Archive for the ‘fabio’ Category
Some recent articles from Industrial and Corporate Change, which I usually find quite interesting:
- An Interpretive History of Challenges to Neoclassical Economics and How they Fared by Mazzeloni and Nelson
- Do entrepreneurs really learn? Or do they just tell us that they do? by Frankish et al.
- University entrepreneurship and professor privilege by Damsgaard and Thursby
- Billionaires by Sanadaji and Leeson
- They just fade away: mortality in the US venture capital industry by Rider and Swaminathan
Check it out.
Inside Higher Education ran an article on new numbers released by the Council of Graduate Schools. The big news? Humanities enrollments are up 7%. Scott Jaschik asked me about this and, frankly, I was puzzled. I was quoted in the article as saying it is puzzling because it is open knowledge that humanities PhD’s are very risky.
A few possibilities:
- Skepticism: This is statistical noise, or an artifact of how the Council computed this number.
- Shrinking opportunities for educated low productivity workers: In the old economy, there were lots of options for people with humanities degrees. In the new economy, the college premium disproportionately goes to people in finance, economics, or STEM fields.
- Debt avoidance: Stay in school forever and hope that inflation eats away at the debt you acquired.
- Cultural change: Maybe people just value scholarly careers more than they did before and are more accepting of risk. In an era where Wall Street and the law have taken big hits in the eyes of the public, maybe more people are turning to the academy.
For now, I’d wait one or two more years to rule out #1. Then, the list reflects my beliefs, which changes in the labor market first and cultural change last.
The Medieval Manuscripts blog reports that an old cookbook has been rediscovered and it has that unicorn recipe I’ve been looking for:
After recipes for herring, tripe and codswallop (fish stew, a popular dish in the Middle Ages) comes that beginning “Taketh one unicorne”. The recipe calls for the beast to be marinaded in cloves and garlic, and then roasted on a griddle. The cookbook’s compiler, doubtless Geoffrey Fule himself, added pictures in its margins, depicting the unicorn being prepared and then served. Sarah J Biggs, a British Library expert on medieval decoration, commented that “the images are extraordinary, almost exactly as we’d expect them to be, if not better”.
Finger lickin’ good.
I need a nerd who can perform the following task – take a MeSH number and produce text for each part of the number and the complete number. E.g., take D.34.27 and turn it into “AIDS research.” I have a data base of about 60,000 medical journal articles that need their topical MeSH numbers turned into English.
I have a small amount of cash, or you can be a co-author. Serious inquiries only and do a little research first to see if you can do it. When I tried to do it, the text came out weird.
Jessica Collett, scatterista and social psychologist supreme, has a thoughtful post summarizing her recent research on “impostor syndrome” among academics. If you aren’t familiar with the idea, it means that people feel like they are fakes and subsequently curtail their ambitions or work. From her post at Scatterplot:
At this year’s ASA meetings in NYC, Jade Avelis and I presented research on the effect of impostorism (also known as the impostor syndrome or feelings of fraudulence) on academic career ambitions. We were specifically interested in impostorism as a potential causes of “downshifting”* (entering graduate school programs aspiring to a tenure track position at a research institution and changing during the course of study to a non-tenure track position or one with an emphasis on teaching), a trend almost twice as common among women as it is among men.
In the literature to date, researchers attribute higher rates of downshifting among women to their increased concerns about family friendliness compared to men. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative days from PhD students at a private, research institution in the Midwest, Jade and I test both this common explanation and an impostorism account. As reported today in Science Careers, over at the website for Science, we found trends consistent with previous research. Women were more likely to suffer from impostorism, more concerned about family friendliness, and more likely to downshift during graduate school than men were. However, we also found that women’s increased concerns about family friendliness did not explain their increased likelihood to downshift. Impostorism, on the other hand, played a significant role.
This is crucial research for anyone interested in gender disparities in the academy. Jessica has a concrete suggestion at the end – that imposterism might be combated by changing the atmosphere within PhD programs. Knowing that other people have anxiety is a nice way to help people overcome it. Fabio’s suggestion: RCT where some programs implement an anti-imposterism program for 1st years, then we follow up every few years to see if it made a difference.
There’s a recent study by researchers at Northwestern showing that part time instructors do better than tenured full timers. A few clips from an Inside Higher Ed piece addressing the issue:
A major new study has found that new students at Northwestern University learn more when their instructors are adjuncts than when they are tenure-track professors.
The study — released this morning by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) — found that the gains are greatest for the students with the weakest academic preparation. And the study found that the gains extended across a wide range of disciplines. The authors of the study suggest that by looking at measures of student learning, and not just course or program completion, their work may provide a significant advance in understanding the impact of non-tenure-track instructors.
An old question for management scholars, with a few words from Bill Reichert, a well known tech guy:
Anyone who has spent any time in the entrepreneur ecosystem knows that there is an inverse correlation between high prestige MBAs and entrepreneurship. It’s clear what is going on here. The GMAT, like the SAT, is focused on finding the high achievement individuals in society — not the compassionate, ethical, collaborative, or socially conscious individuals. The whole institutional educational game is focused on individual achievement and test scores on standardized bodies of knowledge, not on teamwork, risk-taking, and innovative thinking.
A biting quote for legend Guy Kawasaki:
Entrepreneurs ask us all the time how we figure out the valuation of a startup company. Most VCs suggest that this is a very mysterious art. But actually it’s quite simple: To determine the fair value of a startup company, multiply the number of engineers by $250,000, add $250,000 for each engineer from IIT, and then subtract $500,000 for each MBA. <
Reichert ends on a positive note:
So what should we do to develop these talents in our young people? Is it the proper domain of our university system to teach team skills and social consciousness? Or do we simply accept that the current approach to finding and selecting elites is the best the university system can do, and leave it to the real world to apprentice young graduates in these skills and attitudes? It’s hard to imagine developing an effective curriculum for our educational system that will develop the non-academic team skills and creative thinking skills that we need. But we can probably do more, in early education, in the universities, and in the workplace, to foster the development of these skills and to make sure that young people with these skills are not undervalued by the educational system, or by our society.
Definitely worth the read.
Let’s follow up on Brayden’s post on higher education, which focused on alleged problems in higher education. There is one issue that nearly all observers agree is large and important – the massive shift to part time faculty. This has two consequences. First, it means that the average wage and compensation package for faculty is, on the average, shrinking. Second, it means that there are fewer and fewer stable tenure track jobs waiting for graduate students. This nice post illustrates the trend. It is taken from this article from The Society Pages.
In giving advice to graduate students and untenured faculty, I start with the obvious. Show your work to people, get feedback, and submit to well respected journals in your field. Often, this is enough. Through peer review, we often (though not always) get feedback on what is good about our work. We improve and eventually, stuff gets published. But sometimes you learn something else. There is something about your work that just makes people uncomfortable. And it’s fundamental to your work. No amount of revising will change that.
When I think about war, I start with the following truism: “War” is another name for the mass murder of other human beings, many of whom are innocent of wrong doing. Therefore, we should only conduct war if there is an overwhelming need to do so.
As you might guess, I am extremely skeptical of war in general. I argue that we should only kill large numbers of people if:
- Our nation is directly threatened with violence.
- There is a clear and plausible reason to believe that killing many people will make the situation better and it is the only option.
- There is a clear and plausible reason to believe that we aren’t making things worse.
With respect to Syria, there is no direct threat to the United States. On the second and third count, it is not clear to me how war will fix things. It is easy to believe that the US armed forces could disable the Syrian military, but does that mean that Syria will be a safe from tyranny? Unclear. Does that mean that peace loving democrats will come to power? Unclear. Could there be a situation where we make bad people even more powerful? Like we did in Afghanistan (the first time), or in Afghanistan (the second time)? Or in the many other nations we’ve intervened in like Haiti or Lebanon, where bad people later came to power? Unclear. Does that mean that there won’t be a subsequent government that would threaten our allies? Unclear.
In other words, civilized people have long recognized that the Syrian state is repressive and evil. And their recent behavior supports this view. But that’s way different than saying that intervention will very likely lead to a better situation, or that the benefit we create will outweigh the violent death of innocent bystanders. Syria is burning, but there is no magic solution, especially the one dropped from a high altitude aircraft.
The orgtheory crew hails from across the globe, our methods range from computer simulations to ethnography, and we have varying levels of tolerance for Graham Peterson. But do you know what we all agree on? That’s right, critical realism is lame. I was reminded of this when Kieran started a critical realism flame war on Twitter this evening, in response to Phil Gorski’s essay defending CR in the most recent Contemporary Sociology. Each tweet is a one inch punch of academic truth.
- In the new CS Phil Gorski asks “What is Critical Realism? And Why Should You Care?” The correct answers: “It’s Bollocks” & “You Shouldn’t”
- Say you’re a sociologist and you meet some Philosophers who think Alvin Toffler is the world’s best Strat guy. It’s like that with Bhaskar.
- You’d be like, “Oh yeah that guy—from the ’70s? Whatever happened to him?” And the Philosophers say “He’s a leading figure in your field!”
- And you say “Well the field didn’t exactly go in that direction, and even if it had you’d want to read these ten other people instead.”
- But the Philosophers reply, “No, no, he’s effected a Copernican Revolution in Sociology! I mean, he repeatedly says so himself! QED!”
- I think at that point you might be tempted to roll your eyes right out of your head.
For previous spiking the ball on Bhaskar, click here.
There’s a recent NPR story that features the research of a friend of mine, Marit Rehavi of UBC. She has co-authored a paper, with MIT’s Erin Johnson, on the topic of c-sections. The authors compare c-section frequencies of health professionals (MD moms) vs. everyone else. The finding?
… physicians are almost 10 percent less likely to receive a C-section, with only a quarter of this effect attributable to differential sorting of patients to hospitals or obstetricians. Financial incentives have a large effect on C-section probabilities for non-physicians, but physician-patients are relatively unaffected. Physicians also have better health outcomes, suggesting overuse of C-sections adversely impacts patient health.
In other words, people who have better knowledge (MD moms) have fewer procedures and better health outcomes. The policy implications are clear – the c-section rate is too damn high!
Democratic success hasn’t just weakened the antiwar movement. Though the Obama administration has been criticized by environmentalists and civil libertarians for various failures, real and perceived, the energy behind these movements tends to wane under Democratic administrations, and not just because Democratic administrations are more likely to accept the legitimacy of environmentalist and civil libertarian claims. Similarly, conservative calls for fiscal consolidation and abortion restrictions have tended to be more muted under Republican administrations, though it is possible that this will change in the future.
Indeed. I’m glad that Salam framed it as a general political issue. The deeper point is that in a world where there is strong political polarization, where movements are strongly connected to one of the major parties, it is hard for movements to act independently of electoral cycles. The result is a paradoxical situation where the movement is strongest when it is least likely to have an impact.
Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, at the blog, Get a Life, Ph.D., has a good post about parents and academia. Be nice to them! A few clips:
- Tip #1: Introduce them to other parents
- Tip #2: Keep their schedules in mind when planning events or meetings
- Tip #3: Never Insinuate That Being a Parent Makes Professors Less Valuable or Productive
Good stuff. HT: Karen Nakamura.
In the Spring, I was teaching our first year graduate course. I start with rational choice theories and then move on. To illustrate the difference, I used gun legislation. After the Newton shootings, did the class think that we’d have more gun control? The hypotheses:
- Median voter theorem – NO – the average voter is happy with current gun laws.
- Elite theory – YES – it was clear Obama and Biden wanted more gun control.
Now we know the answer, the Median voter won. The rest of the class went with elite theory. Somebody owes me some money!
Picking up on a topic we’ve covered before, there’s a nice article about how computer programming was regendered from female to male. From the website of Stanford’s Clayman Institute:
As historian Nathan Ensmenger explained to a Stanford audience, as late as the 1960s many people perceived computer programming as a natural career choice for savvy young women. Even the trend-spotters at Cosmopolitan Magazine urged their fashionable female readership to consider careers in programming. In an article titled “The Computer Girls,” the magazine described the field as offering better job opportunities for women than many other professional careers. As computer scientist Dr. Grace Hopper told a reporter, programming was “just like planning a dinner. You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it’s ready when you need it…. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.” James Adams, the director of education for the Association for Computing Machinery, agreed: “I don’t know of any other field, outside of teaching, where there’s as much opportunity for a woman.”
In 1967, despite the optimistic tone of Cosmopolitan’s “Computer Girls” article, the programming profession was already becoming masculinized. Male computer programmers sought to increase the prestige of their field, through creating professional associations, through erecting educational requirements for programming careers, and through discouraging the hiring of women. Increasingly, computer industry ad campaigns linked women staffers to human error and inefficiency.
Interesting reading for students of the professions.
Guest blogger emeritus Hilary Levey Friedman has just released her new book, Playing to Win, which is a thoughtful account of competitive children’s activities. Drawing from fieldwork done in three competitive youth circuits (chess, dance, soccer), Hilary provides us with an engaging treatment of the topic. She raises important questions about how we’ve reshaped childhood in response to the growing importance of higher education for young adults.
The core strength of the book is that it successfully explains how two organizational fields – higher education and children’s leisure – collide. Since colleges are the “key” for mobility, we recreate childhood in ways that reproduce status via college entrance. Thus, the book is an extension of Bourdieu’s approach to stratification, as expressed through Lareau and her school. This attempt at social reproduction is seen when parents strategize about how much effort to expend and how these activities teach the right life lessons. And, of course, as with all good ethnography, there are lots of juicy bits, such as the discussion of female chess players, which is a great discussion of counter-signalling theory in childhood.
The biggest question I had when reading the book is “does it matter?” In the final chapter, Hilary alludes to arguments made by Dalton Conley (and myself, by the way) that the specific school doesn’t matter much. In other words, if it doesn’t matter which college you go to, then why should you torture your kid with violin lessons so he’s get into Yale?
Even if I’m wrong, and there is an Ivy League treatment effect, it’s still puzzling. Higher education researchers know that only about 50 colleges in the United States are hard to get into (consistent admit rates below 50%). About 18 million people a year enroll in college, but very competitive schools like the Ivies and the public flagships account for a small fraction of that number. Being a chess champ may be helpful for the smartest kids who have a shot at an elite school but this whole scene is irrelevant for most people who are trying to get into college.
My guess is that parents probably know, on some level, that these activities usually have marginal effects on admission when compared to GPA or SATs, but they still want to show that they are invested in their children. And of course, many of this activities are enjoyable. So in many cases, no harm no foul. If you buy this argument, you can skip soccer camp with a clean conscience.
Overall, great job and a pleasure to read. Recommended!
One of my beliefs, born out by research like Arum and Roska’s, is that people don’t learn or retain much from college. There are many reasons why, but one is that colleges don’t believe in “overlearning,” which means that you study a topic so much that it becomes automatic.
Consider the typical college class. They meet two or three times a week. Students either skip the readings, skim them, or quickly forget them. Unless it’s part of the grade, students are often absent from class. The exams typically cover the material, but then you move on to new stuff. Many students are allowed to move on with marginal grades. The opposite of “overlearning.” Colleges offer “barelylearning.”
If colleges were serious about learning, the entire system of lectures and semesters would be dumped. Occasional passive lectures and marginal grades would be abolished. Instead, we’d probably have very short “modules” where students did nothing but math, or writing, all day, every day for a few weeks or a months. Complete immersion so people could get completely absorbed into the subject and learn it so it becomes second hand. It’s the way that learning is done in institutions where mastery matters, like medical schools (e.g., rotations) or the military (e.g., the system of “special schools” – immersion).
Russ Roberts interviews political scientist Mike Munger on the topic of rules and institutions, using sports as an example. One of the most interesting things about sports is that there are informal rules governing fighting. A few key ideas:
- To decrease overall fighting, you allow a little bit. It acts as a deterrent.
- In sports with little protection, like hockey or baseball, you get ritualized fighting.
- In sports with ritualized fighting, you get fight specialists. You don’t want skilled players getting injured.
- In low fighting sports, like football, you need to slow things down with heavy referee intervention.
- Once you protect athletes with equipment, fighting goes up because it is less damaging.
- If sports becomes lucrative, then norms change to reduce fighting. You don’t want your money generating stars missing the game.
A nice discussion of how norms, rules, and technology all affect each other.
A few weeks ago, I expressed dismay at the multiple R&R, multi-year revision process that now takes place at our flagship journal. I picked on them in particular, but it’s really a demand for all journals (inc. AJS, SF, SP) in general to stabilize the review process and adopt some concrete rules. You should only R&R if you think there’s a reasonable chance of success. You really shouldn’t assign new reviewers in most cases. And, please, cut the multi-R&Rs unless it is a de-facto admission that a manuscript will almost certainly be published. This is the norm in economics – many R&R’s, but the R&R means that the paper will be published.
So my question is this: is there any sign at all this was taken seriously? I recently was asked to review at ASR and I expressed my concerns. I got a polite email back, but little indication otherwise. I agreed to review the paper (1st R&R and I was an original reviewer) but warned that I will not participate in 2nd or 3rd R&Rs.
I spent relatively little time at ASA, so I don’t know what people thought about this issue, or if our editors are thinking about getting control over the process. Your thoughts? What is the buzz on the street?
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away
Berkeley, I got to know a guy by the name of Martin Wattenberg. He’s a mathematician who now focuses on data visualization and converting it into fine art. Above is an example of a map of wind in the United States, created with Fernanda Viégas. Good stuff.
If you are interested in reading the media coverage of More Tweets, More Votes, here are the links to selected coverage:
- My op-ed in the Washington Post
- the Wall Street Journal
- The Daily Rundown/MSNBC
- C-SPAN’s Washington Journal
- National Journal
- The Atlantic
Thanks for checking in.
This week, there has been substantial media coverage of the More Tweets, More Votes paper, which was presented on Monday at the ASA meeting in New York. Scholars and campaign professionals have been asking questions about the draft of the paper, which can be found here. Since we have received many requests and clarifications, I will address comments through this blog post.
1. Your tweets/votes R-squared is small. The correlation between tweets and votes is actually really small when compared with other factors (such as incumbency).
Commenters have asked about the size of the twitter correlation in comparison with other models. First, no claim was made about this issue and it not relevant to the major point of the paper. The point of the paper is that social media has important information. This information may be correlated with other data. However, we can compare the twitter bivariate correlation with other correlations. The twitter correlation with Republican vote margin, for example, is .53. Incumbency has a correlation of .73 with vote margin. The proportion of people with a college education has a correlation of .15. Thus, the twitter measure is in the middle of the range of the variables we look at.
2. 404 out of 406?: In your SSRN draft, the analysis does not predict the winner in 404 out of 406 competitive races, which is what Fabio Rojas said in the WaPo op-ed. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-twitter-can-predict-an-election/2013/08/11/35ef885a-0108-11e3-96a8-d3b921c0924a_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend)
A number of commenters have asked about the number of correctly predicted races. In the original paper, we do not perform this analysis. For the purposes of presenting the research to the public, we computed the rate of correct predictions (within the data), which was about 92.5%. I then multiplied this by all races (435). Therefore, the extrapolated number of correctly predicted races is 404 out of 435. If we use only the contested race subsample, we get 375 races out of 406 contested races. This is a correction of what I wrote in the op-ed, which accidentally combined these two estimates. The op-ed now contains the correction.
3. You don’t predict an election. “[...] just in case someone is paying attention: You, Have, To, Predict, In, Advance. If you don’t want to follow my advice follow that of Lewis-Beck (2005):”the forecast must be made before the event. The farther in advance [...] the better”. Gayo-Avello (http://di002.edv.uniovi.es/~dani/PFCblog/)
Professor Gayo-Avello and other commenters have raised the issue of prediction. He is correct in that we didn’t use contemporary data to predict elections in the future. Rather, we use “predict” in the statistical sense. We use social media data to estimate a dependent variable within the sample.
4. The Pollyanna effect is unsubstantiated. There is no support to say negative tweets are a good thing for a candidate.
The Pollyana effect is merely a hypothesized explanation for what we find. It requires further research and study. We make no claim that it has been established.
5. Twitter user base is not representative of the population, self-selection bias, spam, propaganda, lack of geolocation of tweets.
A number of commenters have focused on the fact that we know little about the people who write tweets, nor do we estimate whether tweets are positive or negative. This is true, but the point of the paper is not to make an estimate of who people are, or to interpret what they say. Rather, it is simply to show that that social media contains informative signals of what people might do. Remarkably, the data shows a correlation even though Twitter users are not a random sample of the population. We are simply measuring the relative attention given to a political candidate.
6. Vote share is a more natural way than vote margin to analyze and present the results, as well as consistent with prior Political Science research. (http://themonkeycage.org/2013/04/24/the-tweets-votes-curve/)
Some readers noted that traditional political science uses vote share rather than vote margin. Our updated paper corrects that. The original paper is a non-peer reviewed draft. It is in the process of being corrected, updated, and revised for publication. Many of these criticisms have already been incorporated into the current draft of the paper, which will be published within the next few months.
I am in New York, so blogging will be light this week. We shall resume this coming weekend, with posts on Cal Tjader, science fiction writing, and how we can use Neal Caren’s posts to come up with a new sociology dept ranking system. Till then, enjoy the conference, or wherever you may be.
The shoe has dropped for the political scientists. The NSF has suspended funding, probably out fear of Congress.
My take away? Don’t be so dependent on one customer. Sociology doesn’t get that much from NSF anyway, but we should think about alternate sources.
Here’s a simple idea. Why not take all that sweet ASR subscription money and funnel it into an ASA controlled foundation that supports sociological research? That way, we have independence.
Want to see Big Data in action? More Tweets/More Votes will be presented on Monday, 8:30 am in the session on voting and elections.
Also, if anyone wants to chat, I can do Monday breakfast, 10:30 – 1pm-ish. I will also attend the book release party for guest blogger emeritus Hilary Levy Friedman on Monday. Her book, Playing to Win, will soon be released by the University of California Press. Email me if you want to meet up.