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When cigar is just a cigar… March 29, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in statistics.
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I don’t know why this photographer in the picture took the shot. I really don’t.

The person whose blog I found it in, though, seems to.

its also a very simple non-academic explanation of how even if the west sees certain things as being victimising (like veils), they could have a completely different connotation locally. theres is such a happy, upbeat tone to this picture – who said anything about oppression or loss of identity!

And later in the comment section, the blogger writes :

….the stance of the people. ones standing with her handbag elegantly slung over her arm, the first lady is sort of shyly tucked in behind the jaunty denim bag slinger (i find especially her stance so relatable to – reminds me of schooldays!). one of them is holding the edge of her garment in a very feminine gesture, im guessing the one next to her is just beaming!
the spirit of picture would maybe be their equivalent of the western ‘V’ sign that people make with their fingers… you know, big grins and Vs, and probably there would be someone with a hand stuck into their jeans pocket?

I would have to be under an over-dose of some lethal drug to accept that explanation. Okay, since the probability in such ‘subjective realities’ is never really zero, I will still accept the blogger’s theories, if the blogger concedes that there is a reasonable chance that the gentleman in white with the camera in his hand was probably out of his mind.

Infact, I see an inconsistency in this cultural relativism. The blogger considers himself/herself as a feminist – fighting for women’s rights, as I understand. Now, is he/she fighting only for the sake for women who actually wants those rights ? What if through his/her own cultural relativist prism, someone told him/her that some women dont want those rights, that their culture teaches them to enjoy oppression ?

Infact, the blogger’s unjustifiable glorification of what is either mundane or stupid or oppressive reminds me of the “Gone with the Wind Syndrome” which is “named after the movie & used by rape experts to explain why rapists believe sex has to be spontaneous and done after some resistance on the part of the woman.” That, by the way, is an excuse used in defense of rapists, that they confuse rape with consensual sexual act because they suffer from the Gone with the Wind Syndrome.

I am also reminded of what Gaurav talks about first-year PhD students and their propensity to do the following :

I know many 1st year doctoral students who can make some pretty solid arguments. I am refering to the forced injection of some social scientific theory into his arguments. In the first year of a PhD program, we read a LOT. We are literally swimming with ideas, theories, conjectures about the abstract world of social sciences. Some theories seem more fascinating than others. So there is always a tendency to explain everything around us by applying concepts discussed in economics, sociology, psychology, political science and management. It almost becomes a reflex. And in doing so we tend to forget what Freud is supposed to have said – sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I am guilty too sometimes of attributing some complicated sociology to random data fluctuations and hence welcome readers to catch me doing that. Interestingly I am currently reading this book – “Fooled by Randomness, The Hidden role of chance in markets and in life”.

Ofcourse, if I read too many such books, I am likely to attribute complicated sociological realities to mere random fluctuations 😉

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Comments»

1. Venu - March 31, 2007

If someone had just pointed me to that basicallyblah post without telling me anything about it, I would’ve definitely thought it was a parody of PoMoMultiCulti bs. Unfortunately, the blogger seems to have written that post seriously. The expressions of the women involved are what they are because of the tendency of humans to salvage the best out of their circumstances – of course even women who’re being harassed for dowry will be happy some of the time.

btw, how’s the Nassim Taleb book? I’ve been intending to read that book for some time now.

P.S.: It’s great that you’ve enabled full feeds instead of summaries.

2. Sharath Rao - March 31, 2007

yeah…me too thought so to start with …Just started with Taleb’s book ..progress been slow …looking good so far though…

and …was the under the impression there probably aren’t feed readers….and that was just random toggling of bits once a while to set up full feeds…but now i know ..thanks 😀


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