It has been an awfully long time (or so it feels) since I have written anything on the blog. So long, in fact, that I thought I should allay any concerns about my whereabouts. I’m still here in Durham, NC passing the time. For those who don’t know, I officially received my degree on May 8, and my fellowship draws to a close at the end of June.
Right now, I am figuring out what’s next, and that’s ultimately why the blog has been put on hold. First, I’ve been traveling for job interviews, which has kept me busy. Second, I’ve been thinking about the papers I want to get out of my dissertation. Third, I’ve started volunteering my time to co-author a manuscript with someone at UNC. Fourth, the blog has become a potential liability. Let me explain.
While I have always considered this a forum for the free exchange of ideas, the echo chamber phenomenon has kept most of the comments more left of center. That is, most of the people who read it seem to be liberals, and that is especially true for those who comment. That isn’t really the goal of this blog. I didn’t start it to advance an agenda or advocate a particular position. I really wanted it to be a place to present information–as close to “fact” as exists in politics. To date that hasn’t much happened, and I’ll admit, I have certainly injected personal opinions here.
In the world of non-partisan research and analysis, the appearance of opinions can be a real threat to the sense of objectivity. In some way, I do think that all researchers are biased–beginning with the questions they choose to ask, the ways they choose to answer them, and to some extent the lens through which they view the results. However, my goal is to conduct objective research, distinguishing between personal opinions and methodological rigor, and letting the data speak for themselves. Therefore, just like a judge may recuse himself or herself from a case to avoid the appearance–real or perceived–of a conflict of interest, having a blog like this may make some people–especially those who can’t validate the methods themselves–question the results of my research.
This is more of an issue with some jobs than others. But, until I figure out where I’m headed next, my desire to conduct sound empirical research is more important to me than is my desire to write this blog. So, at this point, consider things to be in a bit of a holding pattern. Perhaps pretend that you’re trying to make a connection in Atlanta. This will seem brief by comparison. Once I figure out what’s next, I’ll come back with an update. It might be the last time I write anything here, or it might not. Stay tuned.