The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Thursday Linkage

March 20, 2014

With Crimea’s secession and accession drama still unfolding, we wait with baited breath about whether we will bear witness to yet another war (Kimberly Marten’s post on the Monkey Cage is sobering). Sure hard to believe that Steven Pinker is right with Syria blazing, the Central Africa Republic aflame, and Ukraine and Russia poised for conflict.

More parochially, I’ve been reading the story, perhaps apocryphal of the female job candidate whose negotiations for a job led to the school rescinding the offer. I’ve also been followed additional debates about underrepresentation of women in foreign policy and whether academics have anything to say. Krugman had some choice words for Nate Silver’s new enterprise, reminding us of the importance of theory. 

Landing the Academic Job: The Art of Negotiation

Philosophy job market candidate gets a job offer, sends email with a variety of asks, and liberal arts Nazareth College rescinds the offer, so says anonymous blog post. Sets the internets ablaze with commentary. Did she ask for too much since this was a liberal arts college (personally I think that’s bullshit)?

  • Kieran Snyder wonders is it true?
  • Is it gendered? (The candidate asked for maternity leave). I always counsel female graduate students to ask for more because they often don’t, but Katy Waldman worries that the lesson is women who ask for stuff are perceived as pushy and punished in ways that men aren’t.
  • Rebecca Schuman is pissed, as the signal appears to be accept whatever they offer.


Women and Foreign Policy

  • Sarah Kendzior recounts being asked to write about women and foreign policy for Foreign Policy and getting dropped from a discussion that featured 8 men and 1 woman; she was also asked to write for a journal that wouldn’t pay contributors

To discuss how you are negatively perceived forces people to see you though your detractor’s eyes. To discuss sexism is to invite pity, to be reduced, even in support, to something less than what you are. When you work in the realm of ideas and trade in the currency of respect, this is a tough balance to pull off – and it goes hand in hand with the tough balance Slaughter describes of career and family.

  •  Anne-Marie Slaughter’s TED talk

  • The Foreign Policy roundtable on academia and policy (oh yeah, and women)

Krugman on Nate Silver’s New Venture

  •  Paul Krugman isn’t impressed with the early posts on Nate Silver’s new venture

But you can’t be an effective fox just by letting the data speak for itself — because it never does. You use data to inform your analysis, you let it tell you that your pet hypothesis is wrong, but data are never a substitute for hard thinking. If you think the data are speaking for themselves, what you’re really doing is implicit theorizing, which is a really bad idea (because you can’t test your assumptions if you don’t even know what you’re assuming.)

  • He had a second take on it:

Now, about FiveThirtyEight: I hope that Nate Silver understands what it actually means to be a fox. The fox, according to Archilocus, knows many things. But he does know these things — he doesn’t approach each topic as a blank slate, or imagine that there are general-purpose data-analysis tools that absolve him from any need to understand the particular subject he’s tackling. Even the most basic question — where are the data I need? — often takes a fair bit of expertise; I know my way around macro data and some (but not all) trade data, but I turn to real experts for guidance on health data, labor market data, and more.



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Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.