Pew! Something Stinks!!!

As a doctoral student I read a lot of articles that cite data from “The Pew Research Center”. This summer I took a class called ETEC-641 Facilitating Online Learning. The class was very beneficial and I learned some really cool things. The course employed a Facebook Group for class members to receive information, answer questions and post course related content. My professor submitted a post with the following comments and a link to Danah Boyd’s article:

“danah boyd’s thoughts on the Pew Internet Project’s latest report relating to race and privacy.”

Thoughts on Pew’s latest report: notable findings on race and privacy 

After reading this article, and being troubled by the findings in the ”Race is a factor in explaining differences in teen social media use.” section, I posted the following short statement in the class Facebook Group:

Race based research is “RACIST”!

 A group member replied with the following post:

Peter, can you say more about your comment that “race based research is “RACIST”!? You are saying that any research that looks at race as a variable is problematic? Is research that looks at SES (socioeconomic status), class warfare? That being said… danah Boyd does seem really interested in race and social media! Try this one: Matyszdzyk, C. (2009). Facebook, MySpace: A race/class divide? C|Net.

 My Response

I think that research that looks at race, as a variable is problematic if the researcher is using the research to draw conclusions based on a racist agenda. Whenever someone needlessly injects race into an issue they are being racist, because that’s what “RACIST” do. There is nothing wrong with researchers collecting demographic information. However, the purpose and use of the data should be questioned.

It is very easy to manipulate data collection and therefore obtain the information needed to draw the desired conclusions. I have always been bothered by what I call “Manufactured Issues”. Manufactured issues are not real issues, but issues that are created to serve a particular agenda.

Example: I took an art education course once and a classmate would always seek opportunities to talk about the “Objectification of Women” as a negative issue that needed to be addressed. As an artist my view of reality regarding this “false manufactured issues” is that Humans Objectify Humans! We need only look at art through the ages to validate this point. Michelangelo’s sculpture of “David” and Leonardo’s Mona Lisa are examples.

This classmate did not fall into the category or marketing image of those females that are depicted in todays marketing culture (I think that was her real issue). If she wanted to support her manufactured issue through research, all she would need to do is include only females that looked like her in the participant sample and ask questions that elicit the response she desired.

If I wanted to use research to refute her manufactured issue all I would need to do is include only females that looked like super models or include only heterosexual males in my participant sample and ask questions that elicit the response I desired.

This “false manufactured gender issues” is “Sexist” and both of the researchers are promoting a sexist agenda! In both of these examples “Research Validity” becomes a real concern.

“It does not matter what a sexist looks like, if they behave in a sexist manner, harbor sexist feelings or say sexist things, they are a “Sexist”!

The Matyszdzyk, C. (2009). Facebook, MySpace: A race/class divide? C|Net, article seems to support my concern that Danah Boyd’s “Race and Class” based assumptions need to be questioned. I also question the “Research Validity” of the Pew organization, which often reports problematic race based research. Is the Pew organization helping to resolve issues or perpetuate them?

“It does not matter what a racist looks like, if they behave in a racist manner, harbor racist feelings or say racist things, they are a “Racist”!

Pew! Something Stinks!!!

For research to be accepted it must be considered ethical and valid.

I also question the “Research Validity” of the Pew organization, which often reports problematic race based research. Is the Pew organization helping to resolve issues or perpetuate them?

The following statement on their web site’s About page implies that the organization is unbiased and impartial in their research efforts. However, a review of the photos posted for the Pew organizations Executive Team revealed an amazing absence of people of color. (The names contain links to bios with photos)

  “Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.”

Executive Team

Alan Murray


Paul Taylor

Executive Vice President – Special Projects and Director, Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project

Elizabeth Mueller Gross

Vice President

Andrew Kohut

Founding Director and Director, Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project

Luis Lugo

Director, Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project

Lee Rainie

Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Michael Dimock

Director, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Scott Keeter

Director of Survey Research

Mark Hugo Lopez

Director of Hispanic Research

Amy Mitchell

Director of Journalism Research

There are no photos for the Pew Charitable Trust’s Board of Directors, however, of the 12 people listed, 7 have the Pew name. The majority of the board being controlled by one family represents the potential for group thought and implied bias.

The Pew Charitable Trusts BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  Robert H. Campbell Rebecca W. Rimel
  Susan W. Catherwood Doris Pew Scott
  Aristides W. Georgantas Robert G. Williams
  J. Howard Pew II
  J.N. Pew IV, M.D.
  Mary Catharine Pew, M.D.Legacy Director
  R. Anderson Pew Arthur E. Pew III
  Sandy Ford Pew

Who are these people really? What are their beliefs? How do their personal beliefs impact their research agenda?

The following article highlights my concerns regarding the negative impact that the lack of diversity of the Pew Executive Team has on the organization’s research validity.

// < ![CDATA[

 Top boardrooms: No-go areas for women, minorities Martha C. White NBC News contributor.

“They’re missing the perspective of the growth engine that’s going to fuel their enterprises,” he said. “Different perspectives bring the opportunities for innovation.”

“Boards that are more diverse generally make better decisions. Typically, groupthink is the enemy of good decision-making,” said Eric C. Peterson, manager of diversity and inclusion at the Society for Human Resource Management.”

What do you think? Is the Pew organization reputable? Is their research agenda good for America? Or, is this just another misinformation/disinformation assault on our society?

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