The Day of the Doctor and the Veil of Ignorance (Warning: Spoilers!)

The 50th Anniversary episode of “Doctor Who” aired this week in theatres throughout the world. There was an interesting scene towards the end of the movie, which I would like to share. Below I give a very simplified version of the scene. There are two main characters in the scene, a human and a shape-shifting alien refugee that took on the human’s form. The human and the alien are located in a secret storage facility in London and it has the most dangerous alien weapons on Earth. The alien wants to take over the earth, and she plans to use Continue reading The Day of the Doctor and the Veil of Ignorance (Warning: Spoilers!)

Gifts for Political Scientists, 2013

It is a week before the American tradition of "Black Friday" starting on Thursday, and I have not done an updated list on "Gifts for Political Scientists" since 2010, so here is my proposed list for 2013.  Trying to find gifts for that special poltiical scientist in your life can be quite difficult.  Given the existing list from 2010 (that is, I am avoiding repeats) and inspiration from the source I originally stole the idea from, here is the supplement to the 2010 list.  Board Games The games on my 2010 list are still my go-to suggestions for people considering Continue reading Gifts for Political Scientists, 2013

Evolutionary Pscyhology in Political Science

I’ve been thinking about the role of evolutionary psychology in political science, after it was used in a couple of recent presentations. My concern is that political scientists are borrowing a method or paradigm from another discipline without borrowing the critiques that need to go with it. Discussion of some of the normative issues around evolutionary psychology, particularly the naturalistic fallacy, are ongoing in evolutionary psychology (see here for instance but are often neglected when causal mechanisms from that discipline make their way into other work. This is particularly important when evolutionary psychology is used to study some of Continue reading Evolutionary Pscyhology in Political Science

Educational Attainment and Race in Alabama

A part of my responsibilities as a post-doc here at Alabama entails helping faculty with seeking out external funding for projects. One of these projects has involved developing a program to promote educational outreach throughout the state. In the course of this work I’ve been digging through some data on educational attainment rates in Alabama. In terms of learning about the political and economic characteristics of my new state, this has been an informative exercise. I also think it’s helpful in illustrating the benefits of digging through your data, and helps to shed some light on the benefits of considering Continue reading Educational Attainment and Race in Alabama

Political Words & Phrases in Hip Hop

Recently, my wife discovered the Rap Stats tool at Rap Genius, which plots the relative frequency of words and phrases in rap songs from 1988 to the present.  Of course, when she showed it to me, my immediate thought was to start plotting political words and phrases and see if we could pick up any patterns over time.  The first thing we did was take a look at the relative frequency of the names of U.S. presidents from 1988 to the present. As you can see, the patterns are basically as one would expect. Reagan isn’t mentioned much, possibly because Continue reading Political Words & Phrases in Hip Hop