SUNY Oswego sociology professor Tim Delaney recently published his 23rd book and third book in a trilogy titled “The Diversity of Darkness and Shameful Behaviors.” 

A description on Delaney’s website states, “The Diversity of Darkness is an innovative work and represents the third book of a trilogy written by the author that underscores the reality that there are many shamefully hateful (e.g., attempted insurrection and a violent coup of American democracy; autocracy; rage; anti-civil rights and equality social movements; racism; hate crimes; and sex crimes) and deadly behavioral threats (e.g., mass shootings; terrorism; war; and genocide) that jeopardized the very notions of civility, decency and justice around the world.”

“I didn’t really set out to write a trilogy, but social theory is my specialty,” Delaney said of the series published by Routledge. “And after talking to students and colleagues over the decades, I decided it was time to write a book about the major paradigms of thought, which was the first book of the series.” 

The first book, “Common Sense as a Paradigm of Thought: An Analysis of Social Interaction,” was released in 2019. Delaney said individuals use common sense every day, and he gave a qualitative testing example in his Facebook post asking individuals whether or not to purchase an extended warranty for a vehicle he was buying. 

“I asked about 100 people, and the results were about 50/50 as to whether yes, you should buy an extended warranty or no, you should not,” Delaney said. “And so right off the bat you realize that you cannot rely on common sense. That's when you know your conclusion that you have to rely on enlightened rational thought, which is one of the four paradigms of thought, is the correct choice." 

But as the years pushed on, Delaney noticed that rational thought was under attack, inspiring the subject of the second book in the trilogy, “Darkened Enlightenment: The Deterioration of Democracy, Human Rights, and Rational Thought in the Twenty-First Century.” 

“There is an attack on rational thought in the 21st century, and so that second book tended to be quite political,” Delaney said. “I didn’t want it to be overly political or too socio-political, but it is sociological so it does tend to be political.”

Delaney realized that there was still more to be said and studied, given the sociopolitical climate and what was happening beyond it. This led to his research and publishing “The Diversity of Darkness and Shameful Behaviors.”

“‘The Diversity of Darkness’ is really the idea that beyond the social and political issues, there is so much negativity in the world,” Delaney said. 

 History repeating

Delaney teaches a wide variety of sociology courses at SUNY Oswego, including social deviance, sociology of gang behavior, and environmental sustainability and thrivability. 

“The topics I cover in the classroom and research as a sociologist – they make you wonder about human behavior and the whole human condition.” Delaney said.

Delaney uses sociology as the scientific lens to investigate and research human behavior to help build the framework for not only his books, but also for the classes he teaches.

“Everything that I put in writing, or say in the classroom, is based on facts,” Delaney said. “I rarely give my opinion in the classroom unless I am asked. I am a person of science and I have no problem openly promoting rational thought – reasoned thought -- and relying on science. Even though sociology is not one of the natural sciences, we have theories and utilize empirical data and research.”

And while Delaney’s new book is inspired by recent occurrences and events in modern society, he notes how sociology teaches us that these events are merely history repeating itself due to shameful behaviors.

“I love the value of history. I look at things from a socio-historical perspective,” Delaney said. “For example in my Sociology of Gangs class, in the United States, most people are surprised to learn that the earliest gangs were white ethnic groups – the white Irish groups. The story does repeat itself – the white Irish people came here because they were being discriminated against; they didn’t speak the same language, they didn’t practice the same religion, so they were discriminated against. So you can look at that class and say ‘Doesn’t that sound familiar at all?’ If we don’t learn from the past, we will repeat it.” 

Individual responsibility

Even though the book centers much on the dark and shameful behaviors themselves, Delaney says individuals have the responsibility to be active bystanders to ensure these behaviors do not go unchecked.

“Chapter 5 talks about this whole idea that although there are these terrible, hateful things going on, there are attempts to shame these people who commit these horrendous acts,” Delaney said. 

“There are formal shamings but there are also informal shamings, sometimes amongst friends,” Delaney said. “Sometimes it’s up to us to kind of point things out and say ‘Hey, was that really the best way to handle that? Could you maybe have done that differently? Do you realize what you just said to that person was harmful?’ If shameful behaviors are allowed to just go unanswered they will continue. It’s up to all of us to point things out. If you think something is wrong, it’s ok to point it out. We not only have that right to do that, we’re not going to end these behaviors if we don’t try to correct things.” 

For those interested in learning more about Delaney or his recent book, visit his website, Books by Tim Delaney.