the polanski thing

I don’t get the outrage at Polanski’s arrest. The guy got a 13 year old drunk, drugged her, and forced her into having sex (both vaginal, and then worrying about the fact that she wasn’t on the pill, anal). Yes, his trial was botched. But here’s my read on it. Polanski got a ridiculously sweet deal because he was famous. And when it became clear that he should not have gotten such a deal because he was famous — that he might be treated like everyone else, he fled. Now people from Martin Scorsese to David Lynch to Woody Allen (!!!) are signing petitions to defend him. The LATimes story (linked above) does well to walk through the interview transcripts of the victim. I don’t know what I’m missing.

frontiers of polling and interpretation

Today’s NYT features, on the front page nonetheless, a story under the headline “Poll Finds Frustration on War and Health Plan.” Note that on the website they’ve changed the title to “In Poll, Public Wary of Obama on War and Health.” There are several interesting, problematic elements to the poll and the way it’s presented.

Continue reading “frontiers of polling and interpretation”

who is a young scholar?

Today my copy of blogger-pal, Eszter Hargittai’s new book, Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have, arrived. Given the gauntlet of meetings I faced today and face everyday, I didn’t get through much of it, and it probably will be quite a while before I can finish it off. But I did buzz through the Preface, Introduction, and took a trip through another blogger-pal, Jeremy Freese’s chapter on secondary analysis of canned survey data (which is also, of course, the chapter that is the closest to being about my own research experiences).

In Eszter’s Preface, she notes that she asked “young scholars” to write the chapters for the book. I really liked this idea. Oft-times we turned to the wizened sages of Continue reading “who is a young scholar?”

oh my

This is sociologically useful I guess. I friended my aunt on Facebook, and after I posted one of those viral pro-health care reform things that was going around, she responded with notes equating health insurance reform with wanting a government handout because you are too lazy to work and then “everyone gets health care if they ARE DYING WHY DO U LIE” [stet on the capitalization] about that “nobody should die for lack of insurance” thingie. Well ok, I mean not all of us are used to writing in complete sentences and we do have different political opinions and this is my aunt after all, not some troll I don’t know.  I responded politely with my opinions. Continue reading “oh my”

i wonder how they got it to sign the consent form?

Fellow sociologists: have you ever been teaching a class and have felt the need to explain to students that while scientific research is generally a reliable way to gather knowledge, we have to be very careful not to trust our results too much? Have you ever wanted a great example to show why alpha error is a problem, and to explain why findings sometimes have to be considered provisional? Sure, we all have! Only now, I have a way to help. And do you want to know what the best part is?

It involves the brain of a dead fish.
Continue reading “i wonder how they got it to sign the consent form?”

summer reading for first-year students

I’m on the committee to select the book UNC will recommend that incoming students read and then discuss during orientation. The selection has been controversial before, and sometimes not, and I enjoyed the committee last time. However, I’m concerned that too often we pick pretty straightforward narrative journalism about some case that doesn’t really challenge the students to think in new ways. To that end, I’d love us to pick a social science, law, or science book that they can read and approach, but that isn’t too easy to digest. I’ve been thinking about Sunstein and about Bishop – any other ideas would be great. What do you wish your first-year students had read before they showed up in your classes?

i’ve become that guy

I just got home to realize that I wandered around my entire day with my shirt inside out. Yeah, I know. Luckily I spent most of the day in my office. I say “luckily” because I think my book is done. Obviously not really done (that happens when it’s in my hands, with a cover). But still. Done for this round. Which is pretty darn exciting. I say, “I think” because I am terrible at reading my own work. And so I think I need to go over it a few more times. But exciting. Maybe I should wear my shirt inside-out more often.

ask a scatterbrain: writing an annual review piece

I’ve been asked to write an article for the Annual Review of Sociology. In fact I was asked to do it last year, but had to postpone because I couldn’t get around to it–which is what’s worrying me this time around too. It’s a daunting task to digest and organize (not to mention find!) all the recent, relevant literature relevant to a topic. For anyone who’s done this before: any advice on keeping on top of the workflow?

medical ghost writing: why do these people keep their jobs?

Several recent reports (e.g., this one) have detailed the relatively common practice of drug companies writing full studies of the safety and efficacy of their drugs, then paying medical faculty to approve the pre-written item and seek its publication in major journals. This strikes me as straightforward academic dishonesty, not even particularly nuanced or complicated. Why is this not grounds for dismissal of the faculty who do it? Thoughts?

is the right’s criticism of obama racist?

There’s been a lot of discussion recently of whether the increasingly ugly criticism of Obama and the health care proposals is racist in character or just generically ugly. Jimmy Carter, of course, famously said that Joe Wilson’s outburst was racist, which in turn required Obama and press secretary Gibbs to underscore that they don’t think it was because of “the color of his [Obama’s] skin.” Which, of course, is distinct from race, but why should there be subtlety or distinction in a mass-media debate these days?

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So like many universities around the country, mine is presently freaking out about H1N1. I’m mostly okay with this since I figure anything that helps keep us from getting sick with every single bacterial and viral passenger our students acquired during the summer has to be a good thing. I’ll admit though that the constant mass e-mails telling us that we don’t have anything to worry about from the Swine Flu are starting to have the opposite effect. Pardon me for having an Othello moment, but methinks they doth protest too much!

The most entertaining part, however, are the perhaps unintentional messages that certain public service announcements are sending.
Continue reading “subtlety”