orgtheory.net

should stata just give up and die?

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I love Stata. I use Stata. I make my students use Stata. But I’ve got a problem and it’s called R. The problem is that R is also amazing. My friends use it. My students use it and a lot of social science/data science is now R or Python.

Why is Stata cool? Simple – it is built for stats. Regression is simply reg y x. Weights, clustering, and using subsamples is easy. The manuals and tutorials are cool. It is also way, way stable and there are great libraries that archive algorithms and commands. There is a Stata journal showing you you how to implement the latest models.

But while Stata is amazing, it lacks two major advantages over R: Stata is not free and Stata is not consistent with the broader computer science world (i.e., once you know how to program in general, it is easy to get R and Python, while Stata has it’s own logic).

What should I do? The answer is pretty simple. Learn some R. But the deeper question is what should we do with Stata? Should we continue to use Stata in teaching? Why not dump Stata entirely and make all social science students learn R? What reason do social scientists have in continuing to use Stata, or SAS, or SPSS? Why not just make statistical education and computer science education come together? Why not just say, “look if you want to get a degree in economics, or sociology, or political science, or any field where statistics is common, you will just have to suck it up and learn a little about computer code?” It would be cheaper and prepare students better for a world were statistical programming is now subsumed into basic computer programming. The world of SAS specialists, or COBOL or FORTRAN specialists, is coming to an end. Maybe we should admit it and move on.

As every Marine is a rifleman, every social scientist is an R coder.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome

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Written by fabiorojas

September 8, 2017 at 4:01 am

the new underground railroad

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The DACA program will come to an end in six months. There is a good chance that Congress will let it expire or pass immigration reforms that makes it very difficult for DREAMers and other undocumented migrants to attain permanent residency and citizenship. They will then be subject to deportation, which is a cruel and unusual punishment.

It is probably time to consider establishing non-violent forms of resistance to unjust laws. One possibility is that activists might consider creating a new underground railroad, whereby friendly people can house people who are travelling to more immigrant friendly places, such as sanctuary cities or other nations that might grant asylum.

You might ask whether underground railroad activities are bad because they break the law. My response is simple: there is no moral obligation to obey unjust laws. As I’ve written before, migration laws are unjust. They do not improve people. They impose harsh penalties for minor infractions. They humiliate people. They create a class of second class citizens. They do not improve natives, aside from the pleasure that some get from seeing others punished. Thus, if activists find a way to circumvent migration laws and policies, then they act from a moral high ground.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome

Written by fabiorojas

September 7, 2017 at 4:52 am

Posted in uncategorized

racism and the liberal democratic society

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Most people who think about democratic societies don’t mean “direct democracy.” They don’t want a world where every whim of the majority is translated into policy. Rather, most think about representative democracy and systems of checks and balances because, frankly, the voters often demand unwise things. Furthermore, when we think about democracies, we often think of a goal that might be called the liberal democratic society – a society where the state takes the input of voters seriously while allowing people to set the course of their own lives.

However, there is still a problem in democratic societies. Even with elected representatives and checks and balances, minorities can still push through illiberal policies that directly harm other minorities. I think American racism is a great example of that. Roughly speaking, there is a chunk of the electorate that has a terrible view of immigrants and ethnic minorities. This article from The Root briefly describes recent polling data from the National Opinion Research Center. About a quarter of Republicans and about 15% of Democrats hold highly negative views of Blacks, describing them as less intelligent and lazy.

Now, in historical terms, this is a huge improvement. Fifty years ago, most whites held very negative opinions of Blacks. So why should you be worried? The reason is that there is a strong correlation between partisan identification and nativist/racist sentiment. For example, in the GSS data reported by The Root, the  partisan gap is about 10%-15% points. And once you get a strong faction within a party, they can occasionally win elections – even national elections.

So what do we do when virulent minorities gain power? As we saw in the 2016 presidential system, parties don’t have the power to stop them in a primary system. But we are seeing signs of life. The business community is slowly abandoning Trump. The military has decided to drag its feet on Trump’s transgender soldier ban. In a few cases, the courts have blocked a few of Trump’s more repressive policies, such as the ban on migration from Muslim countries.

This points to an important feature of liberal democracy. It’s liberal character is not in the policy, but the wider culture. Our institutions have had a mixed record in preventing folks like Trump and the virulent “deplorable” 20% that brought him to power. The Republican party collapsed in 2016 and mainstream “establishment” Republicans were helpless to stop Trump. Congress has stopped some of Trump’s worst excesses, but only because the Senate is in relative disarray, not because of active resistance. The strongest resistance has been from outside the political system. Now that Trump has announced the end of DACA, we’ll see how the culture of liberal democracy expresses itself. Will it collapse and agree to a new immigration system that limits movement even more? Or will it assert itself and promote a system that is consistent with freedomo of movement?

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome 

Written by fabiorojas

September 6, 2017 at 4:54 am

dim kids of the ivy league, part 2

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A long time ago, I wrote about the common knowledge in higher education research that many students at Ivy League schools do not qualify and are there for political reasons. This tweet from journalist James Murphy captures some recent data on the percentage of students admitted on “legacy.” It is very, very large. It overshadows athletes, affirmative action and other non-academic admits.

Quick take: I think you can make legitimate criticisms of athletes and affirmative action admits. But if you do, you really then have to confront the biggest issue in admission – legacies. Are you ready to do that?

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome

Written by fabiorojas

September 5, 2017 at 12:27 am

mister rogers v. electronica

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome

Written by fabiorojas

September 3, 2017 at 12:01 am

after charlottesville: the conversation continues

Written by fabiorojas

September 1, 2017 at 4:33 pm

three cheers for speedy open access

Over at Scatter Plot, Dan Hirschman discusses the advantages of publishing in Sociological Sciences, which employs a simple “up or down” decision process and fast time to print:

When we finished our first revisions, we could have sent the paper to a traditional journal and waited. If we were lucky, the paper might have been reviewed “quickly” in just a couple months, received an R&R, been re-reviewed in a couple more months, eventually accepted, and published, a process that would have taken at least a year, and typically more like 2. Instead, on June 21st we submitted the paper for review at Sociological Science and simultaneously uploaded the draft to SocArXiv. Posting the paper to SocArXiv meant that whether or not the paper was accepted in a timely fashion at a journal it would be available to anyone who was interested.

Sociological Science conditionally accepted the paper on July 17, just under a month later. We revised the paper and resubmitted it on July 27. The revised version was accepted on July 29th, page proofs came on August 9th, and the published version came out August 28th. Total time from submission to print: just over two months.

Dan also notes that his paper was read by a gazillion people when the Trump administration signalled that it would (re)-litigate affirmative action. By having a public draft in SocArxiv, millions could access the paper. A win for Dan and Ellen and a win for science. Three cheers for open access.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

August 31, 2017 at 12:01 am