I have a list of Things to Remember as I traverse through the discipline, and one of those things is Numbers Lie. Some related comments on this topic are: “It’s not so much about the numbers as it is about the story you choose to tell” and “Data is created.”

I’m at ICPSR this summer, and one of the main classes that I came for is Methodological Issues in Quantitative Research on Race and Ethnicity. The course highlights the problematic nature of research on race and ethnicity from conceptualization to measurement and operationalization to research design and data collection. If there were any doubt about the doubtfulness of quantitative research, in general, and quantitative race related research specifically, this class dispels it.

Even though I have a healthy skepticism about quantitative methods, especially regression, the truth is, as sociologists, as well as other social scientists, we love our numbers. There’s something that seems so concrete and trustworthy about computer and math wizardry. So, here I am at ICPSR honing my quantitative skills because I refuse to be marginalized in my field due to methodology.


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