Socy210 Week Lectures.docx

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28 Jan 2013

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Week One Lecture: Intro to research process 9/14/2012 6:11:00 AM
Key Questions to be answered in this course
How do we Know what we Know?
How much confidence can we have in what we know?
An examination of “best practices”
Our attention is limited to empirical questions
o Empirical questions do have answers
o Non empirical questions don't have a solid answer
o i.e. what is truth ( no correct answer)
Sometimes the line is blurry..
Can prayer cure heart disease? ( can it make a difference)
Benson: study of the Therapeutic Effects of intercessory Prayer (STEP) in
cardiac bypass patients
Group A was told somebody will prayer for you or somebody wont prayer
for you-> people prayed for them
Group B somebody may pray for you somebody may not- people didn't
pray for them
Group C told that they will be pray for
o Group C had a higher rate of symptomology
o May of stressed them out thinking their sicker then they are
We can contrast the ways of knowing emphasized in this course (versions
of the scientific method) with more familiar ways of knowing- Tradition,
authority & common sense
Information passed on through socialization
Acquired from culture, social institutions, common knowledge
Cumulative knowledge
Found in religious tracts, oral traditions, aphorisms (saying that
conveys some moral or truth)
Under written by parents, religion ect.
Aphorisms to consider
o Pride goes before a fall
o A leopard cannot change its spots
o Out of the mouths of babes
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o Eat, drink and be merry
o Many are called but few are chosen
o It is more blessed to give than to receive
o Slow and steady wins the race
o Honesty is the best policy
o One good turn deserves another
o Let well enough alone
o He who laughs last laughs best
The problem with much traditional knowledge is easy to illustrate
o Look before you leap BUT He who hesitates is lost
o If at first you don't succeed, try, try again BUT Don't beat your
head against a stone wall.
o Absence makes the heart grow fonder BUT Out of sight, out of
o Do unto others as you would have others do unto you BUT Nice
guys finish last.
o Opposites attract BUT birds of a feather flock together
o Nothing ventured nothing BUT a fool and his money are soon parted
o You are never to old to learn BUT you can‟t teach an old dog new
o No pain, no gain BUT if you can‟t stand the heat get out of the
o Tradition knowledge causes a problem cause we don't know
how validated the knowledge is
Comes from those who hold some status and supposedly by implication
The importance of credentials
The importance of celebrity (eg. Jennie McCarthy and autism)
Credentials AND celebrity
Victims as authorities -> victims can be seen as authorities cause they‟ve
“lived” through it
It has credentials cause there is some truth-ness to what they say
Weak indicator of what actually is happening with the use of celebrities or
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Common sense
Refers to what “everybody knows” and what is self-validating.
Common sense and anti-intellectualism as in eg…common sense
An important role for sociologists has been the debunking of common
Ducan Watts, (Everything is Obvious Once You Know the Answer, 2011)
argues that sociologists also misuse common sense
o Poverty and rocket science
o The obvious things seem to be opposite
Poverty seems easy but why cant we get rid of it
Rocket science seems hard but we can get rockets to the
o Something is clearly self evident
o Easy trap to fall into
Stouffer’s study of the American Soldier
Better educated men showed more psycho-neurotic symptoms than those
with less education
Men from rural back grounds in better spirits than those from cites
Those from southern climates better able to stand the heat in south sea
islands than those from northern climates
As long as fighting continued men were more anxious to return home
than they were after the war ended
Common Errors of Human Inquiry (what’s wrong with everyday
Inaccurate observation
o Casual, semi-conscious observation mistake
o We may miss information lose accuracy
o An impressive body of mainly social psychological evidence attests
to our limitations in this respect (eg attention blindness, change
o Very narrow minded/ miss a lot that goes around us
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