Personal Blog

Dear OSU students

So, as many of you know, sometime during the past week this happened: These posters were found on the bulletin boards in Hagerty Hall, which houses the World Media and Culture Center, the Center for Languages, Literatures and Culture, the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective, and other centers that focus on multicultural issues. It’s also where […]

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Actually, Academic Research is More Relevant Now Than It Has Ever Been

A Washington Post opinion article by Steven Pearlstein entitled “Four tough things universities should do to rein in costs” got a lot of buzz on social media yesterday. The attention paid to it isn’t surprising: it’s election season, after all, and skyrocketing student debt numbers have focused candidates’ attention on the cost (and value) of […]

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Politics and the LaCour Scandal

One of the first things that I tell students in my Data Literacy and Data Visualization course is that, when they walk in the door, they should leave their ideological predilections behind. I don’t care whether they’re Sanders socialists or Rockefeller Republicans—the point of the class isn’t to learn how to support Team Red or Team […]

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Reading professional journal articles on the iPad

I’ve been able to read the New York Times on my iPad for years, so I suspected that it was only a matter of time (and more time… and still more time…) before I’d be able to read and process professional journal articles on it as well. After fiddling around with a dozen or so […]

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In Defense of Research Notes

Research notes have all but died in political science journals. I think that’s a bad thing. Back in 2007, I noticed a subtle but very significant problem with a well-established social science methodology. This methodology is not really central to my research agenda, though, and I had other things to work on. So I set […]

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Thoughts on Academics and the Public Sphere

Following Nicholas Kristof’s provocative call to social scientists to be more engaged in public debates (“Professors, We Need You!“), Ezra Klein has weighed in with a thoughtful riposte (“The Real Reason Nobody Reads Academics“). To a much greater degree, I think, Klein hits the nail on the head: even interested journalists have a hard time […]

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On Left-Handed Latino Republicans and Interaction Terms

About a decade ago, I wrote an article on interaction terms. In it, I tried to clear up some common misperceptions about how interaction terms can and should be used in regression (logit, probit, etc.) equations. A fair number of people seem to have heeded most of the advice in the article, but in retrospect […]

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Networking at Conferences—My Personal Take

After tossing out a brief opinion on the value of networking at conferences like APSA (nutshell: say smart things, don’t worry about networking per se), I was surprised to find that I’d become part of a controversy on the subject. Will Moore both indulges his considerable intellectual curiosity— I invite Professors Saideman, Drezner, Voeten, and […]

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The Prolific Comma

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve read quite a few application essays. Most are very thoughtful. Some are inspiring. All are written by smart people. Yet many, if not most, suffer from a single pathology: their authors sprinkle commas through their sentences with a pathologically unbridled enthusiasm. To be honest, I […]

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Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge

(with apologies to Lakatos and Musgrave) When you’re a professor, you’re likely to get involved in the occasional discussion about the high price of a college education. One common answer is, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” As the Freakonomics guys demonstrated, that’s also a correct answer: college degrees generally pay for themselves […]

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