Tuesday, January 31, 2006

common misconceptions

dawned on me the other day that i keep getting sucked into some common misconceptions. these have to do with the types of words that are used to describe a particular phenomena. so, to clarify for myself and to have a record of this so I won't forget (or rather, when i do forget to come back and remind myself), here are some corrections to common misconceptions:

mind is a verb
self is a verb
group is a verb
society is a verb
self is a verb
identity is a verb
personality is a verb

ah, much better.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

bad-mouthing my discipline again

(to a sociology list)...

I wanted to call to your collective attention, to an article written by a leading zoologist and evolutionary biologist (Paul Ehrlich and Simon A. Levin), entitled, "The Evolution of Norms," published in the Public Library of Science Biology Journal (see link below). It is a fascinating article (brief in length) about the evolution of social norms with an eye toward understanding the process so that some can be changed. Both Ehrlich and Levin fear the consequences of some unchecked social norms (WMD, environmental deterioration, global collapse, etc.).

I find it very interesting that two "natural" scientists are engaged in this kind of endeavor; I suspect that they don't think it is that unusual as they see it as an extension of human evolution, in which they are well-versed. They bring their best thinking, their best simulations and their best reasoning to bear on the problem.

Applied sociology? IMO, you bet, at its best. Do they mention sociologists anywhere in their article? No. Why? IMO, because we have current connection to "evolution" nor anything having to do with the biology of humans. Our loss, IMO.

From an evolutionary perspective, what is occurring? Scientists are adapting to the changing social environment, posting new ideas for new problems. Which scientific perspective will survive? Dunno...but ultimately, it will in all likelihood be that perspective that is best suited to the environment. And, what is that environment? "Science-speak," both popular and professional, and are we "household names" in science speak? Not in the reading that I am doing.

So, are we modern-day Neandertals?

The link to the article (.pdf) is here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Practicing Sociology Podcast

I have started interviewing sociological practitioners and rendering the interviews as podcasts. So far, I have one completed and posted; another interview completed that needs editing and four or five others lined up.

The URL for the site is here.

If you have any ideas for a show, recommendations for the site, etc., feel free to drop me a line.


my son has come up with a new phrase...whammer-saucer! you can say it in reference to just about anything -- a person, an object, an action, a whatever.

Feel free to use it as you wish; the correct way to say it is with much enthusiasm, hence the exclmation point at the end (this is a requirement whenever you write the phrase).

If you say it and someone says, "what's that?" just roll your eyes and shake your head and walk away; they'll get the picture.

You can also say it when alone, it's fun.

remember, you read it here first.


Friday, January 06, 2006

rewarding craving

i realized this morning that craving and the satiation of craving are two entirely different phenomena and don't have the relationship with each other that we think they do.

sating a craving is NOT actually sating anything, it is actually reinforcing craving as a behavior. craving can never be sated as it is merely a sensation; it arises due to conditioning, and is reinforced when "rewarded" with the object of desire.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

now, there's an idea!

(from a list; me talking)...

makes sense to me; i think that the approach shouldn't be, "look at what sociology can do for you and your students," though. really, what we need is to have the ENTIRE discipline adopt an "applied" perspective. if you stop and think about it, all serious scientific disciplines have an inherent "applied" aspect to them. this is the product of the enlightenment — we want to understand things so we can change/manipulate them.

we seem to be content to just "study" how things change; we really need to take the next step and then utilize that knoweldge to DO something. i and others have argued that sociology is a humanistic endeavor; as such, the manner and direction of change is in the improvement of the human condition.

A colleague argued at a recent SAS meeting that we need to re-embrace evolution as part of our perspective. I agree entirely; i also agree that we need to understand how our science fits in with the other sciences. if we don't understand the links, what we can offer, how we can fit into the dominant paradigm, then we will be left behind. i think we have been left behind already to some extent. whenever i read popular literature and/or news, and they are discussing human endeavors, they inevitably mention psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, geneticists, etc. rarely, if ever do i hear about sociologists in that mix.

imo, we are not considered because we have become so "disembodied" from the study of humans — what the hell are they? we're interested in systems, processes, institutions, etc. most of the people i come in contact with really don't care about that stuff — they care about themselves, their family, their workers, their colleagues, etc. in other words, they care about "humans" — maybe it is time for us to do the same thing. we can still be concerned with the social at that level (as well as all the other stuff); what we need to do is frame our findings in ways that people can immediately use/apply.

we lost much credibility with our embracing of post-modernism, hermenuetics, narratives, etc. personally, i love that stuff and think it is quite compelling — all of it has certainly influenced my thinking and still does. we lost the masses when we went with it to the exclusion of other things that they could readily understand.

sometimes it appears to me that we are a discipline in search of a purpose; i think we should understand that our purpose is to be a humanistic social science that investigates social reality, discerns sociological principles, and then tells people how to use them to improve their lives.