Friday, July 13, 2007

Is Pop Culture Science

And if it is, Why the Hell Study this Garbage.

First you may be wondering why I hae not mentioned the religion class. Well it turns out that the religion class is more of a history course than a studies course, and thus it is harder to make fun of. That does not mean there are not interesting moments in the class, because some religious beliefs can be... Well here's a example. This came from an Anglican Priest in 18th Cetury Virginia. At that time planters were worried that perhaps if their slaves converted, and became good Christians, the slaves might earn rights. The pastor knew which of the two groups of Christians paid his salary, and he thus addressed the issue with the following religious ruling.
To remove all pretence from the Adult Slaves I shall baptise of their being free upon that account, I have thought to fit to require first their consent to this following declaration You declare in the Presence of god and before this Congregation that you do not ask for the holy baptism out of any design to free yourself from the Duty and Obedience you owe to your Master while you live, but merely for the good of Your Soul and to partake of the Graces and Blessings promised to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ . One of the most Scandalous and common Crimes of our Slaves is their perpetual Changing of Wives and husbands, which occasions great disorders; I also tell them whom I baptise The Christian Religion does not allow the plurality of Wives, nor any changing of them; You promise truly to keep the Wife yo now have till Death dos part you. It has been Customary among them to have their feasts, dances, and meetings on the Lord's Day, that practice is pretty well over in this parish, but not absolutely; I tell them that present themselves to to be admitted to Baptism, they mus promise they'l spend no more the Lord's day in idleness, and if they do, I'l cut them off from the Communion.
Ahh those Anglican Pastors. So empathetic to the needs of their congregation.

However, due to it's rather factual nature, the class itself is less deserving of parody. I might present a funny quote or two, but I will primarily blog about the Pop Culture.

And now for the question of the day, Is Pop Culture, or at least the study of pop culture a science? It certainly claims to be one, but at first glance, this does not seem so. I mean there are no explosion and hardly any mathematics. But even so, it could still be one of those soft, wimpy sciences like Neural Cellular Biology. So let us start at the beginning and keep an open mind.

A rigourous, scientific study of Popular culture is admittedly difficult. Apparently there are laws against locking subjects in rooms and playing 24 hour non-stop Hillary Duff music, while quantitatively monitoring their behavior.
Day 26, the subjects appear to be experiencing extreme agitation. Number 24 tried to strangle my graduate student, when she brought him food. This is the 28 time this week, that he ha displayed such violent tendencies. I intend to study this phenomenon further.

Thus Sociologists once again must take the wimpy way out and conducts surveys and or case histories. This is called Qualitative Research, or BSing. Qualitative Research is not unlike what Dr. Sachs has done. There are of course two differences. Oliver Sachs studied people with postencephalitic parkinsonism, while Pop Culture sociologists study Paris Hilton fans, so they face the additional problem that their research subjects are brain-damaged.

The second problem is more serious. Whereas Oliver Sachs can also do real science, soft and wimpy though it is, I simply do not see how a sociologist can. I must admit that sociologists do have elaborate ways of coping with this bias, (Emic and Etic and all that), and their studies are very thorough, but ultimately I think their research speaks for itself. So we conclude that no matter how much documenting and analysis there is, we still may not have a science. It's a shame, because done properly perhaps this would lead to interesting insights in human nature. Ah well. Done improperly, it as least generates much hilarity.

*This knowledge is all hearsay. I never had the urge to investigate her directly, but I get the impression that any fans of hers are weirdos.

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