Archive for October, 2015

Why Religious Studies Should Die.


I just heard that both candidates for President of the American Academy of Religion are conservative Christian theologians. I thought it appropriate to resurrect this from a few years ago. Yes, religious studies should die.

Iranianredneck's Weblog

I think we have a subject-object issue here.... I think we have a subject-object issue here….

I spent 8 years as a joint appointed faculty member in religious studies at one of the top 10 programs (in anyone’s book) in the field. Each year, Vanderbilt churned out about 3 PhD’s a year in each of 6 separate areas: (1) Theology; (2) Church History; (3) New Testament/early Christianity; (4) Old testament (judaism); (5) Christian Ethics; and (6) History and Critical Theories of Religion (whatever that means, that was “my” group). Each year about 15 people completed their PhD’s at Vanderbilt. And, each year almost none of them got jobs. While it is nice to look back and focus on success stories like Anthea Butler, who is now tenured at Penn. My mind tends to drift to those who are working at printing presses or spending their fifth stint as an adjunct or working for religious organizations far beneath the…

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William Form


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William Form is gone. Sociology has lost one of its most important figures, someone who forged a research legacy that is unmatched and did so in circumstances that few understand. There simply are not scholars like him around today, and it is depressing. I wish I had known him better and had had more time to discuss scholarship with him.

I first met Bill when he was tagging along with Joan Huber to do a plenary at the SSS in Nashville in 1988. Ken Land introduced me. I was struck that he seemed interested in my research even though I had him pegged as being antagonistic to cultural stuff. I next met him when I interviewed at Ohio State in 1990, and he was gracious and hands off, saying at the outset that he had nothing to do with who would be hired (which would not be me). Over the years, we were intermittently engaged, often having dinner or drinks at various sociological excursions.

Then I fell from grace, for some. For family reasons, I resigned a position at Vanderbilt and came to my current humble abode. Bill cornered me at one meeting or another right after I came to SIU, and we had a long discussion about scholarship, values, work, and what it really meant. I never knew how much he had been through. When I returned from the meetings he sent me a copy of his book, Work and Academic Politics: A Journeyman’s Story, which everyone should buy and read. It’s his story, and it is humbling for all. Bill Form had it hard. He wasn’t some pre-boomer who made Full Professor from nothing. He helped forge modern sociology, and he did it while teaching a horrific load of classes and working on numerous research projects–often without compensation. He moved from minor colleges and eventually into the elite, working his ass off and paying some of the prices we pay.

It meant more than almost anything that Bill Form acknowledged me, and I read his autobiography with many tears in my eyes. Sometimes, you know that there are people like you. It is hard to convey. I have often thought about his struggles when I’ve felt put upon, overworked, or under appreciated. Bill implored me to send his story on to others. I did ask my humble library to order it. But I can’t give up my own copy. It’s too important to me. I love his life, and I’m so privileged that he bothered to connect me to his own story of the struggles of academics.

And, he hit me with his cane once….I’ll miss him a lot. He can never be replaced.

Gay Republicans and the Closet of Conservatism

GSS: 1990-2014 for behavior, 2008-2014 for identity

GSS: 1990-2014 for behavior, 2008-2014 for identity

Who are the homocons, and how many are there? I’ve been dealing with an R and R that raises some questions about the political diversity of GLB populations and so I was investigating this “diversity.” What is interesting is that the GSS measures for sexuality are twofold: one is behavioral—who did you have sex with in the last five years? The other is identity—do you consider yourself heterosexual or straight, or bisexual or gay or lesbian? The numbers aren’t there for the identity measure for separating gender and sexuality, but even without that, there are some interesting associations.

While about 23% of GSS respondents claim Republican Party identifications the percentage is about 11% for behavioral GLB people (people who report having sex with someone of the same sex). That proportion may have declined in the last few years, with the continuation of vehement homophobia in the Republican Party–but only down to 9.6%. So, nearly 1 in 10 are Republicans…..if we only look at behavior. When we examine identification as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the proportion of Republicans declines to 6.2%.

Obviously, many more closeted people are Republicans than are self identified GLB people. And, the closeted make up a much higher proportion of Republicans:

Percentage of Republicans who are GLB: GSS

Percentage of Republicans who are GLB: GSS

Since 1990, about 2% of self-identified Republicans are GLB based on behavioral measures, and that doesn’t decline much from 2008-2014 where 1.9% of Republicans are GLB on behavior. But, identification matters, and the GSS shows that only 1.1% of Republicans are self-identified GLB people. It appears than nearly half of the remaining “gay base” of Republicans are closeted.

We don’t know who is ahead in the primaries, and it is almost certainly not who is polling best in shit polls

Because nothing is more important than made up numbers.

Because nothing is more important than made up numbers.

I’ve been holding back on this for a while, only because I fear some right wing toad at Pew will agree and tell someone who has influence to alter GOP policy, but I am quite certain that Donald Trump is not the favorite among Republican Primary Voters. Walker and Perry should not have dropped out–Perry would likely have been at a minimum the third most popular candidate if he’d have just cooled his jets. Bush is doing the right thing and not panicking, perhaps because someone finally woke up and figured this out.

I was heartened to see Robert Wuthnow agrees that shit polls tell us nothing and he even quotes this humble blog in his new book. If you think about what the whore pollsters are doing these days, you can easily see where Trump winds up on top in bad national polls and why Hillary appears unbeatable even though she can only get a few hundred rich people to show up at a cocktail event while Bernie Sanders is filling stadiums with raucus supporters.

The whore polls are probably achieving less than .5% response rate. Yes, you got that right. I don’t even believe they get their claimed 5-8% response–not even Gallup or other supposedly reputable whores. The Pew-Gallup Religious landscape study claims 10-11%–my hand calculation was 8.8%, and they worked on that. They aren’t working on polls that happen every single day. They have caller banks of low-wage workers (probably piecemeal pay, more interviews, more money….hmmmmm….). They’re just trying to get to 500 interviews. Calling mostly on landlines—which most younger people (and now we’re talking 50 being young….) and minorities don’t have. And, most people don’t answer their phone if they don’t know who’s calling, this is true of cell and landlines. We almost never answer our phones, and certainly not if a foreign number or “no details” is in the caller id.

Who answers their phone when called by strangers? Old conservative white people. And, not just any old conservative white people, the types who watch reality TV and sit around in their armchairs like Archie Bunker. Trump supporters. Rich professional conservatives who would vote for Bush or Walker or Perry or Kasich (all governors from heavily Republican high population states) do not answer their phones when plebes call. They probably pay extra for a blocking service. The other types of people who answer the phone when strangers call are the old retired Democrats who used to be schoolteachers, nurses, and other civil servants—heavily female, and much more conservative than the majority of Democrats.

I don’t know how Trump fest is going to work out, but I suspect Bush will weather the storm and prevail. But, tomorrow Bernie Sanders is going to destroy Hillary Clinton in the debate, and the polls will still show that she’s ahead among the bluehairs.  Sanders will win easily unless Biden enters, and he’ll beat Biden as well. Hillary is gong to have a hard time convincing Biden to broker her his delegates, since I think Biden will beat Hillary. It’ll be an interesting convention if that happens.

Peer Pressure

I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

This is just like ASR….

As is usual, there continues to be considerable whining about the peer review process. I can relate. Sort of. But, the idea that there is another alternative is total bullshit. AND, the whining is just that, whining. Whining babies whining about their privilege being momentarily abrogated by people who think that maybe their shit does indeed stink. It’s especially discouraging that whining is coming from overprivileged full professors at major research universities who can’t seem to be bothered to revise manuscripts because they believe that their shit don’t stink.

Peer review is not broken. It works. It’s not perfect, but nothing is, duh…. We all may experience negative appraisals, and even unjust appraisals, but that is far better than a system which only publishes shit from the anointed ones.  Indeed, the bullshit open access online shit is just that, a venue for the anointed to act as if they published something peer-reviewed without all of that nasty peer review process.  If you are not one of the cool kids, they won’t accept your paper. Yeah, that’s better than peer review….if you are a full professor at a major PhD granting program who is in favor with the gatekeepers of those online bullshit journals.

Let me just tell you a thing or two, having published a dozen or four or more in real peer-reviewed journals. First, while we all should bitch about our negative reviews, acting like they are the problem is not productive. Once I get the piss out of my eyes, I try to approach all of my R and R’s from the perspective that the reviewers are always right. That’s not just to kiss ass. That’s because maybe I’m wrong and they’re right. I may not agree with criticisms, but it is essential that critiques are taken seriously and addressed in subsequent versions. Not doing so is really arrogant, counterproductive, and stagnates your scholarship. When people tell you repeatedly that your framing of a paper is misguided, you really should listen, particularly when this happens six or eight times at different journals and from people with different theoretical and methodological orientations. It’s really cheap these days to send a paper to another journal without doing shit to it, but if you really think you are Mark Granovetter and this is 1971 you are deluded.

I will now return to taking seriously the many criticisms of the two R and R’s I have on my plate….I suggest that you do the same, because it will make your scholarship better.

Can we have some gun troll now, pretty please?

Support for Gun Control and Cun Ownership Trend: 1972-2014 GSS

Support for Gun Control and Cun Ownership Trend: 1972-2014 GSS

Ah, another day, another mass killing in the US. Typical. Another psychotic white male who has a long history of psychotic disorders, but yet was able to acquire multiple high powered, concealable weapons and shitons of ammo. It seems that at least 10 are now dead, with another 20 wounded.

We are told by Gallup, who is bought and paid for by the NRA, that there is no hope that there will be any gun control. We are told by these public opinion manipulators, who enjoy unlimited access to our “media” that Americans love guns, and that all Americans own guns, and that no Americans want to control access to guns. Bullshit.

Gun ownership in America is at a historic low, and it is going down. Only 30% of households own guns, and within those households, 25% do not own guns (those are the women and children who will be murdered by their gun nut relative). So, maybe a quarter of Americans own guns. It is clear that that unhinged minority is now out purchasing more guns and ammo to prepare for the race war, or whatever.

And, the guns are now mostly for killing people, at least the ones that are the big sellers for the gun nuts. When I was a kid and hunted and was a gun nut, there were very few semi-automatic weapons, and the maximum capacity for a semi-auto handgun was 7 unless you got a very expensive exotic. Now, I can go to the redneck wal-mart gun store and buy a semi-auto handgun that doesn’t even have a safety mechanism and has a 13 shot clip….14 if you load an extra…because why not, eh? And, let’s not even get me started on the true military hardware that we can now buy for under a grand at any Wal Mart. That shit would have cost more than twice as much in 1980 dollars in 1980, if you could even get it, and they would have done a background check in most states.

Fuck Gallup. Fuck the NRA. It’s time for the majority of Americans to have their voices heard and to have some real gun control.