Archive for the ‘Data and Stats’ Category

US History teachers at the secondary school level, as well as Global Studies and Participation in Government teachers, should explore this site and try to answer the big questions posed in this site.

Although this site focuses on religious diversity in the United States, it is also about answering the bigger questions about citizenship. It asks who Americans are when they say, “One nation under God”? So often, people make comments in social networks and in face to face conversations about the endangering of Christian beliefs and make claims that the USA is a Christian nation. They dismiss or forget the USA’s exceptionalism is linked to its pluralism. For the country to be “great”,  it must uphold and appreciate this history of inclusion, but must also include the ability to dialogue–not just talk for or talk at others–but to actually dialogue. Diana Eck explains: “Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.”

I have learned about this site from a Great Courses audiobook by Prof. Charles Kimball As I listen to the first few discs, it occurs to me that Marshall McLuhan’s descriptions of violence and tribalism are manifesting. We have to educate more people with messages from the Pluralism Project to drive back the tide of fear and intolerance.

Source: History of the Pluralism Project | The Pluralism Project

“In a paper published in this month’s PS: Political Science & Politics, Williamson calls for academics to examine the way that MTurk and other crowdsourcing data collection methods are used, and to push for academic journals to only allow for ethically-sourced data to be published.”

“Introductory Bayesian texts usually assume a level of training in mathematical statistics that most researchers simply don’t have time (or otherwise don’t need) to learn. There are actually a lot of accessible Bayesian resources out there that don’t require much math stat background at all, but it just so happens that they are not consolidated anywhere so people don’t necessarily know about them.” (Excerpt)

Excerpt: “After an early career as a blogger and an author, Finney decided to try her hand at the world of startups. When she joined a New York-based tech incubator in 2006, she remembers a prominent venture capitalist telling her, “You know, I don’t do the black woman thing.” It was the first time, according to Finney, that it seemed like someone didn’t believe she was capable just because of her gender and her race.

Is lethal injection the most humane method of execution? Is there another way?  Should we eliminate the death penalty altogether? Here’s some of the best reporting on the practice.

excerpt: “Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money — or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses — have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues — such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries — set the rules within which policy battles are waged.

While this conclusion may at first seem too simple or direct, leaving little room for elected officials or voters, the reasons behind it are complex. They involve an understanding of social classes, the role of experts, the two-party system, and the history of the country, especially Southern slavery. In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory of power advocated on this site, large economic interests rule in America because there are no rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:

  • There is no one big church, as in many countries in Europe
  • No big government, as it took to survive as a nation-state in Europe
  • No big military until after 1940 (which is not very long ago) to threaten to take over the government”

Who Rules America: The Class-Domination Theory of Power.

Bill Dedman received the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 1989 for researching and writing these articles.

The first series, published May 1-4, 1988, disclosed that Atlanta’s banks and savings and loan institutions, although they had made loans for years in even the poorest white neighborhoods of Atlanta, did not lend in middle-class or more affluent black neighborhoods. The focus moved to lenders across the nation with the January 1989 article, “Blacks turned down for home loans from S&Ls twice as often as whites.”

As a result of the stories, the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act was expanded to provide more information to the public on the pattern of activity by all mortgage lenders.

via The Color of Money.

This is yet another article exploring the needs for the social sciences to improve peer review and replication.

“A lot of people have made much of the difference between the natural sciences and the social sciences,” Makel said. “I do not associate science with a content area. I associate science with a process. I believe that a great many researchers in the education field would view themselves as doing science.”An understanding of education research as a science is fairly new, said Plucker, his co-author.

via Almost no education research is replicated, new article shows @insidehighered.


It’s amazing how political education research can be. Is it simply an orientation problem where education researchers don’t view their research as scientific? why else wouldn’t a researcher honor requests so that studies can be replicated? “Replication can lead to bruised feelings, however. The failure of a group of researchers to replicate a study by Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, led to dueling blog posts. Brent Donnellan, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, wrote that he and his team, in attempting to replicate Schnall’s study, “encountered an epic fail.” Schnall shot back with a blog postof her own, writing that the stream of requests for her data made her feel “like a criminal suspect who has no right to a defense.” Commenting on her post, Daniel Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard, wrote: “Simone Schnall is Rosa Parks — a powerless woman who has decided to risk everything to call out the bullies … The replication police need to apologize.”

Plucker said that “there’s always going to be hurt feelings.” Researchers just need to handle replication requests professionally and fairly. And if replication were more common, a request for data would not feel like an attack, Makel added.



Charts showing how Americans have moved between states for 112 years.


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Finding PISA sceptics proved easier than I expected.  A Huffington Post articleby Diane Ravitch, professor of education at New York University dismisses international test scores as worthless. While the US has never been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests, Ravitch claims it has done pretty well economically and in terms of scientific invention and business creativity – in fact better on many measures than any other nation. She bases these assertions partly on her own observations but more on a paper by Keith Baker, a retired researcher at the US Department of Education, entitled Are International Tests Worth Anything?


Sharrock‘s insight:

For a few days now, I’ve been wondering about the relationship of a nation’s Nobel Prize winners to PISA scores. I finally decided to ask the question in Google. Here’s one hit: “Clearly the countries with the worst PISA scores are those with the most impressive Nobel record. Equally significant, the correlation between PISA performance and GDP per capita is, as both Baker and Chang suggest, rather weak (less than 0.5).”

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