Introduction to Sociology

Teacher: David Christopher Lane
Class: Inroduction to Sociology
Publication date: January 1998

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.

THIS WEEK's test is on: Test for Edward O. Wilson's Consilience: 1. WHAT DOES WILSON MEAN BY THE WORD "consilience" and how does it apply to the unity of knowledge in academia? 2. What is Wilson's major criticism of sociology as a field as it presently stands. Be specific. 3. How would Wilson "base" morality in light of consilience? 4. According to Wilson, why are human beings occasionally altruistic? 5. Why do humans, apparently, have an epigenetic fear of snakes? Explain in light of evolution. 6. What is socio-biology or evolutionary psychology? 7. Why is Wilson a staunch reductionist when it comes to explaining complex behavior? 8. How do the various sciences--from physics to sociology--connect? Give a specific example of how one can provide an intertheoretic reduction for a complex problem (think of present day problems... weight gain, differences between men and women). Be sure to provide a good example and present us with a Wilsonian reduction. 9. What is Wilson's critique of postmodernism (particularly Derrida)? 10. Why does Wilson think that consciousness is connected to the brain? 11. Give me a critique of Wilson's idea...... good luck

Introduction to Sociology

Professor: David Christopher Lane, Ph.D.
Office: Cyberspace and Point Panic
Phone: 909 594-5611 (4593) off campus
On campus: dial 4000 then 4593
Fax: 909 594-7661
E-mail address:
Office hours: By appointment only
Subjects currently teaching: Introduction to Sociology and
Introduction to Philosophy

1. Charisma and Darwin's DNA (internet versions)
2. The Evolutionary World of Richard Dawkins (internet link)
3. The Whole SHE-BANG by Timothy Ferris
4. The Social Construction of Reality by Peter Berger.
5. The Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson.  
6. How the Mind works by Steven Pinker
More to be announced

1. Perfect class attendance.
2. Absolutely no tardies.
3. All reading completed on time.
4. Up-to-date record of class/test progress and monthly e-mail 
5. Consistent in-class participation and engagement.
6. Weekly e-mail progress reports on reading/analysis.
7. Three questions on assigned reading each week.

(All reading assignments must be done on the required date; 
absolutely no exceptions)

There will be a test given every week based upon the assigned reading 
for that week. Each test must be taken; there are no exceptions and 
no make-ups.

Each student is required to write three questions each week (due 
Friday) on the assigned reading. Absolutely no exceptions. The 
student besides bringing one copy into class.

Each student will be assigned a computer account (during the first
week of school) which will allow them access to the internet and to e-
mail. Each student is required to E-mail the professor at least twice
a month about his/her progress in the class; additionally each 
student is required to read in an internet newsgroup.

A proto-typical web site has been developed for this class. The 
following is the address:
Students will be required to access this web site for further 
information about the Net.

In order to pass Dr. Lane's class (with a "C" or higher) you must do 
the following minimum requirements (absolutely no exceptions):
1. Perfect attendance 
(Any class that is missed must be made up by reading one of the extra 
books in its entirety mentioned below. After reading the book 
thoroughly, the student will then e-mail the Professor with his/her 
one page analysis. Any student missing 3 or more classes must 
immediately drop the class or receive an "F" for the entire semester. 
There are no exceptions to this rule. Why? Because I consider perfect 
attendance a cornerstone to the class. If you must miss a class for 
whatever reasons, you must read one extra book per missed class and e-
mail your critique within two weeks. Each student is also required to 
keep an accurate record of his/her attendance. One of the following 
books may be read to make-up for a single class session. Keep in mind 
that three missed classes is the terminal limit and therefore three 
extra books are the limit allowed. A. Biology as Ideology by Lewontin.
B. On Human Nature by Edward O. Wilson. C. The Bell Curve. D. Ever 
Since Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould.
2. No Tardies
Any student who enters the classroom 30 seconds or more after the 
class starts is required to make up that tardy by reading one of the 
following short books. There are no exceptions to this rule. Three or 
more tardies and the student is required to drop the class or receive 
an "F" for the semester. Below is the list of books one may read if
one is tardy (one book per tardy): A. The Communist Manifesto by Karl 
B. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. C. Animal Farm by George 
Orwell. Island
by Aldous Huxley.
3. Do All of the Assigned Reading 
Each student is required to thoroughly read each week's assignment. 
There are no exceptions to this rule and the student is advised that 
unless the reading is done by the required time he/she should 
seriously consider dropping the class. Each Friday the student will 
be asked if he/she did the reading; it is assumed that any student 
who attends class has a priori met the reading requirement. 
4. Three Questions Each Week
Each student must write three questions each week on the assigned 
reading. These questions form the basis for the Socratic 
lecture/discussion which commences each Friday. Any student who does 
not do the necessary three questions should seriously consider 
dropping the class. There are no
exceptions to this rule.

5. Pass Each Scheduled Test
Every test is an important one and each one reflects, more or less, 
the effort the student has put into the class. Each test must be 
taken at the scheduled time. There are no make-ups given.
6. Complete All Assigned Internet/Computer Task


If you do the necessary work I can guarantee you that you will excel 
in this class.
I am not asking for brilliance; I am not asking for you to understand 
difficult things;
I am not asking you to be a great writer. I am asking that you give 
me your fullest
effort. With that I can assure you that you will pass with flying 



Richard Dawkins Or, follow the link at
The world of Richard

Be sure to follow each link to the next book as provided on the
Dawkins' website. Find summaries and reviews for the following

The Selfish Gene
The Extended Phenotype
The Blind Watchmaker
River Out of Eden
Mount Improbable

Also, read each of the reviews given and any other information on
Dawkins that you think may be helpful.

The test questions for this week are:

1. What does Dawkins mean by the phrase the "Blind" watchmaker in
terms of the world we see around us?

2. Explain what Dawkins means by the phrase the "selfish" gene.

3. What message is Dawkins attempting to convey by invoking the
metaphor "Mount Improbable"?
4. Explain in simple terms "natural" selection.

5. Explain in simple terms "sexual" selection.

6. What does Dawkins mean by the phrase "the extended phenotype"?

7. What objections do you have to the theory of evolution and why?
Present any counter-arguments to evolution that you may have. 

8. Who is Richard Dawkins?

BONUS question: What is the Dawkins/Gould debate?


Assignment this week: READ TIMOTHY FERRIS' the whole she-bang....

good luck


TEST questions for this week's (September 19?) test:

1. Explain the cosmological theory of the "big bang."

2. Explain Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty relations and how
it applies (only as an analogy) to the study of other cultures.

3. Schrodinger's cat thought experiment was designed to show the 
weirdness of quantum mechanics. Explain the wave/particle duality in
physics by way of illustration. Why is it so funky when fully
explored? Clue: think of Lane's (no, not Lame's) lecture.
4. Provide some evidence that our universe started from a big bang
and explain how you would convince someone that such a theory has

5. Explain why the study of astronomy/physics/biology is
instrumental to the study of sociology.

6. Who is Stephen Hawking?

7. Who is Roger Penrose?

8. Bonus question: explain Einstein's theory of general (not
special) relativity.

good luck

9. Which books did you read? How long did it take you to read it (or



Go FOR It now......





READ Transcendental Sociology this week

Ken Wilber's Breakthrough in the study of New


Test questions on Cults (remember that some questions may require
you to read a new essay or section):

1. Your teacher has criticized Ken Wilber (the architect behind
"Transcendental Sociology") on several fronts. Name 4 of his chief
criticisms (especially focus on Wilber's understanding of

Here's the clue: look at
under Ken Wilber and Spectrum Psychology. Then scroll down to the
series of essays called "Ken Wilber's Achilles' Heel" (good luck,
there are several parts).

2. According to Wilber new religions (indeed new social products of
almost any kind) can be analyzed on two levels: legitimacy and
authenticity. Okay, how can that same scale (with some slight
modifications) be applied to UFO sightings?

Hmm, confused? Find the article THE HIMALAYAN CONNECTION: ufos and
the chandian effect (which focuses on Wilber and his ideas).....
Try doing this kind of search to retrieve it: (look for the key words himalayan connection)...

good luck in your internet search skills.

3. What is the Sathya Sai Baba debate all about (just give the
essence in one paragraph or less)? Think Guru depository.

4. How can religion be the product of evolutionary forces, when it
claims to transcend such forces? (think of last week's lecture).

5. How can "religious visions" and other curious phenomena be part
and parcel of "culture" and "neurology"? Clue: think of the "Kirpal
Statistic" and other articles on Lane's website
( just scroll down and
look for it via shabd yoga).

6. According to Peter Berger, a well known sociologist, there are
three major ways that religions view the world: deductively,
reductively, and inductively. Explain each and then present Lane's
critique of this view. Clue: go to the Occam's Razor section of
the Neural Surfer ( and
look at the article the Perplexity of Religious Experiences (also
called the Experience of the Sacred) and read it (your answer is
right there, as well as in Berger's book the HERETICAL IMPERATIVE).

7. What does your teacher mean by pretext, text, and context, in the
larger view of sociology and consciounsess? Clue: read the two part
article on Patricia Churchland meets Ramana Maharshi (again in the
Occam Razor's section:
Be sure to elaborate....

8. What did you find most intriguing in point4.html? What was most


Attention: Next week's assignment is to read
various points on the new emerging science of memetics or what your
teacher calls the "Xerox Theory of Cultural Transmission."

Here's the first section to check out:


Thought Contagion:

1. What is a "meme"?

2. How does the idea of thought contagion (or memes) help explain
the evolutionary transmission of ideas?

3. How would a theory of memes help explain the popularity of cults?

4. What is the Xerox Theory of Cultural Evolution?

5. Why is rarity, not general duplication, so important to the
appreciation of "art"?

6. Compare and contrast biological evolution with cultural evolution
memes and thought contagion?

7. What are mind parasites?


This week's reading assignment:


read all three selections for this week!

Part one

Part two

Part four ------------------------ Test essay: What IS the communist manifesto? What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? ---------------------------------- be sure to be able to elaborate and detail your answer ---------------------------- THIS WEEK's READING ASSIGNMENT: Read the reviews/excerpts/biographies/details related to Steve Pinker and his book, HOW THE MIND WORKS. Be sure to read the New York Review of Books critique and all other related critiques.... Here's the URL address (connection): How the Mind Works ------------------------------- Especially concentrate on sexual relationships and marriages in terms of socio-biology..... -------------------------------- Be sure to read the Reviews listed about the book (especially the New York Review of Books). ---------------------- Conventional Sociology: Read about Max Weber and Emile Durkheim in the dead sociologists website..... Be sure to get an understanding of their major contributions and a glimpse of their lives...... ------- here's the link The Dead Sociologists Link ------ Test questions: 1. What does Weber mean by the Protestant "ethic" and spirit of capitalism? 2. What does Durkheim mean by "social" facts? 3. What are the implications of Durkheim's study of suicide on anomie and social integration? 4. What does Weber mean by the routinization of charisma in the development of religion and social order in general? 5. Describe in brief Durkheim's life and work. 6. Describe in brief Weber's life and work. 7. How does Marx differ from Weber? ---------------------- NO CLASS ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21.............. See you after thanksgiving...... reading will be online next week. --------------- HERE's the After thanksgiving reading (which, of course, can be done before if you so desire): Read about Deconstructionism, Derrida, and Chomsky and the feminist critic (guess her name?) here's the link The Deconstruction Argument Test questions: 1. What is deconstructionism and how does it relate to language use? 2. In what ways does Derrida contradict himself? 3. What is Chomsky's views on politics and language use? more questions to be added in class after our discussions.... -------------- TEST questions for the FINAL: This test is "open Internet" and will necessitate that you look around various websites to get the right answer..... Turn in the test NO LATER than Friday, December 12, BEFORE 11:30 a.m. in Lane's mailbox. 1. What is Noam Chomsky's view on language? Explain the differences between deep and surface structures..... 2. What does the term "postmodern" mean in relation to sociology, in relation to literature, in relation to music, in relation to art...... Answer each and be CLEAR. 3. How do we "socially" construct our worlds? (think of Lane's lecture..... be clear and be precise). 4. What is ideological work? How does it apply to theological doctrines? (hint: see the book The Radhasoami Tradition on point2.html or Bennett Berger's Survival of a Counterculture). 5. What is "deconstructionism"? 6. "Deconstruct" the A.A. degree program at MSAC (hint: think Derrida). 7. Marx and Nietzsche argue that Moral Systems are determined, to a large degree, by those who are in Power. Explain why (hint: think of economics and think of Will to Power). 8. According to your teacher, how should we "practice" sociology? That is, what is "necessary" BEFORE we do sociology? (hint: think of physics, think of biology, think of ?.... you get the drift).