Have you ever seen one of those screwball comedy scenes in which the regular guy protagonist walks into a bar and only after a few bumbling scenes and conversations filled with misunderstanding and innuendo does he realize… hey, everyone here is gay, this is one of those gay bars people talk about?
I was intrigued by the conference I’m attending because it seemed ideologically diverse, as opposed to sociology discussions in which people often only seem to voice about 3% of the electromagnetic spectrum of political opinion. So I’m sitting there and it takes me the better part of the morning to realize… hey, this conference is not ideologically diverse, I’m only one of two people who seem like they have left of center views*… and why does this organization called the Liberty Fund seem to have a higher profile than, say, NSF?… wait, this is mostly a conservative conference!
At dinner, one of the fellow participants talked about how “sociology is the sewage system of social science.” Then a couple minutes later he asked if I was in political science. “Sociology.” A fair number of negative references to sociology had already been made by then, and by that point I think I had already felt a little bit like one of the repeatedly shocked dogs in the learned helplessness experiments.
* Left to the center of the electorate, I mean. I’m not left of the center of sociologists.
Update: To repeat what I said at the conference, I actually like ideological diversity in intellectual conversation. Also, I suspect many of the people had political positions there that are not easily categorized on the left-right spectrum. And, I had a good time at the conference and am thankful to its organizers, so I hope this post didn’t sound like a criticism of them.