Research at Disney

If the talk about a shortage of faculty positions is dispiriting, articles like this are energizing. Data science has emerged as a hopeful and interesting alternative to academic social science. But one of the biggest drawbacks has to be that many data science positions are shaped so exclusively by computer science, engineering, or some other area of science that isn’t primarily social. Those areas of work are great, integral and critical, but the result of the skew is that descriptions of “data science” can lose sight of the real human behavior and social phenomena behind the data being analyzed. Continue reading

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What happens in society, stays in …the brain?

I finally had the chance to catch up on my reading this morning, and at the top of the list was this “We Aren’t the World” article. As Schaun pointed out in his last post, the basic narrative behind the piece (and a lot of the discussion around Henrich’s work) is that science is moving away from the view that humans have more or less universal cognitive faculties. This old view assumed everyone would respond similarly to basic stimuli. But then Henrich and others came along and showed that people respond differently to those stimuli. So now we know that cognition itself is shaped by “culture, environment, etc.” Continue reading

The Value of Reproducible Research: Sometimes the response matters more than the results

Yesterday I followed a tweet to a post by Jason Lyall responding to apparently widespread criticism of a new survey in Afghanistan done by the Asia Foundation. The post was the first I’d heard of the survey or of the response to it, so I don’t know anything more about the criticism than what Jason wrote, or much about the nature or arguments of the criticism. But the post did link to one criticism in particular, from Sarah Chayes, a journalist turned NGO-founder and regular ISAF-hired expert on Afghanistan. The general approach taken in her critique seems illustrative of something I find very valuable about systematic and reproducible research and analysis: it facilitates productive and progressive (though perhaps not always intentionally so) responses. Continue reading

Another Downside to the Current Journal System

One day I imagine I’ll have a paper that isn’t rejected for publication. When that happens, in the joy of adding a journal-title to my CV, perhaps I’ll wave goodbye to my days of fierce antipathy towards journal conglomerates. In the meantime I’m going to continue to embrace the journal-corporation hating. The system, after all, seems increasingly stupid. Continue reading

Invisible Threats, …invisible evidence, invisible analysis

Here’s the thing. If you want to make the case that the world and the nature of security are changing so much that the “very concept of state sovereignty” has to be reimagined, surely you don’t start based on a scenario that sounds like a b-rate Hollywood thriller. Right? Surely.

Or maybe you do. In this paper on emerging threats, here’s the scenario that’s used: Continue reading