Archive for January, 2014

Tracking support for Barbarism: Trends in Americans attitudes toward Capital Punishment

Gallup "data" on support for Capital Punishment

Gallup “data” on support for Capital Punishment

A while back, the whore pollsters were charting trends in support for the death penalty, and their data seemed to suggest increasing opposition. Of course, whore polls are so suck ass that we have no clue as to the level of support or opposition, much less trends. Yesterday, the state of Texas murdered a mentally deficient Mexican citizen, in total violation of international law, it is a shame on our nation that the Supreme Court refused the stay of execution, and Mexico—which never had the death penalty in its jurisprudence—is reeling from this blatant violation of international law. Some retarded guy killed a cop and then is murdered 20 years later by a bunch of rednecks using experimental cocktails of drugs. Wow. We suck. What a bunch of fucking barbarians the Americans are. No respect for life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. All we want is vengence, but only if someone white was harmed and if the supposed perpetrator was brown. We don’t care about silly things like whether or not the perpetrator was mentally ill or retarded. Drug manufacturers from civilized countries (now the majority of drug manufacturers because of the decline of the United States as a scientific power) have started forbidding the sale of “execution drugs” and this has created a severe shortage of the “more humane” murder tools. The result has  been that the prison-industrial complex just whipped up their own drugs to kill people with, leading to horrifically gruesome executions which tortured their victims for half an hour. It’s 2014 and we’re torture poisoning people in the name of “justice.” Of course, spurred by largely Christian religious fervor to punish evil doers, Americans think that retribution is justice.

Trends in Support for Capital Punishment: 1974-20112 GSS

Trends in Support for Capital Punishment: 1974-20112 GSS

The Gallup data are crap and their trends do not correspond to the overall patterning of support over time, but they are correct that support for murdering people is on the decline. But why? There are two factors driving the trend. First, fewer Americans adhere to Christianity, and particularly to the uncivilized form of sectarian Christianity. Indeed, MORE American Christians are now Catholic, and Catholics abandoned barbarism on this issue long ago. If you are a good Catholic, you should be opposed to execution.  Non-Christians and people who reject religion are much more likely to oppose state sanctioned murder, and their ranks are increasing. Second, non-whites understand that they and theirs are the ones who will be arbitrarily murdered if they are convicted (sometimes wrongly)  of a crime. And, non-whites make up an increasing fraction of the US population. It’d be nice of President Obama would use his power for good and impose a blanket moratorium on capital punishment, or even commute all of the death sentences handed out by our barbaric sharia-like law.

Why More Republicans Reject Evolution

Percentage Believing in Human Evolution: 2006-2012 GSS

Percentage Believing in Human Evolution: 2006-2012 GSS

Pew’s latest shitpoll on the dumbing down of the Republican Party is getting all kinds of press and reaction from the scientific community. Given that the Pew studies are barely managing 10% response rates, if that, I ignored it until I had time to see if this was actually true—though it seemed plausible and I’ll show you why. Above you can see the trends in the belief that “humans developed from animals” in the General Social Survey. They first asked this in 2006, but they have continued to do so. I present the overall trend, and the trend by Republican identification (or not) and by beliefs about the Bible. Overall, in the last six years for which we have scientifically reliable data, the understanding that humans evolved from other animals has increased from about 50% to 55%. However, for Americans who identify with the Republican Party there has been a decrease–from 42% to 37%—all of that coming between 2010 (when 44% of Republicans got the correct answer)  and 2012. In contrast, people who aren’t Republicans improved from 54% to 64%. What is really weird is that even fundamentalists who believe the bible is the word of god increased from 19% to 30%! But, we should note that is an extremely low value relative to the rest of the country. “Inspired by god” believers in the Bible are twice as likely to believe in human evolution—while people who think the bible is a book of fables written by ancient goatfuckers have been stable with around 88% believing in evolution.  So what’s wrong with Republicans?

Percentage of Republicans by Bible Beliefs: 2006-2012 GSS

Percentage of Republicans by Bible Beliefs: 2006-2012 GSS

Above you can see what happened, particularly between 2010 and 2012 when Republican support for evolution dropped by 7%, the proportion of Republicans who are fundamentalists increased by 2.2% and the proportion of Republicans who hold secular beliefs in the Bible declined by 2% (from 12.3% to 10%). So, they traded 2.2% at 30% support for 2% at 87% support. Notably, this was also during a time when the overall percentage reporting Republican identification dropped by 2%. Secular people left the Republicans, leaving the base even more squarely fundamentalist.

Ernest Q. Campbell, Sociologist, 1926-2013.



I don’t know how I missed this, but my old colleague Ernie Campbell died on July 28, 2013. I may have seen something about this in a flurry of activity, but I totally forgot if I did, until my dear friend Kim Green posted a memorium page from the Nashville Scene. There aren’t many people at Vanderbilt that I connect with very often, and I think there are only two or three current faculty who overlapped with Ernie. Ernie was somewhat on his way out when I was on my way in.  But, I know that he played a pivotal role in me being offered the job. Alan Kerckhoff, who was a young professor at Vanderbilt when Ernie got his PhD, had contacted Ernie (as had Ida Harper Simpson), and Earnie smoothed the way for me to be the “last” hire in a spree that brought in five assistant professors in two years. I don’t think I met him on my interview because he had a serious health issue not long before I interviewed. Indeed, some talked about him as being unlikely to survive. Instead, he won many master’s tennis titles for nearly two decades after that (maybe more than two decades, I’ll have to look up his results). But, Ernie did retire from producing scholarship, and we had many long conversations in the three years that we overlapped.

Ernie was a true scholar and a Southern gentleman who renounced the noxious parochialism of Southern white Christianity and dedicated himself to improving the South, and fighting for civil rights for African Americans. But, while Ernie hosted parties in Chapel Hill for Martin Luther King Jr, his scholarship wasn’t “activist” in orientation. He was a social scientist who worked his way up and became one of the most distinguished, if not the most distinguished, Vanderbilt PhD alumnus. His work on the Coleman Report solidified his stature as a serious intellectual willing to put science before ideology, even in the face of political pressure. Ernie made many contributions to sociology, and was president of the Southern Sociological Society, and a deserving member of the Roll of Honor at SSS.

I always liked Ernie and we got along quite well on many occasions. He had a longstanding interest in my work on religion, and if it wasn’t for his uncertainty about his health, we probably would have written a couple of papers together. I remember when he was cleaning out his office one day (something that took a few months), and he brought in a couple of boxes of original interviews and data card from a study he’d done on parent-child socialization back in the mid 1960s. It was some unique stuff, with several fairly sophisticated measures of religion (Ernie was from rural Georgia…..). But,  I couldn’t take the time to reenter that shit into data, and by 1994 or so, finding an old school IBM card reader was not an option at Vanderbilt.

Ernie had a great run and I know he spent the last decade or so of his life devoted to his many passions, community organizing and development, gardening, and especially tennis. I wish I would have at least let him kick my ass a few times, but I don’t even know how to play. It would have been embarrassing and no fun for either of us. He never stopped asking, though….”Tennis, anyone?”