dog food or paté?

The LA Times has this interesting piece on research about subjects evaluating different kinds of paté vs. dog food. The point they drive home: of 18 subjects only three were able to identify dog food vs. paté. That’s not many. The take home message is that  it’s hard to figure out what’s dog food. I think there’s something even more interesting going on. In the last sentence they note that even though only 17% correctly identified the dog food, a wopping 72% thought that the dog food tasted the worst of all the things they ate. In other words, it’s not that folks just weren’t able to identify the taste of dog food – most could. Rather, many subjects obviously expected “real” paté to taste bad. That, to me, is fascinating.

drive by citations

I’ve been grading the (in general very good) papers by the grad students in my culture seminar, and I’ve noticed a phenomenon I don’t remember from prior seminars. I’m naming it “drive by citations.” These are, essentially, references to a work that make a very quick appearance, extract a very small, specific point from the work, and move on without really considering the existence or depth of connection between the student’s work and the cited work. This is an issue, in part, because the claim or finding  being cited is often much more nuanced and complex than the quick way it is used in the citing work. I’m wondering if this is the result of the increasing availability of online resources like Google Scholar and such, which make it easy to find and cite materials without spending much time considering them.

how do you deal with something like this?

I don’t want this to be an, “Ugh, my students suck” post. I’m actually curious how you all deal with students who write things, that, well, you might find upsetting. I had students read American Project. I also asked them to go see Venkatesh’s film, “Dislocation” and write a blurb about it. One student sent an essay that said something like this: Continue reading “how do you deal with something like this?”

i have some issues with this

A fellow sociologist has published this op-ed in the Washington Post. It makes the case for marrying young. I have nothing against marrying young. But I do have some issues with the argument. It begins,

The average age of American men marrying for the first time is now 28. That’s up five full years since 1970 and the oldest averagesince the Census Bureau started keeping track. If men weren’t pulling women along with them on this upward swing, I wouldn’t be complaining. But women are now taking that first plunge into matrimony at an older age as well. Continue reading “i have some issues with this”

i wonder

So the LA Times has this story about genetically modified corn. Basically: this corn has vitamins that enable folks to get more nutrition from this product. I’m not going to insert a rant about GMOs. But this gives me a lot of pause. In low-yield, high risk agricultural areas, is it really a great idea to promote more mono-culture? And I can’t help but wonder about the creating of community health dependence on a crop that is likely pattened and owned by a company. Call me old fashioned, but to quote akphd, I’d rather, “create social systems in which people can actually access balanced diets with adequate nutrition.”