Friday, April 18, 2008

perception frequently varies from reality

as some of you know, i occasionally teach sociology. in fact, i just finished teaching the first week of sociology this term. one of the ideas behind sociology as a social science is moving beyond common sense to actually studying society to create theories of how we live and perhaps suggesting how we can live better.

but, i'm never really all that surprised when people won't make that step past common sense. really, we know the world around us, and we've made our minds up, despite what the facts may tell us.

this is why a book like freakonomics is interesting to me. the authors are trying to show radically different conclusions to common beliefs held by our society, and are at least trying to back it up with statistical evidence. now, i haven't read the book, and probably won't agree with everything they say when i do. maybe i'm still trying to push past the common sense of it, or maybe they're not right.

anywho, today i was reading the online version of the local fishwrap as i listened to songs that i am considering performing tonight (karaoke - tokyo garden - 10-2). the first story that piqued my interest to read past the headline was this one.

the headline, "numbers say violence is down, but is it?" says everything. you're already doubting the factual evidence that yes, school violence is down. the numbers demonstrate that there is less violence in school during this decade than in the previous one. schools are safer.

and then this:
"Still, some experts question the accuracy of campus crime statistics.

Students are attacking teachers and staff "all over the country," said Joe Parks, a professor in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State."

well, joe, do you have actual facts to prove that, or just word of mouth, and all that fear that you've swallowed? or are you going with the line that larry moore of the teachers union is throwing out, that school districts are lying about the numbers to protect their image?

and then the article throws in some more fear based "news" by mentioning an incident of a teacher being attacked and then the recent shooting by a police officer on a fresno campus.

so, we're left with this:
facts show violence is down
some people say those facts are lies (or at least skewed)
be afraid

this trips me out, because it's not like the idea that schools are unsafe is a cherished ideal in our society. it's not like we're saying that freedom doesn't really exist in our country, or that trickle down economics doesn't work, or that capitalism may not be the most representative economic form for Christianity, or that the american story of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps isn't true. those are all a part of our dominant ideology and so people will always struggle to accept something that contradicts those. i would think that most people would like to accept that fact that violence is down, schools are safer, that they can be fairly confident that their child will be safe on campus.

and yet the perception of unsafe schools persists. it must be that awful rap music's fault.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Rap is sooooo 5 years ago. It's teh emo that's bringing the violence.