Quantitative and Qualitative Experiential Knowledge

Posted Tuesday, 26 July, 2016 By Pixel

Here are two statements:

“I know what self-identified Latinos say they think about a potential Trump presidency”


“I know how it feels to be a Latino thinking about a potential Trump presidency.”

They are very different statements: one is a knowledge claim about an entire group’s self-reporting, the other is a subjective/qualitative claim about belonging to a group. We can think of the first statement as an example of quantitative experiential knowledge and the second statement an example of qualitative experiential knowledge. There’s also the God’s eye view that accurately reflects what Latinos really think, but that’s probably a separate thing.

I was thinking about this yesterday, as a friend was describing why she wanted to have black female speakers in an event she was organizing. She wanted to ‘represent their perspective.’ I mulled that thought over in my head a bit, because I have occasionally been asked things like,

“what do Latinos think about a potential Trump presidency?”

That question is certainly racial. Latinos are not a unified political group. Duh. We come from many distinct areas, have very distinct experiences, and are even racially quite diverse. I pass for white most times. It may be ethnically insensitive or merely curious about experiences outside their own understanding. In the past, whenever I’ve been asked that question, I’ve responded,

“I have no clue, ask a pollster.”

But upon reflection1, I think one or both of us is conflating2 qualitative and quantitative experiential knowledge. There exists quantitative experiential understanding, which could merely be a summary of how various people respond when asked their opinions. There’s also qualitative experiential understanding, which typically requires lived experience.

So my friend inviting a black female speaker to an event may add qualitative experiential knowledge, but she may accidentally invite someone who has marginal3 views, giving poor quantitative experiential knowledge. If she was interested in the latter (she probably isn’t), she should just invite a pollster, sociologist, or historian.

So one of the reasons questions about the Latino experience seem so odd to me is that I know the experience is fairly diverse and I have a poor understanding of many of the quantitative aspects. The other reason is that I pass for white, so I also have a poor understanding of the qualitative aspects.

So…. damn.

  1. fancy way of saying ‘thinking’[]
  2. fancy jargon for confusing[]
  3. philosopher for crazy[]
Be the first to comment


Posted Sunday, 29 May, 2016 By Pixel

I’m 31! This is 11,111 in binary. Omg, I’m sooooooo old. When I started this blog, I was… um… like, totally, 19 years old and stuff. Wowza. How things havea changed!

My first birthday on this blog was my 20th. I quote it in full here:

I bought my own birthday cake, I watched a 1960s movie with my mom, and I broke into my friend’s house to use his X-Box and play Halo 2… Alone.

Materialistically, I also got a lot of good stuff (notably a shirt, two pairs of pants, swimming trunks, two birthday cards, an e-card, and a flash animation).

So, um, yeah, it was good.

… It doesn’t sound very good. That is sad. I wonder what movie it is we saw. Hm. We haven’t seen many movies together, much less 1960s movies, so I might still be able to remember.

This year, for my birthday, I was in Calgary, giving an academic talk. It went very well. My mom and dad called, a bunch of people texted. Some of the people at the conference came up and said happy birthday. Then I went out for dinner with some philosophers, a biologist (my boss, Ford Doolittle), and a theologian.

It… also wasn’t the best, but it was totally a grown up birthday. It is the first birthday in which I have done work since I was in high school. Sad.

Be the first to comment

Election Dose

Posted Thursday, 26 May, 2016 By Pixel

I saw John Oliver’s takedown of Donald Trump a few months ago. I thought, “heh, I once designed a game that had a Trump card. I should change it to a ‘Drumpf’ card as an election-year joke.”

Then, a few weeks later, Drumpf accused Hillary Clinton of playing the “Woman Card.” I thought, “heh, my game also had a Woman card. I should modify it as an election-year joke.”

Then I remembered the original reason for my devising a “Race” card. It, too, was an election-year joke.

So then I (with the help of the wonderful Tina Togs) designed an election-year update of our groundbreaking card game, Dose.

Check it out here. The printable version is available for free. We are literally making $0.12 off each of the hard copies of the game, which are available here.


Be the first to comment

Road Trippin’ (2016)

Posted Saturday, 23 April, 2016 By Pixel

Road Trip 2016New road trip scheduled for July 2016. This will be my (hopefully final) cross-country move. I made a map (again). I almost want to skip visiting all of my friends in order to visit the last few states I’ve not seen (outlined in dashes). By my calculations, this is my nth road trip. And it’s going to be ncredible!

Be the first to comment

Circling the Flame

Posted Saturday, 6 February, 2016 By Pixel

This is a sort-of-sequel to this post.

Starting in October, I kept track of my own estimations of where I might end up in 2016. This is the result.

Starting in October, I kept track of my own estimations of where I might end up in 2016. This is the result.

It is all-but-decided that I will be joining the faculty of the University of Nevada, Reno in September. This blog has been going since I was a junior in college, it’s strange to think about how I’ve completely turned the tables and am now a professional academic. I had a great showing in my job search this year. I applied to 16 jobs, received six interview requests, turned four of those into on-campus visits, and have received one job offer. One is all I needed, of course. I still haven’t heard a “no” from Rhodes (but they sucked anyway) nor Bryn Mawr (but they didn’t seem to want me anyway).


Reno wasn’t my top choice, but it was always a heavy contender for me, as it is relatively close to my family and reminds me of my home institution. I was bothered by the griminess of the town when I visited and by one of the faculty members who told me a joke where the punchline was a Texan killing a Mexican. Nevertheless, it was my top option in a number of my metrics – availability of Mexican food, walkability to work, nearness of family, retirement package, % likelihood of tenure. It was in the middle of many more – temperature, fun things, campus beauty, coffee shops, class sizes, nearness to friends, etc. It was only my worst option in terms of nearness to my partner and student quality (I assume).

Final job results

Final job results

So I’m happy to be (very likely) joining the faculty in the Fall. I get happier the more I think about it, actually. It just fits. I’m also humbled, because I know how hard it is to get this sort of job and how lucky (really) I am. My heart goes out to everyone whose journeys are still ongoing. Stay strong.


Be the first to comment