Obama’s candicacy/hoax citizenship 01/13/2014
Epistemology: the study of the origins, nature, and limits of human knowledge
What is “knowing” it’s a stretch of assumed knowledges are “certain” to be true
(i.e. Professor’s here teaching class. Is she? Or are we hooked up to some virtual reality like in matrix)
“Birther” movement: a theory proposed by fringe theorists, or birthers, that have sought court rulings to
declare Obama, or any president without certifiable birth rights to the US, ineligible to take office.
Birthers used claims of Obamas nationality to be a citizen of Kenya to grant themselves access to
documents that would further strengthen their claims of Obamas citizenship
How do we know Obama is actually a citizen?
Have we seen the documents?
Have we witnessed the birth?
Do we listen to the governor of Hawaii or a skeptic newscaster with many trades
Would we be able to “function” without authorities telling us what problems/beliefs to blindly believe.
What is credible to knowledge?
What are credible sources
Do we believe a collection of facts? Or do we believe any statements
Why would people believe Obama isn’t a citizen?
It may be better in their interests
Things are what they look like aka stereotypes have some truth appearances are deceiving
Unless there is real proof to solidify his citizenship people will not believe its truth
Things can be forged nowadays (maybe his citizenship was made up)
Certificate of “life” vs. certificate of birth
Should we choose who to listen to or do we follow beliefs that resemble our own? Ways of Knowing 01/13/2014
Knowledge from Personal Inquiry
We know because we see from personal experience
(i.e.) We stick our finger outside to see if its cold/warm/hot
Problems: Things that make our knowledge from personal inquiry a misperception would be
photosynthesis, etc. things we can’t empirically experience
Overgeneralization: we take our limited sample of reality and we generalize based on that example in
May be looking at smaller examples instead of bigger ones
Selective Observation: our brains are wired to notice some things and NOT other things
i.e. notice more when women are bad drivers instead of men as bad drivers cause you were told women
are bad drivers
Premature Closure: human tendency to say “I’ve seen enough evidence and I am sure this tendency is true,
so I am not open to any other evidence” (this is an unconscious thing)
Knowledge from Authority
You believe something to be true because someone you respect has told you this is true
Problems: the source may be wrong, or the source may be lying
Most of what we believe comes from authorities
A person that doesn’t believe the authorities: skeptic
Knowledge from Scientific research
Images iron clad reliability/stereotypical image of MAD SCIENTIST but actual image is like a normal
conference full of welldressed people
Science is a community a social system for producing knowledge
System is setup to correct highlighted phenomena and that keeps people skeptical
Problem: how can you really know that the knowledge of authority is truth authority being a scientist,
chemist, biologist, etc.
You can choose to believe this research or other AUTHORITATIVE figure
Skepticism: a questioning attitude towards factual claims that are taken for granted elsewhere
All skepticism is SELECTIVE skepticism (usually)
Choosing to believe one set of authorities as opposed to another set of authorities Climate Change Debate 01/13/2014
Are global temperatures really rising?
How much of the change is due to human activities? (anthropogenic)?
Personal experience does not help figure out climate change
Question like this we have to rely on authority
What will the consequences be?
Pigliucci is arguing that we should take scientists opinion that this is happening BUT who do we choose to
believe which authorities are “right?”
Pigliucci’s RULE OF THUMB*
look at the credentials of the people making the arguments
look at the sources used by the people making the arguments
reliable sources are peerreviewed articles by scholars of the same field
look at who the experts are siding with
look at the logic and internal consistency of the arguments being made
Why do we rely on popular resources?
Most people don’t have access
Takes people many years to READ academic journal articles
Where’s the time?
We naturally turn to the secondhand authorities (the authorities on the authorities) 01/13/2014
The purposes of social research:
Description: painting a detailed picture of the social world
i.e. the gender at play
Explanation: interested in explaining why something happens
i.e. changes in attitude
Exploration: Topic that hasn’t been covered exactly yet and it sets a precedence for other researchers to
Research Topic: Crime & Deviance
Research Question: How does gender influence power dynamics between inmates and corrections
officers? Explanatory with descriptive elements
Qualitative: field notes, interview transcripts
Research Question: What is the relationship between education and criminality? Descriptive survey,
government data/criminal records
Research Question: Does being a high school drop out make you more likely to commit a crime?
Quantitative research: survey, government data/criminal records
Social researchers collect two different sorts of “data” or information:
Quantitative data: numbers, or categories that are counted, looks like a whole bunch of lines on a
spreadsheet. Tends to be used by researchers who engage in more of a positivistic approach using
Questions that include more likely, less likely there is a quantitative quality because you can quantify how
much more/less something is
Qualitative data: expressed as words, pictures. Tend to be used by researchers who engage in more of a
relativistic approach and use the language of humanists. Resources used would be texts and interviews
from actual subjects
Research Topic: Racial inequality in the criminal justice system
Research Question: Are African American drivers more likely than European American drivers to be
stopped by the police?
Research Method: Using Quantitative data. Use a field experiment
Send out of AA or EA and see what happens.
Unit of Analysis: A unit about which information is collected.
i.e. individuals, households (Census), countries(World bank does studies researching economic)
Variable: A characteristic that can vary from one unit of analysis to another
i.e. race, gender, # of times… 01/13/2014
Dependent Variable: the “effect” variable, or the one that we expect is being influenced
Independent Variable: the “cause” variable, or the one we expect is doing the influencing
Hypothesis: A testable statement about how two or more variables are expected to relate to one another
i.e. African American drivers are more likely than European American drivers to be stopped by the police.
***NEVER SAY DATA PROVES ANYTHING IT ONLY SUPPORTS
But—is it police racial bias that causes differences in rates, is blackness causing these drivers to be
stopped more frequently?
Three Necessary Conditions:
That the two variables (independent & dependent) are associated
That the independent precedes (or at least doesn’t come after) the dependent variable in time
i.e. (drug use and homelessness)
That there is no third variable that is responsible for the association 01/13/2014
Laud’s experiment exemplifies the “gray” areas of research method ethics
Ethics: are values/standards/principles expected of yourself/from society
Social scientists are to report their findings honestly
Ex: biomedical experiments
Clinical trials: drug experiment run on humans for medicinal purposes
Tuskegee Syphilis Study (19361972): a clinical study run on humans (400 men that had syphilis/200 men
that did not have syphilis mostly African american) the scientists did not tell the hum