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some actions for happiness

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Jonathan Haidt’s Happiness Hypothesis is a book that has deeply influenced me. At first, I thought it was a dry review of happiness research, which it is. But it is also a book with a practical bent. It wants to the reader to actually experience more happiness.

A theme of Happiness Hypothesis is that there are rather modest things you can do actually increase your happiness level. Perhaps the biggest insight is that we all have negativity bias. We remember things that are negative and forget the positive. If you internalize that point, then you can look around and try to remove things that create negativity.

For example, I don’t read the news, as it is shallow and is driven by negativity. I also refuse to follow people on social media who are relentlessly negative and critical of things. I had few relentelessly negative friends to start with, but I now minimize contact with them. Even in my activist work on open borders, I associate myself with people who have a constructive and positive outlook, rather than people who see nothing but repression in mind.

As suggested by Haidt, and other psychologists, you should also develop habits of mind and body that encourage happiness. I do the gratitude exercise – everyday, I try to think of things that I am grateful for. It helps a lot. I try to reduce judgmentalism, which means that I actively refuse to label other people as good and bad most of the time. I let things pass. I also now avoid comparisons when possible. I try my hardest to not obsess about why someone might have more material success than me. I try to focus on what I can do.

I also try to arrange my live to as to reduce stressors. I have a short commute to work and I am eating better and I am exercising much more than when I was younger. Perhaps equally important, I try to fill my life with interesting people and activities. My experience is that good relationships create good people. It truly helps.

Maybe some of these strategies might work for you, maybe some of them don’t. That’s ok. The message isn’t that you have to adopt these strategies like a fad diet. Rather, I want to encourage you to think about your internal self as something that can be nurtured and supported. And it can be done in some intuitive and relatively simple ways.

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
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Written by fabiorojas

February 20, 2019 at 5:29 am

Posted in uncategorized

trust me, you’ll like this one

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

February 17, 2019 at 5:40 am

Posted in uncategorized

the unsatisfying patriots dynasty, an orgtheory explanation

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The Patriots are clearly a historically dominant football team, on par with the Lombardi Packers dynasty or the Boston Celtics. But their domination leaves people beyond Boston a little bit hollow.

One reason is aesthetic. There’s the scandals about deflated footballs and secret video tapes.* But the deeper aesthetic point is that the Patriots have won a lot of big games on really weird plays and random events. They won a conference championship and a Superbowl on sudden death over time plays, where the opponent never got a possession. There’s the infamous “tuck rule game.”  Lots of bad plays and penalties by opponents, a la SB LI. And all four of the last Superbowls have literally gone down to the wire. The Patriots’ wins in the post season aren’t crushing domination of the next guy. They’re just weird and bizarre.

This points to an organizational issue. The reason that the Patriot’s have done so well isn’t that they have superior athletes or a better way of playing football. They’ve done well because their execution is second to none and their coach is unusually good at responding in game to opponents. Consistency and flexibility allow you to exploit opponent mistakes and capitalize on luck.  For example, recent analyses have shown that Tom Brady is incredibly good at not getting sacked and simply holding the ball. In a game where time of possession is crucial, this is a huge advantage. It is also cumulative. A quarterback who is not sacked, is not injured. Not getting injured means better plays, more experience, and more wins. Brady does his fair share, by simply holding the ball and avoiding turnovers. And it comes from the top as well. Commentator after commentator points out that Belichick’s in game responses to opponents are second to none.

Thus, the Patriot’s domination of their sport is a baffling mystery to many because it is about exploiting a system rather than reshaping it. You don’t gasp at the revolutionary basketball of the Golden State Warriors, or the sheer athleticism of Kobe era Lakers. You don’t see the joy of a new offensive system being born, like the Niners riding the West Coast offense to victory in the 1980s. Heck, you don’t even see LeBron’s will to power at work. Instead, you see an invisible system of pulleys and levers that generate just enough points to grab the lead and use up just enough time to leave the opposing coach breaking his clipboard and wondering why he didn’t have those extra thirty seconds for a field goal.

* Note that New England’s one recent Superbowl loss was to a team whose great play was practiced in a hotel ballroom to prevent snooping eyes.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

February 15, 2019 at 5:20 am

Posted in uncategorized

why you should review horrible journal submissions

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As an editor, I often get messages, or reviews, that say “Why did you send this to me? This is so horrible!” Here is why you should review bad papers:

  • The editors may not know they are bad. Seriously. Editors are usually selected because they have some good publication experience. But we aren’t perfect, especially in sub fields outside their expertise.
  • The editors may need political cover. All editors live in a world with other scholars, who they may be friends with or who may be very prominent. That doesn’t mean that all their papers are golden. Have peer reviews that clearly explain the badness makes rejections way easier to hand out.
  • You can only do so much with desk rejection. Even if we desk rejected a huge majority of papers, we are still left with papers that look interesting but whose limitations can only be ascertained through reading.
  • We need quality control. If you think the ASR publishes garbage, then you need to take the initiative and review the bad papers they send you. Conversely, you should also approve of good papers.
  • If you only review good papers, then you are a free rider. A small minority of reviewers will end up doing the thankless, but needed, task of reviewing bad papers.

We need to be nice in our rejections of bad papers, but we still need reject them. Please help out!

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

February 13, 2019 at 5:04 am

Posted in uncategorized

go to the 2019 junior theorist symposium!

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JTS: 2019 CALL FOR PAPERS

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 11, 2019 BY 11:59PM EST

The 13th Junior Theorists Symposium (JTS) is now open to new submissions. The symposium will be held in New York, New York on August 9th, 2019. The JTS is a one-day conference featuring the work of emerging sociologists engaged in theoretical work, broadly defined. Sponsored in part by the Theory Section of the ASA, the conference has provided a platform for the work of early career sociologists since 2005. We especially welcome submissions that broaden the practice of theory beyond its traditional themes, topics, and disciplinary function.

It is our honor to announce that Isaac Reed (University of Virginia), Amin Ghaziani (University of British Columbia) and Adia Harvey Wingfield (University of Washington in St. Louis) will serve as discussants for this year’s symposium. In addition, we are pleased to announce an after-panel entitled “Teaching Theory: Debates, Tensions, and Future Directions,” to feature Robin Wagner-Pacifici (The New School), Stefan Timmermans (University of California, Los Angeles), Shamus Khan (Columbia University), and Fabio Rojas (Indiana University, Bloomington). The symposium will also feature a talk by 2018 Junior Theorists Award winner Erin McDonnell (University of Notre Dame).

We invite all ABD graduate students, postdocs, and assistant professors who received their PhDs from 2015 onwards to submit up to a three-page précis (800-1000 words). The précis should include the key theoretical contribution of the paper and a general outline of the argument. Successful précis from recent year’s symposium can be viewed here. Please note that the précis must be for a paper that is not under review or forthcoming at a journal.

As in previous years, in order to encourage a wide range of submissions, we do not have a pre-specified theme for the conference. Instead, papers will be grouped into sessions based on emergent themes and discussants’ areas of interest and expertise.

Please submit your précis via this Google formFauzia Husain (University of Virginia) and Madeleine Pape (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will review the submissions. You can contact them at juniortheorists@gmail.com with any questions. The deadline is February 11, 2019 by 11:59PM EST. By mid-March we will extend up to 12 invitations to present at JTS 2019. Please plan to share a full paper by July 21, 2019. Presenters will be asked to attend the entire symposium and should plan accordingly.

Finally, for friends and supporters of JTS, we ask if you might consider donating either on-site, or via Venmo (handle @JTS2019, email address juniortheorists@gmail.com). If you are submitting a proposal to JTS 2019, we kindly ask that should you wish to donate, you only do so after the final schedule has been announced.

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

February 7, 2019 at 5:34 am

Posted in uncategorized

personality research is not garbage

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Academics love to trash anything that smacks of standardized testing. Personality research is one such area. Mention “Meyer-Briggs” or “the big 5 personality traits” and you’ll get a smirk.

But personality research is one of the most solid and robust areas of social science. Personality is relatively stable compared to many other psychological traits and it is actually not a bad predictor of things like job satisfaction and relationship quality. The most resent item is from a professor of psychology who decided to replicate dozens of studies from personality research. From Christopher Soto’s Twitter feed:

I’ll save you the effort. Personality research replicates very, very well. The one problem Soto found is that since many studies used small samples, the replications often found smaller effects based on larger samples.

Just to give you a sense of how well it replicates compared to others fields: Cristobal Young’s replication attempt of sociology could *GET THE DATA!* from 28% of selected papers. Other attempts to replicate psychology, economics, and health/medicine have also not done well.

So let’s give it up for the personality psychologists – they got it!

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

February 6, 2019 at 5:34 am

Posted in uncategorized

why I (mostly) don’t worry about inequality in the academy

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This evening, there was a discussion on Twitter about the concentration of elite BA holders in sociology graduate programs. Jeremy Freese, for example, put up this post about which programs had multiple alumni in the Harvard grad soc program:

This confirms a joke I like to tell, “sociologists tell you labor markets are unfair and then they show you!”

I don’t worry about this. Why? If one really cares about racial or gender inequality, then the focus should be on professions. Why? Because profession-level differences in income account for much more income inequality than most other factors. In other words, your income is related to your job and many jobs have built in boosts in income, like medicine.

I actually do care about equity in higher ed. I’ve published on minority issues in the academy and I share whatever wisdom I have with minority scholars who care to listen. But I have no illusion. Increasing the number of Cal State BA’s at Harvard’s program isn’t really about overall social improvement. It may be about justice and merit, but it will affect a tiny sliver of the population. Even then, academics are under paid compared to other high skill laborers, so you’re probably *increasing* inequality by encouraging people to go into academia, even at elite places.

If you really care about inequality, here is what you can do as a professor of sociology:

  • For your first generation students, or under-represented students, encourage them to pursue careers in high paying professions and private business. Given them GRE/MCAT/GMAT/LSAT tips, write them strong (and accurate!) letters of recommendation, and make sure they are aware of these opportunities.
  • In your teachings, don’t demonize professions or occupations that have created wealth. For example, sociologists will indulge in “soak the rich” rhetoric. Instead, talk about what people can do to encourage ethical business practice and encourage wealth creation.
  • Have panels of alumni who work in high paying professions talk to your students? Yes, sociology alumni make great social workers and teachers, but they should also enter the ranks of business, medicine, and high tech. We should encourage this!

This will have more impact on people’s well being than focusing on shuffling around a few students from lower tier programs to higher tier graduate programs.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

February 4, 2019 at 5:22 am

Posted in uncategorized