Sociology

add news feed

tweet a story

A perfect name is a balancing act. You have to consider both parents' tastes, the people or traditions you want to honor, and your sense of the name's place in the world. For most of us, the factors are many, subjective and ill-defined. ...
A perfect name is a balancing act. You have to consider both parents' tastes, the people or traditions you want to honor, and your sense of the name's place in the world. For most of us, the factors are many, subjective and ill-defined. We navigate the name landscape by feel, hoping that we'll recognize the right name when we find it. For some families, though, that landscape looks more like a Venn diagram. These families draw circles around two specific, unrelated properties they're seeking, and hope for an intersection. You'll often see this when the two parents come from different ethnic backgrounds, both of which are important to them. I was reminded of this recently as I read about the family of New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. Mr. De Blasio grew up in his mother's Italian-American family. His wife, Chirlane McCray, is African-American. And their two children's names are a perfect strike at the fashionable heart of this Venn diagram of names: Dante holds a lasting place in Italian culture thanks to Divine Comedy poet Dante Alighieri. Over the past generation it has also been a steady favorite of African-American parents, in various spellings. Chiara is the Italian form of Claire. St. Chiara of Assisi was one of the first followers of St. Francis and the founder of a monastic order. The sound-alike name Kiara, meanwhile, is a popular African-American name. read more
about 3 hours ago
Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips write: Given the spread of multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) as a tool for measuring sub-national public opinion, we would like to draw your attention to a new paper in Political Analysis by ...
Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips write: Given the spread of multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) as a tool for measuring sub-national public opinion, we would like to draw your attention to a new paper in Political Analysis by Buttice and Highton (hereafter, BH). BH expand the number of MRP estimates subjected to validity checks and find varying degrees of MRP success across survey questions. We’ve been reminding people for a while now about being careful with MRP, and so we’re happy to see others independently spreading the message that MRP should be done carefully and cautiously. We also want to update you on the new MRP package. To sum up the BH findings, the first and most important is that, as we said back in 2009, having a good model including a state-level predictor is important. BH verify that more broadly than we did. One comforting result is that the type of survey question used in MRP work to date is the very type shown to yield higher quality MRP estimates. But one cannot blindly run MRP and expect it to work well. Users must take the time to make sure they have a reasonable model for predicting opinion. Indeed, one way to read the BH piece is that if you randomly choose a survey question from those CCES surveys and throw just any state-level predictor at it (or maybe worse, no state-level predictor), the MRP estimates that result will not be as good as those you have seen used in the substantive literature invoking MRP. Indeed, they point out that only one published MRP paper (Pacheco) fails to follow their recommendation to use a state-level predictor. We also would like to point you to our paper from Midwest this year assessing different ways of doing MRP to improve accuracy and establish benchmarks and diagnostics. A newer version with further simulations and results—and a guide for using the new MRP package—will be posted soon(ish), but we’d like to reiterate some key advice: 1. State predictor. Use a substantive group-level predictor for state. Using more than one is unlikely to be helpful, especially if noisily estimated. The choice among a few good options (like presidential vote or ideology) is not dispositive though the new “DPSP” variable we recommend (see footnote 7) is weakly best in our results to date. 2. Interactions. Interactions between individual cell-level predictors are not necessary. Deeper interactions (say, four-way interactions) do nothing for small samples. With respect to this advice, and to that below, our updated paper will discuss details, note exceptions, and extend our findings to larger samples. 3. Typologies. Adding additional individual types (by religious or income categories) does not improve performance on average in small samples. 4. Other group-level predictors. Adding continuous predictors for demographic group-level variables (akin to the state level predictor recommended) does not improve performance on average. 5. Expectations. Until further diagnostics are provided, and if our recommendations are followed, we expect (for small samples) that median absolute errors across states will be approximately 2.7 points (and likely in the range 1.4 to 5.0 points) and expect correlation to “true” state values will be around .6 (this is not yet corrected for reliability, see below—so this is only a lower bound on expected correlation to actual state values). Dichotomous congruence scores should be correct on average in 94% of such codings (and those concerned with error in congruence codings should use degree of incongruence instead or incorporate uncertainty, as we have done in our work). Shrinkage of inter-state standard deviations for a sample size of 1000 is approximately .78. 6. MRP, the package. Use the new MRP package, available using the installation instructions below and to be available more easily soon. For now, use versions of the blme and lme4 packages that predate versions 1.x. Using the devtools package, the fo
about 5 hours ago
Scientists should be good at judging the importance of the scientific work of others - it's a peer review culture - but a new paper instead says that scientists are unreliable judges of the importance of fellow researchers' pub...
Scientists should be good at judging the importance of the scientific work of others - it's a peer review culture - but a new paper instead says that scientists are unreliable judges of the importance of fellow researchers' published papers. They're better at it than you. But still pretty bad at it, according to the authors. Prof. Eyre-Walker and Dr. Nina Stoletzki analyzed three methods of assessing published studies, using two sets of peer-reviewed articles. The three assessment methods the researchers looked at were: read more
about 17 hours ago
America and the UK are sarcastic nations. Maybe they care too much. Children learn early to recognize sarcasm, especially if they have greater empathy, according to a new study. For children, sarcastic language can be difficult to unders...
America and the UK are sarcastic nations. Maybe they care too much. Children learn early to recognize sarcasm, especially if they have greater empathy, according to a new study. For children, sarcastic language can be difficult to understand, but they generally begin to recognize sarcasm between ages 6 and 8, especially familiar sarcastic praise such as "Thanks a lot!" and "Nice going!" Some children take much longer to begin to understand sarcasm and the authors of the paper investigated whether differences in the ability of children to empathize with others might help to explain why. read more
about 21 hours ago
A new paper analyzed organizational change in state health-related departments from 1990 to 2009. The researchers discovered that in many cases states kept the same organizational structure in place during the 20-year period, even though...
A new paper analyzed organizational change in state health-related departments from 1990 to 2009. The researchers discovered that in many cases states kept the same organizational structure in place during the 20-year period, even though consolidating public health departments with Medicaid departments did occur with some frequency. 27 states had housed the two functions together at one point in the 20-year period. And when they did so, the funding allocated to the public health department remained unchanged. The authors conclude that the results help allay concerns that when such mergers occur they automatically lead to cutbacks in jobs. read more
about 22 hours ago
If you visit the outside of a meeting regarding biology and policy today, you are sure to see protesters who all insist that they should be voting on the science. They have reached their own consensus and their consensus is that biologi...
If you visit the outside of a meeting regarding biology and policy today, you are sure to see protesters who all insist that they should be voting on the science. They have reached their own consensus and their consensus is that biologists are just tinkerers who are out to create a scientocracy not bound by morality or ethics or anything beyond the cold pursuit of violating nature. --> read more
about 22 hours ago
A transgenerational study with female rats suggests that exposure to social stress not only impairs a mother's ability to care for her children but can also negatively impact her daughter's ability to provide maternal care to f...
A transgenerational study with female rats suggests that exposure to social stress not only impairs a mother's ability to care for her children but can also negatively impact her daughter's ability to provide maternal care to future offspring. Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University conducted examined the behavioral and physiological changes in mothers exposed to chronic social stress early in life as a model for postpartum depression and anxiety. --> read more
about 24 hours ago
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are primarily cultural but the search is also on for a biological disposition that would confirm it outside primarily middle-class white girls in developed nations. Eating dis...
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are primarily cultural but the search is also on for a biological disposition that would confirm it outside primarily middle-class white girls in developed nations. Eating disorders are found in families but no genetic basis for predisposition has been identified. --> read more
1 day ago
Marijuana use continues to be on the upswing in the United States. A public relations campaign claiming health benefits while ignoring health risks have led to diminishing public disapproval and more lenient legislation. People who disa...
Marijuana use continues to be on the upswing in the United States. A public relations campaign claiming health benefits while ignoring health risks have led to diminishing public disapproval and more lenient legislation. People who disapprove of a particular drug are unlikely to use it, but what about the gateway affect? Does the use of one drug affects people's attitudes toward using other drugs? Do personality traits matter? High school seniors who frown upon the use of drugs are most likely to be female, nonsmokers or hold strong religious beliefs, according to a paper by Joseph Palamar of New York University. Palamar that examines how teenagers' attitudes toward marijuana influenced their thoughts on the further use of other illicit drugs. read more
1 day ago
The early days of Ashkenazi Jews – that is, Jews with more recent ancestry in central and Eastern Europe – are a hot debate topic. It is believed that their ancestors migrated into Europe from Judea in the first century A.D., after the d...
The early days of Ashkenazi Jews – that is, Jews with more recent ancestry in central and Eastern Europe – are a hot debate topic. It is believed that their ancestors migrated into Europe from Judea in the first century A.D., after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, and that led to some intermarriage with Europeans later on. Others have argued that they have a mainly European ancestry, and arose by conversion to Judaism of indigenous Europeans, especially in Italy. While still others have even argued that they were largely assimilated in the North Caucasus during the time of the Khazar Empire, the Turkic people in the Western steppe whose rulers turned to Judaism around of the tenth century AD. read more
1 day ago