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Posted on August 19th, 2012, by

The article about the invented social problem called “The Scourge of Adbatism”¯ shows that there are at least two social organizations which have opposite or non-similar views about this problem. Evidently, the problem of adbatism is a new social problem, most likely affecting the whole life and well-being of an adbat, and the surrounding people. However, the severity of this problem is questionable, since the arguments of the National Council on Adbats (NCA) often seem to be rather pathetic, and the actions of the organization need to be supplied with facts and detailed statistics in order to make a judgement.

Let us analyze the article and actions of the NCA from the constructionists’ point of view. Social constructionism is typically described as a sociological construct (American Sociological Association, 1997). It suggests that people are perceiving reality basing on their knowledge and interpretations. A socially constructed reality is a dynamic process reproduced by people; from such point of view, sociologists should not impose personal attitude into their analysis and presentation of facts. From this perspective, the actions of NCA are not objective. The organization uses many methods to draw attention to the problem, but it uses many claims colored with attitude instead of presenting facts, analysis and perspectives. Thus, it is quite reasonable that this approach poses questions of other organizations, such as AGP.

However, there is an opinion that constructionists’ approach does not require staying aside from the problem while appealing social attention to the issue (Macionis and Plummer, 2008); from this point of view, the researchers have to perform data collection, analysis and forecasting without personally approaching the problem, but it is quite possible (even desirable) that they use more vivid words and images in order to create attention to the problem and initiate corresponding actions. Since little is known about other actions of the NCA, it is difficult to define the correctness of NCA actions using constructionist stance. There is more probability that they are not complying with the principles of constructionism, but there also is a significant chance that research is done and presented fairly.

After reading, a careful reader might pose many questions, concerning adbatism and related statistics. What are the signs of adbatism and its consequences? What are the factors causing adbatism? How precisely can the researchers determine that it is exactly adbatism, and not another social problem? Where has the problem appeared and why?

Concerning the claims in the article, there is also a number of questions. For example, what is meant under “had spread through the industrial world and into developing economies as well”¯, what is the speed of spreading, and whether the data concerning other countries is objective and verifiable? Moreover, explanation to the statement that “with the increase in the incidence of adbatism, the U.S. can expect an accompanying increase in other social problems, related to health, quality of life, and employment”¯ should also be illustrated by appropriate calculations, estimates and their confidence interval. The same may be questioned concerning the prognosis of the rates of adbatism for year 2030. The “severe repercussions for individuals, their families, and their communities”¯ also need to be explained; data showing the correlation between adbatism and these negative phenomena should be provided.

Also, there are questions concerning the data used for analysis by the NCA. When AGP questioned its data and methodology, there was no reasonable answer to this claim. Therefore, before making any judgement about the problem, it is necessary to have an overview of the size and representativeness of the sample used for data collection and analysis (Richmond, 2009), periodicity of data collection, research methodology etc. Without such knowledge, all claims may be simply exaggeration of existing problems in order to manipulate social opinion, for some purposes.

It is quite important to accept social data critically, especially the data presented in news, popular articles, newspapers, journals and, naturally, in the Internet. In the Ć©poque of globalization and the spreading of communication technologies, the power of manipulating social opinion and creating social movements belongs to the mass media. Statistics is a neat thing that may be used both for analyzing the situation and making predictions and for obtaining the desired picture of the situation for further manipulating social conscience.

Therefore, in the flow of information it is necessary for everyone to be able to filter important data based on real facts and other sorts of statistics.

Let us analyze which approaches may be used by NCA to make their cause better known. The rational choice approach may be used ”“ rational individuals, getting to know the dangers of adbatism, will do the best to prevent it. This strategy requires a lot of educational activities and disseminating information. Framing might be a more efficient approach ”“ applying to various frames (like they did in the article) will cause social resonance and reaction. Finally, the resource mobilization method is already used by NCA ”“ “the organization raises money for research, lobbies Congress and state legislative bodies for favorable laws and manages a public education and media awareness campaign to inform the general public about the problem of adbatism”¯.

For AGP, best strategy of handling the claims of NCA is to examine thoroughly their data, research methodology and results of analysis, without letting them to use high-flown words and ideas without proper support. As Benjamin Disraeli said, there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics”¯. Indeed, this science may be used for various purposes, and the only way to prevent others from manipulating statistical data is to understand the subject and check the whole research process.

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