Author Topic: Stuff political scientists like  (Read 1101 times)

Cain

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Stuff political scientists like
« on: June 03, 2011, 12:37:52 pm »
I <3 Dr Rathburn.

#1

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Political scientists like "original datasets." The topic is really unimportant. They simply want to know that you have spent copious amounts of time collecting new information about something or another. Political scientists are scientists, but they have become increasingly like entomologists. Your data set, however, should be machine-readable, not fastened by pins in a display case. That would inhibit its replicability. (See below.)

New datasets are important because they take time away from developing new theories. Political scientists, particular international relations experts, have grown tired of theories. They are all "non-paradigmatic" now with no prior assumptions or biases whatsoever. Everyone is getting along great. Theory was once something done by people on the East and West Coast in the days Before Fearon (BF), but it has been successfully eradicated from all places except the Continent. And no one understands what they are saying anyways.

Ideally your original data allows you to make an interesting argument, but this is not really crucial either. If it allows us to finally know something that is incredibly obvious but that we could not prove before, this is more significant. Like suicide bombers tend to blow up more people than non-suicide bombers. Or people fight harder for vital interests than for less vital interests. That'd be great. In your cover letter to academic jobs, you should begin, "Using an original data set, I ...." You will get an interview.

Another reason that the argument does not really matter is that political scientists really do not have enough data themselves. Their data is terrible. They want yours. Hand it over. Now. They'll make it work for something.

Although the topic is unimportant, data collected in the most dangerous places on earth is best of all. This is because of something that political scientists increasingly like -- intrepid field research. However, a year in the library basement coding Keesings archives' entries will do in a pinch if you cannot get a grant or do not own a gun.

You should know that collecting original data has its downsides. First, your original data must be accessible to others so that they can replicate your utterly noncontroversial findings. Political scientists do not trust you.

Second, after the warm glow it creates in others begins to fade, political scientists will begin critiquing your data. They don't like how you excluded cases with less than 500 battlefield deaths. There are selection effects (see future entry in stuff political scientists don't like). Your codings are questionable. They do not like how it is ill-suited for purposes for which it was never intended. This is the price of your public service. (See Ted Gurr.) But don't worry. They will keep using your data because political scientists really do not like collecting new data of their own. This comes with the added bonus of citations, which is another thing that political scientists like.

#2

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Political scientists like discovering the strategic logic behind all political phenomena, reducing everything to the self-interested calculations of individuals. They particularly like finding the strategic logic behind those things that seem to defy rational explanation, such as mass killing or war. Or the European Union. That is because political scientists like taking the mystery out of anything that might possibly be fascinating, inspiring, enigmatic or thought-provoking. You should never leave a political scientist alone with your little kids. He or she will tell them the truth about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus just to watch the crushed look on their little faces.

The idea that the way people decide to blow themselves up for a political cause is the same way we decide to shop at Costco is somehow comforting to political scientists. They have discovered a law of human behavior and they can sleep better at night knowing that in the right circumstances we all might become genocidal maniacs. No one is better than anyone else. Political scientists are true egalitarians.

Political scientists generally think people act strategically to maximize their material resources, which is a fancy way of saying that everyone wants your stuff. And your wife is looking good these days too. Has she been working out?

The great thing about strategic logic is that no one can really prove that a political scientist is wrong. The only people who are not self-interested and instrumental are masochists and lunatics. And sexual arousal surely counts positively in a utility function, so we are really just left with crazy people. Charlie Sheen is admittedly a tough case for strategic logic. But warlocks with tiger blood are not part of the population of interest. If you ask a political scientists what the strategic logic of a particular situation is, give him some time. This is not easy. Let him see how it plays out. He will tell you after it is over what the rational thing to do was.

No one listens to political scientists, because if they did, the world would be a very different place. There would be no democracy because political scientists know that there is no reason for someone to spend their time voting. And political campaigns are pointless because they all know is all just about the economy. There would be no nations because no one feels a bond with anyone else. We are all just atoms. And everyone would wear body armor. In fact, holding political scientists at bay is the only thing keeping us from the Thunderdome. On the plus side, there would be a well functioning global finance system.

#3

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European political scientists like post-positivism, also known as post-structuralism or post-modernism. Or at least non-European political scientists think those things are all the same. No one really knows. No North American political scientist has ever met a post-positivist political scientist. They might be hiding in the anthropology department, where it is safer, coming out to forage for food at night. That's the urban legend at least.

Post-positivism emerged out of a critique that science does not evolve on the basis of a greater ability to establish the truth, but rather to consolidate power over others. Knowledge always serves someone's interests. The fact that your car started this morning is a function of the fact that it hates the native people of Naturaloildepositstan who are being ruthlessly exploited by transnational oil conglomerates. The theory of internal combustion is an act of colonial repression.


Post-positivists like to stress how the material world only acquires meaning based on the roles and meaning that humans assign to it. There is no 'car' unless there is a 'driver.' If that role were to be redefined into say, a 'jockey', your car would become a horse. Just like that.

Power relations are established and reproduced through language, according to Foucault, a favorite of European political scientists. Or is it Derrida? Or Habermas? Or Bordieu? No one really knows. In fact the sentence you are reading right now is keeping the indigenous peoples of the Third World from rising up against their oppressors. Wait, that's not the right word. Indigenous makes them sound primitive and legitimates our rule over them. Perhaps, 'first peoples.' No, that's primitive too. See how goddamn hard this is! European political scientists would like you to stop talking right now. You are hurting the world.

Post-positivism is also sometimes known as critical theory because European political scientists are critical of their readers. Post-positivists are mad at you. You are part of the problem. All of them. Dolphins in tuna nets. Global warming. The rain forest. The exploitation of coffee farmers in Latin America. And the whales. There are no more whales! But there is nothing you can do about it. You participate in the dominant discourse unwittingly.

Almost all political scientists like the left side of the political spectrum, but European political scientists are much more likely to chain themselves to the side of a Japanese dolphin-hunting vessel. American political scientists will put an Obama poster up in their yard, recycle, and then go out for brunch. If they feel really guilty, they'll compost.

It is not clear to North American political scientists why critical theorists are so critical considering that they live in Europe. It might be because European political scientists are all unemployed. This is because the only thing that Europe likes better than post-positivism is producing thousands of post-positivist political scientists without creating the academic positions to match. On the plus side, they still receive health care. And the coffee is better.

You might want to engage the thinking of European political scientists, but this is a dangerous idea. European political scientists want a more inclusive and egalitarian world but that does not include you. European political scientists successfully keep others out by using post-intelligibility. European political scientists like to take words that you thought you knew the meaning of and make you not so sure anymore. Like discourse. Or narrative. Or practice. Or text. They also continually use words that you do not recognize and still have not looked up. Like epistemes. Or hermeneutics. Or phenomenological. They throw you off with an arb(itr)ary use of (pa)rentheses. And they make nouns into verbs (see gendering), all in an effort be inaccessible and impenetrable. In this latter sense they are like all other political scientists.

#4

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Political psychologists are a kind of political scientist. Or maybe they are a kind of psychologist. In truth, no one really gets to know them very well. That is because political psychologists think everyone is stupid.


Political psychologists think you have never made a good decision in your life. For instance, if 600 people are going to die of a terrible disease and you are given a choice between a health program that will 1) surely kill 400 and save the rest or 2) will have a one third probability of saving 600 people but 2/3 of killing everyone, you will prefer the first. You don’t think very hard, do you? Those are the same. But if you have a third option of surely killing 400 people you will choose both #1 or #2 over #3. It’s the same, too, moron. Political psychologists explain that people are risk-averse in the domain of gains. They have never been to Vegas.


It is not your fault though, political psychologists will tell you. Your brain is simply too small to handle the complex calculations that occur in even day-to-day life. Instead you rely on “cognitive shortcuts,” which is another way of saying that you don’t try very hard. You are lazy as well as being stupid.

Political psychologists have a name for these shortcuts – “heuristics.” This is just a way for political psychologists to make fun of you in front of your face because they know you have no idea what that word means. This enables them to laugh at you in your very presence. Political psychologists are like the mean, popular girls in high school who invite the ugly girl over for a slumber party in order to make fun of her all night. So it goes without saying – do not attend a political psychology slumber party.


Don’t worry, though. You are in good company. Political psychologists will tell you that even great statesmen make terrible mistakes all the time. It is very unfortunate that we have never elected a political psychologist to lead our countries. We could have avoided the Bay of Pigs and World War I.


Political psychologists, in contrast, are very smart. Much smarter than you. They know more about the political beliefs of college sophomores than anyone else in the world. Even more than college sophomores. This is because political psychologists have trick ways of figuring out what you yourself don’t even know about yourself. If you are not sure if you are a racist, ask a political psychologist. They are also able to give precise estimates about how people will make decisions in windowless rooms while playing negotiation games against a computer. This is the key to the unlocking of the secrets of the human mind – no natural light.

Political psychologists also enjoy figuring out why you are such a fascist. What the rest of the world calls being conservative, political psychologists call “right-wing authoritarianism” or “social dominance orientation.” They have devoted years to investigating the root causes of these pathologies. You are uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. You have a need for cognitive closure. You don’t trust others. You are greedy. Liberals are free of these symptoms and deserve no study. Never knowing what you think, being hopelessly naïve and giving your kid’s inheritance to the kids selling candy bars door-to-door need no explanation.

All of this is 100% accurate and in no way satire.

Disco Pickle

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 12:52:40 pm »
#2 and 4 are so very good. 
Events in the past may be roughly divided into those which probably never happened and those which do not matter. --William Ralph Inge

"sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it." -- John Von Neumann

Demolition_Squid

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 01:01:22 pm »
That was absolutely brilliant  :lulz:
Truly, though our element is time,
We are not suited to the long perspectives
Open at each instant of our lives.
They link us to our losses: worse,
They show us what we have as it once was,
Blindingly undiminished, just as though
By acting differently, we could have kept it so.

-Reference Back, Phillip Larkin

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 01:10:38 pm »
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In fact, holding political scientists at bay is the only thing keeping us from the Thunderdome. On the plus side, there would be a well functioning global finance system.


I peed myself a little.

Cain

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 01:19:13 pm »
Political scientists are basically IRL versions of Professor Quirrell, except for being almost uniformly left-wing.  And you could be just like them if you were brought up on seven plus years of The Strategic Logic of Everything and Everyone Is Too Stupid To Realize How Stupid They Are.

Jenne

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 02:44:11 pm »
My introduction to poli sci in the early 90's summed up nicely:

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European political scientists want a more inclusive and egalitarian world but that does not include you. European political scientists successfully keep others out by using post-intelligibility. European political scientists like to take words that you thought you knew the meaning of and make you not so sure anymore. Like discourse. Or narrative. Or practice. Or text. They also continually use words that you do not recognize and still have not looked up. Like epistemes. Or hermeneutics. Or phenomenological. They throw you off with an arb(itr)ary use of (pa)rentheses. And they make nouns into verbs (see gendering), all in an effort be inaccessible and impenetrable. In this latter sense they are like all other political scientists.


Cain

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 02:56:12 pm »
Twas popular in the 90s.

Nowadays Realist/Liberal positivism seems to be in vogue again, with a smattering of thin-constructivist criticisms acknowledged.  Personally, I blame the rise of Neoconservatism for retarding the entire political discourse to the point that those could look good again (of course, some would argue, not unfairly, that post-structural gibberish created fertile conditions for the rise of Neoconservatism in the first place).

Jenne

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2011, 03:19:55 pm »
Yes, all too true.  And the fact that there really is NOTHING new under the sun (especially when it comes to "discovering" what there is out there in terms of political philosophy/science/whateverthefuck), one is stuck merely sifting through the current trends and where the discourse now comes from. And the fact that it's got so many puppet strings invisible to those who 1) don't give a shit or 2) refuse to see it for all the transparency media has these days just turns those of us off who before they knew what they no know actually liked delving into it and even participating in it.

Jasper

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 09:40:21 pm »
I'm in love. 

N E T

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Re: Stuff political scientists like
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2011, 03:51:26 am »
That was awesome.


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European political scientists would like you to stop talking right now. You are hurting the world.

:lulz:
“There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.” - M I C H E L   D E   M O N T A I G N E