Society for the Scientific Study of Religion/Mormon Social Science Association slides from this week
A few hours after presenting at AECT on Thursday morning, I hopped on a plane to Salt Lake City, so that I could attend the 2023 conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion—especially the sessions associated with the Mormon Social Science Association. I’m giving three presentations today and wanted to include my slides here for anyone else who’s interested: I’d be happy to talk more about any of these!
Soooo very close to being done here, but need to take care of something else.
It’s a work weekend, and these posts need coding. Nearly finished with these, but now it’s time to wind down for the day.
Squeezed some coding in between meetings!
Next month, I’m flying to Salt Lake City to attend the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion to present some of my work about social media, religion, and the far right. I’ll be presenting on three different projects at SSSR—this was biting off more than I could chew, but since two of them connect with Mormonism, Salt Lake suggested the possibility of a larger-than-usual audience for that work, so there you go.
Squeezed in a few minutes of coding before meeting with a student.
I need to present on this in about a month at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, so it’s time to hussle! I spent some time coding Gab posts according to a codebook I put together last week.
In his closing sermon at the 2019 Community of Christ World Conference, prophet-president Steve Veazey asked a guiding question for the church: Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One? It’s pretty clear from the formatting of this question—and even clearer from its translation into French and Spanish, the other working languages of Community of Christ—that Veazey’s phrase “the peaceful One” is meant to describe Jesus as a being who is inherently peaceful and who exemplifies peace for the whole world.
Late last year, I announced the publication of a study I participated in with Dr. Evan Brody and UK PhD student Mehroz Sajjad where we examined LGBTQ+-friendly spaces on the Gab social media platform. Although that was the main focus of our research project, we also found as we were completing it that there were a number of LGBTQ+-friendly spaces that had been overrun by queerphobic activity and discourses. I’m happy to announce that our second paper, focusing on those specific spaces, has just been published in the Journal of Homosexuality.
This is disgusting and reprehensible. I refuse to watch the video myself, but it sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on the Gab groups I’ve looked at for research projects. link to ‘DeSantis slammed over Trump attack ad over LGBTQ rights : NPR’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Elon Musk Is Reportedly Building 'Based AI' Because ChatGPT Is Too Woke'
This is dumb and worrying. The CEO of Gab has been promising to develop “based AI,” but he’s a bit player. Musk has the resources and influence to make this a bigger problem. link to ‘Elon Musk Is Reportedly Building ‘Based AI’ Because ChatGPT Is Too Woke’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'OpenAI Is Now Everything It Promised Not to Be: Corporate, Closed-Source, and For-Profit'
I don’t know enough about OpenAI to evaluate these concerns, but I think these questions are important. The power of AI means that the companies that control them are also in a position of power, and it’s important that we treat them critically. That said, while I do think making LLM code open source is probably better in the aggregate, it isn’t without concerning drawbacks: The minute it was released under an open license, I’m sure Gab’s Andrew Torba would be considering how to make a homebrew version that can’t be content moderated.
Spent some time reading through Torba’s posts. It’s interesting how the pivot to hardcore Christian nationalism happened right around the 2020 election.
I’ve been interested for the past couple of years in how Andrew Torba uses religious rhetoric in his posts on the official Gab blog. This project is very much in the early stages, but I want to submit a proposal to a conference next week, so I’ve been going through data to try to get a fee for what’s happening—and what to use as my “sample.”
I’m pleased to share that a study I contributed to—Gayservatives on Gab: LGBTQ+ Communities and Far Right Social Media—is now available (open-access!) through the Social Media + Society journal. Dr. Evan Brody is the lead author on the study, and we were lucky enough to have support from PhD student Mehroz Sajjad. Here’s the abstract for the study: In the United States, LGBTQ+ individuals are often imagined as inherently politically progressive, but this assumption overlooks the experiences of self-identified LGBTQ+ conservatives.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Meet the ‘Black Robe Regiment’ of Extremist Pastors Spreading Christian Nationalism'
This reminds me of all the pastors doing guest posts on the official Gab blog. Also, of course Glenn Beck was involved in this somehow. link to ‘Meet the ‘Black Robe Regiment’ of Extremist Pastors Spreading Christian Nationalism’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Gab Founder Andrew Torba Wants to Build a Christian Nationalist Internet'
Good reporting on a scary but important subject. I’ve been collecting Gab blog posts to eventually study some of this Christian nationalism. link to ‘Gab Founder Andrew Torba Wants to Build a Christian Nationalist Internet’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Social Network Parler Restructures, Focuses on ‘Uncancellable Economy’ - WSJ'
Look, Parler isn’t as bad as Gab, but this kind of softball, uncritical approach to the platform is not helpful. WSJ should know better. link to ‘Social Network Parler Restructures, Focuses on ‘Uncancellable Economy’ - WSJ’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Gab Users Somehow Astounded To Discover Gab Will Comply With FBI Requests For User Information | Techdirt'
I read Torba’s blog post last week but hadn’t been aware of the context. Interesting read. link to ‘Gab Users Somehow Astounded To Discover Gab Will Comply With FBI Requests For User Information | Techdirt’
Interesting perspective on what’s happening on “alternative” platforms. link to ‘What Happened After the Digital Crackdown on Extremists — ProPublica’
Nearly a year ago, a friend gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation as a gift for my confirmation into Community of Christ. It (obviously) took me a while to start it, and it’s taking me some time to read through it, but there’s a lot in there that I like. This afternoon, this passage stood out to me: Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Doug Mastriano Faces Criticism Over His Backing From Antisemitic Ally - The New York Times'
I knew that Gab was supporting Mastriano, but I didn’t realize ties ran this deep. Gab is a toxic hellhole, and if Mastriano is sending them money, that should rule him out as a candidate. link to ‘Doug Mastriano Faces Criticism Over His Backing From Antisemitic Ally - The New York Times’
I didn’t know Fuentes was also using “Christ is King,” but it’s a favorite of Gab’s Andrew Torba, too. link to ‘‘Christ Is King’: Man Allegedly Vandalized Bakery Hosting Drag Show’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Republicans Sharpen Post-Roe Attacks on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights - The New York Times'
Worrying days ahead. There’s a lot being said on Gab that’s spilling out into “mainstream” GOP discourse. link to ‘Republicans Sharpen Post-Roe Attacks on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights - The New York Times’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Self-Proclaimed Free Speech Platforms Are Censoring Nude Content. Here’s Why You Should Care | Electronic Frontier Foundation'
Here’s the EFF pointing out that “free speech” on these platforms means something very particular rather than a broad, deep commitment to legally-protected expression. link to ‘Self-Proclaimed Free Speech Platforms Are Censoring Nude Content. Here’s Why You Should Care | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Over the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mark Scherer’s three-volume The Journey of a People, the most recent quasi-official history of Community of Christ. The first volume was interesting, since it covered an era of Mormon history that I’m familiar with from a perspective that I’m not familiar with. I found the second volume a bit harder to get through—some individual sections were fascinating, but it seemed to lack an overall throughline or narrative.
I’m not going to link to it, but I am fascinated by a recent post on the Gab blog where Andrew Torba announced some new features to help Gab users push back against research on the platform. Not only do I have two or three ongoing projects using Gab data (one is in the very, very early stages and—ironically—uses Gab blog posts), but some of what Torba wrote also aligned with some of the (fortunately mild) trolling my co-author, Amy Chapman, and I have experienced because of my work on the far-right-influenced DezNat hashtag in Mormon Twitter.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Texas GOP's new platform says Biden didn't really win the 2020 election : NPR'
I get that some of this is bluster and posturing, but that doesn’t make it any less worrying. This is the same state GOP that leaned into Gab a year or two ago. link to ‘Texas GOP’s new platform says Biden didn’t really win the 2020 election : NPR’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'A far-right plan to riot near an Idaho LGBTQ event heightens safety concerns at Pride : NPR'
Given the aggressively queerphobic language I’ve read on Gab, events like this are worrying but not surprising. More worrying is the way that this queerphobic language is increasingly used in the mainstream GOP. How do Republican politicians and voters feel about these events? link to ‘A far-right plan to riot near an Idaho LGBTQ event heightens safety concerns at Pride : NPR’
Never thought to connect Gab back to net neutrality; interesting reflection here. link to ‘Gab CEO Ironically Pines For Net Neutrality | Techdirt’
This matches rhetoric I’m reading while doing research on Gab. We need respectable conservative movements in the U.S., but our contemporary mainstream right is flirting with these ideas instead of denouncing them. It’s troubling link to ‘The Far-Right Is Doxxing School Officials They Think Are “Groomers”’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Lexington KY peace vigil for Ukraine set for Wednesday | Lexington Herald Leader'
Proud of Lexington for hosting this. Also wondering if I should check the Lexington groups on Gab to see if the local far-right is cranky about it. link to ‘Lexington KY peace vigil for Ukraine set for Wednesday | Lexington Herald Leader’
🔗 linkblog: just read 'Sen. Josh Hawley claims without evidence that liberals are attacking masculinity : NPR'
Du Mez is the perfect person to respond to this. Fwiw, Gab is giving some serious Jesus & John Wayne vibes right now, for all the same reasons Hawley is. link to ‘Sen. Josh Hawley claims without evidence that liberals are attacking masculinity : NPR’