APSA, new papers, and more…

Another busy month for me. Just a few of the highlights since I last posted:

  • Successfully defended last month and submitted my final dissertation. When I started grad school, my goal was to have my PhD before I turned 30, and since I technically graduate on the 26th of this month I’ll have accomplished that goal with a whole 3 days to spare!
  • Immediately after finishing my dissertation, I packed up the last of my things and moved down to Nashville to start my postdoc at Vanderbilt’s CSDI.
  • Presented two papers at APSA in Seattle, one a coauthored paper with Josh Tucker and Ted Brader on the relationship between cross-pressures and participation (a newer version of what we presented at Midwest, EPSA, and PolNet), and the other a new paper introducing an original dataset which records the discussion of issues on the websites of major-party US Senate candidates between 2002 and 2008.
  • Finished two more papers and sent them off for review.
  • Now getting ready to present my paper on campaign effects in presidential elections this Friday at the CSDI seminar series.

I’ve also done some more revisions to the site, including posting my research statement and adding more papers and other information to my Research page. (I guess it’s pretty obvious by now that I’m on the market this year, no?) You can also find links to revised versions of all my posted papers, my slides from APSA, and other interesting things on that page as well. While the coauthored APSA paper is posted there, I’ve left off the new paper because it’s still at the preliminary stage. But if after looking at the slides you still want more, just get in touch and I’ll send it along.

Site Redesign, Updated Content, and My Defense

Over the past few days, I’ve made a number of changes to the layout of the site—most notably, changing the entry page from the blog index (now the “News” section) to a static home page. This change was done to better conform to the typical layout you’ll find on many academics’ pages, while still keeping some flexibility in the design.

But perhaps more interestingly, I updated my CV page with links to my latest working papers and conference presentations. I hadn’t done that in a few months, so there’s plenty of both new and updated content on there if you’re interested (especially since I submitted my dissertation last week).

And if all goes well tomorrow, I’ll be making some more edits to the page title and my CV—my dissertation defense is at 3pm. Wish me luck.

Quick Observation on Campaign Websites

I’ve been at the Library of Congress for two days now, capturing a selection of archived campaign websites that are only available on-site (because of legal reasons) for a dataset I’m putting together as part of my dissertation. And in that time I’ve looked at literally hundreds of pages of content, and it’s a generally-maddening experience—if a 30-second ad full of BS gets you mad, try reading that stuff in 8-hour shifts. But I think what gets me most is the desecration of logical argument practiced by candidates who try to persuade voters of the correctness of their positions.

For example:

“In West Virginia, we have the highest per capita gun ownership in the country with also one of the lowest – if not the lowest – crime rates. This is proof that disarming American citizens actually makes them less safe and secure, and I will fight to preserve our Second Amendment rights and freedoms.” (John Raese, Republican Senate Candidate for WV, 2006)

This sort of thing makes me almost yell at my laptop screen, and in the LOC’s Main Reading Room (which is absolutely beautiful, btw—see the previous post) I imagine such things are greatly frowned upon. But for the love of science, is there anyway we can get No Child Left Behind (or its successor) to require an understanding of the difference between correlation and causation in order for a student to graduate 8th grade? Because the saddest thing isn’t that so many politicians make these kinds of false arguments, it’s that so few voters can tell that they’re wrong.