orgtheory.net

unresolved controversy bleg

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Installing Order, the sociology of science and technology blog, has a request – can you identify scholarly work about unresolved scientific controversies? 

I need your help: anybody know a few research papers or a book specifically about unresolved controversies? It would be terrific if there was some conceptualization, or even a functional analysis of the manifest and latent consequences of unresolved controversies. In fact, it would be amazing to see research on “intentionally unresolved controversies.”

My hunch is that they should be rare because writers probably want to focus on narrative with clear stories. Anthropology is full of unresolved controversies, so maybe focusing on the writing surrounding Napoleon Chagnon might be helpful.

What would you suggest?

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Written by fabiorojas

November 28, 2016 at 12:33 am

classical music for social scientists

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

November 27, 2016 at 12:04 am

be safe, enjoy the holiday

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The blog will be back post holiday. Be safe and enjoy life. Now, for something completely different…

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

November 23, 2016 at 12:01 am

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jesse singal discusses effective protest

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At Science of Us, New York Magazine’s blog about behavioral science, Jesse Singal has a lengthy feature on the topic of how to be effective at protest, especially in the Trump era (I still cringe when writing that):

Which raises some obvious questions: What is the best, most efficient way to channel this energy? What makes protests work, and what makes them backfire and solidify opinion against the protesters? The answers to these questions, drawn from the research of scholars who have dedicated their careers to in-depth interviews with activists, protesters, and organizers, can both offer guidance to those spearheading the movement against Trump, and offer some interesting glimpses into the surprising political psychology of resistance.

The article interviews a lot of sociologists who study protest such as Dana Fisher, Ziad Munson, Michael T. Heaney and myself. From the conclusion:

Taken together, then, all this research points to three general rules for the organizers of the D.C. protests, as well as the other protests that are likely to crop up in the days ahead:

1. Trump can be useful as a galvanizing force, but keep things focused on whatever your particular issue is. That issue will be around long after Trump is gone, and will, in many cases, require forms of activism and advocacy that have little to do with the man himself. The goal should be to give people ways to make progress on the specific issue threatened by Trump, not to protest the man himself endlessly.

2. Make everyone who is interested in your cause, or who exhibits curiosity about it, feel welcome. Other than wanting to help, there should be almost zero prerequisites. If someone doesn’t speak the lingo, or doesn’t know what intersectionality is, or anything else — it doesn’t matter — they can still contribute. And the more you can make activism part of their social life, the more of a meaningful role you can give them, the more likely they will be to stick around and to spread the word. Education on specific ideological issues can always come later.

3. Stay nonviolent. At a time when passions are high there is a real potential for backlash. There are times when disruptive protests can be strategically deployed, but nonviolence is key.

For those who are unhappy that Trump was elected, the easy part — the donations, the Facebook and Twitter posts, the initial broadcasting of outrage and solidarity — is over. Actual resistance, actual organizing, is harder. “I think that the evidence across the political spectrum is that you need to get people involved beyond just their computers and beyond just sending in money to have any impact,” said Fisher. And that takes difficult, careful, on-the-ground-work. Luckily, activists aren’t starting from square one. Anyone who does their homework will know which tactics are likely to work, and which are more likely to flame out.

It’s a nice article. Read the whole thing.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

 

Written by fabiorojas

November 22, 2016 at 3:59 am

critique of a recent ajs genetics paper: levi-martin v. guo, li, wang, cai and duncan

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John Levi-Martin has written a comment on a recent paper by Guo, Li, Wang, Cai, and Duncan  claiming that the social contagion of binge drinking associated with a medium genetic propensity. Levi-Martin claims that GLWCD having simply misread their data:

Guo, Li, Wang, Cai and Duncan (2015) recently claimed to have provided evidence for a
general theory of gene-environment interaction. The theory holds that those who are labelled as having high or low genetic propensity to alcohol use will be unresponsive to environmental factors that predict binge-drinking among those of moderate propensity. They actually demonstrate evidence against their theory, but do not seem to have understood this.
The main claim is that GLWCD are testing against nulls rather than properly estimating a U-shaped effect:
This is consequential because of the way that choose to examine their data. Although
the verbal description of the swing theory here refers to the comparison of magnitudes  (“more likely”), the methods used by GLWCD involve successive tests of the null hypothesis across three subsets formed by partitioning the sample by level of what is termed genetic propensity. If we denote these three subsets L, M and H, standing for low, medium and high propensity, then, for the kth predictor, they estimate three slopes, bLk, bMk, and bHk. Because the swing theory does not require that any particular predictor have an effect, but only that if it does, it does not in the extreme propensity tiers, this theory holds that for any k, bLk≈bHk≈ 0.
Publishing note: The comment is on SocArXiv for all to read. If the criticism holds water, it’s a shame that it is not in a journal, preferably the AJS. If journals simply aren’t interested in error correction, then they simply aren’t into science.
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

November 21, 2016 at 3:29 am

tournier sonatine

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

social science did ok with the 2016 election but not great

masket-graph

From Seth Masket at Pacific Standard.

People have been having meltdowns over polls, but I’m a bit more optimistic. When you look at what social science has to say about elections, it did ok last week. I am going to avoid poll aggregators like Nate Silver because they don’t fully disclose what they do and they appear to insert ad hoc adjustments. Not horrible, but I’ll focus on what I can see:

  1. Nominations: The Party Decides model is the standard. Basically, the idea is that party elites choose the nominee, who is then confirmed by the voters. It got the Democratic nomination right but completely flubbed the GOP nomination. Grade: C+.
  2. The “fundamentals” of the two party vote: This old and trusty model is a regression between two party vote share and recent economic conditions. Most versions of this model predicted a slim victory for the incumbent party. The figure above is from Seth Masket, who showed that Clinton 2 got almost exactly what the model predicted. Grade: A
  3. Polling: Averaged out, the poll averages before the election showed Clinton 2 getting +3.3 more points than Trump. She is probably getting about %.6 more than Trump. So the polls were off by about 2.7%. That’s within the margin of error for most polls. I’d say that’s a win. The polls, though, inflated the Johnson vote. Grade: B+.
  4. Campaigns don’t matter theory: Clinton 2 outspent, out organized, and out advertised Trump (except in the upper midwest) and got the same result as a “fundamentals” model would predict. This supports the view that campaigning has a marginal effect in high information races. Grade: A.

But what about the Electoral College? Contrary to what some folks may think, this is a lot harder to predict because state level polls produce worse results in general. This is why poll aggregators have to tweak the models a lot to get Electoral College forecasts and why they are often off. Also, the Electoral College is designed to magnify small shifts in opinion. A tiny shift in, say, Florida could move your Electoral College total by about 5%. Very unstable. That’s why a lot of academic steer clear of predicting state level results. All I’ll say is that you should take these with a grain of salt.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

November 15, 2016 at 12:01 am