Stevens’ criticisms of political science in her NY Times OP-Ed were not criticisms of political science per se; rather, they were criticisms of the scientific process in general. It is a frustrating process. It would be nice if we could identify all the causes of a particular outcome after doing a limited amount of research. But it actually takes time to identify causes of any natural or social phenomenon. We often develop models that only partially reflect the real world- these models will inevitably give us inaccurate predictions. But those inaccurate predictions give us an opportunity to re-evaluate what we Continue reading Why Poor Predictions are a Justification for More (not less) Research
This is a topic that I’ll probably expand on later, but I was just reading an article discussing the role of Hamid Karzai’s brother in the present Afghan conflict. This article gets at an issue that I’ve thought about before. From the FP article cited above: But he could not exist without the support of coalition forces. AWK has long worked closely with, and perhaps been paid by, the CIA, for whom he helps operate a paramilitary force, according to press reports. As some of my research interests deal with the role of bureaucratic agencies in foreign policy, I find this particular chunk Continue reading The War We Don’t See
While browsing newly posted articles at the Social Science Research Network, I came across this paper by Garett Jones and Tim Kane. The abstract: In the midst of a major U.S. military effort in Iraq and the Middle East, economists should be able to assess the relationship between U.S. troops and growth. The necessity of military force in providing security for nation-building is a common assumption among policymakers and international affairs experts, but there has never been an econometric analysis of the impact of troops on growth. We use a newly constructed disaggregated dataset on the deployment of U.S. troops over the Continue reading Do Deployed US Troops foster Economic Growth?
Wired reports that Google plans to release, soon, a framework for hosting, storing, and distributing large or frequently used data. The Project, Palimpsest, will pay the fees to both ship the data (by sending users a 3TB hard drive to download the data) and for hosting. This, if applicable for political science scholars, not only is a good way to reduce the cost of hosting our work, but also to facilitate some sort of centralization that is currently lacking and can often encouraging data seeking via Google anyways. Link to a slide show about the project (middle of the page). Continue reading Something to keep an eye out for: Google Data
I am not a visually oriented person or, more appropriately, I am less than stellar at design. This may not be a surprise to anyone that has seen my attempts to assemble a wardrobe, but this is also true in the sense of organizing information – whether it is in a paper, on a poster, or for a conference presentation. As such, I am compelling myself to learn two programs/languages this summer that will both allow me to overcome my shortcomings ~ LaTeX and R. Yes, my devotion to wysiwyg interfaces and minimal .do files might be crumbling a bit. Continue reading When Form can Overwhelm Content
Jonathan Dingel on Friday stumbled upon a Preferential Trade Agreements Database hosted by the McGill University Faculty of Law which contains the text, or link to the text, of multiple PTAs. Given the abundance of studies that use trade activity as a direct (or proxy) measure for openness, this is an incredible collection that makes quantification of relevant and actual treaty information relatively straightforward (assuming one already knows what they are coding). While PTAs are only a portion of all that is trade liberalization, a compilation of such knowledge is incredibly useful. A good find!