Categories ▸ Sociology
“Fuck Nuance” has just been published in Sociological Theory. The pace of academic publishing being what it is, the paper has been out in the world for a while in draft form, but it’s nice to see the canonical version appear. The issue also contains a symposium on theory in Sociology, with contributions from Ivan Ermakoff, Ashley Mears, and Max Besbris and Shamus Khan. I’ve described the circumstances of the paper’s conception before.
Update: Since writing this post, I repeatedly tried to delete the offending review from my profile, but Google Scholar kept re-inserting it as part of its automated trawl through its corpus of articles. The robots were determined to grant me these citations whether I wanted them or not. Finally, in January of 2018, John Fox got the citations he deserved and the error was fixed. True to form, the correction appeared out of the blue and its rationale was completely opaque.
I was playing with some county-level data from the U.S. general election, partly out of a spirit of honest inquiry and partly out of a feeling of morbid curiosity. Because I had some county-level census data to hand, I took a look at the results using some extremely basic demographic information—the two variables that structure America’s ur-choropleths, namely population density and percent black. I focused on the counties that flipped from their vote in the 2012 general election.
Yesterday I had a conversation on Twitter with Josh Zumbrun that followed on from this tweet:
This is one of the most horrifying graphics I've ever seen:https://t.co/wM0VJZn0Wg pic.twitter.com/qaUaNFtRPl
— Josh Zumbrun (@JoshZumbrun) September 28, 2016 The striking maps he linked to tracked the rise in deaths due to drug-related overdoses over the past 15 years, caused in large part to the surge in use of heroin and synthetic opiates. The details are in the WSJ report on the problem.
Last year I wrote about vaccination exemptions in California kindergartens, drawing on school-level data provided by the state of California about the number of kindergarteners with “personal belief exemptions” (or PBEs) that allow them not to be vaccinated. Today I came across a ggplot package called ggbeeswarm that’s designed to create a “beeswarm plot”, or a 1-D scatterplot with a bit of information about the density of the distribution. I had used geom_jitter to do something like this for one of my plots last year, but the geoms in ggbeeswarm are better.
The apparently failed coup against President Erdoğan of Turkey continues to unfold this morning, in what remains a very uncertain and fluid situation. Last night, during the most chaotic sequence of events, Erdoğan gave an interview via a video chat service on his iPhone, where he asserted the legitimacy of his government’s authority and called on the Turkish people to take to the streets against the coup. The picture of him talking via Facetime is already one of the iconic images of the night.
Note: This is the text of my contribution to a panel at the SASE meetings, UC Berkeley last Sunday. My role was to tee up the discussion. The other panelists were Maciej Cegłowski, Stuart Russell, and AnnaLee Saxenian. My remarks draw on work that Marion Fourcade and I have been doing on information technology and markets, but she should not be held responsible for anything here, especially the bits about 18th century French intellectuals.
You may have heard the news that Lee Sedol, a Go Master, has been defeated by a computer program created by a group of Google engineers. A second match is underway today. The Google/DeepMind team has a technical paper in Nature describing AlphaGo, the program they wrote. Various commentators have remarked on the sometimes surprising but extremely effective moves that AlphaGo made. And of course there’s the usual half-serious musings about the inevitable robot uprising that this victory portends.
Here are two small sites I made recently, and which I may continue to tweak and expand. The first, plain-text.co, presents “The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain-Text Social Science”. It is designed to address some questions about managing research and writing projects in the social sciences using plain-text and free or mostly-free tools like Emacs (or other text editors), R, pandoc, and make. The second, vissoc.co which I’ve mentioned before, compiles notes from a short course in data visualization I taught last semester.
In the next week or two I’ll be talking to some social science students about tools for doing research and writing up results. Over the years I’ve accumulated various things on the topic, ranging from bits of advice to templates or things I use myself. My focus is on managing the various pieces of the work process in plain-text, especially when it comes to writing code you can read later, and keeping track of the work you’ve done.
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