Columnist George Will made an interesting statement on television on Sunday about not “commit[ing] sociology” after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado:
“That’s what the problem is – an individual’s twisted mind,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” roundable. “There is a human itch in the modern age to commit sociology as soon as this happens and to piggy-back various political agendas on a tragedy. And I just think we ought to resist that. … There are deranged people in the world.”
I’ve never heard of this phrase before: “commit sociology.” Will makes it sound like a very unlikable thing, perhaps like committing a crime. Perhaps it is on par with the epithet of “social engineering” that Will has brought up before. But, Will might be in good company with W.H. Auden. This reminds me of some of the commentary after the London riots in 2011. Efforts to explain what was behind the attack were sometimes interpreted as excuses or rationalizations. There is a difference between pushing a political agenda and interpreting social events but good social science aims to do the latter.
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