The polls got it wrong, again... The end of 'social science'? Time to stop predicting and start listening...

This is clearly the end of the line for the hierarchy of social 'science' in its current form. They used to call it 'armchair' anthropology, but contemporary social science has been spearheaded for years by people sittting in fancy swivel seats in metallic offices with brightly polished windows who stare at computers all day and don't listen. The result is that economists failed to predict the 2008 crash and have had no idea what to say about its consequences: in gross they have offered advice that is barely more successful than the Chinese astrologers of a long gone era. Psychologists have produced 'laboratory' studies in the thousands whose 'results' can't be replicated--in many cases because they chose the narrowest possible social catchment, college students. Pollsters have consistently got the results of the most decisive recent political events wrong. In the UK, the best predictions about the recent British election and the Brexit referendum were wrong. And now we know that, in the U.S., the long statistical worm pointing to a Clinton victory was an illusion too: they might as well have had pulpo paul running the polling. These are the most highly paid social scientific servants of business and government and yet their methods and key concepts often appear to be little better than phlogiston. 

Here is what a commentator wrote this morning about the polling trend that had Clinton with an 80% or more likelihood of victory:

"The polls were wrong. And because we are obsessed with predicting opinions rather than listening to them, we didn’t see it coming. So, the world woke up believing that Republican candidate Donald Trump had a 15% chance of winning based on polling predictions – roughly the same chance of rolling a six if you have two dice. Despite those odds, the next US president will be Donald Trump."

The one person who got this scenario right was Donald Trump. He predicted 'Brexit plus' and that is what happened. He saw there was fertile ground for victory by appealing to people whose social lives and institutions have been atomised over the last thirty years and he was right. Of course, he wasn't talking to or for anything like a single social grouping, but the truth is that social scientists don't know who he was really talking to and listening to, because they haven't been listening themselves; social scientists don't know what is going on at all.

Malinowski recognised this kind of phenomenon in the 1930s which is why he became so closely involved in the mass observation studies of that era. Mass observation may be largely forgotten now, but the principle was clear--if you want to know what is going on then you need to stop paying attention to the most superficial elements of culture and look at and listen to real patterns of action. The standard Malinowskian mantra is usually reproduced in the phrase 'what people say and what they do is not the same.' The bulk of social science seems obsessed almost to the point of mania with 'what people say'.

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I think this thread is excellent: it is good to think with, which is what we do, rather than make policy. I like many posts here, especially Huon's introduction, the exchange between John and Michael and above all this last post from Lee (all three in fact). My own contribution was probably too longwinded and off-the-point. John, Lee and Michael didn't think so apparently, but no-one engaged with it; and Huon settled for a put down which must have been based on a selective memory of my past statements, but not a close reading of that post.

I do write about revolution sometimes, especially after 2011 (Arab Spring and Occupy), when I thought the world was moving in a good way. Both went bust of course; and increasingly over the last decade I have written about the relocation of the state to a more inclusive, federal level, not the nation -- the EU as the leading federal experiment in global politics is partly why I settled in Paris, but it has turned into an undemocratic bullies club instead. Europe's fall from world domination since 1900 breeds a nasty type of culture and politics, not unlike the US whose fall is not likely soon -- something else Trump got right. So I am much in favour of what goes on in this thread, even if I haven't yet figured out how to be part of the conversation.

I will try not to make the same mistake twice (but I have), caught as I am here between hostility and indifference. I thought I would comment on three points.

1. Levi-Strauss on dialectic. Many French intellectuals want to repudiate what they were taught at secondary school, seminary or whatever. Their snide comments on dialectic are often an indirect way of distancing themselves from Marx --to attack him directly by name would be too dangerous in Paris then and maybe even now, apart from for right-wing extremists. Many of the soft left have switched to Polanyi and are silent on, but not critical of Marx. LS went on to be a structuralist in the 60s, along with Althusser who successfully removed the dialectic, history and the subject from French Marxism (mainly because they were German and he wanted to borrow from American systems theory). In its anthropological form, it became a weird version of structural-functionalism. I have always thought that the reason why several leading structuralists met a sticky end -- murdered his wife (Althusser), jumped from a window (Poulantzas), run over by a car (Barthes) -- was because denyng the subject is humanly impossible. Give me dialectical reason any day (conversation would be better).

LS's structuralism also abolished subjectivity, leaving himself as the only subject in a world of objects. He lived to 100 and died in his bed, so maybe he was saved by writing Tristes Tropiques in the 50s. Of our contemporaries, Latour (a former Jesuit) comes to mind: like many others he demonises Kant who dominated his education and invented dialectic, along with other forms like critique. ANT likewise tries to get rid of the human subject.  Why pay attention to Pasteur? It's the molecules that do the work. Modern democracy is a shambles; it is safe to ignore it. Let's celebrate the democracy of things. Etc.

2. I have always admired Huon's penchant for standing aloof from the 'serious' left and mainstream anthropology/social science by focusing on what many of them ignore -- like art, humour, the stranger and closely observed life. I have read interesting critiques of the left downplaying the white working class's racism and sexism in favour of economism, but I want to hear more about the role of comedy in our political moment first. That ought to be worth more extended treatment than is possible here; in any case it hasn't yet engaged our small coterie. As I wrote before, I think putting down social science is long overdue, but implying that many in the Rust Belt voted the way they did as a joke or liked Trump mainly because he is a clown left me scratching my head.

3. Lee's debunking of the saying/doing contrast is brilliant. I associate it with Leach in his conflict with Fortes and subsequent, rather lame attempts to found a school of cultural 'structuralism' (which LS repudiated as a typical betise anglaise). He also went with Malinowski against Radcliffe-Brown in Pul Eliya, a dire utlitarian tract and one side of an impoverished dialectical approach (political structures meet utilitarianism) in Political Systems of Highland Burma. I particularly liked Lee's segue from anthropology to Trump/Hillary.This is something we should do more often -- in either direction. And Huon has done that in starting this thread.

You see, logorrhea again. I'll have to take it up with my shrink. I think it comes from my Manchester upbringing -- the desire to be explicit and transparent, even at the cost of being redundant. Levi-Strauss's dismissal of dialectic hit home: "he was then equipped to come up with a plausible sounding argument on any conceivable topic". This is almost as good as Skip Rappaport's line when introducing a seminar paper in Manchester: "Like Durkheim, I intend to tread the thin line between profundity and banality".

Keith

Keith, glad to hear from you. Those comments on French intellectuals and the dialectic were enlightening and the Skip Rappaport quote is a treasure.

I must now go back and reread what you wrote more carefully. In the meantime, I wonder if anyone here has ever heard of a management consultant turned psychoanalyst named Ralph Stacey, who is the author of a book titled Complexity and Group Processes: A Radically Social Understanding of Individuals. The book was recommended by the authors of a piece I am reading in preparation for teaching Business Anthropology in Taiwan this coming spring. But, putting that context aside, it begins from a premise much like Lee's:

I certainly do have very individual experiences and they certainly do seem to be unique to me in many respects. And what is striking about all this activity is precisely that it is activity, namely the activities of my body directed toward itself. When I think, I am talking to myself and when I feel, it is my body that is doing the feeling. The important point about an action, however, is that it is not inside anything. Talking is not inside the throat just as walking is not inside the legs. I can understand my experience of myself, then, as the activities of my body directed to itself and this in no way requires me to think of myself in an abstract way as having an 'internal world.' However, we have clearly come to believe that thinking is in the mind and that the mind is an 'internal world', which is somehow inside us. So how has this happened? Elias argued ([ 1939] 2000) that we came to experience ourselves as having a mind inside us in response to the slowly growing social pressures to hide particular affects such as aggression and sexuality and conceal certain bodily functions such as sex and discharging waste material. In other words, the sense of an internal world grew out of a need to hide what we really experience. The evolution of this way of experiencing ourselves was closely tied up with the need for greater individual self-control required by the evolution of increasingly complex and differentiated webs of relationships between people and the monopolization of violence by the state. The feeling we have of a mind inside ourselves is thus an illusion produced by social evolution.

To me this seems to pull together several threads in this and previous discussions. What say the rest of us?

I am in Minneapolis at the moment for the annual meetings, so I am pressed for time, but I want to add Zero Anthropology to the list of those who correctly predicted the Trump win. He hits many of the same notes as the contributors to this thread, but his focus on the subversive element of Trump's run is worth thinking through a bit more. His take has its similarities to Lee's work on Bond and Lance Armstrong and that comparison might serve to start.

Thanks Michael for your comments and posted Savage minds as well to Huon to begin this discribe of the end of Social Sciences...

I consider it is not the end, it is a transition that what has porsed in the discipline, and its structure alwyas around the academic let happened. It is a moment of change as well for us.

lastly i listened long lists of dissaters but not an approach of understanding to them. It is like a big apocalyse...buah!

Maybe it is, why not!

But our place is to be hiden under the table crying or flying like a Chagall picture?  

Are we going to work in the sociaty or continue with helicopter view?

The situation arrived to place that it is not a surprised outside and inside the discipline. We are not totally outside the world in spite the distance that we put to study this.

You know, Spain has a level of corruption in the politic class very big. Some politics began to be honest and said which companies bouhgt them publically not to let do social plans and they dimited.

So, many things slowly began to be in the place or in a new place, difficult.

And how some leaders says " to call the things with its name! At the same time , I coul check many journalist, as Michael said very much more clear in their anlayses than us. At EL PAIS there was an intersting article, in Spanish, but you caoul translate with google, that open minds for all with a prespective about believes very sharped. I copy the link here.http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2016/11/16/actualidad...

I wish to see something like this about Brexit and Trump from us. ..I consider in order to that we have to change , and finish yes this phase opening and recuperating the consistent in the fieldwork and in the theory leaving behind the Chagall picture that was nice but not the only picture as reference even inside the academy.

regards, 

Cecilia

 

To be translated into English EL PAIS-google ? Brexit, Trump, Colombia, referendums, understunding...

http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2016/11/16/actualidad...

A nice a analyse that we should begin to do in the new phase for Anthropology and the society because it is the end of a phase, not a surprise..stop Chagall flying or being hiden under the table crying..it is need to understand and recuperate the consistence..it is agood moment as well that will shake the Academy and its sense...with the posthruth...

regards

 

    Michael, were there any safe spaces at the AAA meetings this year?  What’s the prevailing mood, post-Trump?  The Zero Anthro prediction that Trump would win, coming in May as it did, is really impressive.  That is mitigated somewhat, though, when in the same piece Forte predicts that Trump would completely bulldoze Hillary’s campaign during the summer.  To lay cards on table, I didn’t predict the win at all.  My take was typically ambivalent:  Based on conversations with regular folks and the incredible numbers and enthusiasm at Trump rallies, I couldn’t believe that Trump would lose.  But considering how the Electoral College was stacked against him – he had to put together a string of improbable wins while Hillary could coast in on the big blue states – I didn’t see how he could win.  Then when the early exit polls got it hopelessly wrong, showing Hillary way ahead, it looked like his goose was cooked.  That’s why the late night turnaround was such a bombshell.  The aftershocks are still going on.   

 

    I’ve written that it’s necessary to move from fine-grained objective ethnography of the Trump phenom à la Terkel and Lewis into cultural analysis – this is also Stoller’s point and, I think, Keith’s and John’s.    As an opener, let’s consider my last argument that doing vs. saying is an important folk taxonomy that played a major part in the election.  Trump is the doer; Hillary is the say-er.  The accomplished builder vs. the scheming politician.  Real folks who do actual work vs. scumbag lawyers and spineless bureaucrats who manipulate words and in the process keep those real folks down.  I think this is a perspective many people, especially Trump supporters, embrace.   

    But of course it’s not that simple.  Never is.  Looming over that folk taxonomy is – can I make myself write it? – an ontology, in this case pertaining to the ontological status of “work” and the “job.”  A deep-seated, pervasive sense of how the world is put together.  I’ll try to ease into this, hoping to avoid the mumbo jumbo that surrounds the “O” word. 

    About the job:  Adapting the real estate mantra that the three most important things in determining the value of a property are location, location, location, Trump’s refrain throughout the campaign was that the three most important things in making America great again are jobs, jobs, jobs.  He claims that unemployment in the U. S. is much worse than official figures make it out to be, and so what is needed is to bring companies back here and create lots and lots of new jobs.  He’s delivered that message to countless crowds who cheer him on madly; they seem to want and need those jobs. 

    But the reality – that “O” word again – is that jobs, jobs, jobs entails bosses, bosses, bosses.  In short, instead of kicking back and sponging off government welfare programs, you will now have the opportunity to work your ass off for some soulless corporation whose CEO makes 500 times as much as you and could care less about you.  The inescapable reality, ah yes, of the job is that it means bondage, subservience, loss of any hope of true freedom.  And in their hearts members of those cheering throngs know this full well.  They despise the idea of being shackled to a job, of being told what to do by some fat-ass brown nose supervisor, of seeing their lives sucked dry by endless time cards and inadequate pay stubs.  Merle Haggard sang their deepest feelings in Big City

I'm tired of this dirty old city
And tired of too much work
And never enough play
And I'm tired of these dirty old sidewalks
Think I'll walk off my steady job today
Turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of Montana
And give me all I've got coming to me
And keep your retirement
And your so-called Social Security
Big city turn me loose and set me free

Been working every day since I was twenty
Haven't got a thing to show
For anything I've done
There's folks who never work and they've got plenty
Think it's time some guys like me had some fun . . .

    My point here is that the Social Reality (Big O, as in Montreal) of the job involves an irresolvable contradiction: We want a job, a good job, but realize that means shackling ourselves to a galley oar.  Love-hate – ambivalence, the “bedrock” of Reality. 

    Work.  I recall a long-ago conversation with a former colleague.  She was a real dyed-in-the-wool Commie who thought my thing about “culture” was a clear sign I was blind to the reality of the World of the Worker.  The conversation took place at some anthropology meeting in Montreal, across town from where I lived.  It was mid-winter, and predictably the snow-removal crews had gone on strike.  The city was paralyzed.  Lots of the city workers had taken a couple of weeks off to spend time at their condos in Hollywood, Florida, where the local paper, La Presse, was in all the newsstands. I’d walked several miles through slushy muck to get to the meeting, and I was pissed.  I ran into said colleague, gave vent to my feelings, and she proceeded to lecture me on people’s “right to work.”  Really venting by this time, I blurted out something like, “Yeah?  Well, how about people’s right to play?”  

    Needless to relate, there was no meeting of the minds here.  But I did come away with a renewed understanding that for some people, including said colleague, “work” is a natural and noble fixture of human existence.  Then and now, I didn’t and don’t get it.  Obviously, lots of folks do, folks who work at some crappy job but nevertheless find their competence at the job fulfilling.  Here I think the critical question for anyone is: Is your work a job?  Does it involve a boss?  If so, isn’t that close to a slave mentality?  And if not, if your work is free of direct supervision, then aren’t you quite a rare bird?  Here we need to look at everyday speech.  In lots of usages, work equals job: a factory “worker” punches the time clock, calls his wife on the cell and says, “I just got off work.”  Here his work is definitely a job.  There aren’t a lot of job-free cases of work in American society:  An artist, a novelist, a composer, a poet, can speak of his “work” and mean by that the more-or-less independent product of his effort.  Others, notably here academics, poach on this sense of “work” but it is only poaching.  A professor speaks of his work and means the items on his resume which, however, have earned him a pittance, if that.  His real work is a job: teaching school, doing humdrum administrative duties, attending endless meetings. 

    What all this boils down to is that the fervent Trump supporter, yearning for that “good job,” is caught in the web of (“late”?) capitalism.  And at the heart of things there is the inherent contradictoriness and attendance ambivalence of the “job” and “work.”  It’s a Reality of pushes and pulls. 

For the last two years, the meetings have been held in convention centers. Are convention centers safe? It is impossible to get close enough to anyone to disagree with them in a convention center. The feeling is very different from being squeezed into a hotel where you can't escape conversation. So, in that sense the meetings are safe spaces because you can opt out of any interaction. Choose your panel, choose your bar, choose not to engage, etc.. What this says about anthropology is another matter.




Lee Drummond said:

 

    Michael, were there any safe spaces at the AAA meetings this year?  What’s the prevailing mood, post-Trump?  The Zero Anthro prediction that Trump would win, coming in May as it did, is really impressive.  That is mitigated somewhat, though, when in the same piece Forte predicts that Trump would completely bulldoze Hillary’s campaign during the summer.  To lay cards on table, I didn’t predict the win at all.  My take was typically ambivalent:  Based on conversations with regular folks and the incredible numbers and enthusiasm at Trump rallies, I couldn’t believe that Trump would lose.  But considering how the Electoral College was stacked against him – he had to put together a string of improbable wins while Hillary could coast in on the big blue states – I didn’t see how he could win.  Then when the early exit polls got it hopelessly wrong, showing Hillary way ahead, it looked like his goose was cooked.  That’s why the late night turnaround was such a bombshell.  The aftershocks are still going on.   

 

    I’ve written that it’s necessary to move from fine-grained objective ethnography of the Trump phenom à la Terkel and Lewis into cultural analysis – this is also Stoller’s point and, I think, Keith’s and John’s.    As an opener, let’s consider my last argument that doing vs. saying is an important folk taxonomy that played a major part in the election.  Trump is the doer; Hillary is the say-er.  The accomplished builder vs. the scheming politician.  Real folks who do actual work vs. scumbag lawyers and spineless bureaucrats who manipulate words and in the process keep those real folks down.  I think this is a perspective many people, especially Trump supporters, embrace.   

    But of course it’s not that simple.  Never is.  Looming over that folk taxonomy is – can I make myself write it? – an ontology, in this case pertaining to the ontological status of “work” and the “job.”  A deep-seated, pervasive sense of how the world is put together.  I’ll try to ease into this, hoping to avoid the mumbo jumbo that surrounds the “O” word. 

    About the job:  Adapting the real estate mantra that the three most important things in determining the value of a property are location, location, location, Trump’s refrain throughout the campaign was that the three most important things in making America great again are jobs, jobs, jobs.  He claims that unemployment in the U. S. is much worse than official figures make it out to be, and so what is needed is to bring companies back here and create lots and lots of new jobs.  He’s delivered that message to countless crowds who cheer him on madly; they seem to want and need those jobs. 

    But the reality – that “O” word again – is that jobs, jobs, jobs entails bosses, bosses, bosses.  In short, instead of kicking back and sponging off government welfare programs, you will now have the opportunity to work your ass off for some soulless corporation whose CEO makes 500 times as much as you and could care less about you.  The inescapable reality, ah yes, of the job is that it means bondage, subservience, loss of any hope of true freedom.  And in their hearts members of those cheering throngs know this full well.  They despise the idea of being shackled to a job, of being told what to do by some fat-ass brown nose supervisor, of seeing their lives sucked dry by endless time cards and inadequate pay stubs.  Merle Haggard sang their deepest feelings in Big City

I'm tired of this dirty old city
And tired of too much work
And never enough play
And I'm tired of these dirty old sidewalks
Think I'll walk off my steady job today
Turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of Montana
And give me all I've got coming to me
And keep your retirement
And your so-called Social Security
Big city turn me loose and set me free

Been working every day since I was twenty
Haven't got a thing to show
For anything I've done
There's folks who never work and they've got plenty
Think it's time some guys like me had some fun . . .

    My point here is that the Social Reality (Big O, as in Montreal) of the job involves an irresolvable contradiction: We want a job, a good job, but realize that means shackling ourselves to a galley oar.  Love-hate – ambivalence, the “bedrock” of Reality. 

    Work.  I recall a long-ago conversation with a former colleague.  She was a real dyed-in-the-wool Commie who thought my thing about “culture” was a clear sign I was blind to the reality of the World of the Worker.  The conversation took place at some anthropology meeting in Montreal, across town from where I lived.  It was mid-winter, and predictably the snow-removal crews had gone on strike.  The city was paralyzed.  Lots of the city workers had taken a couple of weeks off to spend time at their condos in Hollywood, Florida, where the local paper, La Presse, was in all the newsstands. I’d walked several miles through slushy muck to get to the meeting, and I was pissed.  I ran into said colleague, gave vent to my feelings, and she proceeded to lecture me on people’s “right to work.”  Really venting by this time, I blurted out something like, “Yeah?  Well, how about people’s right to play?”  

    Needless to relate, there was no meeting of the minds here.  But I did come away with a renewed understanding that for some people, including said colleague, “work” is a natural and noble fixture of human existence.  Then and now, I didn’t and don’t get it.  Obviously, lots of folks do, folks who work at some crappy job but nevertheless find their competence at the job fulfilling.  Here I think the critical question for anyone is: Is your work a job?  Does it involve a boss?  If so, isn’t that close to a slave mentality?  And if not, if your work is free of direct supervision, then aren’t you quite a rare bird?  Here we need to look at everyday speech.  In lots of usages, work equals job: a factory “worker” punches the time clock, calls his wife on the cell and says, “I just got off work.”  Here his work is definitely a job.  There aren’t a lot of job-free cases of work in American society:  An artist, a novelist, a composer, a poet, can speak of his “work” and mean by that the more-or-less independent product of his effort.  Others, notably here academics, poach on this sense of “work” but it is only poaching.  A professor speaks of his work and means the items on his resume which, however, have earned him a pittance, if that.  His real work is a job: teaching school, doing humdrum administrative duties, attending endless meetings. 

    What all this boils down to is that the fervent Trump supporter, yearning for that “good job,” is caught in the web of (“late”?) capitalism.  And at the heart of things there is the inherent contradictoriness and attendance ambivalence of the “job” and “work.”  It’s a Reality of pushes and pulls. 

Michael,

You have clearly and correctly identified the reasons why I haven't attended a triple-A meeting since 1995. Even then, at the Washington, D.C. Hilton, it was getting hard to run into people and sit down for a serious chat. Now, unless you are in the meat market, it seems pointless to go. That is why, especially since I pay my own way, I prefer to go to the annual Sunbelt conferences of the International Network for Social Network Analysis. You not only meet interesting people who share a common perspective that allows specialists in lots of different substantive areas to talk with each other; the tradition of the one big open free bar instead of private parties means that it is still possible to be talking simultaneously to one of the founders of the organization and hot-shot graduate students who are arguing with them peer-to-peer. 

Lee,

You, too, have raised an important issue. People still want good-paying, middle-class "jobs" and these are disappearing. Jobs  where you can put in an honest days work and leave work behind at the end of the day and still earn a middle-class income are headed for the history's dustbin. I began learning why by reading Robert Reich (1992) The Work of Nations, George Ritzer (2007) The MacDonaldization of Society, and Daniel Pink (2006) A Whole New Mind. Basically the combination of globalization, which allows companies to move factories the require human labor to low-wage countries and technological advances that make it possible  to replace human labor with automation, has reduced demand for good-paying repetitive labor jobs. The result is that more and more workers, who once performed those jobs, have no alternative but personal service, basically sales and wait staff jobs. Surplus labor drives down wages.

The only ones left relatively well off are specialized knowledge workers, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and even they are increasingly caught up in what is now called "the gig economy," a.k.a., project-based work without the benefits that corporations used to provide. Those with sufficient wealth can become wealthier by playing in the markets; but those without wealth are trapped in an endless cycle of low-wage, fundamentally boring employment. 

One consequence of these developments is that, combined with the democratization of higher education, they destroy the classic liberal myth that higher education is the route to upward social mobility. A B.A. is increasingly only a qualification for "Burger Assistant."

Ah, the grammatical horrors I have perpetrated while trying to compose on an iPhone....mea maxima culpa.

Max Forte wrote this brilliant account of why Trump would win the presidential election in May 2016. Michael introduced me to it in this thread above. It is hard to beat for insight, panache and sheer writing skill. Here is an extract:

3. “American Greatness”

Here I need to write bluntly and in very poor taste, to better match real, lived, individual experience and private thoughts (maybe not yours, but some, whether conscious or not). When immigrants came to the US in pursuit of the “American Dream,” who would they imagine as the better embodiment of that dream?

A) The small, spiteful, neckless old lady with the cruel face and the mysterious coats that appear to be hiding large urine bags (or a colostomy bag), someone with the kindness of a prison warden and a grating cackle that is a searing assault on every image of Cinderella and Snow White? Or,

B) The gleaming skyscraper, the golden luxury suite housing the square-faced, golden-haired mountain of Grade A Beef in a $10,000 suit standing under a chandelier that looks like glinting diamonds in sparkling champagne, who is otherwise soaring through the skies in his own massive jet?

If you are answering (a), then you do not understand the United States.

Put differently, when it comes to providing a contrast between hardship, loss, and suffering for the majority, and long-cherished images of American success, Trump stands to remind voters of the first part, and stands as an embodiment of the second part. When it comes to “making America great again,” Trump looks the part–and I think this is the only way he can continue to boast of his wealth and success in the face of sometimes rather desperate, very underprivileged voters.

Max was a founder of the OAC -- he came up with idea of Ning as a platform and I implemented it -- and a member of the first admins team. He left before long and renamed his Open Anthropology blog Zero Anthropology (work it out). It is worth pondering what might have happened here if he had stayed. But the academics took over and the rest is history. Max is a talented academic too, but his drive is mainly political. Zero Anthropology is still going strong and the OAC is not, for all its global shadow membership.

Read and reflect.

PS I have seen this passage described as "misogynist", probably by a voter for Hillary whose lack of a sense of humour is understandable. For how could that be when the wicked stepmother is contrasted with Snow White as negative and positive icons? The Trump exaggeration is just as ludicrous in the opposite direction. Imho, this is satire, mainly about popular stereotypes more than the actual candidates.

What concerns me is less the predictive insight of a few authors like Max, or Michael Moore or Susan Kendzior than our habit of leaping to conclusions before all the data are in. We now know that Clinton won the popular vote by around two million votes. We know that Clinton won by overwhelming margins in most of the northeast as well as throughout the West Coast, in states that account for two-thirds of the entire US economy. There is, moreover, one reads online, growing evidence of voter suppression, manipulation and outright voter fraud in the rust belt states that cost Clinton the election.

These facts, if they are, indeed, facts, to not discredit the insights mentioned above. They do, however, require us to think more critically about the parts of the country where Trump voters are found and how votes are counted. Sweeping generalizations based on culturalogical reasoning need to be tempered with understanding of where they most certainly did not apply as well as of where they did.

 

John:  “There is, moreover, one reads online, growing evidence of voter suppression, manipulation and outright voter fraud in the rust belt states that cost Clinton the election.
These facts, if they are, indeed, facts, to not discredit the insights mentioned above. They do, however, require us to think more critically about the parts of the country where Trump voters are found and how votes are counted. Sweeping generalizations based on culturalogical reasoning need to be tempered with understanding of where they most certainly did not apply as well as of where they did.” 

    I see a couple of problems here.  When an argument involves “one reads online . . .” doesn’t that inject a note of innuendo that doesn’t belong in a dispassionate analysis?  And that “evidence of voter suppression” seems to have been discredited by the very statistician who aired the possibility.  From the NY Times: 

 

“Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack?” J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has studied the vulnerabilities of election systems at length, wrote on Medium on Wednesday as the calls based on his conclusions mounted. “Probably not.”

More likely, he wrote, pre-election polls were “systematically wrong.” But the only way to resolve the lingering questions would be to examine “paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states,” he wrote.

Tellingly, the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded, along with outside experts, that it is highly unlikely the outcome would change even after an expensive and time-consuming review of ballots.

    You’re right to suggest that ethnography and attendant cultural analysis be done of Hillary voters as well as those secret and not-so-secret Trumpers out there.  A really interesting place to begin might be where Hillary won an incredible majority, far higher than anywhere in the country:  Washington D. C.  Some 93 percent of the vote.  All those bureaucrats and lobbyists who brought us perpetual war, an unmanageable health care system, a failed education system, an economy hemorrhaging jobs, and staggering income inequality had no problem in seeing where their interests lay.  Drain the Swamp. 

    Regarding those “sweeping generalizations based on culturalogical reasoning”: do you refer to Forte’s taking stereotypes of Trump and Hillary as far more accurate than the worthless polls?  Hillary as shrieking witch vs. Trump as a most improbable “blue collar billionaire” who galvanized hundreds of thousands in rallies that only Bernie came close to equaling?  It seems too high-flying to call Forte’s argument “culturalogical reasoning.”  I think he just has a keen eye for what’s right there before him.  Apart from all the graft and corruption, Hillary was hated in a personal way, often by those who had most to do with her.  For her shrieking speeches they gave her the title “Shrillary.”  And the Secret Service who guarded her?  When Hillary got a big plane for her later campaign and emblazoned it with “Stronger Together” in words as big as the “Trump” on Donald’s plane, her guard detail gave it another name that did not appear on the fuselage:  Broomstick One. 

 

Keith,

    You’re right about Forte’s brilliance in his early prediction.  He did err a bit though in claiming that Trump would bury Hillary by the summer; instead we got a nail-biter.  Forte’s latest sequel to his Trump piece, “Trump and Anthropology” is the best thing I’ve seen, not only on Trump but on American anthropologists’ reaction to the election results.  It’s classic and should be discussed.  Any chance that as a long-time colleague of Forte you could invite him to sign on here?  That would be great. 

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