Timothy Burke advocates moving away from “writing-intensive” courses in favor of a requirement for courses that include assignments that emphasize the development of information literacy and library research skills. Now if we only included such a course in each major—perhaps one that also included instruction in, oh I don’t know, the appropriate methodologies for the given discipline—perhaps we might get somewhere in the academy.
Julian Sanchez succinctly explains the rational basis test as applied by the courts:
Now, understand: For a law to be “rationally related” to a legitimate state purpose, it’s not necessary that it actually achieve that purpose, let alone achieve it without bringing about various ancillary harms in the process. It’s enough that a sane legislator might reasonably believe it to contribute to the relevant goal.
In other words, whenever the Supreme Court strikes a law down while claiming to apply the “rational basis test,” they weren’t actually applying the rational basis test. Case in point: Romer v. Evans, in which the court laid the foundations for Lawrence v. Texas by essentially applying heightened scrutiny to discrimination against gays and lesbians—even though they claimed they were simply applying the rational basis test.
This Chronicle piece including some “student evaluations” of Socrates has been getting a bit of play around the blogosphere and is pretty damn funny. I thought this was the funniest part:
He always keeps talking about these figures in a cave, like they really have anything to do with the real world. Give me a break! I spend serious money for my education and I need something I can use in the real world, not some b.s. about shadows and imaginary trolls who live in caves.
He also talks a lot about things we haven’t read for class and expects us to read all the readings on the syllabus even if we don’t discuss them in class and that really bugs me. Students’ only have so much time and I didn’t pay him to torture me with all that extra crap.
þ OTB (among others).
I’ll pitch a couple of items from the Harvard Social Science Statistics Blog worth mentioning.
First, Sebastian Bauhoff plugs a number of summer quantitative methods programs. My overall review of ICPSR would be more positive than his, but as he mentions much depends on the courses you choose: Charles Franklin’s MLE class is generally a subject of rave reviews, and I can personally vouch for Bill Jacoby’s class in scaling and Doug Baer’s class in latent variable structural equation modeling (LISREL models). I’ve also heard that the advanced MLE course has vastly improved since I took it in 2001 (when it batted around .500 while rotating four instructors). Other advanced classes that seem to get good reviews include Jeff Gill’s Bayesian class and the simultaneous equations class. Historically I know time series and categorical data analysis were somewhat hit-and-miss; the latter was regarded as excellent when taught by Jeremy Freese, but I’m told it has gone downhill since.
Second, James Griener expresses concern that people may start applying statistical models willy-nilly to explaining lower-court decision-making, on the basis that decisions are not iid but instead controlled largely by precedent. Certainly sticking circuit court opinions in as the dependent variable in a logit would be stupid without paying some serious attention to the error structure. But that hardly forecloses interesting analysis.
Also, my vague applied notion of the ideal-point model is that items (decisions) are not actually believed to be iid (there is at least one latent variable explaining them, so by definition they are not truly independent of each other), so I don’t think using an item-response theory model would be problematic—however, you’d certainly end up recovering a “respect for stare decisis” dimension in addition to the ideology dimension(s) you recover from the Supreme Court, which might actually help contribute to interesting substantive debates.