Reject or Accept on an article, and five people are far less likely to make the hard decisions than one. What we have seen at ASR is a complete lack of backbone to make the hard decisions. I have seen this several times in reviewer packets, and I have been “reviewer 8” or more. That should not happen. But, it isn’t like this is the first time. So, while I think things should be better at ASR, and hope that the next editorial regime will bring improvements, I also remember when I WAS AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR with my key dissertation-related article under review at ASR….and it got three revise and resubmits before rejection. Before we rake Holly McCammon over the coals, let us remember that she is no different from many editors (and frankly, I blame the clusterfuck structure and not Holly for the inefficiencies at ASR, while Marwell was acting alone….). I first submitted my paper, coauthored with John Wilson (my dissertation advisor) in 1991. After three revise and resubmits, I did not receive a final rejection until sometime in 1994. The paper was published in Social Forces in 1995 after receiving a conditional acceptance upon initial review.

What is more, the politicization of sociology really necessitates strong editors in order to avoid low-ball reviews by partisan assholes. At some point editors have to make the decision to publish some things that a reviewer doesn’t like, or to not publish something that a prominent reviewer may support. We’ll all bitch and moan about the results in the end. That is the part where we need to chill out and get real. Peer review isn’t perfect. Just do your god damned reviews, and when they advertise for a new editor, if you think you are the shit, apply. If not, don’t bitch.

The following is my acknowledgements from our 1995 paper in Social Forces:

“Data were made available through the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Portions of this article were previously presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, the Southern Sociological Society, and the Public Choice Society. Research was assisted by a grant to the first author from the Vanderbilt University Research Council We thank Mark Chaves, Christopher G. Ellison, Roger Finke, Douglas D. Heckathorn, Laurence R. Iannaccone, Barry Kosmin, Daniel H. Krymkowski, Gerald Maxwell, Richard A. Peterson, Rodney Stark, Robert A. Wortham, ten anonymous reviewers from American Sociological Review, and two anonymous Social Forces reviewers for comments on earlier versions of the paper, although none are responsible for any deficiencies in the final product.”

Dying on Tulsa Time: Repost on Stand Your Ground Laws and the Proliferation of Violence


It’s interesting that the Trayvon Martin case and the latest set of racist murders in Tulsa coincide so well, and yet the lamestream media (as Sarah Palin dubbed it) seems not to notice the clear connection. Both sets of murders were a direct result of lax gun regulation combined with “stand your ground” laws. This is obvious in the Martin case, where some nutjob racist stalked black kids in his neigborhood, and god only knows what his mental health record looks like (even though he was allowed to openly carry a handgun in public). And, of course, since everyone, especially fat conservatives, are afraid of black teenagers, this meant that Zimmerman acted perfectly within the law when he killed that kid. If Zimmerman wasn’t such a dipshit racist numbskull, he’d be exonerated on all charges. But, it looks like he’s rather go on Sean Hannity (whoever he is….I don’t watch TV), than avoid prison.

More complicated is this Indigenous kid England (he ain’t white, and is 19 years old). Apparently, his drunk angry daddy got shot by a black guy who also benefited from the “stand your ground” laws in Oklahoma. Given that the indigenous are accorded nearly white status in Oklahoma (One of my old buddies who is a current chief-level official of a tribe not to be named  used to put “KKK” on his football helmet when we played the “black schools”), the fact that a black guy got away with shooting one probably means that the indigenous guy was seriously up in his face–which these laws allow people to respond to by killing people, rather than calling the cops. And, as ALEC hoped, this means that there is often retaliation from others. The reason why ALEC supports the “Stand your ground” and other type laws is because they increase crime. Crime is at an all time low, and if we don’t have crime, then conservatives won’t have anything to whoop up on the minorities with. So, if we can just make guns more available and more public, then we’ll get situations like what happened in Tulsa. Protracted, violent, tit-for-tat conflict. And, this gives us more reason to hate the browns! No matter what they do! Protect themselves, not protect themselves, it doesn’t matter. We know it’s their fault.

It’s really unfortunate that both of these tragic events are being used to further fuel racial tension. Both were the result of ignorant gun laws designed to increase violence. I don’t want to see Zimmerman put away for life or England or Watts. They are nutjobs, who do need punishment and monitoring, but what really needs to be changed are the laws which enabled both of these events to occur.

USA is NUMBER 1!!! Fuck Yeah! Religion, Opiates, and Misguided Nationalism

Perceptions of the US: General Social Survey

Perceptions of the US: General Social Survey

Ah yes, we really are the best nation in the world. We have a perfect democracy, a complete justice system of law enforcement, the highest standard of living in the world, the best of everything. Some idiots actually believe that shit. And, just who might these idiots be? Why, Christian Nutjobs, of course! Because the opiate of Jesus makes you blind to the realities around you and to the suffering of people who aren’t Jesus boinking idiots just like you (or who are, but have the wrong skin color….). And, of course, mostly it makes people blind to the reality that a substantial fraction of the planet has moved well beyond us on all measures of social well-being. You know, shit like life span, health disparities across ethnic groups, median income, wealth, inequality, functioning democracy, social mobility, educational performance, crime, human rights….shit like that. We basically suck, and are now fighting it out with Portugal and Turkey for the bottom feeder positions among “industrial democracies.”

But, we are Jesus’ chosen nation. Not Belgium, or even the Netherlands, much less Finland. And, since we are the nation of Jesus, we must be the best nation in the world, otherwise Jesus would not be an American. As you can see above, the religious rubes who believe the Bible is the absolute word of god think that America is the greatest nation in the world, that we have the highest quality of life, are just fucking better than other countries, and that if the rest of the world would be more American, it’d be a better place. On the first two items nearly 90% of the fundies think USA is number 1, and the less fundy aren’t too far behind. Many of the seculars also misjudge American superiority. And, of course, in order to be TRULY AMERICAN you MUST be Christian, so says two thirds of  Fundamentalist Christian Americans. Jesus Fuck a Bunny in the Ass. We’re Number 1! USA USA USA!

Fuck you in the ass, because you love Jesus.



Oh God, these women are two of the most important and talented cultural producers of our era. Garfunkel and Oates! This is the perfect oppositional cultural product for this current era when a bunch of white conservative Christians are actively and successfully militating to eliminate the right to abortion, continuing to replace sex education with religious bullshit, and (in their wet dream) to make contraception illegal. But, if contraception is illegal, the insurance companies are gonna be funding cultural production to make anal sex much more normative. You gotta think outside the box if you aren’t picking up monthly’s that include the risk of pregnancy.



Why Conservatives hate science now, and Liberals hated science in the 1980s


Phillip Cohen is on target about the simultaneous impact of political and religious values and commitments on support for science, and my main point in my previous post was to emphasize that Republican political identification is not related to support for science—largely because Republicans used to be the ones who loved “science” for giving us nuclear weapons, star wars defense shields, AWACs, nuclear power, and environmental degradation. But, after the cold war, science became the enemy—we don’t need much science to militarily dominate third world countries, and those damned scientists got all uppity with their ravings about environmental contamination, climate change, and, of course, most of them are atheists who believe in evolution!

Above you can maybe see a graphic showing this using the book counts in Google NGRAM—I cannot for the life of me figure out how to save this as a real image graph. As you can see, science and military were a dominate theme in the cold war, and that escalated with Raygun’s star wars program. Then, BOOOM! The Soviet empire collapsed and nobody much cared about science and the military….but instead science and evolution took over as a dominate theme. By 2002 more books were on Science and Evolution than science and military. Science and environment never crosses above science and military (yet), but it comes close and follows the same pattern.

Science and climate is not nearly as hot, but again we see science linked to things like climate change—-an uncomfortable scientific truth for conservatives.