April 8, 2004

"Despite popular and academic beliefs to the contrary, we have shown that police have varied responses to protest." UW Sociology Prof. Jeremy Freese describes how a sentence like that brings on a "Certain Type Of Moment" when he is "transported back home to the family farm, where I am sitting at the kitchen table with my mother, who dropped out of high school to get married and who has always been suspicious (even while supportive and proud) of this whole 'professoring' gig of her youngest son." Mom takes all the wind out of professor-son's sails:
Then my dear and wonderful mother looks up at me, a little puzzled, and she says, politely: "So they're saying the police don't respond to all situations the same. Like sometimes they make arrests or try to break things up, and sometimes they don't. Seems pretty obvious, don't it? But, they're saying that before they did this research, everybody believed that police responded to every--whatyoucallit--'protest event' in exactly the same way. That's a pretty strange thing for everyone to have believed, if you ask me.

He's trying to collect more sentences like the one boldfaced above and to come up with a name for sentences like that. Jeremy's focused on sociology, but there must be a law school version of the same. Maybe every field has things like that: hard-sought insights that the lay person feels are already quite obvious.

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