1. Welcome and catching up the groups to one another
  2. What is a portfolio?
    • One can think of this in terms of "whereas's": whereas there is often too much emphasis on product and not enough on process in higher education and whereas there is more to "active learning" that talking in class and group work and whereas part of the job of a coach is to get you to practice everyday and whereas knowledge and skills cumulate and whereas the design of a course actually does include careful consideration of sequence and timing…. One could go on and on. Suffice it to say that a portfolio is a digital record of your work in a course. On a more or less weekly basis we will expect you to do something other than just read and listen. There will be exercises in the textbook, there will be lab workshops, and there will be classroom exercises that you'll be expected to follow up on, reflect on, or otherwise complete outside of class. The general pattern will be that each week will involve doing a few things that you "submit" to your portfolio. These are "graded" as "done on time" or "not done on time." Insofar as we think they are useful, there is an implicit third grade: "never done."
  3. LAB. The labs are a part of the course. For students who registered for SOC91, they are required and that's why the course is worth 1.25 units. If you registered for PPOL or HIST and want to get the 0.25 credits, you will need to attend and complete about seven lab sessions. These take place on Tuesday afternoon, generally from 4 to 6 although a few might be just one hour. We will have a sign-up if you want to do this. It involves changing the credit for the course so the commitment is a hard one - if you sign up, it's required and you have to do it unless you change the credit again and there is a deadline for that. Finally, note that the first lab is for everyone since it is where we impart some basic digital skills that will be needed for the course.
  4. Onward

overgeneralization So, on Sunday I was in LA in a high-rise apartment building that we have had to move to because our building was flooded last fall during the drought. Our temporary apartment is on the 17th floor as is our apartment in the building we moved from. But at "home" we are in 1704, a beautiful corner apartment overlooking LA live and the Staples center. In the temporary building we are in 1701 and we have a great view of a white brick wall. But I took a walk down the hall and found that in the new building apartment 1704 is also a great corner apartment. And so, I thought to myself, I learned something today: either corner apartments are always numbered 04 or 04 apartments are always corner apartments. Which is it?

Why are we so hung up on social SCIENCE? Policy SCIENCE? Historical SCIENCE?

This all has to do with another question: why should anyone believe you? And by believe we don't mean just "take you seriously" or "say, sure, bro, I believe you." We mean that people might think you have just told them something about the world that's true and they will now take it as true and perhaps act upon it.


If you tell folks there is a new way to run pre-schools, someone might actually try it and someone's little girl will be subject to the new pedagogy you came up with. If you are wrong, that girl and all her classmates might be harmed for ever. If you tell people there is no such thing as human caused climate change, they might believe you and stop worrying about their carbon footprint and thereby help to doom the human race.

When you accept the role of "scientist" (whether as a vocation or only trying it on as a student), you sign a social contract that means some of the things you say (aver), carry a weight, an accent, that's different from just mouthing off, offering an opinion, expressing a belief, or passing along a rumor. When we say "there was a research report that showed X," X comes with a warrant for believing it.

POMO folks will get all hot and bothered and interpret this in terms of authority and power structures and there's something to that. But in the current context we are making a different point. What we want to do is to distinguish this sort of statement from others (perhaps on the same topic) that we would not give the same weight to.

Consider statements like these:

  • There is no such thing as climate change.
  • Every child needs a father and a mother.
  • Women can't be marines.
  • College without grades won't work.
  • If Mills lowered advertised tuition to match it's effective discounted tuition, no one would come here.
  • If you keep interest rates low you are going to see runaway inflation.
  • Pop music has always been sexist.
  • Violent video games make people violent.

Any one of these statements can come in three different flavors: feelings, conviction, and knowledge.

For a long time human beings have tried to figure out a way to generate dependable knowledge. Very early on we came to realize that we could not always depend on one another. If Cain says to Abel, there's a lion in the forest, there may or may not be a lion in the forest: Cain can lie.

Or Cain can be hallucinating.

Or Cain might not know what a lion is. Or maybe he didn't really see a lion, he saw what he thought was a lion's footprint.

Obstacles (per the text book)
Selective or inaccurate observation.
Illogical reasoning.
Resistance to change.

A few hundred years ago, this guy Galileo spoke truth to power. The truth he was speaking was based on observations and calculations and the power to which he spoke was the Catholic church, in particular the pope.

Weber: science as a vocation
The second is Weber’s analysis of the academic in the role of a teacher. Weber argues passionately for explicit political advocacy – but not in the lecture hall. Significantly, Weber draws attention to the structural imbalance between faculty and students: “To the prophet and the demagogue, it is said: ‘Go your ways out into the streets and speak openly to the world’, that is, speak where criticism is possible. In the lecture-room we stand opposite our audience, and it has to remain silent.” Academic teaching operates within an intrinsic structural imbalance, thus creating an ethical obligation to refrain from political advocacy.

The primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize ‘inconvenient’ facts – I mean facts that are inconvenient for their party opinions. And for every party opinion there are facts that are extremely inconvenient, for my own opinion no less than for others. I believe the teacher accomplishes more than a mere intellectual task if he compels his audience to accustom itself to the existence of such facts. I would be so immodest as even to apply the expression ‘moral achievement’, though perhaps that may sound too grandiose for something that should go without saying.


Let's spend a few moments reading this very short passage by the eminent sociological research Paul Lazarsfeld. It's from the journal Public Opinion Quarterly