Thu, Jan 15, 2015

Failure in Complex Systems

After listening to the hosts discuss probability on ATP this week, I was most of the way through writing something that, had I finished it, would have been this Dr Drang post only not nearly as good. (I will confess that my motivation was exactly the same as his: “People believe John”.) In fairness I don’t blame them for getting confused, because probability really is confusing and I’m terrible at it myself.

Mon, Dec 8, 2014

Visualizing Philosophy Rankings

The new Philosophical Gourmet Report Rankings are out today. The report ranks a selection of Ph.D programs in English-speaking Philosophy departments, both overall and for various subfields, on the basis of the judgments of professional philosophers. The report (and its editor) has been controversial in the past, and of course many people dislike the idea of rankings altogether. But as these things go the PGR is pretty good. It’s a straightforward reputational assessment made by a panel of experts from within the field.

Sun, Nov 30, 2014

The Godfather's End of Semester Meetings

FADE FROM BLACK: PROF. CORLEONE’S OFFICE. DAY. BONASENIOR: … But the Associate Dean said it was out of his hands. And then my Mom texted me and said, “For extra credit opportunities, we must go to Professor Corleone.” PROF. CORLEONE: Why did you go to the Associate Dean? Why didn’t you come to me first? BONASENIOR: What do you want of me? Tell me anything. But do what I beg you to do.

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Fly Air Gini

The other day at OrgTheory, Beth Berman had a very nice discussion on “inequality in the skies” about how much of space on planes is given over to different classes of passenger. Using seating charts, she calculated some rough Gini coefficients of inequality on board. For example, on a transatlantic flight in a three-class configuration with fancy lie-flat beds up front, if we look again at how the space is distributed, we now have 21% of the people using about 40% of the plane, 27% using another 20%, and the final 52% using the last 40%.

Sat, Nov 15, 2014

Sociology's Most Cited Papers by Decade

My colleague Jim Moody sent along some interesting data this morning. Using the Web of Science database, he took the most-cited papers in Sociology and produced a Top 10 list for each decade going back to the 1950s. Not a table of which papers were most popular in those decades, but a table of which papers are now the most-cited from those decades. Note that the 1950s category is really “1950s and before”.

Fri, Sep 19, 2014

Scottish Independence

So, Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom. This morning on the bus (I should run a series called “Idle Data Analysis on the Bus”) I looked at how the high turnout compared to other Scottish elections. Data on turnout is easily available back to 1970. Here are two views of it. Voter turnout in Scotland in National elections and plebiscites since 1970. You can get a larger image or a PDF version of the figure if you want a closer look at it.

Wed, Aug 20, 2014

Durkheim viva voce

I just attended the American Sociological Association Meetings in San Francisco, and while there my friend Marion Fourcade told me about a remarkable little piece of sociological history. It’s an audio recording of Émile Durkheim delivering a talk. Emile Durkheim recorded in 1911 in Bologna. I had no idea such a thing existed. The recording is about two and a half minutes long. It’s a fragment of a piece titled Jugements de valeur et jugements de réalité, which you can read in French here.

Wed, Aug 13, 2014

An ASA Bingo Retrospective

ASA Conference Bingo is on a permanent vacation pending its return around 2030 in a nostalgic comeback that warms the hearts of fans old and new. But as several people have asked me about it, here is a collection of the cards from years past. Not available in stores. 2008 Back in 2008, the groundbreaking first ASA Conference Bingo was so new and radical, it required instructions to play. Only 100 people saw this Bingo, but every one of them formed a benign gambling addiction.

Tue, Aug 12, 2014

We're Hiring

My department is looking to fill a tenure-track Assistant Professor line this Fall. Area of Specialization is Race/Ethnicity. If you have access to the ASA Job Bank, you can read the ad here. If you don’t have access to the ASA Job Bank, you can read the ad right here: Job ID: 10444 Date Position is Available: Fall 2015 Listing Active: 8/12/2014 to 10/11/2014 Title: Assistant Professor Department: Department of Sociology Company: Duke University Job Position/Rank: Academic Positions; Assistant Professor Special Program and Areas of Faculty Expertise: Racial and Ethnic Relations Region: Southeast Salary Range: Negotiable Job Description: Duke University.

Wed, Aug 6, 2014

The Persistence of the Old Regime

This afternoon I ended up reading this Vox story about an effort to rank US Universities and Colleges carried out in 1911 by a man named Kendric Charles Babcock. On Twitter, Robert Kelchen remarks that the report was “squashed by Taft” (an unpleasant fate), and he links to the report itself, which is terrific. Babcock divided schools into four Classes, beginning with Class I: The better sort of school. And descending all the way to Class IV: One hardly dares look at the transcripts.

Sociology and other distractions, since 2002. View all posts by date, or an index of posts by category.


I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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