My abiding sense was of the crassness of the question, the scantiness of the answers, the debatable issues about conceptions of intelligence and the innocence of the scale - which the brute enquiry simply doesn't struggle with. And look at the various logics folk used in their answers. In the first, a delusional conceit. In the second a conspicuous consciousness for how one's answer makes one appear. Thirdly, comparisons made possible because of formalistic standards of assessment and past academic performance - and the assumption that intelligence should be unproblematically identified with these. Finally, a private double-entry brightness ledger whose calculations remain eccentrically specific and decidedly opaque.
Unlike my anthropological friend, I'm more of a friend of social research by numbers, as long as we keep a proportionate view of the data such approaches can yield - and what the process unavoidably neglects, the issues it brackets, the (potentially exceedingly problematic) assumptions it makes. A wee example can be furnished by "Weber's Sandwich" who are conducting both Scottish blog reader and blog writer surveys. I suspect others found some of the questions rather too specific - but being helpful minded respondents, you approximate, fudge, guess, gloss over definitional problems. We've seen similiar issues raised this week on the general idea of quantitative research into happiness or well-being. Similarly, I just wanted to touch on another piece of work, the Scottish Government's recently published paper on The Experience of Civil Law Problems in Scotland 1997 - 2004. The publication tries to combine existing sources of data - which are comparatively scanty - "to provide context and a baseline for the findings of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS): Civil Justice Module, which will run from 2008 to 2013". I notice that Scottish legal magazine the Firm rather misread the document, suggesting that the research reveals that 76% claimed they had been treated unfairly by the police. This seems a scandalously high percentage - scandalous, but ... er ... false. If you look into the document, you find that the 76% figure isn't the total number of respondents experienced unfair polis treatment, but the number of those who experience such treatment who sought assistance of some kind. Indeed, this reading is confirmed in the section on prevalence, which confirms that "the lowest group range in prevalence from less than 1% to 4% ... include ... unfair treatment by police". Once before, I've mentioned what is generally called legal consciousness or legal culture research which in a classically sociological way, examines how folk conceive of law and legal institutions. Much of this is inspired by Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey's (1998) Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life which broke ground by exploring how ordinary folk from the American State of New Jersey conceived of law's place in their lives and their understandings of conflict. The book opens with a telling description of an African American woman and her travails in court and how she only received her legal entitlements because of the intervention of her wealthy white employers. As far as I'm aware, nobody has conducted similar qualitative research in Scotland. Whatever the limitations of the quantitative view of this study and the research which follows, we ought to appreciate all attempts to understand the complexities of law's place in our communal life. Its amazing how often and in how many fields researchers refer to the extent to which issues in Scotland's social life are under-research, whether in contemporary and historical fields. In this respect, the limited socio-legal research conducted into Scots Law simply reflects wider trends.
Finally, on an unrelated note, I've composed today's Scottish Roundup, entitled "Clinging to November", including a passing meditation on my younger self's travails on the fitba' pitch. Poor unfit mite. Read it all here.