should I drop post-modernism from the theory course?

4 Sep


Time to reconsider postmodernism.

Originally posted on

I want to completely drop post-modernism from my sociological theory teaching. Here’s my argument.

First, a definition. I’ll call someone post-modern if (a) they claim to be post-modern, (b) place themselves within a post-structuralist tradition, or  (c) are arguing with post-modernists. This would include Lyotard, Giddens (in his is radical modernity text), Jameson, Derrida and all deconstructionists such as De Man, Foucault, Flax, Baudrillard, the various feminists and sexuality theorists who argue with Foucault. I don’t include people who are just “fancy Europeans,” such as Bourdieu, who never called himself post-modernist and stems from an earlier modernist sociological tradition.

Here are my reasons for cutting post-modernism theory (PMT):

  1. Professional: American sociology is not really focused on PMT. The major journals simply do not publish much on PMT, at least since the mid-1990s or so. The major books in our field tend not to be the massive “theory” volumes of the…

View original 177 more words

The problem with anecdotal evidence

4 Sep

Exercise against depression

2 Sep

Zoe Margolis writes in The Guardian a powerful account of how running saved her from depression:

“Every step I have taken in the past few months has been a step away from pain, a step closer to feeling better. When I run, I know that at some point endorphins kick in, positive brain chemistry happens, and I feel brilliant. There is science behind that, obviously, but to me it is a simple equation that needs little explanation: I feel crap, so I run, and afterwards, sometimes for days, my depression lifts. It is not a magical cure, and I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone, but it keeps a lid on it for me. I never expected running to lessen my depression and am surprised, daily, that it does. For me, it is truly a lifesaver.”


Fish oil supplements do not slow cognitive decline

31 Aug

From The Journal of the American Medical Association, a study examining the effects of a fish oil supplements  on cognitive decline. The results were negative.



Oliver Sacks died

31 Aug


I was deeply saddened to read about the death of Oliver Sacks.

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

I needn’t explain to the readers who Oliver Sacks was. And I say “was” because The New York Times announced that Sacks died this morning in New York. He was 82.

As I’ve written on this site, he documented his diagnosis of terminal cancer (a melanoma in his eye that eventually metastasized to his brain) and his thoughts on mortality in a series of poignant pieces, also in the Times.  Today’s arts section of the paper also contains a postmortem appraisal, “Oliver Sacks, casting light on the interconnectedness of life.

He was a delightful guy, much admired and loved, and, at the end, finally came out as a gay man. How sad that he found true love only at the end of a closeted life! But at least he had that experience, short as it was.

It’s a convention to say at these times that although the man is gone, his works…

View original 136 more words

Exercise at work

28 Aug

I have blogged a lot about the dangers of too much sitting. Now, here is some advice from LifeHacker about how to exercise at work:

“If you have a little room at the office to swing a few things around or get on the floor a bit, you might consider bringing a few items with you to work that’ll help you make your breaks or idle thinking time even more productive. Even a pair of five-pound hand weights gives you the opportunity to do a number of exercises you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. We’ve even shown you how to get a great workout in less than 20 minutes using nothing but a towel. You don’t have to go that extent, but a few hand weights, some elastic exercise bands, and you have the makings of some light strength training (or at least some mild physical therapy) at your cubicle or office desk.”

But read the whole piece.

Carbohydrates and brain evolution

26 Aug

Contrary to all the hype about the paleo-diet, our ancestors probably did not eat a lot of meat. This article from The New York Times points out the importance of carbohydrates in brain evolution.

Here is a good piece by Dr. Greger on the paleo-diet.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 273 other followers

%d bloggers like this: