Prompted by a post from Kim guestblogging over at Marginal Utility, JFW is now accepting nominees for the answer to the riddle "How many sociologists does it take to change* a light bulb?" You need not be a sociologist to enter, although studies do indicate that sociologists tend to be funnier than other people.
If I had a copy of the Sociologist's Book of Cartoons, I'd offer that up as a prize. As it is, I'll have to figure something out. (Maybe Sal's new two-hundred-thousand-dollar bicycle that he's all excited about, as I know he'd love to donate that for advancing the amusement of the discipline.)
Mathieu Deflem has already sent his entry! Q: "How many sociologists does it take to change a light bulb?" A: "Our purposes are (1) to describe the state of the light bulb, (2) to explain how the light bulb came to be that way (e.g., 'burned out'), and (3) to provide some insight into how the light bulb might respond to different interventions. As scientists, it is not our purpose to "change" the light bulb. Instead, we should try to inform policymakers so that they can determine the right kind of light bulb actions for a brighter future. I have written a letter to the ASA Council complaining about sociologists who would seek to compromise the scientific status of our discipline by trying to change light bulbs themselves, and I will also complain about a certain sociologist who claims I have entered his 'special weblog contest' when really it is just him making things up yet again."
* or "screw in a light bulb", depending on your preference for how the joke should be worded. [thanks to Kieran for pointing this out]
Update, 12:30am: My pal Kestrel sends her Top Ten list:
10. Two. One to screw in the light bulb, and the other to reassure insecure colleagues that the lightbulb is being screwed in 'sociologically.'
9. One, but it will take three years and two revise-and-rescrews before it gets done.
8. The sociologist can't find the "Change Bulb" menu option in SPSS, and so then just writes a few paragraphs about how the dark is preferable anyway.
7. We won't know until they finish arguing about whether light is socially constructed.
6. Are these Wisconsin sociologists? Because then you know they'll just stand around looking helpless until Michelle does it.
5. There isn't any meaningful difference between a burned-out lightbulb and a new one. SOCIOLOGISTS FOR NADER 2008.
4. If we can just get 300 sociologists to sign up and pay $10, we can have our own "Light and Society" section of the ASA, which will provide an ideal platform for discussion and action regarding that light bulb.
3. One, but the lightbulb has to sign a consent form before the sociologist can touch it.
2. Sociologists can take light bulbs out just fine, but can't screw light bulbs in. Sociologists only know how to spin things to the left.
1. One. Unless it's Jeremy, then: two, maybe three.
Update, next day: Tonya links to this post to make fun of the strange sign-making ways of Wisconsin sociologists. Except she's wrong. The sign she's making fun of is on the 6th floor of social science, which means it was made by... the economists!