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The Vast Majority of Sociology is Useless.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 6/6/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,495 times Debate No: 92027
Debate Rounds (4)
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After reading a few books on sociology, notably a few religious case studies and a few "New Dads" studies by various graduates, I have come to the conclusion that sociology is a useless field. While this may be premature, I'd still like to test whether this is true or whether I'm just not competent enough to see the value that it provides.

Full Resolution: The Vast Majority of Sociology is Useless.

Useless: "of no use; not serving the purpose or any purpose; unavailing or futile"(
Majority: "a number that is greater than half of a total"(
Sociology: "Sociology is the study of social behavior or society, including its origins, development, organization, networks, and institutions. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, disorder, and change. Many sociologists aim to conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure"(

R1: Acceptance ONLY
R2: Arguments ONLY
R3: Arguments & Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals & Conclusion

There shall be no semantics in this debate. Both sides are prohibited from debating and overhauling definitions. If you have any concern regarding the definitions, raise them now before the debate commences. If any of the rules are broken, the entire debate is forfeited. Both sides are not allowed to raise new arguments in the last round.

Once the challenge is issued, the contender may accept whenever he/she is free to do so. As expected, the Burden of Proof is on Pro. More than half of sociology must be proven as useless. if Pro fails to deliver, pro will lose the debate.


The term BoP in this debate was obtained from Ragnar's Beginner Guide to Debating. Links to his guide (



I accept.

In this debate I shall be using Times New Roman 14pt font.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for having me. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my opponent for giving me the privilege of debating him and for showing me the beginner's guide. It helped clarify what observers thought to be an unbeatable truism. Let's begin.

Sociology is a new subject. It entails the need to understand all of society’s social phenomena and its implications. However, most of its research capabilities are flawed, considering how social theorists lack the ability to pin down and weed out any and all extraneous variables. I will start with the secularization thesis and expound more towards the founding fathers.

The Paradigm of the Secularization Thesis

One of the best pioneering works of modern sociology is the secularization thesis which itself is regarded as the intellectual biography of sociology. In his book Steve Bruce outlines the core thesis of his paradigm(1):

“…the declining power of religion causes a decline in the number of religious people and the extent to which people are religious. As religious faith loses social power, it becomes harder for each generation to socialize its children in the faith. It also becomes progressively harder for those who remain religious to preserve the cohesion and integrity of their particular belief system. As religion becomes increasingly a matter of free choice, it becomes harder to maintain boundaries. Alternative reworkings of once-dominant ideologies proliferate and increasing variation encourages first relativism – all roads lead to God – and then indifference as it becomes harder to persuade people that there is special merit in any particular road” ~Steve Bruce

I expect this theory to be of some use to certain individuals, particularly to those that harbor anti-religious sentiments. Nevertheless, arguments merit not on whether the theory’s aim has actual relevance to the social sphere but rather merit on the methodologies which Steve and a handful of social scientists conduct themselves.

Steve Bruce gathered a handful of sources by enlisting the help of Professor David Voas, Bryan Wilson and other agencies including the United Kingdom Census, The European Social Survey & The Gallup Poll (1). In addition, evidence were also gathered to devise a soft comparison on the different level of religiosity between different countries.

The methodology of his collective work is grounded in quantitative research (2). Quantitative research is as David Voas mentions in the podcast, provided indications of religiosity so that a degree of generalization is acceptable. Voas contended that case studies are more in depth but argued that his social surveys did somehow provides cues that were neither simplistic, nor reductionist (2). He argued that his structured way of questioning should provide at least a certain degree of the actual level of religiosity.

The structured way of questioning involves the following methodologies(1):
1) Social Questionnaires
2) Short-Close ended interviews
3) Participant Observation

And these categories, according to Bruce all assess(1):
1) Self-Identification (agnostic, atheist etc)
2) Degree of Religious Commitment to Church Institutions
3) Church Attendance

All of the categories combined have formed what is known as the secular thesis itself. For it to be representative in-depth forms of data are discarded and so not a single social scientist decides to evaluate it on a case-by case basis. Interviews are given close-ended, and answers rarely lurk beyond the "yes" or "no" spectrum.

This is essentially the problem with sociology. In the podcast, Voas mentions that it is impossible to regard participants as entirely honest since they may be influenced by group think and the likes of social desirability bias. The variables all cloud the results with indefinite forms of bias that it’s almost impossible to regard it as actual truth itself. Take into consideration how simplified the test and the questionnaires are in evaluating the level of religious commitment. We are debating the level of religious commitment and that is hardly something to be answered with just a yes or a no.

Moreover, the studies conducted by social scientists span out, as the measure of religiosity depend on the level of church attendees. They devote months of research all the while collectively accumulating all sorts of extraneous variables that could possibly cloud the results. The results are far fetched from the truth and social scientist are dipping into the obscene. This is neither productive nor useful.

Back and Forth Pointless Bickering

Upon publishing his work, he received heavy criticism from Rodney Stark and Bainbridge. Stark, responsible for creating case-by case studies on Mormonism(3) argued that Bruce failed to provide the revival aspects of different types of denomination. Conservative denominations of both Islam and Christianity have gained traction while the liberal overhaul of religion loses support over time.

Stark is able to exploit the plot holes of what Bruce originally suspected to be flaws of his own study and while Bruce admits that his thesis resemble nothing like Boyle’s law(1), Bruce is trying at a different angle by arguing that his theory is at least representative on the indication of religiosity.

These are entirely trivial, petty concerns. Not a single use can be gained by endorsing either side. If Stark wins, society probably has an indication of some sort of predisposition towards religion and vice versa will apply should Bruce win. If both scientists prefer to argue into an infinite amount of brawls of how church membership dictates religiosity, then I'm afraid yet compelled to say that this is the perfect definition of uselessness.

What’s the point of gathering a conglomerate amount of social funds and social agencies just to publish a study that only provides a level of religiosity? That seems perfectly counter-intuitive to me despite it being the supposed pioneering works of modern sociology.

Inherent Founding-Father Biasness

Biasness is the best way to prove it's actual use in a particular field, as the result will surely be invalid due to the effects of bias. Both modern sociology and traditional sociology failed to pass this test.

This is one of the easiest to observe, and I expect that it will be seen the moment someone takes an elective course in sociology. Founding fathers provide a context of understanding. Take astronomy for example, we hail Aristotle and Ptolemy as the founding fathers because they were the first to provide natural observation of the cosmos, albeit a bit superstitious. On the other hand, Sociology pits itself on a long list of some of the worst bias I’ve ever seen.

The founding fathers of the leftist sociological perspective are that of Karl Marx, Simone De Beauvoir and Antonio Gramsci. All of which promote a sense of radical change that neither endorse social institutions of the status quo nor support it. The success of these so called leftist advocates manages to outmaneuver almost all of the conservative sociological perspectives.

It is surprising that they actually have a right to be proud of their leftist triumph by dominating the field of sociology. When Psycholinguistics was a new theory, the main brawl of debates centered on the information theory and learning theory. The advocates of such theories involve Shannon’s theory of communication vs Osgood’s Learning Theory. These were soft defenders, as their theories fail to consider what Judith Greene calls the “Chomsky’s Revolution of Psycholinguistics”(4).
Similarly, the same fate falls on sociology. The soft defenders in this case fall on the conservative spectrum. Emile Durkheim and Max Weber all qualify for that label. Max Weber’s movements were largely passive, and it was hard for someone to use his predestined capitalism doctrine as a counter to Karl Marx and Engel’s Communist Theory.

His exact words defending religious influence in the era of capitalism(5):

“That of Calvinism, even in Germany, was among the strongest, it seems, and the reformed faith more than the others seems to have promoted the development of the spirit of capitalism, in the Wuppertal as well as elsewhere…Finally, that this combination of intense piety with just as strong a development of business acumen, was also characteristic of the pietists, is common knowledge.” ~Max Weber

Weber’s defense of religious salesmanship seems to have taken the headline more so than defending capitalism from the overreaches of communist ideology. He was more interested in defending how Calvinism helped the development of Capitalism rather than brawling with the leftist founders. Emile Durkheim on the other hand, seems to be the only one singlehandedly defending the use of current social institutions from radical reforms whilst also juggling attacks to his theory from the radical left.

Durkheim, like Gramsci, produced several theories of how society might work. One of his finest work is the mechanism of organic solidarity. He argues that bodies of society are interdependent on each other via a set of rules that are already set in place. Once a deviation is seen, a counter balance is observed to preserve the "collective consciousness" of the group(6).

While Weber is busy defending the use of religious influence, Durkheim is defending attacks from the left at the same time devising his own theories. The disproportionate amount of leftist bias is entirely unfair and for a subject that claims to be a science, fairness between both spectrum should be seen, particularly in a field plagued with incomprehensible amount of variables. At its current state, modern sociology is useless.

(1)Secularization: In Defence of an unfashionable theory, Chapter 1-4, Steve Bruce
(4)Psycholinguistics: Chomsky and Psychology, Judith Greene
(5)The Protestent Ethic, Max Weber


I am limited from making rebuttals to pro's case until next round.

My case shall seek to prove uses of the science in question.

Argument 1: Quality of Life
Contention 1: Urge to Relocate
Hate to start with the Trump card, but given that as many as 28% of American's would consider leaving the US if Trump is elected [1], that even people in the first world get caught in political upheaval is a fact of life. There are a thousand other reasons to leave one country for another, but this one has current top of mind awareness.

Contention 2: Sociological Comparisons
Sociology makes researching where to live (or visit) far easier. Just take a look at the Better Life Index [2], you can enter your preferences, and countries which most closely match what you're looking for rise up on the scale.

Sociology can help people (with truly minimal research) avoid moving to locations unsuited to their needs (as they define them).

Argument 2: Relations
Contention 1: We Deal with Foreigners
Us even having this debate, should make it fairly self-evident. However, trade continuously happens across national and continental borders [3], allowing us to enjoy coffee beans from Columbia, Chocolate from Switzerland, etc. For us it's luxuries, for others its survival [4].

Contention 2: Different Countries Have Different Values
I assume this to also be self-evident, but to compare the averages of a couple countries, I shall use the United States and Hungary (the host countries of the debaters) on a Hofstede Chart.

Sociology tells us that these two countries are more comparable in some social measures than others. Understanding these differences helps diplomacy.

Even without understanding the precise meanings applied, the differences and similarities should be clear. The Indulgence score for example, tells us that people in Hungary [5] are (on average) more restrained than people in the United States [6]. "[Those] with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism" [5], whereas a high score "contradictory attitudes and behaviour" such as the "work hard and play hard" mentality [6].

Contention 3: Taboos
When dealing with people from other cultures it is important to know what behaviors are taboo to their group. Social awkwardness can outright ruin trade deals [7], but in some cases saying the wrong thing (or even the right thing in the wrong way) can get someone killed [8].

It's useful in understanding differences, thus to avoiding problems.

Argument 3: Advertising
Contention 1: Jobs

Sociology might not outright create jobs, but it gives people the tools to better excel at them. "[A sociologist's] ability to research and predict certain behaviors of groups based on age, race, and social background is pure gold to advertising firms," in addition to various other roles, such as assisting in city planning [9].

Contention 2: Entertainment
Advertisers study social trends to design the best appeals to the masses (which include us) [10]. Given the increasing popularity of Super Bowl ads over the game itself, this has been highly effective [11].

Sociology is useful (at the very least to anyone who watches TV for entertainment).


Debate Round No. 2


I'll just post additional arguments and I'll do a fully-fledged rebuttal by the final round. Let's begin. In total, I will offer 5 main contentions by the end of this round.

Alternatives to Quantitative Research results in unattended data clusters

As I had demonstrated in the previous round, the validity of quantitative research in relation to its aim was questionable. However, Opponents may attempt to take the alternative that is to conduct case-by case studies and replicate it to a larger level. From there onwards, they can argue that a certain degree of representation exist by the combination of all the studies they’ve gathered.
I must assert that this sort of assumption is false on almost all counts. The failures of alternative research are commonly plagued with the lack of control and this lack of control makes it almost impossible to replicate, given how each research case is almost unique.

Alternative social theorists often tirade how each of their study relates to the bigger picture and how everything provides a context of understanding. For example, we can take Lynn Davidman’s work. Her book contains the famous quote from Clifford Geertz stating(1):

“Believing, with Max Weber, that [humans are] animal[s] suspended in webs of significance [they themselves have] spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of laws but an interpretive one in search of meaning” ~Clifford Geertz, “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture”

Further, through the lens of participant observation, Lynn argues that an interpretive framework provides the correct context of understanding (1). Bear in mind, participant observation demands that the researcher to be actually there, physically and mentally taking notes (1). Field scientists must abstain from judging, communicating in a hostile way and must not in any way, cloud their ideologies with their own opinions.

These aren’t pre-prepared speeches; these are instances which social theorists must act with extreme caution. Any infraction will cloud the data with subjective results and so will ultimately nullify any objective sense of the case study.

The failure doesn’t come with the methodology; the failure comes with the inadequacies that plague human interaction. It is almost impossible to attain these goals without creating the ripples that they originally intend to avoid. A scientist cannot expect an objective analysis when they themselves are socializing with the group. Growing ties and making friendship will likely cloud the result and so puts the study into the same pitfall as the previous methodologies of research.

Not a single alternative can be proven to be adequate. I stand my ground in believing that sociology is a useless subject.

The Queue of Legitimate Concerns

When one argues against the usefulness of one particular discipline, it is important to consider firsthand the priorities and the needs of society. If the priority of attaining religious understanding weighs less than solving current crisis such as the issues with modern health problems, then social scientists must give way to those concerns. Be it in technology or in spirituality, ranking such priorities according to the needs and importance of society provides the bedrock for societal advancement in the best way possible.

This is not to be taken as subjective. We are not floating in a sea of subjective realities in such that we must give equal concern to all. I’ll provide one direct example from the development of astronomy. During the brawl of the Copernican system and the Aristotelian System, the center of debates revolves around whether or not the sun is the actual center of the universe. For the Aristotelian side, the earth has to be the center; for the Galileon side, the sun has to be the center of the universe. Neither Simplicio(Aristotelian Advocate) nor Salviati(Galileon Advocate) ever consider the fact that our solar system may not be the center at all (2). Neither one of them ever consider that humanity may actually grasp beyond the 3 dimensional structure.

While both were intertwined in these debates that were politicized and religiously inspired, there was another discipline, Tychonian Science (3). Tychonian science was able to make accurate positions of the solar system and so the achievements of the discipline bring forth more scientific faith into the field. Tycho was revered so much that everyone awarded him with his very own fort, the Stjerneborg and he was even awarded with yet more wooden astronomical instruments(4). However, Tycho’s alternate solar system deviates so far from the truth that his discipline was rendered useless by the time scientists were able to determine the distance of the parallax(3).

This is the perfect example of how an endorsed scientific institution becomes utter useless in the new age. This is the perfect example of how a particularly revered science, a science which most medieval philosophers wouldn’t question in terms of validity, becomes futile. It is sad to see that such a discipline was lost by the end of the 19th Century.

Sociology falls in the same pit. It is under the same predicament as Tychonian Science. It’s legitimate concerns of attempts to understand social concepts are undermined by the failure of social scientists especially when it comes to applying the methodologies that they themselves devised. Their vision of an objective value is met with biasness, unattended data clusters and oversight of extraneous variables.

It’s time to drop this discipline when we have other more legitimate concerns to address. Nobody cares if society has a predisposition to religion; nobody cares whether the researcher encounters difficulties in observing as a participant. The uselessness of this field must be realized.

(1)Tradition in a Rootless World: Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism, Chapter 3-6, Lynn Davidman
(2)Dialogue Concerning The Chief World System, Galileo Galilei, Translator Stillman Drake, Editor Stephen Jay Gould


Kind of sad that my opponent has delayed rebutting any of my points until later, since for example, it leaves what should have been a strong conclusion to their round "...The uselessness of this field must be realized," of questionable merit considering it stands in direct contrast to the unchallenged three fairly broad areas to which it has been shown to be extremely useful, lifesaving even.

As should be clear, I am using a tactic of showing uses of Sociology to cast doubt on the resolution (plus going a step father to show it in general being useful), rather than exclusively countering my opponent.

My opponent to show the Vast Majority (not as high as 100%, nor as low as 51%) to be useless ("of no use; not serving the purpose or any purpose; unavailing or futile"), has given an in depth look at a very limited number of cases, which even if the impacts of my case were ignored, may or may not be sufficient to cast doubt on the vast majority of the field.

Rebuttal Section 1: Paradigm of the Secularization
Steve Bruce's study of declining religion; we booth agree the subject to be of use, but my opponent insists the study of the subject to be useless due to less than perfect research methodologies. For starters "it is impossible to regard participants as entirely honest since they may be influenced by group think and the likes of social desirability bias." This is true, people motivated by social pressure to lie, are indeed more likely to lie. Someone motivated by their community to pretend to be religious, when they secretly don't enjoy community mandated church attendance and the like, are still outwardly behaving as if religious, thus their answers remain a fine indicator of the general level of religiosity in their area. Bear in mind, we're discussing the "study of social behavior." If it would also be useful to conduct deep individual interviews to learn why someone really ticks, does not negate the use of generalizations about their larger community.

"collectively accumulating all sorts of extraneous variables"
Extraneous variables are a useful part of any research design. By collecting them, a simple drill down on the data allows identification of potential confounding variables which if not spotted would risk invalidating the conclusions [13]. It may be important to note that if someone learns from a mistake, the mistake itself was not useless since it served a purpose.

Let's say I want to know if men or women have on average higher ELO scores (it entertains me), I survey 100 active DDO users asking gender and ELO, and conclude women are in the lead by some margin. Not having extraneous variables just ruined my study, because it's likely the gender is coincidental when the real connection is to lurking variables like age, or time on site, etc. If I included the extra variables in the research, I can control for them to acutely determine if there's any meaningful connection between the original two variables I wanted to study.

As a humorous example of what happens when you don't gather extraneous data:
When you only look at two variables, don't be surprised if you get this kind of result...

"What’s the point of gathering a conglomerate amount of social funds and social agencies just to publish a study that only provides a level of religiosity?"
I think the main answer is contained within this question: To publish a study that provides the general level of religiosity. Plus, publish a book and make money. Not to mention it's of "use to certain individuals, particularly to those that harbor anti-religious sentiments" (I admit to not being clear how it is of use to them, but I'm not the one making that claim).

Rebuttal Section 2: Inherent Founding-Father Biasness
The resolution deals clearly with uselessness, not if it is negative (I think my R2 covered what a boon it is, but to be thorough...). Saying something is bad because "Karl Marx, Simone De Beauvoir and Antonio Gramsci" were pioneers of it, implies various broad reaching actions tied to their names, which is a nice pathos appeal, but actually implies Sociology as being quite useful no matter if we dislike some of those uses.

Rebuttal Section 3: Alternatives to Quantitative Research
A lot of crossover with the above; and as noted at the start of this round, my non-contested case from last round.

"Any infraction will cloud the data with subjective results and so will ultimately nullify any objective sense of the case study."
This assumes that something must be objective to be of any use. If an area has a social trend of say tipping Smart Cars [13], I need not know the objective odds of my car getting vandalized, to deduce it's best not to leave it parked there overnight. If I'm traveling in an area prone to STD's [14], I don't need study conducted with perfect objectivity to tell me I need to be extra careful.
The study is probably biased, but do we care?

Getting deeper, to understand what social habits lead to the spread of diseases, helps decrease their spread. The alternative of ignoring it leads to numerous problems [15].

Rebuttal Section 4: The Queue of Legitimate Concerns
"If the priority of attaining religious understanding weighs less than solving current crisis such as the issues with modern health problems, then social scientists must give way to those concerns."

Why must it? If Steve Bruce studied cancer instead of religion, at best he'd just be one more researcher among thousands, cancer would not magically be cured by his dedication. If he studied war in the Middle East, as evidenced by the countless people already trying to broker peace, we would still not have peace there.

That something is not useful to everyone, does not mean it's useful to no one. That it's not of optimum utility, does not mean it is of zero utility.

"Nobody cares if society has a predisposition to religion"
This seems dangerously close to claiming that the sociologists who study it, along with the evangelizing populations of the world, are somehow not people. Care to elaborate? ... I consider this point to have been self-refuted already in R2 with the statement of how useful such studies are to anyone with "anti-religious sentiments."

"nobody cares whether the researcher encounters difficulties in observing as a participant"
Anyone wanting to understand the meaning of their results, is very likely to care how the study was conducted, which goes hand in hand with what difficulties they encountered. ... I've of course already named various scenarios where not understanding the details, still allows sociology to be of benefit to us.


Debate Round No. 3


Burden of Proof

I have no reservation. My opponent did a good job helping me define the resolution and I agreed to the conditions beforehand.


Sociological Use of “Quality life” and of Donald Trump’s Presidency

As an anti-sociological advocate, I’ve taken a hard look at Con’s stats. The first quiz that he brings up is the questionnaire made by the “Morning Consult”(1). As my previous case states, my contentions are not refuting the aim of the research; it’s the methodology at which a handful of social scientists pride themselves in. They’re not exactly what we call as “objective” especially under scientific standards. My opponent fails to consider that a unscientific social study may nullify any and all validity, therefore making it completely irrelevant. If the methodology fails, the results fail. If everything fails, then of course the existence of such discipline is no doubt worth questioning.

For example, I specifically said that Steve Bruce’s work involve either a “yes” or a “no”. He combines a handful of “yes” answers and concluded that such indications are seen. I said such a result was flawed, because the aims of his thesis are to establish a complex indication of people’s religiosity. I am not attacking Steve Bruce’s intentions; I am attacking at how social surveys are conducted, considering how these are ridiculously flawed. The Morning Consult questionnaire is no different. A handful of drug answers combine in addition to the infamous question of asking “If Donald Trump were elected President of the United States in November how likely are you to consider moving to another country, such as Canada?”

The problem comes with the answers themselves. The answers are either “Most Likely” or “Total Unlikely” with “No Opinion” as a third alternative. The aim of the social study is to prove that people desire to move out of the center of action. It fails to consider financial opportunities, cultural differences and more importantly, the opportunities that would accompany such a risky venture. My opponent alleviates this concern by arguing the use of the better life index. This is as useful as claiming that Bhutan is the center of all happiness (2). Americans wishing to migrate elsewhere might just consider migrating to Bhutan. After all, one’s migration route is ultimately defined by just one indication of life. My opponent fails to consider the context behind such actions and his simplistic case fails to accurately assess the reality of such actions.

Second, a slight tweak to the answers, such as changing them to an absolute "yes" and "no" will overhaul the whole result. The answer “Most likely” involves the possibility of us changing our opinion in the near future while an absolute "yes" or a "no" requires the integrity to actually follow-up with one’s own original intention, be it moving or staying.

Further, the bias in that study is apparent. It has actual leading answers, such as highlighting the word “Canada”. I’m pretty sure that if you change it to Saudi Arabia or Iran, almost 90% would oppose. This doesn’t come close to being valid as the variable tweaking the answers itself has an ideological motive. It preys on the uninformed by reminding participants of the usual “All Canadians are kind”.

“Oh! Can’t wait to meet Canadians! You’re all so Kind!” *Jumps joyfully*. This is ridiculous. It is foolish enough to provide eloquent one liner questions, but it is even more foolish to deceive en masse by adding in leading answers that detract from objective assessments.

Sociological use of “Relations”

My opponent claims that globalized multi-national corporations contribute to a life of luxury but fails to consider that the multi-national corporations themselves abuse third world countries. Countries like Vietnam were victims of NIKE’s infamous mistreatment of workers (3).

Ragnar claims that sociology is of use to understand differences. That’s not exactly true. The majority of sociological studies themselves detract from doing just that. They are more concerned with social structures at play than they are at concern with people’s problems. Here is a demonstration.

We look back towards Steve Bruce and how his work relates further to the whole founding framework of Sociology. I will explain Durkheim’s work of organic solidarity in addition to his thesis. Bear in mind that this is not a new argument. I’m aware of that rule and cases outlining Durkheim, Weber and Bruce were already stated in the first argument round. I’m merely restating this argument because I left how it links to each other in the first argumentative round. In order to explain it further, I’ll have to use Bruce’s diagram of the same source and of the same argument (4).

Source: Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory (<a href=" />

“God may send showers of revival rain, and the social scientist has to remain agnostic about that possibility…almost all agrarian societies were pervaded by religious sentiments, that most modern societies are not, and our task is to understand that change.” ~Steve Bruce (4)

The chronological link beginning from Monotheism, all reach relativism, the final product which Bruce calls as the “rationalization of consciousness” (4). This includes Durkheim’s work of organic solidarity and how social institutions rely on each other for social cohesion along with Weber’s belief that Calvinism helped the development of capitalism. The heavy lean towards understanding social structures has surpassed the need to understand how Swedish chocolates bring happiness. Ragnar’s alternative is a dead end. For him to contest my point, he has to refute the bulk of sociological studies, which itself is grounded in understanding social structures at play. I've already argued that deciphering social structures is a useless venture as the variables cloud the data into a milieu of social bias.

Sociological use of “Advertising”

I’m pretty sure technological giants would love to get their consumer’s feedback. Con’s source of “advertising” is a list of potential jobs for sociology majors, especially those in the gender department. His statement of defending the sociological use in research lacks any coherent rebuttal to the anti-sociological arguments that I have presented. Let me restate it again, the article Con that linked in his advertising case is just a vague description for college enthusiasts, it is not a source defending the use of sociological research (5). That has nothing to do with the methodology at play. As I stated earlier in previous round, grants and funding mean absolutely nothing. Tychonian Science was seen as utter useless study by the end of 19th Century despite it receiving funding from the Kings of Europe. The same case applies to sociology.

Defence: The Paradigm of the Secularization Thesis

Con's rebuttal to my case is just opting for the alternative. When I argued the case for social desirability bias, Con argues the alternative claiming that people prefer less community-mandated faith such as attending a church. He agrees that social desirability is there but disagrees because the actual indication is present, due to people having more inclination to be outwardly religious. I didn't disagree on the participants’ level of honesty in answering these questions just as Rodney and Stark probably wouldn't considering how they were the first to refute Bruce's paradigm.

What I did argue was that social desirability often clouds the results. If an indication of religiosity is needed, then results should accurately provide such indication. If dishonesty is conceded by the creator of the study itself, it is hardly useful. Further, as I was saying, variables such as social desirability will cloud the result and this includes the “yes” and “no” simplistic responses. Participants’ response matters little; the methodology at play is what’s crucially important.

Defence: Extraneous Variables of Social Studies

Accumulating all sorts of extraneous variables detract from the original aim of the study. Often so, social studies have a predisposed bias of attempting to prove their theories as right. The falsification principle often falls short due to the revered passion of social theorists in pushing the ideas that they believe in. What Con argues is irrelevant, the fact that the experimenter lacks total control over variables speaks of it's validity. The fact that the experimenter has to wait for a milieu of social cues provides proof of it's uselessness. Con attempts to provide a hypothetical scenario by measuring ELO, but those are rarely injected into the main sociological discussions. None of the chronological secularization thesis order made by Steve Bruce provided a link to “Elo from”.

Defence: Inherent Founding Father Biasness and The Queue of Legitimate Concerns

Con attempts of appeal to the internet's toxic anti-religious dissidents is overlooking the overall picture. I specifically argued that the aim's relevance depends on the methodologies at which the study conducts itself on. No where did I concede that point, I argued that the failures of social studies should highlight on it's methodologies, not on the actual play of anti-religious atheists. If the study is invalid, the level of seriousness shouldn't go into play. This is a scientific discipline, not a youtube comment section. It should be treated as one and not to be treated as a Reddit subsection.

Con also attempts to argue that Steve Bruce's efforts of being a cancer researcher matters little in the long run. I disagree, resources are limited and to believe that we have an overabundance is just ignoring the issue. Further, he argues that founding father bias is irrelevant but fails to consider that the discipline relies heavily on sociological framework.

The majority of this discipline is useless. Students must avoid at all cost.

(4)Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory, Pg 24-53, Steve Bruce



My opponent has made a compelling case for his dislike of sociology (in particular researcher Steve Bruce), yet dropped several areas it is of clear use, and complained that he doesn't like that it's useful in others. His own selected definition stipulates if something serves "any purpose" it is not useless.

To begin, I believe previous statements of mine from last round already cover much of pro's rebuttals.

  • 1. "That something is not useful to everyone, does not mean it's useful to no one. That it's not of optimum utility, does not mean it is of zero utility."
  • 2. "The resolution deals clearly with uselessness, not if it is negative."
  • 3. "...does not negate the use of generalizations about their larger community."

Quality of Life
Pro's rebuttals such as "They’re not exactly what we call as 'objective' especially under scientific standards," have already been addressed under another point, as he "assumes that something must be objective to be of any use." I have already shown that regardless of how objective sociology is, it improves education, general health, and outright saves lives [8, 14, 15]. If saving lives is "completely irrelevant" I am unsure what would fit pro's baseline for relevancy.

The survey conducted by Morning Consult is of unquestionable use, as we've seen it put to some purpose by journalist Jesse Byrnes as the basis for a political commentary article for which he was paid [1], and yes I do take for granted that his paycheck is useful to him; the newspaper itself certainly enjoys the increased traffic that headline generates. Complaining that the cited survey was mainly about views on drugs (the word drug is contained in 80 of the questions, or as my opponent puts it "a handful"), but was also useful to a newspaper talking about the election, seems self-defeating when it demonstrates the number of people whom it is useful to has been increased exponentially with the inclusion of just one additional question.

Complaining that a statistic of how many people would consider doing something, "fails to consider financial opportunities, ... [etc.]" is meritless, when it never claims anything about how many people would flee (or attempt to flee) the nation, merely how many (from a sample size of a couple thousand, then simplified into a percentage) said they would contemplate it. And complaining that it did not have enough side questions about different countries on other continents ("Saudi Arabia or Iran") for consideration, directly counters my opponent's own complaints about Extraneous Variables. I do however agree that different phrasing of questions yields different results, it's flexibility, understanding this allows smart researchers to design different studies for different purposes, to include cross studies to understand differences in answer sets for similar questions.

Attacking the Better Life Index for having 11 different variables people can quickly look at, when Bhutan uses a single measurement, on the grounds that 11 is somehow more simplistic than 1 (to quote him "After all, one’s migration route is ultimately defined by just one indication of life."), seems like simple lunacy. My case specifically included the word "visit," because most people enjoy visiting different countries (if lacking the means, still researching hypothetical vacations for fun), and knowing a little more of what to expect is useful (as source 8 pointed out, failing in this has resulted in people being tortured to death for minor misunderstandings).

Apparently I fail "to consider that the multi-national corporations themselves abuse third world countries." This is true, and this abuse is wholly to the favor of sociology being useful (useful has nothing to do with being nice). As my opponent's own source points out, NIKE used knowledge of Viet Nam's differing social structure to (in addition to various other crimes) all but brainwash people into submission: "Labor reporters said they had been ordered to write only positive stories about NIKE." Useful to them, and certainly useful to every one of their customers who has enjoyed decreased expense. Further this kind of thing is done by multi-national corporations in general (pro's point was specifically plural, as in not exclusive to NIKE), proving that sociology is frequently of use.

I outright fail to see the point of complaining that the sociology matches the definition of sociology, rather than being more concerned with individual people's problems ("more concerned with social structures at play than they are at concern with people’s problems"). On the same point, understanding that people of different cultures define their needs differently, is incredibly useful to addressing what they feel are problems [2]. Further I have shown that it is useful to understanding average differences as seen with the Hofstede Chart [5, 6], and my opponent from Hungary's fine example of the increased "cynicism and pessimism" indicated on the chart via decreased indulgence compared to the USA [5], which is not universal of all people from there, but he chose to match the norms as already predicted by a pre-generated sociological comparison. I find it very useful to predict people, it helps me win debates, and in this sample my predictions held true verifying their use.

Sociology tells us that these two countries are more comparable in some social measures than others. Understanding these differences helps diplomacy.
(United States)(Hungary) We all follow patterns from our society.

I do not need to refute any sociological studies for any of the above to be true, and certainly not ones which deal with religion when the one I just used does not address that area.

I am unsure why, but my opponent complains that an argument made in a round to which rebuttals were not allowed, was not a rebuttal ("...lacks any coherent rebuttal to the anti-sociological arguments that I have presented"). Then he complaints that sociology is useful in the job market, which is leaving the use of it unchallenged. Yes, he does touch on how he dislikes it morally, but the definition of useful has nothing to do with morals. "Grants and funding mean absolutely nothing," actually it means money changing hands, people being employed, etc., if my opponent is opposed to money he could start a debate on that, but his dislike is off topic in this one.

He does bring up his analogy about Tychonian Science, which if applied the way he wants to apply things to the whole field of Sociology would mean Astronomy itself would have been entirely abandoned, rather than improved as was the case.

Key Dropped Points:

  • 1. Taboos (to include the torture/death connection when ignoring sociology).
  • 2. Entertainment (sociology is unquestionably effective at helping to make better television programing for us; the frequency of this alone calls into question if the Vast Majority is put to no purpose).

Continued Rebuttals
The Paradigm of the Secularization Thesis
Interesting Strawman in place of my case... "When I argued the case for social desirability bias, Con argues the alternative claiming that people prefer less community-mandated faith such as attending a church." Anyone is welcome to confirm that my argument was not about religious preference, but on the subject of methodologies, namely that people behaving a certain way due to social pressures does not actually change the accuracy of a measurement of their social behaviors since that is how they are behaving.

Rather than address my actual explanation for why studies gather Extraneous Variables outside the precise ones they want to study, my opponent made another blatant Strawman fallacy: "None of the chronological secularization thesis order made by Steve Bruce provided a link to 'Elo from'" my point was clearly addressing his complaint of methodologies general, in particular why studies need to gather Extraneous Variables to avoid being invalidated by Lurking Variables [12]. As for if a lack of "total control over variables speaks of it's validity," there is never such a thing in any science, certainly not in Astronomy (the only other named one in this debate). By side stepping into that weird strawman, my actual point about the need to gather extraneous variables is untouched.

Inherent Founding-Father Biasness
Again Strawmanning, "Con attempts of appeal to the internet's toxic anti-religious dissidents." This was an area I did not once mention religion within, I did however pull pro's own complaints about "Karl Marx, Simone De Beauvoir and Antonio Gramsci" as a reminder that their work has been put to many purposes making it by definition not useless, which pro has decided to leave unchallenged.

Queue of Legitimate Concerns
I'm unsure what special skills would enable a 62-year-old religious studies major to cure cancer, nor who would hire him for such. Granted as someone who makes money selling books on religion in society, he could currently donate money to cancer research.

A number of cases have been presented by my opponent and I. Here is a breakdown on the majority...

  • 1. Paradigm of the Secularization, I don't personally find it useful, but pro chose to assert that the theory is of "some use to certain individuals, particularly to those that harbor anti-religious sentiments." They apparently find it useful even if it's flawed.
  • 2. Founding-Father Bias was utterly dropped by pro after I caught that he'd implied those pioneers work to still be useful (even if we dislike those uses).
  • 3. The Morning Consult's survey, which was put to clear use by a major news outlet (if a better study would have been more useful, does not diminish that this one was useful to them).
  • 4. Two Hofstede nation reviews and a cross comparison chart, which the closest my opponent came to rebutting was asserting that the only difference between people is their problems.
  • 5. Cultural Taboos are good to know if traveling.
  • 6. Disease Rates in different areas.
  • 7. The negative results from lack of sex education in America.
  • 8. NIKE and related matters.
  • 9. Advantages in advertising and careers.

All source references may be found within my previous rounds (it's why I use continuous numbering).

Debate Round No. 4
51 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Nivek 2 months ago
Lmao haha. For capitalism and beyond!
Posted by Ragnar 2 months ago
I would definitely agree that the vast majority of gender studies degrees are useless (unless you consider a use to be the banks making money on student loan enslavement).
Posted by Nivek 2 months ago
Sure, thanks for giving me the privilege of debating you.

At the start of the debate, I was unaware what sort of argument you were going to pull off and what's worse is that I didn't even realize that the HDI, GDP were all valid indications of sociology. Since most sociological elective teaches gender studies and a huge chunk of their graduates are devoted to it, I thought that my case was compelling. Instead, all I had was just an impossible mountain to climb.

Well, social structures, such as those devised from the likes of Durkheim and Weber are indeed, useful. They are useful for deciphering much of the subtle influences within society but I do think that most graduates are misguided ever since they started pursuing research on gender studies. Much of sociology's importance was lost at that point, especially since they've abandoned the founding fathers in favor of societal pressure. Deciphering domestic roles are hardly useful. I've read a bunch of graduate new dad surveys and those are useless. It was a complete waste of time knowing that men was able to cook more and was willing to switch roles. Those sorts of studies have already been conducted en mass by various social media and serves no purpose for academic scholars of sociology.

It's like Art History or in more exact terms that I'm familiar with, the history of astronomy. You learn what Galileo preaches regarding the motions of the solar system and learn how he adamantly believed that his system was better than Ptolemy's. However, learning these aren't exactly useful, as new science supersedes old ones. Galileo also partakes in very technical terms of language as he isn't that much of an orator unlike Cicero. Combining all that makes it incredibly difficult to keep me vested in learning the history. I felt as though sociology falls under the same category. There is no use for telling me that men are willing to cook more when such a fact is already grounded within social media.
Posted by Ragnar 3 months ago
Thanks for the great debate.

Now that the voting period has ended... Basically sociology is a tool, for good or ill, used by the talented and the incompetent alike. I suspect your best offense against it would have been the sheer volume of failed studies conducted by amatures.

That said I do believe understading differences between societies and castes within them to be important.
Posted by Nivek 3 months ago
Hooray! One new vote!
Posted by That1User 3 months ago
RFD: The central issue in this debate will be the use of sociology. Pro's BoP will be to prove that most of sociology is useless while Con's BoP will be to prove that sociology is useful. The BoP lies more heavily with the Aff, if he makes a case that upholds the resolution then Pro wins. If the Neg makes the case that negates the resolution, Con wins. R2: Pro's opening argument was essentially an attack on the credibility of Sociology as a true scientific discipline. Pro cited the oversimplification of gathering data for religiosity and secularism in the populace in his "The Paradigm of the Secularization Thesis" section. Pro also further attacked the credibility of Sociology by citing the divisiveness of Sociologists as well as the bias of Sociologists- separating them into liberal and conservative camps. Pro also cites how the observations of religious trends are inconsequential overall. I liked Pro's opening argument because it primarily attacked sociology as a scientific discipline- in order to negate the definition of sociology, thus in turn making the discipline as a whole useless. Though Con's opening argument was brief, it was also very effective for it outright demonstrated the usefulness Sociology had to humans- especially helping people decide whether to move from or stay in their nations and how to interact with people from other nations. The strongest source in the usefulness of sociology that Con provided was the Better Life Index-which allows for people to measure their values and have nations that meet their values, as con observed, this is a very useful tool for anyone who is considering to move to a nation or more stay in a nation- and this tool was used from sociological data. Conclusion: I found both R1s to be strong, with pro attacking sociology as a scientific discipline and con demonstrating the use of sociology. Since this debate is about the use of sociology, I'll give the round to Con since he proved that Sociology was useful.
Posted by Nivek 3 months ago
Oh okay. Thanks. Don't feel obligated, take your time.
Posted by ThinkBig 3 months ago
Currently working on my RFD. Will have my vote up by tomorrow night!
Posted by ThinkBig 3 months ago
One of the best debates in a long time. I will hopefully vote on it by next week
Posted by Nivek 3 months ago
Oh you're up for that? Alright thanks a lot. I might do one of those since the summer book deals are in and the fact that I got Auguste Comte's Critique as part of my reading list. His critic's work is tough to decipher and the critiques are long and complex which makes it tough for me to follow up on his thoughts. I'll probably do one of those after deciphering some of his work. I'll give it some thoughts. Thanks.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Amedexyius 3 months ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro started his argument under the strategy of proving the uselessness of sociology by highlighting its tendency to personal opinions, dysfunctional data accumulation, and subjective majority over material foundation of fact. Pro was able to make a strong position with many examples of the errors found in sociology, rendering it as an instrument that inhibits damage, but was not worthy enough to hold it's own with the counters of Con. Con made incredibly powerful arguments, especially with the presentation of the multi-national graphs, HIV rates, and the index. These points were virtually un-refutable, leaving a strong hole in Pro's offensive strategy. This impenetrable alignment of fact, left Pro unable to refute (properly), these arguments by Pro. In conclusion, Nivek, while he made very strong arguments, were ultimately less solidified than the material examples that Con made. This means that Pro did not fulfill the proof necessary to render the majority of sociology useless. Grand.
Vote Placed by That1User 3 months ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro focused on attacking sociology as a legitimate scientific discipline by citing the subjectivity, bias, and poor gathering of data while Con focused on proving that Sociology was useful by citing various sources that resulted in Sociological studies - such as the Better Life Index, the USA-Hungary graph, and the HIV/AIDS rate in South Africa, all of which is useful information in deciding what to do when visiting a nation-in addition in learning the taboos of another nation. By proving that Sociology was useful, Con negated the resolution that Sociology was useless. Pro failed to refute Con's case that Sociology was useful, instead focusing on continuing to attack Sociology as a scientific discipline. Conclusion: Nivek proved that Sociology had flaws with being a scientific discipline but failed to prove that Sociology was in fact useless while Ragnar proved that Sociology was useful without being refuted by Nivek. negating the resolution. Thus my vote goes to Ragnar. Great debate!