Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Upper Class are More Unethical

This is the first study I've seen that explicitly claims that people in higher social classes are more unethical than those from lower classes; furthermore, the authors claim that this tendency is "accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed." Aside from the well-known problems from the so-called "sophomore problem," this is a compelling and disturbing study that warrants replication in other contexts (based on, for instance, observational data from other populations).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Culturomics and the Google Ngram Viewer

In case you've missed it, I highly recommend exploring the Google Ngram Viewer, which allows for basic analysis of 5.2 million books catalogued by Google. The Ngram Viewer is an exemplar tool for what the authors call "cultromics" or the "the application of high-throughput data collection and analysis to the study of human culture." For example, the Ngram Viewer is useful for examining over-time changes in concepts used by scholars and others. For anyone doubting the decline of the concept of "social class" in the realm of ideas (but of course not in reality), here is a compelling chart (the most reliability data are from 1800 to 2000):
You can also download the entire data set yourself, but beware: the data set is (ahem) large.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Animating David Harvey

I found the addition of animation a clever way of augmenting the arguments by the sociologist David Harvey, who discusses the crises of capitalism here:

Clearly this was a time-consuming effort, so not many of these videos can be made easily. If there is a way to make animating lectures more automated (through, for instance, computerized animations) it would be very beneficial for helping students learn. You can find additional RSAnimate lectures here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cultural Contradictions of Pop Economics

Andy Gelman has a fascinating post on the apparent contradictions of pop micro-economists today. I highly recommend reading it, as well as the comments. In essence, Gelman argues that many pop economists take one of two positions, depending on the circumstance: first, people are rational and respond to incentives (and thus behavior that appears irrational is actually rational once you take the perspective of an economist); second, people are irrational and don't respond to incentives (and thus, they need economists, with their open minds, to show them how to be rational). The problem, argues, Gelman is that these positions are entirely contradictory, and that pop-economics plays hopscotch with these viewpoints, switching from one to the other.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quantitative Literary Studies

Fascinating article on the attempts by Franco Moretti, a Stanford English professor and member of the Stanford Literary Lab, to create a quantitative literary studies by digitizing and statistically analyzing literary texts.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Daniel Bell, Master Sociologist

The NYT posted an excellent profile of my late friend Dan Bell, the master sociologist (and big thinker). Even though he was a big-thinking social theorist, I remember that Dan told me, emphatically in fact, that he was a quantitative sociologist! This makes sense, since his big books often included quantitative data of trend lines (which is in many ways advantageous over modeling the data and then focusing on the model parameters, such as regression coefficients or standard errors).