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Status quo it seems more likely that saying one is

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status quo? It seems more likely that saying one is against the “status quo”is a form of self-labeling that frames oneself as positive agent of change. Not surprisingly, members of the right-wing Tea Party also claim to be against the status quo (NBC News 2010)COUNTERARGUMENTS AND RESPONSESMany arguments could be raised in favor of the argument that conservatives would hinderthe progress of sociological science. First, one might argue that liberals on average have abilitiesand temperaments that are suited for scientific insight and progress. For instance, one could pointout that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives. Indeed, some evidence has accumulatedin the past decade showing this average IQ difference (Hodson and Busseri 2012; see alsoKanazawa 2010). However, these studies merely show ameandifference. Given variabilityabout the mean, these studies do not indicate that there are no qualified conservatives.A similar argument is that liberals score higher than conservatives on openness toexperience, a personality trait ascribed to people who show curiosity about their environment(Carney et al. 2008). Such an orientation toward the external world naturally fits the scientific
HOW IDEOLOGY HAS HINDERED SOCIOLOGICAL INSIGHT20disposition. This argument not only fails for the statistical reason noted above, but also becausethe correlation between openness to experience and liberalism is fairly weak.Instead of focusing on psychological traits, one could focus on psychological biases tomake another counterargument, namely, that cognitive biases are not strong enough to distortsociological scholarship. Although social psychologists have made a cottage industry out of biasspotting, a number of critics have noted that cognitive biases tend to be weak (Jussim 2012b; seealso Krueger and Funder 2004). However, two issues I have discussed—data censoring andmarginalization of taboo topics—have less to do with biased inferences than the absence ofinformation altogether.Opponents may also ponder if non-ideological discourse is possible. As Mannheim(1936) noted, thoughts do not sprout independently but rather grow from ideological soil. Thus,one can claim that every scholar is an ideologue, a political move that portrays scholars aslacking epistemic humility and cognitive complexity (see Merton 1973; Weber 1946).Alternatively, one can abjure loyalty to a single ideology just as one can abjure loyalty to a singlesociological theory. Such a catholic approach was proposed by Sorokin (1965:836), who noted aproblem with the over-extension of any single sociological theory (italics Sorokin’s):[The] disadvantage, fallacy, and danger [of sociological theories] consists inimperialisticextensionof the main propositions of each analytical or fact-finding theory over differentrealities or over the total sociocultural reality and ina lack of integration, reconciliationand mutual complementationof the heterogeneous and discordant analytical and fact-finding theories into one integral theory that gives a sound knowledge of not one but of

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Term
Spring
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Sociology, Sociological Insight

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