Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are black Catholics more conservative?   posted by Razib @ 5/27/2009 07:02:00 PM

Your Lying Eyes looks in the GSS to resolve the question above. Looking in the GSS is obviously a mitzvah in my book, as John noted in The Corner today. 6 months ago Kevin Drum promised some GSS blogging in the future, but doesn't look like he's gotten around to it. In any case I asserted below that the human mind is a slapdash ad hoc rationalization generating machine. Since human behavior is in large part a function of the human mind, the same applies to it. This is why I love the GSS; deducing likely sociological patterns from a priori assumptions and facts is not impossible, but it's a real dicey proposition. The empirical data is essential to double-check inferences which seem plausible. And of course, deduction relies on that sneaky prefrontal cortext again, which is liable to play shell games with "logic" until it gets the conclusion it wants. The difference between possible and plausible in the minds of most maps onto normative frameworks rather suspiciously from what I can tell. You can play games with the GSS too by manipulating the interpretation (ignoring obvious confounds), but since the methodology is relatively transparent it's harder to get away with it if you aren't preaching to the choir.

Addendum: Poking through the GSS is actually very easy and doesn't take much time when compared to spinning theories based on personal intuition. So why is the latter still so much more popular than the former? Because theories derived from intuition are easy to verify via personal "thought experiments" or experience. In fact, these experiments always support the theory and rarely falsify them!