ANTECEDENT VARIABLES

If you've ever sat through a course on statistics, logic, or nearly any social science you've seen the example of the strong correlation between ice cream sales and crime. Although this is usually used to emphasize that correlation and causality are not always found together, it has also been useful to me when teaching research methods to illustrate the concept of antecedent variables. These are variables that explain, in whole or in part, the relationship between two other variables that are (or appear to be) correlated. In this instance the antecedent that drives both crime and ice cream sales is of course warm weather. Another good example is the relationship between educational attainment and income, both of which are positively influenced by parental income.

I could probably spend the rest of my life explaining this concept to Betsy Woodruff over at America's Crappiest Websitetm without having it sink in enough to make her retract this gem: "Are Frat Brothers Natural Conservatives? For many, the Greek system may offer a respite from liberal academia." It's loaded with gems of logic such as, "He says part of the reason members of the Greek system tend to be more conservative than their independent peers is that the organizations celebrate tradition and history."

Yes, that. And the fact that fraternities are, by definition, loaded to the gunwales with white males from wealthy families. I wonder if that could explain both their presence in the priciest parts of campus and their conservatism.

What do I know, I'm just a liberal academic. I'd better get some rest, I have a long day of indoctrinating students in my new course, "POLS 102: Embracing Muslim Communist Homo-Bortion". The prerequisite is defiling a Holy Bible.

But wait! There's more! Check out this adorable little blurb:

"The real thing we faced, even more than the bureaucracy of the university, was the on-campus media," he says. "It was something we were constantly combating, having negative stories surrounding our fraternity or other fraternities on campus being the highlight in the school newspaper."

He says negative stories were blown out of proportion and given front-page real estate, while the sparse coverage of Greeks' philanthropic work was relegated to the back. And Warren says the bias could have been a product of liberal push-back against institutions perceived as bastions of conservatism. Burns noticed the same thing. He described the paper at the University of Indiana as "extremely liberal" and "very, very against the Greek system." When he travels to promote his publication on other campuses, he says, he consistently hears stories of anti-Greek bias among student journalists.

Well they're certainly good conservatives; they're not even 21 and they already excel at blaming their image problems on the media. I don't understand why "Greek Life" doesn't get better press, what with the explicit classism and the commonly ostentatious lifestyles and the hazing and the sexual assaults and the annual excitement of Deaths from Alcohol Poisoning during Rush Week.

Also, "University of Indiana" doesn't exist, you nitwits.

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31 Responses to “ANTECEDENT VARIABLES”

  1. Xynzee Says:

    Ed,

    You should know by now, that if it involves rich white boys or the leading points scorers, it's media bias. Everyone else got what's coming to them 'cause, you know, where there's smoke there's fire.

  2. Mo Says:

    Or, as Paul Krugman loves to point out, these guys _own_ the phrase, "Ma, he's lookin' at me funny!"

  3. Jane Says:

    I snorted coffee all down my bathrobe on reading this. Thanks, Ed!

  4. Middle Seaman Says:

    It's all Greek to me.

  5. ABK Says:

    It's been too long since you used "loaded to the gunwales", Ed.

  6. Both Sides Do It Says:

    All 'em good-for-nothin' fancy-pants editors are as crooked as a barrel of snakes, I tells ya, philanthropy and good works, that's what sells papers, anyone saying otherwise is as phony as a three dollar bill

  7. The Mad Dreamer Says:

    If conservatives recognized explicit (or, heaven forfend, implicit) classism, sexual assault, and laughing at the poors while drinking from goblets filled with melted down money as actual problems, there might be hope.

    But that's not going to happen. It's the nature of the beast.

  8. c u n d gulag Says:

    I want to start a few fraternities for on-line universities:
    'Tappa Keg Alone.'
    'Surf Alotta Porn.'
    'Study Inda Krappa.'
    'Doggy Ate Mylaptop.'

  9. mbl Says:

    I graduated from IU in 1998. The frat system there was good for at least one major racial incident each year I was in school. I seriously doubt things have gotten better.

  10. anotherbozo Says:

    Crime and ice cream, eh? I'm reminded of the sobering thought that white-collar crime knows no season.

  11. Rick Massimo Says:

    I'm willing to bet cash money that, like 98% of all people complaining that they don't get media coverage for their good works, these Greeks have never actually sat down and written to the newspaper telling them in advance (like, a few weeks in advance) about some philanthropic work they're about to do and asking them to come out and cover it.

  12. Seeing/analyzing Says:

    Some anecdata: the tiny branch of the state U that I attended was fairly new, and didn't have any Greeks for the first 20 years. We also had no sports team of note; we were a science & math school (lots of pre-med, physics, and the brand-new field of computer science, which is why I was there). Even though we were on the edge of a big city, the school was very quiet–it was built on what had been a former farm, and there was really nothing to do unless you were on campus.

    My junior year at the school was the first year for Greeks. By my senior year, every dorm resembled Animal House because there was no dedicated Greek housing. At night you could sit in your dorm room and listen to packs of drunken frats boys howling and barking through the halls. Suddenly women on campus had a problem with being sexually harassed and the campus had its first rapes in 20 years. Graffitti sprung up on walls and the school mascot statue was defaced.

    Coincidence? No.

  13. sluggo Says:

    No frats at my college, so I had to wait until I started working for a large corporation to have my soul sucked out.

  14. darbywithers Says:

    My coworkers and I play a 'game' (it's not that fun) every morning with the IDS (Indiana Daily Student) called what's the rape story. The game consists of stating sarcastically something like 'I wonder if there were any rapes today." 95% of the time there really is a rape story and everyone goes 'there it is, golly gee, isn't this fucked up' The other 5%of the time it's a sports team and everyone has a good laugh.

  15. RosiesDad Says:

    Ed: I really do hope that your students are encouraged to read your blog. It is soon to be must reading for my older kids (freshman at small NE lib arts college and HS junior).

    Yeah frat life. Probably hasn't evolved much since Animal House depiction. At least that's how I recall it from my time at Univ. of FL (mid-late 1970's). Big yawn. They were mostly assholes then; they are probably mostly old, fat assholes now.

    Also, I remember doing a study that found correlation between Wonder Bread consumption in childhood and heroin addiction later in life. Scary stuff; haven't touched Wonder Bread since.

  16. glf Says:

    "they're not even 21 and they already excel at blaming their image problems on the media."

    Well, of course since from day one of their lives, they've been taught that all their problems were/are caused by other people; mostly the poor and minorities.

  17. gambz Says:

    The iconic former basketball coach at the University of Indiana once said, "If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it," one of the Top 10 most ignorant quotes of the 20th century.

  18. acer Says:

    What do you get for the affluent, right-leaning white dude who has it all?

    How about a nice victim narrative?

  19. Patrick M Says:

    I am told that fraternities and sororities charge very high membership dues, so not only does it sort of presuppose their members come from wealthy families, it also excludes those who don't. (I suppose this is something everybody already knew…)

  20. Elle Says:

    No fraternities in Europe (that I know of), but we may have invented entitlement. Oxford's Bullingdon Club, for example, is a dining club that prides itself on trashing restaurants and paying for the damage on the spot. Its uniform, to be worn to its annual dinner, costs $7000. Its current initiation rituals, as reported in the Daily Mail, involve burning a

  21. Elle Says:

    …..burning a 50 pound bill (~$75) in front of a beggar.

  22. J. Dryden Says:

    Ah, the teenage conservative. The Young Republican. The frat-boy reactionary. An essential element of every college experience, to be sure, and I've occasionally considered teaching a class on the study of this specimen.

    Neotards 101: Enroll early and study hard to learn about the life of this intrusive, thoroughly un-endangered breed. For you see, children, he is the one you'll be working for someday, so you'd better learn his ways now. From the mating call of "Does this rag smell like chloroform?" to the failure to recognize that his consumption of alcohol is in direct proportion to his homoerotic panic, we will learn all about this human can of Axe Body Spray. Required readings include a subscription to Maxim and the novels of The Situation. Extra credit for anyone willing to present a case for why using the word "n*gger" is "no big deal," why "Mexicans" are lucky to be here in the first place, and why poor people deserve their plight because "they're too fuckin' stoopid to get their shit together."

  23. sluggo Says:

    Of the frat boys that I have meet most think of themselves as the 'Deltas' from Animal House when the actually were the 'Omegas'.

    Removing one's self-awareness must be the final step of initiation ceremony.

  24. Amused Says:

    Inasmuch as frats foster "traditions" thoroughly steeped in barbarism, misogyny, and the most toxic, destructive machismo, frat boys are perfect conservatives. Now, why is the liberal media so biased against these assholes?

  25. HoosierPoli Says:

    If I had a nickel for every time I've had to say "There's no such thing as the University of Indiana", I'd have at least a dollar. Then again, I do wonder if we're not being just as pedantic as all those buckeye bastards who call it "THE Ohio State University".

  26. Heywood J. Says:

    Sooo….if fraternities are inherently conservative, is there some sort of transitive or commutative axiom that postulates a correlation — or hell, perhaps a causation — between butt-chugging and conservatism, or homoerotic hazing and conservatism?

  27. Mr. Frat Dick Says:

    Wow, whole lotta Greek bashing going on here. My frat bros and I are going to haze the shit out of each and every one of you GDI minority liberal retards

  28. xjmueller Says:

    Go, Ed, you liberal academic, you! Great post.

  29. fenris9 Says:

    I remember when my brother and I were in college, my Mom asked me at dinner one night why I didn't join a fraternity like my brother and his friends (all conservative mouth breathers then and now). I explained to everyone at the table that willfully choosing to live with a bunch of dudes, call ourselves "Greeks" and spend our free time paddling each other was a little too…what's the word? Gay? for me.
    It was a quiet dinner except for the occasional homo-panic defense and hippy-bash (I had long hair and was into metal but it was all the same thing to them)

  30. Nick French Says:

    "University of Indiana doesn't exist you nitwits" – the whole article was good, but this part was my favorite…